Everyone should now know that talking on your mobile phone while driving is dangerous. Talking or texting through your mobile device while simultaneously operating a moving vehicle can cause serious accidents and even result in injuries and deaths. But a new study conducted at MIT suggests that banning mobile phone usage in cars has a negligible effect on the number of road traffic accidents.
The reason, the researchers claim, is that individuals who are likely to talk on their mobile phones while driving are more dangerous drivers in general, and are far more likely to crash a car even if they are not talking on their phones.
The study split a sample of drivers into two groups: those who are likely to talk on their phone while driving and those who almost never used their phones in their cars. It was found that the first group had a tendency to drive at faster speeds, switch lanes more often and were more likely to brake suddenly. They were also more likely to have been caught speeding or driving through red traffic lights.
The differences in driving patterns were not huge but they were enough to make the first group significantly more likely to crash a car than the more careful second group. The research suggests that the underlying reckless behaviours and attitudes that cause road traffic accidents are also the source of some peoples’ willingness to use a phone while driving.
The researchers were keen to point out that mobile phone use in cars should still be avoided as there is no denying that they cause a serious distraction to motorists. However, even though the mobile phone ban has reduced the number of people using mobile phones while driving, the number of road traffic accidents has remained the same.