By on June 14, 2016

driver

They already came for your cell phone, but a new study on distracted driving could be the spark legislators are looking for to take away your hands-free calling.

Keeping your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road means nothing if your brain is busy visualizing something else, say researchers at Britain’s University of Sussex. Their study, published in the journal Transportation Research, showed that hands-free motorists can miss seeing objects right in front of them, especially when they’re not just pretending to listen to the other person.

Having a conversation while driving creates an epic battle inside the brain, with reality and imagination duking it out for dominance, the study found.

When conversation forces a driver to visualize something, that person can use far more of the brain’s visual processing abilities than scientists previously thought. That means it doesn’t matter whether a driver is holding a phone or talking over Bluetooth when it comes to paying attention. What your eyes see can be cancelled out by your thoughts, then replaced with something else.

“Hands-free can be equally distracting because conversations cause the driver to visually imagine what they’re talking about,” said Dr. Graham Hole, the university’s senior lecturer in psychology, in a media release.

“This visual imagery competes for processing resources with what the driver sees in front of them on the road … The person at the other end of the phone might ask ‘where did you leave the blue file?’, causing the driver to mentally search a remembered room.  The driver may also simply imagine the facial expression of the person they’re talking to.”

The study based its findings on tests subjects’ eye movements during two video-based scenarios.

Hole said most hand-held phone bans stemmed from concerns about vehicle control, with many legislators worried about people driving with one hand on the wheel. Take the phone away, and not much changes, he said. Conversations lead to “visual tunneling” — focusing on a small area directly in front of you, with no glancing around.

“All of the distracted participants were slower to respond to hazards, detected fewer hazards and made more ‘looked but failed to see’ errors, meaning their eyes focused on a hazard but they didn’t actually see it,” he said. “These impairments were worse for the participants who were distracted by imagery-inducing statements.”

Now, you’re probably thinking: what about those passengers that just won’t shut up? Are carpool lanes going to be outlawed due to distracted driving concerns? Will we be forced to ride with Hitler?

In-person convos aren’t as dangerous, Hole said, because passengers tend to pipe down when a dangerous situation crops up. They also use “non-verbal cues” when speaking to someone in person, meaning Larry Lawmaker isn’t likely to take away your passenger’s right to discuss exactly what went wrong in the relationship.

[Image: bark/Flickr]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

71 Comments on “Chatting Hands-Free? You’re Already a Distracted Driver, Says Study...”


  • avatar
    seth1065

    Let’s take this a little further, No radio, no GPS telling you where to go, no other passengers because they may talk to you and that is bad, not sure if the blinkers distract me so I will wait for a study.

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly

    • 0 avatar
      ...m...

      …rather than leap to hyperbolic histrionics, let’s acknowledge the truths illustrated in this study with informed discourse: different individual brains may function differently, but strong statistical trends merit consideration…

      …i, for one, know that *my* attentiveness to the task of driving is compromised by overly-chatty passengers, even moreso by remote conversations oblivious to imminent demands of my ambient driving environment, yet music has no such affect likely because it’s a task of passive consumption rather than active engagement and occupies an entirely different part of my mind…i don’t think it’s at all unreasonable to presume that driving, as an active, attentive task, may compete for the same mental resources dedicated to active conversation, at least for myself and quite possibly for a substantial portion of the driving population…

      …so what to do about it?..

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      “Let’s take this a little further, No radio, no GPS telling you where to go, no other passengers because they may talk to you and that is bad, not sure if the blinkers distract me so I will wait for a study.”

      My wife recently received her PHD in psychology, and did a couple of studies on these topics. Let me add some nuance.

      First off, the literature finds that hands-free is pretty similar to holding the phone, in terms of distracted driving accidents in car simulators. This is pretty intuitive, because you can drive a regular automatic transmission car with one hand — the manual dexterity required to hold the phone is not the problem.

      Second, the literature finds that the accident rate is similar (or better) with passengers in the car. Having a passenger in the car IS NOT like talking to someone on the phone. The reason is that passengers in the car are aware of what’s going on, and will pause the conversation (or even help) if the situation gets difficult.

