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Transportation Hardware

Despite Well Known Risks, Survey Finds Most People Use Smartphones While Driving (cbslocal.com) 344

From a report: Everyone knows it's dangerous, but a lot of people are still doing it -- driving while distracted. In a survey of 3-million motorists, almost 9 out of 10 admitted to using their smartphone behind the wheel. According to a report by Zendrive, which studied device use among 3.1 million drivers over 5.6 billion miles of driving, in 88 percent of trips, drivers made at least some use of their phones. On average, they spent more than three-minute on the phone.
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Despite Well Known Risks, Survey Finds Most People Use Smartphones While Driving

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  • by redmid17 ( 1217076 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @12:05PM (#54257295)
    People also know the risks of fucking with the radio, looking at maps, yelling at kids, driving while sleepy, or drinking and driving. Guess what?

    All of those still happen in spades are for the most part of impossible to eradicate. With a combination of education, training (eg no passengers in the car for 3 months) and penalties, we can reduce them like the world has done for drunken driving, but people will continue to use their phones while they drive just like they've let other things distract them as long as cars have existed. The only real differentiator is that the phone lets us combine nearly everything into a handheld distraction as opposed to having 10 different proximate causes.
    • What surprises me is that they need a study to tell this. Just look around, everyone who owns a damn cell phone is using it at some point while driving. At every red light, you can see at least 1/2 driver looking at their phone. Best way to catch them: cops in buses to spot them. [www.cbc.ca] And best way to deter them: higher ticket price.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        This is one of those cases where we're fighting against reality, instead of dealing with it. What this study shows is that people really, really want to make calls (and probably texts and messages etc) while driving their cars. So what we need to do, instead of trying to stop them from doing it, is provide technology that makes it easy for them to do these things safely. For a start, we ought to mandate that all cars have a certain minimum standard of hands-free phone kit, that can be controlled without tak

        • by omfglearntoplay ( 1163771 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @01:18PM (#54258009)

          Agreed. Cell phones are too prolific... hands free tech should be in all modern vehicles. I will say that dialing should be made better. In my car, I click a button the steering wheel then with another button on the wheel I scroll and pick one of my 6 main contacts. If they aren't on that list, I can't be bothered with it. Voice activation is nice in theory, but never works for phone calls in my car the way it should. Strangely enough voice navigation works well enough to use.

          • Agreed. Cell phones are too prolific... hands free tech should be in all modern vehicles. I will say that dialing should be made better. In my car, I click a button the steering wheel then with another button on the wheel I scroll and pick one of my 6 main contacts. If they aren't on that list, I can't be bothered with it. Voice activation is nice in theory, but never works for phone calls in my car the way it should. Strangely enough voice navigation works well enough to use.

            What kind of car do you have? Hands free voice calling works great in my 2015 Ford Explorer, even with the cruddy Sync system.

            • Older Infiniti. If the names on the quick list are easy to say, it might pick them up... but I have a lot of odd names that is has problems with. I considered renaming my contacts to single digit numbers or something equally simple, but... nah.

              And at least before the most recent firmware upgrade (maybe still like this), it was bad about calling the wrong person without confirmation... so if it got it wrong, bam, you were in the middle of a call to somebody else. That stress was not worth it! I found myself

          • My car does fine with incoming calls. Not so good with outgoing. I've found that if I want to make a call, I'm better off pulling over and doing it straight from the phone.

        • One thing all cars in the near future need is semi-transparent HDMI compatible windshield heads up displays.

          That alone would reduce accidents due to distracted driving by half- because you could see the semi you're about to rear end through your semi-transparent e-mail.

          Add voice recognition and you've got a full computing solution to help you out when you put your Tesla on autopilot.

      • by Dorianny ( 1847922 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @12:35PM (#54257635) Journal

        What surprises me is that they need a study to tell this. Just look around, everyone who owns a damn cell phone is using it at some point while driving. At every red light, you can see at least 1/2 driver looking at their phone. Best way to catch them: cops in buses to spot them. [www.cbc.ca] And best way to deter them: higher ticket price.

        People tend to not follow laws that they think are irrational, and most people think that prohibiting checking the phone while the car is at a complete stop, is stupid. Want to make things safer, then require the gear be placed in [Parked]. I don't know about other states but in NY you can get be ticketed while parked at the curb if the engine is running. The Laws in this case should strike a balance that minimizes risk and provides the most benefit, rather then idealism that in practice is wildly ignored

        • by fnj ( 64210 )

          most people think that prohibiting checking the phone while the car is at a complete stop, is stupid

          That's because it IS OBVIOUSLY STUPID and corrupt. Legislators who pass laws like this can eat shit.

        • Better yet, Android and IOS screen savers that are on by default whenever GPS velocity exceeds 20MPH.

