Study: Cellphone use while driving may 'not' be hazardous

The perils of texting while driving have become so obvious to many nations with large driving populations that laws have sprouted up in recent years outlawing such behavior in a number of cities. In fact, the idea that driving while using gadgetry is dangerous is so widely accepted that even Google Glass, a product that isn't even widely available yet, is already facing scrutiny related to road safety in some parts. That said, a new study offers a surprising counter narrative that threatens to upend the notions surrounding safety concerns while using mobile devices in cars.

The study, conducted by Carnegie Mellon University and the London School of Economics, concludes that, contrary to popular belief, talking on a cellphone while driving does "not" increase the risk of automobile crashes. Using calling and crash data from approximately 8 million crashes across nine states from a period between 2002 to 2005, the study found no direct correlation between increased cellphone use after 9 p.m. (a time when a discount-related uptick in phone usage was detected) and actual crash rates.

Citing the results from the study, researcher Saurabh Bhargava said, "While our findings may strike many as counterintuitive, our results are precise enough to statistically call into question the effects typically found in the academic literature. Our study differs from most prior work in that it leverages a naturally occurring experiment in a real-world context."

These findings also fly in the face of recent research by AAA that indicated that even minimal distractions from mobile devices while driving can be dangerous. Nevertheless, it should be noted that this new study is only related to talking on a cellphone. It did not study the potential dangers of texting or surfing the Internet on your mobile device while driving.


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