The cellphone paradox - where are all the accidents?

The cellphone paradox - where are all the accidents?
The Fermi Paradox is essentially a situation where we "assume" something
that "seems obvious"; but, if that assumption is true, then something else
"should" be happening. But it's not.
Hence, the paradox.
Same thing with the cellphone (distracted-driving) paradox.
Where are all the accidents?
They don't seem to exist.
At least not in the United States.
Not by the federal government's own accident figures.
1. Current Census, Transportation: Motor Vehicle Accidents and Fatalities
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2. Motor Vehicle Accidents?Number and Deaths: 1990 to 2009
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3. Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths in Metropolitan Areas ? United States, 2009
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If you have more complete government tables for "accidents" (not deaths,
but "ACCIDENTS"), please post them since the accidents don't seem to exist
but, if cellphone distracted driving is hazardous (which I would think it
is), then they must be there, somewhere, hidden in the data.
Such is the cellphone paradox.
Reply to
Probably 'cause cars are safer, people don't drive drunk as much, etc.
If you identify accidents caused soly by cellphone use, I'm sure the statistics would show none before cell phones were invented.
Reply to
Mike Duffy
I'm providing a balanced view since the paradox exists. One would *assume* accidents would go up; but they're going down. That's the paradox.
Unfortunately, as much as you and I would love reliable statistics on "distracted driving", they do not exist.
You have to read *how* those statistics were generated, and, if/when you do, you will discount them instantly. The current method of generating those statistics makes that particular set nearly worthless.
Yet, total accidents (not injuries, not fatalities - but accidents) are easy to compile. Trivially easy.
Accidents must be going up if distracted driving is really causing accidents.
But, accidents in the USA are steadily going down all the while the cellphone ownership is going up.
Hence, the paradox.
We are talking "accidents", not fatalities nor injuries. Accidents are NOT going up. Cellphone ownership is going up.
If what you and I believe is true, then if cellphone ownership is going up, then cellphone usage while driving is *probably* going up, yet, if distracted driving causes accidents (which we believe it does), WHERE ARE THE ACCIDENTS?
Hence the paradox.
The data is clear. During the entire time cellphone ownership has been going up in the USA, accidents have been going down.
You and I know of all the studies comparing driving while texting to drunk driving - yet - we can't find a single *reliable* set of statistics that shows anything other than total accidents going steadily *down* in the USA.
That's why it's the cellphone paradox. Where are the accidents?
Reply to
Some snipped.
So how is cell phone ownership determined? How many are laying in drawers or in landfills? Heck, I have three working models. I've probably thrown away three or four. No one can rightfully accuse me of being tech savvy. I buy used ones and use them until they quit working.
Reply to
Dean Hoffman
Jeff, we know each other for years over the net, and I know you to be a very data-based person.
Here's the paradox.
1. You and I believe that distracted driving can easily cause accidents. 2. Cellphone ownership has gone explosively up in the USA. 3. But, accidents have not.
That's the paradox.
A. We can *assume* that driving while using cellphones has gone up. B. We can also *assume* that distracted driving is dangerous. C. Unfortunately, distracted driving statistics are atrociously inaccurate.
Yet, the paradox remains because actual accident statistics are *extremely reliable*.
So, we really have two extremely reliable components of the paradox. a. Cellphone ownership has been going explosively up in the USA, b. All the while *accidents* have been going down.
Hence, the paradox. Where are all the accidents?
Reply to
In article , says...
Simple logic: that's only the case if there are no innovations (including improved behaviour) that compensate by decreasing accidents. E.g. say, ABS. But I know little about driving habits in the USA or changes in car equipment. I know that one of the counter-arguments to compulsory seat-belt wearing is that drivers are supposed to feel more invincible with their belt on. I have no idea if this has really been tested, or if it could be.
Reply to
Not if the vast majority of cell phoen users have sense enough not to text and drive. Then the remainder will have accidents some of the time while texting and accident rates will go up a little because of that. But the difference between this and dui accidents versus other accidents is that many accidents are just accidents and harder to prevent. But people can decide in advance not to drink and drive, or text and drive, or talk on the phone and drive, so those acts merit extra attention, extra prevention, and extra punishment, whether they cause an accident or not. .
How do you know C? And what difference does it make. Sometimes we must act based on assumptions.
Why is that a paradox?
I'm not sure that's true. Deaths were about 50,000 a year for a long time, but the institution of seat belts, padded dash, dual brakes, crumple zones, shoulder harnesses, airbags, lower speed limit** and some things I forget lowered the number to 35,000 a year even as the number of people driving increased with the increase in population and the number of miles increased at least that much.
What are the fatalities now? You're concerned about accidents, but accidents increase and decrrease as fatalities do, even if the correlation is not 1. And fatalities are more important than accidents, especially 100 dolllar dents,
**which I'm pretty much opposed to, especially since it was done by the feds, the reason was the oil crisis, and the shortage of oil is over.
See my first paragraph above.
Reply to
Any distraction is potentially dangerous. I've seen a driver run through a red light because she was so intently yakking it up with one of the other passengers in the car. (Women drivers...)
Reply to
Roger Blake
Presumably things like modern safety features in vehicles and the massive push against drunk driving (which 40 years ago was considered acceptable behaviour around here) have dramatically reduced the number of accidents, at the same time that cellphone use has increased it.