          • In which case you're preventing the passenger from doing anything. I've often coordinated with other cars by having passengers use phones to talk to passengers in other cars. A passenger with a GPS app can be very useful also.

      • They don't need a study to find that people use their phones while driving. They need a study to find out how many do it and how much they use them. We know there's a problem; how big and pervasive is it?

      • What surprises me is that they need a study to tell this.

        Studies aren't needed to see if something happens. Studies are needed to gauge and create a baseline reference for a problem for which future studies will be repeated over and over again to see if any of the measures various governments are taking work in reducing the behaviour.

        Really for a visitor on a tech site you set your bar for surprise quite low.

        And best way to deter them: higher ticket price.

        Except no, not at all. There are plenty of studies (which will probably surprise you) that show the ticket cost has marginal impact on people actually commit

        • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

          Studies aren't needed to see if something happens. Studies are needed to gauge and create a baseline reference for a problem for which future studies will be repeated over and over again to see if any of the measures various governments are taking work in reducing the behaviour.

          And once they have that, they'll come to the inevitable conclusion that cell phone bans aren't useful—not because they're ineffectual, but rather because the lack of a thousand-fold increase in accidents over the past ten years

      • by nnull ( 1148259 )
        And what about the cops that constantly drive using their mobile phones? I see it all the time.

        This isn't going to be deterred with higher ticket prices. They've already tried that and it isn't stopping it. The problem is getting worse when you have employers who request that you be by your phone at all times, driving or not, they don't care. This is also a failure of technologies as a lot of hands-free devices have been complete and utter crap. And now you have a new generation of kids who are literally
      • I would think that the one time it would be acceptable to use your phone quickly would be at a red light. Obviously you don't want to fail to notice the green light but what would you charge them with "distracted while stopped"?
    • by Nkwe ( 604125 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @12:25PM (#54257513)

      People also know the risks of fucking with the radio, looking at maps, yelling at kids, driving while sleepy, or drinking and driving. Guess what? The only real differentiator is that the phone lets us combine nearly everything into a handheld distraction as opposed to having 10 different proximate causes.

      Well the phone is different because it was not designed to be used while driving. Compare the phone to the climate control or radio controls in a car. The radio controls are in a fixed place on the dash and possibly also on the steering wheel. The radio controls typically have some sort of tactile feedback that you can use without looking at them. With a smart phone, it is not in a predictable location (your hand, the seat, a holder in the dash, your pocket, maybe the floor). With a smart phone, you can not operate it without looking at it (phone may be locked, the app you need may not be on the screen, no real buttons with tactile feedback, etc.) Smart phone screens are typically much smaller (in size and font) than are the radio and native car controls.

      Smart phone interfaces are not specifically designed for driving, where the native car controls are. Sure, some newer cars are going to screen based interfaces, and this is a bad trend, but at least these screens are mounted to the dash and car companies have some responsibility (and potential liability) around making these interfaces non-distracting, whereas smart phone manufactures do not.

      • Smart phones weren't designed for use while driving but neither were maps, kids, sleepiness, or being drunk.

        So sure, fixate on the radio or climate controls (did forget that one), but ignore that they were placed in a larger category of distractions and still cause a lot of accidents even if they are designed for use while driving.

        I'll finish up with " something something forest for trees."
        • As far as anecdotal evidence goes, my first collision happened when I heard something on the radio, glanced down to turn up the volume, and when I looked up I saw brake lights everywhere.

        • by Nkwe ( 604125 )
          Fair points. I didn't expand on everything or it would have been a TLDR; post. Sure kids are distractions, but you can yell at them without having to take your focus off the road. Driving drunk or sleepy is just stupid and you can't fix stupid. My point was that there is a significant difference in the design of controls on a smart phone (especially when you include non-phone stuff like texting, navigation, and who knows what other apps people use when driving) and the design of controls that are built into
      • by fnj ( 64210 )

        the phone is different because it was not designed to be used while driving

        Says you. If the phone is set to be unlocked by a simple swipe, there is absolutely no reason not to answer it if it rings.

      • by sootman ( 158191 )

        Sadly, native controls are getting dumber. I've got a couple controls on the steering wheel for the radio (station or track, and volume) but everything else is on a touchscreen.

        Climate controls used to be an array of different physical buttons and levers; now it's a bunch of nearly identical buttons in a row. You actually CAN'T use the climate control in my current car WITHOUT looking at it -- but I could on cars I owned 30 years ago.

        https://i.ytimg.com/vi/8-PH_EP... [ytimg.com]

      • I wish consoles were still designed with driving in mind, but a lot of evidence points to the contrary. My old 2005 Honda had readily reachable knobs of different sizes and prominent buttons. My "new" 2009 has one tiny knob and a flat panel of buttons of roughly the same size. Sure there are voice commands, but that takes even more concentration than reaching for a button.

