By on May 8, 2013

 

According to current information on Distraction.gov, “in  2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver.” There is an all-out war against distraction of drivers, especially against cellphones. At the same time, current information at the NHTSA says that “In 2010, 4,280 pedestrians were killed and an estimated 70,000 were injured in traffic crashes in the United States.” Will walking be outlawed? We better stay at home then. Which can be even deadlier: Every year, 18,000 Americans die from accidental injuries that take place in the house, making our homes the second-most deadly place to be. The deadliest place is still the car. 32,367 died in a car in 2011, says the NHTSA.

Compared to walking or staying at home, especially compared to simply being in a car, distracted driving appears to be life-extending. At least when looking at the raw numbers. No wonder that the anti-cellphone movement is getting nervous, and is looking for more dead to bolster their case.

The National Safety Council, using funds provided by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, released findings from a recent analysis that says that there could be more dead cellphone users if we’d just look hard enough. The report reviewed 180 fatal crashes from 2009 to 2011, where evidence indicated driver cell phone use. Of these fatal crashes, in 2011 only 52% were coded in the national data as involving cell phone use. Then, there could be “an unknown number of cases in which cell phone use involvement in crashes is impossible to determine. One example would be a driver reading an email or text message on a phone who dies in a crash without any witnesses.”

Texting and dying without a witness should be against the law. We demand the death penalty: Violators should be sent home immediately. In a car.

And we tip the hat to David Holzman.

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77 Comments on “Distracted Driving: New Study Brings Out The Dead...”


  • avatar
    86SN2001

    I use my phone while driving all the time. I’m not dead. So, clearly, using your phone does not kill you.

    Funny, people said the same thing years ago when the AM radio came out. That it must be banned because of how distracting it is. Now, Ford has made it extremely difficult to change the temperature in your car.

    But yet the cell phone is the vilified.

    • 0 avatar
      sitting@home

      The family cars when I grew up had no airbags, only front seat belts (which were never worn) and the crumple protection of a paper cup, and not a single member of my family died.

      Yet today everyone has to have an urban assault vehicle lest their cherished cherubs die in a mangled mess of steel of plastic on the first school run of the year.

    • 0 avatar

      You’re an N of one.

      In case you don’t follow medical research, N = the number of subjects in a study, and a large number are needed to achieve statistical significance.

      • 0 avatar
        GlobalMind

        Back I think it was last year there was a big push to ban mobile phone use while driving by a few govt folks.

        My view is they will make a rule that ties it to highway funds, just like they did with the 55 mph speed limit. Then all the states will comply.

        The person who was presenting the argument, may have been from DOT or NTSB some such agency…not sure…was asked what about GPS, radios etc. The fellow made the case that those are expensive and have you seen the economy? Everyone has a phone. Seriously this was his case.

        His data supposedly showed that even with a headset there was distraction that’s unacceptable. I wonder what their test method was.

        Distracted driving is an issue, but I’ll tell you what distracts me most in my car. My kid in the back seat. And no those little visor mirrors don’t help. I have caught my wife looking at that thing more than she’s looking at the road in front of her. Major pet peeve.

        I drive a lot on business, mostly highway, for 45 min to an hour most of the time. I use that time for calls, yes. I also have a headset. Mandate those and you fix a lot of the issues that I see.

        • 0 avatar
          GlobalMind

          Oh, I forgot, while we are here, let us not also forget the other American pass time…eating & drinking while driving. Especially those AM commutes after the DD or Starbucks run.

          You can’t tell me that little fave isn’t distracting either. But I don’t see much an initiative targeting that.

          I actually agree in principle if a Distracted Driving Initiative is actually that. Not a masked rampage against phones that we call something else.

        • 0 avatar
          DC Bruce

          Heh. In 1977 is was rear ended while stopped at a stoplight by a woman who had turned around to calm her screaming kid in the back seat. Fortunately, it was a low-speed collision; no injuries, just some body damage.

          We should ban screaming babies; they are definitely more distracting than cell phones. If you want to drive with a baby in the car, you are required to have another adult in the car (besides the driver) to attend to the baby.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Now that’s just not fair bringing up statistics and all. While it is, IMO, the most useful discipline of mathematics, no one understands it much less believes it. The concept of risk (expected return) is irrelevant because everyone knows what happens one time has to happen every time.

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      Let me rephrase this for you: I’m a thoughtless sack who is willing to risk other peoples’ lives for no good reason. I’m so self unaware that I’m happy to post this fact.

      • 0 avatar
        justgregit

        +1

      • 0 avatar
        86SN2001

        You’re not very bright…..because you couldn’t be more wrong.

        People can multitask. It is possible.

        • 0 avatar
          justgregit

          http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-05-08/what-do-u-s-college-graduates-lack-professionalism.html

          “Younger workers believe they can multitask and remain productive, the human-resources people told the York researchers. Thirty-eight percent of respondents blamed multitasking for the lack of “focus” among younger workers. The authors of the study explained that the younger generation “believes that it is possible to multi-task effectively” and that using social media, for example, is an efficient way to communicate. In interviews, the applicants check their phones for texts and calls, dress inappropriately and overrate their talents.”

          Not about the car, but research suggests otherwise. You may be able to “multitask” but you will be terrible at both things you do.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      My grandfather smoked two packs a day and lived to be 86. That does not mean that smoking is not dangerous.

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    Huh? Is this supposed to be tongue in cheek? Because those stats your throwing about don’t make a whole lot of sense. More pedestrians are killed because there are alot of people walking..hopefully more then those that drive distracted…

    I’d add that I notice here in the bay area some guys walking are really crazy. I seen plenty of people crossing the street at night not on a cross walk – on streets with speed limits 40mph.. This doesn’t seem to be a safe activity..

    • 0 avatar
      ctg

      According to that same report last year “only” 9,878 people were killed in drunk driving accidents. I choose to read that to imply that driving drunk is safer than driving sober, walking or sitting in my house. But not as safe as texting while driving.

    • 0 avatar
      David Hester

      I have to wonder how many of those pedestrian deaths and injuries were do to “distracted walking ” on the part of the pedestrian. I was at the mall on a Saturday for the first time in years last week and was quite amused by all of the near walking collisions of kids strolling down the middle of the mall staring at their iPhones and texting away instead of watching where they were going. You know they don’t put their phones away when they stroll out of the mall and into the parking lot.

  • avatar
    Dave56

    How many times has someone passed you like you were standing still and then a few miles you come up on them doing 50 MPH in the fast lane, you flash you lights and then pass on the right because they are not paying the slightest attention to driving, then when you pass them you see them yabbing on the phone. There’s no way in hell you can tell me talking on the phone does not take your attention from driving. It might not be the cause of too many accidents, but for the life of me I can’t figure out why it isn’t. I agree there might be lower hanging fruit that kill more, but comparing walking and getting hit by a car isn’t one of them. That’s almost always the driver’s fault as pedestrians always have the right of way. I wonder how many of these accidents were caused by distracted drivers?

    My solution: outlaw automatic transmissions and make everyone drive a manual. Then you need both hands to drive. yeah I know, cold day in hell when that happens.

    • 0 avatar
      justgregit

      Need to get rid of Bluetooth also to make it work, but yeah, I agree with you.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Never, because I don’t cruise in the fast lane, which means I don’t need to flash my lights at them.

      I laugh at your notion that driving a manual will reduce cell phone usage. People routinely perform tasks in their car that require more hands than they have; thus they use their knees, shoulders, elbows, or other random body parts to do them.

      Making it harder for the stupid to do a job doesn’t make the stupid go away; rather, it just increases the amount of stupid.

      • 0 avatar
        GlobalMind

        Well if we’re being all technical here, there is no “fast lane” the speed limit is the same in all of them, much to some of our chagrin. :)

        What I love is when some guy comes up on a group in the left lane and flashes the last person in line like there’s some contract that says they must move over.

        We need more real driver training around these parts…and learning what side to overtake on is a great start.

        • 0 avatar
          corntrollio

          In many states, slower drivers are obligated to move right. This is written into some state statutes, and it doesn’t matter if those cars are going the speed limit already.

