Study documents dangers of texting, dialing while driving [telecom]

Study documents dangers of texting, dialing while driving

By Marilynn Marchione | AP CHIEF MEDICAL WRITER JANUARY 02, 2014

A sophisticated, real-world study confirms that dialing, texting or reaching for a cellphone while driving raises the risk of a crash or near-miss, especially for younger drivers. But the research also produced a surprise: Simply talking on the phone did not prove dangerous, as it has in other studies.

This one did not distinguish between handheld and hands-free devices

- a major weakness.

And even though talking doesn't require drivers to take their eyes off the road, it's hard to talk on a phone without first reaching for it or dialing a number -things that raise the risk of a crash, researchers note.

Earlier work with simulators, test-tracks and cellphone records suggests that risky driving increases when people are on cellphones, especially teens. The 15-to-20-year-old age group accounts for 6 percent of all drivers but 10 percent of traffic deaths and 14 percent of police-reported crashes with injuries.

For the new study, researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute installed video cameras, global positioning systems, lane trackers, gadgets to measure speed and acceleration, and other sensors in the cars of 42 newly licensed drivers 16 or 17 years old, and 109 adults with an average of 20 years behind the wheel.


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Reply to
Monty Solomon
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Per Monty Solomon:

They must not have studied the likes of Yours Truly then.

I can guarantee - absolutely, unequivocally, without a shred of doubt - that my driving while I'm talking on the phone is significantly more dangerous than when not.

Maybe it's just me..... but observation of other drivers yakking on a phone while wandering back-and-forth over lane markers suggest otherwise.

Reply to
Pete Cresswell

How much of this risk has to do with the awful design of modern smartphones? In order to dial or answer a call on a touch-screen phone, one generally needs to hold the phone in one hand and, while looking at it, sweep the finger the right way or press the display over a particularly illuminated spot. It is all about hand-eye coordination. It is perfectly reasonable for most people to do while sitting at a desk or table, walking, or riding a train. But it is incompatible with driving.

Now some people do use headsets, corded or bluetooth, that have answer buttons, and some people may have gotten the hang of voice dialing, though I have my doubts that it is widely used in moving cars. More likely, most drivers use their iPhones or imitations thereof the same way they would if they were not driving, and that's a hazard.

I still carry an old clamshell phone. I answer it by flipping it open with the thumb of the hand that's holding it. One hand, no eyes. I hang up by closing it. I don't like to dial while driving but if I do, it is done using tactile physical buttons, and single-key speed dialing covers many of my calls, two-digit speed numbers most of the rest. It is actually a mobile phone, not a small portable computer that taxes one's hand-eye coordination in honor of the calligrapher St. Steve. I might go to a smartphone if it had tactile keys, but those are becoming rarer and rarer. The Blackberry Q10, for instance, was the last BB to have actual keys, but they were only for messaging; unlike the older BB7 units, you couldn't dial calls on them. (That might have been fixed in BB10.2 but I haven't seen it, and BB has mismanaged itself down the crapper anyway.) A Chinese maker puts out a Bluetooth dialing accessory that sort of looks like a phone keypad, but it's in miniature.

So by blindly following Apple, the mobile phone industry has evolved into one that is uniquely unsuited for mobile use.

Reply to
Fred Goldstein

Per Fred Goldstein:

I would agree that they're pretty bad. You'd think somebody would have come up with voice commands by now.

Having said that..... I read that somebody somewhere (Canada?) did a study that suggested the main problem with cell phone use while driving was the nature of the conversation and not the hardware.

With CB radio conversations there is an unspoken covenant between the participants: driving comes first. Pauses/gaps in the conversation are expected and understood.

But with a cell phone conversation no such covenant exists. The person on the other end does not view my behavior any differently just because I am trying to negotiate 75 mph traffic while talking. I sense that and do my best to hold up my end of the bargain - which leads to the phone conversation taking precedence over controlling the vehicle.

Seems to me like some people are better at multitasking/time slicing than others. While a passenger in a van commuting to work I have seen people reading a newspaper while driving. Not just quick glances - I mean *reading* that sucker.

Personally, I think I'm somewhere over on the left of the bell curve so my cell phone use while driving gets restricted to furtive "I'm crossing the bridge, should be there within the hour...." type calls.

Reply to
Pete Cresswell

My car has a horribly buggy Microsoft SYNC radio, but the bluetooth does seem able to pair with my phone and do voice dialing. It also reads text messages aloud.

Right -- the person on the other end rarely is thinking that you have to drive.

R's, John

Reply to
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