Researchers in the US claim to have found no link between drivers making phone calls while driving and the crash rate (BBC News).
A team from Carnegie Mellon University and the London School of Economics analysed data before and after 9pm local time over a three-year period. The timeslot was chosen because during the period studied (2002 – 2005) many American mobile phone operators offered free calls after 9pm.
The study found that while there was an increase in callers using multiple phone masts after 9pm, there was no corresponding increase in the number of road incidents. The results, however, do not include text messaging or internet browsing.
Admitting the researchers were "very surprised" by the results, professor Saurabh Bhargava from Carnegie Mellon University, said: “At first we thought the numbers were wrong. We went back and checked everything – but there was nothing going on at all. We just saw a big jump in cellphone use and there was no impact on the crash rate."
Dr Vikram Pathania from the London School of Economics said that the findings, published in the American Economic Journal, came with a number of caveats.
Dr Pathania said: "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 cellphones does not present a hazard."
Dr Pathania suggested that further research should focus on smartphone use, and also overall phone use among different driver demographics, adding that “it may look different if you focus on young males or new drivers.”
Click here to read the full BBC News report.