A new study by Economics Professor Peter D. Loeb at Rutgers University, Newark, looked at mobile phone use and motor vehicle accidents from 1975 through 2002, and factored in a number of variables, including vehicle speed, alcohol consumption, seat belt use, and miles driven. The studies found the cell phone fatality correlation to be true even when all these
factors were accounted for.
When mobile phones were first used in the mid-1980s, they had a ‘life-taking effect’ among pedestrians, drivers and passengers in vehicles. When there were fewer than a million phones, fatalities increased because drivers and pedestrians were still adjusting to the novelty of using them.
A ‘life-saving effect’ occurred as the volume of phones grew in the early 1990s, and increasing numbers of mobiles were used to call emergency services following accidents, leading to a drop in fatalities. But this life-saving effect was cancelled out once the numbers of phones reached a ‘critical mass’ of about 100 million and the ‘life-taking effect’ – increased accidents/ fatalities – outweighed the benefits of quick access to emergency services.
Ed. The assumption is that high mobile phone usage causes accidents because the users are distracted by their conversations, dialling, texting etc and do not pay sufficient attention to the road. Another theory suggests that high mobile phone usage creates electrosmog which in turn creates brain fog, dulling awareness and slowing reactions – and thereby causing an increase in accidents.
First Published May 2009
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