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Talking On the Phone While Driving Not So Dangerous After All

timothy posted about a year ago | from the context-is-all dept.

Transportation 418

Dorianny writes "New research which takes advantage of the increase in cell phone use after 9pm due to the popularity of 'free nights and weekends' plans showed no corresponding increase in crash rates (PDF). Additionally, the researchers analyzed the effects of legislation banning cellphone use, enacted in several states, and similarly found that the legislation had no effect on the crash rate. 'One thought is that drivers may compensate for the distraction of cellphone use by selectively deciding when to make a call or consciously driving more carefully during a call.' Score this a -1 for common sense."

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418 comments

Texting on the other hand... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44513993)

You fuckers need to keep your hands on the God damn wheel.

Re:Texting on the other hand... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514185)

So, let's see...

Me: OK Google Now, send text to Joe. Hey, Joe, I am driving and texting period Woohoo exclamation point. Do you want to get a beer question mark

Why can I not do that while driving? My hands never left the wheel and the phone is still in my shirt pocket.

Re:Texting on the other hand... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514383)

and your head is still up your ass.

cognitive science (5, Insightful)

Maj Variola (2934803) | about a year ago | (#44514001)

You have limited infoprocessing resources. You spend some on a conversation, its less for driving. Conversations can be more distracting than ethanol. Its pretty simple. I've told my wife and kid to shut up when I'm concentrating on a new route. Know your limits.

Re:cognitive science (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514181)

Not everyone is as limited in their resources as you. Some people can walk and chew gum at the same time.

Re:cognitive science (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514277)

Not everyone needs to cause a violent collision and kill someone to discover that they too have limits.

Re:cognitive science (4, Insightful)

narcc (412956) | about a year ago | (#44514351)

Because driving is an excellent time to push yourself to your cognitive limits?

How about this? "Know your limits ... and stay well below them while driving!"

Re: cognitive science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514403)

Some people can walk and chew gum at the same time.

May they write that on your tombstone brother!

Re: cognitive science (4, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year ago | (#44514571)

Some people can walk and chew gum at the same time.

May they write that on your tombstone brother!

"Here lies Bob Johnson. He was convinced he could walk and chew gum at the same time. Unfortunately for him, he was wrong".

Re:cognitive science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514411)

1 accident involving a drunk that hit my parked car and also hit my neighbors house 3 accidents involving someone texting hitting my parked car and totaling it 1 accident involving someone texting and taking the mirror off my parked car 1 accident involving someone rear ending me at a stop sign then getting out of their car and asking me not to call the police while the sheriff was standing behind them because he had been following her and she hadn't noticed cause she was talking on her cell phone still 1 accident involving a f150 going about 40mph in a parking lot {not sure why that ended up being my fault or how he got going that fast in such a short distance I think he was trying to total it}

There you go a recount 4 texting 1 talking on a cell phone 1 drunk and 1 guy I think wanted to total his truck to get out from under the payments.

Re: cognitive science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514437)

Well quite parking *in* the street!

Re:cognitive science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514463)

For your sake, I hope you WERE driving while typing that wall of gibberish. At least then you'd have an excuse.

Re:cognitive science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514491)

1 period. Takes more than 1 fucking period for a post to make sense, dumbass.

Re:cognitive science (4, Interesting)

TheCarp (96830) | about a year ago | (#44514321)

> Conversations can be more distracting than ethanol

However, I don't think distraction is the problem here. A distracted driver can, so some degree, compensate. Everyone has limits, I too have asked people to shut up or told the person on the phone "hold on a second, I need to drive" when a situation got precarious.

On the other hand, I know some bad drivers who have called me and talked for hours and never said such a thing.

But ethanol....thats special. I remember the first time I got drunk. The first clear thought I had was "I am fine, this stuff has no effect on me, I could do anything I normally do". Right after saying this, I stood up...and promptly the room started to spin and I fell back into my seat.

The problem with ethanol is not the famed "reaction time". As my Motorcycle safety and driving instructors both said.... if you are driving so close that raw reaction time matters that much, you are already in trouble.

The problem is that ethanol supresses the ability of most people to judge how impaired they are. An impaired driver can compensate (to a degree anyway), a driver who doesn't feel he is impaired can't.

That is the real danger of ethanol, fuck reaction times. I bet you my grandmother, before her car died, had reaction times as bad as a drunk driver, but, that's why she drove maddeningly slow down the road (I was stuck behind her a few times actually)...she was impaired, she compensated; drunk people often can't do that.

Re:cognitive science (5, Funny)

RenderSeven (938535) | about a year ago | (#44514391)

Cognitive load. Experienced drivers dont spend much cognitive load to drive in normal conditions. Listening to music, not much. Listening to someone talking, lots. Driving fast, heavy traffic, navigating new routes, and poor conditions consume significantly higher load. All this is why you turn down the radio when looking for an address in the dark. It also makes an excellent excuse to tell the wife and kids to shut up ("Hey put a sock in it, I've never walked this way to the fridge before").

Re:cognitive science (2)

Idetuxs (2456206) | about a year ago | (#44514449)

Sure .. way to make your family shut up!

Re:cognitive science (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514453)

Funny you are. US Air Force has done lots of research on pilot workloads, and voice alerts seem to win out over a cacophony of just different alert sounds and visual alerts.
Even better if they can place the voices spatially, as it were. Of course, there is some prioritization of alerts too... a cacophony of voice alerts is as bad as a cacophony of sirens, buzzers, etc. (Spend time in an ICU to see what nurses have to decypher w.r.t alarms and alerts)

Brain indeed has finite attention bandwidth, overall, but it is different for each input device or method and what is happening.

they sure aren't likely to say that they used a ce (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#44514005)

they sure aren't likely to say that they used a cellphone when crashing that's for sure...

anyhow, driving while distracted is illegal in most countries for obvious reasons, no matter what the distraction. yet some douches read the newspaper while driving.

Re:they sure aren't likely to say that they used a (1)

Jeff Flanagan (2981883) | about a year ago | (#44514223)

I've seen people reading all kinds of things, including very thick books while behind the wheel. Many women do their makeup while driving too. If you wouldn't read the newspaper or do your makeup while firing a gun, you shouldn't do it while driving.

Re:they sure aren't likely to say that they used a (1)

aitikin (909209) | about a year ago | (#44514487)

Most of those people have no idea what shooting a gun feels like...

Re:they sure aren't likely to say that they used a (2)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#44514333)

they sure aren't likely to say that they used a cellphone when crashing that's for sure...

anyhow, driving while distracted is illegal in most countries for obvious reasons, no matter what the distraction. yet some douches read the newspaper while driving.

Driving while nattering on the phone is as common as dirt. Just because there's some legislation passed does not stop people from doing it. I can sit at a light and watch drivers go past and often more than 50% are holding a phone to their head with one hand. If they put up some cameras to record this and mail out the tickets it might change things a bit, particularly as insurers would be alerted as to who is a higher risk.

I've seen the darnedest things while driving - applying make-up, shaving (face, not legs or back hair), dogs running back and forth in a car (right across the driver's view) and lots and lots of nose-picking (don't follow too close, fred, they're liable to fling a booger on your windshield!)

I will say this, every time I've seen an accident or been hit in one, the other driver had a phone in their hand. I'm curious who funded this study.

Re:they sure aren't likely to say that they used a (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44514685)

I will say this, every time I've seen an accident or been hit in one, the other driver had a phone in their hand. I'm curious who funded this study.

After skimming the first couple pages, I'm a bit offended that this qualifies as a "scientific study."

Basically, the "researchers" looked at a couple of graphs, and said, "OOH! Look! A correlation! CORRELATION == CAUSATION!!! WE GEE-NYUS-SES!"

The crocodiles in Pearls Before Swine do better research.

They can both be right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514013)

There's at least one possible interpretation of the data which could mean that both common sense (read: a preponderance of anecdotal data indicating that people get in crashes because they're distracted by their cell phone) and this study's findings are correct.

1. Driving is boring
2. People distract themselves
3. Cell phones are preferred form of distraction

If you take away the cell phones, they'll just distract themselves some other way - perhaps by fiddling with the radio, or singing, or reading billboards, or looking at other peoples' cars, etc., etc..

Re:They can both be right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514053)

In the interest of full disclosure, I don't have a particularly strong opinion about laws banning the use of cell phones while driving, or laws requiring the use of hands-free devices. I have a mild opinion in the form of "we already have reckless driving laws, let's just use those instead of micromanaging the various ways people can drive recklessly."

Re:They can both be right (4, Interesting)

pspahn (1175617) | about a year ago | (#44514171)

My old commute back in The Bay Area took me over the San Mateo Bridge.

I started working night-shift for awhile, and left early one morning (4am?) to find myself driving eastbound over the high span portion in very dense fog. It was like flying in space. It was awesome, and I have never been more attentive at the wheel.

Solution? Build roads inside space tunnels to prevent people from being bored.

Re:They can both be right (3, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | about a year ago | (#44514365)

There's also another way to interpret the data—that the negative effects of using the phone more after 9 P.M. for fully awake drivers are cancelled out by the positive effects of ongoing interaction with another person helping keep sleepy drivers more alert. If this is the case, then banning cell phone use might actually cost lives....

Re:They can both be right (2)

Silvrmane (773720) | about a year ago | (#44514619)

You only have one job while you're driving. Drive the car. To do this, you have to watch out for other cars, be aware of road conditions, read signs along the road, watch for animals or humans crossing the road, monitoring your speed, etc. It's a lot to work on. You really even shouldn't daydream or let your mind wander - concentrate on the job at hand. If it's too boring, take the bus and stop endangering other people's lives.

Not sure (1)

Cloud K (125581) | about a year ago | (#44514031)

I think it's rather risky to post this without a question mark after the title - pretty sure I remember how "studies showed" that vegetables weren't good for you once.

I imagine it depends on the driver and whether they compensate by pausing the conversation when things need concentration etc. But I've seen people trying to drive a *shopping trolley* while talking on the phone and failing hard, so a car? Hm.

Re:Not sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514193)

pretty sure I remember how "studies showed" that vegetables weren't good for you once.

By themselves, most aren't. Humans don't have all the digestive capabilities necessary to extract all the types of vitamin and mineral from some of the popular vegetables. Mostly that refers to stuff from leaves, but I think some roots apply as well. We learned how to get around that, so a small splash of Ranch or Bleu Cheese dressing provides the fats needed to digest most of the value from your salad.

There are other workarounds, but a splash of dairy can make the difference between a healthy salad and a stomach full of nearly inert filler.

Re:Not sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514195)

I think it's rather risky to post this without a question mark after the title - pretty sure I remember how "studies showed" that vegetables weren't good for you once.

I imagine it depends on the driver and whether they compensate by pausing the conversation when things need concentration etc. But I've seen people trying to drive a *shopping trolley* while talking on the phone and failing hard, so a car? Hm.

When you get your license you're expected to complete certain tasks. Driving with a distraction should be one of them. If you can't do that you shouldn't be driving!

the real problem (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#44514047)

I was ok when they banned talking on the cell phone, it was banning texting that really annoyed me.

Re:the real problem (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#44514301)

why? texting takes more attention.

anyways the whole study sounds a bit suspect since their logic is just that since cheaper phone calls didn't cause an increase in crashing....... it's stupid.

Re:the real problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514435)

He's mute you insensitive bastard!

Re:the real problem (2)

David Betz (2845597) | about a year ago | (#44514481)

My biggest issue is when people tell me that I can't use Google Maps as my GPS. I'm NOT going to buy a Garmin device! My 4" tablet is my GPS!

From old data, Ignores texting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514067)

. Specifically, we exploit a natural experiment which arises from a feature characterizing a large share of cellular phone plans from 2002 to 2005—a discontinuity in the marginal price of a phone call at 9 pm on weekdays

People weren't texting and driving back then, and it's OLD data anyway.

Another one! (4, Informative)

TheCarp (96830) | about a year ago | (#44514077)

This jives pretty well with the study I have been showing everyone I can which actually studied the individuals who DO get in accidents with cell phones. What it found was that, as a group, they tended to get in more accidents than other drivers; even when not using cell phones!

Not only that but, while it has been found that most drivers using cell phones drive more cautiously; but these drivers in particular tended to drive LESS cautiously when distracted! This pretty clearly pointed to bad drivers with cell phones being more a judgement issue than a distraction issue.

So these findings are pretty unsurprising in light of that. It has been known for a while now that decreasing real phone usage doesn't change accident rates. NY state observed a 60% decrease in the number of drivers on the road observed to be using cell phones.... with no change in its accident rates.

Re:Another one! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514231)

This jives pretty well...

Jibes [wiktionary.org] , even. Unless both the study you reference and your comments are in fact jive, which seems a distinct possibility.

Re:Another one! (1)

RenderSeven (938535) | about a year ago | (#44514717)

From your link: "Usage notes: "jive" and "jibe" are frequently used interchangeably in the U.S. to indicate the concept "to agree or accord". However, while one recent dictionary accepts this usage, most sources consider this an error."

So it should be considered optional for Grammar Nazi's to point out.

Re:Another one! (1)

Kaenneth (82978) | about a year ago | (#44514279)

Which then calls into question drunk driving statistics.

Do people who disregard the law and drive while slightly drunk more likely to take other risks while driving sober, and get into accidents anyway?

Re:Another one! (5, Insightful)

TheCarp (96830) | about a year ago | (#44514581)

Actually a friend of mine tells an amusing story of being in a class in HS where the teacher brought out the alcohol and driving stats and asked the class "What do these stats tell you?"

