New Study Claims Cell Phone Use Does Not Affect Driving Ability

Carnegie Mellon University and the London School of Economics and Political Science, recently collaborated on a study, entitled “Driving under the (Cellular) Influence” that concludes that cell phone use while driving a motor vehicle does not increase the risk of being involved in an accident.

As this blog has discussed before, the prevailing view on this issue is that the distraction of using a cell phone while driving increases the risk of crashing. This study, however, claims that, although cell phone use has increased over the last several decades, the number of car crashes per mile traveled in the United States has decreased. In order to reach this conclusion, the study analyzed cell phone data from an unidentified service provider and compared it to the rate of car accidents.

The cell data showed a seven percent increase in call volume after 9 p.m., attributed to service plans offering free nights. This data was then compared to crash data of eight million car accidents in nine states, and all fatal crashes across the nation. Based on this analysis, a conclusion was drawn that no correlation existed between cell phone use while driving and an increased risk of accidents.

The Carnegie Mellon study may be the only one to reach its conclusions regarding the effect that cell phone usage has on an individual’s ability to drive. Indeed, as recently as June of this year, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reported that motorists are incapable of safely performing the tasks necessary to safely operate a vehicle while simultaneously talking on the phone or texting.

The study, entitled “Measuring Cognitive Distraction in the Automobile,” sought to establish a method by which researchers could measure and understand “cognitive distraction” in motor vehicles by performing various experiments designed to assess the effect distractions had on the ability of participants to effectively operate a motor vehicle. According to the AAA study, drivers exposed to increased mental workload and distractions, such as using a cell phone, experience slowed reaction times and compromised brain function, corresponding to an increased risk of crashing.

Further, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHSTA”) found that in 2009, more than 5,000 people were killed and 448,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. Cell phone use was identified as the distraction in 995 of the crashes resulting in death and over 24,000 in those causing injury.
Although the issue of whether cell use while driving has yet to be definitively settled, it is still advisable for motorists to refrain from using their phones while driving as cellphone use while driving has been illegal in Maryland as secondary offense since 2010.

If you or someone you know has been involved an accident in which you sustained injuries due to the negligence of a distracted driver, you may need legal representation to protect your right to compensation. The attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC have extensive experience representing individuals who have been the victim of distracted driving practices. If you or someone you know has been injured in automobile accident, contact the attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC today.