A 2003 study showing that driving while talking on your mobile phone is as dangerous as driving under the influence inspired lawmakers across the land -- including in California -- to ban driving while gabbing (and now, texting).
But new research suggests that people who cruise-and-talk could actually be safer drivers.
The academics think people could actually be more cautious when they have a handset to their ear (you know, like when you're keeping an eye out for cops).
True? Don't know.
Here are some details:
Economists Saurabh Bhargava from the University of Chicago and Vikram Pathania from he London School of Economics looked at times when mobile calling increased -- usually after 9 p.m. as a result of lower rates.
They focused on an 11-day span in California in 2005.
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What they found was that, despite the rise in calling, there was no rise in crashing. They found similar data in other states.
Here's a thought, though: Maybe, just maybe, people don't drive as much after 9 p.m. either? Possibly?
In any case, the research should make us think twice before equating chatty Cathy with drunk Darryl.