New fuel has been added to the long-burning question about whether cellphone use causes car accidents. Harvard researchers have researched government figures for auto accidents, and report that drivers talking on their cellphones are responsible for about 6% of U.S. auto accidents each year, killing an estimated 2,600 people and injuring 330,000 others. The Harvard study found that a cell-phone user has about 13 chances in 1 million of being killed in an accident while making a call, which compares with 49 in 1 million for driving without a seat belt.
This study updates a previous study released two years ago that estimated the chance of being killed while driving and talking on a cellphone as about six in a million (around half as much). The original study was financed by AT&T.
Other drivers and pedestrians have about four chances in 1 million of dying in an accident caused by a cellphone user, according to the new study. Their chance of being killed by a drunken driver is 18 in a million, more than four times as high. The statistics are based on an average cellphone use of 600 minutes a year.
New York state has already banned talking on cellphones while driving. Six other states have laws regulation cell phone use in cars, from one-hand-on-the-steering-wheel to prohibiting school bus drivers from using a cellphone.
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