          Of course, cops almost never enforce this. I’ve mentioned this before:

          http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/driving-tip-of-the-day-quit-being-nice/#comment-2038108

          • 0 avatar
            justgregit

            Yeah, I recently got a ticket after being stuck behind a driver who didn’t move right, and “aggressively passing”. Granted there was probably 10 car lengths of open space but the car was doing about 57 in a 65 with the middle lane doing 55. They wouldn’t move over so I passed around them on the right and the police ticketed me, and not the driver who, time and again, never moved right when they were not passing (this was probably the fourth open spot where this occurred).

            Granted, my passing was maybe a little aggressive, but the other driver wasn’t obeying the law. I was going to fight the ticket but was out of town on business during the court date, so I don’t know how it would have played out.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I don’t think we need to regulate distracted driving, but continuously mocking an awareness campaign that will save lives is just wrong.

    • 0 avatar
      LeeK

      Yes, exactly gslippy!

      And constantly only looking at the death statistic exclusively. How many injuries? How much property damage even when no one is injured? How much time is wasted getting your car fixed because some numbskull was looking at their phone rather than watching the road and plowed into your car? That exact thing happened to me, as I was fully stopped at a red light and got rammed from behind.

      Distracted driving is an issue. It costs us billions of dollars each year. It kills people and it severely impacts the lives of hundreds of thousands. Why the constant mockery of this campaign?

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I agree that cell phone use is probably villified to an irrational point. However, I have roughly 2 hour round trip commute daily and the number of people with phones up to their ear is astounding. I see, we all see, daily examples of people on phones obviously distracted. Leaving lanes, driving excessivly slow so they can text, etc. I see no problem with hands free operation of a phone in a car, but texting/typing should be prohibited. If it takes your eyes off the road, nothing good can come from it.

    It is a slippery slope though, there is ceratainly no shortage of things avialable to distract us while driving (road signs, radio, kids)where does it end?

    I just want to know what is so important that you have to talk for your entire commute. I think it is more boredom behind the wheel than necessity. It probably would be a better world if we could all hang up and drive.

    • 0 avatar
      justgregit

      I agree with this completely. Where I live there are viable public transportation options. If you are so bored driving that you need to talk on your phone for the entire commute, why can’t you just take a bus or train and spare those of us who are paying attention the wait?

      People talking/texting etc slow down traffic to an unbearable degree. If its people doing business, and they are so important that they need to be on the phone the whole drive, then their company should be paying for a driver for them. If they are paying you $100,000 a year, whats another $10,000 to have you driven. If they can’t afford that, you aren’t that important.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        Well, it’s not boredom. At least for some people, talking while they’re driving somewhere is an essential part of conducting business. The cool thing is that while texting on your cellphone, tablet or whatever is illegal, texting on your MyFordTouch to turn up the AC is not!

        Just to be clear, I’m not defending texting by the driver in a moving car under any circumstances.

  • avatar
    justgregit

    Who cares about the death statistics. Someone needs to do an analysis of how much time is wasted and the value of that time. I would guess its probably over tens of billions of dollars a year.

    My commute is KILLED by people on their cellphones driving under the speed limit in all three lanes. I live in Denver and this morning I got stuck behind 3 cars doing 55 in a 65 mph all next to each other. When I finally got past (it took about 4 minutes for the person on the left to pass) I saw all three on their phones.

    Also, have you ever been behind someone trying to parallel park a Yukon XL on their phone? Its a 15 minute endeavor and involved blocking all lanes of traffic.

    Also, because they are so busy talking, none of these people seem to hear the horns blaring at them.

    If there weren’t laws against road rage keeping these people from getting shot, the impacts of distracted driving would be exponentially greater. It has nothing to do with safety (we fixed that by making cars that stop themselves with 10,000 airbags that even a 3 year old could safely operate), it has to do with efficiency.

    • 0 avatar
      Topher

      Let’s see 55mph in a 65 zone. If you’re morning commute is 100 miles (and god forbid, I hope not), then you’d arrive about 17 minutes later than if you’d driven the speed limit.

