Saturday, December 17, 2011

Feds call for ban on cell phone use

In the wake of a deadly accident involving two school buses, a pickup truck and a tractor-trailer in Missouri last year, the National Transportation Safety Board has called for a ban on the use of cell phones by drivers. The ban would affect both hand-held and hands-free phones and is more stringent than most state bans on the use of electronic devices while driving.
In the last few years the board has investigated a commuter rail accident that killed 25 people in California in which the train engineer was texting; a fatal marine accident in Philadelphia in which a tugboat pilot was talking on his cellphone and using a laptop; and a Northwest Airlines flight that flew more than 100 miles past its destination because both pilots were working on their laptops.
It's probably not a bad idea. My wife likes to tell me that women can multitask while men can't (I then respond that I'd rather be doing one thing well than a bunch of things half-assed, but that's a discussion for another day). The truth of the matter is that there is more than enough stuff in a car to distract us from the task at hand. Whether it be adjusting the radio or CD player, checking out the GPS, turning the a/c up, adjusting the side mirrors, shifting gears, talking to your passenger or trying to keep the kids in the back seat from killing each other, it's hard to keep your focus on the road in front of you. And then you have to keep an eye on the other motorists, watch out for people coming out of parking lots and look to see what color the traffic light is.

All it takes is a split second for your pleasant afternoon drive to turn into a nightmare - and that's without any alcohol being added to the mix.

While I don't think this is a matter for los federales, it is an issue that should be considered by the states. To date, 35 states have banned (to some degree) texting while driving. Now whether that includes updating your Facebook status or tweeting, I don't know.

According to the NTSB, about 1 in 100 drivers is texting, surfing the internet or otherwise using an electronic device while driving. They know this because they stake out intersections and count the number of drivers using their phones while driving.

So, be careful out there and leave the phone in the seat unless it's an emergency.

Now let's see what the Mythbusters discovered when they compared distracted driving with drunk driving...

Part One: Control

Part Two: Distracted driving

Part Three: Drunk driving


Jela said...

I actually drive pretty well while driving. I do not, however, engage in chatting while driving that involves serious consideration and pondering. On the video you have on here, the subjects were given specific things to discuss and questions to answer. That is far different from having a conversation about how your day or someone else's went while driving. Mythbusters failed to convince me that what I do is dangerous. That said, if I feel the need to focus (maybe I'm outside my comfort zone or it is raining), I do put the phone down to concentrate.

Paul B. Kennedy said...

As I am wont to say, past results are no guarantee of future performance and your mileage may vary.