You *must* be able to use your mobile phone while driving
May 4, 2012 6:38 AM   Subscribe


 
I'm going to send this video to all my friends... while driving.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:42 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm...driving...right...now.
posted by Fritz Langwedge at 6:45 AM on May 4, 2012


As a frequent cyclist in Portland, I know this behavior all too well. What surprises me the most is how little folks try to hide it.
posted by Asbestos McPinto at 6:49 AM on May 4, 2012


me tpo, dunno what all the fuss is about it;s not that ha
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:50 AM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


You could get 50% of the US to not do it simply by calling it ObamaTexting.
posted by srboisvert at 6:52 AM on May 4, 2012 [101 favorites]


The driving instructor's comedic timing is impeccable in a way that I'm not sure translates into the subtitles. Damn that was funny, I'm going to go clean the coffee off of my monitor now.
posted by Blasdelb at 6:53 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I used to love ObamaTexting, but I've become disillusioned by it.
posted by etc. at 6:54 AM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is serious business, even without the added difficulty of texting. Multiple studies have found that a person's crash risk when using a mobile phone is considerably higher than when they're drunk.
posted by entropone at 6:55 AM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am so sick and tired of the media treating texting as the only type of distracted driving or even as the worst one.

"OMG Texting is evil and will result in accidents". Yes, it can. Of course it is just as likely that eating, reading, fiddling around with the radio, looking for a CD, yelling at the kids in the back, playing air drums, putting on makeup, and million other things will also result in an accident.

If texting was worse than drunk driving as some 60 year old legislators who don't know how to turn on their phones would have us believe than the number of accidents should have skyrocketed since the number of people texting has skyrocketed. In fact accidents are down.

I am NOT saying texting is safe. Obviously it is not. However it is hardly the only or worse type of distracted driving activity. Yet it is treated as it is. Many places want to make texting while driving illegal. This is the same as making stabbing someone illegal instead of making it a crime to commit battery on someone. Why make it a specific crime to text while driving while allowing someone to read a book, put on makeup, and watch tv while driving? Keep existing laws or create news ones against distracted driving. Don't make a million laws specifying each possible act of distraction.
posted by 2manyusernames at 6:56 AM on May 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


@2manyusernames: I hadn't noticed texting and driving being singled out by media. I guess the issue is that "distracted while driving" is hard to apply consistently while "doing X where driving" is easier. But yeah, reading, makeup or watching TV are also not great driver-seat activities.
posted by Zarkonnen at 7:00 AM on May 4, 2012


They've already made it illegal to make a phone call using a non-hands-free phone in many localities (ironically, holding the phone has nothing to do with it -- it's the conversation itself that is distracting) and so many people have switched to texting. And so the response has been to make texting illegal too.

What's interesting is that people continue to use their phones, only now they hide them by keeping them low in the car, which actually makes it more dangerous.

There's no easy solution to this problem except to say: don't engage in distracting behavior while driving. Texting is an easy thing to avoid doing while driving.

Also, it's important to distinguish between activities which interfere with driving because they involve "physical" distraction (i.e. occupying one or more hands, like eating) and "mental" distraction (texting, having a conversation over the phone, etc.). The latter is generally far more disruptive. If I'm holding a sandwich, my mental focus and visual focus is still on the road (assuming this is a normal-sized sandwich). If a hazard approaches, if push comes to shove I can just drop the sandwich. But if my mind or eyes are elsewhere, I'm not going to be aware of the hazard at all.
posted by Deathalicious at 7:04 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I see somebody brought their axe.

Texting is way more distracting than most of the things you compare it to, 2manyusernames. It's also incredibly common. Also, I would the legal system surrounding distracted driving is already set up more or less the way that it is for things like battery and robbery and such, so I'm not sure that part of your argument holds water either.

If you're driving like a crazy blind person because you're yelling at the kids in the backseat, you're guilty of reckless driving, no? But texting is particularly egregious, so we have special laws that cover that as well. And if you assault somebody, there are in fact different laws that might bear on you depending on whether you use your bare hands or a gun or whatnot, right? "Assult with a deadly weapon", and all that? Or how about "robbery" vs. "armed robbery"?

Or, how about this. There are lots of things that you can hurt somebody with, but not all of them are prohibited in the same places. I can certainly hurt somebody with a stainless steel water bottle, but I can have that in school or in a federal building or at the bank. I can't bring a knife or a gun to those places, even if I'm a totally responsible, skilled user of that item who would never hurt anyone.

