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Driving while under the influence of cell phone

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Driving while under the influence of cell phone

Postby medbh » Thu Sep 13, 2007 10:28 am

The drunk driving thread has people talking about how dangerous it is to use a cell phone while driving. I admit I occassionally use the cell phone while driving.

I've read about the studies where people on cell phones are more likely to have accidents or have the response rate of a 70 year old. What I've always wondered about these studies is if they're making a fair comparison. Are they comparing cell phone users to solo drivers, or is it cell phone users to drivers talking to passengers? It makes sense that someone would drive better if he's only driving and doing nothing else. Maybe someone's done this kind of study and I haven't heard about it. But unless this research finds that cell phone use is more distracting than conversation with passengers, it doesn't seem like it's a fair comparison. I doubt that people would go for a law that forbids drivers from talking with passengers.

I also don't get the "response time of a 70 year old driver" argument. If you're claiming that cell phone use is equivalent to a 70 year old driver and therefore want to ban cell phone use, shouldn't you also ban 70 year old drivers? If the 70 year olds are allowed on the road, then it should be ok for cell phone drivers too.
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Postby narcoleptish » Thu Sep 13, 2007 11:36 am

That is a ridiculous statement. Does it apply to a 19 year old as well as a 69 year old? Is there a difference between the hands-free phones compared to the hand-held? What about people trying to eat a big mac? Or type on their laptop? Or watch a movie on there in-dash DVD player?

I try to keep a short limit on cell phone driving, but yeah, I do it.
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Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Thu Sep 13, 2007 11:50 am

The difference between having a conversation on a cell phone and one with a passenger can be summed up handily with this simple phrase: "Hey! Watch out for that truck!"
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Postby roadkill bill » Thu Sep 13, 2007 12:14 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:The difference between having a conversation on a cell phone and one with a passenger can be summed up handily with this simple phrase: "Hey! Watch out for that truck!"


Another difference is that a person in the car can sense when you are having trouble multi-tasking and shut up. Or you can say, "Just a minute, I gotta figure out where we're going here."

Somehow, that's nearly impossible on a cell phone.
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Postby acereraser » Thu Sep 13, 2007 12:54 pm

The other bad thing about talking on your phone while driving a car is you look like the kind of short-sighted, self-serving asshole who can't be bothered to do the right thing if it amounts to an inconvenience for them.
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Postby Ducatista » Thu Sep 13, 2007 12:59 pm

acereraser wrote:The other bad thing about talking on your phone while driving a car is you look like the kind of short-sighted, self-serving asshole who can't be bothered to do the right thing if it amounts to an inconvenience for them.

Is that better or worse than looking like a snap-judgmental toolbag?
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Postby medbh » Thu Sep 13, 2007 1:03 pm

acereraser wrote: asshole who can't be bothered to do the right thing


That's assuming it is the "right" thing, which was my point. If the research actually backs up the idea that talking on the phone is worse than talking in the car then I wouldn't do it. But I don't think that it should be banned simply because it annoys some people. My kids are far more distracting than my cell phone.
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Postby medbh » Thu Sep 13, 2007 1:04 pm

roadkill bill wrote:Another difference is that a person in the car can sense when you are having trouble multi-tasking and shut up. Or you can say, "Just a minute, I gotta figure out where we're going here."

Somehow, that's nearly impossible on a cell phone.


Doesn't seem like a big deal to me. I've said it and have had people say it to me.
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Re: Driving while under the influence of cell phone

Postby mcs_madison » Thu Sep 13, 2007 2:17 pm

medbh wrote:The drunk driving thread has people talking about how dangerous it is to use a cell phone while driving. I admit I occassionally use the cell phone while driving.

I've read about the studies where people on cell phones are more likely to have accidents or have the response rate of a 70 year old. What I've always wondered about these studies is if they're making a fair comparison. Are they comparing cell phone users to solo drivers, or is it cell phone users to drivers talking to passengers? It makes sense that someone would drive better if he's only driving and doing nothing else. Maybe someone's done this kind of study and I haven't heard about it. But unless this research finds that cell phone use is more distracting than conversation with passengers, it doesn't seem like it's a fair comparison. I doubt that people would go for a law that forbids drivers from talking with passengers.

