A report from The National has been widely cited on the Internet recently:
A dramatic fall in traffic accidents this week has been directly linked to the three-day disruption in BlackBerry services.
In Dubai, traffic accidents fell 20 per cent from average rates on the days BlackBerry users were unable to use its messaging service. In Abu Dhabi, the number of accidents this week fell 40 per cent and there were no fatal accidents.
On average there is a traffic accident every three minutes in Dubai, while in Abu Dhabi there is a fatal accident every two days.
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, linked the drop in accidents to the disruption of BlackBerry services between Tuesday and Thursday.
The precise statistics for traffic accidents in the two emirates this week were not revealed to The National.
A quick examination will reveal that no fatal accidents in three days, when there is an average of "only" one fatal accident every two days is not statistically significant. (I used a back-of-the-envelope calculation to get a 22% chance of this happening if the Blackberry outage had no effect, using a Poisson distribution and without checking my work.)
My question is: Have any evidence been published to suggest that this Blackberry effect is real? Alternatively, has any evidence been published to suggest that this Blackberry effect was NOT real (i.e. we have the figures and the differences in a 2-3 day sample are not statistically significant)?
My gut feel is the whole claim was made up based on anecdote - not that I am claiming for a second that texting while driving is safe.