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For Whom the Bell Tolls - airbag edition
February 13, 2008 8:39 PM   Subscribe

Some people like to text while driving(YT). Others think TWD is dangerous enough to be illegal.
At last there is a solution for literate(YT), bookish types (Googvid) to get in on the fun.
Sadly, as with everything good, reading-while-driving has its haters too.
posted by isopraxis (67 comments total)

 
WTF. Worse than DUI, IMO. BBQ.
posted by LordSludge at 8:46 PM on February 13, 2008


"Reading material" does not include a map, written driving or address directions, or any written or visual media which is not located within the passenger compartment of the vehicle.
posted by finite at 8:49 PM on February 13, 2008


1. Any distraction while driving, whether it be texting, talking on the phone, reading, shaving, eating -- whatever -- is unsafe and shouldn't be done.

2. They've had a solution for reading while driving for a while now. It's called an audiobook.
posted by flatluigi at 8:54 PM on February 13, 2008


Anyone who drives while one hand is doing anything other than driving is a selfish asshole who should have their license taken away. End of story.
posted by mediareport at 8:58 PM on February 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


At least texts are low-brain-power. "traffic sux, be there in 20".

Reading while driving? What the fuck.
posted by blacklite at 8:59 PM on February 13, 2008


Meant to close that tag after the question mark. (No, I am not currently driving.)
posted by blacklite at 9:00 PM on February 13, 2008


m txtng ths whl drvng
posted by b1tr0t at 9:03 PM on February 13, 2008


Back in the day, a programmer friend of mine was brainstorming ways to use his one hour daily commute more productively. His idea was to install a heads-up display hooked to a laptop, so that he could code while driving.

Took me more than 10 minutes to convince him that this was a Bad Idea.
posted by LordSludge at 9:04 PM on February 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was in Belize a couple of years ago and had to take a short puddle-jumper flight from one city to another. The plane only seated 4-6 passengers. My wife and I sat in the row right behind the single pilot, so we could see everything he was doing. As we lifted off the ground, the pilot took one hand off the controls and put it in his pocket. He pulled out a cell phone and flipped it open. And, I kid you not, he started cycling through and reading text messages, all with one hand on the flight controls while barely airborne. My wife and I gave each other identical looks -- "WTF? shouldn't we, uh, say something?" Fortunately, a minute later, he was done and put his phone back in his pocket. The rest of the flight was uneventful.

I imagine pilots do even scarier things during flight when passengers can't see them.
posted by brain_drain at 9:07 PM on February 13, 2008


Was this post made on your Blackberry, or did you have to wait until you got home since service was temporarily down?
posted by porpoise at 9:12 PM on February 13, 2008


just joking, I only twitter while driving
posted by b1tr0t at 9:14 PM on February 13, 2008


Oh texting while driving is totally safe... it's only the watching out for coppers that makes me dangerous...
posted by pompomtom at 9:21 PM on February 13, 2008


Like many things, it depends on how you're doing it. If you do it at red lights, then it's fine (and it's a lot easier to text at red lights than it is to talk at them, since you can just put the phone down anytime you want.) On the other hand, one shouldn't do it while zooming in and out of traffic.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:28 PM on February 13, 2008


I imagine pilots do even scarier things during flight when passengers can't see them.

Flying is all about the take-off and the landing. Up in the air, pilots are sleeping, jacking off and playing chess. Sometimes two of those three things at once!
posted by crossoverman at 9:33 PM on February 13, 2008


You shouldn't do it, period. I just love being behind some self-absorbed asshole who is balancing their checkbook and ten seconds after the light turns green they finally look up from their wankery.

I actually believe cars are too safe and too easy to drive if they promote this kind of assholery. Want to text on your way to work? Take fucking mass transit, that's what it's for.
posted by maxwelton at 9:35 PM on February 13, 2008


"m txtng ths whl drvng"

You must be that idiot who is stopping for the green light.
posted by Riverine at 9:36 PM on February 13, 2008


maxwelton: I actually believe cars are too safe and too easy to drive if they promote this kind of assholery. Want to text on your way to work? Take fucking mass transit, that's what it's for.

And in the 99% of the country where it doesn't exist or is absolute trash...?
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:38 PM on February 13, 2008


Live close and walk.
posted by stopgap at 9:46 PM on February 13, 2008


And in the 99% of the country where it doesn't exist or is absolute trash...?

