Big Drop In Car Crashes Tracks With Blackberry Outage

The big Blackberry outage is having an unexpected positive side-benefit. During the days the Blackberry service was out, there’s been far fewer traffic accidents.

In Dubai, while Blackberries were offline, traffic accidents fell 20% from their average rates. In Abu Dhabi, accidents fell by 40% and there were no fatal accidents.

The director of the Abu Dhabi police department told The National that “accidents were reduced by 40 per cent and the fact that BlackBerry services were down definitely contributed to that.”

It seems that with drivers unable to check their messages, they’re focusing more on the road and driving safer.

BlackBerry Outage Linked to Massive Drop in Traffic Crashes [Streetsblog]


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  1. Cat says:

    We need a smart car that won’t start until all phones are turned off.

    • axhandler1 says:
    • Hi_Hello says:

      I was thinking of something like that too….

      but if someone can make something that prevent phones from working when they shouldn’t be working….someone will find a way to get around it.

    • Jawaka says:


    • Tyanna says:

      Um, if I’m not driving, why can’t I use my phone?

    • Tunnen says:

      Then drivers will circumevent that by turning their phone off before starting their car, then back on again… If you say they’ll then make that shut off the car, what happens when:

      1) You are driving a car and a passenger uses a cell.
      2) You need to call 911 to report a drunk driver, amber alert suspect, etc.
      3) You are stopped at a red light and a pedestrian walks by your car talking on a cellphone.
      4) Aliens attack…. =P

      I do believe a lot of people can’t use a phone and drive at the same time, but I also agree that a lot of people can’t drive even if they are not doing anything else. There are some that can drive responsibly while on a phone, though they are a small minority that can and which everyone thinks they are a part of. What I dislike is the focus on just cellphones. I’m sure the guy eating a burger, while sipping on his coffee, and fiddling with the radio is just as bad. Or the one doing personal grooming while driving. But like a lot of things, people only focus on the one aspect of the problem. Police currently focus a lot on speeding, yet don’t spend as much enforcement on other aggressive driving issues like tailgating, changing lanes without signalling, yielding and right of way issues at intersections.

      • dolemite says:

        You need to change “a lot of people” to “95% of people”.

        Half the people on the road have no business driving anyhow. Then throw in the distraction of a cell, and you basically have a drunk driver.

        • Schmoozer says:

          “Half the people on the road have no business driving anyhow.”

          You need to change the “half” to “95%.” But yes, exactly, thank you.

      • Tunnen says:

        In BC, it is illegal to drive while using a cellphone or other electronic device like GPSs, with some exceptions (hands-free, calls to 911, etc.). Since this ban has come into effect, I think I’m the only one I know that has obeyed it fully. I know my mother still texts, though she does at least use a Bluetooth device for voice calls, my coworker still texts and talks on their phones. My roommate continues to do so, and still tries to get me to “look at this” on her phone while I’m driving. I get calls from friends asking for directions, while they are driving trying to find the place they are going to. When I’m out and about I still see drivers trying to hide their phone while driving and using it. I find it funny that people don’t understand how obvious it is you are reading/writing a text on your lap, or that hand you are holding over your ear while talking may cover the phone but we all know what you are doing.

        It’s been a year, and I haven’t noticed any difference because it looks to me that everyone seems to be ignoring it. Just like all the issues with pirating music. The common reasoning seems to be “Everyone else does it, so why can’t I!”

      • Jawaka says:

        Simple, a cell blocker turns on when the car starts. you try to make a call when the car’s on and you won’t get a signal. And wah, wah, wah to passengers. We’ve survived without having to make calls while in the car for decades now. We’ll survive again. If it’s that important then pull over.

        • Tunnen says:

          You are driving down the road. A person in your vehicle starts to have a medical emergency. The driver is rushing to the hospital but neither they nor another person in the vehicle can contact 911 for assistance. Do you stop and pull over to make the call potentially delaying access to medical assistance, or do you keep going and lose out on potentially alerting staff to be prepared for your arrival or to obtain instructions to increase the patient’s chance of survival?

          So you are driving down the road and hear an amber alert on the radio and the suspect is in front of you or you are witnessing a driver weaving all over the road. You can not call 911 to report it and there is no place to safely pull over. Even if it was safe to pull off the road, you now no longer are keeping eyes on the suspect to report their exact location to the authorities.

          So you managed to stop people from making a call while driving, assuming they haven’t yet found a circumvention, but have now caused possibly more damaged. The main thing I guess it boils down to “Is the risk to reward ratio worth it?”

          • Jawaka says:

            I’m sure that we can all come up with a worst case scenario for any plan. However I feel that the advantages to not having to worry about people talking or texting on the phone while driving any more will outweigh the few unfortunate negatives.

        • Tunnen says:

          Not to mention the other issue of having a cell blocker in every car, you now introduced a whole crap load of interference into the environment as jammers usually effect other frequencies as well. Not to mention that current cell technologies use many different frequencies depending on service provider. It would be hard to contain the jammer to only block your car as well, so you’d cause issues around your car. Any urban center would likely have no cell service at all due to the mass amounts of jamming from all running vehicles happening simultaneously.

          And I’d love to see the outrage from those people that claim they are sensitive to electromagnetic radiation if this happened as well.

    • euroae says:

      Your thinking too small and negatively. We need smart cars that do the driving for us so we can do whatever we want.

    • atthec44 says:

      No, we don’t.

    • ldillon says:

      How about phones that automatically go to voice mail if the car is moving over 10 MPH?

      • formatc says:

        I think it’s the text/email stuff, not calls, that are the issue. The things that make you look away from the road for an extended period of time.

