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Blackberry Cellphones Communications Handhelds Transportation

UAE Police Claim BlackBerry Outage Made Roads Safer 206

Posted by Soulskill
from the keep-your-thumbs-at-ten-and-two dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Road traffic accidents in Abu Dhabi and Dubai plummeted last week — and the local police have a theory as to why: drivers' BlackBerrys weren't working. Police in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have 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. There could be other factors at play, however. For instance, popular UAE soccer player Theyab Awana was killed in a high speed crash near Abu Dhabi in September, amid claims 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."
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UAE Police Claim BlackBerry Outage Made Roads Safer

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 17, 2011 @09:07PM (#37746212)

    Yes, blame BlackBerries and their incredibly difficult to type on keyboards.

    In all seriousness, though, why isn't it a campaign against texting while driving?

    • by jhoegl (638955)
      It is, the Blackberry outage is a proof of concept as it were.

      Much like guns... Blackberries dont kill people, idiots who text while driving do.
    • You've never used a full-sized Blackberry (Bold, Tour), have you? The keyboard on my Bold is the best of any cell phone I've ever used, including Droid2, N810, and various virtual ones.
    • The problem is not only about banning texting. All the activities that can distract the attention of a driver should be heavily limited: phone calls, using ham radio/CB equipments, and so on. Some serious accidents happened here in Europe simply because the driver was busy tuning the car radio. Now car radio market is offering DTV/DVD on board: can you imagine the consequences ?!? I don't think that placing a sticker saying "don't use this product while driving" will avoid car accidents, isn't it ?!?
      • by delinear (991444)
        That's true, but you can only go so far before it potentially becomes counter-productive. Fiddling with radios, for instance, might lead to accidents. The obvious answer is to ban radios, but how many lives does the radio save by keeping people awake and alert on long, boring road journeys? The answer is to make the interface less obtrusive - I can change volume and station without my hands leaving the steering wheel now. Something like Siri/Google voice controls might eventually do more to save lives than
        • Far fewer than you would think. Loud music makes drivers think they're safe but they fall asleep almost as fast. I can't find the study but there is one.
          • by danomac (1032160)

            Music never did it for me... however, listening to talk radio that is discussing a topic you're interested in helped.

      • by N0Man74 (1620447)

        Why stop there? There are other many things that have been proven to be distractions as well.

        We should outlaw children riding in the car, talking to other passengers, and attractive members of the opposite sex sitting in the passenger seat.

        In fact, it's been shown that there is a rise in accidents from male drivers during spring and summer months, which is believed to be due to the increase of females wearing more shorts or other more revealing clothing. We should ban female pedestrians too, to prevent ac

        • Then we should outlaw scenic routes. You are driving to get somewhere, not for scenery. Scenery is just a distractions.

          Reminds me of one offroad rally I was on, I crested a hill with a great view of the jungle valley below with clouds floating below me and the ocean in the distance. I'm sure it was an awesome sight but I barely had time to flick a glance at it since I was driving flat-out on a crappy narrow road with the cliff with the breathtaking view on the left and trees on the right. I really wanted to look but it wouldn't have been safe.

        • by srussia (884021)

          What else am I missing?

          Eva Herzigova

    • by Krneki (1192201)

      Yes, blame BlackBerries and their incredibly difficult to type on keyboards.

      In all seriousness, though, why isn't it a campaign against texting while driving?

      Why bother, when natural evolution can solve this problem?

      • by squizzar (1031726) on Tuesday October 18, 2011 @04:37AM (#37747904)

        Because as someone who also uses the roads I'd prefer not to be selected out of the gene pool by some cunt who has some desperate need to send texts and make calls whilst in the middle of dense, fast moving rush hour traffic. Not all rules are there to protect you from yourself...

    • by Krneki (1192201)

      Yes, blame BlackBerries and their incredibly difficult to type on keyboards.

      In all seriousness, though, why isn't it a campaign against texting while driving?

      Why bother when natural evolution can solve this problem?

      • Nerds and Geeks should be very careful about recommending Natural Selection.

