In this new study, Richard Young, Ph.D., professor of research in Wayne State University's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences in the School of Medicine, examined possible bias in a 1997 Canadian study and a 2005 Australian study.
These earlier studies used cellphone billing records of people who had been in a crash and compared their cellphone use just before the crash to the same time period the day (or week) before — the control window.
Young said the issue with these studies is that people may not have been driving during the entire control window period, as assumed by the earlier study investigators.
"Earlier case-crossover studies likely overestimated the relative risk for cellphone conversations while driving by implicitly assuming that driving during a control window was full time when it may have been only part time," said Young. "This false assumption makes it seem like cellphone conversation is a bigger crash risk than it really is."
In Young's new study, his research team used Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) data to track day-to-day driving of more than 400 drivers during a 100-day period. He then divided the days into pairs, with the first day representing the "control" day and the second day representing the "crash" day in the earlier studies. Overall, the team found little driving consistency in any given clock time period between the two days — driving time on the control day was only about one-fourth of the driving time on the crash day, during any specific clock time period.
"This underestimation of the amount of driving in the control windows by nearly four times could reduce cellphone conversation time in that control period," Young said. "It makes it appear that there is less cellphone conversation in control periods than in the time just before a crash, making the relative risk estimate appear greater than it really is."
Young found that when the cellphone conversation time in the control window was adjusted for the amount of driving, the amount of cellphone usage in the control window was about the same as in the minutes before a crash. He concluded that the crash risk for cellphone conversation while driving is one-fourth of what was claimed in previous studies, or near that of normal baseline driving.
Young added that many well-controlled studies with real driving show that the primary increase in crash risk from portable electronic devices comes from tasks that require drivers to look at the device or operate it with their hands, such as texting while driving. Five other recent real-world studies concur with his conclusion that the crash risk from cellular conversations is not greater than that of driving with no conversation.
"Tasks that take a driver's eyes off the road or hands off the steering wheel are what increase crash risk," said Young. "Texting, emailing, manual dialing and so forth — not conversation — are what increase the risk of crashes while driving."
The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that all 50 states and the District of Columbia ban the non-emergency use of portable electronic devices for all drivers. Young said this recommendation goes beyond the data from newer studies, including his, because it would ban cellphone conversations while driving.
"Recent real-world studies show that cellphone conversations do not increase crash risk beyond that of normal driving — it is the visual-manual tasks that take the eyes off the road and the hands off the wheel that are the real risk," said Young.
Wayne State University is one of the nation's pre-eminent public research institutions in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit http://www.research.wayne.edu
Julie O'Connor | EurekAlert!
Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung
Scientists reveal source of human heartbeat in 3-D
07.08.2017 | University of Manchester
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
18.08.2017 | Life Sciences
18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences