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Quantifying the Risk of Texting Drivers

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the where's-dragon-naturally-driving-edition? dept.

Transportation 217

An anonymous reader writes "More than 5000 people die each year as a result of being distracted while driving, and a new study indicates that teens and cell phones make for the most volatile combination. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that of all drivers under 20 involved in fatal crashes, 16 percent were distracted — the highest proportion of any age group. 'Shockingly, texting drivers took their eyes off the road for each text an average of 4.6 seconds — which at 55 mph, means they were driving the length of a football field without looking,' said David Hosansky."

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217 comments

Obligatory YouTube video (5, Insightful)

Dark$ide (732508) | about 2 years ago | (#40056153)

I've got something really insightful to say. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40056217)

Look first of allll...df, uh one sec...., what what was I telling you?

Re:Obligatory YouTube video (5, Insightful)

karnal (22275) | about 2 years ago | (#40056253)

I've seen this video a few times; is a true testament to how people get distracted.

Yesterday I had 4 others in my car, driving to get lunch after running/walking in the Komen race in Columbus. There was a man in a truck beside us, veering into our lane about 1 foot. Not the biggest deal, I crunched myself up against the yellow line (was a 2x2 road). Later on, one of the passengers asked "Is that guy in front of us drunk?" He kept weaving about a foot on each side, about once a minute in an almost rhythmic motion. Would slowly move into either lane and then after about 10 seconds jerk the wheel back. Driver wasn't texting - he was just talking on the cell and not texting. I'd hate to see what happens if he was texting and actually not having his eyes on the road.

And of course, my personal anecdotes from riding a motorcycle around this city are many. My biggest problem is there is no good way to communicate with another driver to kindly ask them to be careful with your life while you're on the road; most people beep and take it as a sign of aggression - or worse, just jump to the middle finger. My main issue there is that you never know what someone might do; and with me on a motorcycle and them in a car - even if I'm right - it'll still hurt me worse.

Re:Obligatory YouTube video (3, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#40056491)

If you notice someone driving dangerously, you can report them to the police. I did this when someone decided to start reversing out of a parking space and drove into my leg. Very low speed collision, so I wasn't injured, but he refused to admit that he'd done anything wrong by reversing into a stationary pedestrian without looking. The police went and had a chat with him about paying due care and attention. Maybe next time, he made sure he checked his blind spot before reversing...

Re:Obligatory YouTube video (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40057293)

If you notice someone driving dangerously, you can report them to the police.

Yeah, text them so there's a written record of your report!

Re:Obligatory YouTube video (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40057505)

Somewhat related, there really needs to be a universal "I'm Sorry" hand signal. Right now there's just like "Hello" "Bye" and "Fuck You."

Re:Obligatory YouTube video (2)

Zibodiz (2160038) | about 2 years ago | (#40057587)

I second this. The embarrassed cringe just doesn't cut it-- I think they usually mistake that for an 'oops, you caught me.'

form of mental illness (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40056175)

It's a form of dependency.
And what's sadder is that this dependency is so common it's become 'normal'.
What's so important that it can't wait until you pull over?

Inexperienced drivers are inexperienced (5, Insightful)

_LORAX_ (4790) | about 2 years ago | (#40056189)

Young drives have always been at risk because they have the least experience, only the distractions have changed over time.

Re:Inexperienced drivers are inexperienced (4, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#40056247)

Whatever the youth are interested in will be demonized. 60 years ago it was Elvis's hips, 50 years ago rock n roll, 30 years ago dungeons and dragons, 20 years ago it was computers/video games, now its texting. Its basically "children will be seen not heard" extended into very young adulthood.

30 years ago if a guy was fumbling around with his 8 track player or screaming at the kids in the back seat and got in an accident, eh no proof, probably get a ticket for inattentive driving anyway. Now you can prove with digital precision that the guy was sending a text message. The ability to prove exactly how the guy was goofing off is supposed to invoke moral outrage in me. It fails.

Lets try an Einstein-ian thought experiment. Dude runs over your friend and kills them. Do you feel any different about your friend's death knowing dude was texting or trying to eat a fast food burger? We are being extremely heavily propagandized that death from texting is horrifically worse than death by burger/cd/radio/8 track/plain ole daydreaming/being lost/reading a old fashioned paper map/reading a GPS map.

Re:Inexperienced drivers are inexperienced (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40056299)

Well, after having pretty much all my family in near fatal car crashes, I can definitively say there is a difference.
With my folks, they got hit by a drunk driver who was driving on the wrong side of a mountain road.
With my sister, it was a drunk driver.
With my brother, it was simply a notoriously bad junction he was coming out of.

Yeah, it sucks to be in the intensive care ward looking at people hanging by a thread, but when you KNOW that someone deliberately did something really stupid to put that person there, you really, really ask yourself a lot of questions about them, and about life, and about things that a illegal.

Re:Inexperienced drivers are inexperienced (4, Insightful)

dietdew7 (1171613) | about 2 years ago | (#40056321)

The distraction of texting is not equivalent to that of eating a burger. Texting while driving is extra stupid, I need almost full attention to text and much less to eat. imagine a spectrum of irresponsibility with just listening to the radio on the low end and smashed drunk driving on the other. Texting is right up next to drunk driving for stupidity.

Re:Inexperienced drivers are inexperienced (5, Informative)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | about 2 years ago | (#40056579)

Texting is right up next to drunk driving for stupidity.

Texting while driving has actually been demonstrated to be worse [caranddriver.com] than drunk driving in some experiments.

At least the drunk person has the intoxicating effects to blame for their idiocy (although obviously they're the ones that chose to drink in the first place so no sympathy on that count), but most people trying to text and drive at the same time are stone sober and thus have no excuse for their stupidity.

Re:Inexperienced drivers are inexperienced (4, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | about 2 years ago | (#40056855)

Texting while driving has actually been demonstrated to be worse than drunk driving in some experiments.

I'm sure it is worse in most cases - unless you are very drunk...

Texting requires a higher level of multitasking and most drivers have not been trained to text while driving, nor do they practice (under controlled circumstances!) doing it till they are very good at it. BUT I believe a small percentage of people (not all) can learn to text while driving safely.

So perhaps they should:
1) Try to train all learner drivers to text and talk while driving, and have them fail under controlled circumstances. Whether they get good enough or not they will be more aware of how dangerous and difficult it is (especially after killing many dozens in driving simulators).
2) Then have two different driving exams and licenses - if you want the license to text and drive you have to pay more, and you have to pass a very difficult exam (paying for each try!) involving texting while driving (pass = zero spelling mistakes, zero driving mistakes, and not take too long for both driving and texting) and similar difficult stuff. If you pass, you get a different driving license and get to put a special sticker on your car (like the "handicapped" sticker except we're handicapped compared to you ;) ).

With that license if you do crash while texting, and it's your fault, you still get the same penalty as everyone else. But the cops can't book you if you do not crash or break any other laws while texting or being on the phone. They can pull you over if you do not have that sticker on- just show them your license. So drive safely and you'll be fine.

People might say it's elitist, but if you are good enough to pass such a test, the rest of the drivers on the road (including me) will be a greater danger to you than you to us!. I would be very happy if more drivers on the road could drive that well. In contrast I see many drivers who can't even stick to their lane when they're not even on the phone or doing anything else but driving.

p.s. some jealous people would probably key your car if you display the sticker...

Re:Inexperienced drivers are inexperienced (4, Funny)

History's Coming To (1059484) | about 2 years ago | (#40057069)

I can drive safely while texting. The process goes like this:

1: Pick up phone.
2: Try to find "text" button while keeping my eyes on the road and fully concentrating on possible hazards.
3: Realise that's impossible.
4: Pull over.
5: Text.

Re:Inexperienced drivers are inexperienced (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40057443)

That'd be a license to get lucky, not a license to be good at doing something that is literally impossible to do while keeping attention on the road.

Re:Inexperienced drivers are inexperienced (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40057655)

Since humans provably cannot multitask, perhaps you should just focus on finishing highschool.

Re:Inexperienced drivers are inexperienced (1)

schn (1795404) | about 2 years ago | (#40057273)

yeah i suppose the burger is pretty low especially if you're driving an automatic where you don't even need both hands

Re:Inexperienced drivers are inexperienced (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40056323)

You miss the point. Read the article, please, before commenting on it, it really helps. What Elvis, rock&roll, D&D and video games have with driving? Nobody said that accidents caused by texting and driving are worse than accidents caused by eating a burger and driving. What the article does say is that 16% of accidents caused by drivers under 20 is caused by distraction, and specifically that "among the various distractions, ranging from talking with passengers to adjusting the radio, texting while driving was particularly perilous: a 2009 study focusing on drivers of larger vehicles and trucks concluded that texting raised the risk of a crash by 23 times compared with nondistracted driving". It admits also that "even talking proved to be dangerous" and that "the distractions don't stop with cellphones; carmakers are adding new technologies to the dashboard, such as Web browsers and GPS units". It's also interesting that "a poll last year found that 59 percent of adult drivers admitted to talking on a handheld cellphone while behind the wheel, and 37 percent said they engaged in texting". So even the average driver admits that texting is more dangerous than talking on the phone while driving. But you're probably not an average driver. You're a superdriver. Until you crash into somebody while texting.

Re:Inexperienced drivers are inexperienced (4, Insightful)

pla (258480) | about 2 years ago | (#40056421)

What the article does say is that 16% of accidents caused by drivers under 20 is caused by distraction

Wait - Only 16%? Seriously? And that includes "talking with passengers" and "adjusting the radio"? Wow, way to make exactly the opposite of the intended point, TFA!

Shouldn't we perhaps worry about the other 84% before we go crazy talking about things like motion sensors to disable cell phones when in motion above some arbitrary speed?

Re:Inexperienced drivers are inexperienced (3, Insightful)

ClintJCL (264898) | about 2 years ago | (#40057237)

A certain amount of accidents are not preventable. Shit actually does happen. Texting is preventable. Having the best driving skill is not.

Re:Inexperienced drivers are inexperienced (1)

lymond01 (314120) | about 2 years ago | (#40057243)

The other 84% is likely speeding and/or reckless driving (ie, doing fun stuff in the wrong place with your car).

Re:Inexperienced drivers are inexperienced (5, Interesting)

WaZiX (766733) | about 2 years ago | (#40056331)

Do you feel any different about your friend's death knowing dude was texting or trying to eat a fast food burger? We are being extremely heavily propagandized that death from texting is horrifically worse than death by burger/cd/radio/8 track/plain ole daydreaming/being lost/reading a old fashioned paper map/reading a GPS map.

Distractions of any kind increase the risk of having an accident. Texting while driving is a relatively new phenomenon and many people are not yet conscious of how much it increases the odds of having an accident. It's not propaganda to point that out.

My work is directly related to accidents (I do statistical modelling of extreme events in reinsurance) and believe me that when you have to study "dumb" accidents caused by reckless driving, texting, alcohol or simply excessive speed (1) you fully understand the motives behind what you call "propaganda". People, often kids or young adults which are hit by death, vegetative states, para- or tetraplegia, amputated limbs, ... these are the consequences of accidents and they happen every day. Believe me that when you are exposed to those horrors on a daily basis you see things a little differently. And I have a relative distance between myself and the victims, I can only hardly imagine having to go to the scene of the accident or having to judge such cases all day.

Those campaigns may be shocking or seen as demagogy, but they merely translate a reality which fortunately most people don't have to be confronted to every day. Its not propaganda, its reality.

(1) Excessive speed relative to the traffic increases the odds of an accident exponentially and there is also an exponential relationship between speed and the consequences of the accident; reason why the combined distribution is often Pareto-like.