Does that help?
posted by Scientist at 7:05 AM on May 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


@Deathalicious And I guess in 40 years time it will be all about using enhanced reality filters while operating your hovercar bicycle.
posted by Zarkonnen at 7:06 AM on May 4, 2012


The problem with texting versus drunk driving is that unlike driving drunk most people don't consider it a really serious impediment to driving safely. Or, rather, to them driving safely. I would say it's worse than putting on makeup because at least in that case you're not staring at mascara waiting for it to talk back to you/make a noise throughout the entire time you're driving. Texting is, frequently, a drive long distraction. Not that that makes putting on makeup while driving a good idea or in any way safe.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 7:07 AM on May 4, 2012


"OMG Texting is evil and will result in accidents". Yes, it can. Of course it is just as likely that eating, reading, fiddling around with the radio, looking for a CD, yelling at the kids in the back, playing air drums, putting on makeup, and million other things will also result in an accident.


Sure, but people are addicted to texting, and mobile phone use, in ways that they aren't addicted to the other things.
posted by entropone at 7:08 AM on May 4, 2012


2manyusernames: "
I am NOT saying texting is safe. Obviously it is not. However it is hardly the only or worse type of distracted driving activity. Yet it is treated as it is. Many places want to make texting while driving illegal. This is the same as making stabbing someone illegal instead of making it a crime to commit battery on someone. Why make it a specific crime to text while driving while allowing someone to read a book, put on makeup, and watch tv while driving? Keep existing laws or create news ones against distracted driving. Don't make a million laws specifying each possible act of distraction.
"

Wrong.

WHAT IS
DISTRACTED DRIVING?

Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. These types of distractions include:

Texting
Using a cell phone or smartphone
Eating and drinking
Talking to passengers
Grooming
Reading, including maps
Using a navigation system
Watching a video
Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player

But, because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction.

posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:08 AM on May 4, 2012 [21 favorites]


If it's the conversation that's so distracting, and not the other stuff, then why isn't there any campaign to stop people from talking to other passengers in their car?
posted by Jon_Evil at 7:09 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is awesome. A lesson on how not to drive and a lesson in French! Ce n'est pas possible!
posted by Leezie at 7:12 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


The solution is to make the bar much, much higher for those who wish to qualify for the privilege of driving, and to make the fall from grace once there nearly effortless.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:16 AM on May 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


I've said it before on here but the core reason why people text or otherwise don't pay attention while driving is that unlike the driving course in the video, 99%+ of the time spent driving is completely boring and takes little or no concentration to do. The problem is that while some points where you have to pay attention are obvious (like figuring out when you can pull out across traffic) other ones are completely unexpected (like another car slamming on its brakes in front of you). So for the most part people text while driving because it seems safe when they are not paying attention to anything in particular anyway. The problem is that being completely distracted for a high percentage of the time when you're driving means that in those rare cases where you actually do need to pay attention, you'll be more likely to screw up. Ironically if driving was more difficult in terms of needing full attention all the time in normal conditions, people would probably be less likely to distract themselves while doing it.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:20 AM on May 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


Texting while driving has been illegal for two and a half years in Ontario. Ironically, the only person I know who does so regularly, even unapologetically (often with me in the car), is a police officer.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:25 AM on May 4, 2012


@burnmp3s: As I understand it that is the idea behind removing traffic signs and markings.
posted by Zarkonnen at 7:27 AM on May 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


Deathalicious: "assuming this is a normal-sized sandwich"

When you assume you make an ass out of u and the six-foot-long sub I got at the drive thru.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:29 AM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


If it's the conversation that's so distracting, and not the other stuff, then why isn't there any campaign to stop people from talking to other passengers in their car?

Conversations in the car can be distracting, but probably significantly less distracting than remote conversations. A passenger is in the same car as you and can see road conditions and your reactions, and can figure out when to shut up and let the driver drive.

When a driver is phoning or texting, their attention is on someone who is not in the car, and who they have to spend more time thinking about and focusing on versus listening to someone right beside them. That person outside the car is, in effect, demanding the driver's attention, and cannot see and react to the same things a passenger can. The driver is also under a bigger cognitive load when talking to someone who isn't physically there: for example, you have to work a little harder to understand speech over a phone than live speech right beside you.