        The ones I use the most are for climate control. The fan speed is two little buttons all the way over by the passenger side, and the mode

      • by Orgasmatron ( 8103 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @02:00PM (#54258337)

        Well the phone is different because it was not designed to be used while driving. Compare the phone to the climate control or radio controls in a car.

        You must have a very cheap and/or very old car. In new cars, pretty much everything above the very bottom of the line is a usability nightmare. Think touchscreens and/or "dynamic" buttons (rows of featureless buttons next to a LCD that displays the current function). Oh, and then there is the shuttle control where you twist and depress a knob to navigate a maze of twisty menus, all alike.

        Smart phones at least have the advantage that (when you aren't worried about people seeing you use your phone in the car) you can bring it to your field of driving vision, rather than having to turn your head and sometimes lean your body over to see what you are about to press.

        Plus, and I'm going to be called nasty things for saying this, but traffic accidents do not appear to be "way up", like they would be if smart phones were causing a ton of new accidents. I've seen some conjecture that the people who are prone to distraction will find something to distract them, and the problem should be addressed by working with those specific drivers, and not by chasing after the distraction that happens to be most popular at the moment. It will probably take several more years of data to clarify that. (And our data isn't trustworthy, but that is a rant for another day.)

        • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @05:56PM (#54259827)

          Plus, and I'm going to be called nasty things for saying this, but traffic accidents do not appear to be "way up", like they would be if smart phones were causing a ton of new accidents.

          I'm not going to call you "nasty things," because you're basically right that stats don't appear to be "way up." BUT it also depends on what stats you use. You're right that "distracted driving" stats are always hard to estimate.

          What we do know: overall number of crashes (including fatalities, non-fatal injuries, and property-damage-only crashes) basically had been in steady decline since the mid-1990s, when we had nearly 7 million crashes/year in the U.S. This trend lasted until ~2010, when it got down to ~5.5 million/year.

          For some reason total crashes have been steadily rising [dot.gov] again, from a low of 5.3 million in 2011 up to 6.3 million in 2015.

          Granted, total number of injuries and fatalities have thankfully not been rising at the same rate (though they are rising again too), but for some reason total CRASHES have been going up quickly. (That is, particularly crashes with no significant injuries.)

          The official reports say that cell phone distractions have been steadily rising, though they only claim to account for around 2% of distraction-caused accidents in 2005 rising up to 8% of distraction-caused accidents in 2015. That is obviously a significant rise in that category, but I don't know how those numbers are estimated -- and still only accounts for (according to the report) 69,000 crashes in 2015, which is only about 1% of total crashes.

          But I think we need to ask -- if total crashes have risen by ~20% in the past 5 years, after >15 years of steady declines (despite increased total miles driven), why? Drunk driving numbers have generally been continuing to decline. Are drivers really just that much more reckless in general than they were a few years ago? Are the reports estimating things that poorly? Are people suddenly reporting more accidents for some reason? Or could there be some more specific reasons why we're now seeing ~1 million more crashes per year than 5 years ago?

      • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )

        Well the phone is different because it was not designed to be used while driving. Compare the phone to the climate control or radio controls in a car. The radio controls are in a fixed place on the dash

        My stereo has Bluetooth access, and I use my phone (mounted on a secure spot on the dash) as its head unit. That way I've got the same music options (including my entire 200+ CD library) available wherever I am. In this configuration, futzing with it is exactly like someone futzing with their stereo controls.

        Now you may argue that it isn't designed for this use. However, it is far better designed for this use than most modern electronic car stereos. Many of those are designed so badly, with unnecessary ex

    • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @12:27PM (#54257541)
      This is the problem I have with most arguments against autonomous cars. People always want to compare them against a completely attentive and alert human driver who completely understands every hypothetical situation. Not against the statistical average human driver who has 0.5 seconds to grok the situation and react before an accident occurs.

      In a way I can understand it. If you can do better than humans in the human's best case, then you can do better than humans in all cases. But it just perpetuates the flawed reasoning most people use of making decisions based only on the best or worst case (e.g. winning the lottery, plane crashes, nuclear accidents). The real fix is to educate people to do these broad-band comparisons based on statistical average, not based on outliers.
    • First, I seriously doubt 90% of people are reading text messages while driving 50 miles an hour. More likely when they are at a red light or something. But for those that are trying to kill their fellow humans by being really distracted, screw that.

      And looking down at a phone is much worse than many ordinary distractions other than sleepiness. Reading/typing anything has a magical way of distracting you from all your peripheral vision and turning off your ability to judge time so you tend to look longer at

    • by s.petry ( 762400 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @02:03PM (#54258357)

      TFA claims that 9 out of 10 people are using a cell phone while driving, but how many of those are using the two we would consider safe?

      1. Phone calls: Voice assist means you don't need to take your eyes off the road to dial, and you surely don't to talk. I don't believe the hand waiving stereotypes fit for conversations while driving. At least as a generalization.