Re:Inexperienced drivers are inexperienced (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40056805)

And propaganda is dangerous. We need better trained drivers who recognize a distraction as a distraction, not just what they are told is one. So by putting emphasize on one type of distraction you are teaching drivers only to pay attention to this one distraction and the others are okay. That's stupid, no that's insane. Anyways the number 1 distraction, as studies were showing was tired driving, what do we really need propaganda telling people not to grab a pillow while driving?

Propaganda is why I drive down the road with people who drive 5 mph under the speed limit (because you know speed kills) but can't turn a turn signal nor understand why it's bad to come to a complete stop on the road to either turn or let someone out (stopping on the road is illegal btw.) That's what propaganda gets you, people who see only a small portion of the picture and not the whole thing and end being more dangerous then the original problem you try to solve.

Instead of playing whack-a-mole with legislation and what each individual distraction is, why don't we better train drivers to do all the things right when they sit behind a wheel.

Re:Inexperienced drivers are inexperienced (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40057023)

The road rules here in the state of New South Wales state that a driver must always be in control of their vehicle. Being in an accident where there is a factor of distraction like phones or fiddling with gadgets would be grounds for dangerous driving and not driving with due attention.

Re:Inexperienced drivers are inexperienced (1)

schn (1795404) | about 2 years ago | (#40057289)

jesus christ did someone actually use 'exponentially' correctly on the internet

Re:Inexperienced drivers are inexperienced (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40057493)

"Texting while driving is a relatively new phenomenon and many people are not yet conscious of how much it increases the odds of having an accident. It's not propaganda to point that out."

Meanwhile I find it extremely sad that doing anything that distracts you from the road even NEEDS to be pointed out as dangerous, regardless of how new or old the activity is. Probably a good thing cars have low ceilings - last thing we need is to have to point out to everyone that juggling while driving can cause accidents too.

Welcome to humanity.

Re:Inexperienced drivers are inexperienced (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40056333)

Eating a hamburger while driving may be every bit as distracting as texting, but one generally doesn't eat hamburgers constantly while driving.

Many young people (all of my nieces and nephews and all of their friends) text so frequently that if it were any other voluntary behavior it would be labeled as a compulsive disorder.

Re:Inexperienced drivers are inexperienced (3, Interesting)

Capt.Albatross (1301561) | about 2 years ago | (#40056341)

Whatever the youth are interested in will be demonized.

As texting while driving is clearly dangerous, this is irrelevant.

The ability to prove exactly how the guy was goofing off is supposed to invoke moral outrage in me.

No, it is the act of putting others in grave danger for no good reason that is considered immoral.

Re:Inexperienced drivers are inexperienced (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40056793)

Whatever the youth are interested in will be demonized. 60 years ago it was Elvis's hips, 50 years ago rock n roll, 30 years ago dungeons and dragons, 20 years ago it was computers/video games, now its texting. Its basically "children will be seen not heard" extended into very young adulthood.

30 years ago if a guy was fumbling around with his 8 track player or screaming at the kids in the back seat and got in an accident, eh no proof, probably get a ticket for inattentive driving anyway. Now you can prove with digital precision that the guy was sending a text message. The ability to prove exactly how the guy was goofing off is supposed to invoke moral outrage in me. It fails.

Lets try an Einstein-ian thought experiment. Dude runs over your friend and kills them. Do you feel any different about your friend's death knowing dude was texting or trying to eat a fast food burger? We are being extremely heavily propagandized that death from texting is horrifically worse than death by burger/cd/radio/8 track/plain ole daydreaming/being lost/reading a old fashioned paper map/reading a GPS map.

A British Member of Parliament was found not guilty of killing another motorist by careless driving ro his having been proven to have sent a text a few seconds before the crash.

Re:Inexperienced drivers are inexperienced (2)

Biotech_is_Godzilla (2634385) | about 2 years ago | (#40056839)

Except Elvis's hips, D&D and video games aren't generally used to distract you while driving, and therefore don't represent a real risk to life and limb.

I'd be equally enraged at my friend being killed by someone eating a burger/ playing with the radio/ reading a map or texting while driving because a driver should know that these things are likely to distract them enough to make their driving dangerous, and if they are likely to be distracted they shouldn't be doing these things in a built-up area!

Maybe texting shouldn't be singled out any more than your other examples - people should try not to drive dangerously however that manifests itself - but don't try and pretend that this justifies trying to text while driving in busy areas. Actually, I think texting should be singled out. The main difference between texting and most of the things you mentioned is that texting (unless you're texting for directions, in which case it'd be safer to phone) isn't going to help you get to where you're going any quicker or more comfortably, and is therefore a completely unnecessary indulgence on your part, whereas "cd/radio/8 track/being lost/reading a old fashioned paper map/reading a GPS map" distractions at least serve a purpose on the trip. The point of the propaganda is to produce social stigma so it changes people's behaviour and they don't take unnecessary risks with the lives of other road users. In this case I'm all for it!

Re:Inexperienced drivers are inexperienced (2)

smpoole7 (1467717) | about 2 years ago | (#40056865)

> Whatever the youth are interested in will be demonized. 60 years ago it was Elvis's hips

Two points.

First, the unfortunate thing about the article is that it implies that teenagers are the worst. ALL texting while driving is dangerous. I don't care how good you think you are, either, if you're texting, there is NO WAY you could react in time if someone should change lanes in front of you at the precise instant that you're looking down, trying to find the "X" key.

My wife and I were almost run into a ditch the other day by a middle-aged man, staring down at his smart phone, while he flew at 75+ MPH down the interstate. The guy was weaving all over the place. Hey, I'm an older guy now, and the problem is that my eyes aren't as good as they used to be. I'd have to stare at the phone for a second, then look up and let them readjust to the road. This guy apparently didn't realize that.

