Alcohol, Mobile Devices, and Traffic Accidents

Alcohol, Mobile Devices, and Traffic Accidents

Al-Qabas, Kuwait, May 29

I recently came across a journal article that described a fascinating scientific research study conducted in 2006. As a part of this experiment, 40 individuals were chosen to test their driving skills on a computer simulator mimicking real driving conditions. The subjects were divided into four treatment groups, as follows: the first group was subjected to no external stimuli; the second group was allowed to use a handheld mobile device; the third group was allowed to use a speaker-based mobile device (without holding it); and the fourth group consumed alcoholic drinks above the permissible level for driving a vehicle. At the conclusion of the experiment, the researchers examined which group was involved in the largest number of accidents. Like many other readers, I expected the largest number of accidents and traffic violations to be caused by the group that was under the influence of alcohol. However, the results were jarring. The two groups with the highest number of accidents were the two that allowed drivers to use their mobile phones – whether they held the device in their hands or simply used their speakerphone. Indeed, the number of accidents caused by the phone users was over five times higher than accidents caused by those driving without any distraction. This led me to do my own research to try and understand the leading causes of car accidents today. I quickly discovered that most studies unanimously point out that the overwhelming majority of traffic accidents and violations occur as a result of four main factors: lack of driving experience, using a mobile phone, speeding, and driving under the influence. In light of these facts, which are well known to all, we call on the Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior Maj-Gen Jamal Al-Sayegh, to tighten the enforcement of phone usage in cars, and to use traffic cameras that capture such violations with high accuracy. Our media should also raise awareness of this issue and warn against using the phone while operating a vehicle. The Ministry of Education should devote considerable efforts to teaching this topic at schools. Sadly, it seems as if our authorities only care about dissuading the consumption of alcohol among youth. If drinking was the primary cause of traffic accidents in our country, the streets would be filled with political advertisements, banners and radio announcements bankrolled by religious parties. But when it comes to the use of mobile phones, we hear nothing. The time has come to change that. – Ahmed Al-Sarraf (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)


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