BlackBerry's crash saved drivers' lives
The highways of Abu Dhabi and Dubai became much safer when drivers couldn't use their mobile devices.
This post comes from Des Toups at partner site CarInsurance.com.
Confronted with a massive outage of BlackBerry services for three days last week, motorists in the United Arab Emirates hung up and drove.
Police in Abu Dhabi and Dubai are crediting the service disruption for dramatically safer roads. Police say accidents fell 20% in Dubai (typically there is an accident every three minutes, they say), and 40% in Abu Dhabi.
"The roads became much safer when BlackBerry stopped working," Brig. Gen. Hussein Al Harethi told The National online newspaper. Post continues after video from last week about the BlackBerry outage.
The anomaly only underlines the toll taken the rest of the time.
Two weeks earlier, promising soccer player Theyab Amana died when he rear-ended a truck. Police say he was texting just before the crash.
He was returning from a funeral for another athlete who had died in a car crash.
UAE roads are among the deadliest in the world, with drivers dying at a rate triple that of the U.S. Only 11% of Emiratis wear safety belts, compared with 85% of occupants in the U.S.
Yet the United Arab Emirates is aggressively tackling the distraction issue with laws that in some cases are more severe than those in the U.S. Drivers not using a headset are fined and get four points on their licenses; drivers who "pose a danger to the public" lose their licenses for a month and get 12 points. (At 24 points, drivers lose their privileges for three months.) The state has handed out more than 36,000 tickets in 2011.
In the U.S., the battle rages on, and the trend seems to be accommodation (see "The mixed message on cellphone use") rather than escalation. In most U.S. states, drivers do not receive points on their licenses for cellphone infractions. (See "Tickets that don't raise your insurance rates.")
Ford announced Tuesday that it had updated its SYNC entertainment and communications system to allow text-reading functionality. Drivers can download text messages, which are read aloud to them, and then respond with one of 15 canned answers.
More on CarInsurance.com and MSN Money:
dutch...what's your point?
Yes, you are living the free life until Mr. important on his cell phone drives right into the back of your new car (happened to me and I was sitting at a red light for several seconds before I got hit).
Some people are dangerous enough without the extra distractions.
Grow up! There is a common phrase that goes like this.... "Your right to swing your fist stops at the end of my nose". While you are enjoying your freedom to drive like a moron, you are endangering me and everyone else on the road. So when you broadside grandma or kill the infant in the baby seat, or run over the pedestrian....don't forget how important being "free" is.
And to anyone who thinks they are able to focus on driving while using a phone, you are wrong. Get over yourself. You aren't superior to everyone else and you get distracted like everyone else. Hang up the phone, put it down and leave it alone. Oh yeah, when you get tempted to spout off about how other distractions (CD player, children in car, passenger conversations) might exist, don't waste your time. That's like saying that I should get to drive with a blindfold on because other people use their phones while driving.
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