Second: your argument is invalid anyway. Elvis' hips, rock and roll, and Dungeons and Dragons did not, as a general rule, involve a distracted driver in a ton of steel and glass flying down the road. Simply put, Elvis' Evil Hips(tm) didn't generally kill people.

(Except possibly for old ladies who experienced "the vapors" while watching him gyrate, but that's as may be!!!)

Re:Inexperienced drivers are inexperienced (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40057095)

Insurance companies, using in car camera data over multiple years, have learned the average time it takes a distracted driver to have a motor vehicle accident is 2 seconds. That's how quickly you can end your and/or someone else's life. Any distraction that causes you to take your eyes off the road can irrevocaby change lives. Fumbling for a dropped CD, cigarette, texting, it does'nt matter what it is. Will people who say,"Society is picking on young people!" still feel that way from a hospital bed, coffin, or their friend's funeral?
       

Re:Inexperienced drivers are inexperienced (2)

ClintJCL (264898) | about 2 years ago | (#40057227)

Yup! I sure remember a lot of youths being demonized for causing fatal car accidents while playing Dungeons and Dragons in their car. #Moron

Re:Inexperienced drivers are inexperienced (1)

burne (686114) | about 2 years ago | (#40056393)

No amount of experience will make texting while driving safe.

And equally: even experienced drinkers (alcoholics) still cause accidents.

This is not an age-thing. However: texting while driving is an additional risk, another way to have more funerals between 16 and 25, and every attempt to stop that is a good one.

Re:Inexperienced drivers are inexperienced (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | about 2 years ago | (#40056487)

every attempt to stop that is a good one

Not really... Most states are discouraging teens from driving at all. Death is better than an empty life. And all this hysteria over risk and arousing discussion of "harsh punishment" is actually just gratuitous now that the driverless car is almost here.

Re:Inexperienced drivers are inexperienced (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40056577)

every attempt to stop that is a good one

Not really... Most states are discouraging teens from driving at all. Death is better than an empty life.

I like how not driving somehow makes your life empty.

Re:Inexperienced drivers are inexperienced (5, Insightful)

Idarubicin (579475) | about 2 years ago | (#40056825)

Most states are discouraging teens from driving at all. Death is better than an empty life.

Source?

In any case, the best possible world would be one where "most states are discouraging driving". Build liveable, walkable communities, with proper mixed-use development, green spaces, multi-use trails for pedestrians and bicycles, and good connections to public transit.

If the only way for a teen to buy groceries is by driving ten miles to a big-box Wal-Mart as the sole occupant of a seven-passenger SUV, then something is fundamentally broken.

Re:Inexperienced drivers are inexperienced (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40057323)

If the only way for a teen to buy groceries is by driving ten miles to a big-box Wal-Mart as the sole occupant of a seven-passenger SUV, then something is fundamentally broken.

What is broken is your perception of reality.

Re:Inexperienced drivers are inexperienced (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40057647)

I've probably sent probably several thousand texts while driving, never even came near an accident because of it. Obviously if its stop and go traffic or 80mph surrounded by other cars you're an idiot. If its a traffic light, or you're in a wide open area, going straight in an area without deer then its pretty much impossible to cause an accident.

Texting drivers have no shame (3, Interesting)

Tim the Gecko (745081) | about 2 years ago | (#40056199)

When cycling home I was passed by a driver texting on her phone. A few hundred yards later there was an intersection with a long red light and I asked her to keep her eyes on the road. She carried on texting and had to make an effort to look up every so often to check if the light was still red. Presumably she was texting "lol cyclist tld me to stp". It seemed like an accident waiting to happen.

Re:Texting drivers have no shame (0)

blackest_k (761565) | about 2 years ago | (#40056271)

At least she was stationary, at worst she would be holding up traffic for a few seconds.
Seems reasonable behaviour, now driving off while still texting wouldn't be.

I don't understand why more people don't use bluetooth my phone connects to the car radio whenever the radio switches on and i am in range. I can press a button on the radio or its remote to take a call.
Voice activated dialling on the phone makes dialing out easy too. There are apps for reading messages as well although dictating texts is usually shockingly bad.

Most people seem to be unaware of what their hardware is capable of. Women tend to be the worst unwilling to wear the glasses they need to focus properly also unaware you can increase font size to make it easier to read.

Funny thing a cyclist complaining when they are on

Re:Texting drivers have no shame (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | about 2 years ago | (#40056337)

It's a lesser distraction to not to have to focus on the UI, but I think even conversation with a person in the car can adversely affect your driving ; if spacial concepts come up for discussion, especially. I myself notice that my driving can waver when conversing with my wife.

I might be ok with passively consuming text messages, especially on some kind of HUD (maybe Google Glasses when they emerge), but I personally avoid initiating communications whenever possible if I'm driving.

Re:Texting drivers have no shame (2)

blackest_k (761565) | about 2 years ago | (#40056473)

That can also be said of the car radio, some of the more interesting stations can be quite distracting if they are making you think, maybe that's why most are inane drivel. To be honest I believe most of us at sometime are distracted by our own thoughts at times, even if all we are thinking about is what to have to eat later when we get home.

It's even worse if your thinking about how to find a solution to a problem. If you receive a text from someone is it worse to briefly look at it or spend time wondering what it says and who it's from.
Sometimes it is really difficult to find a suitable place to pull over which is the sensible thing to do.