Apparently the teacher didn't like it when he raised his hand and said something which I actually believe to be true: "It takes about 10 years to learn how to drive a car well".

I would have laughed at you had you said that to me when I was in my early 20s. At this point, I would smack my 20something self for being stupid.

Re:Another one! (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | about a year ago | (#44514689)

Since we cannot tell one from another, this is why we have the saying "this is why can't have nice things".

9 PM? (2)

MrEricSir (398214) | about a year ago | (#44514081)

Could it simply be that there's fewer accidents after 9 PM, regardless as to whether people are on the phone or not?

Call me crazy, but I always assumed more accidents took place during rush hour than after.

Re:9 PM? (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44514191)

Could it simply be that there's fewer accidents after 9 PM, regardless as to whether people are on the phone or not?

They looked at accident data before and after the "free minutes" were available. So they were not comparing 9PM to 6PM, but rather 9PM with free minutes to 9PM without free minutes.

Anyway, I find their conclusion hard to believe. I was in several near accidents while talking before I swore off using the phone while driving.

Re:9 PM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514515)

Could it simply be that there's fewer accidents after 9 PM, regardless as to whether people are on the phone or not?

They looked at accident data before and after the "free minutes" were available. So they were not comparing 9PM to 6PM, but rather 9PM with free minutes to 9PM without free minutes.

Yeah, I'd like to first see how they arrived at the conclusions of "free minutes causes more drivers" and "free minutes causes more people to talk on a cell phone while driving", on which this "study" appears to be predicated.

So you mean to tell me .. (4, Interesting)

OzPeter (195038) | about a year ago | (#44514083)

So you mean to tell me all those people in the passing lane, who are driving significantly slower than the speed limit, weaving from side to side within their lane, and have their head tilted over, looking down, with their cell phone clamped to their ear are safe drivers?????

Re:So you mean to tell me .. (1)

keltor (99721) | about a year ago | (#44514167)

No, but they'd be bad drivers causing accidents even if they didn't have phones. Accident rates didn't go up when phones became popular and didn't go down when states banned them. The drivers are the issue, not the devices.

Re:So you mean to tell me .. (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | about a year ago | (#44514183)

So you mean to tell me all those people in the passing lane, who are driving significantly slower than the speed limit, weaving from side to side within their lane, and have their head tilted over, looking down, with their cell phone clamped to their ear are safe drivers?????

This must be the same researchers that are telling the world that pumping CO2 into the atmosphere has no impact on climate.

Remember in the 70's when the tobacco companies trotted out expert after expert to tell us that smoking was safe?

Re:So you mean to tell me .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514211)

No, it means that they are unsafe drivers regardless of whether they're on the phone. If they weren't being distracted by a phone, it might be a radio, or putting on makeup, or maybe even daydreaming.

dom

Re:So you mean to tell me .. (1)

Dorianny (1847922) | about a year ago | (#44514221)

Perhaps these are the same people that would be driving significantly faster than the speed limit, swerving from lane to lane, if they weren't on the phone.

Re:So you mean to tell me .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514349)

No! They mean to tell you that the roads are not very crowded between 9 PM and 5 AM so that even bad drivers have a harder time running into someone else.

Re:So you mean to tell me .. (4, Insightful)

TheCarp (96830) | about a year ago | (#44514413)

More likely those people are just not representative of drivers using cell phones. You notice them more, because of selection bias.

Most cell phone drivers are the ones sitting in some random lane, not changing lanes, driving slow and making everyone pass them. They are sitting at red lights after the green, and letting people pass when they should go.

Re:So you mean to tell me .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514711)

Most cell phone drivers are the ones sitting in some random lane, not changing lanes, driving slow and making everyone pass them.

Uhm... I'd like to think that most cell phone drivers are the ones using a headset and driving normally, just like you. You wouldn't know that I am on the phone, if you were on the highway next to me.

Don't judge all cell phone drivers, just because some people really do lack the cognitive ability to drive and talk.

There's a reason... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514113)

...there's a reason they all it an accident.

And to be blunt: yes, it's because something not intended by either party involved caused the automobile to go in a direction not intended.

Can we stop super-duper-effectively defining everything down to a science and just say:

"PAY THE ATTENTION TO THE ROAD!"

Limited Conditions (1)

PhxBlue (562201) | about a year ago | (#44514119)

The study addresses cell phone use after 9 p.m. on weeknights. But how much traffic is on the road at that time of night compared to, say, rush hour?