Oh, by all means THOSE people should be allowed to answer their fucking email on the freeway.

Jesus, if you're so important that you can't wait till you get to work to handle your business, get one of those stupid Bluetooth things and drive around looking like Lobot. Otherwise, driving in the car is for off-key singing and listening to All Things Considered.
posted by padraigin at 9:49 PM on February 13, 2008


HAI GUYS, IM POSTING FROM MY CAR
THIS LITERALLY IS THE INFORMATION "SUPERHIGHWAY"!!!11

whoa shit, almost hit a truck full of lolcats.
posted by bhayes82 at 9:50 PM on February 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Up in the air, pilots are sleeping, jacking off and playing chess.

In fact, forget the takeoff and landing!
posted by dirigibleman at 9:58 PM on February 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


LordSludge WTF. Worse than DUI, IMO. BBQ.
mediareport Anyone who drives while one hand is doing anything other than driving is a selfish asshole who should have their license taken away. End of story.

I (mostly) disagree. Driving is just a physical skill with dangerous consequences for failure, that different people are capable of doing under different conditions with different degrees of success. Some people are hazardous to others at a snails pace, dead sober, with both hands on the wheel. Some people (and no, I don't put myself in this category) could safely do their morning commute with a book propped on the steering wheel. Or three-quarters drunk. It all has to do with peripheral vision, reflexes, vision and attention, all of which varies from person to person, and varies from time to time for any individual person. You can't tell until the time, and then it's a pass-fail test.

But oh, what's a legislative assembly to do? Legislate on the assumption of higher capacity, and the folks with lower capacity--totally unaware of that fact, of course--cry "why can't we do that too?" and then they try it, and they get into accidents and kill themselves and others. Legislate for lower capacity, and the folks with higher capacity moan and grind their teeth and from time to time try it anyway, and then sometimes get pulled over and given tickets. Which is what happens with mobile phone use, here.

I do disagree with the assumption that no-one could read while driving safely, but on the whole, I think the law against it is fair enough, and the prospect of cops checking for it is a good thing.

flatluigi 1. Any distraction while driving, whether it be texting, talking on the phone, reading, shaving, eating -- whatever -- is unsafe and shouldn't be done.

To some extent anything at all is distracting, and the real fun thing about distractions is, you don't know when they're going to occur. A competent driver should be trained to have the capacity to cope with some level of distraction and still drive properly. Advanced pre-test driving practice probably should include two people loudly arguing in the back, the radio up high with frequent demands to change station, the mobile phone ringing at some point and the driver under instructions to take the call and give sensible answers to three questions related to driving theory, and with passengers under instructions to do something like spill a can of Coke or yell "LOOK AT THAT THERE'S MY SISTER'S FRIEND!" or release a small quantity of H2S or pull out a camera and take a picture of the driver at some random point during the test. Because those are the conditions under which teenagers drive.

IMO, banning reading's fair enough, and using a mobile phone is just within most people's limit of capacity to do and drive safely, but if you're not competent to eat (well, an apple or sandwich or something equally one-handed and visually undemanding) while driving, or drink a safe-temperature non-alcoholic drink, you're not competent to drive.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 9:59 PM on February 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


Live close and walk.

Or take the bus and read. That's a good one. Back when we had one car and no children, Bus Pass Plus Book was a Gift from God.

All the others..., unwieldy McWhatevers, back-seat cranky toddlers, Jim Beam half-pints, a couple too many Valiums, pretty girls/boys on the sidewalk, cell phones, with our without headphones, complicated audio manipulations, GPS fun...c'mon everybody. Drive your huge convenient deathtrap thing of beauty...but when you are driving, just drive.

Listening to the radio, which was much decried in is infancy, is OK, IMO. Maybe even Books on Tape. But please let me and my friends live; don't read Madame Bovary or the DaVinci Code in the car.
posted by kozad at 10:01 PM on February 13, 2008


Also, this thread reminds me of an editorial cartoon I saw once protesting excessive speed limit inflexibility (they were talking at the time of getting rid of the "fudge factor"). The cartoon had a driver pulled over by a cop, and the driver was saying "I'm sorry, officer. I momentarily took my eyes off my speedometer in order to look at the road."
posted by aeschenkarnos at 10:03 PM on February 13, 2008


I'm glad my family and friends actually use cell phones to talk with. I only receive text messages from a few women, and I don't text them back. I use the talk button.
posted by jkafka at 10:08 PM on February 13, 2008


hey, look, guys, i'm posting to metafilter with one hand on the wheel and the other on my laptop and it's perfectly safijwoejijonvoidohi

(no carrier)
posted by pyramid termite at 10:14 PM on February 13, 2008


Back in the day, a programmer friend of mine was brainstorming ways to use his one hour daily commute more productively. His idea was to install a heads-up display hooked to a laptop, so that he could code while driving.

Took me more than 10 minutes to convince him that this was a Bad Idea.


You probably tried to convince him it was bad for his driving, when you should've gone the route of making it apparent that his code would suffer. Heh.

I (mostly) disagree. Driving is just a physical skill with dangerous consequences for failure, that different people are capable of doing under different conditions with different degrees of success. [. . .]

Man, that was a whole lot of WORDS WORDS WORDS to tell us how awesome you are at driving.
posted by Mikey-San at 10:22 PM on February 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


padraigin: Oh, by all means THOSE people should be allowed to answer their fucking email on the freeway.

I'm not saying THAT, but I'm sick of people suggesting mass transit in a country where one would probably have better luck trying to catch a ride with the tooth fairy. Oh, and someone suggested living next to work - good luck. The place I work in has about 10 houses within reasonable walking distance and most of them are probably approaching 7 digits (land is ridiculous out there.) Oh, and the road is a cycling deathtrap.

In any case, I only do it at red lights and such where it's safe. When red lights last for 4+ minutes, there's no good reason not to check your email or something.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:23 PM on February 13, 2008


Also, the correct title for this post is:

!!inanintastellaburstiambacktosavetheuniverse!!

posted by Mikey-San at 10:25 PM on February 13, 2008


"Reading material" does not include a map, written driving or address directions, or any written or visual media which is not located within the passenger compartment of the vehicle.

YES. I have had a brilliant idea.

Now to figure out how to attach a television to the OUTSIDE of my windshield.
posted by Justinian at 11:53 PM on February 13, 2008


I keep seeing reports that talking on a cell phone while driving accrues the same impairment as drinking while driving.

Yet cops in my city cruise while chatting on their phones all the while.

LOCK THEM THE FUCK UP!!!! FUCKING MENACES TO PUBLIC SAFETY!! COSTING ME UNTOLD DOLLARS IN INSURANCE AND LAW ENFORCEMENT! JAIL! JAIL! JAIL! JAIL! DIE DIE DIE! FINE! FINE! FINE!
posted by sourwookie at 12:41 AM on February 14, 2008


aeschenkarnos: A typical modern car (1.5 metric tons wt.) travelling at a leisurely 70 km/h (42 mph) has a kinetic energy of 284 kJ. That is the equivalent of 60 grams TNT, which doesn't sound like much, except it's the amount of high explosive you'll usually find in a hand grenade. A car deserves to be handled with as much respect as a live grenade, and I don't think many people would start texting after removing the pin.

Besides, our brains have a very limited multitasking ability, and even the most gifted, best trained people reach those limits surprisingly quickly. There are good reasons why the ergonomics of fighter aircraft and Formula 1 racing cars are so important, and this is not because fighter pilots or Formula 1 drivers are selected among the easily distracted...
posted by Skeptic at 2:27 AM on February 14, 2008


..one shouldn't do it while zooming in and out of traffic.

Oh, one doesn't. What one does is drive at some fixed speed, mostly lower than the rest of the traffic, while not reacting, or reacting sluggishly, to changes in traffic. When one does this in the "fast" lane, one demonstrates the limits of their intelligence, and invites scorn and anger.


Sadly, as with everything good, reading-while-driving has its haters too.

"good?" There is nothing good about it. People who drape a newspaper over their steering wheel should be permanently banned from driving, because they clearly do not have a grasp of what's involved.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:00 AM on February 14, 2008


Here in the UK, it can get you jail time.
posted by rhymer at 4:35 AM on February 14, 2008


New York Times: High-Tech Invitations Take Your Mind Off Road.
posted by ericb at 4:48 AM on February 14, 2008


From the NYT's article:
“The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 80 percent of vehicle crashes and 65 percent of close calls are caused in part by driver distraction.

And some devastating accidents have drawn further attention to the dangers. Last June, five teenage girls were driving to a vacation home in upstate New York when their sport utility vehicle crashed head-on into a tractor-trailer, killing all of them.