      Let’s look at your “time wasted and the value of that time” argument. If you can talk on your phone while driving, then you can participate in a conference call. So, on that 100 mile commute, you lose 17 minutes by driving slower than the speed limit (but you also probably get better gas mileage assuming you don’t drive like an asshat) but you can theoretically gain 1 hour and 50 minutes of work.

      I’m sorry, your argument seems to work against you.

      • 0 avatar
        justgregit

        Well lets aggregate this. Average driver drives 12,000 miles per year. Multiply this times your number (17 minutes per 100 miles), and we get 2040 minutes wasted per year per person, or 34 hours per year. Income per capita is a little over $45,000 per year, so approximately $20 per hour. That means that if we multiply this $20 * 34 = $680 per person wasted in the car every year.

        According to the census there are 211 million drivers in the United States. Multiply this by $680 per driver wasted and you get $143B in waste every year. And this doesn’t include gas etc, and also assumes only on average 10 mph are lost on a 65mph drive. Many highways are more clogged than this. Figuring out the marginal effect on this from cell phones is impossible to quantify, but using your logic, in fact, its your argument that works against you.

        Also, if you look up, I estimated tens of billions of dollars per year, whereas your back of the envelope calculation yields close to $200 billion.

        • 0 avatar
          Topher

          Did you include in your calculation the amount of time people GAIN by being able to talk on the phone while driving?

          • 0 avatar
            justgregit

            If you are on such important calls you should do as my boss does and hire a driver. She doesn’t do business while driving because she needs to pay attention to her clients, rather than the road.

          • 0 avatar
            justgregit

            I mean if you can’t hire a driver, then there are two other options, go into work earlier, or work later (what I typically do when I have a call).

            When the time saved is you being able to have a conversation gossiping with your bros before you get home so that it doesn’t cut into your ability to watch Survivor while eating a TV dinner later, it wasn’t that valuable anyway.

            Also, I apologize, I don’t meant o make this about you personally. I just mean Americans in general. I’m pretty sure that’s what most people I’m stuck behind on the highway on the way home are doing.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          That’s justification for reducing commute lengths.

          • 0 avatar
            justgregit

            I would agree with that. The fact of the matter is, my commute is not that long (15 miles round trip), and I’m not that effected. It still just makes me cranky when I get to work though to have to deal with it (as is probably obvious from my irritated posting).

      • 0 avatar
        rwb

        Are you seriously suggesting it’s OK to do 55 in a 65, because you’re on the phone?

      • 0 avatar
        Kevin Kluttz

        No, YOU can gain 1hr 50 min wo work. The rest of us are witing for your arrogant, dickhead self to get out of our way so we can get where we are going, whether it be work, vacation, or whatever. Get your arrogant ass out of the way and work at your office.

  • avatar
    b787

    What is with TTAC and distracting driving? First it was Jack who wrote an article advocating distracted driving, Derek soon followed and now you Bertel? While I don’t think distracted driving is as dangerous as several agencies claim, but the fact is people drive significantly worse while they are using their cell phone. I don’t believe you guys never get annoyed by getting stuck behind people driving erratically – often due to being busy by their cell phones or just “day dreaming”.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    Cell phones are much more of a safety hazard even than smoking. The reason is obvious. If you drop a lighted cigarette in your lap while driving, it’s a distraction. If you drop a flaming cell phone in your lap, it’s a HUGE distraction.

  • avatar
    homer281

    The next time I almost get killed by someone on a cell phone (happens about once a month), I’ll remember this libertarian hit piece and scream, “BECAUSE FREEDOM!!!!!”

  • avatar
    PhilMills

    I simply do NOT understand TTAC’s editorial stance that appears to be “Distracted Driving Is Not A Problem”. Is the death doll the ONLY thing TTAC is willing to look at?

    Here are what I believe are some pretty solid facts. If Bertel would like to refute any of these, he’s welcome to try.

    1) Distracted driving is prevalent and pervasive on the roads. I can take any given day of my 5-mile commute and point to at least one vehicle per mile that is driving in a way that is hazardous to my (and their) safety because of their being consumed by a phone, dinner, dog, etc. I have not seen any commenter here on TTAC suggest any differently.