Re:Texting drivers have no shame (2)

SJester (1676058) | about 2 years ago | (#40056801)

There are significant differences between thinking about a text and reading or replying to one. Two comments above nailed it - there's a spectrum of distractions, and also spatial concepts really pull the mind away. Other types of thoughts and activities also drag attentiveness down, too. I'd also add that people are very bad at assessing their own attentiveness, and I can demonstrate this in a laboratory. (I'm a neuroscience grad student.) When we perform activities like texting, recall, or speaking in a foreign language, we reuse neural circuits that would otherwise be devoted to something else. Look at people with hemisphere neglect - not only can they not see things in their right visual field for example, they cannot even describe things in their right visual field from memories stored before the damage. In some cases, they cannot even be made aware that they're missing half the world. They just don't believe you, or explain it away. In that case clearly the memory recall is trying to use a damaged visual circuit, not just loading a memory from a hard drive. There's lots more about this - I can show you studies where neurons light up when something enters their visual receptive field, unless the subject is instructed to ignore them - and then the neuron acts like the stimulus is almost not there, like you failed to load the right drivers. Ever have an old computer insist the keyboard is not connected when it is? The upshot is twofold - attention can be directed and cannot be effectively split, since brains are a limited resource, and also we are very very bad at even realizing we're bad at it. I'm guessing one of the problems with the young drivers is not simply the amount that they text, but also they are inexperienced and less capable of recognizing the effect that texting has on them.

Re:Texting drivers have no shame (1)

blackest_k (761565) | about 2 years ago | (#40057091)

I am interested in what you have to say about foreign languages, because I think there are at least two modes.
  A beginner tends to think in their native language and then dig out the equivalent words in the second language. However there does come a point where you can think in the second language at which point you are no longer translating.

  It for me feels a bit like letting my English mind sit back while my Polish mind sits up front and takes care of business not a total split like a split personality but it does feel different to working with English.

I have friends who are musicians and they have stage persona's who are quite different to the offstage version. Is it true we only use 10% of our minds and if so are we employing some of the 90% ? just interested to see what a relative expert thinks :)

I do enjoy expanding my mind with different languages and perhaps even computer languages are similar to natural languages. American is largely expanded English and the thoughts are pretty much the same. Other languages think in different ways to English some concepts have no equivalent. I don't think i would drive so well while thinking in a foreign language that is more a skill i developed with English.

Re:Texting drivers have no shame (4, Insightful)

DavidTC (10147) | about 2 years ago | (#40057359)

There are three types of distractions in a car.

First, there's the plain 'Thing is happening' distraction, which can be anything from listening to the radio to talking on a hands free cell phone to another passenger. Luckily, not only are such distractions pretty minor, but in a lot of cases are actually helpful, as opposed to highway hypnosis and falling asleep and whatnot. The only real problem occurs when the other person isn't in the car, aka, they're on a cell phone, and thus they don't realize when they need to shut up and let you just drive for ten second.(1)

Second are eye distractions. Looking away from the road.

Third is hand distractions, where your hand is busy. Note this is the only 'distraction' that is built into cars, like the window control and the radio, which are designed to operate without eyes. Also eating is one of these. (This isn't really a 'distraction' issue as much as a 'control' issue. It makes dangerous situations worse, but only if they're already happening.)

The real problem is that texting is all three of these. It requires looking while you read and reply, it requires one hand all the time (cell phones do not float in midair), and it also requires some actual thought as to what to say.

It's pretty much every possible distraction rolled up into one. It's hard to think of something that could be worse. Seriously, just call the damn person, even without hands free. At least then you can watch the road.

1) Which is why everyone should really get in the habit of saying 'Hold on a sec' while they're driving and talking on the phone. All the time. No, it's not rude in any way, and people who are talking to drivers need to understand that anything might be happening. (Of course, when I mean 'driving and talking on the phone', I mean 'using hands free'.)

Re:Texting drivers have no shame (3)

SJester (1676058) | about 2 years ago | (#40057529)

You're completely right, but there's an invisible component I tried to describe before drinking coffee. A bit post-coffee now, I meant that certain behaviors -and I am confident that texting is one of them - also take your mind elsewhere. Distraction isn't just failure to point your eyes in the right direction. During certain activities your eyes can be pointed perfectly fine, and your conscious mind will simply not register. Your sensory systems were told to be quiet and they just won't signal. Or the circuit's busy because it's used for something else. Ever watch the basketball selective attention test? It's on Youtube, don't read the comments before watching. Or during saccades - look into your own eyes in a mirror. Look at your left eye, then your right, then your left... You know your eyes are moving but you don't see them move. Have someone else do the same, and you can see their eyes move. We suppress vision during saccades - and no one notices! Lots of reasons why distraction short-circuits our systems, but the key is it happens without us knowing. Our brains cheerfully lie to us. Works fine when you're concerned about rubbing sticks to make fire, or not getting eaten by a saber-toothed tiger, but it's shit at high speed in traffic. I'll bet a texting person shuts down certain necessary percepts.

Insane (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40056233)

These people control a 1+ ton machine with the power of 100+ horses, and they're not looking at what they're doing?

drunk drivers don't sober up while drving (0)

gelfling (6534) | about 2 years ago | (#40056235)

Comparing this to drunk driving is silly because the entire time, 100% of the time a drunk driver is behind the wheel they are drunk. A person texting is texting a few seconds.

Re:drunk drivers don't sober up while drving (4, Insightful)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 2 years ago | (#40056257)

During those seconds, maybe more than a few, there is at least a small chance the drunk driver is actually paying attention to driving. The same can't be said for texting. Either way, I don't think needlessly risking the lives of others should be legal.

Re:drunk drivers don't sober up while drving (2)

mosb1000 (710161) | about 2 years ago | (#40056289)

You may be shocked to learn that cars are not necessary for transportation. Better ban them while you're at it, because only a relatively small fraction of accidents are the result of distracted or drunk driving.

Re:drunk drivers don't sober up while drving (1)

dietdew7 (1171613) | about 2 years ago | (#40056353)

I thought almost all accidents were caused by inattentiveness of some kind.

Re:drunk drivers don't sober up while drving (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40056961)

That's because you're a young, inexperienced smartass who think you're clever.

Re:drunk drivers don't sober up while drving (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40056355)

only a relatively small fraction of accidents are the result of distracted or drunk driving.

Source?

Are you suggesting that the large fraction of accidents are intentional? Or the result of hardware failure?