Sure, drivers can ask the caller to hold on as they come to a tricky bit of the road, but they have to recognize the danger, assess whether the danger is enough to risk offending the other person -- is this a boss? a friend? a CSR at the phone company? -- ask them to hold, and wait for an acknowledgement, if they're especially polite. Those bits of time and thinking add up.
posted by maudlin at 7:31 AM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


If it's the conversation that's so distracting, and not the other stuff, then why isn't there any campaign to stop people from talking to other passengers in their car?

Situational awareness. A passenger in a car sees that you're coming up to an intersection or that some jerk has cut you off or that there are kids at the side of the road. A conversation in a car is certainly distracting and suboptimal for driving safety, but it is far less so than a conversation with someone who is not in the car with you. A telephone conversation demands quite a lot more attention and processing power than a conversation with someone sitting next to you, and the fact that they are not sharing your experience of being in the car pulls your mind away from that context.
posted by yoink at 7:31 AM on May 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think that we need an English-language version of this. Most Americans will just be "So? The French are bad at texting; everyone knows that. I use a FredomPhone."
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:41 AM on May 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Billions of people have access to personal automated vehicles they can use to travel wherever they want, complete with air conditioning, padded seats and cup holders, but that's not enough convenience for those who can't wait until their vehicle - which weighs a few tons and kills or injures roughly 50 million people every year - has stopped moving to check and reply to their (vitally important, I am sure) text messages.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:47 AM on May 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Absolutely my first reaction to this. It needs to be a character you connect with instantly. I think the foreign language is going to turn some kids off.
posted by Deathalicious at 7:48 AM on May 4, 2012


If texting was worse than drunk driving as some 60 year old legislators who don't know how to turn on their phones would have us believe than the number of accidents should have skyrocketed since the number of people texting has skyrocketed.

Texting seems really dangerous to me, but I too wonder how the studies claiming that it's more dangerous than drunk driving explain why we haven't seen a huge rise in accidents to correspond with the huge rise in texting.
posted by straight at 8:04 AM on May 4, 2012


"OMG Texting is evil and will result in accidents". Yes, it can. Of course it is just as likely that eating, reading, fiddling around with the radio, looking for a CD, yelling at the kids in the back, playing air drums, putting on makeup, and million other things will also result in an accident.

Oh FFS this is ABSOLUTELY CONCLUSIVELY THOROUGHLY PROVEN TO BE UNTRUE. Phone use is FAR more likely to prevent a driver from reacting to road conditions in a timely fashion than most of these other behaviors. To say phone chatting and texting is the same as changing a radio station is a blatant falsehood, and purports the dismissive attitude that propogates more cell use by drivers.

Phone talking + Driving = UNSAFE ASSHOLE ON THE ROAD.
posted by FatherDagon at 8:04 AM on May 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


Distraction is a weird and unpredictable thing, as I found when I wrecked my last car, someone else's car, and a six-foot high stone wall.

We were driving in a busy area of a nearby city, on a road I know well enough. This particular road is criss-crossed by other roads at intervals. You have right of way all the way down this road, except for one place, where you need to give way. Anyway, the plan was to give way to turn right at that particular junction.

So I'm driving along, knowing full well that I'm going to have to stop and give way very soon. But I decide that, rather than turn right at the junction, I'll cross it and then turn right further along.

My wife says to me "aren't you going to turn right?", and I reply "no, I'll go straight on", pointing with my finger, and with that, I drive straight across the junction without giving way or even looking. It was as if the simple act of expressing my intent to go straight on completely overrode the part of my brain that knew I needed to stop. Bang! We hit another car corner-to-corner, and that pushed our car diagonally across the junction and into a high stone wall. We pretty much destroyed that wall. It must have been ten seconds or so before I even realised what had gone happened, and why. Within twenty minutes there were police and a fire engine, witness statements were taken, and I was being breathalysed.

Nobody was hurt, not even my baby son, who was two months old at the time, and in the back seat. Seatbelts, airbags, crumple zones and baby carrier all did their jobs perfectly. I was (quite rightly) forced to go on a 'driver awareness' course - as an alternative to a fine and points on my licence. The course was useful in a general sort of way, but I don't think what I learned there would necessarily have helped avoid that accident. What caused my accident was basically a 'brain-fart' - different parts of my mind presenting conflicting information, resulting in my doing precisely the opposite of what I intended.