      2. Maps: As with phone calls, once you plug in the directions there is no need to take your eyes off the road. "Turn left in one mile", "Turn left in 1/2 mile", etc...

      There are other aspects of a phone which are certainly distractions and require screen time, but using the two apps mentioned is no more of a distraction than having a conversation with a passenger in the car. People can be morons with those uses, but lumping all users into the same "evil" basket is foolish.

  • Once a phone call is initiated it poses little or no risk as it continues. If I start a phone call while I'm at a stop light and continue with it I'm really not posing any additional danger to anyone. By comparison taking your eyes off the road to read and write a text message is inherently dangerous any time you are attempting to drive while doing so.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @12:20PM (#54257459)

      If I start a phone call while I'm at a stop light and continue with it I'm really not posing any additional danger to anyone.

      Agreed. In fact I'm entering this message right now while driving. I do it all the time and nothing has ev

    • by Carewolf ( 581105 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @12:30PM (#54257577) Homepage

      Once a phone call is initiated it poses little or no risk as it continues. If I start a phone call while I'm at a stop light and continue with it I'm really not posing any additional danger to anyone. By comparison taking your eyes off the road to read and write a text message is inherently dangerous any time you are attempting to drive while doing so.

      Nope. All evidence shows that it is the conversation on the phone that is dangerous. It doesn't matter if you are doing it handfree or holding the phone in your hand. Having a conversation with a remote person takes 80% of your concentrations and increases your chance of having an accident 100 times.

      • by DaHat ( 247651 )

        Nope. All evidence shows that it is the conversation on the phone that is dangerous.

        Citation?

        It doesn't matter if you are doing it handfree or holding the phone in your hand.

        Because...?

        Having a conversation with a remote person takes 80% of your concentrations and increases your chance of having an accident 100 times.

        And what % of your concentration does a local person have?

        At least with a remote person, whether you are holding your phone to your ear or both hands on the wheel and speaker phone, you are not

        • by lactose99 ( 71132 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @12:53PM (#54257811)

          Nope. All evidence shows that it is the conversation on the phone that is dangerous.

          Citation?

          Really? Found this in 3 seconds: https://www.researchgate.net/p... [researchgate.net]

          • by nightfire-unique ( 253895 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @12:59PM (#54257889)

            We found that driving performance of both younger and older adults was influenced by cell phone conversations. Compared with single-task (i.e., driving-only) conditions, when drivers used cell phones their reactions were 18% slower, their following distance was 12% greater, and they took 17% longer to recover the speed that was lost following braking. There was also a twofold increase in the number of rear-end collisions when drivers were conversing on a cell phone.

            Hardly an increase of 10,000% as the OP suggests.

            Driving while talking on a speakerphone/headset is worse than driving without talking to someone. Also, driving while tired is worse than driving while not tired, and oblivious drivers are worse than non-oblivious drivers. As usual, the devil is in the details.

          • I'm slightly skeptical. The study was only of 20 younger and 20 older people, so probably not enough to be conclusive. From 2004, so I wonder if the results would continue 13 years later when more people were used to using cell phones.

            Still very interesting, and I feel it has to be mostly correct if less exaggerated. Personally, I absolutely find myself halting/pausing conversations on the cell phone while driving when I'm at a major intersection that requires full concentration or I'd get T-boned. I even t

      • by fnj ( 64210 )

        You can take that bullshit and STUFF IT.

    • Not true. Mythbusters (inb4 REALITY TV SCIENCE???) found driving intoxicated to be equally as impairing as having a demanding conversation on the phone.

      They tested this on a fairly basic orange-cone track, but I guess you could argue that a demanding conversation and demanding driving conditions are worst-case-scenario. Still is valid.

    • My old flip phone took no concentration at all to call my wife. Just flip and mash the big button twice. Now I have Bluetooth connection to my car, but I switched to a smartphone before that. I just gave up calling while driving, because I had to unlock the stupid phone (thanks work email), and then mash the right parts of the screen to call the right contact, or hope the voice recognition worked.
    • Actually, you are wrong, it is putting your attention into the conversation instead of keeping it fixed on the road that creates the danger.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I "use" my smart phone for driving directions. It is on. I look at it from time to time.

    I "use" my smart phone for music when on the road. Have a huge playlist and generally just skip tracks forward, not much else.

    I do not take or make calls with it when driving.

    I do not text when driving.

    I do not change applications, except between the music player and mapping app when driving.

    If it takes more than 1 button to do, I wait until a non-busy, straight, part of the road where grandma would feel safe driving.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @12:13PM (#54257395)

    Phones -can- be used safely in a car. You just have to know that you need to prioritize tasks. In aviation we say "aviate, navigate, communicate, in that order" This means fly the plane first, worry about where youre going second, and talking to people is a distant third. ATC knows this, & theyre fine with it if it takes you a minute or two to respond, do what you gotta, just be safe.

