Studies overplayed cellphone crash risk

Studies overplayed cellphone crash risk

NEW YORK - Reuters
The increased risk of having a car crash attributed to people using their cellphones while driving may have been overestimated in some past studies, a U.S. analysis said.

So-called “distracted driving” has become a big public health issue in recent years, and the majority of U.S. states now ban texting behind the wheel. A handful prohibit drivers from using handheld cellphones at all.

But studies have reached different conclusions about how much of an added crash risk there is, and a recent analysis by researchers at the Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit found that two influential studies may have overestimated the risk.

Lead author Richard Young wrote that the method of two studies on the issue, one 1997 study in Canada, and another from Australia in 2005, which said that cellphone use while driving raised the crash risk four-fold, may have posed problems.

If that information were applied to the two earlier studies, Young estimates, the crash risk tied to cellphone use would have been statistically insignificant.