The police later learned from phone records that the driver had been typing text messages on her phone just before she swerved out of her lane. Toxicology tests ruled out alcohol and drugs as possible causes. The rise in distraction-related accidents is chilling to auto-safety advocates who typically study air bags and rollovers.

‘If we don’t do something about it, you’re looking at a situation that could rival drunk driving as a risk factor in crashes,’ said Clarence M. Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, a consumer advocacy group based in Washington.

…The evidence cited most often by safety experts involved 100 cars and 42,000 hours of driving time monitored by in-vehicle cameras and sensors over a one-year period in northern Virginia and the Washington area.

The study [PDF], conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and released in 2006 [PDF], found that ‘secondary task distraction’ was a central factor in auto accidents. The biggest culprit was hand-held wireless devices, along with the act of dialing phone numbers or sending text messages.

‘Texting is really bad, and so is dialing a cellphone, using your BlackBerry or manipulating through an iPod menu,’ said Thomas A. Dingus, one of the principal investigators in the study.

But, Mr. Dingus added, any activity that takes a driver’s eyes off the road for even a couple of seconds can cause a crash.”
posted by ericb at 5:03 AM on February 14, 2008


Here's story about 5 teenage girls who were killed last summer when their driver was texting.

"Goodman's inexperience at the wheel, evidence she was driving above the speed limit at night on a winding, two-lane highway and a succession of calls and text messages on her phone were cited by Sheriff Phil Povero as possible factors in the June 28 crash in western New York's Finger Lakes region."
posted by kuujjuarapik at 5:37 AM on February 14, 2008


Skeptic A car deserves to be handled with as much respect as a live grenade

Driving white-knuckled and wide-eyed, well below the speed limit, shaking with fear at the horrifying prospect of your front bumper slamming through a child's skull, will not make you a good driver. Drive with the necessary care and caution. It's fine to have a little too much caution, but not far too much, or you'll just be another kind of bad driver. Tunnel-visioned, slow to react, panicky, distracted by your fear and a distraction to others. If you must drive like you're juggling a hand grenade, at least have the decency to purchase a Datsun 100A, wear a hat while you drive it, and put an "I BRAKE FOR NO APPARENT REASON" sticker on the back of it. Just out of courtesy to other people.

On the subject of minimizing driver distraction, Virtual Cable is the best idea I've seen for a navigational system yet. It requires a reasonably good HUD-enabled overlay on the windscreen, but those are coming.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:21 AM on February 14, 2008


Others think TWD is dangerous enough to be illegal.

Think it's dangerous! WTF?

Good God. Driving a ton of dangerous weapon around seems challenging enough for a lot of people, but texting at the same time. It's like an inverted version of natural selection... I'm as thick as a haddock so I'll text and kill YOU! Good God!
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar at 6:33 AM on February 14, 2008


The best driver distraction 2008 calendar I have ever seen
posted by anthill at 6:34 AM on February 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Driving white-knuckled and wide-eyed, well below the speed limit, shaking with fear at the horrifying prospect of your front bumper slamming through a child's skull, will not make you a good driver.

To be fair, acting like that while handling a live grenade is not the best course, either. Nor is juggling.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:58 AM on February 14, 2008


To the people who say "some people have the skills to drive one-handed with distractions." : (like this girl)

Some people have the skills to ride a motorcycle, standing up, jumping thru flaming hoops. But guess what? you're not in the fucking circus, you're in the real world, behind the wheel of a 2-ton killing machine, and lives are at stake. Asshole.
posted by TechnoLustLuddite at 7:14 AM on February 14, 2008


Driving white-knuckled and wide-eyed, well below the speed limit, shaking with fear at the horrifying prospect of your front bumper slamming through a child's skull, will not make you a good driver

That won't make you good at handling granades either. Respect is not the same thing as fear. Of course the rest of what you wrote is correct, but I think you're just agreeing with skeptic.
posted by Green With You at 7:39 AM on February 14, 2008


if you're not competent to eat (well, an apple or sandwich or something equally one-handed and visually undemanding) while driving, or drink a safe-temperature non-alcoholic drink, you're not competent to drive.

That's completely ridiculous. How the hell do you use your turn signal with one hand on the wheel and a Gulp-monster or eggamuffin in the other?

Oh, right. You don't.