Re:Limited Conditions (1)

repepo (1098227) | about a year ago | (#44514441)

This. Traffic conditions have to be the same in order to compare increased cell phone usage with crash rates. Considerable more driver attention is required when traffic is heavy!

Doesn't it seemed like a flawed study? (1)

Bin_jammin (684517) | about a year ago | (#44514123)

The study makes the assumption that people will wait for the free call period after 9pm, and assumes that if more people were waiting for that point that we would see a corresponding increase in crashes, but from what I can gather there's no segregation of the data to show how many of the test subjects have data plans that are not unlimited in call time. I have to imagine that if you're waiting for 9pm in order to make a call, it's an important call and you'll make it from someplace other than the inside of a car. Most people without unlimited call plans still make short calls after and before 9pm if they assume the calls will be short and not significantly impact available billed minutes.

Re:Doesn't it seemed like a flawed study? (2)

Dorianny (1847922) | about a year ago | (#44514361)

The study makes no such assumptions. As the paper notes they use Carrier data to show a "7.2 percent jump in driver call likelihood at the 9pm threshold".

Re:Doesn't it seemed like a flawed study? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#44514661)

As the paper notes they use Carrier data to show a "7.2 percent jump in driver call likelihood at the 9pm threshold".

How does the carrier know whether someone's driving or not?

News at 11! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514137)

Easily distracted drivers still crash without increase use of cell phones! People with common sense even with greater use of cell phones won't crash! OMG, this is so ground breakers /Sarcasm

Does this surprise anyone? Idiotic people will still be idiotic no matter what type of distraction you put in from of them, they will still find a way. The only difference will be the cause of the crash and not the amount of crash itself. Sure, they are probably some who have crashed who wouldn't have normally not but the amount of them are probably statistically insignificant.

That said, seeing people on their phones while driving generally annoys the hell out of me because they are driving bad enough for me to notice they are using their cell phones but there are plenty of bad drivers without cell phones as well. The cell phone just happens to be a part of a bigger problem.

The extra people calling at 9pm aren't drivers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514145)

People driving cars and talking on cellphones are not that price sensitive. The article does some hand waving about single car occupancy, but I don't buy that part of their argument and thus their conclusions.

First they came for... (4, Funny)

chinton (151403) | about a year ago | (#44514147)

First they came for the callers, but I didn't speak up because I have blue-tooth.

Then they came for the texters, but I didn't speak up because I never text and drive.

Then they came for me... And no one would pick up.

Re:First they came for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514331)

Could you stop with this old meme please?

Re:First they came for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514519)

?GODWIN ERROR - Nazi Era personage cited in argument: Martin Niemöller.

Depends on distraction type and driver - probably (1)

ImdatS (958642) | about a year ago | (#44514159)

I don't know, I knew a guy who would, every year, drive from Kiel (Northern Germany) to Malaga (Spain) in his Volkswagen van. While doing so, he would read poems and memorize these so could recite.

The distance is about 2700 Km (1600 miles) and he never had an accident. I don't know how he did it, but for about ten years, he was quite a safe driver (after that, I lost contact to him - because I moved to another place)...

Re:Depends on distraction type and driver - probab (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about a year ago | (#44514723)

Maybe he was lucky... If you are drunk, texting, talking on the phone or concentrating on adjusting the climate control on the unbelievably crappy BMW "smart control", you are not going to have an accident as long as nothing unexpected happens. But if something does, a child crossing the road, tire blowing out, someone cutting in front of you or braking hard... then your chances of avoiding that accident are a lot worse compared to a fit and alert driver.

Know your limits. For myself, a conversation to a passenger does not distract me. A phone call however does, even when calling hands-free, so I never take calls while driving. And anything that takes your eyes off the road for more than a brief moment is bad, no matter how good your concentration or cat-like your reflexes are. You can send a thousand text messages or read a hundred poems in perfect safety, but fail to notice slowed/stopped traffic up ahead on the highway once, and you're toast. Perhaps it never happens but why worsen the odds?

Pilots Do this all the time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514161)

I have been saying for years that pilots are required to be on the radio. They are taught to prioritise - aviate, navigate then communicate. They can't just pull over the aircraft. Drop below minimum speed, alter altitude significantly from what you've been assigned and there is real potential for disaster.

Drivers can't avoid distractions. What do you do when your six month old starts choking in the back seat? Drivers need to be taught how to handle distractions. When to pull over. What to do if you can't pull over safely when there's a distraction. If you teach drivers that all they can do is avoid the distraction you're not living in the real world.

Funding source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514187)

Who funded the study? Was this like the Microsoft "studies"?