        • by tompaulco (629533)
          Nerds and Geeks should be very careful about recommending Natural Selection. Why is that? Nerds and geeks are more likely to make a stable living when they grow up. Sure all the girls want the jocks in high school, but at some point those girls grow up and realize that they want somebody with a job. Besides, as nerds and geeks grow older, they get more distinguished, while the jocks just turn into mush.
          • Well, for starters, as in this case, the unintended consquences of that suggestion would put you in danger. Then there's the matter of NS involving survival of brutality and mating. Not sure why I'm explaining this, really.

    • by tinkerton (199273)

      This is why drinking improves road safety: when you're drunk it's much too hard to use those little buttons so at least you have your eyes on the road.

      Hey I have the right to have an opinion!

    • If SMS, BBM, and FB blocked messaging when a phone was traveling on a road then lots of the problem could go away. Road GPS routes can be determined without much difficultly at the network level, and data like from the UAE shows that it will save lives.

      Only audio interfaces should be permissible for drivers. I can safely use the phone with hands free voice dial and a headset while driving. I slow or pull over if it's business and I need to focus heavily on the discussion. Otherwise, I'm just sending not

  • by msobkow (48369) on Monday October 17, 2011 @09:18PM (#37746268) Homepage Journal

    Having seen people swerving from lane to lane while talking or texting, there's no doubt in my mind cell usage while driving should be banned.

    But I'm amazed that Abu Dhabi and Dubai have such a high penetration of Blackberries in their country that the outage could actually make a difference in road safety statistics. That's just amazing to me.

    I wonder what would happen to the safety stats if all cell phones were disabled for a day as an experiment? (Not that it'll ever happen.)

    • by Belial6 (794905)
      I have seen people swerving from lane to lane while not talking or texting. I will agree that trying to read, whether that is a phone, a book, or a newspaper is a bad idea. The phone rage is just a symptom of neo-ludditism though.
      • by tqk (413719)

        I will agree that trying to read, whether that is a phone, a book, or a newspaper is a bad idea. The phone rage is just a symptom of neo-ludditism though.

        Here, it's called distracted driving. You're sharing a road with hundreds of other people all moving at high velocity in multi-ton vehicles. You need all your wits and attention to do that safely, for all involved. Check out the death while driving statistics if you don't believe me. It's far more dangerous than anything else we do.

        You using a cell phone for anything while driving isn't anything we need. Just fscking pull over!

        • by Belial6 (794905)
          I am well aware that driving is the most dangerous activity that we do. As soon as I meet a single driver that uses "all their wits and attention" while driving, I will give your argument weight. At this point, I have not met a single one. I also highly doubt that YOU use all your wits and attention to drive safely. More likely, you like most drivers have passengers in your car, drive early in the morning, drive late at night, or the most hypocritical of actions, use your car stereo while driving.

          You
    • by idji (984038)
      Blackberry usage there is very high because you could buy a blackberry easily at any supermarket checkout because the telcos were pushing it hard, and because everyone knew that Blackberry Messaging was "uncrackable", and so people felt safer from being watched.
      There are MANY foreigners working there and 11% of mobile phone users where using blackberries to communicate - it was also a cheap and secure way to communicate back to family and friends in India.
      Also remember that Dubai was where the whole fuss
    • But I'm amazed that Abu Dhabi and Dubai have such a high penetration of Blackberries in their country that the outage could actually make a difference in road safety statistics. That's just amazing to me.

      The few ME countries I've been to have virtually no signals or lane markers, insanly narrow roads and cars merging from more directions than can be counted on a single hand.

      People beep their horns constantly in traffic not out of anger but to alert others of their presence so they don't get hit.

      If the UAE is anything like this craziness it wouldn't surprise me one bit if this is all true.

    • by Syberz (1170343)
      I remember the days where nobody had cellphones and people weren't tethered to the office 24/7... the World still managed to move forwards during that time and people seemed way more relaxed.
    • But I'm amazed that Abu Dhabi and Dubai have such a high penetration of Blackberries in their country that the outage could actually make a difference in road safety statistics. That's just amazing to me.

      What, you think they only have sand, camels and AK-47s? In terms of technology they're in the same ballpark as any first-world country.

    • by Krneki (1192201)
      People will find something else to do while driving. Before cell phones it was a regular custom to read newspapers while driving.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHFk1TpWOIg [youtube.com]

      Hell, I even saw a truck driver cooking pasta while driving on the highway.