Re:drunk drivers don't sober up while drving (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40056379)

You may be shocked to learn that cars are not necessary for transportation. Better ban them while you're at it, because only a relatively small fraction of accidents are the result of distracted or drunk driving.

Oh, the would be wonderful!

I was talking to someone once about the difference between Europe and the US when it comes to transportation. And I was mentioning that Europe isn't any Utopia by any stretch of the imagination but I sure love to be able to live without a car.

The response was something to the effect of "But they pay all those taxes!"

I mentioned that instead of paying all those taxes, we do pay fuel and in many states property taxes on the cars. But also, most of us borrowed money to pay for the car, must have insurance, pay maintenance, fuel, and every other little expense that adds up for the vehicle - which costs thousands of dollars a year. I would be real curious to see if it's really cost effective to pay more tax than have to deal with the burden of car ownership or worse - leasing.

Then the response was freedom -yadda yadda yadda ....

Being in debt means you're a slave to the lender. Having to maintain a depreciating "asset" is slavery.

And lastly, possessions are a noose around ones neck. I said possessions (cars, electronic shit, and other crap that you really don't need) - not assets (investments and savings.). Living simply and deep makes life a lot more pleasant.

Re:drunk drivers don't sober up while drving (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40056329)

Sometimes comparing apples to oranges to helps gain audience attention. Silly on paper perhaps, but often effective in the wild.

Re:drunk drivers don't sober up while drving (1)

dietdew7 (1171613) | about 2 years ago | (#40056339)

Both involve making a decision to do something unsafe and irresponsible. At least the drunk driver can claim his judgment was impaired.

Re:drunk drivers don't sober up while drving (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 2 years ago | (#40056457)

Yes, except drunk driving is not that distracting to begin with.

Texting is considerably more dangerous to do while driving.

Touchscreens just as bad as texting (5, Insightful)

finlandia1869 (1001985) | about 2 years ago | (#40056255)

You know what else is equally dumb, but has gotten a free pass? Touchscreen interfaces in cars. I make it a point to buy cars with physical controls so that I can do things by touch alone. Plus, the designers always seem to make it a point to bury settings in nested menus; this only makes it worse. 4.6 seconds is probably how long it takes some people to change the station on the radio. And of course, they have to look down at the screen to do it.

Re:Touchscreens just as bad as texting (1)

15Bit (940730) | about 2 years ago | (#40056297)

I would agree - i do wonder sometimes if the car makers have actually done any testing to evaluate the usability of their shiny new gadgets. 4.6 secs seems to me like quite a short time compared to some of the in-car distractions i've seen. At least they've stopped drivers from being able to watch movies whilst the car is moving...

Re:Touchscreens just as bad as texting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40056817)

+100

Re:Touchscreens just as bad as texting (5, Interesting)

itsdapead (734413) | about 2 years ago | (#40057165)

You know what else is equally dumb, but has gotten a free pass? Touchscreen interfaces in cars.

Not just touchscreens - UI design for cars in general, especially any sort of "multifunction" button that requires you to look at a display in order to know what it is going to do.

Pretty much all car audio design is crap in that respect. Personal favourites that I have run in to (or have nearly made me run into things) include:

  • Radio with 25% of the limited facia space occupied by big shiny bezel around a big doomsday-grade button for... toggling the audio enhancement mode. Buttons for selecting the source, changing channel etc. were scratty little things.
  • One radio that started beeping when it lost its auto-tune lock on a station. Not just any beep but a beep that got louder, louder, louder and LOUDER... forget avoiding those pedestrians and oncoming traffic because THE RADIO HAS LOST ITS AUTO-TUNE LOCK! My god, man, you're driving without the aid of soft rock and unhelpful traffic information - do something!
  • Anything with blue LED illumination. There's a reason why they use red lighting in submarine movies, morons! The device in question did have two brightness settings: blinding or merely dazzling. (See also other people's xenon headlights)
  • Anything without a volume knob.

Re:Touchscreens just as bad as texting (1)

DavidTC (10147) | about 2 years ago | (#40057453)

This.

As an aside, I have to wonder how much more dangerous texting while driving has gotten when all these smartphones. I mean, before them, plenty of people had learned how to 'touch type' on a cell phone, and could do it without looking.

Good luck doing that with a smartphone, where you have to constantly check where on the screen you're pushing and get no feedback. (Not that I'm saying it used to be safe, or that we should 'fix' smartphone so a stupidly dangerous activity is slightly safer for a small portion of people. I'm just pointing out that touchscreens require sight.)

Anyway, yes. 'Electronic modes', of any sort, in cars, are wrong. If here must be modes, there should be a damn physical toggle. Hell, even AM/FM, which has been electronic as long as I can remember, would work just as well with a button that stay pushed in for FM and pops out for AM.

And volume and tuning should be knobs, which people forget can be electronically based...my grandmother's car has knobs that do not have any sort of 'home'...they'll spin forever either way. So the radio can control the setting without it being 'desynced' from the knob position, because there is no knob position.

Also, here's a fun question: Why don't they spend two dollars and put a text-to-speech chip in these radios, and, for example, read off the radio stations as they get tuned? 'Ninety-seven point one...point three...point five...'

Darwin (4, Insightful)

rossdee (243626) | about 2 years ago | (#40056261)

Never mind the drivers that are killed, because they are texting etc, what about those that are killed or injured by them, who are innocent? (ie the pedestrians and people in the vehicles they collide with. ) They are the ones we should be concerned about.

Re:Darwin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40056315)

Since you mention Darwin, then purely from that perspective, on average, the human race would still tend to get more intelligent on average since you would be taking out one 'stupid' person, and one person who could be either 'stupid' or 'intelligent' (or anywhere in between). Net result/average would be 0.25 intelligence on a scale of 0 to 1. So we would still grow as a species in intelligence.