    2) As stated, distracted drivers behave in a way that is directly hazardous to those around them. A typical distracted driver will have:
    * No lane control (weaving, drifting, straddling the lane divider…)
    * Poor speed control
    * Sudden and erratic course changes (as they glance up from their task and correct for lack of lane/speed control)
    * Poor respect for following distances
    * Diminished reaction time
    Any and all of these present a clear hazard to surrounding drivers.

    3) Not all consequences of hazardous driving are fatal. We are in an age of VERY safe cars, to the point where it seems like you have to try VERY hard to end up dead in one.

    4) Non-fatal consequences can have actual real, serious costs.
    * Injuries can require extensive, expensive medical treatment and rehabilitation
    * Vehicles and property have to be repaired or replaced
    * Lost hours on the job dealing with the above take a financial toll

    5) People operating a vehicle on a public road are not exercising a RIGHT, they are exercising a PRIVILEGE – and doing so while controlling a multi-ton piece of equipment. This fact places a pretty severe onus on the driver to have the safe operation of that equipment be their primary concern.
    That people are choosing lunch or Facebook over the safe operation of their vehicle is disturbing.

    Add all that up and I simply see no way that Distracted Driving is not something that should be prohibited and that those who are at fault in an incident where they have been distracted should not be cited for criminal negligence along with any other charges that would normally result.

    TLDR: Bertel, I think you (and the rest of the TTAC editors who’ve written on the subject) are wrong in pooh-poohing the seriousness of the problem because not enough people are dying.

    • 0 avatar

      Nobody is arguing that it’s not a problem, but the amount of bad PR that texting-and-driving gets relative to the number of fatalities brought on by it is disproportionate.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff Waingrow

        Derek, you and Bertel are on the wrong side of this issue. Yes, admittedly there’s a certain amount of hyperbole and alarmism let loose, but you’d have to be a blind driver not to notice, when you follow behind cell talkers and texters, that they’re all over the road and constantly slowing down and speeding up. I don’t know just how many people die from this activity, but it certainly can’t add to road saftey. Fine to put it in context, but the slant and tone of the article is seriously adolescent.

        • 0 avatar
          Boff

          “…seriously adolescent…”

          Bingo. Why oh why do I continually click on articles with the BS byline? It’s like stepping in dog poo on purpose.

          The generation of avid texters make up a small proportion of the driving public now, but just wait until they are the majority. Many jurisdictions have passed eminently reasonable handheld device restrictions, and the NHTSA has come out with some sensible recommendations (yes, recommendations) on in-car distraction for the OEMs to consider. And out comes the haterade like the gubmint was fixing to grab all the cars.

          It’s as if the successes of seatbelt laws, drunk-driving awareness, and safety standards have been totally forgotten.

      • 0 avatar
        rwb

        You’ve missed the point. It isn’t about fatalities. Just because people are not dying en masse does not mean it is not a huge problem.

        Driving a car is the most dangerous thing most people will do in a day. People do not respect this, and I am in favor of anything that will help, within reason. Bluster and hyperbole are justified here, because no one is actually listening.

        • 0 avatar
          PhilMills

          Exactly. Unfortunatly, as you say, people are not choosing to behave responsibly behind the wheel.
          Short of revoking ALL drivers’ licenses and forcing everybody to start again, we’re (sadly) pretty much down to trying to legislate responsibility.

          Yeah, it’s a losing battle, but perhaps if the penalties are severe enough (and someone prominent is figuratively pilloried in the public square) some self-absorbed jack-a-ninny will finally PAY ATTENTION.

      • 0 avatar

        Probably not. The whole point of this is that such fatalities are being greatly undercounted. But in addition to fatalities, you have traumatic brain injuries, which can be worse than death. A friend of my parents was a Harvard professor until he got traumatic brain injury in a car crash. After he woke up from the coma, which lasted for a couple of months, he had the brain power of a two or three year old child. His wife cared for him his last ten years, until he (mercifully) died.

        In another case of traumatic brain injury, my former optometrist became unable to work and support herself. (This was a minor but unhelmeted bicycle accident.)