  • Banninate it. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FyberOptic (813904) on Monday October 17, 2011 @09:19PM (#37746276)

    Most people accept that texting and cellphones cause accidents. But, most people also think they're better drivers than everyone else, and therefore it's okay for them to do it. Even cops do it. I see them all the time.

    The only solution is making it illegal internationally. But considering the U.S. alone only bans it in a handful of states, we have a long way to go of convincing people that their ego doesn't make it okay.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dark_requiem (806308)
      As a quick aside, cops in general seem to be pretty shitty drivers. Had a couple incidents where cops who were simply talking to their partners nearly swerved in to me.

      But, more to the point, it's a slippery slope issue. Eating in your car is also distracting. Do you solve it by banning drive-throughs? Reading in your car is a distraction. Do cops issue tickets if they see an atlas or a copy of the local newspaper on the seat when they pull you over? How about if you jotted down directions to where
      • by rolfwind (528248)

        Why shouldn't distracted driving be an offense? You talk about specific rules (like banning food) but just like fraud, you can make the generalized cases illegal and not have to think of every form of it.

        Look, I'm tired of speeding being the most enforced rule on the road. From what I experienced, speeders are focused on their driving, and less likely to put others around them to sleep. Yet, I never seen cops pull over people for failure to use turn signals or any other offense.

        It's time to clamp down th

      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        But, more to the point, it's a slippery slope issue. Eating in your car is also distracting. Do you solve it by banning drive-throughs? Reading in your car is a distraction. [blah blah blah]

        It really isn't a slippery slope though.
        Your asinine argument seems to ignore the reality that we haven't already banned those things since Henry Ford brought cheap cars to the masses 97 years ago.

        And yet here we are, with safety experts and organizations consistently endorsing legislation that singles out cell phones.

        You, like most statists, are proposing a one-size-fits-all solution to a problem that doesn't have one.

        Oh please. 99% of us are statists.
        The only difference is how and where we think think the state should be acting.

        P.S. Banning *anything* while driving is not the same thing as a general prohib

        • by gl4ss (559668)

          being distracted while driving is actually illegal in most countries.

          doesn't matter what the reason is.

          but adding specific distraction laws is supposed to underline some distractions.. but actually it's hurting the general concept, because people will then label everything else as ok.

      • Re:Banninate it. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rolfwind (528248) on Monday October 17, 2011 @11:03PM (#37746756)

        To add to the last post:

        Some people can multitask to the point where they can talk on the phone and drive. Some people need a hands-free device to achieve the same result.

        A lot less than many people think. Most overestimate their abilities:
        http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=95256794 [npr.org]

        Which is a very American trait, I noticed:
        http://desicritics.org/2006/10/20/012720.php [desicritics.org]

        Kind of like how those people who "work" 12 hours a day, brag about it, and lag behind people who work an honest 8 hours a day in productive because they spend most of the time at the watercooler or on the internet. Seriously, when you're driving, please drive - stop overestimating your abilities when they really get reduced by not paying attention. If you don't want to do that, either carpool with someone who doesn't have that problem and is willing to drive, or use mass transit.

        But stfu because you can't stop diddling with your smartphone for 30 seconds and want to bullshit the rest of us that you're just as good with it as without it.

        • Agreed, many people think they have super human abilities, especially young men. Turning ones eyes upward while thinking is a very common behaviour that basically shuts out whatever else is going on, most (if not all) people do it unconsciously. When mobile phones first became popular in the 90's I would talk on mine while driving with no apparent problems, however one day I realised that I was turning my eyes upward to think about the answer to a question the caller had asked. I suddenly realised what I wa
          • And my advice is: Please, for the love of all that is logical, get the hell off the road and stop driving! Seriously, you can't conflate the fact that you have some weird habit of dazing off and staring in to space with the notion that everyone does that. I don't. My friends don't. That's very odd, and not exactly a common trait amongst our fellow humans, so far as my powers of observation serve me.

            That aside, its very good that you recognize this limitation you have. Its wonderful that you make app
        • by Inda (580031)
          I have a friend who's the absolute best at Forza on the 360. Out of all of us, best lap times, always coming first... Until we talk to him or he's had a couple of shandies.

          He needs full consentration, or he's just average.

