Friday, March 09, 2012

Bogus Cell Phone Study

As one would expect, the editorial staff of the Santa Rosa Press- Democrat is buying into the claim that laws against cell phone use while driving are working. Supposedly less people are using them while driving resulting in fewer cell phone related traffic accidents. I don't buy it.

First of all, traffic accidents have been going down across the nation, even in states without laws against cell phoning while driving.

Second, I don't know that I've noticed any significant reduction in cell phone use by people driving, and I do pay attention to such things. I'll admit my observations aren't scientific, but there's still times I'll see up to what might be a third of the drivers on the road talking on cell phones.

Besides, the Press- Democrats' editorial states citations for driving while cell phone talking have been going up, not down. Sure, that could be in part because of increased enforcement, but you would think the trend would be towards fewer citations if fewer people were cell chatting while driving.

I suspect this is just another study made with the facts interpreted to reach some nanny staters' desired conclusion.


At 8:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"traffic accidents have been going down across the nation, even in states without laws against cell phoning while driving."


"my observations aren't scientific"

Agreed. Translation: Your observations are of minimal use for determining what's really happening.

I'd like to know how the rate of cell phone use in cars was determined though. Direct observation on roadways? I presume the editorial is tied to a news report that ran in the newspaper.

At 9:14 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

There's been at least a couple stories lately on this latest study, one of which pointed out that traffic accidents have been declining in most areas for years (yes, that's hard for me to believe). I believe Rough and Tumble had a link yesterday to a story on the study although I forget which paper ran the story.

Radley Balko also pointed out in a cell phone driving related post he made some time ago that traffic accidents seem to be on the decline. I wouldn't bother trying to find Balko's post as the search engine on his excellent blog is almost worthless:

As far as my observations, I'll go out on a limb and say they're probably as valid as just about any "scientific" ones. About the only way you can do it is observe traffic and give your best guess as to how many people out of a given number you see holding cell phones to their ears. It's harder to catch the ones holding them down below the steering wheel but you can catch those as well, sometimes.

The first time I did it was standing in my garage watching traffic drive by. I counted 3 drivers with phones but could only guess at the number of cars that passed as I hadn't planned on doing the survey until shortly after I started counting. My guess was maybe 10 or 11 cars with 3 people talking, which surprised me. That was about 3 or 4pm, so rush hour.

I've since then done similar "studies" while driving. I usually start when I see some driver obviously involved in a phone call. Then I try and make a quick count for a minute or two.

Sometimes I'll see another 2 or 3 out of roughly 10 or 12 drivers. Sometimes less. Sometimes none, after the first.

At 9:40 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Thinking back, I've made more than one post here on the cell phone vs. driving laws. If I recall correctly, one reader, Andrew Bird, commented that his observations were similar to mine. I believe he said he did a similar informal study down on Wabash and Broadway in Eureka and noticed about the same thing: 1 in 3 drivers, if memory serves me?

About the only thing I think I could do to gain more accuracy, as I mentioned in one of my first posts on this, was to sit out in front of my house with pencil and paper and take a more accurate, recorded count. I'd planned to do that but never got around to it.

At 7:03 PM, Blogger ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

The only "study" which would be valid would be to correlate the number of traffic collisions wherein cell phone was a contributing factor both before enactment of the prohibition and after. The truth is that jurisdictions are using this law and most others as a revenue stream enhancement i.e. government to traffic officer: "write more cites or we may have to lay you off".

At 7:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I'll go out on a limb and say they're probably as valid as just about any "scientific" ones."

That statement makes all of your views suddenly sync for me. You don't understand the scientific method and choose anecdote over the single greatest tool we have for determining what's really real. Now I understand why the world doesn't make sense to you. You don't understand it.


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