I'm a pretty safe driver. I've only had one real accident. But I'm very aware of how the slightest lapse in concentration can make it all go wrong. Don't talk to me while I'm driving. Driving is hard enough.
posted by pipeski at 8:06 AM on May 4, 2012 [11 favorites]


why we haven't seen a huge rise in accidents to correspond with the huge rise in texting

Well, people don't drink and drive as often as they used to. One sin replaced with another.
posted by anthill at 8:11 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Spend an afternoon watching Russian car crash videos on Liveleak. Seeing how quickly and randomly very bad things can happen - forget texting and driving - you'll never want to get into a car again.
posted by Xoebe at 8:11 AM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's kind of amazing to me that people get defensive about texting while driving, claiming it's not that dangerous. Would you claim that it's safe for me to play tetris on a Gameboy while driving? Or to write a note with pen and paper while driving? Or to read a book while driving? What about all three at the same time oh wait that's called texting.

I would actually really like the opportunity to take that texting while driving test. I would also really like the opportunity to be given a drunk driving test (or a "I've only had a couple, I'm barely buzzed" test). I think that if more people had the chance to see the danger in a controlled situation it would change a lot of opinions. Sadly, a lot of people will watch this video and think they are a far better texter than those folks, and not a danger.
posted by jermsplan at 8:14 AM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Shingletown California - woman doing a bank transaction on her phone didn't see the construction stopped traffic in front of her on two lane highway. She killed the woman in the car she hit. I live 20 miles West of Shingletown. Could have been me. The woman doing the bank transaction was convicted last year - rightly imho - of manslaughter. Two lives destroyed in an instant. Worth it?

Only takes an instant people - texting, talking on the cell, ANY of the available distractions now available in a modern vehicle are potential distractions that can kill. The crucial importance of situational awareness - focus - things I was taught as a student pilot. I find they apply equally to driving a car. Thing that gets me with all of this - and sadly so demonstrated by my story above? You're not just risking - your own life...........

If you're doing something - do IT. Such a simple thing that seems to be sucked out of all of us at an early age in our society.
posted by cdalight at 8:18 AM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sadly, people are going to watch this video, laugh, wince and then carry on texting while driving, on the grounds that they are not learner drivers but experienced, competent drivers with terrific road sense.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:27 AM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Driving (in traffic) is boring? On what planet?

I drove big trucks cross country for several years. Driving is often routine, and situations can be classified, pattern analyses formulated, so that you don't have to constantly engage the cerebrum. But once you understand things such as reaction time, braking distance, variables of road conditions and vehicle weight, you can more or less handle them without having to break out in a cold sweat.

Once you actually understand the inevitable outcome of a bad driving decision, you don't ever want to go there again.

Defenders of text while driving are ignorant of this: steel v flesh = steel wins. Nothing impresses ignorance as much as experience. It can happen to you, but, more likely, it will happen to your victim.
posted by mule98J at 8:29 AM on May 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Well, people don't drink and drive as often as they used to. One sin replaced with another.

No one has solid statistics on this, I imagine, but I can't believe the reduction in drunk driving is within an order of magnitude of the rise in texting & driving (from zero to ubiquitous).

Those of us over 30, how often can you remember seeing or riding with a drunk driver 20 years ago compared with how often you see or ride with someone driving and texting now? For me it's "a few times ever" vs. "multiple times per week."

(Yes it's easier to see someone is texting vs. seeing that someone is drunk, but how many drunk drivers do you think were on the road 8am to noon every day? How many people texting during that time now?)

If the texting = drunk thing were correct, shouldn't we be seeing a huge explosion in the rate of accidents?
posted by straight at 8:30 AM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


In Scorsese's documentary about Fran Lebowitz, she claims (albeit a bit smugly, but then that's just her style) that one of the things that helps her as a writer is that she doesn't have a cell phone. She is able to walk around the city and actually observe what's happening around her, to be fully present. She points out how people that are on the phone or texting or doing whatever on their phones aren't really here, because their focus in on another place entirely. They observe the bare minimum of what's around them because their attention is divided.

When you're driving and talking to a fellow passenger, you are both here, you are engaged in the process of traveling and observing together. Yes, it can be distracting at times, but not nearly as much as when you are deliberately routing a large chunk of your focus toward a person or thing that is not present.

