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Gamers Better at Driving w/ Cell Phones? 310

sl4shd0rk writes "A lot of people think talking on the cell phone while driving is natural, but each time someone asks a question or changes the subject, it's like taking on a new task, Psychologists who study multi-tasking have argued for years about whether these "information bottlenecks" occur because people are inherently lazy, or because they have a fundamental inability to switch from one task to another. Mei-Ching Lien, an assistant professor of psychology at Oregon State University. "Even with a seemingly simple task, structural cognitive limitations can prevent you from efficiently switching to a new task." I have to say that the best ones are those who play a lot of video games," she pointed out. "Those are lab studies, however, and not driving tests." " All I know is that I could get where I was going better if I could shoot turtles at others on the highway.
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Gamers Better at Driving w/ Cell Phones?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 11, 2005 @10:55AM (#14233038)
    . . . I play Quake. Wonder if this works for drunk driving, too :).
    • Game idea: Mario Kart Cellular.
      The bottom screen on the DS is used with the stylus to select numbers the game tells you to dial. The top screen is used with the D-Pad and buttons to steer. The game then has an annoying voice that asks you questions every 15-30 seconds. If you fail to answer promptly or don't dial you lose lots of speed.
  • Mushroom (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 11, 2005 @10:55AM (#14233040)
    Well i know i used a mushroom to get into this pole position
    • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Sunday December 11, 2005 @11:39AM (#14233196) Journal
      Now I tuned my car to the max stripping all the boring bits off like roof, lights etc and powerslide my way around corners at 200 miles per hour (grand prix legends) but do you think that is tolerated? NOooooo. I guess the police here is still pissed they had to give up their porches and take it out on anyone who think the speed limit is meant to be a minimum.
  • by mwilliamson ( 672411 ) on Sunday December 11, 2005 @10:55AM (#14233042) Homepage Journal
    Woohoo, I knew this skill would come in handy someday ;-)
  • It's fun actually! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Like a game! Fifty fifty chances you either crash or get a chance to live another day!:)
  • Alert the presses! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Spazntwich ( 208070 )
    Heavily practicing tasks allows one to perform them better and with more consistency than people who have never tried!

    Has it yet been considered that humans aren't necessarily BAD at multitasking, but we're plenty of capable of training ourselves to be better at it? You know, much like we are with almost everything else that is a learned behavior.
  • Natural? No. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DikSeaCup ( 767041 ) on Sunday December 11, 2005 @10:57AM (#14233053) Homepage
    "A lot of people think talking on the cell phone while driving is natural ..."

    And a lot of people (including many gamers) think it is not natural.


    • Re:Natural? No. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by oberondarksoul ( 723118 ) on Sunday December 11, 2005 @11:11AM (#14233102) Homepage
      Mod parent up. When you're driving a huge lump of metal with the ability to very, very easily end someone else's (or your own) life, you should be concentrating on one thing and one thing only: ensuring that you don't.
      • Re:Natural? No. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MurphyZero ( 717692 ) on Sunday December 11, 2005 @11:20AM (#14233131)
        Then we should make all cars single passenger vehicles, because I for one am more distracted by passengers talking in the car than by a conversation on a cell phone. For one, the social interaction habits tend to make the driver want to look at the other speaker. A cell phone does not. Likewise, instead of a child seat, maybe a muzzle would provide them better protection. I do have two children, and those two are much greater distractions than any cell phone will ever be.
        • Re:Natural? No. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Sunday December 11, 2005 @11:52AM (#14233246) Homepage Journal
          Yes, but a passenger is MUCH more likely to alert you of an impending danger(they can see where you are, and of course don't want to die) than a person on a cell phone. Not to mention that even on hands free sets talking on a cellphone is less natural, and thus takes more concentration than talking to someone next to you.
          • Yes, but a passenger is MUCH more likely to alert you of an impending danger(they can see where you are, and of course don't want to die) than a person on a cell phone.

