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Study Confirms Mobile Phones Distract Drivers

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the hang-up-and-drive dept.

Cellphones 439

An anonymous reader notes a Reuters report of a study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, confirming that Mobile phone calls distract drivers far more than even the chattiest passenger, causing drivers to follow too closely and miss exits. California's ban on using a handheld cell phone while driving, which went into effect last summer, is looking less than fully effective. A handful of other states have instituted similar bans, but none has forbidden driving while talking on a cell phone at all. "Using a hands-free device does not make things better and the researchers believe they know why — passengers act as a second set of eyes, shutting up or sometimes even helping when they see the driver needs to make a maneuver."

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This just in. (5, Funny)

stei7766 (1359091) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967527)

Sleeping at the wheel found to correspond to an increase in accidents.

BREAING NEWS (1)

Kratisto (1080113) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968165)

Driving drunk found to decrease driving ability and increase reaction time.

talking on mobile as dangerous as drunk driving (5, Informative)

liraz (77590) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967547)

There is a ton of supporting evidence that talking on your mobile while driving is dangerous. The legal situation has more to do with convention and historical artifacts than anything of substance.

In fact, not only is talking on your mobile more dangerous than talking to passengers, but talking on your mobile while driving can be as dangerous as driving intoxicated, at least according Mythbusters which did a cellphone vs drunk driving [wikipedia.org] experiment on season 3 ("Killer Brace Position")

The two hosts arranged an obstacle course into four parts: accelerating to 30mph and then stopping at a stop sign, parallel parking, seeing how long it would take to do 15mph through the whole course, and while going 30mph, being told to switch left, right or center lane. Each part was graded by an instructor.

During a sober run of the course, both test drivers passed. However, during the cell phone run, Hyneman asked the drivers three questions in which they had to either think about the answer, repeat a sentence, figure out a verbal puzzle and list five things. Both drivers failed the obstacle course.

Re:talking on mobile as dangerous as drunk driving (5, Insightful)

holophrastic (221104) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967603)

Actually, Adam's conclusion is the most important. The phone is not as dangerous as the intoxication -- because you can put down the phone.

So maybe drivers need to be taught how to refocus their attention when necessary. You know, instead of being told that tehy should expect everything to be perfect all the time with no distractions.

Re:talking on mobile as dangerous as drunk driving (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967801)

Meh, people tend to be in a daze after they get off the phone. I notice this when talking to people who are not driving, I imagine it's even worse when driving.

Re:talking on mobile as dangerous as drunk driving (2, Interesting)

holophrastic (221104) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967951)

Welcome to the untrained. People are stupid; you need to teach them how to be smart. It also helps if while you're tolking to them on the phone, you don't use garden-path sentence structures, ambiguous grammar formations, metaphors and slang. Each of those requires a language buffer on the part of the listener, and often a reparsing delay before the sentence can be understood on the second pass. But it's supposed to be up to the driver to divert attention appropriately, as the situation and their strength allow. Prioritizing the driving is a simple as ignoring the conversation when required.

Re:talking on mobile as dangerous as drunk driving (4, Funny)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968111)

Prioritizing the driving is a simple as ignoring the conversation when required.

So you're saying married men are better phoning drivers?

Re:talking on mobile as dangerous as drunk driving (1)

Cowmonaut (989226) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968141)

Um, no you are wrong. If the receiving individual is used to "slang" then its faster than speaking straight English or whatever language. The reason being, the uneducated (and nothing inherently wrong with that as long as the opportunity to become educated was adequately provided) do not KNOW the proper words. They only know the slang.

For example, in my job I'm still surprised how many people don't know what a colon is. They refer to it as "two dots".

Re:talking on mobile as dangerous as drunk driving (0)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967867)

Exactly, when I'm on the phone and driving I tell the other party to be quite every time I encounter less-than-trivial driving conditions.

Re:talking on mobile as dangerous as drunk driving (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967945)

Actually, Adam's conclusion is the most important. The phone is not as dangerous as the intoxication -- because you can put down the phone.

So maybe drivers need to be taught how to refocus their attention when necessary. You know, instead of being told that tehy should expect everything to be perfect all the time with no distractions.

But also the person on the other end of the line has to cooperate. If my wife calls me when I am driving she will realise immediately what is going on when I say call you back later and hang up. If my stupid fucking sister calls me for help with her internet connection she knows straight away that nothing in the universe is as important as her getting on to facebook so she keeps nattering away.

And yeah I hang up on her but a lot of people (my mum included) won't.

Re:talking on mobile as dangerous as drunk driving (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968079)

The phone is not as dangerous as the intoxication -- if and only if you put down the phone.

Fixed that for you.

Re:talking on mobile as dangerous as drunk driving (5, Interesting)

stei7766 (1359091) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967627)

What I've always wondered is if the increased distraction a cell phone brings vs. a passenger has something to do with the brain activity of talking on a cell vs. in person.

I'm no neurologist but I've noticed that while talking on a phone I have a tendency to imagine that person and their expressions, reactions, etc. Perhaps this results in the use of more brain "power" to use a cell than talk to a person?

Anyone know of any studies using fMRI or the like which suggest such a thing?

Re:talking on mobile as dangerous as drunk driving (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967775)

Perhaps this results in the use of more brain "power" to use a cell than talk to a person?

I think that's certainly true, in large part because you only get a couple of kHz bandwidth, little dynamic range and less than full-duplex operation from a phone. Wireless connections are often so crappy that I have to use my full concentration to decipher what the other person is saying even when I'm sitting in a quiet room doing nothing.

Much of the brain's I/O processing power that should be used to pilot the car is instead taken up in an effort to decipher the original meaning out of a noisy narrowband audio signal.

Re:talking on mobile as dangerous as drunk driving (4, Funny)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967941)

Anyone know of any studies using fMRI or the like which suggest such a thing?

I suspect any study would confirm that driving whilst undergoing an fMRI scan is extremely dangerous and distracting.

How are you supposed to check your wing mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes if you can't move your head?

Re:talking on mobile as dangerous as drunk driving (1)

stei7766 (1359091) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967985)

Plus I bet cell phone reception in a giant superconducting magnet is just awful!

Re:talking on mobile as dangerous as drunk driving (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25967953)

What I've always wondered is if the increased distraction a cell phone brings vs. a passenger has something to do with the brain activity of talking on a cell vs. in person.

It is.

When talking on a phone, you miss a large number of social queues that you would otherwise pick up subconsciously (body language, subtle inflection, short and sharp inhalation before the other person wants to speak, etc.) When these are missing (over a phone) your brain has to work extra hard to maintain the conversation.

The real explanation (2, Insightful)

Chicken_Kickers (1062164) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968029)

is that you can punch the person sitting next to you in the car to shut him up but you can't do it over the mobile phone.

Re:talking on mobile as dangerous as drunk driving (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968047)

I've always thought it was because, culturally, there is a much stronger assumption that when you're talking to someone on the phone, that they have essentially your full attention and vice versa. I think this manifests in two ways: First, you're naturally going to give more attention to the phone conversation since it's expected. Second, if you're quiet for a couple seconds because your exit is coming up and traffic is congested so you need to figure out how best to get over, a person in the car with you won't be offended, while someone on the other end of the phone will start saying "Hello?" or "Are you listening?" demanding your attention again, even if it's just to go "I'm fucking driving!" The second part there is also due to the nature of cell phones, too, I suppose.

But your idea sounds plausible as well, could very well be a contributing factor. I can imagine it being more mental work, inherently demanding more attention, to talk on a phone than in person.

Re:talking on mobile as dangerous as drunk driving (4, Insightful)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968163)

All of that drama could be avoided if you just said "hold on a sec, I'm merging" and then ignore anything that come safter that until your done then come back and say, "Sorry, I was merging"

Re:talking on mobile as dangerous as drunk driving (2, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968077)

What I've always wondered is if the increased distraction a cell phone brings vs. a passenger has something to do with the brain activity of talking on a cell vs. in person.

Passengers generally know it is in their interest not to distract the driver. The person on the other end of the phone conversation is not at risk so they talk about anything at all.

Re:talking on mobile as dangerous as drunk driving (1)

prockcore (543967) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968255)

Passengers generally know it is in their interest not to distract the driver. The person on the other end of the phone conversation is not at risk so they talk about anything at all.

Basically all of these "compared to passengers" arguments are null and void when it comes to children in the backseat. Should we ban driving with children in the car? They won't help with directions or know not to distract the driver.

Re:talking on mobile as dangerous as drunk driving (5, Funny)

stei7766 (1359091) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968289)

Basically all of these "compared to passengers" arguments are null and void when it comes to children in the backseat. Should we ban driving with children in the car? They won't help with directions or know not to distract the driver.

Nope. Just require them to ride in the trunk.

Re:talking on mobile as dangerous as drunk driving (2, Insightful)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968293)

What I've always wondered is if the increased distraction a cell phone brings vs. a passenger has something to do with the brain activity of talking on a cell vs. in person.

I like to think of it as the "ability to be rude" factor.

If a passenger is in the car, it is very acceptable socially to shout "SHUT UP!" or "BE QUIET!" during periods of the drive where higher concentration is required (e.g., merging, changing lanes), especially if the passenger(s) don't automatically realize it and shut up themselves. Passengers realize it's for their safety, and tend to obey. Ignoring people during this time is also acceptable. (Also, good passengers realize it might be dangerous to distract the driver, and automatically pause their conversation.)

Replace the passenger with a cellphone, and it's not so nice to say these things to the person on the other end. If it's your significant other, or boss, I'm sure you can't scream at them to be quiet while you're trying to merge onto the freeway. Or you can try, but then you'll spend the next few minutes explaining. It probably has something to do with the social expectation that the person on the other end expects your full attention, which you cannot give, and thus try to make do.

Handsfree laws do help a tiny bit, by at least ensuring you can have two hands on the wheel (always important in case you need to swerve or other sudden maneuver), and maybe, just maybe, if you act stupidly in traffic, the honking will be noticed by the guy on the other end, who will have the politeness to call back later.

And yes, changing radio stations, etc are also dangerous, except they take less time to perform (and if the car UI is done properly, could be done without having to look at the radio - just push, if it isn't what you want, repeat). Of course, too many accidents are the result of "I only looked away for a second!", too. And yes, I also consider messing around with your iPod to be equally bad since it takes far too long to do adjust if you're trying to choose a playlist or something.

No scientific studies nor citations, just stating my belief that no one wants to be rude to the person at the other end of the line.

Re:talking on mobile as dangerous as drunk driving (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968307)

I've heard a similar argument before, that talking on the telephone requires a lot more concentration than talking to a person you can see because so much of communication is non-verbal.

Without being able to see body language and gestures communication is more difficult.

Plus of course they can't see that your about to weave between some trucks while appraching an intersection...

Re:talking on mobile as dangerous as drunk driving (1)

sysbot (238421) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967815)

Off topic because the article is about talking on the cell-phone while holding it instead of on the speaker phone or headphone which was not demonstrated in Mythbuster. Then again, you can always put the phone down or stop talking.

Re:talking on mobile as dangerous as drunk driving (2, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967821)

Notably missing though from the mythbusters test was a full handsfree setup including voice recognition.

Re:talking on mobile as dangerous as drunk driving (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25967973)

The other day there was nothing on TV and I just had some show in the background. They were going over new tech gadgets.

One of them was a bluetooth headset for your motorcycle helmet.

With all the concerns about driving while on the phone you would have thought someone would have realized talking on a cell phone while riding a motorcycle would be a completely reckless thing to do.

When I'm on my bike, the last thing I would want to do is have something distract me like that.

The problem with these studies (1)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968215)

The problem with these studies is that they always assume that people (and when doing tests such as Mythbusters did prevent the test subject from) can not / will not say "hold on" and put the phone down when they need to concentrate or if it's an emergency just drop the phone.

My car is a manual and I rarely talk on the phone when I'm not on the highway (for obvious reasons). On the rare occasions that I am on it while not cruising at a constant speed, if I need to make a sharp enough turn that I need both hands or shift gears I simply say "hang on a sec", drop the phone in my lap, do what I need to do, and when I'm free to use the phone again I do so.

You cite the Mythbusters test, yet if the drivers had been allowed to drop the phone or stop talking when necessary to concentrate on the course, they'd most likely have passed just fine. That test was one of the few times that I was disappointed in a Mythbusters experiment for not being thorough enough.

Re:talking on mobile as dangerous as drunk driving (1)

ifdef (450739) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968333)

But this doesn't have anything to do with real driving. Who would talk on the phone when in a situation requiring attention? Who would CONTINUE to talk on a phone if the situation turned into one requiring attention?

turd post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25967575)

A couple weeks ago, while browsing around the library downtown, I had to take a piss. As I entered the john, Barack Obama -- the messiah himself -- came out of one of the booths. I stood at the urinal looking at him out of the corner of my eye as he washed his hands. He didn't once look at me. He was busy and in any case I was sure the secret service wouldn't even let me shake his hand.

As soon as he left I darted into the booth he'd vacated, hoping there might be a lingering smell of shit and even a seat still warm from his sturdy ass. I found not only the smell but the shit itself. He'd forgotten to flush. And what a treasure he had left behind. Three or four beautiful specimens floated in the bowl. It apparently had been a fairly dry, constipated shit, for all were fat, stiff, and ruggedly textured. The real prize was a great feast of turd -- a nine inch gastrointestinal triumph as thick as his cock -- or at least as I imagined it!

I knelt before the bowl, inhaling the rich brown fragrance and wondered if I should obey the impulse building up inside me. I'd always been a liberal democrat and had been on the Obama train since last year. Of course I'd had fantasies of meeting him, sucking his cock and balls, not to mention sucking his asshole clean, but I never imagined I would have the chance. Now, here I was, confronted with the most beautiful five-pound turd I'd ever feasted my eyes on, a sausage fit to star in any fantasy and one I knew to have been hatched from the asshole of Barack Obama, the chosen one.

Why not? I plucked it from the bowl, holding it with both hands to keep it from breaking. I lifted it to my nose. It smelled like rich, ripe limburger (horrid, but thrilling), yet had the consistency of cheddar. What is cheese anyway but milk turning to shit without the benefit of a digestive tract?

I gave it a lick and found that it tasted better then it smelled.

I hesitated no longer. I shoved the fucking thing as far into my mouth as I could get it and sucked on it like a big half nigger cock, beating my meat like a madman. I wanted to completely engulf it and bit off a large chunk, flooding my mouth with the intense, bittersweet flavor. To my delight I found that while the water in the bowl had chilled the outside of the turd, it was still warm inside. As I chewed I discovered that it was filled with hard little bits of something I soon identified as peanuts. He hadn't chewed them carefully and they'd passed through his body virtually unchanged. I ate it greedily, sending lump after peanutty lump sliding scratchily down my throat. My only regret was that Barack Obama wasn't there to see my loyalty and wash it down with his piss.

I soon reached a terrific climax. I caught my cum in the cupped palm of my hand and drank it down. Believe me, there is no more delightful combination of flavors than the hot sweetness of cum with the rich bitterness of shit. It's even better than listening to an Obama speech!

Afterwards I was sorry that I hadn't made it last longer. But then I realized that I still had a lot of fun in store for me. There was still a clutch of virile turds left in the bowl. I tenderly fished them out, rolled them into my handkerchief, and stashed them in my briefcase. In the week to come I found all kinds of ways to eat the shit without bolting it right down. Once eaten it's gone forever unless you want to filch it third hand out of your own asshole. Not an unreasonable recourse in moments of desperation or simple boredom.

I stored the turds in the refrigerator when I was not using them but within a week they were all gone. The last one I held in my mouth without chewing, letting it slowly dissolve. I had liquid shit trickling down my throat for nearly four hours. I must have had six orgasms in the process.

I often think of Barack Obama dropping solid gold out of his sweet, pink asshole every day, never knowing what joy it could, and at least once did, bring to a grateful democrat.

Cell Phone law dangerous. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25967577)

I have noticed first less people on their cell phones. However I have also noticed that when people are driving and using there cell phones they are even worse then before. I think that the people who are talking on the phone are now nervous about being caught talking on the phone. Which makes them even worse then distracted drivers because they are now distracted and stressed out.

Re:Cell Phone law dangerous. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25967715)

And how does that make the law dangerous?

As bluetooth headset manufacturers rake it in... (4, Insightful)

TheDarkener (198348) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967587)

I live in California, where it now looks like an army of cyborgs has invaded. Everyone walks around with one of those damn bluetooth headsets on since it became law to use a hands-free device while driving. Wouldn't you think that some RESEARCH and TESTING had taken place before enacting this law?

I sure wish I was in the bluetooth headset business.

Re:As bluetooth headset manufacturers rake it in.. (5, Insightful)

winkydink (650484) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967725)

To make matters worse here in CA, only talking on the phone is illegal. Texting is perfectly ok - what were they thinking?

Re:As bluetooth headset manufacturers rake it in.. (2, Funny)

internerdj (1319281) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967795)

UnLmtd Txt Plns 4 nVstng

Re:As bluetooth headset manufacturers rake it in.. (1)

NoodleSlayer (603762) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967799)

The law was written a number of years ago, before texting was common. They kept delaying it taking effect though. If it had been written today there probably would of been a provision for texting too.

Re:As bluetooth headset manufacturers rake it in.. (1)

HardCase (14757) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968093)

To make matters worse here in CA, only talking on the phone is illegal. Texting is perfectly ok - what were they thinking?

Inattentive driving is still against the law. And in 2004, SB1800 would have banned texting, among other things. I guess it didn't pass.

I'm pretty sure that an inattentive driving citation is a moving violation - worth points against your license. Talking on a cell phone is an infraction. No points.

Re:As bluetooth headset manufacturers rake it in.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25967865)

Not me. I want a bluetooth screamer. Like the universal TV remote off switch, except this one shrieks static/feedback/tarzan yell onto all the bluetooth frequencies. I can just see all the people in an airport ripping that thing out of their ears all at the same time.

Re:As bluetooth headset manufacturers rake it in.. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968109)

I live in California, where it now looks like an army of cyborgs has invaded. Everyone walks around with one of those damn bluetooth headsets on since it became law to use a hands-free device while driving. Wouldn't you think that some RESEARCH and TESTING had taken place before enacting this law?

A guy I work with who rides a motorbike to work took his headset apart and integrated it with his helmet. Very cool but when I am on my bicycle my phone lives in my backpack.

A tip for those not wanting to join the cyborgs (1)

LockeOnLogic (723968) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968175)

I am too cheap and not trendy enough to get a headset, but upon reading the new law I discovered a hilarious loophole I use all the time! It is not illegal to talk on speakerphone, so just turn speakerphone on and chat away as you hold it in front of you.

Slashdot Mobile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25967595)

Slashdot intrface is pants. I thin5 web devs share lots of the blame for disstracted drvers

Which makes our laws all the more peculiar (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967601)

Why? Because in California (and probably other states) we're allowed to talk on the phone while driving if we have a hands-free device. This is a boon to the hands-free device manufacturers, but not to safety apparently.

Any bet takers? (4, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967619)


How long until the first news of an iPhone/Blackberry using driver who, upon a collision, is killed when the airbag drives the smartphone through their brain? Has it already happened?

Re:Any bet takers? (4, Funny)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967931)

That would require the driver in question to have a brain in the first place. I've noticed most (not all) self-important Crackberry-toting snobs do not.

Duh (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25967625)

We needed a study to figure that out? : - )

Money Well Spent. (2, Funny)

senorpoco (1396603) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967633)

In an other shocking study released today, one legged men consistently fared worse than two legged opponents in ass kicking contests.

Insurance (5, Interesting)

Samschnooks (1415697) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967635)

Several years ago (2001), I caused a crash. There were others in the car all taking. It distracted me - I cannot multi task at all. I can't even listen to the radio when I'm driving in heavy traffic. Anyway, when I talked to the insurance company the first thing they asked me was "Were you on a cell phone?" (I didn't own one.) And "Was the other driver on a cell phone?"

I think the insurance companies have known this all along but never shared the data.

Re:Insurance (2)

CdBee (742846) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968025)

I live in south-east England - which means that since the Channel Tunnel opened I'm able to get my car into Northern France more easily than I can get it into central London. I've taken lots of friends over there and one thing I brief them all about during the car-transporter-train trip thru' the tunnel is 'don't distract me when I'm driving'

Driving in France (they drive on the right, we Brits drive on the left) is scary even before you contemplate the suicidally daring nature of the average French driver. I suspect that if I and other British drivers paid as much attention when driving in our home countries as we must when driving abroad, passengers, phones, radios would be always told to be silent, or turned off...

If you can't concentrate at all.... (1)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968311)

Not trying to be mean, but if you can't even have the radio on while driving or you crash, you shouldn't be driving then. Same goes for CdBee who also replied to you. If you're that easily distracted, you're no safer behind the wheel than a person with narcolepsy.

Smart phones only make this worse. (1)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967661)

Now, not only do I see pricks driving about talking on the phone, but also they are emailing, texting, playing games, looking at google maps, trolling slashdot and all sorts of other stuff. (Full disclosure, I am one of these pricks from time to time, but I'm trying not to be).

Re:Smart phones only make this worse. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967765)

Whenever you see a guy swerving all over the road, he's more likely texting than he is drunk.

Re:Smart phones only make this worse. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968241)

One popular use case I see when cycle commuting is where somebody is meeting up with somebody else and they don't know exactly where. So they get in touch by phone and one gives the other instructions like look out for this landmark, do a left turn etc. It leads to drivers keeping their attention inside he vehicle instead of outside. Aircraft pilots resolve this issue by dividing tasks. I sometimes do that if my wife is in the car. She gets directions and I concentrate on not hitting things, etc.

Study Confirms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25967717)

that taking a hand or two off the wheel, staring at a small screen, and devoting your mind to a conversation while driving may result in automobile accidents.

well duh... (1)

Coraon (1080675) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967745)

What shocks me is the people calling for tech support for their blackberry, while driving down the road and calling me from the blackberry. Half the time I'm worried I'm going to cause these people

Re:well duh... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25967845)

That's not much better than the people who used to call me for tech support while taking a stand-up piss. Toilets flush crazy loud over the phone :(

Solution: driving w/ phone = lose your license (1)

kbrasee (1379057) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967759)

First for a month, then for a year.

Then heavy fines and community service.

Then jail time.

Then the death penalty.

This will guarantee no repeat offenders.

Re:Solution: driving w/ phone = lose your license (2, Insightful)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967875)

Because draconian punishments work so well to prevent all these other crimes.

Re:Solution: driving w/ phone = lose your license (1)

kbrasee (1379057) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968023)

Because draconian punishments work so well to prevent all these other crimes.

Mocking my post = you lose all your karma.

Then the death penalty.

Re:Solution: driving w/ phone = lose your license (1)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968211)

Oh no!

Re:Solution: driving w/ phone = lose your license (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967993)

Solution: driving w/ phone = lose your license

First for a month, then for a year.

Then heavy fines and community service.

Then jail time.

Then the death penalty.

This will guarantee no repeat offenders.

If you get all that just for the first offense, sure.

Re:Solution: driving w/ phone = lose your license (0)

aaronl (43811) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968081)

Looks like you were being humorous, but seriously, pulling licenses doesn't ever work. Driving is essential to function in the United States, and no amount of complaining is going to make it different. This means that to start taking away licenses for even more reasons than today is not likely to be a good move.

People require a way to travel. Putting infrastructure in place to make it otherwise would take a huge investment and many years. Look at how poorly the existing infrastructure is maintained in many places, and then tell me seriously that full scale public transit would be a good idea, without sweeping changing in other places.

The result is that if a person isn't in a place where there is good public transit, and they don't have friends that can cart them around for months on end, then you force them to drive anyway.

Taking away people's licenses just means that they are now an uninsured/unlicensed driver.

Hopefully some day people will learn that you don't punish people for things you don't like. You already have a system in place to deal with driving to endanger, and you already have a system to fine irresponsible drivers. What you advocate can be just as easily applied to talking in the car, the radio, GPS, trip computers, and on and on.

Cost of Convenience? (4, Insightful)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967793)

How dangerous do cell phones have to be in order to be outlawed for drivers? If they result in 3 accidents and 1 death per year per 100,000 drivers, is that acceptable risk? What if the number of deaths goes up to 10, or 100?

Before you scoff, consider that speed limits are set in this manner. Raising limits adds convenience at the cost of higher rates of accidents and deaths.

However, I am inclined to view the convenience of cell phones much more harshly, because cell phone use is not an essential part of the driving process. If you want the privilege of using public roads and putting others at risk, you should take the responsibility of devoting your full attention to driving well. I would be glad to see cell phones outlawed on the road entirely.

Re:Cost of Convenience? (1)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967889)

Better yet, let's just outlaw all reckless driving, then we could punish people who do it no matter what the reason. Oh wait, we've already done that.

Re:Cost of Convenience? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968349)

Better yet, let's just outlaw all reckless driving, then we could punish people who do it no matter what the reason. Oh wait, we've already done that.

Most reckless drivers are not caught. Even when they do get reported to the police there is almost never enough evidence to do anything about it.

Re:Cost of Convenience? (4, Informative)

prockcore (543967) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967891)

Raising limits adds convenience at the cost of higher rates of accidents and deaths.

Except that's not true. When the limits were raised from 65 to 75, the accident rate dropped.

Re:Cost of Convenience? (4, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968021)

Cite proof. I keep hearing the speeding advocates toute this but they never EVER reference anything that shows this supposed trend.

Re:Cost of Convenience? (4, Informative)

aaronl (43811) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968147)

http://www.sae.org/technical/papers/960439 [sae.org]

It costs money, though the brief is still useful.

Basically the leading cause of accidents would seem to be bad road design. Additionally most accidents happen on roads with lower-than-highway limits. Also, the German autobahns, with no speed limits, have consistently been safer than US low limit roads.

"Speed limits were found to have minimal effect on the traffic accidents. "

Re:Cost of Convenience? (1)

alx5000 (896642) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968295)

Some variable control information might be nice, as would knowing the source of your statement.

Re:Cost of Convenience? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968281)

However, I am inclined to view the convenience of cell phones much more harshly, because cell phone use is not an essential part of the driving process. If you want the privilege of using public roads and putting others at risk, you should take the responsibility of devoting your full attention to driving well. I would be glad to see cell phones outlawed on the road entirely.

People who were raised watching cop shows on TV might disagree. The police always had cool two way radios which they used while driving. I think police today should lead the way by banning their own drivers from using communication equipment while driving, then advertise the fact.

Time to hang up the phone (4, Funny)

Smuttley (126014) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967811)

Because at least then I have a free hand to hold the steering wheel whilst I'm smoking a cigarette/eating some food/applying my makeup.

First hand experience. (0, Redundant)

deviated_prevert (1146403) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967827)

Last year I was rear ended by a young lady who sheepishly got out and tried to hide the cell. She was in a hurry to get to a liquor store before it closed. Fortunately it was her second accident as a novice driver in British Columbia. Which means that she had to go back to learner status. Hopefully she learned something!

What's with that off statement of hands-free? (2)

Seakip18 (1106315) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967833)

Ok....I thought this would be handsfree vs. handheld talking vs shutting the hell up. If a person is in the car with you, OF COURSE they're going to tell you "Hey dumbass, get over. Your going to miss the exit."

Next thing you know they'll says

"PASSENGERS IN CAR MAY CARE ABOUT GETTING TO DESTINATION AND WILL HELP DRIVER GET THERE"

Re:What's with that off statement of hands-free? (1)

Seakip18 (1106315) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967909)

*You're and say

or Your Exit is passing by...though exits aren't mobile and can't really pass you & Next thing researcher will says, they says....

So do (3, Insightful)

JohnnyGTO (102952) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967837)

small children, nagging adults, cigarettes, women in the next car topless, the CD you need just out of reach in the back seat, your MP3 player that's needs to be plugged into that &$*%$ lighter before it dies in the middle of that cool song, trying to figure out just how is that lady in the next car doing 75 on the I10 tying her shoe?

Re:So do (1)

JohnnyGTO (102952) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967869)

I kid you not she had her foot through the steering wheel and was using both hands to tie. I was sooooo tempted to giver her a little swerve to see how she would recover...

Re:So do (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968053)

I like the women that are crusiing down the road with one foot out the window and another on the dash. I shit you not. I have seen this more times than I can believe... BOTH FEET up away from the pedals, cruise set at 80.. mind boggling.

Weird take on why passengers are good... (4, Interesting)

LockeOnLogic (723968) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967839)

The difference between a cell phone conversation and passenger conversation is due to the fact that the passenger is in the vehicle and knows what the traffic conditions are like, and they help the driver by reminding them of where to take an exit and pointing out hazards"

Passengers do probably have a small assistant role in the car like "hey would you change the cd?" ect... but that doesn't fully explain the deficit.

Reaction times and ability to stay in the lane are altered, something the passenger has little to do with. The big reason there is less of an affect on driving ability from passengers is that social rules of phone conversations and in person conversations place a different demand on the drivers.

Next time you are talking on the phone, try not talking for maybe 10 seconds. Now try it in the car with a passenger. Notice that in the phone conversation the silence is very awkward and jarring? While in person it feels more or less normal. This illustrates that the different social demands of different types of conversation. It's not that they help by actively doing much, it's that they can shut up and let you drive because they are also aware of the need to perform the task at hand!

Re:Weird take on why passengers are good... (1)

dschmit1 (1353767) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968129)

I'd also point out information coming from the world of auto racing. In a rally-style race, the passenger acts as navigator, feeding the driver information about the following section of the track. I've done this sort of thing with friends before just driving down the freeway and its quite a substantial difference in your ability to "just drive" when you can utilize the hearing parts of your brain to drive rather than only relying on visual stimulii.

This is a load of dung (2, Interesting)

holophrastic (221104) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967853)

No kidding phones are a distraction. Everything and anything is a distraction. No kidding it's more dangerous to drive with a phone than without a phone. It's more dangerous to drive with a book on your lap than without one.

But here's the thing. I drive year-round. I drive often, and I drive frequently. I dirve short and long distances. I drive in blizzards, at night. I drive in fog. I drive in rain. Each of these is way more dangerous than driving on a nice day with dry roads and infinite visibility.

So here's my question. If you, or anyone else, is going to say that I can't drive with the phone because the risk is too high on the sunny day, then you're going to have to say that I can't drive in a blizzard at all. There are certainly limits to my driving ability. Quite frankly, in the blizzard, at night, I'm not on the phone, I turn off the radio, and I turn off the fan. You want to say that I can't be on the phone in the blizzard at night on ice? You'll get no argument from me there.

Incidentally, the whole hands-free thing is also garbage -- for other logical reasons. I drive an automatic transmission. I have one hand on the steering wheel to steer, and one foot on the pedals. My other hand is available for radio and phone and picking my nose -- every driver's right. If I were to drive a standard transmission, I'd have one hand on the steering wheel, one on the gear shift, on foot on the pedals, and one foot on the clutch -- and I'd have to co-ordinate ALL FOUR limbs in stop-and-go traffic. Again, if you want to say that I can't be holding the phone while driving a manual transmission, you'll get no argument from me -- there are limits to the number of hands that I have. But if you're going to let me drive a manual transmission, then you can't say that I lack the second hand for a phone while driving an automatic transmission.

Look, no one's saying that it's safer to drive with a phone. Let's say that driving with a phone is like driving with 0.079% blood-alcohol level. Drinking and driving is perfectly legal. Driving while drunk is not, and legally drunk is 0.08% blood-alcohol. So, if the phone equals 0.079% blood-alcohol, and you want to say that I can't drive with a phone unless I'm completely sober, you'll get little argument from me.

Ultimately, it comes down to this in all of those cases. You're not going to say that I can only drive when everything is perfect and there are no dangers and no increased risk of any kind. That'd mean clear sky, visibility, no rain, no ice, no snow, no fog, no phone, to alcohol, no radio, no itch behind my left ear, no fatigue, no hunger, no bowel, no bladder, no boredom, no excitement. You're going to have to accept some level of risk. Do you need a road-sign saying "use at your own risk"? Do you need something on the form of your licence saying "you accept a level of increased risk"?

You're going to have to accept that driving is more dangerous than not driving, and you're going to have to accept a certain level of fluctuation and buffer. Air-bags and seat-belts increased the risk by decreasing the danger (people drive faster when they feel secure).

Incidentally, I'm all for improving the safety of phone use while driving. Teach drivers how to drive with phones. Make it another class of licence, like motorcycle. Teach drivers to physically drop the phone when something happens on the road.

Re:This is a load of dung (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25967969)

you sir, are an idiot.

Re:This is a load of dung (0, Troll)

SamSim (630795) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968197)

if you're going to let me drive a manual transmission, then you can't say that I lack the second hand for a phone while driving an automatic transmission.

Put both your hands on the steering wheel. If you hit a chuckhole, the wheel is likely to bounce out of your grip and you're going to swerve and hit something or someone. You are endangering lives.

Regardless of your vehicle, you should keep both hands on the wheel unless you're operating another control.

So, if the phone equals 0.079% blood-alcohol, and you want to say that I can't drive with a phone unless I'm completely sober, you'll get little argument from me.

This is not about staying below some imaginary threshold level of danger. This is about staying as safe as possible regardless of circumstances. If you are forced to drive in a blizzard, then that is dangerous. But if you drive with non-zero blood alcohol or a phone in your hand then that is unnecessarily dangerous. You are endangering lives.

Re:This is a load of dung (3, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968291)

If there's a blizzard out, and you do not have to drive, then you shouldn't. If you do have to drive, well, it's not like you can make it stop snowing, which is why that's legal. Hopefully enough other people were able to stay home that it's safe.

There is no reason why you must talk on a cell phone while driving. If the call is that important that you can't miss it, pull over. If your time is so valuable that you can neither skip the call nor stop driving, then you need to hire a driver. Can't afford a driver? Then your time isn't that valuable. Pull over or call them back.