A friend of mine lost her mother to what they've deducted was a phone-related traffic accident. That is to say, her mother didn't die from the accident -- she suffered massive brain damage, which completely altered her personality and limited her capacity to care for herself. She reached into her purse to answer a ringing phone, and picked up just in time for the person calling her to hear the accident occur before the line went dead in their hand. So, the way I see it is if someone really cares about you, they won't mind waiting a bit to hear back from you. Sure beats the alternative.
posted by hermitosis at 8:32 AM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


P (drunk) x {P(corner) + P(ditch) + P(pedestrian)} =/= P(texting) x P(attention required)

Drinking causes accidents, texting causes accidents when concurrent with another incident

Most time spent driving is droning along .. the amount of time that attention is required during these periods is very low ... but if you aren't paying attention at that moment then kablam
posted by fistynuts at 8:40 AM on May 4, 2012


its the same for speeding, its "contributory" in most accidents

although my opinion is that it is not the speeding but the drivers lack of capacity to maintain the appropriate level of attention for the speed that is contributory

Despite having the same effect on braking distance as traveling 10 mph over the speed limit you don't see "Rain Kills" road safety adverts, because its not the stopping distance, its the reaction time
posted by fistynuts at 8:46 AM on May 4, 2012


Yeah, I just realized that a drunk driver is impaired during his entire trip, while the texter is impaired only when texting. And it's gotta be rare for a driver to be texting non-stop during an entire trip.

So the total number of minutes texting & driving might be comparable to the reduction in the total number of minutes drunk driving.

On the other hand, that points out that it's somewhat misleading to say texting is as dangerous as driving drunk, since the time spent impared is so much shorter.

I'm not trying to defend texting, I'm just concerned that our propaganda be honest if we want it to be effective. We all know how well the "You will become an addict if you ever touch drugs even once" messages work with teens.
posted by straight at 8:52 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


The problem with texting versus drunk driving is that unlike driving drunk most people don't consider it a really serious impediment to driving safely.

At least in the U.S., it took a seriously long time (basically a generation) and thousands of PSAs to convince people that drinking and driving was a bad thing.

Since the powers that be jumped on talking/texting pretty early, I don't think it is quite as ingrained a habit, but it's still going to be an uphill battle in certain places.
posted by madajb at 8:57 AM on May 4, 2012


although my opinion is that it is not the speeding but the drivers lack of capacity to maintain the appropriate level of attention for the speed that is contributory

Except when a pedestrian is involved. The difference in outcomes for a pedestrian hit by a car going 25mph and a car going 40 mph are enormous.


I've been in the "don't use a phone while driving, period" camp since 1993, though, so this is preaching to the choir.
posted by ambrosia at 8:59 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Texting seems really dangerous to me, but I too wonder how the studies claiming that it's more dangerous than drunk driving explain why we haven't seen a huge rise in accidents to correspond with the huge rise in texting.

It's possible that any increase in accidents due to the prevalence of mobile phones has simply been absorbed and offset by the general increase in car safety, though I haven't found any studies explicitly stating this.
posted by MUD at 9:09 AM on May 4, 2012


I once saw a guy making a sandwich wrap while driving in rush hour.
posted by Fizz at 9:10 AM on May 4, 2012


One (possibly apocryphal, or at least overstated) data point regarding texting and driving. During last year's Blackberry service interruption, traffic accidents in Abu Dhabi supposedly dropped by 40%.
posted by figurant at 9:11 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe this just proves it's impossible for an unlicensed driver to text while driving and having a large Belgian man yelling at them ...
posted by timdicator at 9:14 AM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, notice they don't show how well these kids drive without the cell phone.
posted by straight at 9:32 AM on May 4, 2012


And it's gotta be rare for a driver to be texting non-stop during an entire trip.

Clearly you don't take my route to and from work. I can assure you most emphatically that there are, in fact, people who text and drive constantly for miles on end, and that they drive in a manner that would cause you to swear up and down that they were the drunkest drivers you have ever seen.


Through my informal survey of traffic on Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis, I have concluded that the number one reason YOU DRIVE LIKE SHIT is YOUR FUCKING PHONE.

YOU ARE NOT SPECIAL OR MAGICAL. WHEN YOU ARE DOING THINGS WITH YOUR PHONE WHEN YOU DRIVE YOU ARE A BAD DRIVER AND YOU SHOULD FEEL BAD. IF YOU THINK YOU ARE SOMEHOW SPECIAL OR DIFFERENT, YOU ARE WRONG.

YES I AM YELLING BECAUSE YOU ARE GOING TO KILL SOMEONE AND IT MIGHT BE ME. OR YOU.