Disclaimer: This reply almost completely ignores empathy, any potential ethics, and side effects, apart from arguably if you are looking very long term, and even then it's suspect. It's meant as a devil's advocate style response.

Re:Darwin (3, Funny)

Rakshasa-sensei (533725) | about 2 years ago | (#40056361)

I have a better idea, one that has a much lower ratio of intelligent people needing to die.

It involves handing out guns to cyclists and giving them permits to shoot any fucker texting. Even if there's a few fake positives it will be much lower than the number dying due to texting drivers.

Re:Darwin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40056779)

I know you're semi-joking/sarcastic, but what you say ignores the cases where people who ARE able to multitask very effectively, safely driving and texting, though granted, that's probably less than 1% of the population. Still, such a skill would also help to produce a more intelligent people later on.

On a related note, when cars can drive themselves, this will completely remove any skill completely (and hence possibility of death), hence no Darwinian mechanism, and hence we could head towards a more Idiocracy style society.

I'm the same anon as before btw.

Re:Darwin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40057491)

More intelligent would mean using those extra skills to drive extra carefully, not do activities that are guaranteed to make you a dangerous fuckerlord.

Adjusting radio averages 3 seconds. (3, Funny)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 2 years ago | (#40056269)

I did some testing and adjusting the radio takes me about 3 seconds.

But I can control when I adjust it.

I'd be more concerned about people reading a text that arrived at a risky time than scanning the road, then texting.

I could not text and drive safely.

Re:Adjusting radio averages 3 seconds. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40056319)

But I can change radio stations without taking my eyes off the road because I can feel the buttons. Unless your phone has a braille pad and a braille display, you cant say the same for texting.

Re:Adjusting radio averages 3 seconds. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40056345)

You "can" but I bet you still look at the radio every time you change the channel. What you "can" do is kind of irrelevant and a cowardly way to argue a point.

Re:Adjusting radio averages 3 seconds. (1)

dkf (304284) | about 2 years ago | (#40057043)

You "can" but I bet you still look at the radio every time you change the channel.

Why bother? They all have the same payola playlists.

Re:Adjusting radio averages 3 seconds. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40056371)

If you are totally blind and have to use a braille pad, I don't want you driving , let alone texting while driving or using drive-up ATMs.

Re:Adjusting radio averages 3 seconds. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40056591)

A physical keyboard is enough to be able to text without looking, though I doubt that most people actually would even if they were able.

Being distracted while driving is dangerous. (3, Insightful)

mobby_6kl (668092) | about 2 years ago | (#40056347)

Film at eleven.

Meanwhile, Turn signal neglect results in over twice as many crashes as distracted driving [autoblog.com] , but nobody gives a shit because it's not a new scary technology used by the damn kids ruining everything.

Re:Being distracted while driving is dangerous. (1)

riscthis (597073) | about 2 years ago | (#40056717)

I expect the type of crash and outcome is quite different between those cases. A distracted/texting driver is probably more likely to end up going full speed into who/whatever they hit without even any attempt to take evasive action, because they're distracted in the first place.

I'd expect in general the turn signal crashes are much less severe, e.g. one car running into the back of another when the first one slowed to turn off without signalling, even if their might be more of these type of accidents.

Re:Being distracted while driving is dangerous. (2)

Idarubicin (579475) | about 2 years ago | (#40056877)

but nobody gives a shit because it's not a new scary technology used by the damn kids ruining everything.

I'm pretty sure that failure to properly signal turns and lane changes is actually illegal in more states than using a cell phone or texting while driving. So this must the be some newfangled we'll-fine-you-heavily-and-raise-your-insurance-rates kind of "nobody gives a shit".

Re:Being distracted while driving is dangerous. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40057497)

I'm pretty sure that failure to properly signal turns and lane changes is actually illegal in more states than using a cell phone or texting while driving.

"Failure to signal" is what cops use to justify stopping a black dri^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hsuspicious vehicle. They will follow until the driver makes an illegal turn or lane change and then light him up.

Otherwise, getting stopped for not signalling is as rare as getting stopped for going 3mph over the speed limit.

What fraction of Rhode Island does that equal? (2)

pla (258480) | about 2 years ago | (#40056369)

First, let me say that I consider it nothing short of suicidally (or even homicidally) stupid to text while driving.

That said...


which at 55 mph, means they were driving the length of a football field without looking,' said David Hosansky.

Why does any car-motion reference need to point out distances in multiples of football fields, as though that means anything? On a highway, you can see many times that distance around you, and unless something drastically changes, 120 yards really doesn't mean much. You already know about everything within that range, so merely measuring distance doesn't say much of anything.

More usefully, can a deer reach the road from the trees in 4.6 seconds? How long does it take for someone with a blowout to swerve into your lane? Will you hit the car in front of you (also moving at a similar speed, so absolute distance means nothing) within 4.6 seconds if it slams on its brakes for no particular reason?

I get the idea that most people probably have a good idea of what it feels like to walk the length of a football field; that sense of "big"ness simply doesn't meaningfully apply under highway traffic conditions.

Teens today lack basic driving skills . . . (5, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#40056381)

Back in the 70's a teen could drive 100 mph in a 25 mph zone, while simultaneously smoking a joint, snorting a line of coke off the dashboard, fingering his squealing girlfriend and not spill a drop from the glass filled with Jim Beam held in his one hand on the steering wheel.

So obviously, texting has distracted them from learning these important core driving skills, and is to blame.

Actually, you can't ban every foolish activity while driving, because fools are so ingenious, and will always find a foolish way to distract themselves while driving.

Texting device drivers (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about 2 years ago | (#40056501)

Reading the headline at first, I thought that the risk of texting device drivers was being quantified, and was surprised - I had no idea it could be done. Turns out I was right - it can't

None of this specific stuff should be illegal (3, Interesting)

bradley13 (1118935) | about 2 years ago | (#40056531)

What should be illegal is being impaired while driving. Outlawing individual distractions is an endless task, and opens the door to wrongful prosecution.