    Its the same in the car "hold on a second while i navigate this intersection" and PUT THE PHONE DOWN until youre back on a straight stretch.

    Or just put the thing down & when you pick it back up, "hey mom, sorry i had to put the phone down to change lanes". She will understand, trust me.

    "Hey this is not a good time to discuss (very complex or emotional topic), let me get to my destination and I'll call you back."

    The problem we're having is that our reaction to it so far has been to just outlaw it & write tickets. This isnt going to work any better than "just say no" or "abstinence-only" education. People ARE going to do this, they just are, youre not going to stop them. Since that is the case, the best thing we can do is educate them on how to do it responsibly, and to also put some effort into updating our unwritten phone etiquette rules to fit.

  • Define "Phone Use" (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @12:13PM (#54257397)

    Dig past the article and you get a link to the published study. I had to dig but I found this:
    "Phone use while driving is detected when the driver handles the phone for a certain period of time for various purposes such as talking, texting or navigating."
    So talking hands free and using the GPS apparently count towards this total.

    • This makes the study worthless. There's a word of difference between handling a device with a touch screen, and pushing a button on the car radio to answer a call via bluetooth and talk hands free.

      Count me towards the 80%. Hell if that's the bar they set I will say that I never drive without using my phone.

      • This makes the study worthless. There's a word of difference between handling a device with a touch screen, and pushing a button on the car radio to answer a call via bluetooth and talk hands free.

        Count me towards the 80%. Hell if that's the bar they set I will say that I never drive without using my phone.

        Totally agree! Before I had a bluetooth, I answered a phone call from my GF. The phone was easy to reach and unlock, but I could tell my focus was too much on the phone. I've often answered calls on my bluetooth, and my primary focus then is on the road.

      • by Aristos Mazer ( 181252 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @06:37PM (#54260011)

        It doesn't make the research useless. You can find plenty of recent research that any conversation with someone not in the vehicle -- i.e., someone who doesn't know when to shut up when road conditions get interesting -- raises accident risk considerably, whether the phone is hands-free or not. I've seen stats indicating that having kids in a car where the only adult is the driver shows the same tendency, although not the same degree.

        You can Google around for the research. Someone earlier on this slashdot thread found this paper [researchgate.net], for example. The exact level of risk varies between studies, but all of them are considerable. That's why studies of cell phone use have begun including hands-free use.

  • by BigBuckHunter ( 722855 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @12:17PM (#54257439)
    When my phone rings and I'm driving, I'll look at the front of it, to see who is calling. If it's important, I'll park and call them back. If not, I'll wait till I get to my destination. On occasion (city driving), I'll take a moment to turn off the ringer so that I do not encounter subsequent distraction.

    It's unfortunate that, even though I do not use a cell phone while driving, I'm still breaking the letter of the law.
    • When my phone rings and I'm driving I hit the answer button on the car radio. Why would you take your eyes off the road when you don't need to?

      • Maybe he doesn't have a bluetooth capable car. My current car is my first with BT, and yes, I look at the number and answer with the car buttons.

  • Define phone use (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anontroll ( 688740 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @12:19PM (#54257457)
    If you dig deep enough you can get some of the methodology. They include talking hands free and using the GPS as phone use.
    • They include talking hands free and using the GPS as phone use.

      I figured as much. So, essentially, the study is irrelevant and worthless. GPS use increases safety behind the wheel, where texting decreases safety. So what's the net?

      I suspect this oversight wasn't made by accident.

  • in '94, I had amateur radio. Someone cut-off the car in front of me, instant three car collision with the car that caused it skating away free. It's the last car on car accident that I've had. The people whom I was on the radio with said it was quite impressive to hear.

    Yes, I use my phone while driving, exceedingly carefully, and only while in a straight line with no traffic and not while approaching a light. I don't live in a city, so I think it's not too dangerous to do this. When I use the phone
  • I was on the express bus in Palo Alto when we drove past an auto accident on 280 North yesterday morning. The front end of a Ferrari got smashed in, parked on the side of the freeway. A second vehicle was nowhere in sight. The driver was walking in the slow lane while talking on the cellphone, ignoring traffic and everything else. May have been drunk.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @12:26PM (#54257529)

    Not every car accident I've worked, but certainly in the past 3-5 years, most of them have been caused by cell phones. I've also seen three fatals caused by cell phones. Are there other distractions in the world? Sure. But none as ubiquitous as cell phones. I think many people look to their cell phones so often during the day, they no longer actively register doing so. You yell at your kids, you goof with your radio - you do that infrequently enough that you're actually cognizant of the change in your focus from driving to the other thing. Meanwhile we watch TV while on our phones, hold conversations with loved ones on our phones, walk down the street staring at our phones - we come to believe, because we didn't fall into an open manhole cover, that we're aware of our surroundings, that the cell phone is not consuming most if not all of our focus. We're wrong. And the woman who was rear-ending at a stoplight by a guy who was texting, pushed into opposing traffic, ejected through the driver side window, and then run over by her own car (100% true accident), pays the price.