            Mom: *screams blood curtling cry* Look out!
            Me: *slams on brakes* WHAT??!! *cars honking angry as they pass*
            Mom: Oh he didn't pull out in front of us. Sorry.
            Me: Well... He would have had to run a red light from a complete stop!
        • Just give the little munchkins a baggie of cheerios, that should shut them up.

          But then you have to clean up, but at least you avoided an accident!
          • I thought it made more sense the first time I incorrectly read it: Just give the little munchkins a bag of cheetos...

            That's what it would take to shut my young siblings up.

        • "Then we should make all cars single passenger vehicles, because I for one am more distracted by passengers talking in the car than by a conversation on a cell phone."

          Personally, I find it quite useful to have passengers in the car, as they can do all the map-reading, looking at roadsigns, changing CDs, operating the telephone, and looking around at all the blind spots (especially at junctions where you need to look in 5 directions at once)

          It's stressful enough just trying to drive, navigate, and keep track
        • Then we should make all cars single passenger vehicles,

          Or we could switch to mass transit for everybody

          because I for one am more distracted by passengers talking in the car than by a conversation on a cell phone.

          I've missed my exit doing both. A distraction is a distraction.

          For one, the social interaction habits tend to make the driver want to look at the other speaker. A cell phone does not.

          If you ever want to talk to someone about something uncomfortable (all those akward parent/kid conversations) the car

      • "When you're driving a huge lump of metal with the ability to very, very easily end someone else's (or your own) life, you should be concentrating on one thing and one thing only: ensuring that you don't."

        I agree. They really should ban audio devices (radios, etc) from cars.
    • Re:Natural? No. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by master_p ( 608214 )
      Correct, but why should we be required to physically drive? GPS technology can offer centimeter accuracy, detailed electronic maps of cities already exist, algorithms that choose the optimal path in a graph are known for half a century, sonic radars (or other type) can already be used for regulating the flow of indepentent vehicles on a road.

      I'd rather spend my time working and talking, even if in a car on road to work, rather than having to actually pay attention to the road.

      Billions of dollars are spent t
      • Re:Natural? No. (Score:3, Interesting)

        Does this mean that I, as a pedestrian or bicyclist, will now be required to carry a GPS device so that some idiot who's letting his car drive doesn't run me down?
        • There's a fantastic video around of a car demo where a manufacturer was boasting it was impossible to make this car hit anything - it has a snazzy new proximity detector in it that slammed the brakes on automatically.

          To test it they drove it at high speed into a cloud of fog, in which was an unseen parked car. It braked... *way* too late, and totalled the car....
          • The accident was a fake, keep up.

   rake_test_fiasco/ []

            A failed test of Mercedes' new radar braking system that resulted in a three-car pile-up last week has been exposed as a sham for the benefit of television that went horribly wrong. Mercedes engineers knew the radar technology wouldn't work in the steel warehouse the demo was supposed to take place in but they were bullied into "simulating" the test by AutoBild journalist, Michael Specht, according to report
      • GPS certainly does not provide centimeter accuracy, unless you mean 400 centimeter. Stop watching CSI.

        On a spectacularly clear day in the middle of a field where I can see every satellite in the sky, I get at best 4 meter accuracy, and that's with WAAS correction.

        Fortunately, in many cities we already have ways to get around that allow us to work and talk, public transportation.
      • Used a GPS much ?

        mine drifts off by as much as 20m, so good luck in the oncoming traffic !

    • I think a lot of gamers recognize that talking while gaming is perfectly natural, but also recognize that their gaming ability is reduced when one hand is dedicated to the phone. Hence a good number of gamers own headsets (for CS Teamspeak and the like, or the ability to game while on the phone). I know, at least for me, that the mentality carries over into my phone use in the car. I always use a headset.
    • Some people think driving a car is natural. Driving a car is not natural! GET OVER IT
    • Re:Natural? No. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by psycln ( 937854 )
      Then what is the difference between talking to someone in your car, and talking to someone on a hands free headset?
    • Re:Natural? No. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by StarvingSE ( 875139 )
      Agreed. Nov. 15th, I was sitting at a red light with 2 other cars in front of me, and all of a sudden I get rear ended by an F150 at 45mph. My car and the car in front of me ended up totalled. The reason he wasn't paying attention to the red light...... HE WAS ON THE CELL PHONE.

