States and municipalities that have been attempting to enact texting-while-driving initiatives got some help recently, when studies showed that the number of accidents had gone down during the extended BlackBerry outage earlier this month.
Okay, granted, this was only in the United Arab Emirates countries of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, where accidents reportedly fell by 20 to 40 percent. In other regions, such as the Canadian province of Ontario, which reported on the phenomenon, accident statistics weren't yet in for that time period.
A number of states and municipalities, in the perception that texting while driving causes accidents, have enacted texting-while-driving laws in the past year or so, but results have been inconclusive. Indeed, some studies have indicated that accident rates actually went up -- perhaps because people were surreptitiously texting despite the law, or perhaps because the laws were too new to have resulted in a change in people's behavior.
The advantage of the BlackBerry outage is that one could actually be sure that people weren't texting on the sly. Police in the UAE said that accident rates went down among young men -- the same group that they said would be most llikely to be texting while driving in the first place. In addition, the outage lasted three full days in the UAE, as opposed to just half a day in other regions, such as Ontario, which provided a longer period of comparison and made it more likely that people's behavior might have changed because of it.
It will be interesting to look at results as accident statistics come in from other locations and, if they confirm the hypothesis, what could be done about it.