Define "driving" (1)

presspass (1770650) | about a year ago | (#44514205)

Part of the problem is we're using a term like "driving" to include everything from 80 mph bumper to bumper madness to "miles from nowhere" endless, flat, straight, deserted, try to stay awake land.
Like everything else, let's be precise about what we're talking about.

I can't be the only one (1)

hedgemage (934558) | about a year ago | (#44514225)

I should never talk on the phone while driving. Heck, my driving ability decreases even with a in-depth conversation with a passenger in the car. Since I can freely admit that using a cell phone while driving makes me a worse driver, I have a hard time believing that there aren't enough others with the same problem to warrant even a statistical blip.

This is bull (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514237)

I have been in two car accidents in the past three years. Bot times I was hit by another driver who was at fault and talking on their phone.

Re:This is bull (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514731)

Or so you say... the other drivers probably think it was your fault... heck they were probably calling 911 preemptively just in case

Driving more carefully? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514239)

"One thought is that drivers may compensate for the distraction of cellphone use by ... consciously driving more carefully during a call."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't attempting to "consciously drive more carefully" the thing every single intoxicated driver ever tries to talk themselves into? You know, that same "conscious attempt to drive more carefully" that leads to surprisingly few accidents being caused by intoxicated drivers?

Re:Driving more carefully? (1)

Dorianny (1847922) | about a year ago | (#44514443)

"One thought is that drivers may compensate for the distraction of cellphone use by ... consciously driving more carefully during a call."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't attempting to "consciously drive more carefully" the thing every single intoxicated driver ever tries to talk themselves into? You know, that same "conscious attempt to drive more carefully" that leads to surprisingly few accidents being caused by intoxicated drivers?

Intoxicated drivers typically drive far more aggressively than normal, rather than more carefully.

Was this paper prepared by the Telecom industry? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514251)

I call BS!

I see people swerving all the time when they talk and I live in a state where cell phone use will driving is illegal. They simply ignore the law.

  It also p*sses me off when they get on the phone in the fast lane and slow down to 40 mph creating a traffic jam, or fail to drive when the light changes green, especially at left-hand turn lights which are very short. Or they nearly miss their exit and swerve across three lanes of traffic to make their exit. What right do they have to inconvenience all of the other drivers on the road so they can take a phone call? Cell phones and driving bring out the worse in people.

Of course! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514261)

Over the past 20 years, we have gone from vitrually no cell phones to everyone having them. However, over that period of time, crash rates have gone down! Any study that fails to explain this real-world observation is flawed and should be disregarded, regardless of what your "common sense" may tell you. This is how science is done. It must correlate with real data, not public opinion or political viewpoints.

Um... (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about a year ago | (#44514287)

Talking On the Phone While Driving Not So Dangerous After All

Be that as it may, please don't tell all these idiot drivers that! :p

Law didn't change behavior. (5, Insightful)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | about a year ago | (#44514295)

Talking and texting while driving was made illegal. Accident rates didn't change. That doesn't say anything about how dangerous it is to talk or text while driving. Instead, it just says that the law is sporadically enforced, if at all, and universally ignored by drivers. Accident rates didn't change because talking/texting while driving rates also didn't change.

I question how much free minutes changed calling patterns, too. I suspect cell phone companies offered that feature knowing there would be little or no change in calling patterns and they would continue to make nearly all the money they already were before the change, indicating that people aren't taking advantage of free minute time windows.

Purely anecdotal. (1)

macbeth66 (204889) | about a year ago | (#44514309)

All I can say is that when I am in the car with someone talking on the phone while they are driving, they are absolutely distracted. And it is a lot more than when they talk to someone else in the car. I don't know why this is so, just that I've noticed a tendency for them to drift in the lane, slow down or speed up or not take curves as crisply. It may be that it is harder to talk to a disembodied voice than it is to talk to someone that is next to you. All the non-verbal ques are missing.

Marginal (1)

Dan East (318230) | about a year ago | (#44514311)

It's pretty obvious that, assuming there is one, the increased risk of talking on a cell phone while driving can only be marginal. Hundreds of millions of people have been doing this for years now, and we've not seen any huge surge in accidents. If you look at vehicle fatalities in the USA per year (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_in_U.S._by_year) you will see that the fatality rate per population has decreased steadily. We would have to see some increase between say 1995 and today, or even between 2000 and today, if there was any real risk of talking on cell phones while driving.

Now regarding those statistics, yes, obviously the fatality rate is lower today than say in 1970 because vehicles are vastly safer. But that is not the case over the last decade or two - vehicles are about as safe today as they were 10 years ago. In fact, in all the states in this part of the US the interstate speed limit was increased from 65 to 70 over the last 4 or 5 years, and even that coupled with the explosion in cell phone usage has not resulted in a change in the downward trend in fatalities.