Anyone busted driving while texting should have their license suspended and be forced to ride a bicycle in city traffic for a year.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:34 AM on May 4, 2012 [15 favorites]


99%+ of the time spent driving is completely boring and takes little or no concentration to do.

As someone who has worked as a professional driver in various capacities for over a decade now and has taken many many hours of defensive driving training, I have to say that this is the worst possible attitude toward driving.

Real awareness is required when driving. You always need to be looking as far ahead on your route as possible and picking out possible danger points and identifying potential hazards. Keeping tabs on cars parked along the street, pedestrians, driveways and parking lot entrances... Not to mention the other cars on the road both ahead of you and behind you.

It's not a difficult task, and with practice it becomes second nature, almost a Force-sense which allows you to have full awareness of anything that you never experience what you call "something unexpected".

But if you're driving regularly and find that unexpected things are happening en route, it's not because they couldn't have been foreseen if you were paying attention and knew what to be watching for.

Autopilot driving is horrible. Get out of that mindset. Take a defensive driving course, a quality one, and learn how to be behind the wheel with awareness and foresight. You might even find your insurance will give you a break if you take the class, because a good defensive driver is basically never in an accident which is their fault.
posted by hippybear at 9:38 AM on May 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


> Why make it a specific crime to text while driving while allowing someone to read a book, put on makeup, and watch tv while driving?

Because there isn't a legion of idiots trying to rationalize those behaviors.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 9:53 AM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't care who you are, how important you are, how good a driver you are, how boring and sedate your commute is and how little attention it needs. I don't even care if you're driving across the desert for miles with no other traffic in sight. I don't care that other people are doing stupid things while driving. I do care that you have stepped in a potentially lethal device and decided that texting LOL and eyeing the phone for the reply is more important than the fact than the safety of everyone else on the road. Or crossing the road.

Same goes for phone calls and a host of other stupid actions. But texting really gets my ire becuase half the bloody time the person is sitting there waiting for that goddam reply and it goes on and on and GRAR what's the point because the people who feel entitled to pull this shit don't give a damn what I think.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 9:56 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


To anyone who doesn't see why cellphone conversations would be more distracting than passenger conversations, regardless of handsfree use: it's all about context. There are high-pressure, busy parts of driving (passing, avoiding a swerving car) and there are the quiet parts (driving straight along a road with no immediate dangers). Passengers in a car innately shut up when they notice the driver is busy and can't talk, and there is a mutual pause by both parties to let the driver take care of things.

There are no contextual cues for a remote person to understand these pauses, and there may be some social pressure for the driver to continue speaking and behave as if they were calling from their office, rather than piloting a large and potentially lethal weapon through a sea of idiots. This makes holding a conversation infinitely more difficult and attention-draining for the driver. Not to say that you couldn't find an in-car passenger who is so inconsiderate and/or spaced out as to cause a similar problem.
posted by Nutri-Matic Drinks Synthesizer at 10:00 AM on May 4, 2012


You just GOTTA talk while driving? BlueTooth.

You just GOTTA look at something on the internet---use Suri,

Sorry but nothing you have to say is THAT improtant via text or looking up something on the internet. Pisses me off.

I do love my BlueTooth though. I only call one person (the husband) and that's infrequent at best and calls last about 1 min. I just hate being on the cell phone.
posted by stormpooper at 10:18 AM on May 4, 2012


I think the other reason phone conversations are different is that when you're talking with someone in the car, you're both there, in the car, and so the driver's head stays in the car.

When you talk with someone on the phone, you're talking to someone who isn't there, so your mind is at least partly in another place -- either the location of the other person or a sort of metaphorical third space that's neither here nor there in which the conversation takes place. Someone once explained "cyberspace" as "the place your mind goes when you're talking on the telephone."
posted by straight at 10:24 AM on May 4, 2012


The video itself looks like he's making them drive pretty quickly around a turn while throwing a hundred questions at them and making them text. I'm not sure it's very accurate.
posted by Malice at 10:28 AM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


My phone does voice to text, which actually works very well for texting, so it's actually not that difficult, not any more difficult then talking on the phone.
posted by delmoi at 10:59 AM on May 4, 2012


Anyway, the video doesn't really show much. They're in the car, at several points he actually grabs the wheel, maybe correct course but it seems odd - wouldn't it be better to let them crash? All we see is one external shot of the car skidding, that's it. So really it's not, by itself, that convincing.
posted by delmoi at 11:02 AM on May 4, 2012


I can't fave this video enough and have forwarded it to my networks.

