New York Governor Andrew Cuomo may have the best intentions for his new “Text Zone” initiative, but evidence suggests that when it comes to making calls behind the wheel, it’s not quite the perilous danger we’re led to believe.
A recent study has reached the conclusion that mobile phones may not in fact be responsible for quite as many accidents on US road as previously thought. In fact, the research paper suggests that there is no link whatsoever between making calls behind the wheel and the probability of causing or experiencing an accident.
The study was carried out as a joint project between the London School of Economics and Carnegie Mellon University, who collaboratively looked into upwards of 8 million reported car accidents spanning eight states in the US.
Researchers have found no link between the number of US drivers making phone calls while on the road and the number of accidents recorded. They chose to look at the data in two separate time slots – before 9pm and after – as during the period the study was looking into 9pm was usually the time mobile calls were offered free or at cheaper rates.
The team behind the project did admit however that the findings did not take into account internet browsing, social networking or text messaging.
After analysing the data, Dr Vikram Pathania from London and Prof Saurabh Bhargava from Carnegie stated that despite a significant spike in mobile phone activity from drivers after 9pm, there was no evidence of increased accident rates at the same time.
Speaking with the BBC in the UK, Dr Vikram Pathania admitted his surprise.
“At first we thought the numbers were wrong,” he told reporters.
“We went back and checked everything – but there was nothing going on at all,”
“We just know that we saw a big jump in cell-phone use and there was no impact on the crash rate.”
He was however keen to emphasise the fact that the study alone does not in any way serve as evidence that using a mobile phone behind the wheel is safe, going on to state that more research is required to reach any solid conclusions.
“We were only looking at talking, not texting or internet use. And it may be that the traffic conditions on the road at that time are such that moderate use of cell-phones does not present a hazard.”
“It may look different if you focus on young males or new drivers,” he added.