          It's doubly scary when I think of him driving his tangable car while talking on his phone.
          • Okay, see if you can follow me on this one: Forza is a game. A racing game. A game where you drive really, really fast. Much faster and on much more difficult tracks than you would encounter driving down a typical highway. And, unless he's invested in a wheel, a gamepad is not a steering wheel, R1 is not a clutch, and you don't shift with buttons. You can't compare a game with unrealistic controls where you're supposed to drive fast and take risks to driving in real life under normal circumstances (un
        • Kind of like how those people who "work" 12 hours a day, brag about it, and lag behind people who work an honest 8 hours a day in productive because they spend most of the time at the watercooler or on the internet. Seriously, when you're driving, please drive - stop overestimating your abilities when they really get reduced by not paying attention. If you don't want to do that, either carpool with someone who doesn't have that problem and is willing to drive, or use mass transit.

          But stfu because you can't stop diddling with your smartphone for 30 seconds and want to bullshit the rest of us that you're just as good with it as without it.

          You know, we can be more objective about this. The parent was talking about talking on a phone while driving with and without a headset. Simply having a conversation while driving can lower your response times, and having one free hand during that puts you at a stupidly high risk for what you're accomplishing. Still, you can mitigate some of the risk by choosing carefully when and when not to have a conversation in the car. Some people even turn the radio down when driving gets tense. I might accept a

      • by dkf (304284)

        Some people can multitask to the point where they can talk on the phone and drive.

        But I bet you're not one of them. Not and drive safely. (Drive like a drunken homicidal maniac, that I'd accept.)

        Driving safely requires attention. Really. For everyone, everywhere, because it's always possible for something random to happen that's not your fault. Doesn't matter. Pay attention and you'll (usually) have enough time to deal with it. Distracted, and you lose that opportunity.

        If you're not giving it your full attention as a driver, you're not safe for yourself, for your passengers (if you've go

        • Driving safely requires attention. Really. For everyone, everywhere, because it's always possible for something random to happen that's not your fault. Doesn't matter. Pay attention and you'll (usually) have enough time to deal with it. Distracted, and you lose that opportunity.

          Absolutely! On a typical stretch of road, I'm quite able to drive & drink/eat/fiddle with the radio. However, I could be just one corner away from a heavy traffic or even a wreck that requires 100% of my focus to avoid. Driving is my #1 priority. If I need to use the phone, I can pull over.

    • by msobkow (48369)

      It's illegal in many districts, but the law is ignored by many. Their personal convenience is more important.

      One of the most shameless examples is the mayor of Toronto, who has been repeatedly been caught by the citizens of Toronto yapping on his cell phone while driving. You'd think he would lead by example and avoid the bad publicity, but he's too narcissistic to learn his lesson.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        I have never understood why anyone with money would WANT to hold their cellphone while they're driving. I installed a car stereo with bluetooth cellphone integration in my car for under $200 and I've got a little microphone sprouting out of my dash. (For another $30 or so I could get something that would blend with the interior, but eh.) My phone goes in the center console and I run it from the stereo. If you have zero dollars for stuff like that I understand why you'd hold your phone, but seriously.

    • You think the _US_ should be the one to be convincing _others_ of this? In the UK it's already illegal, it's the _US_ that needs to learn this from other countries.

      • by Candid88 (1292486)

        Cellphone driving bans of one type or another are present in most developed countries. http://www.cellular-news.com/car_bans/ [cellular-news.com].

        You are right, although researchers in the USA were amongst the first to document the danger of cellphone usage whilst driving, the USA is a relative late-comer in banning its occurrence, no doubt due to the usual "my voters don't care what science says" attitude of US politicians.

    • I am a highly skilled driver and I tried texting and driving once.

      It was the most dangerous and stupid thing I ever did in a vehicle. I'll never do it again. Dialing a number and driving is quite nearly as bad. I suspect car stereos are pretty bad too but I never use them.

      I can do a lot of things with cars that would make most of you shit yourselves, often while talking with a navigator, but I can't text and drive. So any average driver who confidently proclaims that they can do it is an absolute moron. A t

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      Most people accept that texting and cellphones cause accidents. But, most people also think they're better drivers than everyone else, and therefore it's okay for them to do it.

      And most people are oblivious that they're making themselves plainly obvious to what they're doing.

      Anytime you see a car that's not keeping up with traffic, hell, doing 20 under the limit on a clear day with dry roads, or suddenly braking at a green light... you know the guy's on the phone.