      I don't care how good people think they are at multitasking, driving requires 100% of your attention. You could be good at it 99% of the time, but then there's that one time your trying to dial someone's number and you accidenta
    • Bravo (Score:4, Funny)

      by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Sunday December 11, 2005 @12:42PM (#14233455)
      Sign I'm putting on the back of my truck:

      "If your mommy talks on the phone while she's driving
      She doesn't love you very much"

    • exactly. Try it here in the UK you're likely to not only get beeped at, and have headlights flashed at you by other drivers who prefer to avoid having to drive around people not paying attention to the road - you'll be nicked if the cops spot you, because it's illegal. Quite right, too. I'm surprised it's any different anywhere else.
      • I was in a bus where the bus driver was on his mobile phone for the entire journey. This was *after* the huge publicity campaign about driving with mobile phones and the law change.

        He kept missing stops and not letting passengers on/off as he was distracted. I dread to think what would have happened if there had been a parked car in the road or something.
    • I don't have a problem driving while I am talking on a cell phone, but I do have issues talking on a cell phone while driving - I have to ask people to repeat themselves because I don't pay enough attention to the conversation to know what people are talking about all the time.
  • by sucker_muts ( 776572 ) <> on Sunday December 11, 2005 @10:58AM (#14233055) Homepage Journal
    All I know is that I could get where I was going better if I could shoot turtles at others on the highway.

    Sure, but then the other cars will slow down or spin at your oil patches. :-D

    (For the people who wonder: Mario kart! [])
  • No. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bwd ( 936324 ) on Sunday December 11, 2005 @10:59AM (#14233061) Homepage
    Just because you're good with multitasking with your hands doesn't mean you're inherently better than other people at multitasking in a car. With one, there are no consequences for failure. When you're driving a car, serious injury or death is the result of failure.

    It's just this kind of superiority BS by gamers that will get them killed in a car. There's a difference between games and real life.
    • Re:No. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nolife ( 233813 )
      I think I agree. I consider myself a "gamer", I am a little older then average but I've had every game console since pong in the mid 70's. Through gaming, I have developed great hand eye coordination, a decent ability to look for and predict how other people may react in certain situations, and I am expecting the unexpected. Those skills are great to have as a driver but I still suck at driving while on the cell phone, hands free or not. Maybe gamers are statistically better at driving overall beacause
    • There's a difference between games and real life.

      The frame rate is so much better!

  • Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sv-Manowar ( 772313 ) on Sunday December 11, 2005 @11:04AM (#14233081) Homepage Journal
    I think driving with any kind of distraction will always make driving more dangerous, even hands-free kits, because you are trying to think about the conversation you are having whilst focusing on driving. Holding a phone up to your face might mean you lose the use of one your hands for driving, but it's what is going on that is taking you attention away.

    Gamers are most probably more used to multitasking while doing activities, I can't count how many times I've had a conversation while play Gran Turismo 4 only to crash because of it, but as you do it more you get better.
    • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Sunday December 11, 2005 @11:47AM (#14233228) Journal
      F1 and other motor sports absolutly leaped on the capabilty of modern communication to allow the driver to communicate with the pit crew. At speeds your average street car could only reach by being dropped from a plane.

      Then their is motor cycle riding course. How do you communicate with your instructor? Two way radio. This in a vehicle that requires and extra task namely of keeping upright. With the extra handicap that by the difinition of driving instruction that you are not very good at it yet.

      Police motor cycle cops also use two way radio to communicate during high speed pursuits.

      So basically a lot of people drive and talk at the same time. From trained proffesionals who should know about road safety to the most elite drivers in the world to newbies.

