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Thread: A study of the obvious: Talking while driving isn't a good idea

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    A study of the obvious: Talking while driving isn't a good idea

    In the "no kidding?" hall of fame, a special place has been reserved for the just-released Transportation Research Board (an arm of the National Academy of Sciences) study that found cell phones (wait for it, now) addle drivers. Yes, Virginia - it's true!

    "The distracted driver tends to drive slower and have delayed reactions," said psychology professor David Strayer, who authored this puppy.

    Gee. Ya think?

    It's just incredible that we need a National Academy of Sciences research project to belabor what ought to be obvious - nay, what is obvious - to anyone who's been out on the roads recently, at any rate. And who has a smidgen of observational power - and a dollop of common sense.

    How many times have you witnessed the following:

    * You're waiting for a red light to change; when it finally does, there's a lag time of several seconds before the car ahead of you begins to move. It's driver, of course, is engaged in a cell phone tet-a-tet and didn't notice the light had changed... because (duh) he/she wasn't paying attention to the light. Sometimes, because of the delay, the light changes just as you reach it. The cell phone distracted dawdler makes it through, though.

    * You're driving along with another car beside you. It suddenly begins to drift into your lane - almost hitting you before its driver notices you're in the path of his SUV (ok, it's not always an SUV.... but still). He was too busy talking to check his mirrors.

    * You're on the highway in the (supposedly) "fast" far left lane - but there's a car ahead doing just exactly the speed limit (or a few MPH under it) oblivious to the dozen other cars stacking up behind - because he's (or she's) preoccupied by Urgent Business (which is probably nothing more "urgent" than babbling with a friend about last night's game).

    Et Cetera

    The study bears all this out - and then some. It found that cell phone jabbering drivers tend to drive significantly below the pace of traffic - adding about 20 hours a year to the commute times of those not on the phone stuck behind the rolling roadblock. The study also discovered that drivers on the phone exercise less initiative in reacting to changing road/traffic conditions - adding to the sclerosis that's rapidly bringing driving in and around major suburban areas to a miserable crawl.

    "Overall, cellphone drivers took about 3 percent longer to drive the same highly traffic-clogged route - and about 2 percent longer to drive a medium-congested route - than people who were not on the phone."

    Wonderful, eh?

    Study author Strayer says that, all told, the gabblings of the cell phone drivers out there are increasing commute times by 5-10 percent, with that figure apt to rise as more people gabble for longer on their chirping, video-enabled, e-mail capable iPhones and similar souped-up cells.

    Previous studies of driver performance have found a marked reduction in capacity - specifically, ability to notice and respond to changing conditions quickly - when the driver is trying to talk on the phone and drive at the same time. It's no small thing, either. the reduction in capability is comparable to having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08, the legal threshold defining drunk driving in every state.

    And yet, while we (rightly) go after drunk drivers with the everything the legal system can bring to bear, virtually nothing is said (let alone done) about people who (like drunks) choose to engage in an activity that is a demonstrable threat to the safety of other motorists - in addition to being a massive annoyance for those of us not addled by cell phones, who are actually driving when we're behind the wheel of our vehicles.

    Why is this?

    Drinking alcohol has become politically incorrect; not too far removed from pederasty in the hierarchy of eeeevil. We've adopted a virtual zero-tolerance attitude toward any drinking before driving - which may or may not be a bit over the top. But if it isn't, then how come we tolerate people smacking away on their cells when it's clear - the facts are beyond dispute - that talking while driving is at least within the same ballpark, risk-wise, as having a glass or two of wine over dinner and then driving home?

    Answer? Cell phones have become a mass "given" of our Electronic Age. An entitlement. A necessary accessory. Everyone - from pre-teens to senile citizens - not only seems to have one but feels the need to be constantly talking on the things. Even when there is nothing especially important - let alone urgent - that we need to discuss right this very second. Many of us now spend so much time in our cars that it's simply unthinkable to waste the time when we could be multi-tasking. Doing deals, contacting business associates. Or just warbling away with a friend over a topic of absolutely no importance whatever.

    Because we can.

    All of which proves that "safety" is, at best, an arbitrary Decider (to use an infelicitous neologism) of what is and isn't permissible behind the wheel. Twenty years ago, driving drunk was considered funny. (Doubt that? Go and rent the original "Cannonball Run." ) Today, it's just about the worst possible sin one can commit behind the wheel.

    Maybe in another 20 years, we'll have come around on talking while driving, too.

    Might take some more study, though... .

    END

  2. #2
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: A study of the obvious: Talking while driving isn't a good idea

    link?

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: A study of the obvious: Talking while driving isn't a good idea

    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel
    link?
    To the study? (The article's mine; the study was done by the NAS).

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    Re: A study of the obvious: Talking while driving isn't a good idea

    Perhaps one of the reasons for the inane cell nattering is the fact that people hate to see their monthly 'minutes' go unused.

    And, absent government intervention, there is nothing to be done about it.

  5. #5
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: A study of the obvious: Talking while driving isn't a good idea

    Quote Originally Posted by jdm
    Perhaps one of the reasons for the inane cell nattering is the fact that people hate to see their monthly 'minutes' go unused.

    And, absent government intervention, there is nothing to be done about it.
    It's hard for me to advocate government intervention, but I believe there's sound reason to demand that when the car is moving, the driver hangs up the phone. Or gets a ticket, if Johnny Law sees him gabbling while driving....

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    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: A study of the obvious: Talking while driving isn't a good idea

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel
    link?
    To the study? (The article's mine; the study was done by the NAS).
    Yeah, to the study.

  7. #7
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: A study of the obvious: Talking while driving isn't a good idea

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Quote Originally Posted by jdm
    Perhaps one of the reasons for the inane cell nattering is the fact that people hate to see their monthly 'minutes' go unused.

