By on June 23, 2011

Edmunds recent Auto Safety Conference featured a number of high-profile speakers including NHTSA Administrator David Strickland, Edmunds CEO Jeremy Anwyl, IIHS President Adrian Lund, Toyota Under Fire author Tim Ogden, Rep John Dingell and more. I haven’t had time to watch all of the presentations from the conference, but from what I’ve seen, the conference seems to have been one of the most forward-thinking, diverse and lively explorations of auto safety in recent memory. The video above, featuring Virginia Tech professor Tom Dingus, offers enough provocative insights to fuel a lengthy discussion on distracted driving, but I encourage you to go check out the rest of the speakers here, and if you really want to get stuck in, you can download their presentations here.

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20 Comments on “Rethinking Distracted Driving...”


  • avatar

    This is awful. The presenter has several videos, but whoever made the recording declined to include them.

  • avatar

    Haha, Dingus. Indeed.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The anti-phone brigade should pay attention to this video. As he notes, the phone usage = DUI meme is completely bogus, and not even close to being true.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Yes and no. Talking on a cell is not too dangerous. Dialing that cell is dangerous. So is texting.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I’m horrified to think that there are other people out on the the road who are so unobservant as to be ignorant of the antics of cell phone users around them. I’ll cheer Ray LaHood’s death, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t need to avoid a cell phone occupied driver more than once every 100 miles I travel.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        You will cheer someone’s death. Says a lot about you.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I’m horrified to think that there are other people out on the the road who are so unobservant as to be ignorant of the antics of cell phone users around them.

        Translation: You’re horrified that facts get in the way of a good argument.

        You’re missing the point of naturalistic studies. They are long-term studies, so those who are being studied eventually forget that they being observed, and crash or almost crash as they normally would. They are certainly more realistic than the simulator studies, which are by definition “simulated”, i.e. a hypothetical in a lab that may not reflect real-world behavior.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Yeah mike786. It says I’m not a phony. LaHood is a tyrant regulator playing God with our freedom. Hell is too good for him.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        CJ in South Dakota – yeah because being polite is just so phony. Wishing everyone you disagree with to die say’ something about you and authenticity isn`t what I am think.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Observer Effect anyone? Cameras in cars don’t change behavior?

  • avatar
    tallnikita

    It’s truly sad that now some people are going to spend time in the conferences, obtain government grants for studies, earn honorariums, etc etc ad nauseum, all to prove the obvious – anything but the car controls and a radio IS a distraction. See, simple! But can’t make a scientific career out of it.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah. It’s terrible that some want laws to be based on verifiable truths.

      I mean, knee-jerk, feel good laws are the best!

    • 0 avatar
      steeringwithmyknees

      I dont think that’s sad at all. What I find sad is how anti-intellectualism seems so popular. It sounds like you are either hostile toward science or you really dont understand how knowledge is obtained that can inform good policy and produce life-saving technologies. It is good to learn all we can about topics like this. For instance, more evidence that hands-free cell phone use is no better than holding a phone to your ear is useful in light of legislation in many places that allow Bluetooth, but disallow handheld phone conversations (nice work by the telecommunications lobby). Other “shades of grey” kinds of things that get discovered via research can be extremely beneficial when creating policy or technology in cars or general public knowledge.

      But you already know that – you just havent thought about it enough, right?

      Or maybe not. The car controls and radio can be very distracting.

      • 0 avatar

        And, heaven forbid, we may find that some laws are ineffective and should be junked. But wait, doesn’t it feel good to make new laws?

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        For instance, more evidence that hands-free cell phone use is no better than holding a phone to your ear is useful in light of legislation in many places that allow Bluetooth, but disallow handheld phone conversations (nice work by the telecommunications lobby).

        One point that he makes in the video is that phone conversations don’t contribute to many accidents. The claim that using a phone is equivalent to a DUI is complete hype.

        Other data suggests that drivers have fewer accidents while using phones. That isn’t to say that phone usage is “safe” per se, but the issue has been grossly distorted and misrepresented, resulting in laws that don’t work.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    I pay less attention to the road when I’m OFF the phone and it’s the ON the phone driving when I’m more aware of traffic and the task of driving. I know I’m a hundred times more likely to crash OFF the phone that ON. Maybe that’s just me or it’s human nature but I’ve only crashed once since there’s been cell phones and I wasn’t ON one. Middle of the day and I was reaching for a map and then add all the near misses I’ve had including running redlights that had long been red all while OFF the phone. Part of the problem is we tend to get bored while driving and start to observe sports cars, pickup trucks, billboards, houses, babes on the street, babes in other cars and what we would do to them. You know, like lower them, lift them or plant trees out front.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    He said something along these lines – 10% of the drivers cause 50% of the crashes or near crashes. I found that very interesting. It seems like a fruitful place for more study. Do these people behave differently than most? Do they have different spacial perception? Different cognitive ability? Can we train them to be better, or are they hopeless?


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