Carnegie Mellon Study Concludes That Talking On A Cell Phone Does Not Affect Ability To Drive

According to a recently released study entitled “Driving under the (Cellular) Influence” conducted by Carnegie Mellon University and the London School of Economics and Political Science, the use of a cell phone while operating a vehicle does not correlate with a higher risk of causing a car accident.

The study sought to reconcile the conclusion that talking on a cell phone while driving increased the risk of crash with the fact that, although cell phone use has increased over the past few decades, the number of car crashes per mile traveled in the United States has decreased. The study gathered data from an unnamed cell phone provider which demonstrated a more than seven percent increase in call volume after 9 p.m., due to usage plans that offered free nights.

These figures were then compared to the rate of car accidents occurring before and after 9 p.m. Based on crash data gathered on eight million accidents in nine states and all fatal crashes across the nation, the study concluded that there was no correlation between cell usage during driving and incidence of car accidents.

The Carnegie Mellon study is directly contradictory to a AAA report recently discussed by this blog, titled “Measuring Cognitive Distraction in the Automobile,” which concluded that drivers exposed to increased mental distractions, such as talking on a cell phone, decreased reaction time and brain function, increasing the risk of accident.
One of the study’s authors, Saurabh Bhargave, an assistant professor of social and decision sciences at Carnegie Mellon, recognized that these findings were at odds with other findings, stating, “using a cellphone while driving may be distracting, but it does not lead to a higher crash risk in the setting we examined. 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.”
As demonstrated by the competing views of the CMU and AAA studies, more research is needed to fully determine the actual effect that cell phone use has on a motorist’s ability to safely operate his or her vehicle. However, as this blog has discussed before, distracted driving is still considered a serious problem plaguing Florida’s roadways. Of the more than 170,000 crash reports filed in Florida during the first ten months in 2011, over 100 involved motorists that were texting at the time of the accident.
Further, according report published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2009, 5,474 people were killed on U.S. roadways and another 448,000 were injured in motor vehicle accidents that reportedly involved distracted drivers. In distracted driving crashes that resulted in a death, 995 involved a cell phone as the distraction, and, of those accidents resulting in injury, more than 24,000 involved a cell phone.

The Miami car accident attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz, PA have extensive experience representing individuals who have been injured by in auto, bicycles accidents and motor vehicle accident cases. If you or someone you know has been seriously injured, contact the Miami, Florida personal injury attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. today. For accidents in Miami Dade call 305-371-6000, for accidents in Fort Lauderdale call 954-845-0535. Were also available toll free at (877) 475-2905.


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