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Transportation Cellphones

Talking On the Phone While Driving Not So Dangerous After All 418

Dorianny writes "New research which takes advantage of the increase in cell phone use after 9pm due to the popularity of 'free nights and weekends' plans showed no corresponding increase in crash rates (PDF). Additionally, the researchers analyzed the effects of legislation banning cellphone use, enacted in several states, and similarly found that the legislation had no effect on the crash rate. 'One thought is that drivers may compensate for the distraction of cellphone use by selectively deciding when to make a call or consciously driving more carefully during a call.' Score this a -1 for common sense."
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Talking On the Phone While Driving Not So Dangerous After All

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  • by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @05:11PM (#44514083)

    So you mean to tell me all those people in the passing lane, who are driving significantly slower than the speed limit, weaving from side to side within their lane, and have their head tilted over, looking down, with their cell phone clamped to their ear are safe drivers?????

  • by pspahn ( 1175617 ) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @05:17PM (#44514171)

    My old commute back in The Bay Area took me over the San Mateo Bridge.

    I started working night-shift for awhile, and left early one morning (4am?) to find myself driving eastbound over the high span portion in very dense fog. It was like flying in space. It was awesome, and I have never been more attentive at the wheel.

    Solution? Build roads inside space tunnels to prevent people from being bored.

  • Re:cognitive science (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheCarp ( 96830 ) <sjc@carpanet.PERIODnet minus punct> on Thursday August 08, 2013 @05:28PM (#44514321) Homepage

    > Conversations can be more distracting than ethanol

    However, I don't think distraction is the problem here. A distracted driver can, so some degree, compensate. Everyone has limits, I too have asked people to shut up or told the person on the phone "hold on a second, I need to drive" when a situation got precarious.

    On the other hand, I know some bad drivers who have called me and talked for hours and never said such a thing.

    But ethanol....thats special. I remember the first time I got drunk. The first clear thought I had was "I am fine, this stuff has no effect on me, I could do anything I normally do". Right after saying this, I stood up...and promptly the room started to spin and I fell back into my seat.

    The problem with ethanol is not the famed "reaction time". As my Motorcycle safety and driving instructors both said.... if you are driving so close that raw reaction time matters that much, you are already in trouble.

    The problem is that ethanol supresses the ability of most people to judge how impaired they are. An impaired driver can compensate (to a degree anyway), a driver who doesn't feel he is impaired can't.

    That is the real danger of ethanol, fuck reaction times. I bet you my grandmother, before her car died, had reaction times as bad as a drunk driver, but, that's why she drove maddeningly slow down the road (I was stuck behind her a few times actually)...she was impaired, she compensated; drunk people often can't do that.

  • by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @05:33PM (#44514397)
    Granted, me and Ol' Belle (may she rest in peace) have a biased opinion. But ending up upside down because some teenage twit thought what was happening on her phone was far more important that looking out the window does tend to skew your opinion.
    T-boned at an intersection after she had a full 10 seconds of red light in front of her. She never bothered to look, and blew through the intersection at 50+.

    " consciously driving more carefully during a call" is exactly what intoxicated drivers try to do.
  • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @06:58PM (#44515383)

    As a point of interest, statistically it seems to be about 96-98% can't. It depends on which study you look at. Of the more activity-specific ones I've read, the incidence of people whose driving performance was not significantly impaired while simultaneously carrying on a conversation with a remote party has been around 2-4%.

    Some of the studies suggested that the same subjects also tend to exhibit their extraordinary ability to perform multiple simultaneous activities effectively in other contexts. Curiously, so far there seems little evidence of correlation between this ability and other factors we might expect to be relevant, such as other measures of intelligence.

    If anyone here is a real psychologist with experience of the field, please feel free to chime in with more concrete data, as the above is just based on some personal research as an interested observer.

  • Re:cognitive science (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @07:29PM (#44515643) Journal
    Been on the road for 40yrs, talking to passengers doesn't distract me, talking on a phone is downright suicidal. I have a tendency to turn my eyeballs up when thinking about what someone says on the phone. I was unaware of this habit until one day in the early 90's I found myself doing it when driving and I haven't used a phone while driving since.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 08, 2013 @10:20PM (#44516895)

    San Francisco recently built a boulevard, Octavia Blvd, in the Western Addition neighborhood. It was the first one built in the country for several decades.

    Interestingly, there are _no_ traffic signs telling you what you can and can't do. Center lane traffic regularly crosses the service lanes, which seems ridiculously dangerous. (Note, this is different from transitioning between service and center lane. And I always transition a block ahead of time and turn right from the service lane.)

    I researched the CalTrans project sites and committee reports and learned that CalTrans _intentionally_ left the traffic rules uncodified. Turning from the center lane, even when the service lane has a green light, is absolutely legal. Other than regular traffic light and stop sign rules, and the no left turn from center lane boulevard signs, the only official rule is to not drive stupid.

    Apparently it's an experiment in the recent theory that when people are unsure and confused, they tend to slow down, and in many circumstances the accident rate will drop. People turning from the center lane are very attentive. And people are also exceptionally attentive when crossing the intersection using the service lane. Both people are scared that some idiot will ram into them.

    Octavia Blvd appears to be uncharacteristically safe given the amount of traffic it carries.

    However, the transition from freeway to the boulevard, which crosses Market St at grade level, has been a death trap for pedestrians, perhaps precisely because it's free of obstructions and confusion and people feel safe driving too fast.

  • Re:cognitive science (Score:4, Interesting)

    by geminidomino ( 614729 ) on Friday August 09, 2013 @08:39AM (#44518867) Journal

    Watch the Mythbusters clips, mobile phone use IS more dangerous than drink driving,

    Neither of which are as dangerous as people who genuinely present MythBusters as scientific proof rather than passable entertainment.

    Yes, explosions are cool, that girl is attractive, and there's a certain B.A. Barackus charm to the way they build things, but let's be honest: they experiment like teenagers fuck; with more vigor than rigor.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger