Look, using your cellphone while driving is dangerous. No one who’s ever tried to send a text message while behind the wheel can claim to be as in control as they normally are. But a new study suggests that, despite the dangers, cellphones haven’t actually caused a spike in accidents over the past few years.
Saurabh Bhargava and Vikram S. Panthania have written a paper — titled “Driving under the (Cellular) Influence,” which takes a look at why the rise in cellphone ownership over the past 30 years hasn’t resulted in a correlating spike in crashes.
In the US, where the study gets its data from, average cellphone use per subscriber has risen from 140 to 740 minutes a month since 1993, which means that people definitely have a lot more time in which they could potentially be using their phones while driving. The study backs this up, by citing surveys which show that as many as 81% of people use their phones while driving.
So why, with all that danger and with all those people using their phones while driving, have accident numbers not increased massively?
Well Bhargava and Panthania posit three possible reasons. First, they say, some people may drive more cautiously when they’re on the phone because they’re aware of the risks involved. Another reason may be that some drivers are used to having loads of distractions when they drive, including loud music or friends talking in the car with them.
A third possibility, they say, is that cellphones may be dangerous for some drivers or under particular driving conditions, but are beneficial for other drivers or under alternative driving conditions
“We note that this research does not imply that cellphone use is innocuous. It simply implies that current cellular use by drivers does not appear to cause a rise in crashes,” they write.
It should also be noted that this is only one study. And while it did attempt to test the correlation in greater detail by tracking calls from tower to tower and isolating those which could only have been made on the road, it could not distinguish those being made by passengers and drivers.
It also doesn’t seem like the study’s taken texting into consideration when considering the dangers of in-vehicle phone use. Its authors do however acknowledge that the absence of a spike may have been tempered by an overall decline in accidents due to improved safety technology and a drop in drunk driving numbers.
[Via: PC Mag]