    • stoplight by a guy who was texting

      The study counted hands free use as well making it quite a worthless metric for stopping accidents.

      • The study counted hands free use as well making it quite a worthless metric for stopping accidents.

        On the contrary, that makes it the correct metric. Studies have shown that "hand-free" is as as dangerous [nsc.org] as other cell phone use. It's still completely distracting you from paying attention to the road, and thus it's still highly dangerous.

    • It's the getting rear ended at a stop light that really pisses me off. I was hit once like that. This gal had already stopped behind me in the turn lane, got out her phone, and plowed into me. Really? I was lucky she stopped first, I guess, otherwise I might have ended up like the lady you're talking about. I heard one interview with a high school girl who said she "can't not" look at her phone. I got an idea. How about you leave it in your fucking trunk if you're that attention challenged.
  • Finder's fee! (Score:2, Interesting)


    If police will pay 10% of the fine to other motorists that can provide clear recoded evidence then we'll have free policing in everyone's common interest.

    You can submit recoded evidence of a serious crime already. Why not driving while using a mobile phone?
    • Bonus points if you record a guy using his cell phone to record you using your cell phone to record him using his cellphone to record........

  • by Sumus Semper Una ( 4203225 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @12:32PM (#54257609)

    I wholeheartedly agree that using a cell phone while driving is distracting and dangerous. I've had too high a percentage of experiences being nearly hit by another driver only to later see at a stoplight that they've been using their cell phone to feel any other way about this. However, I do feel that the Zen Drive survey is making some strange extrapolations from their data. From the article:

    Zendrive researchers also found that during an hour-long trip, drivers spent an average of 3.5-minutes using their phones. This finding is frightening, especially when you consider that a 2-second distraction is long enough to increase your likelihood of crashing by over 20-times. In other words, that’s equivalent to 105 opportunities an hour that you could nearly kill yourself and/or others.

    Ok, that's just ridiculous extrapolation there. The assumption that you had 105 2-second distractions is in no way supported by the survey. There could have been 42 5-second distractions mostly involving stoplights. There could have been 420 0.5-second distractions from glancing at the phone and reading it without interacting with it. Or any distribution in between. They could have just included a section on whether the drivers were ever interacting with their phones for more than 2 seconds and used that to determine a link between that number and the "more than 3 minutes" number. At least then they would have data to back up the claim.

    Also, what is "phone use" in this context? If I'm using a hands-free device connected to my smartphone to have a conversation without interacting with the phone does the duration of that entire conversation count as "phone use?"

    tl;dr - Disingenuous and ill-thought-through extrapolations designed to reinforce your point hurt your argument, even if I would otherwise agree with you.

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @12:48PM (#54257767)

      I'll admit I've used mine while driving in the past. One near miss cured me. Now I either ignore the thing or pull over.

      • I'll admit I've used mine while driving in the past. One near miss cured me. Now I either ignore the thing or pull over.

        I replaced my car radio with one which has bluetooth phone support. Answering a call is now as complicated as turning the AC on. No need to even look at who's calling or look away from the road.

        Unfortunately this study includes such situations, and lumps them in with two handed txting idiots.

    • Also, what is "phone use" in this context? If I'm using a hands-free device connected to my smartphone to have a conversation without interacting with the phone does the duration of that entire conversation count as "phone use?"

      According to their methodology, yes.

      So does using the GPS for navigation during your trip. Including if you only listen to the turn-by-turn directions.

      The company that performed this survey sells hands-free devices for cell phones. I'm sure that fact and their methodology have nothing to do with each other.

  • I personally use my phone to improve safety behind the wheel, by navigating with it. It allows me to focus exclusively on the act of driving, rather than looking around for street signs.

    Were these figures included in the study?

  • There are some people who can't walk and chew bubble gum at the same time.

    We don't outlaw walking and chewing bubble gum.

    What we need to do is have harsher penalties for people who cause accidents so that if you can't walk and chew bubble gum at the same time, you are highly motivated to not try just because Bob over there is doing it just fine.

    • Part of the issue is, frankly, I'd rather you not kill me. Yes, I can appreciate that you feel you can talk on the phone while driving or that you can drive while drunk. But if you're wrong...then what? I'm dead.

      Would you be willing to spend the rest of your life in jail? Whoo...that's a toughie. I mean, hey, you killed someone. But it's not like you meant to do it. It was an accident. You looked away from the road for just a moment, honest, because your phone rang. It could've happened to anyone.