/angry bike rider
posted by mediareport at 7:57 AM on February 14, 2008


Lets protect ourselves through legislation from any possible risk. Because the government knows so much better than any of us.

Wait. Er, no, lets not.
posted by sfts2 at 7:59 AM on February 14, 2008


aeschenkarnos: Driving white-knuckled and wide-eyed, well below the speed limit, shaking with fear at the horrifying prospect of your front bumper slamming through a child's skull, will not make you a good driver. Drive with the necessary care and caution.

As Kith Gerson already pointed out, handling a car with the appropriate respect is not the same as driving like the panicky moron you describe. In my personal experience, more people over- than underestimate their own driving ability. Also, there's plenty of solid evidence (apart from the swerving idiots I regularly encounter on my daily commute) indicating that driving with the necessary care and caution necessarily excludes such distractions as phoning, texting and, most definitely, reading.
posted by Skeptic at 8:11 AM on February 14, 2008


Anyone who reads while one hand is doing anything other than reading is a selfish asshole who should have their library card taken away. End of story.
posted by HVAC Guerilla at 8:35 AM on February 14, 2008


I saw the most gorgeous thing the other day: an SUV-driving, cellphone-talking, tailgating a-hole got pulled over by the CHP. She was so busy talking and tailgating (she was following the other car so closely that she was practically on top of it, and this was on a stretch of four-lane freeway where she could easily have passed the poor guy, who likely saw nothing but grill in his rearview) that she didn't noticed the cop car with the flashing lights behind her for at least a quarter-mile. And when she changed lanes to get to the shoulder? Didn't use her turn signal. HA! I'm hoping that was a big fat ticket and a gigantic leap in her insurance premium.

My commute's 60 miles a day (round trip). The vast majority of drivers are actually perfectly fine. But the ones like the guy who tailgated me a week or so ago, who was texting while he was tailgating me, move me to homicidal rage. Behavior like this makes me wish I had some sort of thing in the back of my car that would shoot paint on the car that's following too closely.

Whatever that text is that you're reading or sending, it isn't more important than making sure you don't kill somebody with that car you're driving.
posted by rtha at 9:07 AM on February 14, 2008


My next vehicle ... to insure I survive being hit by a TWD asshole!
posted by ericb at 9:16 AM on February 14, 2008


If we're ever together at a meetup, please ask me to tell the story of my father-in-law driving the family back from Colorado, while surfing the web with his laptop looking for a broadcast of the Maverick's game. On icy roads. In the fucking mountains. To spite us.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 9:44 AM on February 14, 2008


My favourite bumper sticker of all time reads thusly:

WOULD YOU DRIVE ANY BETTER WITH THAT CELL PHONE JAMMED UP YOUR ASS?

And it'd be funny, too, if these self-important clowns weren't endangering my life with a fast-moving two-ton missile. When my daughter's in the car, I kind of lose it. Ten-second horn blares usually manage to restore my equilibrium, but she's also learned some very interesting new vocabulary words that way.
posted by gompa at 9:58 AM on February 14, 2008


Lets protect ourselves through legislation from any possible risk. Because the government knows so much better than any of us.

Wait. Er, no, lets not.
posted by sfts2 at 7:59 AM on February 14


The legislation isn't so much to save us from ourselves, it's to save ME from other CRAZY ASSHOLE TEXTING DRIVERS. Legislate away.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:07 AM on February 14, 2008


<Jennifer> Jason, is that safe?
<TXTerron> na, i just type with one hand while I'm driving and halfway watch the road, its cool, dont worry

posted by kableh at 10:29 AM on February 14, 2008


This is such an insignificant problem to generate so much angst. See someone driving unsafely? Slow down..or speed up and get away from them. I drive every day 45 miles into New York and back during rush hour. Would it be better if people were more prudent? Sure, it would. In the scheme of things, its a non-event. IMHO
posted by sfts2 at 11:18 AM on February 14, 2008


It's not a non-event for the people killed by those who text, cell phone, etc. while driving.
posted by agregoli at 11:24 AM on February 14, 2008


It's an "insignificant problem" that is causing accidents in which people die. Please have your perspectacles calibrated.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:25 AM on February 14, 2008


My perspectacles are fine, Just because I don't agree with you? Oh, thats right, this is the hive mind. Lets ban driving altogether, because people die. Way more people are killed by driving like an idiot as opposed to driving while talking on a cell phone. Again, no data, but come on.