      Third, there are some cases where an electronic conversation CAN BE LIKE having a passenger in a car. For instance, I’m aware of one experiment where the participants were using a video phone (like Skype), with the video pointed toward the road. The result was more like having a passenger in the car than like talking to someone over the phone.

      So, to tie it all together, the underlying theme seems to be that talking to someone who has no idea what’s going on in the car is distracting, while talking to someone who can see the traffic is neutral or helpful.

      I realize this is a little counterintuitive for people who just want to think of this as the nanny-state imposing things on them.. But, these scientists are just as frustrated as you are, because the nanny state isn’t following their advice — and they fully believe fixing the rules can save lives.

      P.S. The current thinking is that devices like GPSs which give you information relevant to your situation can actually help your situational awareness. But the devil is in the details — it’s easy to build one that’s distracting, rather than one which gives you exactly the information you need.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “The reason is that passengers in the car are aware of what’s going on, and will pause the conversation (or even help) if the situation gets difficult.”

        Why does it seem that these studies always make the point about passengers having situational awareness, buy don’t give the distracted drivers the same option?

        They put a test subject into these simulators with agressive, unknown traffic patterns and then for them to talk through a complex hands-free call.

        If I suddenly find myself driving through a severe rainstorm or Talladega-style traffic or something dangerous I can just hang up (“I’ll call you back”), or pull into a parking lot, or not answer in the first place.

        • 0 avatar
          Russycle

          “If I suddenly find myself driving through a severe rainstorm or Talladega-style traffic or something dangerous I can just hang up …”

          Yes, but you’re an intelligent person who recognizes his own limitations. Sadly, there are plenty of people who believe they an multitask just fine so they can chatter away on the phone with no effect on their driving. I’m married to one.

          I like being able to make a few calls when I’m droning down the interstate, but when I need to focus on traffic that ends. Too bad the folks that won’t do this have to ruin it for everyone.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            Drivers whom are “situation aware” and/or self aware will fare much better with hands-free than most clueless lemmings.
            When I worked as a paramedic we had one wreck because the driver was on the radio and claimed distraction. Administration took it at face value and implemented “lowest common denominator” changes.
            The paramedic subsequently resigned. We all rejoiced since she was a complete idiot behind the wheel and in the back of the unit.

        • 0 avatar
          TrailerTrash

          Because they have a planned, intended outcome for their studies.
          They WANT an outcome that fits with their own biased position…n matter how much they claim otherwise.

          Like stated above…not all drivers are even equal in driving skill. So trying t paint with these ridiculous studies is just more attempts to take all human participation out of the game.

          How can any hands free be as bad as children screaming and fighting or asking questions in the car?
          How about Your passenger just having an argument with you while driving.
          No…they do NOT care about my situation on the road…they just rant and yell and fight.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        “But, these scientists are just as frustrated as you are, because the nanny state isn’t following their advice — and they fully believe fixing the rules can save lives.”

        I was with you until this part. The truth of the matter is, we aren’t dying in significant numbers due to cell phones or distracted driving. Most deaths are either alcohol related or lack of seatbelt, we simply aren’t dying due to distracted driving, and to say otherwise is to suggest hysteria.

        • 0 avatar
          Detroit-Iron

          amen

        • 0 avatar
          NickS

          S2k you’d get a different idea if you were to talk to a car insurance co. Their actuaries know exactly what risk pool distracted drivers get into.

          And I guess anything less than death due to distracted driving is okay with you? Injuries, maimings, and property damage don’t rise to the level of distracted enough driving?

          • 0 avatar
            TrailerTrash

            Who can drive a car better, you or any number of top NASCAR drivers?
            So…should they be limited by your skill level?
            An a lesson here…LIFE is dangerous…and you die.
            And drivers training is important, yet nobody really gets it. People are not trained well. Parents are poor and working against the system. They actually help their children cheat on driver training rules.
            I know. I had to drive with my kids for 50 friggin hours before their test. I even made one drive much longer because I didn’t think he was getting the feel.
            But other parents signed off on hours never driven with their kids.
            It was a joke.
            But I guess you will always insist o laws being designed down to the lowest denominator.
            Dumbing down.
            Don’t address the problem or problem drivers.
            Just pass more laws that limit everybody.