  • you just have to use them correctly. Here are the steps I have taken:
    1) Installed Waze [wikipedia.org]
    2) Bought a proper smart phone mount. I have had success with the rear view mirror mounted type [amazon.com].
    3) Enter my destination into Waze every time I am about to go somewhere.

    I have noticed the following with this approach:
    - I have no motivation to do stupid things like text while driving if I am using my phone for navigation and the cars around me can easily see my phone screen.
    - Even if I were to do something stupid on
    • In some states, such a cell phone mount is not legal. There can be laws about how much of the windshield you can block, and which areas you can block.

      • by Idou ( 572394 )
        Good point. Here is a comprehensive list of states with stupid laws [gpstracklog.com].

        Regarding Texas [state.tx.us], I have the following points:
        - The law specifically mentions "attached to windshield" but not "rear view mirror." It also mentions "Obstruction." Accordingly, the law would make for an interesting case for "rear view mirror" mounted devices. Would like to check case law when I have some time.
        - The way the law is stated, if "rear view mirror" mounted smartphones are "obstruction" then so is every single rear window stick
    • I also use Waze, but I prefer a dashboard mount. You can use it to report accidents or stopped vehicles but most of the time that takes your attention off of your driving. My phone's been used for that once, and only because my passenger did the reporting while I kept my eyes on the road.
  • by wjcofkc ( 964165 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @12:50PM (#54257785)
    Everyday during rush hour traffic, I see many vehicles over the course of the trip gently swerving out of their lane only to suddenly jerk back over and over again. When I see that - sometimes dodge that - and other indications that someone is on their phone while driving, I inevitably catch the act out of the corner of my eye. Just a couple weeks ago several people were killed when an SUV came barreling past a red light and into and intersection. This was just up the street for me. The cause? Talking on the phone while driving. I could have easily been the victim there.

    There is no excuse for willingly driving distracted. Although, at one time I was in that crowd. Fortunately I saw enough consequences of this dumbfuckery to wise up. I don't even use hands free calling anymore. And if after programming my GPS then my GPS goes nuts and tries to steer me into infinite u-turns? I either ignore it and try to find the destination on my own, or I find a safe place to pull over and reset it.
  • I think those who write mobile apps need to deal with the fact that, laws be damned, someone is going to use this app whilst driving. Therefore you DO HAVE some moral responsibility to make sure your app is as easy as possible to use in as few clicks as possible and that you NEVER EVER (especially for GPS enabled mapping programs) deliver an unexpected popup to the user that could potentially distract the user.

    Some apps I can manipulate without looking at the screen, because i know in advance where the b
  • by NotARealUser ( 4083383 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @12:53PM (#54257809)

    We keep trying to force people to do things they will not do. I am annoyed as the next person when some teenager sits at the traffic light texting their friend rather than going forward on green, but I think we go about the solution the wrong way. Fines certainly have their place, but when you see a trend develop that is not easy to correct, you need to think outside your paradigms and come up with more creative solutions.

    An example of such creative thinking is how residential neighborhoods solved speeding issues. Many newer neighborhoods created road patterns that made it difficult to speed. Their first attempts punished everybody - they created speed bumps all over the road. Later attempts were more friendly to the law abiding drivers because they found that by putting in curves, the roads became visually appealing and it reduced speed.

    Instead of thinking that fines and enforcement campaigns will solve this issue, we need to find better ways to adapt the technology and make it safer and less distracting. I don't have the ultimate solution on this, but handsfree devices in cars have helped greatly with voice calls. There is still a very big issue with text messages. That solution is still in the future. It is clear that people will not just give up text-message-like communication while driving, and it is also clear that there is no way to evenly enforce punishments on such a large percentage of people. Therefore, the best hope of a long term solutions lies in innovation and new ideas.

    The key here is redirection. If a behavior cannot be solved by education and/or punishment, we must find ways to redirect the behavior into something safer.

  • by maiden_taiwan ( 516943 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @12:57PM (#54257861)

    People continue to use their cell phones while driving because of a limitation of our biology. Here's a quick demonstration.

    Imagine right now that you're petting a dog. Can you see (in your mind's eye) the dog's face? Can you "feel" the fur against your fingers and the dog's breath against your face? Can you "hear" the dog panting in your head? Most people can, easily. Your brain is great at simulating these sensations through imagination.

    Now, try to imagine agony. Imagine the physical feeling of crashing your car at high speed, because you were on your stupid cell phone. Can you actually experience the agony of your destroyed body in your mind? The answer (for almost everybody) is no. Your brain is very bad at imagining/simulating internal feeling. Our brains are wired that way. So we continue driving with cell phones, even though we know the risks.

    These ideas were inspired by the book, "How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain," by Lisa Feldman Barrett, chapter 4, "The Origin of Feeling." https://www.amazon.com/How-Emo... [amazon.com]

    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @01:52PM (#54258269)

      You're over thinking it. People in general are poor at risk assessment. They get even poorer when you combine risk with something they do automatically without thinking (like driving). And as nice as the emotional example is, people are even poorer at judging risk when they have any emotional attachment to the activity at all.

