A controversial new study from Carnegie Mellon University and the London School of Economics claims that increased use of cellphones does not lead to more traffic accidents. The study’s lead authors, Saurabh Bhargava and Vikram S. Pathania, examined cell phone and accident data from 2002 to 2005. During those years, cell phone carriers offered free calls in the evenings and calls increased 7% after 9 pm to take advantage of the deal.
Examining the data on car accidents during these hours, the researchers found no statistical link between increased calls and increased accidents.
In addition, the researchers examined statistics about cell phone use over the past 20 years. They found that while cell phone use has increased during that time frame, accident rates have actually dropped. Further, the authors examined crash data from states enacting cell phone bans. They found no difference in accident rates before and after the bans. The research was published in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.
Does the research prove that cell phones have nothing to do with car accidents in Homestead and other cities? Are legislators not helping things by trying to pass a texting ban in Florida to prevent truck collisions in Homestead and other cities? Maybe not. According to experts, there are several possible issues with the study:
1) The authors looked at overall cell phone use, some of which could have been attributed to passengers. There is no way to tell whether the people using cell phones during a specific time in the evening were driving, sitting in a car, or were driving.
2) The authors looked at cell phone calls. Mobile devices have been found in other studies to be linked to traffic accidents in Homestead and other cities because people use the devices to text, surf the internet, and engage in other activities that are more dangerous than talking.
3) Passing texting laws does not ensuring enforcement. The study’s authors claimed that states with texting bans had no difference in car accident rates. However, just because a state has bans this does not mean that drivers are obeying them. In addition, some studies have suggested that hands-free devices are just as risky as hand-held devices, so having drivers switch from one to the other might not have an effect on accident rates.
4) Cars are getting safer all the time. Accident rates may not be going down or up in relation to cell phone use because other factors are at play. For example, more drivers may be driving distracted (and getting into accidents because of that) but there may be fewer accidents related to brake problems if break systems are improving.
5) There is a strong focus on enforcement for dangerous driving behaviors. Authorities are cracking down on drunk driving in Homestead and other cities and traffic cameras are pushing drivers to avoid other riskier behaviors. Improved enforcement may be cutting down on some accident risks, but that does not mean that cell phone use in cars is safe.
If you have been injured in a car collision caused by a distracted driver, you may have a legal claim that could help you seek compensation for medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, car repairs, and more. To find out more, contact the Flaxman Law Group for a free, no obligation consultation.