I also don't get the "response time of a 70 year old driver" argument. If you're claiming that cell phone use is equivalent to a 70 year old driver and therefore want to ban cell phone use, shouldn't you also ban 70 year old drivers? If the 70 year olds are allowed on the road, then it should be ok for cell phone drivers too.


IMO a big part of the issue is the phone to the ear thing. It creates a bit of tunnel vision and they are less likely to use thier directionals, or look far enough around them to gauge traffic very well, since they only have one hand on the wheel. I use my hands free and have no problem paying attention to traffic and using signals, as I'm not obstructing my own view.
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Postby lordofthecockrings » Thu Sep 13, 2007 2:25 pm

Ducatista wrote:Is that better or worse than looking like a snap-judgmental toolbag?

Whatever. Just hang up and drive, Sister.

Isn't this one of those "better to err on the side of caution" deals, especially given the preponderance of evidence that suggests cell-using drivers are generally more prone to distraction?

This attitude that some have that it's your right to gab and drive is pure crap considering driving isn't a right in the first place. And I find it really hard to come up with a scenario where someone couldn't just find a spot to pull over before making a call. So I say ban this irresponsible behavior.

Or does somebody really want to argue that a few hundred (or maybe thousand) lives spared by such legislation would be inconsequential? (Talk about a toolbag attitude ... )
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Postby Ducatista » Thu Sep 13, 2007 2:45 pm

Pft. The to-do over driving while phoning is less a safety issue than some sort of dopey reverse-classism thing. Otherwise people would've been similarly up in arms at the advent of drive-through windows... or car radios... or passengers.

Tell you what, though, I'd feel much safer if we outlawed driving with kids in the cage. Better yet, let's ban cages altogether. Two wheels or none.
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Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Thu Sep 13, 2007 3:49 pm

Ducatista wrote:Pft. The to-do over driving while phoning is less a safety issue than some sort of dopey reverse-classism thing.
Sorry, but I disagree.

Having a conversation with a person who's somewhere else completely is a disembodying experience. You're words travel into some shadowy realm that's only partially real and part of your brain goes with you. Similarly, I'm more likely to stub my toe walking around my house talking on the phone than I am just talking to my wife. The difference, of course, is that it's unlikely being distracted on the phone in living room is likely to cause a complete stranger's death. The fact that cellphone users are oblivious to how much more oblivious they are when they're on cell phones is just one more way in which they are... y'know... oblivious.

And what "class" (or even more absurdly, "reverse-class") are you talking about? People from all backgrounds and walks of life have cell phones these days.
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Postby Beer Moon » Thu Sep 13, 2007 4:01 pm

If research agrees that driving while talking on a cell phone lowers response time to that of a 70 yr old, then I would hope we could all get behind a ban on 70 yr old drivers, no?

Why not simply test response times, and give those people who are capable of driving and talking at the same time special plates?

Also, if your response time while having a conversation drops below a certain threshold in a road test, you are not allowed to have passengers or have a radio in the car.

Those whose response times are too low to start with, and I suspect many NON-70 yr old uncoordinated people likely fall into this category, will simply never be able to get a driver's license at all. I think we all know these gimps are out there.

Then we can all feel safer that people driving on the road are not overstepping their physical capability.

We can also adjust the legal limit for alcohol for each person based on their tolerance and initial response time. In some cases I would be willing to bet that a 25 yr old with 3 beers in him beats the piss out of a 70 yr old in all response time and judgement tests.
Last edited by Beer Moon on Thu Sep 13, 2007 4:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Ducatista » Thu Sep 13, 2007 4:02 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:And what "class" (or even more absurdly, "reverse-class") are you talking about? People from all backgrounds and walks of life have cell phones these days.

It's a holdover from the days when anyone with a cell phone was a Type A power-suited conspicuous consumer. Walking backwards.

I don't think driving while talking on the phone is any better than driving while doing anything else (eating, changing stations, scanning house numbers, trying to keep the dog from diving out the half-open window, compulsively checking the Garmin). But I haven't seen numbers to convince me it's worse. Then again, I haven't bothered to dig for such numbers, because I don't care overmuch.
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Postby Henry Vilas » Thu Sep 13, 2007 4:07 pm

The Canucks figured out a decade ago that driving and talking on your cell (nowadays it might even be driving and texting) was as dangerous as driving drunk. And hand helds don't help. It's as the Professor says.
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