      Nothing more nothing less. You don't need to feel agony of an accident to know you don't want to be in one. But hey what are the odds, I mean I'm driving for 40min, and sending this message will only take me a few seconds so I should be fine ....

      • >You're over thinking it. People in general are poor at risk assessment.

        Sorry, I think you're under-thinking it. :-) "Risk" is a mental concept made up by people, not a basic part of biology, chemistry or physics. A better question is why people are bad at assessing risk. It's reasonable to argue that the reason, in part, is that we cannot mentally simulate the consequences of risky actions with any accuracy, because the human cortex is wired not to detect bodily signals finely.

        >You don't need to fee

  • Here are the deaths per million miles driven in the U.S. over the years https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
    • Some people demand absolute safety. Those people are being unreasonable.

      Also we still get in a lot of collisions, but fatalities are down thanks to seat belts, child car seats, collision testing, air bags, faster emergency response, frozen blood plasma, etc.

  • by enjar ( 249223 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @02:15PM (#54258459) Homepage

    Since Waze allows me to select routes based on real time traffic data and also share my ETA and current position with my wife/friends, I am a horrible person since I'm "using" my smartphone while driving.

    Since Waze added the "share drive" feature way back when, I don't receive calls asking "when will you be here" if I'm delayed by a traffic jam. Not only does the app automatically send notifications of ETA changes, it also lets recipients click a link to see exactly where I am. I use the hell out of that feature, sending links to friends and family when I'm on my way to meet them, it saves having a conversation about ETA while driving.

    I recall driving without a phone, having to use a paper map, etc. I wonder how many people ran into things while trying to use a paper map and looking for road/street signs. I live in the Boston area where they rarely have a street sign for the street you are on, and where the color scheme of the street signs can change based on the town you happen to be in at the moment.

  • by nehumanuscrede ( 624750 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @02:33PM (#54258559)

    For those who don't have their nose in their phone 24/7, a quick glance around you on the freeway will show you what we already know.

    Many of the drivers buzzing along at 80+mph are only half paying attention to the road. The rest of their time is devoted to doing whatever on their smartphone.
    This isn't limited to vehicular traffic, the same holds true for walkers, joggers and even folks on bicycles.

    Personally, if someone drives off a cliff and removes themselves from the gene pool due to this sort of stupidity, I would have little issue with the matter.
    However, the problem is these snowflakes are putting EVERYONE at risk with their behavior and it's painfully obvious that asking nicely and Public Service Announcements are doing little to curb it.

    In the past, when I've tried to nicely point out to the driver who is weaving all over the roadway because they're playing with their phone instead of paying attention to the road, it's nearly started fights. They KNOW they're in the wrong, yet go full stupid when someone calls attention to it. Have actually had folks stop the car in the middle of the road and jump out wanting to fight. Or they go full road rage mode, hit the gas, jump in front of you and slam on the brakes.

    All for trying to get them to simply put the phone down and drive the fucking car :|

    Hell, we recently had an incident here where the driver of a large non-commercial truck was all over the place because they were playing on the damn phone. Others saw this, recorded it, called 911 to report it and nothing was done. The truck later veered into an oncoming lane and hit a bus head on. Killed quite a few folks if I recall.

    The days of asking folks nicely are over.

    Self-drive cars will be one option, but even at their current pace it will be a decade or more before they are ready for the average driver. Much longer before we see a majority of them on the roadways.

    Near Field, RFID or a simple low power xmitter built into the car designed to set a bit in the phone when powered up could be used to disable all but emergency functions of a phone while in motion. This would greatly annoy passengers*, but since we're done asking nicely, it is what it is. Since the carrot isn't working, we have to resort to the stick instead.

    *We managed it in the days before cell phones. You'll live. I promise.

    We could severely increase the penalties if caught while driving distracted with one. Give it the same rules as a DUI / DWI since the outcome, more often than not, is the same. Crank the penalties up. $200 is laughable. $2000 per infraction stings a bit more. Confiscate the phone, the vehicle and revocation of the drivers license is much more eye-opening.

    Sound harsh ?

    Remember, this stupid behavior is putting everyone else at risk so I would rather see folks lose their possessions than someone else lose their life. If you're still willing to play with your phone while driving with these types of penalties in play, then you certainly don't deserve to have a license to drive to begin with.

    So, this being Slashdot and all, I'm guaranteed to get flamed to death for even suggesting the above, but the fix for a problem doesn't begin until you can admit you have one to begin with. Everyone that is guilty of said behavior is in flat out denial that it's a problem at all.

    That being said, ( again, since this is Slashdot ) what realistic technology options could be implemented today to solve the problem ?

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