When you think of university research having practical applications, think of Kansas University researcher Bob Honea.
Honea and his colleagues at KU’s Transportation Research Institute are gathering data on how often cell phones and other wireless devices are in use when traffic accidents occur. It is their hope that the statistics will provide the basis for new laws regarding cell-phone use by drivers.
As Honea notes, it doesn’t take a scientist to realize that sending and receiving text messages while driving is a bad idea. “It’s a no-brainer,” he said. But when it comes to making laws, officials need more than intuition or anecdotes; they need hard numbers. That’s what the researchers are trying to provide.
The researchers contend that the involvement of cell phones and wireless devices currently is drastically underreported by law-enforcement personnel. Even so, the devices are blamed for 2,600 deaths and 330,000 injuries a year.
Those numbers are pretty dramatic, but if the researchers can show the actual number of injuries and fatalities is even higher, this issue might finally get the public attention it deserves.