Hands-free vs hands-on has nothing to do with your available limbs, and everything to do with using those limbs for a completely separate task. I drive a manual, shifting is simply part of the task of driving that I'm focusing on, not a distraction. Fiddling with a cell phone is a distraction, a completely orthogonal task of coordination. It's the difference between a drummer using all their limbs to perform, and using 3 of their limbs to perform and one to juggle. Not that hands-free headsets have been shown to substantially reduce the risk posed by driving while on the phone, because you're already more than distracted enough to cause problems just by talking to someone who isn't present.

Also, it's already been established that talking on a cell phone while driving is more dangerous than driving while at a 0.08% BAC, the legal limit. Which is why you shouldn't do it, no matter how sober or how good a driver you incorrectly think you are. Even if both a 0.08% BAC or talking on a cell phone, by themselves, aren't as dangerous as driving in a blizzard.

Just don't answer (1, Interesting)

LithiumX (717017) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967919)

This is why I more or less ignore my cell phone when I'm driving - especially if traffic is tight, complicated, or even just "weird" that day. If it rings, I'll get it when I get the chance.

Most of the people I know who disagree with this tend to either be the same ones who insist they can drive with a few drinks in them (and some of them can, which doesn't make it any less dumb), or who are terminally hooked on their Crackberries and have to respond to every email and call immediately.

Even good drivers tend to drive a bit more like a crackhead when they're on the phone - which is why I simply refrain from it.

Age Limits (1)

securitytech (1267760) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967927)

Although I agree it is a serious distraction, it is not equivalent to drunk driving.

Maybe when you compare the accidents from alcohol (a small % of the population and usually reserved for Fri/Sat night) vs cell phones (+50% of the population everyday) you might find similar numbers but it's misleading to say it's the same as drunk driving.

Distraction is momentary, sobriety is not.

Instead of eliminating all communications in vehicles for everyone, they should try using age limits first.

You get a learning permit at 15. You get a license at 16. You can make short calls or hands free only after 18/21 while driving a motor vehicle.

While I hate to stereotype, one of the biggest issues based on my experience is teenagers yapping on cell phones while weaving in and out of traffic like it's a video game.

At least that's what caused the two fender benders I've been in. It seems friends and family have similar experiences as well.

Let's start with age limits and possibly mandating hands free, and go from there.

Re:Age Limits (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968073)

Let's just get rid of teenagers altogether.

Results not supposed causes (5, Insightful)

markdavis (642305) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967959)

When driving on an interstate in good weather, using a headset, my talking on a phone is barely any distraction at all. However, when driving in bad weather or in city traffic, my using a phone in most situations is distracting to my driving, more so than most other things, which is why I won't use or answer it. The key is that I am aware of my *OWN* limitations.

But for SOME people, using a phone is overly distracting under any circumstances. People are different, conditions are different there is no one golden "rule" that is going to make any sense or be fairly applied to everyone or even most everyone. People need to be trained to NOT distract themselves and pay attention to their attention spans.

You can't legislate stupidity away. After phone use is made illegal in cars- what's next? GPS? Music? Food? Kids? Cold medication? Pets? Enforce laws about the RESULTS of poor behaviours, not the supposed causes. It doesn't matter why someone is weaving, following too closely, drifting, not using turn signals, not checking blind spots, etc... they should be ticketed just the same. Combined with education and public service messages, perhaps not everyone has to suffer for the lowest common denominator.

Not to mention frequencies (1)

dword ZZork (1421463) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967967)

I think that the act of holding a phone to your ear in a car is negligible considering what's actually going on under the surface, namely, the scattering of an almost unfathomable amount of radio and microwaves through the space, probably collected and amplified into a bit of an eddy by the frame of the car, so essentially worst-case scenario for bioelectric brain health.

This all aside from the fact that the radio is already a brain-programming technology of mass mind control, so really I think this kind of debate is kind of a red herring in the face of the stark reality of what a freeway really is.

Frequencies - unrelated (1)

CdBee (742846) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968107)

the owners handbook to my dad's 2003 VW Passat states that mobile phones must never be used in the car while driving as the EM radiation they create can cause the ABS braking control computer to crash !!!!

DUH!! (1)

Neanderthal Ninny (1153369) | more than 5 years ago | (#25967975)

Mobile phones are not the only thing distract drivers so banning cell phones won't help this issue entirely. However I live in California and I still see people using their cell phones without any hands-free device so I don't really see this law really being enforced. I seen enough idiots who drive and use the cell phone drive into different lanes and even off the road so I believe this study.
I wished that they would enforce this law more so they don't kill other people while blabbing or texting on the phone. Killing themselves will be win them into the Darwin Awards and this is okay.

95 f/s (1)

Ohio Calvinist (895750) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968015)

When I was in school, we did an experiment that at 65 mph, you're going 95 feet/second. So if you close your eyes for a second, you've gone 95 feet blind. A lot can happen in 95 feet, particularly if you're following too close to the driver in front of you, or changing lanes with drivers in other lanes going variable speeds.

I think the reason the ban has been "less" than effective is as other posters have said, that having a conversation over the phone can be distracting enough to take seconds here where the conversation is particularly charged, or thought provoking or require active memory (such as getting a shopping list for dinner dictated or trying to recall a figure from a staff meeting for a co-worker), which are enough to cause accidents.

I would think the main kinds of events a bluetooth is going to help with are the 5-10 seconds spent fumbling for the phone in the pocket/purse when it rings, fatigue from holding the device to the head for too long, or not being able to make a wide enough turn single-handed to avoid collision. I don't think generally speaking it is going to overcome the situation where true "distraction" is taking place by the call itself, only minimizes particularly hazardous portions of all calls, less seconds means less risk, but depending on the sum of seconds spent distracted in-call, may be more-or-less effective overall.

This is why I'd say cell phones (which require mental dexterity) or makeup (requiring physical dextirity and concentration generally into a mirror) are more dangerous than eating, which is a mindless activity that if done well would have minimal impact.