Even the very recent explosion in texting and social connectivity over the last 5 years, which I agree is certainly a much larger distraction than talking, has not caused the fatality rate to increase.

I'll say it once again. Tens of millions of people talk on cell phones while driving now, while 15 years ago only a small portion of people could afford them, yet the overall statistics do not show any increase in fatalities. Thus if there is a greater risk it is only marginal.

Re:Marginal (1)

Splab (574204) | about a year ago | (#44514489)

Yes, because death is the only possible outcome of a crash.... And obviously improved safety has done nothing...

Re:Marginal (1)

AaronW (33736) | about a year ago | (#44514587)

Part of it may be the fact that it takes more brain processing when listening to the poor audio quality from a cell phone than someone speaking next to them. Plus the other person speaking is also aware of conditions around the vehicle and the driver can better prioritize on driving. Things are especially bad when one of the parties on the cell phone has less than ideal reception.

Wonky Science (1)

TrollheartBlue (2944865) | about a year ago | (#44514337)

The graph at the end compares fatal accidents with pre and post ban. Most fatal accidents seem to be caused by drunk driving or speeding, not talking on the cellphone. The latter seems to cause fender benders and other relatively minor crashes. I have no proof for what I just said but I'm sure a study somewhere backs it up.

At those times traffic is low as well, so what? (1)

AlienSexist (686923) | about a year ago | (#44514341)

After 9pm it is safe to say there are less vehicles on the road to bump into and fewer other drivers also distracted with their phones. Not hitting that critical mass.

Did they measure... (1)

rnturn (11092) | about a year ago | (#44514345)

... the injury rate of drivers who were so enthralled with swiping through their cellphone menus when the light turned green that they were dragged out of their cars and thrashed by the people stuck behind them?

:^)

Laws don't work if people don't follow them (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514373)

Its highly illegal in my state to talk and drive at the same time; But everybody in the highway does it anyway. I see so many bloated middle-aged women on the phone, driving huge cars and driving people off the road due to being distracted by the phone, its insane.

The passing of laws doesn't matter if nobody wants to follow them. Worse, the same law that makes it illegal to do also makes it illegal to report somebody who is violating it.. since I would have to use a phone.

Low fines, no way to report others, no incentive to report others, all the incentive need to not report others, and cops more owrried about other things means that the passing of the law in WA to stop this hasn't done anything... but that doenst mean people don't die because people use cellphones on the highway.

The OP is wrong, and is trying to prove something hat is harmful isn't, my guess is special interests and a slashdotvertisment.

My destroyed truck would disagree (5, Interesting)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about a year ago | (#44514397)

Granted, me and Ol' Belle (may she rest in peace) have a biased opinion. But ending up upside down because some teenage twit thought what was happening on her phone was far more important that looking out the window does tend to skew your opinion.
T-boned at an intersection after she had a full 10 seconds of red light in front of her. She never bothered to look, and blew through the intersection at 50+.

" consciously driving more carefully during a call" is exactly what intoxicated drivers try to do.

Re:My destroyed truck would disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514769)

But ending up upside down because some teenage twit thought what was happening on her phone was far more important that looking out the window does tend to skew your opinion.

I understand your point, but are you really assuming that the teenager in question would have been a perfectly careful driver if not for the phone?

" consciously driving more carefully during a call" is exactly what intoxicated drivers try to do.

The difference is that one can tune out of the conversation, but you cannot snap out of being intoxicated.

or... (1)

Tom (822) | about a year ago | (#44514433)

Or maybe it's just one study. Let's wait until a few people have checked the method and poked holes in the data.

Because, you know, when it's about life or death (and a car at any non-ridiculous speed always is), erring on the side of caution is not exactly stupid.

Liberty issus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514447)

All the subsequent reports and data from now on may side with liberty however, it may not matter. It is not the natural course of civilization for government to retreat and liberty to advance.

--
Another fine opinion from The Fucking Psychopath®.

bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514511)

How many times have you seen this?

Driving along behind someone, they are driving well with a constant speed, no swerving.

At a light they have a delay noticing the green and suddenly cannot maintain a constant speed or lane position.

Are you going to tell me they are not impaired/distracted/more dangerous?

I've seen plenty of people driving badly w/ phones (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#44514565)

Either they're weaving or they're inattentive. Even the physical position of holding a phone up blocks peripheral vision. I almost had to dump my car over a curb to evade an oncoming car that roamed into my lane. I stopped using my phone while driving (until I got a Blutooth-enabled car) because I'd caught myself making mistakes while on the phone.