      Personally I think it depends on the person. I seen people drive that shouldn't be allowed to even if their eyes were glued to the windscreen and others who can do a myriad of tasks and still be full aware of everything on the road and more important perhaps, the side of the road. If you ever road shotgun on a truck in the innercity you will know how important it is to keep track of kids playing in gardens. Trucks seem to have a magnetic field that pulls everyone in.

      • but the level of "involvement" in the conversation is limited. Really, in all those situations the most you are doing is giving short bits of information, not having real conversations which would cover a broad range of topics and have a very natural back and forth.
      • Great point, man.

        Were I in possession of a mod point, it'd be shined and given to you.
      • But. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Sunday December 11, 2005 @12:38PM (#14233436) Journal
        The thing is - most of those cases the driver is talking about something fairly related to the situation he needs to concentrate on.

        Not something totally unrelated.

        The cop probably looking at the vehicle he's chasing, describing it, saying where it's going. I'd find that not so hard to do that myself.

        He's not trying to think of whether his girlfriend's maroon skirt (gf: "Not the red one, _maroon_") will go fine with her new top, or whether what he says next will get him in trouble with her...

        As for F1 drivers, they are drivers who are highly coordinated and can probably multitask and drive at highspeeds. At least the top ones should be able to practically drive around tracks in their sleep ;).

        Apparently when the F1 racers were made to race in go-karts years ago, Ayrton Senna apparently was driving whilst tweaking the fuel-air mix on his kart's engine at the same time.

        Rally drivers might even better at these sort of situations.
      • F1 and other motor sports absolutly leaped on the capabilty of modern communication to allow the driver to communicate with the pit crew. At speeds your average street car could only reach by being dropped from a plane.

        That's not multitasking though. What the F1 drivers are doing is concentrating on the race. They are talking to the pit crew about the state of their car, not what they need to pick up at the store on the way home, not what the kids just did to the carpet, not to your boss about why you're la
  • by quokkapox ( 847798 ) <> on Sunday December 11, 2005 @11:05AM (#14233085)
    I don't care if you're some kind of whiz-bang gamer, if you are the only person responsible for the safe operation of a huge chunk of fast moving metal, shouldn't you be concentrating overwhelmingly on that task alone? You owe it to the dumb pedestrians out there, who do not deserve to be Darwinized for making a simple mistake that ends up getting them killed because you're paying less attention than you could be.

    Relatedly, and I know this is anecdotal, but I try to conscientiously observe the driver when I see someone make a mistake at an intersection (when it is safe for *me* to do so, such as when I'm already *STOPPED* and some bloody fool runs a stale yellow/red light from the lane next to me.) More often than not, they are talking on a cellphone. Or eating, or drinking.

  • WTF (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Turn-X Alphonse ( 789240 ) on Sunday December 11, 2005 @11:05AM (#14233088) Journal
    I can multitask fine. I'm often doing 3-4 things at once (playing games while watching TV and talking on IM for example), but this is ridiclous and should NOT be encouraged. Almost every time I see a bad driver they're either talking on the phone or they're some asshole 20 year old with daddie's money paying for his new car, who just happens to have a death wish.

    I don't care if you play games, play golf or play with yourself. You can't control a car with one hand (unless specially adapted), let alone control it with one hand while you focus on going "oh really? Yes? wow? cool!" over and over down a phone. If the call is THAT important then you can pull over and answer it, you'll take 5 minutes longer to get there but you arn't endangering my life.
    • Re:WTF (Score:5, Informative)

      by Hope Thelps ( 322083 ) on Sunday December 11, 2005 @11:20AM (#14233130)
      I can multitask fine. I'm often doing 3-4 things at once (playing games while watching TV and talking on IM for example), but this is ridiclous and should NOT be encouraged.

      What they seem to ignore is that driving ALREADY means paying attention to multiple things at once. You're looking at the road ahead, and reading the road signs and watching for anything approaching the road from the sides and monitoring the situation behind you in the mirrors and keeping track of your various readouts like the speedometer. This is a lot for anyone to handle.
      • Re:WTF (Score:3, Insightful)

        by syukton ( 256348 )
        This is a lot for anyone to handle.