          • 0 avatar
            Detroit-Iron

            @ NickS

            Citations please.

      • 0 avatar
        KevinC

        Lack of common sense and skills, and utter lack of situational awareness are, in my view, the biggest problem we face with distracted driving, whether or not a cellphone is involved. When I learned to drive in high school back in the early 70’s (do ANY public schools even teach driver’s ed any more??), situational awareness was a HUGE topic and the whole concept of putting one’s attention on driving and not other activities was stressed. We were taught things like ‘leaving yourself an out” when navigating that “Talladega-style” traffic (love that line). I ride with younger people now who have ZERO situational awareness, then grab their cellphone and start chatting away mindlessly. I think it all starts with better education.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    I didn’t need a scientific study to tell me this; I always thought the “but it’s OK if you use a hands-free device” exceptions were based on feel good bad science. Reading and sending text messages requires greater attention for brief moments, but looking down at your phone isn’t the only way to ignore your surroundings/divert your attention from the road. <– Note the exact way I just worded that last phrase.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I think the point of hands-free devices is that they’re better than looking away entirely, either to dial or when fumbling with a handset.

      They aren’t perfect, but they’re an improvement. Frankly, though, the process of dialling a call still takes too much attention from the road.

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        True, but dialing the phone when you’re all by yourself, away from other traffic or stuff to hit, hurts exactly no one. (Now, if dialing a phone makes you depart a perfectly straight stretch of empty road and crash… then you were probably dumb enough to crash without the “help” of the phone. Not you, psarhjinian, or any of the B&B for that matter.)

        But most people who have trouble paying attention to their driving while they’re carrying on a conversation on the phone are going to have trouble whether it’s hands-free or not. That’s what I mean by the “fake science” part of hands-free exceptions.

        I’m not debating whether or not we should have laws on cell phones, I’m just commenting on the flawed logic and justification for those laws.

        • 0 avatar
          05lgt

          but dialing the phone when you think you’re all by yourself, away from other traffic or stuff to hit, hurts.

          fixed it for you.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Dialing the phone is not going to be the issue; with today’s smartphones all you have to do is press a single button, say, “Hey, (voice response unit), call wife at home,” and let the phone dial the call for you. Most cars today also offer bluetooth communications which when properly paired to the car has that button right on the steering wheel, so you don’t have to even touch the phone itself.

          But no, the average driver doesn’t want to perform the task of pairing the car to their phone or maybe they’re driving a rental car or something else. That’s when something like a smart watch can act as the mediator since that connection is more permanent and less susceptible to having to re-pair with every vehicle.

          A little pre-drive preparation can effectively eliminate most of the issues of using a cell phone. It can’t eliminate personal attention problems while talking and driving.

          • 0 avatar
            psarhjinian

            “Dialing the phone is not going to be the issue; with today’s smartphones all you have to do is press a single button, say, “Hey, (voice response unit), call wife at home,” and let the phone dial the call for you. Most cars today also offer bluetooth communications which when properly paired to the car has that button right on the steering wheel, so you don’t have to even touch the phone itself.

            But no, the average driver doesn’t want to perform the task of pairing the car to their phone or maybe they’re driving a rental car or something else”

            As someone who has had to help a number of senior executives, family and friends deal with this problem, I can see why.

            It isn’t a simple task. Bluetooth pairing is a clusterf*ck, the phonebook access profile is a double-clusterf*ck and the ability to use voice assistants (which don’t suck as much) built into smartphones is very, very hit-and-miss; Siri may work; Google Now probably won’t, or it’ll get overridden by the OEM and/or the phone OEM’s home-brew solution.

            And even if you do get it to work, it doesn’t always work well at all. You have to train it (which is a pain) and deal with it’s quirks.