        My guess is there are as many traumatic brain injuries from car crashes as there are fatalities, and maybe alot more, but I tried repeatedly to get stats from NHTSA a few years ago, and they claimed not to have them.

      • 0 avatar
        PhilMills

        “Nobody is arguing that it’s not a problem…”

        I’m sorry, Derek, but can you really read Bertel’s article here (or yours from 24 April) and say that with a straight face?

        Every paragraph of Bertel’s drips with sarcasm and derision and boils down to “only X,XXX deaths are directly attributable to distracted driving – that’s less than [other cause], so who gives a flying Fiat?”. You yourself said in your article “it’s clear that cell phones and hand-held devices are really a minor issue in the grand scheme of things”. Sounds like you’re arguing that it’s not a problem.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      With the president arguing for gun registration of gun purchases made between private parties at gun shows as the appropriate response to the recent mass-shootings, all of which were perpetrated by psychotics (who were know to be so in advance) and none of whom got their weapons at gun shows, I suppose it’s too much to expect that the proposed regulatory remedy have some chance of solving the problem that is advanced to justify it.

      Distracted driving is bad . . . we all agree on that. The question is now much does talking on a hand-held cellphone materially contribute to that problem.

      A number of scientific studies have been conducted that, as compared to having a conversation using a hands-free device, or even having a conversation with someone else in the car, having a conversation holding a cell phone creates a very small incremental degradation in driver performance.

      Much less all of the other distractions, like trying to eat a Double Quarter Pounder with cheese while driving without getting half of it in your lap, or turning down the a/c on your new Ford equipped with MyFordTouch.

      That, I think is the point. If something ought to be banned, and I’m quite serious about it, it is vehicle controls which require the driver to look at the control in order to operate it — which is the vast majority of touchscreens in cars. That is guaranteed to take the driver’s eyes off the road, something that yapping on a cellphone does not require.

      As for the handheld cellphone ban, in DC such use already is banned; and in my unscientific survey, violation of that ban is as widespread and flagrant as violation of the 55 mph speed limit was in the days of the “double nickel” As a basic matter, in a democracy laws and their bastard cousins, regulations, must reflect the general consensus of the population to which they are subject. If they don’t reflect that consensus, they shouldn’t exist, unless you are advocating a dictatorship of the enlightened as being superior form of government.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Fatalities are only one of many metrics available to show the impact of texting. Fatalities may grab headlines but the real damage is in just pure collisions. If someone texting paralyzes someone that doesn’t count… but I’d bet there’s a huge number of those incidences. If someone texting totals their or someone else’s car, that doesn’t count… except when you go to pay your insurance premium. The anti-cellphone brigade is failing in chasing headlines and sensationalism rather than objectivism. I think people would react much more strongly to a statement like “distracted driving adds 50% to your insurance premium” or “millions of people are affected by distracted driving every year” (I just made those numbers up). Whether you agree with there strategy or not I don’t think their failings are some validation of distracted driving.

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    The interstate highway system was designed so that 1950′s era cars could safely cruise at 90 mph, with no seat belts, safety glass, door beams, airbags, anti-lock brakes or disk brakes. With bias ply non-radial tires,Queen-Mary-Slow-tiller-steering, drum brakes,bed spring suspensions and while the driver was drunk at a .28, drinking unpasteurized alcoholic beverages and gobbling handfuls of Bayer heroin and having his wee wee polished by the tonsils of an eager passenger.

    Like PJ O’Rourke said, we have become a nation of quivering,whimpering, soul-less Prius-driving cowards, terrified of cellphones, with the safety Nazis having their gestapo boots on the jugular vein of freedom.

    • 0 avatar
      Boff

      Uhhhh, Larry…the fatality rate per 100 million miles traveled has fallen by a factor of at least five since then.

      • 0 avatar
        Larry P2

        I am supposed to be impressed by that? Do I look like someone that wants to live to be an old, embittered person?

