Sunday, August 26, 2007

Graduate students find no match in evening cell phone use spike and crash data

Some counter-intuitive findings ...

"It's conventional wisdom that talking on cell phones while driving is risky business, but two University of California, Berkeley, graduate student economists report that a spike in cell phone use in recent years and on weekday evenings is not matched by an increase in fatal or non-fatal car crashes from 2002-2005.

Their findings, published on the Web site of the American Enterprise Institute-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies, run counter to the conclusions of more than 125 other studies, 70 percent of Americans in a 2003 Gallup Poll who said drivers on cell phones cause accidents, and the reasoning behind complete or partial bans on using cell phones in at least 14 states. The issue is on the agenda in several foreign countries as well.

"We were quite shocked," admitted Saurabh Bhargava, who with co-author Vikram Pathania set out to satisfy a curiosity about drivers who use their cell phones despite the commonly perceived perils.

The students point to data revealing that the average amount of time a cell phone subscriber spends on calls has surged from 140 to 740 minutes a month since 1993. In addition, about 40 percent of drivers acknowledge using their cell phones at some point while driving, and cell phone ownership is skyrocketing, up from about 2 percent in 1990 to more than 75 percent in 2006.

The researchers also found - not surprisingly - that calls made just after 9 p.m. on weekdays, the point when off-peak, "free minutes" kick in on many cell phone plans, have increased by 20 to 30 percent. In a 2006 Pew Research Survey, 44 percent of cell phone-using respondents said they wait until after 9 p.m. on weekdays to make non-urgent calls.

Pathania said the jump in call volume just after 9 p.m. on weekdays should have translated into a jump in the number of crashes, too."    (Continued via UC Berkeley News)    [Ergonomics Resources]

Teen Talk and Drive - Ergonomics

Teen Talk and Drive

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