            Hands-free sucks, frankly.

          • 0 avatar
            brn

            psarhjinian, you’re using the wrong system.

            As much as the automotive press loves to hate Ford Sync, it doesn’t suck. It pairs 100% of the time. Never, ever had an issue, through three different budget phones.

            Voice dialing isn’t 100%, but it’s pretty darned good. If it doesn’t understand who I’m asking it to call (several hundred people in my contacts), it provides me with a list and I give it a number. Sure, that means I need to glance at the screen to see the list. Having to do that one out of twenty times is a whole lot better than fumbling with my phone.

          • 0 avatar

            I just got rental upgraded to a year-old top-of-the-line Escalade with every modern electronic gadget imaginable. It failed to BlueTooth sync to my brand new iPhone 50% of the time, which I finally determined was due to the phone looking like a different device depending on whether it was charging or not. If the phone did sync then it ALWAYS started playing music requiring random stabs on the hopelessly laggy display to pause or get back to Nav or phone mode (if it didn’t sync then it came up with endless series of prompts which lead nowhere).

            This stuff didn’t work on an almost brand new car, I’d hate to think what it will be like when the car is 5 years old. It was dangerous.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “They aren’t perfect, but they’re an improvement.”

        The research has consistently suggested otherwise. The research indicates that phone usage is a problem, irrespective of the method.

        • 0 avatar
          psarhjinian

          “The research has consistently suggested otherwise. The research indicates that phone usage is a problem, irrespective of the method.”

          Not quite the point I was making. I agree that hands-free doesn’t help with distraction during conversation. What it does it helps (a bit) with is call setup.

          You’re equally distracted while talking, but someone less distracted when setting up a call.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I think that the greater issue here is that the studies are being abused.

            The naturalistic studies don’t find higher crash rates while conversing on phones. The laboratory studies reach different conclusions because the test subjects have their behaviors controlled in ways that they don’t behave in the real world — we know that phone users drive more slowly and make fewer lane changes (i.e. participate in fewer behaviors that are associated with greater crash risk), but those factors are ignored in controlled studies that test specifically for distraction instead of overall driver behavior.

            I’m not a proponent of phone usage per se, but we need to understand that the alternative to distracted driving isn’t necessarily superior, particularly when it’s aggressive.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          We have been convinced that we can effectively multi-task. Our brain can only do one thing well at a time.

          Driving for most will be the highest risk task they will ever perform but have zero idea as to the complexity and risk involved.

          When I had to grab a hand mike and “push to talk” that very act ensured that I would not talk during a situation demanding all of my attention. “Hands free” removes the physical connection that acted as a red flag.

          • 0 avatar
            TrailerTrash

            Not everybody has as much difficulty multi tasking as, perhaps, you do.
            You are not trying to tell us we are all equal, are you?
            I mean, there are many here far more qualified and skilled than I. I certainly am humble enough to think most folks are more brain powered than I am at many things…and can drive and talk or drive and eat at the same time.
            Some drivers, although you cannot admit it, are very situation aware and know when to take a drink. They know when to look at a radio.
            They just KNOW what the situation is.
            Other NEVER even know who is behind them. They NEVER have a situational awareness.

          • 0 avatar
            NickS

            Trailer, the issue is that most are not good at multitasking and even worse of those who think they are good at it most are completely wrong.

            The criterion for who can do it well is not who has an accident. You can be completely distracted and lane drift, or do other sorts of erratic driving and cause others to have what should have been your accident. Distracted drivers cause unreasonable demands in everyone else to maintain much bigger safety distance on increasingly more crowded highways.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            The problem isn’t “multi-tasking” per se, but failure to prioritize correctly, placing the conversation, eating, drinking, spilling, staining, or clean up, “equal” or *AHEAD OF* the dangerous ones.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @TrailerTrash – if you have kids you tend to know they are getting into trouble.

            WHY?

            They are quiet.

            Why do they get quite?

            The brain can only function well on a complex task at a time. Talking is complex and uses up brain power.

