Cell phones have gone from life takers to life savers to life takers, Rutgers study finds

It used to be that cell phones had a "life-saving effect" in pedestrian and car accidents, but once the critical mass of cell phones hit 100 million things changed for the worse, according to new studies led by a Rutgers University economics professor.

Cell phones were initially, back in the 1980s, life takers in that pedestrians and drivers were still getting used to the devices as they smashed into things and each other, according to Rutgers professor Peter Loeb.  What's more, when there were fewer than 1 million of the gadgets, chances of them being available to call for help was less likely.

As usage increased in the 1990s, cell phones were seen to have a life-saving effect in that they were more frequently available to make life-or-death calls for help. 

But things swung back to the life-taking effect once the phones started to become nearly ubiquitious, as both pedestrians and drivers have become so dependent on the phones and oblivious to their surroundings, the researchers found

The findings are being published in two studies: "The cell phone effect on pedestrian fatalities" and the yet-to-be-released "The impact of cell phones and BAC Laws on Motor Vehicle Fatality Rates." Bentley University and New Jersey City University researchers joined Rutgers in the research.

One recommendation based on the research is that governments consider cracking down on driver and pedestrian use of cell phones.

Much research effort has gone into exploring the various safety and social ramifications of using cell phones in recent years.

Johns Hopkins University researchers have found that people using cell phones or text messaging in mid-conversation or during an appointment or meeting cracked its Terrible 10 Rude Behaviors List. Cell phone users have even confessed to being a bunch of dangerous, rude liars, according to a Pew Research study .

Carriers, meanwhile, have issued research countering other research about the safety of cell phone transmissions. A four-year long study of cellular telephone base stations out of Japan found their transmissions pose no risk to human health.

And of course, this picture from Russia really emphasizes the dangers of mixing driving and cell phones.

Several states, including California , have also banned driving while holding a cell phone.

Speaking of cell phone dangers, my blogging colleague's brush with Mr. Phone-in-his-Ear 

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