I walk to work and see people texting or talking on cell phones inside their cars all the time, despite it being against the law here in BC. A few times I've had near miss collisions with cars while they are making a left turn and completely miss me (the pedestrian) crossing the street. Distracted drivers.

The police have been cracking down on this behaviour and issuing tickets.

Some ploys:
Cops dressed up as homeless people holding up a cardboard sign ("If you can read this and are texting, you are getting a ticket") in Chilliwack near the intersection of the main street and the highway.
Cops crossing the street by foot while cars are stopped, and peering inside of cars - you are texting, you get a ticket.

And cops are cracking down on other distractions too. Someone I know was pulling out of the Tim Hortons drivethrough on Highway 99 near Squamish with a group of friends inside his car. He was driving, his friends were passing donuts around inside the car. While driving he reached out to the back seat to get his donut - cop jumps out of the bushes, stops his car, writes him a ticket for distracted driving. Despite his pleas, the ticket stuck.
posted by seawallrunner at 11:07 AM on May 4, 2012


Ha ha, literally the same stuff in every single thread. It's just like changing the radio! Why isn't talking to a passenger illegal?! Christ.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:10 AM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was driving to work once, and another driver cut me off badly. I could see that she was putting on makeup and looking in the mirror, not focusing on the road ahead. I had to hit the brakes so hard, I dropped my razor and spilled my coffee.
posted by xedrik at 11:20 AM on May 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


If it's the conversation that's so distracting, and not the other stuff, then why isn't there any campaign to stop people from talking to other passengers in their car?

If you go to a very crowded place and watch people who are talking to someone with them, and people who are talking on their mobiles, I would bet that the latter group are far more likely to bump into other people, or cause other people to avoid them, than the former.
posted by reynir at 11:29 AM on May 4, 2012


It's kind of amazing to me that people get defensive about texting while driving, claiming it's not that dangerous.

When people do, I just hear "But I've only had three pints, no way my reactions are impaired and I drive more carefully when I've had a drink so in a way I'm safer."

Texting while driving, like drink driving, is selfish to the point of sociopathy. Pull your car over, and send your desperately, vitally important life saving message you witless shitehawk.
posted by reynir at 11:36 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


> I had to hit the brakes so hard, I dropped my razor and spilled my coffee.

I've seen a few guys over the years shaving at the wheel with electric razors.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:42 AM on May 4, 2012


On my commute (30 miles, freeway), especially on the drive home, I see a lot of drivers almost-not-quite crossing lane markers, or going from 70 to 50 for no reason, or suddenly crossing three lanes because OOPS there's the exit!

I find it hard to believe that the people I see doing this - and there's easily a dozen every day - are all drunk. I find it very easy to believe they're texting, or trying to change the song or mix on their ipod. When I can see them properly in one of my mirrors, or glancing at them as I go by, I can see they're looking down at their laps or at the seat next to them. My favorite is when I look in the rear view mirror and see that the guy tailgating me is looking down instead of out.

Best one I ever saw was in heavy and slow but moving traffic: there was a guy two lanes over from me who had managed to prop his phone up on the left side of his steering wheel. He was reading.
posted by rtha at 12:19 PM on May 4, 2012


Once in a very, very great while I greet texting pedestrians who are oblivious to all by putting my wheelchair on a collision course with them. I have a great deal of control and can stop on a dime, but they don't know that. The 'whoa whoa whoa' that comes out of their mouth as their eyes catch a completely unexpected blur of movement as I whizz by is -- gratifying.

I know that is a little bit evil.
posted by angrycat at 12:54 PM on May 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


I've seen a few guys over the years shaving at the wheel with electric razors.

Now if you'd seen a woman shaving at the wheel I'd have been impressed!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:02 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I once saw a guy making a sandwich wrap while driving in rush hour.

Check it out, Pat got a new bumper sticker.

my roomie actually made me that bottom right one for my birthday, because holy shit do I hate cellphone drivers
posted by FatherDagon at 1:54 PM on May 4, 2012


Cops dressed up as homeless people holding up a cardboard sign ("If you can read this and are texting, you are getting a ticket")

Seems like they can multi-task pretty well if they can do that.
posted by Malice at 2:31 PM on May 4, 2012


Graduated licensing is the solution. If people had to drive a motorcycle before they could drive a car, they would be much better drivers. Put them through a spring motorcycle traing/awareness program, a full summer and fall of practical riding, and then they can think about getting their four-wheel license to kill.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:35 PM on May 4, 2012


There was a line once said on Frasier, while Niles was learning to dance or something like that. I always think it should apply to driving too.