    And, absent government intervention, there is nothing to be done about it.
    It's hard for me to advocate government intervention, but I believe there's sound reason to demand that when the car is moving, the driver hangs up the phone. Or gets a ticket, if Johnny Law sees him gabbling while driving....
    DWEI - Driving While Electronically Impaired

  8. #8
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: A study of the obvious: Talking while driving isn't a good idea

    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel
    link?
    To the study? (The article's mine; the study was done by the NAS).
    Yeah, to the study.
    Here's where you'll find most of the principal author's work; good background material here as well:

    http://www.psych.utah.edu/AppliedCognitionLab/

  9. #9
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    Re: A study of the obvious: Talking while driving isn't a good idea

    To a link to this article on the main page:




    http://www.ericpetersautos.com/home/...0&Itemid=10819


  10. #10
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: A study of the obvious: Talking while driving isn't a good idea

    Is that an Eos in the picture?

  11. #11
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: A study of the obvious: Talking while driving isn't a good idea

    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel
    Is that an Eos in the picture?
    Could also be an SLK....

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    Re: A study of the obvious: Talking while driving isn't a good idea

    Eric,,
    In the paragraph which begins; "You're waiting for a red light to change..."

    Although it wasn't, it could have been me who always count slowly..one...two...three ...after the light change, before I step on the gas because I wouldn't want to be broadsided by a red light runner!

    The other day I'm waiting at a red light and when it changed, I waited for a few seconds, and lucky thing I did because a pickup did run the red thus avoiding a deadly smash up. I wasn't on the phone either.

    Larry T

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: A study of the obvious: Talking while driving isn't a good idea

    Quote Originally Posted by ChevyMan
    Eric,,
    In the paragraph which begins; "You're waiting for a red light to change..."

    Although it wasn't, it could have been me who always count slowly..one...two...three ...after the light change, before I step on the gas because I wouldn't want to be broadsided by a red light runner!

    The other day I'm waiting at a red light and when it changed, I waited for a few seconds, and lucky thing I did because a pickup did run the red thus avoiding a deadly smash up. I wasn't on the phone either.

    Larry T
    That's a legitimate point; red light running remains a serious problem. This is a matter that deserves police attention - but rarely gets it (relative to "speeding"), apparently because it's easier to shoot fish in a barrel via a radar trap than to actually look for genuinely dangerous drivers!

    The driver doing 5-10 over an already under-posted limit is guilty of a technical infraction - but he may not be doing anything that threatens the safety of himself or other drivers.

    But red light runners are objectively a threat to themselves and everyone else in their path...


  14. #14
    Senior Member Mase's Avatar
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    Re: A study of the obvious: Talking while driving isn't a good idea

    A couple days ago, the driver of a pickup truck ran a red light a couple miles down the street from me, t-boned a minivan, and killed a 33-year-old mother and her young 4-year old son, then took off on foot - making this accident a hit-and-run. This was the intersection of two 4-lane busy city streets.

    The father and another child survived.

    I have heard the driver has been caught but haven't seen it officially on the news yet. Calls for some book-throwing IMO, as in LOCK 'EM UP AND THROW AWAY THE KEY.

    Accidents happen. Can happen to anyone. But there is NO EXCUSE for running.
    A man's greatest mistake is to think he is working for somebody else.

  15. #15
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: A study of the obvious: Talking while driving isn't a good idea

    Quote Originally Posted by Mase
    A couple days ago, the driver of a pickup truck ran a red light a couple miles down the street from me, t-boned a minivan, and killed a 33-year-old mother and her young 4-year old son, then took off on foot - making this accident a hit-and-run. This was the intersection of two 4-lane busy city streets.

    The father and another child survived.

    I have heard the driver has been caught but haven't seen it officially on the news yet. Calls for some book-throwing IMO, as in LOCK 'EM UP AND THROW AWAY THE KEY.

    Accidents happen. Can happen to anyone. But there is NO EXCUSE for running.
    Awful.

    And I agree; throw the book at the guy. Voluntary manslaughter seems appropriate given the red light running and the leavingof the scene. What a dirtbag.

  16. #16
    DonTom
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    Re: A study of the obvious: Talking while driving isn't a good idea

    "You're waiting for a red light to change"

    Has anybody else here been so lost in a day dream that while at a stop SIGN you wait for the red light (the one that's not there) to change to green?

    -Don-



  17. #17
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: A study of the obvious: Talking while driving isn't a good idea

    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom
    "You're waiting for a red light to change"

    Has anybody else here been so lost in a day dream that while at a stop SIGN you wait for the red light (the one that's not there) to change to green?

    -Don-


    Not I!

  18. #18
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: A study of the obvious: Talking while driving isn't a good idea

    I wonder if there are any studies about drivers being distracted by the radio?

  19. #19
    D_E_Davis
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    Re: A study of the obvious: Talking while driving isn't a good idea

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric

    That's a legitimate point; red light running remains a serious problem. This is a matter that deserves police attention - but rarely gets it (relative to "speeding"), apparently because it's easier to shoot fish in a barrel via a radar trap than to actually look for genuinely dangerous drivers!
    That motivated the city here to install the first red-light camera in town, and it just looks at one left-turn choice in that intersection. In the first month it snapped pix of over 600 runners.


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    Re: A study of the obvious: Talking while driving isn't a good idea

    Quote Originally Posted by D_E_Davis

    That motivated the city here to install the first red-light camera in town, and it just looks at one left-turn choice in that intersection. In the first month it snapped pix of over 600 runners.

    While cameras are a cheap way to ID a lot of poor driving and cars, it's still hard to actually penalize or 'fix'... and besides, cameras are un-American.

    What about driving with a mischeivious fun-loving girl on a multi-lane at night? Cameras please!

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