Thursday, April 01, 2010

My Rides on the “Bones” Tell Me Hand Held Cell Use Is Distracting!

While talking on a hands-free cell phone, I once drove (in a car) from Durham NC down to Raleigh NC while having an intense discussion with an editor there.  As I drove into a parking deck at the end of the journey and ended the call I realized that I didn’t recall anything about the trip. That was in the 1990’s and it cured me.

Now, especially when riding a motorcycle, I’m even more aware of how many people still drive around in vehicles using “hand held” cell phones.0129-cellphone-driving-study_full_600 

Believe me, they are distracted and they are easy to spot.   They aren’t invisible like those people picking their nose as they drive:)

It may only be illegal in a few states but it is still stupid.  But it won’t surprise me that these folks either haven’t heard it is stupid or don’t care or believe it is only stupid for other people.  I remember after several years of intense publicity and 6 months of hosting millions of visitors, there were still a sizeable percentage of residents in a post-event poll in a community who had not heard of the World’s Fair held there.  So it will takes tons of publicity if not legislation to change this behavior.

I wish there was a three digit number for reporting erratic driving while using a cell phone, even if it was just for statistical purposes…but then I’d be using a cell phone:)  Someday, we’ll be able to voice or “mind” activate a message including a photo of license plates and all to report people littering or driving crazy while using a cell phone…  

I recall a study published in 2006 by researchers at the University of Utah finding that people using hand-held cell phones while driving were 5 times more likely to be in an accident and I believe it.  The researchers I believe used simulators and tested people using hands free, hand held and also drunk.   There was little difference in the three groups as far as response time and other variables.

So far post legislation research has shown that the accident rate hasn’t changed before and after legislation in a few states banning hand held cell use while driving even though purportedly the number of people doing so has dramatically declined.  That doesn’t surprise me though.  The accidents these people cause aren’t typically their own but the people around them.  They slow down, forcing traffic to change lanes, they switch lanes without looking, they take turns without looking.  To me, it is the people around them at risk of an accident.

What I see out riding tells me that people using a hand held cell while driving are flat out distracted.  And there definitely isn’t an excuse now days not to at the very least be “hands-free” but as I said at the beginning, my personal experience is that can be just as distracting.

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