        Um, what? Seriously, WHAT? Did you fail the licensing exam a few times or what? You might just be kind of slow, you know.

        Maybe you don't possess the skill to drive, but I sure do and I loathe your generalization.

        Anybody with a measurable level of driving skill doesn't even need their speedometer because they can judge how fast they're going. And in traffic, generally, your speed is less important than it is to just maintain a speed with the flow of traffic. Reading road si
    • Re:WTF (Score:2, Interesting)

      "You can't control a car with one hand (unless specially adapted), let alone control it with one hand while you focus on going "oh really? Yes? wow? cool!" over and over down a phone."

      Really? What's so difficult about it? You can talk to a passenger in your car while driving can't you? Talking to a passenger is in most cases even more distracting because you're so used to looking at people when you talk that it may cause you to take your eyes off the road (especially if they say something like "it looked
    • You can control a car (mostly) with one hand. You can steer fine, if you are already on a highway or other street wherein there are no sharp corners. However, you must be able to use that second hand for turning onto a new street, or turning on your signal, or whatever else. This is the theory behind manual transmissions; you have to be able to steer with one hand, or you won't get too far (and however far you do get will have to be done in first gear). I'll make the occasional call while I'm driving, b
  • by bsartist ( 550317 ) on Sunday December 11, 2005 @11:06AM (#14233090) Homepage
    I know a lot of gamers who multitask incredibly poorly when playing games. There's a "zone" they get into, where distractions just don't get through - telephone, household pets, noise outside, a bomb in the next room, etc., none of it gets noticed.

    Some folks might point out that a lot of modern games have in-game voice chat, but there's a key difference there - the players are generally talking about the game. So it's not really multitasking, it's just another piece of the single task they're involved in and focusing on.
    • I dunno, when I used to be addicted to Counter-Strike, I could play quite well while talking on the phone or performing other tasks that didn't require the use of my eyes or hands. Perhaps certain gamers grow accustomed to multi-tasking performing two separate tasks that require discrete mental resources--such as a task that mostly requires hand-eye coordination and another that simply requires speach and communication. And perhaps the way some gamers are able to maintain their performance while multi-taski

    • "There's a "zone" they get into, where distractions just don't get through - telephone,"

      That right there may be a part of it.
      • The 'telephone' part is the problem, in my experience.

        I've driven while conversing on CB and ham radio, both in a car and on a motorcycle, without any real problem or disruptive diversion of attention. I've also tried to have a brief conversation on a normal handheld cell phone, and scared myself badly at just how disrupted my normal driving skills were when I was doing it, even at low speeds.

        IMO, the problem is a dangerous separation of 'psychological spaces', something you can't afford when you're driving
    • You bring up exactly how phone calls should be handled while driving (if they must). The call should be a lower priority then driving. This means that there will be a lot of missed sentences, "what was that"s and maybe even some long ackward pauses on the phone. The driving on the other hand is top priority and should be uninterupted.

      For the record though, I don't own a cell phone and think that they just plain shouldn't be used.
  • by cfavader ( 754724 ) on Sunday December 11, 2005 @11:07AM (#14233096) Homepage
    That's because the average person has no skills.

    Most gamers on the other hand have like nunchuck skills, bowhunting skills, computer hacking skills, etc...

