US roadways safer, but do cell-phone bans help
To listen to television news one would think that SUV driving teens are cutting a swath of destruction across America while using their phones. The truth is a little less scary. Traffic deaths have been in decline for years, and according to an analysis by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), traffic deaths are at an all-time low. At the same time cell phone usage has gone up significantly. Many assumptions about cell phone usage prove untrue when studied scientifically.
The reason for the apparent contradiction may be how we tell ourselves we behave. Many accidents reported by local news outlets focus on the dramatic hot-button words to grab attention. For example “SUV crashes into house, driver dies.” Rather than wait a day for the police report to gather all of the facts, the news will rush the story to TV and show an SUV against the side of a house with steam rising from the radiator. The media will use the buzz word “SUV” and imply that the vehicle type was the cause of the accident and imply that the driver was killed by his vehicle. A closer look might have revealed that the crash was caused by a driver who died of a heart attack and coasted into the side of a home. That is far less interesting so the story is reported quickly.