Wednesday, February 02, 2005


Surprise! Cell Phones and Driving Don't Mix

A study detailed in the Winter issue of the quarterly journal Human Factors shows that the use of cell phones among young people causes slower reaction times and larger error rates in detecting changes. In other words, it causes twenty-somethings to drive like seventy year olds.

Drivers talking on cell phones were 18 percent slower to react to brake lights, the new study found. In a minor bright note, they kept a 12 percent greater following distance. But they also took 17 percent longer to regain the speed they lost when they braked. That frustrates everyone.

"Once drivers on cell phones hit the brakes, it takes them longer to get back into the normal flow of traffic," Strayer said. "The net result is they are impeding the overall flow of traffic."

Apparently, the same of true of hands free cell phone users:

In 2003 they revealed a reason: Drivers look but don't see, because they're distracted by the conversation. The scientists also found previously that chatty motorists are less adept than drunken drivers with blood alcohol levels exceeding 0.08.

Now I have also experienced this idiocy first hand when driving with other people. I remember once in my old job, my sales manager and I were going on sales calls, and he was the one driving. One day, we were smack in the middle of a highway when he decided to check his voice mail. And let me tell you, not only did he check his voicemail, he then proceeded to whip out a paper and pen and write down his messages!

Of course when I politely said that he should really focus on the road, he went on and on about how he knew what he was doing and how his eyes were not off the road.


You know, I just wonder what on earth is so important that people see fit to yap on their cell phones while driving (or as I stated in my previous post on obnoxious cell phone users, while they are topless in the women's locker room wildly gesticulating and pacing back and forth). I mean, can't the drivers just pull over some place if it's an urgent call?

What it all boils down to is wanting to look "busy" and important. Among New Yorkers, at least, being busy with work has always been a status symbol. It's as if these people are saying "look how important I am that I have to take business calls while driving on a highway or topless in the women's locker room of my chi chi gym."


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