Between The Gadgets And Breakfast, Who Has Time To Watch The Road?

from the you-call-it-distracted-driving,-I-call-it-multi-tasking dept

When it comes to drive distractions, the one most people talk about is talking on a mobile phone. It’s become politically popular to ban talking on a phone — and there is plenty of evidence that it is quite distracting. However, it raises questions about specifically targeting certain behaviors rather than simply targeting bad or dangerous driving. While one approach is to ban driving distractions one by one, it looks like that list is only going to get much longer over time. The NY Times is running a series of articles on cars and car culture, including one that looks at how gadgets in cars are on the rise, including just fancier, more distracting dashboards, and another on how common it is for people to eat and drive, leading to a whole business in providing in-car eating accessories. What becomes clear very quickly is that it’s just part of the way we view driving — and everyone’s willing to help out, from automakers who add new flashing gizmos and gadgets along with special in-car spaces for fast food containers to the fast food restaurants who hand out driver placemats and study their meals to make sure they’re less likely to drip on drivers’ laps. While lawmakers may start trying to cut down on each of these, there are always going to be some new form of driver distractions, and focusing on bad or dangerous driving still seems to make a lot more sense.

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Comments on “Between The Gadgets And Breakfast, Who Has Time To Watch The Road?”

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Tim (user link) says:

A tyre in each camp

I can definitely see the point in saying a ban on using mobiles in cars is unnecessary, when we already have “dangerous driving”. However, I’d like to suggest that the reason for making it an offence in itself is that we don’t have a means of recognizing a list of factors contributory to dangerous driving other than to pass a law for each one. Or, if that’s how it’s seen, it’s less of a problem.

What really pisses me off, however, is the anti-driver unfairness with which it’s applied. Takes two to tango. If you walk out from the pavement onto the carriageway in front of a car, that’s *your bloody fault*, not the driver’s. Having been behind a driver who had to stop hastily for such an incident, I’m seriously peeved not to see the UK government making *any* attempt to legislate in favour of pedestrian safety here, only anti-driver. What do we get in return for our freedoms being eroded?

lug nut says:

The root cause

Drivers, and auto makers need to get back to the business of driving again. All this stuff that is non driving related came about because people wanted it and the car makers provided it. It started with anti-lock brakes and proximity sensors for backing up. Now there are things like on board entertainment systems, etc. The driver is becoming more and more removed from the thinking process of controlling the vehicle. Just drive the damn car and forget all that other crap, or take a bus. Did you ever see how many things a professional driver can do at one time while going 200 mph, and talking to the pit crew? Get serious about driving and most of the problems will go away. And forget about the ads on tv showing cars and trucks driving carelessly in snow or off road, this only makes it worse. People really think they can drive like that while putting on makeup or stuffing a Big Mac in their mouth. Cell phones are the least of our problems… hold on while I down shift, put my blinker on, apply the brakes, check my blind spots and exit the parkway at 70 mph to merge with traffic on my way to work. OK, I feel better now.

Dwiver says:

Re: The root cause

I agree with lug nut. If you also look at bus drivers, UPS drivers, FedEx drivers, you don’t see them watching DVD’s, eating tacos and cradling the cell with their left shoulder while merging on the freeway. I remember being taught to drive. I was told when you are behind the wheel the thing you need to concentrate on is driving the vehicle. Thats all, nothing else.

Howard (user link) says:

Cell phone distraction

There was a recent study (I don’t remember where) that showed that using a cellphone in your car posed a slight increased risk of mishap — if you took one or both hands off the wheel. OTOH, if you used hands-free devices, there was not a significant added risk – as long as you were not discussing business. A personal conversation is no more risky than listening to the radio, and could actually reduce risk (by overcoming sleepiness, etc.), but a business call apparently engages far more of your available concentration bandwidth, and significantly increases the risk of a collision.

A law against business calls while driving would be utterly unenforceable, so mayhaps we should simply educate drivers about the risk.

John (user link) says:

Driving Distractions

I agree with your position that the real culprit is the aggressive or inconsiderate driver. The problem is that there would have to be ten times as many police patrolling the highways to ticket or admonish the dangerous drivers out there; worse, they appear to be multiplying at an alarming rate. <br>Driving itself is a high-order multi-tasking activity, but after a while, it becomes nearly autonomic. While people are driving, they are already thinking about something other than their driving, so the distraction issue is difficult to sell. It’s all about how involved the person gets with the other thing they are doing while driving: listening to a talk program on the radio, talking on the phone, or just daydreaming. All of these things can be equally distracting and cause slow reaction time to an emergency. <br>Personally I think the problem is unsolvable, at least until we get the automatically guided vehicles you see in <I> I Robot.

crystalattice (profile) says:

I'd say cell phones are the worst though

People will always be distracted while driving, whether it’s eating, talking to a passenger, or messing with the kids in the back. However, nearly every time I see a bad driver, nine times out of ten it’s because a cell phone is glued to her head. I say “her” on purpose because, generally speaking, the biggest offenders are women (in my experience).
I will say my single biggest complaint about cell phones are the ones that have the walkie-talkie feature. It’s even more annoying than speaker phones. When will people learn, I don’t care about their conversation! And that stupid “bu-beep” noise whenever they talk just pisses me off.
It was great when I lived in Japan; the Japanese people would cover their mouth when they talked so they wouldn’t disturb the people around them.

starting paleo diet (user link) says:

starting paleo diet

There was a recent study (I don’t remember where) that showed that using a cellphone in your car posed a slight increased risk of mishap — if you took one or both hands off the wheel. OTOH, if you used hands-free devices, there was not a significant added risk. Thanks for sharing. I like it.

Here I have some more recipes.
starting paleo diet

Regards, Johny

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