            I am extremely good at inserting an IV but if a person has crappy veins I get quiet.
            Why?
            Focus means I can’t do much else and get the complex task done.

            Driving is no different.

            We can do many tasks at once if skilled at the primary task but if that task gets more complex we need to focus on that task.

            The problem is that at least 33% of drivers should not have a licence. They aren’t even skilled at that driving task therefore they can be overwhelmed cognitively much more easily than a skilled driver.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      The real science shows that hands free devices are roughly equivalent to holding the phone.

      It’s intuitive if you think about it. Most people can drive a modern automatic transmission car with one hand. Manual dexterity is not the limiting factor.

      Human attention is the limiting factor.

      P.S. I’m not sure what the laws are based on. Either it’s old science from before the topic had been fully explored, or it’s legislators “following their gut”.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        “The real science shows that hands free devices are roughly equivalent to holding the phone.”

        The concern* is call set-up, or any other task that requires you to look away from the road. Hands-free call setup is a pain (because dialling from voice or a d-pad sucks) but it isn’t as bad as looking away from the road.

        * excluding texting, emails, web browsing, playing Angry Birds, etc.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          Keeping your eyes on the road is important, but it’s not the constraining factor.

          You can look right at something and not see it, if you’re distracted. Eye tracking studies have shown this repeatedly.

          The constraining factor is your ability to pay attention to things. If your attention is focused on a phone call and your eyes are on the road, your ability to avoid crashes is diminished.

          That’s what the studies find, and the studies match my experience fairly well in this respect.

  • avatar
    14Tundra

    I tend to have the opposite problem. I have trouble paying attention to the hands free call, because I’m focused on driving. Holding the phone up to your head forces you to pay more attention to it.

    But then again, I enjoy driving far more than I enjoy talking on the phone.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Good for you!

      I’ll share the highway with you any time.

      I have to work a little to make myself ignore the call, but I put in the work. Because car crashes suck.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Any phone call I receive or place while driving is kept to a minimum. I’ve encountered callers who are dismayed by my brevity. Force of habit on my part.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      I’m in a similar boat to Tundra, but maybe not for the same reason.

      If I’m on the phone in the car (hands free), callers learn that I might not always be paying attention to them. The road takes priority. I might go silent while merging or ask them to repeat themselves because I was changing lanes.

      Idiots on the road are idiots on the road. Yes, they can be distracted by a phone call or by eating a burger. Don’t take away my hands free calling because of them.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Handsfree doesn’t solve distraction, but there is no way to totally solve distraction. But at least it keeps your eyes up and two hands available. With only one hand on the wheel and the other holding a phone to your ear, there’s no way you can react decisively in an emergency.

    Personally, I take calls only when the driving is unchallenging (i.e., long stretches of straight highway, never in the city) and even if handsfree they totally change my approach to driving. I turn from an assertive driver into the guy in the right lane just going with the flow, whatever that might be, with a 2-second following distance.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    While absolutely true, I can only imagine the uproar that would occur when government regulators say that the driver has to be 100%, absolutely, undisturbed by ANY conversation or entertainment in the car; essentially creating a soundproofed cockpit impermeable to cellular signals, voice radio, passenger voices or any other non-vehicle-function communications whatsoever.

    The way to eliminate the problem is to eliminate the need for a human operator; plain and simple. And that, too, will create an uproar. Just not as severe a one. Some people actually look forward to that luxury.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Read my comment above — there’s a lot more nuance to the science than your comment recognizes.

      Of course, what scientists tell politicians, and what politicians actually do, are not the same thing….!

      HI agree that self-driving cars would make this whole thing go away. It would be a huge economic boon, too, because commuting time can become work time.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Nuance yes, Luke. But when has our government ever paid attention to nuance? They seem to think a big enough hammer fixes everything, and are cars even today have become too big and too expensive for the average person due to all the “mandatory” equipment.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    The commonly-accepted reason is that on a phone call, the other party does not know your driving situation and expects all your attention. Talking to passengers, while still carrying some risk, is not as dangerous as they would (presumably) understand why the driver becomes disengaged from the conversation.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Exactly!