        • Tunnen says:

          I agree that texting is a much larger issue. Looking away from the road, then focusing on a small screen to read the message, while then trying to type a response since a lot of people need to look to type, takes a lot of focus. Even if you try to keep an eye on the road, you are losing a small amount of time for your eyes to refocus between distance and near viewing. It only takes a split second for a kid to run into the street, a jackass to change lanes without signaling, or other road hazard and that extra second or two of a delay can be the difference between a near collision and a fatality.

          Though trying to search through your contact list to find a name to call also cause you to look away from the road as well and again if timing is off it can cause just as much of a problem. I think on average it takes a lot less time then reading and composing a response but that still doesn’t make it safe.

          • Rena says:

            As I was taught: don’t look away from the road, except to glance at your mirrors and dashboard every so often. If you’re doing anything else, you’re not focusing on driving, and driving takes all of your concentration.

        • TasteyCat says:

          Even hands free, phone calls are dangerous, since they provide a distraction.

          • Phil Villakeepinitrreal says:

            Sorry, but I’m going to call bullshit on that claim. If talking on the phone hands-free is automatically dangerous, then so is talking with another person in the car, and no one has suggested outlawing that. Just like talking with someone physically in the car, the key is to keep your primary attention on the road during the conversation.

    • bluline says:

      Phones used by passengers, too? Until that issue is solved, the basic idea will never fly.

  2. Coffee says:

    There are always confounding variables when statistics like this come up. For example, when my blackberry stopped working, I became depressed and stopped drinking. Consequently, I stopped driving around my town throwing empty beer bottles at the neighbors’ mailboxes. Wait…I forgot what we’re talking about.

    • SecretShopper: pours out a lil' liquor for the homies Wasp & Otter says:

      Wait so blackberries are also responsible for alcoholism and petty vandalism?

    • axhandler1 says:

      Wait, when you get depressed, you stop drinking? That’s usually when I start drinking. Heavily.

      • Coffee says:

        Wait…maybe I stop drinking because I’m broke…which is also why I’m depressed…it’s hard to tell, confounding variables and whatnot.

  3. mauispiderweb says:

    What we need is people that aren’t so self-important.

  4. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    It seems like driving in Dubai and Abu Dhabi was extremely risky in the first place, whether you focused on a BlackBerry. I mean, for accidents to drop 20% and 40%, you didn’t have much of a chance to begin with, I don’t think.

    • maxhobbs says:

      Do you understand basic math? To state that “you didn’t have a chance” just because they say the percentage drop is meaningless.

      I mean, maybe before the outage there were a whopping 5 accidents, which dropped to 4 (20% drop) or 3 (40% drop).

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Can you read? I said “you didn’t have much of a chance” – you took out a word which changes the phrase entirely.

        And in the article referenced in the linked article: “On average there is a traffic accident every three minutes in Dubai, while in Abu Dhabi there is a fatal accident every two days.”

  5. dolemite says:

    If I am following a shmuck that is driving 5 below the limit in the passing lane, hitting the brakes for no reason or swaying slightly from side to side, I can tell they are on the phone. Soon, their speed picks up, they stop running red lights and they drive “in sync” with traffic around them. That’s the moment I see they’ve hung up the phone.

    • bluline says:

      My wife is like that when she walks around the neighborhood. She’s fine until she starts talking on the phone at which points she slows to about three-quarters speed and I have to nudge her to keep up. She literally can’t walk and talk at the same time!

  6. MJDickPhoto says:

    I put an app on the wifes phone so the data turns off when the GPS sees that she is moving more then 25 MPH. She has never put that together that she doesn’t get info while driving. I think this should become STANDARD on all phones.

    • Tunnen says:

      But what if you are a passenger in the car, taking transit, riding a train, or in a boat? I’m sure if it’s only an app that you know about, you can unlock it when you want but if you are thinking of using it as an enforcement tool on society you can’t have an unlock option or the people that want to ignore that law will do just that… Like the people that still decide to drink and drive, or drive without a valid license or insurance. But if you don’t have an over-ride, then you unfairly restrict the rest of the populace that is not trying to break the law.

      Some people convicted of DUI may get a ignition interlock device to prevent them from starting a car until they provide and pass a breath test, but that doesn’t stop them from getting someone else to provide the sample to start the car. People always find a way to circumvent restrictions, look at DRM.

    • dangerp says:

      It would be nice to be able to limit data to say, turn by turn navigation. Sometimes it helps you to keep your eyes on the road and concentrate if you don’t have to be reading directions, and you know your phone will tell you when to exit. No, I don’t want to buy a second device that does this.

  7. JeremieNX says:

    *shakes cane* HANG UP AND DRIVE!!!!

  8. TBGBoodler says:

    Isn’t the outage over? Why is this written in the present tense?

  9. pgh9fan1 says:

    “,,,there’s been far fewer traffic accidents.”? How about using “there have been…”?

  10. eturowski says:

    Correlation != causation.

    • Grungo says:

      Oh hush. Who needs your “scientific terminology” and demands of “proof”. Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

    • weathergirl says:

      Thank you. I read the comments just because I was curious to see if someone pointed that out. I was *almost* disappointed.

    • motoh says:

      Except this is Dubai, and those black plastic ear cancers are only a part of the horror story of driving there. I can readily believe that the outage improved their traffic statistics.

  11. ldillon says:

    Why don’t we require incoming calls automatically go to voice mail if the vehicle is going over 10mph? Maybe with an override code where you certify you are a passenger.

  12. Nobby says:

    I noticed the attached photo was shot in Chicago. Therefore, that’s not an accident…it’s parallel parking silly.

  13. ScarletAnn says:

    Sixty percent of all statistical claims are just made up.