      Hell, in a mob moving the same direction, th

  • Duh, just look to see if accidents increased again when service was restored.
  • Yes, very likely.

    A famous football player there was killed in a car accident.

    His father made a plea [thenational.ae] for people not to use smart phones or Blackberry devices while driving.

  • If it takes a celebrity example of the problem to get peoples' attention, so be it - whatever works, and focus on celebrities is channeled into something positive for once. (In this case, it's the circumstances surrounding the soccer player's death)

  • Both my parents have lived in Qatar for 10 years and have visited most of the countries in the region. Text or no text there are a huge number of shitty drivers in the form of careless nationals driving over there who can get away with literally anything up to and including totalling hundred thousand dollar cars and face minimal or zero prosecution for doing so, even though they endanger other drivers in the process. Check Youtube for videos of young stupid bastards driving up on two wheels. This is some
  • by metalmaster (1005171) on Tuesday October 18, 2011 @12:23AM (#37747154)
    Remember folks, this is the same RIM/Blackberry that wouldn't grant UAE and a few other countries a private BBM server [slashdot.org] so they got pissed and shut down the service. This article holds a little more than bias. The summary could read "The evil blackberry services were shutdown and our country is safer for it" and the overall message would remain the same.
  • by jaweekes (938376) on Tuesday October 18, 2011 @12:27AM (#37747180)

    Yes, the drivers here (in Abu Dhabi) really are that bad. Blackberry's are not illegal here as other posts have said; they have huge billboards advertising the latest ones all over the place (Blackberry's were banned at one point, but RIM have let the UAE government to see the traffic, as has happened in many countries recently). The cars are also heavily tinted because of the sun, so it's almost impossible to tell what people are doing in their cars.

    You also have a good mix of Indian, Pakistani, Arab, European and African drivers who all have different ideas about driving. It is not unusual for the middle lane on a 5 lane road to turn left in front of everyone else going straight.

    But the most common accident is being rear-ended by drivers using their phones and not looking at the road. And I can say that over the last week I have seen less accidents, so the numbers actually sound right.

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      Having very recently spent some time in the UAE again it amazes me that people are able to survive at all. Where I come from a lane ending means that you put on your indicator and merge when traffic permits. In the UAE it seems to be a competition of slam your foot on the gas and see how far in front of all the other cars you can get without mounting the curb.

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      "The cars are also heavily tinted because of the sun, so it's almost impossible to tell what people are doing in their cars."

      No not because of the sun, because it's trendy and because of cultural factors. heavily tinting your car windows does NOTHING to control temperature inside, black adsorbs heat and after the 60% tints it's useless to tint further and will actually create more heat, they all ride around with 5% limo tint because it's trendy, and not seeing in the car keeps others from looking at you a

  • 20% and 40% seem like suspiciously rounded figures. I wish people wouldn't make claims without publishing the actual data including the control data and standard deviation. Have the rates ever varied as much during other 3-day periods when there was no phone outage? The story about the soccer player is anecdotal and establishes neither correlation nor causation as it's not even conclusive he was texting and a sample space of 'one' is meaningless.
  • ... BlackBerry outage, which frustrated business people around the world who were unable to communicate with their colleagues, ...

    Unable to communicate? Despite the fact that the phone & text services were not affected?
  • Stop it. Or spend some money and buy an android phone that will do Text to Speech and Voice to Text for you, Or buy a ford with Sync if you cant deal with your OCD and let an incoming text sit until you can check it safely. I am even O.K. with you talking on the phone and driving if you have a headset. I have a bluetooth helmet and it is very safe to carry on a conversation while driving with a headset.

    As a motorcyclist, I have resorted to mounting TWO 180db air horns to my bike. On 3 occasions I hav

  • Some people call it accidents, I call it natural selection. I'm sorry, but if you're dumb enough to text and email while driving then don't be surprised when you hit a pole.

    The sad thing in all of this are the innocent people that get rammed into by these idiots.

  • Blackberries and the like are the bane of productive activity. Every meeting takes 5x as long and is 1/5 as effective because the idiots are tapping away on their phones instead of paying attention and contributing to the discussion; you wind up repeating everything multiple times and it still doesn't sink in because their eyes are glazed while thinking about how their friend just tweeted "OMG that hot guy totally checked me out."

    There are a couple instances when it is useful to whip out your phone, like w

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