Sure, texting while driving is stupid. On the one hand: Just how is a cop going to prove that is what you were doing? Maybe you were looking at a map. On the other hand, by outlawing it, cops can accuse you of texting any time they see you with a phone in your hand, or see you looking down rather that at the road.

Here's another example: why should it be illegal to have an alcoholic beverage open in a car? If you are not intoxicated, what difference does it make if you choose to drink your after-work beer on the way home? Why is this more dangerous that drinking it in a bar and then driving home?

The law ought to be: if you are driving safely, fine. If you are not, you can be pulled over. If you are in an accident, and were provably distracted (by anything), this may play a role in the assignment of fault.

Re:None of this specific stuff should be illegal (1)

Legion303 (97901) | about 2 years ago | (#40056659)

"Just how is a cop going to prove that is what you were doing? Maybe you were looking at a map."

Whether you're texting or looking at a map, driving with your eyes off the road is the opposite of driving safely.

Re:None of this specific stuff should be illegal (2)

Brian Feldman (350) | about 2 years ago | (#40056781)

and yet every GPS for a car comes with a windshield-oriented mounting kit....

Re:None of this specific stuff should be illegal (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#40056763)

What should be illegal is being impaired while driving.

Which is what you're doing if you're holding a phone in one hand and looking at it instead of the road.

On the other hand, by outlawing it, cops can accuse you of texting any time they see you with a phone in your hand

They don't need to in the UK - just holding the phone is enough (rightly so in my opinion).

The law ought to be: if you are driving safely, fine.

Good luck defining "driving safely". Isn't it for that very reason that we have driving laws in the first place? If you could define it, we wouldn't need speed limits, signals, laws against using a mobile phone...

Re:None of this specific stuff should be illegal (3, Interesting)

bradley13 (1118935) | about 2 years ago | (#40056895)

Speed limits, with the possible exceptions of highways, are supposed to be set to reflect the road conditions. Traffic lights are supposed to improve traffic flow. Etc, etc. Of course, there are plenty of cities and towns that have forgotten this, and turned traffic laws into revenue generators.

You literally cannot enumerate all the possible things that might distract a driver. What about eating a hamburger? hat about the animated billboards along the road? What about having your girlfriend flirt with you? Women putting on their makeup? Guys shaving? Trying to make a law to cover each and every possibility is just stupid. Moreover, what is distracting to one person or in one situation may be perfectly fine in another. Looking at your mobile phone while driving is dangerous? What if you are stopped at a traffic light?

What's more, TFA can't even justify the anti-texting law. Only 1/6 of the accidents of the drivers most vulnerable to distraction (the under 20s) were due to distraction. TFA doesn't even attempt to figure out how many of those 1/6 were due to texting - it simply assumes that texting must play a big enough role to deserve its own, special law. The study - at least, the freely available excerpts - is no better, leaping from 5000 traffic deaths per year (total due to distraction) to the assumption that outlawing one specific behavior is somehow useful.

Reality: this is another "feel-good" law that legislators will pass, so that they can be seen to be "doing something". Meanwhile, they continue to deliberately ignore the real, important issues they ought to deal with.

Banning texting increases accidents (1)

Relayman (1068986) | about 2 years ago | (#40056543)

But then there's the law of unindented consequences. It seems that states that ban texting see an increase in accidents. People who text continue to text but do so by putting their hands in their lap, which is even more dangerous. So be careful what you wish for.

Full article [csmonitor.com]

technical solution (1)

amunds0n (2562195) | about 2 years ago | (#40056905)

just need to require a phone to auto connection in order for your 16-year-olds car to start and operate. Then block all texting while driving.

Has ANYONE read the paywalled article? (1)

bagofbeans (567926) | about 2 years ago | (#40057223)

Is that 4.6 second TOTAL PER TEXT, i.e. a sum of quick glances (just like looking in a mirror), or 4.6 secs average per interaction with the device?

There is a big difference between the two...

Texting is just a scapegoat. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40057699)

I'm fresh outa high school. I know many people who don't text and drive (I am pretty much unable. My alignment needs work, so my car has a slight right lead, and I can't shift (Love my 5 speed), hold the wheel, and hold a phone at the same time, though I can shove a burger whilst driving), but are just as dumb. Coming back the school, I regularly leave 5 car lengths behind certain people, as I know personally their driving record (I live in a rural farm area, so hillbillies/hicks/whatever_term_isn't_offensive_but_describes_people_who_don't_farm_but_wish_they_did_and_drive_a_raised_beater_pickup_everywhere, are common and none too bright. Mostly, they are outright oblivious, taking dip, while racing their big top heavy, pickups around curvy roads.), or can infer from personal characteristics and their vehicle. (If it has massive dents in the side, or is being driven by a jock or similar, I avoid them.) There is also a great amount of scared, panic laden, women who drive their families large SUVs, but won't do more than 5 under the limit under good conditions, thereby initiating rage in the aggressive drivers, whilst simultaneously endangering everyone through their jerky, unsure moves.
I know people who have crashed their ride, not because of inattentive driving, but because they just didn't look. Crap happens, and humans make goofs. Teenages aren't even completely responsible. I make regular trips from the Lehigh Valley, to Philadelphia, (I-476 is a deathtrap...) and I see many people who drive worse than the aformentioned hicks. Either they wanta use all the horses in their fancy new toy, or their in a hurry, or they just don't care about the road. There is also a large number of accidents on certain tight cloverleafs, where people can't weave to save their lives. I suppose nobody ever taught them the concept of changing speed relative to traffic...
Ultimately, we all have our problems driving. Outlawing texting doesn't change this. Dumb people are dumb people. If they can't text, they'll play backgammon to occupy their bored minds. All you do is keep an eye out, and a way out. I've dodged a good number of accidents, some caused by teens and some caused by middle-aged persons, by simple evasive driving, and quick thinking.

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