        Hell no! Give me my STD-infected, blown, nitrous fed El Camino Pro Streeter, which lacks not only a faggoty interior fetish Audi Interior, but any upholstery whatsoever. Stripped clear down to the rough-edge bare metal. Hit a railroad crossing at 50 mph, and for ten minutes it reverberates like you are inside a gong.

        Safety? Bwaaaaa. Give me PERFORMANCE, man.

  • avatar
    redav

    Holy facepalm Batman – this is a pointless post.

    Every time Bertel, Derek, et al, post something about this, I respect them less.

    • 0 avatar
      PhilMills

      I’m getting to that point myself.

      It might be interesting to sentence Bertel, Derek, Jack et.al. to a life of invisibility on a motorcycle for a few months and see if their tunes change.

      It’s amazing what a lack of airbags, crumple zones, roll-cages, windshield wipers and seatbelts can do for your worldview when you realize that nobody around you notices you’re there.

      (…totally in spite of your being dressed up like a shiny Power Ranger and having a visual footprint as big as many B-class cars and being taller than everybody except brodozers)

      • 0 avatar
        justgregit

        Yeah, I am a bicyclist in addition to driving cars, and similarly have developed a far more acute sense of how few people pay attention while driving, even (especially?) in city traffic.

        I’ve been wanting to buy a motorcycle but am too terrified to take it on the highway, based on how I watch people drive around them.

    • 0 avatar

      Pointless post? It makes perfect sense to me. The number of people killed while driving and reading a book is a lot fewer than those killed not reading a book. Conclusion: Reading books while driving saves lives!! Also, 100% of people who contracted cancer have eaten tomatoes in the years before they got diagnosed. Lets freak out people!! Tomatoes cause cancer!!

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        A different example you might want to try is how fat people drink diet coke while non-fat people drink regular coke. The math shows they are dependent variables. Therefore, diet coke makes people fat.

        • 0 avatar
          shaker

          Actually, there are studies that link the use of artificial sweeteners in sodas to increased appetite – apparently, the “sweet” signals sent to the brain aren’t matched by an increase in blood glucose; therefore the hunger response is enhanced.
          Thus, the “Burger, Fries, Apple Pie and Diet Coke” order.

  • avatar
    azmtbkr81

    What I find disturbing are drivers who consciously choose not to use safety-promoting technologies like Bluetooth and speech-to-text when the systems are built into their cars and phones.

    I was stopped at a light today and the woman next to me in a brand new Cadillac had her phone glued to her ear and a dazed look on her face. What was her reason for not using Bluetooth? Laziness? Extreme technological ineptitude?

    To me this is reckless driving. It is one thing not to wear a seatbelt, the only person in danger is the driver and possibly passengers but choosing not to use Bluetooth puts the driver and everyone around the driver at risk.

    • 0 avatar
      GlobalMind

      Exactly.

      There is no dang way you can react to an issue on the road when you have only one hand on the wheel because the other has the phone stuck to your head.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        While I agree with both of you, the primary problem with mobile phone use is the having the conversation with someone not in the car with you, not the holding of the phone.

        • 0 avatar
          justgregit

          I am with you on this. I am just as incapable of operating a vehicle while on the Bluetooth through my car stereo as I am holding the phone to my ear.

          If the phone rings and I feel its likely necessary that I would need to talk to that person, then I pull over and call them back. Its not the end of the world if you don’t answer your phone, I don’t usually do it even when I’m around the house (because I just don’t have it on me and don’t hear it). You can always call someone back.

          • 0 avatar
            DC Bruce

            I use an earpiece (manual tranny driver), but I want the conversation to be very short, mostly to agree on a reschedule so I can talk at length while I am out of the car. In a couple of instances where I was driving on a long trip, I just pulled over, as you say.

            What’s distracting is having the important conversation that demands your attention while you are also driving the car, not the mechanics of how that conversation is conducted.

          • 0 avatar
            justgregit

            DC Bruce, it doesn’t let me respond to you directly, but that is exactly my point.

            If I owned a company and my workers were holding I would be upset at them; Not because I am concerned for the safety, but because I would be concerned for the deal.