The article shows that accident rates have been dropping sharply for the years before cell phones became ubiquitous. If anything, that curve flattens out more when cell phones usage increases. I didn't read the whole article and probably won't, so I'll be interested to read how others with knowledge of statistics see this study.

That being said, I don't know if I'd want to see cell phone bans in place, but definitely some system of additional charges for cell phone use before an accident.

Problem Already Solved (1)

Sentrion (964745) | about a year ago | (#44514615)

In the year 2000 cars will be able to drive themselves, so texting, talking, sleeping, or being drunk shouldn't have any affect on accident rates.

Re:Problem Already Solved (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#44514705)

In the year 2000 cars will be able to drive themselves, so texting, talking, sleeping, or being drunk shouldn't have any affect on accident rates.

In the year 2000, oil will have run out, so no-one will be driving anywhere.

This research is CRAP (1)

Cyberax (705495) | about a year ago | (#44514623)

This research is total crap.

First, the increase in phone usage is just 7.5% so any effects would already be marginal.

Second, they have not controlled any other factors - people might talk more, from home. Are they talking more while they are driving?

Re:This research is CRAP (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#44514751)

Here's what I remember happening in the UK:

1. The government said 'SOMETHING MUST BE DONE about people using the phone while driving!'
2. Media began reporting that banning phone use while driving would eliminate about 200% of accidents (yeah, I don't remember the number, but it was a huge and stupid demonstration of journalistic innumeracy).
3. The government passed a law.
4. Accident rates didn't much change.

So, I'm not at all surprised to see others find that banning phone use while driving has little or no impact on road accidents. The biggest impact I saw was that idiots who previously drove with the phone stuck to their ear would now stop wherever they were on the road to take a call, so I'd then have to pass them on a blind bend or wait for them to finish their call.

drunk drivers don't sober up behind the wheel (2)

gelfling (6534) | about a year ago | (#44514631)

Meaning 100% of the entire time drunk drivers are driving they are drunk. Whereas the occasional phone call is in fact a random and rare thing for the most part. But the wider issue is cast ye the first phone and all that rot. I was in a car for mere minutes today - as a passenger and in 6 miles we saw one person wander across 4 lanes of traffic no signal. One person slammed on their brakes for zero reason. One person stop dead in the middle of a right turn for no reason. One person drove in the shoulder to pass us. And as far as we could tell no one was holding a phone.

Cellphones aren't the main problem, anyway. (1)

paleoflatus (620397) | about a year ago | (#44514707)

Here in Queensland, Australia, the government now applies rigid speed limits, whereas there used to be a latitude of perhaps 10 kph. In the usual city 60 kph limit, you get tail-gated, honked and abused at less than 55 kph. Anyone who's tried to keep between 55 and 60 kph will know that watching the speedometer closely in traffic is more dangerous than using a cellphone and I've had several close calls since the stricter rules were imposed. Of course, the government now collects more money from fines, although they don't have to pay the higher insurance rates they cause.

"research" is so cool. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514721)

You can skew anything anyway you want.

If I hold my phone and talk while I am driving I notice a noteable decrease in my driving ability, that's why I refuse to do it. Ill use my Bluetooth while driving though and my driving skills are not impacted at all.

Can someone explain the graph on page 2 to me? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#44514755)

The graph on page 2 shows "indexed crashes per billion highway miles travelled." It show "fatal crashes" and "all crashes."

What I don't get is that since about 2003, there have apparently been more "fatal crashes" than "all crashes," and that before 1991 all crashes were fatal crashes. What am I missing?

Driving is dangerous. Period. (2)

bdwoolman (561635) | about a year ago | (#44514757)

I think about the amount of energy accumulated [vcu.edu] when I am driving. Even at moderate urban speeds it is an awesome amount of destructive force when dissipated rapidly. To minimize the chance that such an energy release will destroy yours truly I minimize distractions. I view it is a long statistical game played over decades. Even small degradations of capability will tell in the long run. I am not a complete Pearson's Puppeteer about this (otherwise I would probably avoid cars altogether), but I try to channel the attitude a bit. I have always done my best to fully concentrate on the road. The fact that I have driven in many places where driving culture is quite crude and rude -- Eastern Europe, Asia -- has, I will confess, helped to concentrate my mind. As I see the crap that other people do in their cars, especially lately with all the cool new tech, I really am starting to get impatient for the robots to take over. With roughly 30,000 dead on our highways every year they can hardly do worse. In fact chimps could hardly do worse.

Mr Brin, Mr Page I know you are both quite busy. But, um, can you get on with it? Please?

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