      This is the reason why having an adult passenger with you doesn’t impact the accident rate the same way a phone call does.

      • 0 avatar
        threeer

        Well, I guess that all depends on what the other adult passenger is doing while you are driving…:)

        But seriously, what drives me even crazier is seeing folks driving around with their earbuds in both ears.

        • 0 avatar
          Russycle

          Why are earrbuds worse than having the stereo cranked to 11?

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “Why are earrbuds worse than having the stereo cranked to 11?”

            Because earbuds actively block exterior sounds, meaning you never hear that fire truck coming in from behind you and you were too busy talking to notice it in your rear view mirror just as you changed lanes in front of it.

          • 0 avatar
            Russycle

            If you’re talking about earbuds with noise-cancelling technology, sure. If you’re talking about plain old earbuds, they barely block anything. Unless you have them cranked up, but again, you can do that with your car stereo.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Russ, the question was, “cranked up to 11”. Also, some smartphones do use noise-canceling earbuds to make it easier to hear the speaker at the other end. For that matter, ANYTHING in the ear will block external sounds at least somewhat; that’s why headphones that cover both ears (and two-ear earbuds) are illegal for use by the driver.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Race car drivers have been known to “unplug” the radio so as not to be bothered. We also have Kimi Raikkonen’s famous post “Don’t bother me I know what I’m doing”

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I have used this phenomenon to great effect for peace and quiet on drives with my wife. It is true though; I focus intensely when I drive and don’t like to have a lot of distractions- ESPECIALLY in traffic.

    • 0 avatar
      MQHokie

      “In-person convos aren’t as dangerous, Hole said, because passengers tend to pipe down when a dangerous situation crops up. They also use “non-verbal cues” when speaking to someone in person”

      I’m confused. Wouldn’t a passenger using “non-verbal cues” require the driver to take his/her attention off the road to SEE the non-verbal cues and process them?

      On top of that, these conclusions seem to be assuming the passengers are both aware of their surroundings and are always rational, calm people – certainly not always the case.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        I actively ask the person with me to watch for my turns and try to give me advance notice so I can move to the proper lane for the maneuver. When traffic gets heavy, I really prefer a co-driver/navigator than a conversationalist.

        • 0 avatar
          MQHokie

          And typically when I’m driving, my passengers are either otherwise occupied or have absolutely NO clue how to get where we’re going. So I’m on my own as far as driving & navigation go, and I’m OK with that.

          I’m also perfectly capable of voice-dialing my phone while driving, and smart enough to realize I shouldn’t be reading texts or trying to hit buttons on my iPhone screen while driving.

          It seems to me that it’s just as easy for a driver not involved in a conversation to start daydreaming or otherwise lose focus on the task at hand, and having someone to talk to, either in the car or via phone, can help keep them alert.

          I think the lesson is that there is no one size fits all solution here, and drivers need to be aware of their own personal abilities and limitations. Unfortunately, the vast majority will greatly overestimate their abilities, so we end up with laws based on the lowest common denominator to protect us from ourselves.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “I think the lesson is that there is no one size fits all solution here,…”

            The problem is… the drivers themselves. I agree there is no one answer that can resolve all issues. But the Federal government can’t think that way, they HAVE to come up with a single solution if at all possible and totally ignore all those other “single solutions” they’ve already jacked into our cars. Best fix? Fully autonomous cars that actively prevent individual control… But how many individuals want one of those?

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    In my experience, conversations with passengers are different from telephone conversations. Face-to-face conversations seem to require less concentration and don’t break down when you “drop out” to handle driving. A telephone conversation requires more concentration and the person at the other end doesn’t know when you stop paying attention to him. You wouldn’t want to have a telephone conversation with me while I’m driving. Every few seconds, I would interrupt with “What was that, again? I had to pay attention to driving.”