    Having such a large repertoire of skills, over the years gamers have had to learn better multitasking skills out of necessity (unless, of course, you have a sweet bike or a mustache).
  • by G4from128k ( 686170 ) on Sunday December 11, 2005 @11:17AM (#14233121)
    Perhaps all driver license tests should include a multitasking reaction time test. The person would have to listen to and correctly answer questions about driving (i.e., a voice response version of the written part of the driver's test) while taking a simulated driving test that checks reaction time and the ability to multitask. You would have to both drive safely AND verbally answer the questions correctly. Those who pass both halves of the test get a license to use a cellphone whilst driving and those that don't don't. Retaking this test every 10 years would help deal with any age-related cognitive declines.
  • All I know is that I could get where I was going better if I could shoot turtles at others on the highway. ...and if you could respawn three cars back when you drove off the edge of something...
  • by mindstrm ( 20013 ) on Sunday December 11, 2005 @11:25AM (#14233150)
    Sure they can.
    Can they learn to drive faster than the speed limit, safely? Sure they can.
    Can they learn to drive safely while intoxicated? Sure they can. (think, drive slower, etc)

    Does that mean we should encourage these things? Of course not.

    The fact is, most people think they are better than average drivers. Given that you are piloting a few thousand pounds of steel and gasoline around, your focus should primarily be on doing that safely, not on doing your makeup/talking on the phone/rolling that joint/whatever.

  • Thank goodness... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aphrika ( 756248 ) on Sunday December 11, 2005 @11:27AM (#14233156)
    ...that this is illegal in the UK. I still see people on phones when driving and there is no way they can give attention to both the call and the road. If I'm at a pedestrian crossing I'll give drivers a wide berth if they're on the phone - all too often they'll just sail through a red light.

    In all honesty, I don't like surveys like this as they seem to justify to some people that they are superhuman and do have the ability to do things that are just plain dangerous. Sure, some people may be able to drive and phone, but it's clear that you're obviously not giving the road 100% attention. It's not like there's a video chip and a sound chip in there and they work independently. People also have the ability to over-estimate their own skills and cause problems for others - drink driving for example. So for the love of God if you're in the UK, don't start using your phone just because you're a gamer...

    Also a quick point; to those people who have hands-free headsets. It does not help if you do not wear them, then fumble to put on the sodding thing when a call comes in! That's just as dangerous, especially if - like they guy I saw drive into a tree at 30 mph - you were under the dash getting it out of the glovebox...
  • Meh. I've got a dual core brain. Multitasking is baby food.

    Watch me chew gum and walk.
  • Gamers Better at Driving w/ Cell Phones?

    "Those are lab studies, however, and not driving tests."

  • Let's face it.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jace of Fuse! ( 72042 ) on Sunday December 11, 2005 @11:32AM (#14233174) Homepage
    Let's face it, some people are just better driver with or without cell phones.
  • The truth of the matter is that driving is actually an expression of our implicit memory, the same way as tying one's shoelaces, riding a bike, or normal reading. We do not put a conscious effort to keep the car straight, accelerate the right amount, brake the right amount. It is something that we "just do", after a year or so of driving.

    Gamers, especially hardcore gamers, use a lot of such implicit memory, because they are required to play those games where lightning-quick reactions are required (just loo

  • Arg (Score:2, Funny)

    by pimpman ( 937959 )
    Give me an FPS and I'll headshot you with freakish reaction time. Give me a car and cell phone and I will kill your dog.
  • If you read the article, the article describes how the lab experiment is simply about people who had to recognize specific colors and shapes. It was easy when someone had to simply declare the color they saw. But it took more time to recognise both the color and shape of an object. The experiment simply measured when you had two factors to worry about, it took more time for your brain to process and respond.

    And somehow they take the fantastic leap from a lab experiment involving shapes to cell phone usag
  • MythBusters (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MrShaggy ( 683273 ) <chris.anderson@[ ] ['hus' in gap]> on Sunday December 11, 2005 @11:59AM (#14233271) Journal
    There was an episode that was done a while that addressed this same problem. They had a gentleman from the DMV perform a driving test. Two of them had to take the test as a baaseline.Things like driving through pylons, and accelerating and stopping. All of these were low speed tests. They then did the test on their cell phones. They had to answer a bunch of different questiions, like "What colour is your hair, ' other questions to see if they could understand a series of questions. And different sets of demands on the phone. They then had to do the test again, but drunk. They had a couple of cops, doing a brythaliser test. They flunked both road test preatty mush the same. They were surpisred that the phone and the alcohol would affect them the same way. Of course lots of people would say ' well there isnt enough data to make that work.' But that is a good way to start. If you were to test 100 people in the same manner, I think that it would be surprisig. Shaggy
  • I *hate* cell phones. I wish we could un-invent them. Actually, if you could only call out to 911 on them and not receive calls, that would be perfect. I don't know about others, but the reason I'm almost compelled to answer a cell phone is that if I don't, they'll leave a message, and it's even more fucking annoying to check voicemail than to talk to them in fucking person.

