Accident rate the same with/without hands-free phones

Accident rate the same with/without hands-free phones

Summary: A study published by Suzanne McEvoy in the British Medical Journal concludes that drivers who use hands free cell phones are equally likely to get into car accidents as are drivers who do not.  According to a CBSNews.

TOPICS: Mobility

A study published by Suzanne McEvoy in the British Medical Journal concludes that drivers who use hands free cell phones are equally likely to get into car accidents as are drivers who do not.  According to a report about the study, the "researchers used cell phone records to compare phone use within 10 minutes before an actual crash with cell use by the same driver during the previous week."   According to the abstract of the report, "Driver's use of a mobile phone up to 10 minutes before a crash was associated with a fourfold increased likelihood of crashing."  The abstact goes onto say that the "risk was raised irrespective of whether or not a hands-free device was used" and that the increased risk was similar in men and women and was not age specific.  

While it's an assumption, my guess is that the study's 10 minute window was undoubtedly selected to account for any innaccuracies in the reporting of an accident's exact time.    If that's the case, then one premise of the findings is that drivers who were on the phone at any time within 10 minutes of the reported time of an accident were also on the phone at the time of the accident.  What the study doesn't tell us however is whether or not some other factor played a role in the accident.  For example, were the cell phone users doing something else related to their phone usage that might have further distracted them.  Have you ever pulled out a pen and paper while driving with the cell phone to your ear to write down a phone number and then noticed that your car was weaving?  Guilty.  How about looking down at the phone to find the tiny little "end call button" to terminate a call or the "answer" or "send" buttons to take a call that beeps through on call waiting.  Just look at how small those buttons are on the BlackBerry 7100s (see How to pick a BlackBerry). 

Topic: Mobility

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  • Accident rate

    Gee, what a surprise. A recent study in MN showed
    that people using cell phones while driving were
    worse than drunk drivers

    Often so called scollars will lie to promote an agenda such as hating SUVs and cell phones. I think this chick is not telling the truth.
    • RE: TRUTH

      >Often so called scollars will lie to promote an agenda such as hating SUVs and cell phones.

      Do you have any example of this?

      >I think this chick is not telling the truth.

      Same here... using a cell phone while driving must increase the likelyhood of causing an accident at least 10-fold, not a meager 300-400% increase. As garyr already mentioned, a recent controlled test demonstrated drivers using their cell phones drove far worse than the same drivers driving while intoxicated!

      I have no idea of this woman's credentials, but any legitimate studies or tests that serves to demonstrate the dangers of using a cell phone while driving are alright by me.
  • Its called "Inattention Blindness"

    Hands-free phones don't help since people concentrate on the audio - while ignoring the video . . .
    Roger Ramjet
  • Watch the Mythbusters episode

    Even though they did not test hands-free, the recent Mythbusters episode on cell-phones = drunk driving should get everyone off cell-phone while driving a car.

    It simply is the same as drinking 2-3 beers and getting behind the wheel. Sure you can do it, but the rest of us would like to see you off the road.
  • Talking while driving

    Mr. Berlind's comments are interesting, but they are more a
    display of sophistry than of understanding and dealing with the
    central problem regarding cellular phones: talking while driving
    is a distraction.

    Have you never seen someone drive right by his intended turn-
    off on a highway, or past the house at which he wanted to stop,
    because he was driving?

    When one learns to fly an airplane, one of the first rules he is
    taught is to use the radio briefly. There are two reasons:

    1. Avoid clogging the airwaves. Other people may need to call,
    especially in an emergency.

    2 Talking while operating the aircraft is DANGEROUS! It is
    distracting, and should be avoided.

    The best rule is:

    Drive NOW! Talk LATER!
  • Why cell phones?

    Why not ANY conversation? Why not listening to the radio, for that matter? Why is cell phone use so much more dangerous than, for example, shuttling around an SUV full of lively kids?
  • This is a well known phenom and not necessarily a hidden agenda!

    In military flying this is known as target fixation and can lead to fighter pilots following a traget right into a mountain side. (This is what happened to a whole flight of Thunderbirds that crashed one after another into the ground during a training flight back in the 70's I think?)

    More recently, this has been documented in users of technology (including cell phones and video games) where their mental presence is being focused in their virtual world (aka the cell conversation) and not in the real world.

    Ever see anyone at your table in a restaurant listening to a conference call on their cell phone and they seem miles away and don't even hear people calling their name at the table?

    The 10 minutes thing could also be accounted for if a person's mind continued to focus on the content of the call as they sorted the conversation out in their head after they hung up... say if they took a to-do on the call, or were angry.
  • I hate the damn things

    I live in a university town and I can't count the number of times a student has walked out in the street in front of my moving vehicle because they are so focused on their conversation that they don't even look at the traffic signal. I am tempted to just keep going and clean up the gene pool. They are lucky I don't use my phone when I am behind the wheel.
    • GrumpyOldMan

      Love your user name. Grumpy figures in a lot of my user names. I am 59, 60 end of October. As far as cell phones go, I hate them also. When did we first feel the need to be constantly connected? I view them as little better than an electronic tether. I routinely rely on a form of non-verbal communication when I see someone driving, using a phone. I would like to develop a transmitter, short range, that would blast every one within earshot with a deafening noise. I would bet the device would be easy to assemble and utilize. Anyhow, it was great to see someone whose viewpoint I could respect. Thank you, Jim
  • How to use a Cell Phone

    To use a cell phone properly: Come out of house, start car, dial, put cell phone to your ear, back out of drive. OR (for women) come out of store, strap child in seat, get in van, dial, put cell phone to your ear, back out of parking space.
  • science

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