"Boring, yet difficult."

I speak as someone who took 16 years to get over driving phobia and get a license: It can be very dull, but GOD FOR FUCKING BID YOU RELAX FOR EVEN A SECOND while driving. God forbid you need to do so much as scratch your nose, or look at the piece of paper for directions, or put on the defroster because the car started steaming up for no good reason, or ANYTHING that takes your eyes away from the road for a second. Because always, in that second, you may kill yourself and/or other people because you couldn't 100% pay attention to everything for hours on end, even in the middle of nowhere. (Though to be fair, texting is about the dumbest thing you could possibly do because of how long it takes just to read a screen and find the little letters on the little phone.) But...you know, sometimes you do need to look away for a damn few seconds. I've had enough situations where I COULD NOT PULL OVER FOR ANYTHING when I really needed to, and...crap, what do you do?

Ughhhhhhhh. And people wondered why I was phobic that I'd kill someone if I screwed up while driving. Because it's so easy to screw up while driving! One brain fart and you hit a wall even after years of conscientiousness! When will everyone be getting those Google automatic driving cars I saw in I, Robot already? Driving manually is dangerous, man!
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:21 PM on May 4, 2012


maudlin: "A passenger is in the same car as you and can see road conditions and your reactions, and can figure out when to shut up and let the driver drive. "

No, they really can't. Fortunately, I'm quite good at ignoring my wife.

I keed

jenfullmoon: "One brain fart and you hit a wall even after years of conscientiousness!"

Well, if you're doing it right, the brain fart should hopefully be short enough that your merely get yourself into a possibly dangerous situation and then extricate yourself with your practiced driving skill and a fair bit of luck. Luck being the other drivers around you exercising due care and not happening to have also had a brain fart at the same instant as you.

Hopefully someday soon we'll all have self driving cars and it won't be such an issue.
posted by wierdo at 12:24 AM on May 5, 2012


Regarding these comparisons of drunk driving and texting, and why hasn't texting made the roads more dangerous, the thing is, at the moment of texting you are just as impaired as a drunk driver. But you don't text continually. You text, then pause, then text, then pause. It's not like you're staring at your phone the entire time you're behind the wheel. (Although some people come close.) So for an hour long drunk drive, you're seriously impaired the entire hour. There's nothing you can do to mitigate that impairment even if you are in a hazardous situation. But for an hour long trip where you are texting, you might be seriously impaired 10 minutes total out of the hour. And if you are lucky enough to see a problem up ahead, you can easily return to full awareness. It's still dangerous, just sporadically dangerous for a cumulatively shorter period of time.

Even so, please don't text while driving a moving vehicle. You might be impaired for only 10 minutes out of the hour, but all it takes is a second to fuck someone's life up forever.
posted by xigxag at 7:21 AM on May 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think part of the problem is that there really are hardly any spans of time anymore in which we don't feel entitled to be actively plugged into some other layer of reality. We only sit down and focus on one thing for thirty minutes if it's REALLY important, or really fun, or we're getting paid to do it. It seems almost unfair to people to sacrifice that precious communication/entertainment time to concentrate on something as mundane as driving.

Honestly this is part of why I like riding my bike places -- it is a sort of self-imposed break from communication and media. When I'm driving there's music/radio and the temptation of seeing what someone else is up to, and it doesn't allow for a peaceful mental state. When I'm biking it feels like quality personal time somehow.
posted by hermitosis at 9:21 AM on May 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wish other cyclists felt that way. I have seen cyclists wearing headphones, texting, and talking on the phone, all while riding down the street. It seems insane to me (just as insane as doing all that while driving a car).
posted by rtha at 10:23 AM on May 5, 2012


Yeah it bugs me when I see it too, but at least it doesn't seem to be the norm here. Meanwhile anytime I see a driver do ANYTHING erratic, if I look closely I almost always see that they're on the phone.
posted by hermitosis at 10:58 AM on May 5, 2012


I have observed a moron driving down El Camino Real fiddling with a goddamned iPad (in a BMW, natch). He had it propped on his steering wheel.
posted by Existential Dread at 4:12 PM on May 5, 2012


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