Hang up the phone, or hang up the keys

May 28, 2001

In 1997, Drs. Donald Redelmeier and Robert Tibshirani published what has become the most widely cited scientific study on the link between cellular telephones and motor vehicle collisions.

Although the study found drivers faced a four-fold increase in their chances of having a collision if they used a cellular phone while driving, many cell-phone proponents still cite the article as an argument that other driving distractions can play just as large a role in accidents as cellular phone use.

"What we wish we had explained more clearly in our article, however, was that that this increase (four times) was not calculated in comparison to the risk of collision under ideal circumstances of no distractions," write the authors. "Making calls on a cellular phone is distinctly more risky than listening to the radio, talking to passengers and other activities commonly occurring in vehicles."

The authors also state that many factors now lead them to believe that their original study underestimated the dangers of cell phone use when driving, and may justify regulations against the use of cellular telephones while driving.
-end-
Car phones of reports: How good are secondary publications in medicine -- D.A. Redelmeier, R.J. Tibshirani

Canadian Medical Association Journal

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