    Manipulating touch screens is at least as distracting as a telephone conversation. It’s much more demanding than old fashioned knobs.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      Touchscreens are sort of a mixed bag compared to real buttons. They’re a lot harder to dial numbers and spell out words for text messages, but they’re a lot easier to speed dial (when you just mash a big icon of someone on your frequently-called list). Either way though, dialing only takes a few seconds out of a call that might require several minutes of your attention.

  • avatar
    Reino

    This is bullshit. As long as the demands of modern society require that an American who wants to get any sort of ahead in life must spend every waking hour of his life WORKING, we will need to allow some sort of outside communication while driving a car. If not, then some other construct of livability must bend.

  • avatar
    Jaeger

    Chatty passengers are ABSOLUTELY as distracting as a hands-free call. So do we ban them or just gag them?

  • avatar

    Every day I come across drivers that go well over the average speed of all other cars and keep changing lanes every 5 seconds, to me, these are DRIVERS, they are driving! they can’t be on the phone or to do anything else but driving!
    I’m NOT a fan of this type of behavior but I think they are better than the car in front of me doing 35mph on a 55mph road in the middle lane, can’t keep a strait line, because he is busy doing something with his phone.
    BTW, in NYC, there is already a total ban on cell phone use for all public transportation drivers, hands free too.
    I do talk on my phone when I drive, I also just got a car with CarPlay, so, if I ever wanted to play with my phone when I drive, I can do it now legally and I don’t think it’s a good thing, many times I find myself looking for music, looking for directions while in motion, at least, I’m aware of that, if it’s too distracting, I will stop the car and continue after I’m done, I always ask myself how many drivers do that?

    • 0 avatar
      NickS

      “I’m aware of that, if it’s too distracting, I will stop the car and continue after I’m done,”

      Fair warning here – you will not get much of a warning that what you are doing is too distracting, unless you consider a lane drift, a honk, a speed drop, or sudden braking a warning (to me any of those I di ate that you’ve already been distracted and didn’t catch it before it became dangerous). Even if you don’t have any of that you may have just been lucky that someone else took up the slack or no cars were around.

      To be aware of when you are about to get distracted, you essentially need a second brain and that is why a present passenger is far more helpful. The video call with the dash cam feed is a poor substitute for a live human being sitting next to you.

  • avatar
    default

    You don’t need any stinkin’ studies to discern the natural state of “motorist” and “driver” alike is “distracted”. Just note your own internal monologue during your last/next period behind the wheel.

    Once basic vehicle control becomes second-nature the mind is free to wander, and will, and despite anyone’s best efforts of practicing “conscious control of the attentional spotlight” it slips away and has to be seized again and again.

    This is the nature of the brain of the human animal: Paying attention is hard, and its harder when it is believed it isn’t necessary.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Even in the best of distraction free circumstances, people’s minds wander and think about other things besides the task at hand. How many of us have been driving, only to snap to and go “wow, I don’t remember that last stretch of road!” ?

    Operating the bluetooth, using the touchscreen radio and navigation are definite distractions. What really scares me are the people that need to look at their passenger in order to carry on the conversation. Just look straight ahead and speak! I can here you I ‘m right next to you!!

  • avatar
    CV Neuves

    The usual histrionics and sundry assumptions and excuses. As it was with drinking and seatbelts. You should trust that the evidence is absolutely firm. The slightest deviations from standard talk and traffic situation are generally only mastered by mere luck. It is just not an open statistical problem, because in case of an accident hardly anybody admits.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    Maybe we should just put our hazard lights on anytime we’re talking on the phone… rain or shine.

    /sarcasm

  • avatar
    redav

    Those conclusions are the same as has been reported for years.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • poltergeist: Nice try, but the 1.8L in the 2006-2011 Civic uses a timing chain.
  • akear: If things go well maybe they will sell 5,000 of these a year. The truth is nobody really asked for an electric...
  • akear: Tesla can count its blessing that their domestic competition is poor. The Bolt’s main claim to fame,...
  • akear: I find it tragic that Italian and Australian companies are designing US battleships. When I read that I was...
  • akear: To appease the stockholder’s Barra and GM jumped into EV’s hook line and stinker. However, they...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber