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"Supertaskers" Can Safely Use Mobile Phones While Driving

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the all-the-children-are-above-average dept.

Transportation 388

nk497 writes "While most of us are dangerous when texting, chatting on a phone or being otherwise distracted while driving, one in 40 are actually just fine with such distractions. In a small study, such 'supertaskers' were just as good at driving when carrying on a conversation over a hands-free phone as they were when fully focused. That said, the researchers warned that most people are much worse at driving while chatting and shouldn't do it, adding: 'Given the number of individuals who routinely talk on the phone while driving, one would have hoped that there would be a greater percentage of supertaskers.'" That 1 in 40 aside, reader crimeandpunishment writes "The US Transportation Department is calling for a permanent ban on texting while driving, for interstate truck and bus drivers. An interim ban has been in place since January. The government says it is doing everything it can to make roads safer by reducing the threat of distracted drivers."

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Only steers and queers come to Slashdot (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31694014)

Holy dog shit. Slashdot? Only steers and queers come to Slashdot. And you don't look much like a steer to me so that kinda narrows it down.

PS: Niggers.

Re:Only steers and queers come to Slashdot (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31694040)

What about the few people here that aren't cuntdot fags?

Re:Only steers and queers come to Slashdot (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31694378)

Holy dog shit. Slashdot? Only steers and queers come to Slashdot. And you don't look much like a steer to me so that kinda narrows it down.

PS: Niggers.

Proposed article title:

"Superniggers" Can Fuck White Women While Smoking Crack and Rapping

Reminds me of Tupac Shakur. It takes a REAL nigger to make tons of money and still stay in the ghetto. How'd that work out for him again?

Self-correcting problem (1, Interesting)

miggyb (1537903) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694050)

Well, this sounds like a self-correcting problem on a long enough time scale. Hope I'm one of the 40!

Re:Self-correcting problem (5, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694116)

Nope. Just like with drunk drivers, usually the people killed in accidents are the ones who just happened to be in the way, not the person who was doing something really stupid.

Re:Self-correcting problem (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31694282)

Mod parent up. I've recently passed my driving test and, just before I took it, I was nearly hit by a woman who skipped a red light whilst texting. She would have hit the driver's door and I'd be dead. She would be fine. The only thing that saved me was that I'd come out onto the main road slower than I should have; she'd missed the green by a good 10 seconds.

Seriously, anyone who talks or texts whilst driving is a danger. Not only are you distracted, you are NOT in full control of your car as you have only one hand on the wheel.

Re:Self-correcting problem (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31694528)

Yes but on the negative side I wouldn't have read your whiny post on Slashdot.

Re:Self-correcting problem (-1, Troll)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694542)

Hahahaha ... and this is typical of ignorant drivers such as yourself.

While she broke the law for running the red light, you are still screwed up by not noticing she was coming.

'one hand on the wheel' is more than enough to drive. You know how I know? Been driving a stick for 20 years, I spend 95% of my time when driving in the city without my hand on the wheel. The reason you're taught to keep both hands on the wheel is to keep you focused on whats outside the car and not fucking around with stuff inside the law.

Just a suggestion though, you might want to wait 20 or 30 years before you start spreading your insight on driving, you don't actually have any yet. All you have now is misunderstandings of misinformation fed to you by a drivers ed instructor that could give a shit what happens to you.

You are actually FAR more dangers than most people texting. You're more likely to be fucking around with other people in the car and carrying on conversations with them, not paying attention while you're driving. You're more likely to not drive defensively. You're more likely to overrun your abilities as a driver due to misjudging the situation.

In short, you don't get to comment on other peoples driving as you are most certainly among the group of 'the worst drivers on the road'. The second place group is old people, and the third place group is drunks.

The danger from texting while driving is about 1 to 2 million times less for me to do it than it is for you to just be behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.

Re:Self-correcting problem (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694414)

So make it considered just the same as 1st degree aggravated murder when that happens, in any case where it can be proven that a pedestrian was hit, and the driver was texting, dialing a phone, or holding a handset. And any witness covering up, or failing to come forward and report what happened, is an accessory (meaning any other vehicle or passerby on the road in the vicinity who failed to report), and also, having some minor charge related to the crime.

The person who was talking on the cell phone when they ran over a pedestrian, will have their choice of being drawn and quartered, strapped into the chair, and electrocuted, put before a firing squad...

Or: tied to a pole while a robot-driven car runs them over.

I'll admit it's not 100% a self-correcting problem, and in the cases where it's not, the criminal justice system has a duty to protect society, by applying just and equitable punishment.

Although I guess, technically allowing more methods of execution such as electric chair, which are more humane than the original crime (compared to being run over by a vehicle and probably left to die as the vehicle goes on [with driver not noticing or pretending to be ignorant]), the punishment actually falls short of fitting the crime, but that is just a matter of civility -- and the outcome is still basically the same.

Re:Self-correcting problem (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694634)

If there are robot cars, can I just have one of those to drive me around please?

Re:Self-correcting problem (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694456)

which is why we end up with a duality of society. Drunks and complainers that were able to avoid being killed by a drunk.

Re:Self-correcting problem (1, Interesting)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694586)

Drunks tend to survive because the state of their body at the time of impact, i.e. not tensed up. Its not random luck, or irony, or any other mysterious factors ...

Drivers texting while driving aren't going to have the effect of a drug in their system, they'll be as ridged as a board as their body gets destroyed in the accident just like everyone else.

Good job though, you almost managed to inject an irrelevant and unrelated statement into the conversation.

Re:Self-correcting problem (1)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694202)

Finally, some recognition of my modest awesomeness.

Re:Self-correcting problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31694434)

Except for the person in front of them that they don't see because they're looking down at their phone while txting. Just ask my wife who was rear-ended by such a clever multitasker, while she was waiting at a red and saw her in the mirror, with no outlet to escape the collision.

Re:Self-correcting problem (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694438)

I think about 2 in 3 people will claim to be 1 of the 40. The 1/3 that know they aren't, and the 1/40 that actually are, will survive. The other... um... 79/120... are a danger to themselves and others.

Yup.. (4, Funny)

ak_hepcat (468765) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694066)

I'm just fine with the added distractions. In fact, while driving, I usually #*&&&%>...

NO CARRIER

Re:Yup.. (2, Funny)

Wolvenhaven (1521217) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694120)

It's amazing that a random crash could type "#*&&&%>... [RETURN] NO CARRIER" hit preview and then submit. I guess enough monkeys bashing away on typewriters can create Shakespeare is true.

Re:Yup.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31694228)

I swear, that always happens when I ja#*&&&%>...

NO CARRIER

Re:Yup.. (0)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694376)

It's a caricature; a nostalgic harkening back to the simpler days acoustic modems, which actually could "type in" line noise while being cut off. It's similar to the bowling ball-shaped bomb icon, depictions of telephones with huge handsets and rotary dials, and use of colloquial phrases like "cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey".

Re:Yup.. (1)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694576)

Thanks so much for explaining that. I am sure that you and I are the only ones on here old enough to remember the olden days.

Re:Yup.. (1)

M8e (1008767) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694522)

One time my cat jumped up on my keyboard and pushed something like "leik cex[TAB][ENTER]". This happened when i was writing on an forum, so it got posted.

If a cat can do that, imagine what a bunch of monkeys canpex,ox rexcrq

Re:Yup.. (3, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694642)

Wha, you don't know about 9600 BAUD modem-based gateways used to submit comments to slashdot?

If he gets disconnected in the middle of typing, it disconnects, to avoid loss of the message, the other side of the gateway dutifully posts it, including the last bit of noise, and the 'NO CARRIER' error reported by the modem.

Another fun thing to do with those gateways is to post the following on every slashdot comment,

+++ATH0
+++ATH0

FB GUR SRYYBJF HFVAT PURNC XABPX-BSS ZBQRZF GUNG PNA'G VZCYRZRAG CNGRAGRQ +++ QRYNL GRPUABYBTL, JVYY OR QVFPBAARPGRQ ORSBER GURL PNA SVAVFU ERNQVAT LBHE TYBEVBHF PBZZRAG.

CYNPR GUNG FGEVAT ORSBER NAL FRPERG GRKG GBB, CERSRENOYL FGEBATYL RAPELCGRQ.

SFV LZWF JWSDDQ UGFXMKW LZWE, TQ FWYSLANW 8-KZAXLAFY LZW EGKL AEHGJLSFL LWPL

Re:Yup.. (5, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694422)

Man, back in the day, I could drive with a joint in one hand a beer in the other hand and an arm around my girlfriend (this was in the days before Slashdot nerd-dom). All while bobbing my head madly to The Ramones and being high on 'shrooms. And I could do all this while timing all the stoplights on Belmont Avenue so I'd never have to shift my Gremlin out of third gear.

I'd like to see some sissy F1 driver try all that.

[Disclaimer: Sweeheart, you know Daddy's a big kidder, right? He's just showing off for the guys at /. and never really did any of those things. And that burnt hemostat you found in the closet is from when I was a thoracic surgeon working on burn victims. And that picture of me in the shoebox where I'm sucking smoke through the bottom of a beer can is just some joke that your Uncle Izzy photoshopped in 1975 before he went to prison.]

Oh, Great (1)

Bugamn (1769722) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694068)

I can see now a lot of people claiming to be supertaskers.

I hope those news don't make it to the general public;

Re:Oh, Great (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694114)

Asperger supertaskers, that will be...interesting.

Sucks for "supertaskers" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31694150)

This is a case of 39 out of 40 bad apples ruining it for the whole bunch by killing people. Supertasker or no, texting while driving should be illegal.

Re:Oh, Great (2, Insightful)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694158)

I can see now a lot of people claiming to be supertaskers.

Well yes, obviously all of us here are among the elite. ;)

(I am so not... you would not believe the extent of injuries I've endured simply walking around the office or my home while thinking about something else... my pinky toe on my right foot is currently broken... again...)

Re:Oh, Great (3, Funny)

treeves (963993) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694242)

Probably there are more supertankers than supertaskers on /.
That was how I initially read the headline for an instant.

Justification (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31694072)

This gives many ignorant people justification to feel like they are really one of those 1 in 40. Just don't fucking do it, whether you think you are good at it or not. I'm sure I could do it, but I try not to even answer the phone when I'm on the road.

Natural selection at work? (1)

acheron12 (1268924) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694076)

There may only be 1 supertasker in 40 for now, but that proportion can only increase if the non-supertaskers carry on trying to multitask while operating heavy vehicles!

Re:Natural selection at work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31694122)

Not necessarily... that non-supertasker could be taking out the supertaskers ....

Re:Natural selection at work? (1)

hibiki_r (649814) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694160)

To avoid this, we have to add some explosives to every new car: If it detects an active phone signal in the car during the crash, it detonates!

Re:Natural selection at work? (3, Insightful)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694234)

No, what happens is the non-supertaskers take out other people in their way who may or may not be supertaskers. The net effect will be no change in the supertaskers:non-supertaskers ratio.

Re:Natural selection at work? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694398)

Only if we make sure everyone gets cars and mobile phones long before they get a chance to breed.

Are they just worse drivers to begin with? (4, Interesting)

afaik_ianal (918433) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694102)

The sample size was really small in this - 200. So 5 people out of 200 showed no deterioration in driving skill with improved memory performance.

I'd love to see how their driving metrics compared to everyone else though. Is it that the keep driving well while on the phone, or are they just crap drivers who don't concentrate on the road even when they're not on the phone?

Or maybe supertasking when not on the phone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31694404)

If they're already doing multiple things in their head, swapping one of those tasks with a mobile call wouldn't really add any further distractions.

Re:Are they just worse drivers to begin with? (3, Insightful)

Halotron1 (1604209) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694448)

The sample size was really small in this - 200.

Seriously, waaaay too small to jump to conclusions.
Plus the study needs to be repeated multiple times in different areas by other independent researchers before the results are dependable.

The odds are just as high that the area in Utah they surveyed is home to the ONLY 5 supertaskers in the world.

Plenty of people (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31694112)

think they are awesome multitaskers. They are wrong.

Doesn't mean they are good drivers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31694126)

The summary just says that the supertaskers were just as good at driving when distracted as when fully focused. Maybe they suck at driving so much that adding a cell phone can't make them any worse.

Cell Phone Vendetta (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31694138)

Cell phones are distracting. So are crying children in the back seat. So are radios. It's also distracting for someone to eat while they are driving. Yet lawmakers are in a huff about banning cell phone use only while driving. Our city just passed an ordinance banning holding a cellphone while driving yet it's still perfectly legal to eat, smoke, and yell at screaming children while driving (and all at the same time!). Why not take a more sensible approach and teach people how to drive responsibly while talking on a cell phone? By outlawing it, we only make the problem worse. Responsible texting might mean only doing it once you are stopped at a 3 minute stoplight. The 1 in 40 is interesting but I'd like to see a study that compares other distractions with cell phones.

Re:Cell Phone Vendetta (3, Insightful)

pileated (53605) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694248)

I'm not a politician and I'm not in a huff. Instead I'm outraged at the assholes who take my life and that of others in their hands by driving around chatting on their cellphones absolutely oblivious to other drivers.

This is the first time I've cursed on slashdot. I don't like to do it and see far too much of it here and elsewhere. In this case though it's perfectly fitting.

Re:Cell Phone Vendetta (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694550)

I don't mind them talking... it's seeing them in heavy traffic run into the SUV in front of them and then continue talking on their phone as if nothing happened, that makes me want to stop my car, get out, and beat the hell out of them. Yes, I've actually witnessed this; I've also witnessed people merging into my lane directly into me while talking on the phone, then getting upset when I blew my horn at them. But then, I've also witnessed somebody without a phone drift slowly out of his lane and into the side of a bus I was on that was literally right outside his open driver's side window... dude, how can you not notice something that noisy that is literally casting a shadow on your whole car! I can only explain that one by assuming copious amounts of drugs were involved.

Re:Cell Phone Vendetta (5, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694322)

It's about doing something about the risks you can control. you can't control a child screaming but you CAN ban smoking and eating while driving (which we should) as well as cell phones.

are you retarded enough to suggest just because we can't ban all possible distractions, we should just let drivers do dangerous shit like text while driving? this sounds like the same logic as "condoms are only 99% effective so lets not bother with them!".

Re:Cell Phone Vendetta (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31694488)

There are already laws against all of these, as well as just swerving around the freeway just for fun. It's stupid to try to classify each and every way you can drive dangerously, the police can (and should) pull you over if you are driving dangerously. Do you really think it makes you safer to have the cops pull over one of these supertaskers while some idiot is close to side swiping somebody because he is picking his nose?

Better driving skills (4, Funny)

swilver (617741) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694148)

I wonder how many of those had a foreign driver's license.

Re:Better driving skills (2, Insightful)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694396)

I wonder how many of those had a foreign driver's license.

Are you trying to say non US drivers are worse or better?
I've heard plenty of people say non-US are better, but my limited experience in Spain, Italy and Greece says otherwise. The study suggests what I believe: where ever you have humans, you have huge steaming mounds of stupidity.

Re:Better driving skills (1)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694492)

Are you trying to say non US drivers are worse or better?

Yes, I believe he is.

I've heard plenty of people say non-US are better, but my limited experience in Spain, Italy and Greece says otherwise.

I'm going to chalk this one up to limited sample size: you picked the three countries known in Europe for their reckless drivers. I remember my dad driving 90 kmph on a 70 kmph road and other cars honking while flying past us at over 120 kmph. That said, I almost got hit by a raging lunatic driver today as well (in Belgium). The difference is that here in Belgium, I don't expect people to be raging lunatic drivers. In Italy, I hesitate to even get in a car.

Current Slashdot Poll (4, Insightful)

c++0xFF (1758032) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694156)

I think the current poll [slashdot.org] is informative here. While I suspect that the average IQ of a slashdot reader is indeed above average, The percentage of "super genius" is probably exaggerated.

The lesson is that while 1/40th of the population falls under the "supertasker" category, the number that claim to be is much, much higher. My estimate would be 1/4th or more perceive themselves that way. And that's a dangerous perception to have.

Re:Current Slashdot Poll (1, Informative)

joggle (594025) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694254)

I don't even know if there's a correlation between 'supertaskers' and super geniuses.

Back in high school I took a class that accepted only 28 students from the entire class of 450 (an advanced class for math and science). However, I don't recall anyone being especially good at driving and one was certainly absolutely awful, crashing 3 cars due to being distracted by conversations (in his case he would always want to face the person he was talking to--not a good thing if you're a passenger talking to him while he's driving). He was also one of the academically best students in the entire class.

However, there certainly does seem to be a group of supertaskers that can easily handle talking on the phone while driving. I think the key is prioritizing. Some people focus too much on the conversation while driving at the cost of not paying enough attention to what's going on around them. Others will focus less on the conversation as needed while driving.

On the other hand I don't see how anyone can drive and text safely since there is no way to text without at least briefly taking your eyes off the road, unless you can touch-type using your thumb I guess.

Re:Current Slashdot Poll (5, Insightful)

molafson (716807) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694280)

"The Dunning-Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect [wikipedia.org]

"People tend to hold overly favorable views of their abilities in many social and intellectual domains. The authors suggest that this overestimation occurs, in part, because people who are unskilled in these domains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it."

http://psycnet.apa.org/?fa=main.doiLanding&doi=10.1037/0022-3514.77.6.1121 [apa.org]

 

Re:Current Slashdot Poll (5, Insightful)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694334)

The Dunning-Kruger effect has been running this country for decades.

Re:Current Slashdot Poll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31694518)

A simple test practical test: chainsaw carving while texting, if you keep your fingers you get to keep texting.

Re:Current Slashdot Poll (1)

FreeUser (11483) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694632)

The lesson is that while 1/40th of the population falls under the "supertasker" category, the number that claim to be is much, much higher. My estimate would be 1/4th or more perceive themselves that way. And that's a dangerous perception to have.

The assumption is that these 1 in 40 "supertaskers" are competent drivers when not talking on the phone (or, deity forbid, texting). It seems more likely they are crap drivers under normal conditions, and remain just as shitty behind the wheel while on the phone.

I've seen sober people who drive like their drunk...not because they have some immunity to alcohol, but because they are such completely incompetent drivers that, frankly, alcohol doesn't make a great deal of difference in their case.

"Supertaskers" ... yeah, right.