            I work in consulting, and so client relations are central to everything we do, and you need to be on point all the time. I would not want to be discussing with a client while driving because I would not want to be dedicating less than 100 percent to the conversation. Maybe some people can do two things at once, but they will be doing neither well. If a client were to call while I were driving I would do as you do, answer it, and let them know I would call them back in a few minutes. Granted, thats never an issue, because calls are always scheduled, but in a hypothetical situation I would not want to ever give less than 100 percent attention to an important conversation.

  • avatar
    probert

    The logic of this article and some posters reminds me of when Ted Bundy, the mass killer was arrested: He turned to the cops, baffled by the commotion, and said,”I killed a few people but there are billions of them – what’s the big deal?.”

    Sociopathic/psychopathic: pick your flavor.

  • avatar
    Topher

    Sometimes the B&B misses the point, and I think this article is one of them. We’re so used to believing statistics that we don’t stop to think that all statistics are damn lies ( http://www.amazon.com/Damned-Lies-Statistics-Untangling-Politicians/dp/0520219783 ).

    At least, I’m hoping that the point of the article was to poke fun at the BS statistics that fuel the distracted driving nazis.

    • 0 avatar
      justgregit

      While I did give you crap earlier. I do agree with you on this point.

      My back of the envelope calculation of $200B a year cost to cell phone driving is a perfect example of this. Obviously cell phones don’t add up to over 1 percent of GDP loss, that’s an absurd argument.

      I just wanted to point out that there are significant losses in addition to fatalities (how do we value each life lost anyway?). Maybe there are gains also (as you say, people can do some work in the car). How do they balance out? Regardless, I’m of the opinion its probably a net loss, but we aren’t going to stop doing it. I just look forward to self driving cars so the cars with people on their phones can at least figure out how to merge without coming to a complete stop on the on ramp. In the meantime, people needing to do work while driving I would recommend one of the following options

      1) Public Transportation
      2) Carpool
      3) Go into work earlier
      4) Move closer to your job
      5) Hire a driver (or take a cab, I recently read an article about someone exclusively using Uber and saving money)

      These are all perfectly legitimate alternatives that make life easier for everyone else.

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    “Distracted Driving:” a thinly-veiled argument for 200,000 more overpaid cops roaming the streets with nothing to do but harass people for newly-invented “crimes.”

  • avatar
    carguy

    This article makes no sense at all.

    - Walking is dangerous because of drivers of cars and even more so when those drivers are on their phone and not paying attention.

    - “Reported phone usage” – because people never lie about using a phone at the time of a crash.

    - The logic that “while other causes of death are more common we shouldn’t do anything about distracted driving” is mindbogglingly stupid.

  • avatar
    mikedt

    I’d like the see the numbers of fender benders due to distracted driving. I’m guessing the typical distracted driver scenario is the Texter failing to brake as he/she rear ends the car sitting at the stop light or the moron who drifts into the car next to him as he attempts to get his cellphone that slid off the seat. Just because no one dies doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have to put up with morons who’d rather be sitting in front of a computer screen instead of paying attention to the road.

  • avatar
    GlobalMind

    Again, if we’re talking distractions then why not just make the rule “if you are in an accident and you’re shown to have been distracted leading to the accident then you are shown at fault” instead of this no fault stuff.

    Distracted is distracted, no matter the reason: phone, kid, coffee….

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    I commute nearly 100 miles a day. I can say with certainty that distracted driving is a bigger problem than most think. This is not just s cellphone problem either. I see shaving, phones, NEWSPAPERS, smoking, eating, you name it. Some things, like a cigarette, is not such a big deal once it is lit. Other things are more problematic, like staring at a GPS or electronic interface and trying to figure it out on the fly. But texting seems to me to be the most problematic of all. I’m not really sure how to effectively combat it but I can pick out the texting driver half a mile away.

  • avatar
    shaker

    When I was taking my driver’s test (in my Grandpap’s ’72 Nova), the state cop asked me a series of questions before we set off on the test course, one of which was: “So, when you’re driving, which hand are you supposed to use when you drink your Pepsi?”

    To which the answer was: “Neither, both hands on the wheel, 10 O’clock and 2 O’clock.”

    Life was so much simpler back then.


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