    First of all it alerts you right away when they leave a message, and if you silence the alert, you'll have no other notification tha
  • There is a way... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Sunday December 11, 2005 @12:33PM (#14233417) Homepage Journal
    It is possible to talk on the phone and drive. The trick is simple: you must make concentrating on the road your priority. What I mean is this: you must actively THINK that you are driving. Talking on the cell becomes of much lesser priority. If something interrupts your normal driving pattern just drop the phone instantly, just put 100% of all your capacities to the road. For example if someone cuts you off too damn close, you must act as if there is no cell phone in your hand. I admit, sometimes I drive that way. Of-course I prefer not to be on the phone while driving, but you can't do much about it. We spend too much time driving, there is no surprise that people talk on the phone, this is inevitable.

    Unfortunately almost all people don't do it that way. For some strange reason they concentrate on the phone call and view their driving as the secondary task. This leads to accidents. Probably everyone who drives (myself included,) have witnessed someone doing something incredibly stupid while on the phone.

    I actually think talking on the phone while driving should become part of the driving test. We can't stop people from talking on the phone. Really. They will use hands-free devices and no police will be able to enforce a law like that. So we must TEACH people to do it right. Part of the course and exam must include a person calling the driver, while the teacher/examiner observe the driver's behaviour. The driver must learn to pay 95% of his attention to the road, to observe the traffic laws AND follow them and to drive in real traffic conditions without endangering the rest of the world by their behaviour. They should be taught to drop the phone conversation instantly, I mean in a hundred of a millisecond and completely concentrate on the road if they feel that a dangerous situation is coming up. But this will probably prohibit many people from driving at all, but you know what? Then you should have an extra configuration in your driver's license: Did not pass drive while talking exam. The penalties for driving and talking and causing an accident should be extra-severe for these people.

    I had an accident about 4 years ago (and no, I wasn't on the phone,) a fender-bender. Also I spun out of control once (I behaved stupidely, made a very sharp turn at a very high velocity) didn't hit anything but after a 270 turn both rear wheels went into a ditch. After these 2 incidents I have developed some kind of a reflex, when I stop paying attention to the road for even a millisecond, a scene plays in my mind: I FEEL like I am crashing into something HARD. I feel it with every cell in my body and it forces me to start paying fullest attention again. I am telling you, this feeling prevented me from doing quite a few stupid things and probably from a few accidents (I almost never go with the speed limit though, I always go at least 25% faster.) But you can't develop this reflex from instructions, unfortunately you have to go through bad things a couple of times to have it automatically. It's unpleasant to feel this, but if it saves me from an accident I am just glad that I have it.
  • I'm actually of the belief that hands-free phones are more dangerous than holding the physical phone in your hand. I'd love to see some studies done on this...

    For me personally, at least, I find myself more distracted on the hands-free phone. I have a theory why this is the case, too. See, when I've got one hand on the wheel, (which is how I prefer to drive, whether I'm on the phone or not), and I've got my phone in the other hand, the fact that I've got one "task" in each hand I think makes it mentally eas
  • Since they seem to be finding more and more to determine you are a better driver (I just saw on the news they have studied how your houses proximity to a church makes you a better driver)......... Maybe a "gamers are better drivers" will finally even out the male:female insurance costs (sure, more males get DWIs and stuff, but why the hell do I have to pay for it when I don't even drink?)
  • The study doesn't mention that the gamers are also much more prone to driving as if they were in the video game. So, while the driving against oncoming traffic might not be the result of cell phone distraction and was an intentional tactical move, the fact of the matter is the car is still in the wrong lane!
  • Here's my (Libertarian) take. People should have freedom, but be responsible about it. This means two things. One, the government shouldn't get involved and regulate cell phone use while driving. But two, people should have enough responsibility to never use cell phones while driving, unless it's an emergency.