I dislike the legislative approach (4, Interesting)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694162)

Let's face it: nobody is willing to say "no phone use at all" while driving. So we have an entirely ineffective compromise which requires hands-free devices. This is a great way to pretend to do something while not actually doing any of it.

However, far worse, I think there is another factor here: If avoid all distractions while driving on a long trip one of two things will get you: highway hypnosis (a real form of hypnosis sometimes including post-hypnotic amnesia) or your brain will make up its own distractions. Really, has anyone here not had the experience of driving somewhere, getting there, and realizing that there is a chunk of time missing in your memory for part of the drive? While it is profoundly stupid to talk on the phone while navigating through a school zone crowded with students just released from school and their parents picking them up, I am not sure one can make a case that it is a net safety hazard to use a cell phone (hands-free or otherwise) driving down he freeway in the middle of nowhere. In fact, insofar as it prevents more dangerous hypnotic states from developing, it might be a net safety win to talk on the phone.

A much better approach would be to ban all use of cell phones while driving through residential and school zones, ban most cell use while elsewhere within city limits, and allow driving and talking on the phone on open roads in the country. That's not a popular view tough.

Re:I dislike the legislative approach (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31694278)

Let's face it: nobody is willing to say "no phone use at all" while driving. So we have an entirely ineffective compromise which requires hands-free devices. This is a great way to pretend to do something while not actually doing any of it.

The other day, I've seen some idiot block three cars behind him at a stop sign in a shopping center while he was texting and oblivious to them all. There were parking spaces about but he had to take up space in a trafficked zone for whatever reason. If it's that important, given everyone else a break and pull over.

People's self-entitled attitude toward handheld devices while on the road where lives can be lost within seconds somehow just ticks me off.

A much better approach would be to ban all use of cell phones while driving through residential and school zones, ban most cell use while elsewhere within city limits, and allow driving and talking on the phone on open roads in the country. That's not a popular view tough.

It shouldn't be. Many rural roads don't have sidewalks. At least residential and schools usually do.

Re:I dislike the legislative approach (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694468)

While it is profoundly stupid to talk on the phone while navigating through a school zone crowded with students just released from school and their parents picking them up

I don't know if it's stupid, but it is somewhat sporting. After all, if you aren't paying attention, you might miss a few of them.

Re:I dislike the legislative approach (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694486)

While it is profoundly stupid to talk on the phone while navigating through a school zone crowded with students just released from school and their parents picking them up, I am not sure one can make a case that it is a net safety hazard to use a cell phone (hands-free or otherwise) driving down he freeway in the middle of nowhere.

I actually find the reverse. Here in Aus, the speed limits near schools are 40k/h (25mph). When driving near schools, I'm going so slowly that stuff like instant awareness and reaction speed isn't as necessary as when I'm belting down the highway at 110.

Re:I dislike the legislative approach (1)

steelfood (895457) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694660)

I think hands free is a good compromise. If your Toyota suddenly accelerates out of control, your other hand wouldn't be too busy holding your phone to put your car into neutral.

It's far safer to drive with both hands unoccupied than just one hand. The second hand isn't always occupied, but in the few situations when you do need to use it, you really do.

I haven't gotten into an accident yet (1, Flamebait)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694172)

And I occaisonally text while driving. Not usually phone calls, which seems a little ridiculous, I know.

I don't know if I'd call "Not being a dumb ass" as super-tasking.

It basically works like this:
#1 Keep your eyes where they are supposed to be. If you are in rush hour traffic, you've got a car in front of you. Keep your eyes on that car. Pull up the phone, hold it over your steering wheel so you can see both the phone and the car in front of you.

#2, don't be talking, don't be texting, don't be looking at anything else but where you need to be when Either Changing lanes, Turning, or reversing.

#3 I hope you've memorized your T9 or have good 1 handed touch-phone capabilites, because those are nice abilities to have. In fact, with a small enough flip phone, you can just flip it open over the steering wheel to read the message, while driving. Then, left hand on the wheel, bring the right hand with the phone down by your lap. You press the reply button, start texting your T9 you have memorized, like typing at a keyboad without looking at the keys. Press send. Close the phone, put it on the seat next to you.

Oh yeah, and I drive a standard, to add to the mix, but thats as simple as knowing when you can stay in a gear for while, and not texting when you'll need to shift.

Re:I haven't gotten into an accident yet (2, Insightful)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694272)

The keyword is "yet".

I didn't get pulled over a single time until I was 38, yet I probably broke every traffic rule in the book.

Re:I haven't gotten into an accident yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31694274)

Perhaps you've just been lucky enough to have vigilant motorists around you.

Re:I haven't gotten into an accident yet (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694382)

I don't know if I'd call "Not being a dumb ass" as super-tasking.

Pretty much. I wouldn't trust myself to text and drive, but talking and driving, while still being able to focus on what's going on the road, is not fucking hard. I do think hands-free devices are useful, because you remove the temptation to focus on "not dropping my phone" rather than driving, but other than that it's really damn trivial. I have no idea how people have so much trouble with this.

Re:I haven't gotten into an accident yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31694568)

Pull up the phone, hold it over your steering wheel so you can see both the phone and the car in front of you.

Unless you're trained in multitasking, this doesn't work. The routine task will be pushed into the background by the shorter, more immediate task. Your focus will be on the cellphone. You have to actively work against this normal cognitive behavior, otherwise, even though the other car is in your field of view, it might as well not be there. The same effect can happen between two different senses (or even your mind and your senses, when your mind "wanders"), but remaining focused on the less interesting of two concurrent visual inputs is particularly hard.

Like others wrote: You've been lucky. Accident rates are not so high with cellphones that texting while driving guarantees a crash within a few years. They're just very clearly higher than without cellphones.

Study is largely only of US importance (4, Insightful)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694180)

Problem is this study will be shown to be proof worldwide when there are big differences between the US and other countries when it comes to driving and cars.

In the UK we're mostly manual transmission drivers. An auto is easier to drive when holding a phone, but try holding a phone, steering and changing gear at the same time!!

Re:Study is largely only of US importance (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694214)

LoL. Admittedly, its easy to hold a conversation, but I can't shift gears while texting with my right hand. I just set it down on the passenger seat real quick while needing to shift.

Re:Study is largely only of US importance (1)

M8e (1008767) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694626)

Text with the left hand and steer with your knees, problem solved.

Re:Study is largely only of US importance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31694226)

Problem is this study will be shown to be proof worldwide when there are big differences between the US and other countries when it comes to driving and cars. In the UK we're mostly manual transmission drivers. An auto is easier to drive when holding a phone, but try holding a phone, steering and changing gear at the same time!!

The problem is not reading the summary closely. It says, "hand-free".

Re:Study is largely only of US importance (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694428)

In the UK we're mostly manual transmission drivers. I take then that you haven't had any problems with Toyotas suddenly accelerating out of control... a situation easily avoided by merely pushing down on the clutch pedal!

Re:Study is largely only of US importance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31694552)

It's not about hands, it's about brains. That's why hands-free phones aren't safer, and even having a passenger talk to me, makes me a worse driver. If I need to max awareness, I can't be talking. I can shift, smoke, eat a chili dog, signal a left turn, and shift. It's comical-looking juggling, but my brain can handle it; it's when I talk that I turn into an idiot.

Re:Study is largely only of US importance (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31694612)

its easy to drive manual and eat, smoke, talk on the phone all at the same time.

Yes I've done it.

Yes I was almost arrested. (Pig came around the corner, I had to drop my phone. Fuckin pigs.)

Yes the passenger has since refused to drive with me. Ever.

Put the phone on your shoulder, put the smoke in your steering wheel hand, and change gears with the burger hand.

Steer with knees as required.

Open Season (3, Insightful)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694200)

Great. Now every dipshit who thinks he is one of the 1 in 40 supposed "supertaskers" will feel he is entitled to fully express his inner idiot. Great. I'll bet that a few months or years from now this will be shown to actually be the crock of shit it sounds like.

Happy April 1 everybody (0)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694210)

EOM

Walking and _____ing at the same time. (3, Interesting)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694212)

I saw this teenager once shooting hoops while talking on his cell phone. For about five minutes he just kept at it, didn't miss a shot, didn't pause talking while doing a jumpshot or anything. Someone else started using the same hoop, no sweat, didn't even have to wait just perfectly synchronized with the other kid.

Damn.

1 in 40. Not me.

Ambulance (4, Interesting)

Ceiynt (993620) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694238)

You wanna see super taskers, look at an ambulance that's driving with it's lights and sirens on. We would clear an intersection, zip around traffic, talk on the radio, plug in addresses into GPS, and eat our lunch all at the same time, while trying to provide a smooth ride for the people in back doing CPR and handling sharp pointy objects.

Re:Ambulance (3, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694496)

That's not necessarily a supertasker - that's being well trained and experienced.

Re:Ambulance (1)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694566)

Ambulances (while doing the work that requires frantic multitasking) have lights and sirens, though, which makes a big difference. People are (generally) very attentive and get-out-of-the-way-like towards them. Nobody expects them to stop for a pedestrian crossing, for example.

Idiots who text while driving don't have those obvious warning signs. Perhaps they should?

Great. (2, Insightful)

straponego (521991) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694246)

98% of people will believe they're in the 2% who can "supertask".

Photographic Memory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31694464)

Yep. Ever hear someone claim they "have a photographic memory," a neato pop-psych ability popularized in the '70s? The contemporary will now be "I'm a supertasker!!"

I am a supertasker (1)

locopuyo (1433631) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694312)

I think it is safe to say I am a supertasker. I have over 100 APM in StarCraft 2 and am ranked 3rd in Platinum ladder. I have 4 monitors connected to my PC and use them all at the same time running many programs, viewing many pages etc. I still try to avoid phoning while driving though.

Re:I am a supertasker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31694594)

I was going to say that Starcraft is probably a great way to train supertasking. Time to install.

Finally, an advantage! (0)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694314)

So people with ADHD are just as safe driving either while talking or not while talking on their cellphones? Couldn't this be interpreted as "they suck so badly at driving that talking on the phone can't possibly make them any worse"?

And (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31694324)

1 in 40 people might be able to drive drunk safely. But changing the DWI laws would be just silly.

I'm what is known as a HYPO-tasker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31694342)

I can only do 1/2 things at the same time
if I try and drive, I stop breathing
if I try and talk on a cell phone, I pee myself

So if you see some dead guy with an iPhone in a Honda accord crashed into a fence...thats me!

at least posting on Slashdot is simple.

huh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31694358)

I've never had a problem talking on the phone and driving. However, I have had several close calls when talking to a passenger in my car! I cannot text and drive, that's suicide ...

ADHD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31694360)

I would say that I'm one of the supertaskers because I'm ADHD. I can focus on several things at once better then one thing at a time sometimes. In fact the only people that I have met that can drive safely and talk on the cell phone at the same time are normally ADHD.

Re:ADHD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31694412)

You're dumb.

anonymous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31694364)

Texting on the phone - no way, eyes not on road
Talking on the phone - talking is secondary to driving, I'd talk to passengers in the car just the same as a phone conversation. They are looking to me to deliver them safely to their destination, which is my #1 priority

What's the difference? (1)

Grand Facade (35180) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694366)

What's the difference between texting and reading a book/newspaper/magazine?

A whole lot different than talking on a phone..... With out without a hands free!

Story Title casting a broad net. - hands-free vs . (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694386)

The story title seems to cast a rather broad net with its "`Supertaskers` Can Safely Use Mobile Phones While Driving"... there's a huge difference between...

involved having a hands-free mobile phone conversation

...and...

The Transportation Department on Wednesday proposed a ban on text messaging at the wheel

One just requires you to listen and yap - still not as good paying attention to your driving 100%, but people listen to (talk) radio and whatnot and sing along with songs or carry on conversations with others in the car (yes, they can help pay attention to the road), etc.

The other typically requires you to actually look away from the road and to a little screen/keyboard so you know what you're typing. Even if you've become highly proficient at texting using e.g. T9 on a standard phone pad (much easier than a full keyboard in this case) and don't have to look, you've still got one hand focused on a particular task not related to driving for an extended amount of time.

So even these 'supertaskers' aside, the study conclusion referred to doesn't seem to say anything about things like texting or checking your facebook or playing games and all those other things one can use a mobile phone for these days; just hands-free conversation.

super attentive (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694402)

As a contractor for the past 10 years, I often found myself in situations where I am driving and there is a phone call and there is an emergency or there is a meeting and I have to be there, whatever, I always hate those, because I know it is not a good idea to drive and be on the phone where I actually have to solve something, pay attention, participate. Have to do it anyway, so I don't know if these 'super-taskers' have a natural ability or they just do what I have to do and increase the attention that I pay to the road even more than I normally do, because I am scared of getting into an accident during the call. So for real, I pay more attention to the road and driving and what is around me while on the phone, then when I am not distracted. It's just a necessary precaution, otherwise you can't do it, you'll crash into something. I also learned to be able to stop caring about the phone, no matter what's happening there in an instant when necessary, that's important because whatever you do, there is always a chance someone will be changing lanes right into you, maybe they are also on a call and are not scared.

It's relative (1)

izomiac (815208) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694452)

I'd suspect that the short term memory (or similar) of these individuals is better than average. Most people can remember 7 things at once, hence why phone numbers are that length. Some people can only remember 5, others 9. Depending on the type of conversation, I could imagine one that only required remembering two things to keep up with it. If you can normally remember 9 things, use 2 "slots" for a phone conversation would leave 7 slots for other tasks. Driving probably only takes ~4-5 so the reduced capacity isn't apparent.

OTOH, I'd imagine that you could determine a difference by increasing the difficulty of the task at hand. So I'd say even "supertaskers" would still have avoidable accidents at a higher rate then they normally would. Of course, their accident rate would still be within normal limits.

Please assume you can't supertask. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31694476)

As a bicyclist, I am ready to go vigilante [dirtnail.com] on some of the drivers I see on the road regularly. Just this morning, as I was about to turn left on my way to work, a woman barreling over a hill in a 30MPH zone while going at least 40MPH was holding up an iPhone directly in the center of her field of vision, and I think she may have actually been texting on it. I sure hope that not only was she one of these so-called "supertaskers," but that she could also react well to things she happens to see in her peripheral vision. So long as you do not plow into me from behind, I can usually take care of myself (although I have seen a motorist stray all the way into the bike lane and almost off the road once), but what especially irked me was the fact that she had just passed right by an elementary school.

I consider myself to be capable of multitasking fairly well. I do not know whether I am a "supertasker," but I have seen enough crazy things on the road in my lifetime that I always make certain that my attention is fully devoted to the road whenever I am behind the wheel. Whatever time I think I may be saving by refusing to make phone calls or read texts while driving is not worth the risk of ruining someone else's life.

Re:Please assume you can't supertask. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694578)

Bike rider here too. Its april 1 btw. Shame that nobody gets the joke. On my commute I have seen bike riders in the dark with no lights, both hands off the controls and talking on a phone. No kidding. And yeah, plenty more car drivers on the phone. It should be possible to trace phone use after a crash. The network records when you sent an SMS, and when you are on a call. Why not do this for phone accounts owned by the drivers of vehicles?

One thing which worked against alcohol here in Victoria, Australia is that insurance cover for your own vehicle is void if you are found to be above the limit for blood alcohol. I think that thing above all else put the dent in the drink driving problem. So why not do it for phone use too?

Task Saturation (4, Interesting)

G-Man (79561) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694490)

1 in 40? I wonder if that is the same proportion of people who can be fighter pilots. In a past life I was a Weapons Director in the Air Force - fancy title for someone who looks at a radar screen and says "the bad guys are over there!" I worked with fighter pilots (primarily the F-15 and F-16), and the thing is, no one task they do is all that complicated. The catch is that you have to do several at the same time:

1) Fly the plane
2) Operate the radar
3) Search visually outside the cockpit
4) Talk/listen to your wingman
5) Talk/listen to radar controllers (that was me)

Only when you have mastered all these can you then:

6) Develop a mental picture of what is going on - "Situational Awareness" (SA)
7) Decide on the proper tactics and execute them, and
8) Get yourself into position and employ the weapons systems

Experienced pilots are obviously masters of all 8. An inexperienced pilot can get bogged down on step 2, and never hear you repeatedly telling him that the bandit is rolling in on his six-o-clock.

Of course, they get better, and I wonder if proper training could turn more people into 'supertaskers'. Then again, we don't spend hundreds of hours and millions of dollars training the average driver.

This doesn't apply to the police (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31694510)

This doesn't apply to the police of course. They still want to be able to use their laptops while they drive ... even though they are eight times more likely to have an accident than the rest of us. Most of these accidents involve other people. So, everyone would be safer if the police pulled over and parked before using the laptop.

I'm all for a ban on texting and driving but I sure would like to see it apply to everybody.

Utter Bullshit (0)

bradgoodman (964302) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694514)

I would be interested to see the full text of the "study". Aside from complete bias of the entire realm of psychology, what about the simple things involved, like having to take your hands off the wheel to operate another device - or worse - your eyes off the road to read the text messages. No amount of "supertasking" can compensate for this, in situations which require split-second reaction times. The "reaction times" aren't merely "mental" - but involve seeing something happen, having your brain process it, and physically reacting to the situation. Having ones eyes off the roads for a fraction of a second could mean not even observing a situation happenging before it's too late.

These laws are so stupid (1)

OrwellianLurker (1739950) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694610)

The problem is that most people can't "supertask." Taking away one distraction (to some) accomplishes nothing. People can still talk while they drive, change the song on their iPod, eat lunch, shave their bikini area, etc.

The real problem... (1)

Lord Jester (88423) | more than 4 years ago | (#31694652)

is not the texting per se, but the lack of intelligence of the driver. Washington state has passed a law prohibiting talking on your cell phone without a hands-free device for the same reason.

I know several people who can drive and talk on or text with their phone without a problem. The key is, they know better than to do it in heavy traffic that is moving more than 10 miles/20 km per hour.

The same problem occurs with individuals carrying on conversations with their passengers, reading the newspaper, changing their radio, etc, etc, etc. It comes down to common sense. Which is, unfortunately, less and less common these days.

People just need a boogie man to blame for the problems and today's society says it is politically incorrect to say that many people are just stupid when it comes to driving. We, as a society, need to grow a set of balls and call the stupid people stupid. Their feelings are not protected by any laws.

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