A couple of dubious stats

Harvard's statistics update a center study released two years ago that estimated the chance of being killed while driving and talking on a cell phone were about six in a million and 1.5 in a million for other people on the road.



The Harvard study found that a cell phone user has about 13 chances in 1 million of being killed in an accident while making a call; that compares with 49 in 1 million for someone driving without a seat belt.


Lets try for some rational discourse. My quick Googling turned up very little obvious data on the problem, so I have to leave that for later. Let me just say for now, that if you are going to ban cell phones, then you should also ban eating, drinking coffee, putting on makeup, gesturing, smoking, and changing your radio station. While we're at it, lets actually enforce the speed limit that all the sanctimony prevalent in this thread ignores. All driving the speed limit? Coming to a full stop at stop signs? All of these activities are distractions, and honestly eating is much more dangerous that talking on my cell phone. Sure, I use hands-free and keep conversations to a minimum, but to focus on this without truly a higher level of understanding than anything I've seen herein is ridiculous.
posted by sfts2 at 12:00 PM on February 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm not worried about you being killed while you drive and chat on your cellphone, or text "alomst thre!". I'm worried you're going to kill me.
posted by rtha at 12:05 PM on February 14, 2008


So, we've moved on from "this is insignificant" to "lots of other things are bad, too, so let's ignore this one"? Good work implementing the higher level of understanding.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:06 PM on February 14, 2008


Also: (dated)

In-vehicle cell phones: smoke, but where's the fire?
Curry, D.G.
Spectrum, IEEE
Volume 38, Issue 8, Aug 2001 Page(s):16 - 18
Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/6.938721
Summary:The debate now raging around cellular telephone use by drivers is highly emotional, as cities and states consider steps to ban or seriously restrict their use. The rush to judgement-and legislation-is too hasty. It is not at all clear if using a cell phone in a moving vehicle is significantly more risky than such tasks as adjusting the radio, drinking coffee, or talking with a passenger. The issue is not whether using a cell phone distracts the driver. It does. Rather, the issue is whether its use is markedly more distracting than tasks that the public regards as acceptable behind the wheel. Most experts in the field of human factors agree that the critical issue is the mental load, or driver distraction, imposed by carrying on even a simple conversation. Engrossed in a phone call, the driver fails to pay attention to the road and its potential hazards. A study by M.A. Recarte and L.M. Nunes (see Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 2000) held that a driver engaging simultaneously in driving and a verbal task-for example, repeating the words of the experimenter-would scan a much smaller area outside the vehicle than if concentrating on just driving. Performing simple mental spatial-imagery tasks, say, mentally rotating letters, shrank the monitored area still further. The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Washington, DC, estimates that 20 to 30 percent of all fatal auto accidents occur in part because the driver is distracted. Most distractions have little to do with using cell phones

posted by sfts2 at 12:06 PM on February 14, 2008


Son, the point is not 'lets ignore' its 'lets not legislate'

I'd add that you make make a sad example of any kind of 'higher level of understanding'
posted by sfts2 at 12:08 PM on February 14, 2008


Did someone upthread already post a link to this University of Utah study (.pdf)? Apologies if this is a double and I missed it:

A Comparison of the Cell Phone Driver and the Drunk Driver

Results:
When drivers were conversing on either a handheld or hands-free cell phone, their braking reactions were delayed and they were involved in more traffic accidents than when they were not conversing on a cell phone. By contrast, when drivers were intoxicated from ethanol they exhibited a more aggressive driving style, following closer to the vehicle immediately in front of them and applying more force while braking.

Conclusion: When driving conditions and time on task were controlled for, the impairments associated with using a cell phone while driving can be as profound as those associated with driving while drunk.


So, why not legislate? We legislate about seatbelts, speed, the condition of the car before it's allowed on the road, drunk driving, etc.
posted by rtha at 12:16 PM on February 14, 2008


See my link above, which disagrees with that study, so at least its arguable, and in MY mind, makes more sense to me based upon driving 50k miles a year in some of the worst traffic in the world. FWIW

Also, I'm not necessarily for legislation on those areas either. Its an exceedingly blunt instrument, prone to abuse and manipulation, lack of and arbitrary enforcement, high costs, and a host of other reasons that I prefer to have the government OUT of my life in many areas. Others may disagree, and thats fine. If they pass the law, I obey it. Doesn't mean that I have to agree with it.
posted by sfts2 at 12:22 PM on February 14, 2008


