BlackBerry outage made roads safer, police claim

Filed Under: BlackBerry, Featured, Law & order, Mobile

Driving with BlackBerryAccording to media reports, police in the United Arab Emirates have given a surprising explanation for a dramatic fall in traffic accidents last week: drivers' BlackBerrys weren't working.

It's claimed that last week's worldwide BlackBerry outage, which frustrated business people around the world who were unable to communicate with their colleagues, had one positive result - less texting and reading of emails by people who should have been concentrating on driving instead.

Road traffic accidents in Abu Dhabi are said to have dropped by 40%, and there was a 20% reduction in Dubai in the past week.

According to The National newspaper, 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, both linked the drop to the service disruption experienced by BlackBerry users.

"Absolutely nothing has happened in the past week in terms of killings on the road and we're really glad about that," Brig Gen Al Harethi told the newspaper. "People are slowly starting to realise the dangers of using their phone while driving. The roads became much safer when BlackBerry stopped working."

There may be another explanation for the reduction in mobile-phone related traffic accidents in the UAE, however.

Theyab AwanaAt the end of last month, popular UAE footballer Theyab Awana was killed in a high speed crash near Abu Dhabi, and it was claimed that he was sending a message on his BlackBerry when he hit a lorry.

The football star's father, Awana Ahmad Al Mosabi, made an emotional plea to people not to use smartphones while driving, and a Facebook campaign against the use of BlackBerry Messenger while driving has grown in popularity.

Of course, texting messages or reading emails while you are in charge of a motor vehicle is insane. You aren't just putting yourself at risk, you're putting other innocent travellers in peril as well.

If you need any convincing, here's a shocking video that was made to highlight the danger. Please note: the video is graphic and may be upsetting to some people.

Whether you believe the police are right that the BlackBerry outage contributed to the reduction in road traffic accidents or not, please don't text and drive.

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11 Responses to BlackBerry outage made roads safer, police claim

  1. Paul J. · 920 days ago

    One heck of a video statement. Made me regret ever having done texting and driving my self.

    • Claire · 920 days ago

      Agreed. This video should be compulsory viewing for all drivers..

  2. Joe · 920 days ago

    I don't doubt that it had an impact. Of the four countries in the Middle East I have travel/lived in (Saudi/UAE/Egypt/Bahrain), and driven in, the traffic laws/road etiquette were a joke. It was a free for all on the roads. And if you weren't giving 100% attention you were most likely going to get in an accident. In Saudi (Riyadh) for instance, its so insane on the roads, at intersections you cannot have traffic flowing two ways. That is because people cannot to trusted to yield to oncoming traffic. Two lane roads became 4-5 lane roads as cars all tried to get ahead of each other at busy intersections. Of them all UAE was the most organized on the roads, probably a little worse than NYC driving.

  3. Hannah H · 920 days ago

    After seeing that video I am never getting in a car again. I thought those things were designed so they didn't shred the passengers on the inside!

  4. Dom C · 920 days ago

    If that doesn't put you off texting whilst driving, I don't know what would! Very powerful video.

  5. bisoune · 920 days ago

    I have been in cars with drivers texting... I asked them to pull over or to let me text for them... I know two people in two separate accidents being in the hospital because of texters... One of them was hospitalized for 3 months... the other could not work for a year.

  6. Ryan · 920 days ago

    I had a professor a few years ago that is the head of the IT department for a major university medical center (it shall not be named), that had to deal with doctors who wanted very specific cell phones so that they could text and drive more efficiently. It was one of those cases that you just wanted to /headbang.

  7. chcurtis · 920 days ago

    I don't know about the UAE, but in the US, only a small proportion of people use the Blackberry network, and those are more than likely to be businessmen. Most people use regular phone plans. So unless the maybe 10% of people with Blackberries are responsible for over 90% of the accidents to begin with, I don't see how a Blackberry outage would cause a 40% reduction in accidents.

    • T.Anne · 920 days ago

      The 40% wasn't for the US though, "Road traffic accidents in Abu Dhabi are said to have dropped by 40%, and there was a 20% reduction in Dubai in the past week"

      I'm sure there could be other factors at play though - I'd be curious what the normal trend is for this time of year, perhaps there's always a drop. Perhaps it did have to do with UAE football player's death. Perhaps it was a combo of all three that made the decrease higher than usual... or it could be something else all together.

      I have no doubt that texting and emailing does create a distraction while driving and can be the cause of many accidents, but I'm not so sure it's correct to jump to the conclusion that the outage is what accounted for the entire drop unless they've really looked at all possibilities.

  8. Jon Fukumoto · 920 days ago

    What a tragic loss of life!! This video should be watched by all who do this while driving. Here in Hawaii, we have a law which prohibits the use of ALL MOBILE DEVICES while driving. If caught, the driver is fined $92, which rises with each subsequent infraction. Despite this, I still see people either talking and texting while driving. People think that "it won't happen to me", but they're dead wrong. There was a person who did this and was involved in a head-on collision on Kalanianaole Highway and the cause was TEXTING WHILE DRIVING. People who do this need to wise up and PAY ATTENTION TO THE ROAD AND NOT YOUR MESSAGE!! I refuse to drive because of idiotic drivers who continue this dangerous practice. If you have to take a call or answer a text message, please either pull over to the side of the road, or if you have a friend riding with you, let him or her answer for you.

  9. Driving now.... · 919 days ago

    Blahblah blah. It's bad drivers that text that cause accidents not people that know how to drive. So tired of all the badgering. I think I'll text more becaue of all the PSAs and people that have to preach.

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About the author

Graham Cluley is an award-winning security blogger, and veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.