    Maybe the reason government is over-intrusive is that so many people have forgotten personal responsibility, and ruined it for the rest of us.

  • From my ammature observations, it's not talking on the cell phone that makes people poor drivers. It's that their right (or left) hand is occupied holding the thing up to their head.

    People are distracted all the time while driving. Whether they are talking to the passenger, listening to the radio, thinking about their upcoming meeting, or whatever. I cannot imagine how *talking* on the phone contributes to any more accidents than *talking* to your passenger.

    However, all the time I am seeing people making
  • In the airlines in the US, the flying duties of the crew are rather strictly divided into the "Flying Pilot" and the "Non-flying Pilot" (FP and NP for short). In essence, the FP is responsible for making sure the airplane is pointed and powered correctly, and the NP is responsible for everything else, INCLUDING RADIO COMMUNICATION. Most airline pilots I have met are quite good at multi-tasking (or they would not be here), but just because you CAN do something, if necessary, doesn't mean you SHOULD. When
  • flip flop (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bitspotter ( 455598 ) on Sunday December 11, 2005 @04:15PM (#14234546) Journal
    "Attention Deficit" is classified as a disorder by some. Not having it myself, I often think I a have trouble with the modern world - I like to focus on single tasks instead of being distracted and interrupted all the time.

    I sense that this is one of those researchers that wants to classify ADD as a functional adaptation to post-modern life, rather than a disorder. Those with an *in*ability to "multitask" (ie, manage distractions) are the ones with the disorder.
  • by Infonaut ( 96956 ) <> on Sunday December 11, 2005 @04:33PM (#14234613) Homepage Journal
    Gamers are used to having their hands on the joystick, so they don't *TALK WITH THEIR HANDS* which is the single most annoying thing to watch when you're cycling along on a narrow shoulder. You look over and see some idiot gesticulating as they drive, whether talking on a hands-free set or to another person in the car. Meanwhile, you're thinking, "Great, if this guy forgets to put his hands back on the wheel, or if he has to react suddenly, I'll wind up as road pizza."

    As others have mentioned, when you're driving, you're taking control of a weapon. Even a small amount of carelessness when driving can kill one or more people. I find it mind-boggling how so many people have become anesthetized to the fact that they're actually driving a vehicle. Automatic transmissions, cush interiors, shock absorbtion that cushions the road, and other modern enhancements to automobiles make people remove the sense of inherent danger that makes people pay attention.

    It's great that cars are safer and more comfortable than they used to be, but the number of near-accidents I see on a daily basis makes me think that we'd better hurry up with self-driving automobiles. The actual driving part of driving a car has become so secondary that we may as well remove it from human control altogether.

  • by doc modulo ( 568776 ) on Sunday December 11, 2005 @10:37PM (#14236099)
    A friend of mine says Counter-Strike saved his life. He was driving along when, from the edge of his vision, he saw someone throw something from the overpass onto the road.

    Because of all the CS playing he was more perceptive of movement and he was trained in how to react to dangerous objects moving your way (grenade dodging). CS will also teach you to do all this quickly, otherwise you die.

    He judged the trajectory of the stone and "decided" to break hard, the stone smashed into the road just ahead of him. The stone broke and the fragments cracked his windshield but at least he was alive.

    He says he would have headbutted the stone at 100 Km/H if he hadn't been a games player.

    Is it multitasking? Maybe, he didn't have a good description of the psycho who threw the stone. It was fast task-switching or maybe his brain put all it's multitasking power into the stone evasion stuff and didn't bother with the guy on the bridge because of that.

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak