Did The BlackBerry Outage Save Lives In the UAE And Elsewhere?

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth

The “War On Distracted Driving”, like most of the other wars in which the United States has participated in the past forty years, appears to be a rather muddled way of addressing an improperly defined problem. For the Ray LaHoods of the world, it has to be absolutely maddening that the “epidemic” of distracted driving has yet to lead to any sort of measurable decrease in road safety.

For them, I have some good news. While the plural of “anecdote” is never “data”, it would appear that a BlackBerry outage may have gained a crucial hill in the “War On Distracted Driving”. The problem: as usual, the hill is overseas somewhere.

The Arabian online paper The National reported over the weekend that, during last week’s European and Middle Eastern BlackBerry outage, drivers in Dubai and Abu Dhabi failed to run into each other with their usual vigor:

In Dubai, traffic accidents fell 20 per cent from average rates on the days BlackBerry users were unable to use its messaging service. In Abu Dhabi, the number of accidents this week fell 40 per cent and there were no fatal accidents.

On average there is a traffic accident every three minutes in Dubai, while in Abu Dhabi there is a fatal accident every two days.

Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan Tamim, the chief of Dubai Police, and Brig Gen Hussein Al Harethi, the director of the Abu Dhabi Police traffic department, linked the drop in accidents to the disruption of BlackBerry services between Tuesday and Thursday

Police around the world are notorious for saying whatever stupid, unproveable thing comes into their minds — in one famous case a few decades ago, a policeman estimated that a 4.5-liter US-spec Porsche 928 was doing “about 200mph” at the time of an accident — but in this case there may well be correlation between the service outage and an interruption in on-road fatalities. It’s already illegal to use a BlackBerry on the move in the Emirates, so there won’t be any new legislation as a result of these figures. Nor is it certain that there is any correlation between Arab text-and-crash accidents and conditions in North America. The cultures are very different, as made plain by the top comment on the National’s article:

police say, BlackBerry cuts made roads safer. The Headline Begs for Tough Fines (3000Dhs) for anyone using mobile phones while driving. If god had intended for you to drive and use a mobile communication Device, like a spider he would have given you 8 eyes.

Jack Baruth
Jack Baruth

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  • Zbnutcase Zbnutcase on Oct 19, 2011

    Always have been and always will be for some type of a car/phone interlock. If your phone is turned on your car wont start

    • Mnm4ever Mnm4ever on Oct 20, 2011

      nice idea, but with the frequency that my phone doesnt work right, I would hate to be stranded because of some stupid software screwup. One time I tried that "Drivesafe.ly" app, what a nightmare. It would randomly determine I was driving, and therefore activated itself. Then it would just start reading random text messages out loud, usually at the wrong times, like in meetings, or when I was making other phone calls. One time I was on the phone with a client and drivesafe.ly decided to start reading aloud a very personal and NSFW text message from about a month earlier... which the client could hear! Its funny now but at the time it was embarrassing, and I removed the app after that one!

  • Eldard Eldard on Oct 19, 2011

    Lucky you people your only concern are texting drivers. In my country it's cheap motorcycles and scooters from China that the dumb masses here can now afford. They weave in and out of traffic without regard for anyone. Even the toddlers and babies and wives i.e. entire families, they carry with them. Most don't have helmets on.

    • Eldard Eldard on Oct 21, 2011

      Um, yeah. Probably around the same time I made the above comment my friend's brother got into a motorcycle accident and got hit by a dump truck in the next town. I've yet to ask the details or who's at fault but it was fatal.

  • 3-On-The-Tree Jeff I a,so had a 1969 Thunderbird with the 429 V8, and it was a smooth highway cruiser. I sold all those cars when I got commissioned into the Army. I regret selling those cars and miss the simplicity of them. I do have an 1985 FJ 60 Land Cruiser and it is real easy to get to everything in the engine bay. My 16 year old son inherited it. The Mavericks are pretty popular here in Az.
  • John Hummer owners don't care. Like shingles.
  • Wjtinfwb Funny. When EV's were bursting onto the scene; Tesla's, Volt's, Leaf's pure EV was all the rage and Hybrids were derided because they still used a gas engine to make them, ahem; usable. Even Volt's were later derided when it was revealed that the Volt's gas engine was actually connected to the wheels, not just a generator. Now, Hybrids are warmly welcomed into the Electric fraternity by virtue of being "electrified". If a change in definition is what it takes, I'm all for it. Hybrid's make so much sense in most American's usage patterns and if needed you can drive one cross-country essentially non-stop. Glad to see Hybrid's getting the love.
  • 3-On-The-Tree We also had a 1973 IH Scout that we rebuilt the engine in and it had dual glass packs, real loud. I miss those days.
  • 3-On-The-Tree Jeff thanks. Back in 1990 we had a 1964 Dodge D100 with a slant six with a 3 on the tree. I taught myself how to drive a standard in that truck. It was my one of many journeys into Mopar land. Had a 1973 Plymouth duster with a slant six and a 1974 Dodge Dart Custom with 318 V8. Great cars and easy to work on.