It's hard to get good data, though, when there are just so many different inputs into the system. --scott
Reply to
Scott Dorsey
When I see the possibility of a dangerous situation is about to develop, my ears turn off the conversation. Sometimes I say "shut up." I never use a cell phone while driving.
Reply to
Vic Smith
ceg writes:
If Jeff is data based, and you still disagree, what are you? Sounds like by calling Jeff data based, you are defending your approach which seems to be conjecture based.
That's not a paradox. A paradox would be "observed". Since we _measured_ the impact of using a cell phone while driving, we passed laws banning the practice and have embarked on an education campaign to limit the use of cell phones while driving.
I know that anecdotes are not data, but I remember seeing lots of drivers yakking away while driving. In the last few years, not so much.
Reply to
Dan Espen
Probably the same idiots who regularly have accidents are the same idiots who drive while distracted. Distracted driving can be caused by conversation, something you hear on the radio, a leaf blowing by, or a smudge on the windshield - drivers who are easily distracted may well be the same ones who have accidents whether or not they are using a cell phone.
So, the idiots will kill themselves (and other innocents) off at the same rate regardless of the source of distraction.
I can't wait for driverless cars so the distracted idiots no longer are driving and can do what they like while their car takes them from A to B.
The roads will then be much safer for those of us who actually LIKE driving - motorcyclists, sports car owners, etc. - and our attention is on the road not on the distractions.
John :-#)#
Reply to
John Robertson
In article ,
You do have a point. But consider that merely talking on the phone is no different than talking to a passenger in the vehicle, except when you talk with your hands! Accident rates getting lower over time may be the result of people driving with fewer passengers.
I rarely use my cellphone, but do have a GPS and Ham Radio riding with me. Both can be as distracting as texting. Lets just say I've been extremely lucky.
Reply to
Fred McKenzie
You have to realize what you just intimated.
Bear in mind, it's the PARADOX that we're trying to resolve.
If distracted driving statistics were reliable (they're not), then the paradox is EVEN WORSE!
Remember, the accidents don't seem to exist in the reliable statistics. The accidents only exist in the highly unreliable statistics, and they don't show up in the reliable ones - so - you and I both know what that means.
Even so, if, as you and I assume, cellphone use causes accidents, then we should be able to *see* those accidents in the aggregate statistics.
But we don't.
The fact that it's virtually impossible to determine whether a cellphone was the primary (or even secondary) cause of an accident isn't really part of the equation - because the accident count is going down (not up).
Hence the paradox. Where are the accidents?
Reply to
Look at the three assumptions, for example.
1. Let's say that you and I agree, for arguments sake, that cellphone use *does* cause accidents.
2. Furthermore, let's say we both can point to study after study after study that concludes the same thing (effects of drunk driving and all the comparisons apply here).
3. Even further, let's say we actually *believe* the highly flawed distracted-driving statistics
Reply to
That's a different question, but it's quite apropos. It's actually not "ownership" that matters so much as "use" while driving. But, we all know that it's terribly difficult to get *reliable* statistics of cellphone use while driving.
a. How do we know the cellphone found in an accident was used while the accident occurred? b. How do we know it was the driver using it?
That's why the statistics on distracted-driving-caused accidents are useless (or almost useless) to help us resolve the paradox.
We all feel that cellphone use while driving *should* be a contributor to the accidents, but the accidents aren't there. That's the paradox.
We can only assume one of two things, neither of which are we willing to assume: 1. Nobody is using their cellphones while driving, or, 2. Cellphone use while driving isn't causing accidents at any appreciable level.
No other options are available to us, given the reliable data on total accidents, year over year over year.
Hence the paradox.
Reply to
I actually do believe the government statistics on TOTAL ACCIDENTS because in most states, accidents are reportable (in California, for example, if it's more than seven hundred dollars for the entire accident, then *both* parties must report it). And, as you know, seven hundred dollars is nothing in a car accident, so, most are reported.
Plus, insurance companies are very good about reporting accidents, which people are very good about reporting to them when they need to make a claim (which we can presume at least one party to the accident would make).
So are police pretty good about reporting accidents that they are called in on to report upon.
What I don't believe is anyone's statistics on CELLPHONE USE while driving, simply because (as you noted) all of us know the inherent problem with compiling that specific statistic accurately.
However, the paradox remains whether or not we believe those (probably highly flawed) statistics on cellphone *use* while driving. In fact, the paradox GETS WORSE if we include these (probably highly flawed) statistics on cellphone use.
Do you see the paradox?
If it's so very bad to use the cellphone while driving (which most of us believe is the case, including me), then WHERE ARE THE ACCIDENTS?
They don't exist. Hence the paradox.
Reply to
Do you see that if we actually *believe* the cellphone driving statistics, that only makes the paradox (far) *WORSE* (not better!)?
Let's say we believe that cellphone use is distracting. Let's say we believe distracted driving is dangerous. Let's even say it's as dangerous as driving drunkly.
If that's the case, then there should be MORE accidents, not fewer accidents, year over year, as cellphone ownership rose steadily.
But, we see the exact opposite. Total accident figures (which are reliable numbers) are going down.
So, whether or not we believe that cellphone use while driving causes accidents, the paradox remains.
It's just MORE of a paradox if we believe (as I do) that cellphone use *causes* accidents.
The reason is that the accidents simply don't exist. Hence the paradox.
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