Oh please, Chicken Little (1)

Orig_Club_Soda (983823) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968031)

A study by AAA says that the cell phone is #20 on the list of distractions with the radio being the number one distraction - for around 40 years! Banning the radio and passengers will do more good for safety.

Distraction does not equal accident. It doesnt even mean an increase likelihood. Only increased potential. While I support the hands free law here in CA, it's fairly totalitarian to out right ban the cell phone. If you want useful statistics look at the number of people who drive *successfully* while using cell phones. It's a staggering, overwhelming majority.

Re:AAA report #1 distraction something outside car (1)

Orig_Club_Soda (983823) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968177)

The study found that drivers were most often distracted by something outside their vehicle (29.4 percent) followed by adjusting a radio or CD player (11.4 percent). Other specific distractions included talking with other occupants (10.9 percent), adjusting vehicle or climate controls (2.8 percent), eating or drinking (1.7 percent), cell-phone use (1.5 percent) and smoking (0.9 percent).

http://www.aaafoundation.org/multimedia/index.cfm?button=disdrv [aaafoundation.org]

CB Radio? (1)

Enter the Shoggoth (1362079) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968039)

There have been so many studies into the effects of mobile phone use, but does anyone know of a study that shows that cell phone usage is any worse than using another comms devices such as a CB or UHF unit whilst driving?

Re:CB Radio? (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968101)

No one cares about devices that a small percentage of population use. Plus, a large amounts of them are truck drivers, and depending on where you live, those people are heavily audited/supervised and their jobs are on the line at the slightest mistake (well, depending on how annoying their union are).

The issue with cellphones is that its almost impossible to look out on the street and NOT see someone driving with a cellphone to his/her ear, and I live in a region where thats illegal! Imagine where its not!

Like with most all other problematic bad habits, its never an issue until a significant chunk of people do it.

Re:CB Radio? (1)

Enter the Shoggoth (1362079) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968199)

No one cares about devices that a small percentage of population use. Plus, a large amounts of them are truck drivers, and depending on where you live, those people are heavily audited/supervised and their jobs are on the line at the slightest mistake (well, depending on how annoying their union are).

The issue with cellphones is that its almost impossible to look out on the street and NOT see someone driving with a cellphone to his/her ear, and I live in a region where thats illegal! Imagine where its not!

Like with most all other problematic bad habits, its never an issue until a significant chunk of people do it.

You are probably right, but my curiosity would still love to know if the less natural form of communication that CB emphasises (short bursts terminating with the keyword - "over") makes a significant difference to the impact on ones driving skills.

Re:CB Radio? (1)

CdBee (742846) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968227)

Here in Britain, if the police see you with a phone while driving, you get 2 'penalty points' - when you reach 12 penalty points for any reason (speeding is 3 or 4 penalty points, other offences have varying penalty point levels) you lose your driving licence for 6 months

Has no effect whatsoever. I favour issuing our police with rocket launchers.

No Telecommunication In Motion (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968203)

How long have CB radios been in cars? Any correlation between CB radio use and accidents? Better ban CB radios out of all vehicles. Especially trucks, taxis, and police vehicles. If dispatch needs to talk to you, they can send a signal to automatically engage your emergency brake first.

Seriously: why only phones? Because they're relatively new and increasingly common, even though plain radio receivers are far more common and they aren't going after people who sing along in their cars.

Um.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25968279)

I have not encountered any "obstacle" to my ability to both drive and talk on the phone anywhere near my house. It's pretentious to think that you need anymore then a left hand when driving for both the wheel and the left/right blinkers because as far as I'm concerned it's the god damn "Hello World" of the driving world. The only time you need to use your right hand is when you shift which doesn't happen on automatics unless you're pulling out or parking.

I find myself more of passive driver when on the phone. Making sure to keep my distance and also not hitting the gas excessively which is fairly easy on highways and single lane roads but as soon as you need to do something active like switching lanes you have to pay a bit more attention.

So my point is fairly simple.
#1 The Act of talking on the phone while driving is universal.
I dunno what the actual percentage is but lets assume it's less then 50%. Regardless it will still amount to a lot of time I'm sure spent on the phone while driving. Many people do it because they tried it and they found it safe.

#2 Banning it with Fines Won't Work
I certainly won't stop. Not that hard to put down the phone while passing a cop. Plus most cops won't pull you over for talking on the phone. You see they tend to have more significant worries. So the prosecution rate will be really low. If millions of people do it daily do you see all those millions paying that fine?

#3 Wasting Productive by Punishing the Few for the ... Few
Time = Money
Talking on the phone while driving makes better use of time and is almost always safe depending on the circumstances. Driving will never have 100% safety no matter how many regulations will be stuck to it either so when the issue at hand is a changing variable. Something that is safe 99% of the time shouldn't be legislated by government.

Politicians use this as a hot button issue to get elected by the unwitting masses who vote to get yet another tax placed on them passively and it's time we stop using fines as a form of income for our government. Let alone realize that we shouldn't be voting on insignificant issues like this. The police should be fighting crime, not handing out traffic tickets like they usually tend to do in the suburbs where they have nothing to do. This country should be spending more money on investments in our future like infrastructure and eduction and less on "Law Enforcement" which depending on where you live might as well mean "Fine Dispersement".

And I could rant on about this being in favor of turning the country into a "Nanny State" but I'm done. :P

This study is B.S. (1)

Blaede (266638) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968325)

Right now I'm driving and surfing Slashdot on my smartphone as I post this. As you can see, no probl{#`%${%&`+'${`%&NO CARRIER

Its broader than just Mobile Phones.... (1)

stimpleton (732392) | more than 5 years ago | (#25968331)

A previous study has found ferrets distract drivers in a similar fashion.

For this reason the study concluded by suggestiing a hands-free ferret.

Hands Free Ferret [youtube.com]
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