There were 40 participants in that study...
posted by sfts2 at 12:26 PM on February 14, 2008


Well, okay. Here's another study, which was done in Perth and published in the BMJ in 2005. They tried to do one in the U.S., but U.S. phone companies wouldn't give the researchers access to accident victims' phone records (oh, the irony!). Anyway, this study seems to indicate that drivers using phones are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves.
posted by rtha at 1:08 PM on February 14, 2008


Son, the point is not 'lets ignore' its 'lets not legislate'


Oh, is that the point now? You're redefining that, too? Don't call, me 'son,' youngster. You don't have the bark for that.

Anyone who argues that cellphone use does not affect diving ability is not watching those drivers who do it. Probably because they're doing it themselves.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:36 PM on February 14, 2008


mediareport That's completely ridiculous. How the hell do you use your turn signal with one hand on the wheel and a Gulp-monster or eggamuffin in the other?

Easy. Pick your times to take bites or sips, based on road conditions. Use your cupholder, front passenger seat, lap, passenger's ability to hold the chip packet and the coke bottle, whatever. Don't eat stuff that actually interferes with your ability to use your turn signal. Eat by feel, and don't take your eyes off the road. Assuming you have the normal number of fingers and normal-sized hands, you can hold the wheel firmly with a hand that has an apple or something in it, at least if your car has power steering, which almost all do these days.

Also, you don't need to take your hand off the wheel to indicate. Hold the wheel near the indicator lever, and flip the lever with your extended forefinger. Even when not eating while driving, this is a good habit to get into, as it lets you keep a firmer grip on the wheel.

/angry bike rider
Well, that explains a lot.

People not indicating has nothing to do with them eating or whatever. It's because they're assholes. If they don't indicate to you, it's because they've not developed the habit of always indicating, they only indicate to other cars, and they're not thinking of you as someone they need to indicate to. Again, assholes. Or at least, bad drivers.

Cyclist-car interaction is a whole other kettleful of wormy fish cans. My view on the subject is: as much as is possible, the cyclist should not even notice that I am there. Him struggling away, sweat fogging his sunglasses, his lanky hair covering half his face, breathing hard, pumping his wobbling contraption along, is from my point of view, just another slow-moving obstacle to be avoided. It is totally my responsibility to ensure he is safe from me. I expect nothing from him, as far as acknowledging or even noticing me is concerned. I will assume that at any moment, he could twist up his fragile wheels in a road crack or against a rock, lose his balance and tumble into my path; therefore I will give him enough gap, on all sides (especially behind him), to do so safely. If there's one nearby in heavy traffic, I'll give him the gap he needs to get past me on either side, and watch with mild relief as he leaves us. I mildly resent cyclists for the distraction they cause, but I realize they have every right to do it, and will cope with that distraction. If I couldn't, I shouldn't be driving.

Actually I don't expect much more from other drivers than from cyclists. Less, in the case of SUVs and tradesmen's utes. They will go more or less where they're going, and probably avoid obstacles in their own paths, but I have no control and no definite idea what they will do, so I will drive with that awareness in mind. Minimize your expectations, and maximize your ability to respond to their range of possible actions.

I'm not in favor of eating or smoking or making phone calls or whatever while driving. I don't recommend one make oneself a sandwich then hop in the car just for the sake of eating it with the wind in one's hair. I'm advocating being sensible about it. If you do something distracting, realize you are engaging in something distracting, and pay more attention to compensate for that. The level of hysterical condemnation we've seen in this thread is not sensible.

And this here is as far from sensible as it gets:
gompa When my daughter's in the car, I kind of lose it. Ten-second horn blares usually manage to restore my equilibrium, but she's also learned some very interesting new vocabulary words that way.

I strongly suggest you knock that off. Not only have you distracted yourself for ten seconds with your tantrum, you've distracted everyone around you, whether or not that includes the chump who annoyed you. Any time a horn blows, every other driver thinks "is that for me?" You've increased the risk to yourself and your daughter and others far more than you would have had you simply slowed down a bit to create a gap from the chump in front, or accelerated a bit to get away from the chump behind or beside. In fact you yourself, by becoming a yelling chump with a blasting horn, have given somebody else a good reason to have a problem with you. That's another example of bad driving.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 7:13 PM on February 14, 2008


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