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Well, this is just as bad.
Would you text while driving? Of course not! most people will say. But, many of those same people use "hands-free" devices while driving even though the evidence says it's not that much better.

Many people then wonder: Why is talking with a person who is in the car with you often less distracting than talking on the phone? Shouldn't they be equally dangerous? Are they going to outlaw talking in the car?

Well, it turns out that it has everything to do with the the person seeing what the driver is seeing. A person in the passenger seat hopefully knows to stop talking or may even warn the driver when there is something to pay attention to on the road. A person on the phone has no idea what's going on and will just keep gabbing. This creates the tension. The driver is trying to focus on the road, but the person on the phone isn't pausing or helping like a passenger should. (And not all passengers are helpful, if they are not aware of what is going on on the road they are just as bad as talking on the phone.)

I always thought the study that showed this to be true (from about 10 years back) was pretty neat. It's one of those studies that takes what most people assume to be true and just blows it out of the water. I love that. It's taken a long time for this to percolate into to the "industry" -- in the meantime some manufacturers have tried to incorporate hands free devices in to cars and this has doubtless cost many live in indirect and direct ways.

Sadly, most people think that "hands free" mean "safe for driving" but the problem with talking on the phone while in the car has nothing to do with your hands! Now that AAA has said so maybe drivers and car manufactures will listen.

My foot was broken by a driver who was talking hands free. And he probably still thinks it's safe. It's not. Stop the car or hang up, that's the only way to be safe. There is no such thing as a technology that makes phones conversations or text messages safe by being "hands free."

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Comment Preferences

  •  It's the Bad Audio Quality That's the Distraction. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RonV, johnny wurster, ChocolateChris

    The low bandwidth forces your brain to do a lot more signal processing of cell audio than for someone live in the car with you. I've seen this referenced elsewhere.

    When I try to conduct business over any kind of wireless device we're constantly backtracking to clarify consonants and to repeat for brief dropouts.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 06:38:07 PM PDT

    •  Bullshit (10+ / 0-)

      The brain can only concentrate on one thing at a time.  There is no such thing as multitasking.  There is just slicing attention into slices for various tasks.


    •  I don't think audio quality is the main problem. (11+ / 0-)

      I think the problem with phone calls is having a open audio link to someone who is not in the vehicle with you and has no way of knowing what's going on around you, and is therefore not tuned into the safety demands of the situation. This contrasts with talking to people inside the car, who can quickly sense when it's time to shut up and let the driver focus on driving.

      People who are talking on the phone while driving may feel social pressure adopt a conversational style that is similar to the way they talk when they're not driving. In other words, they are trying to be competent drivers and competent conversationalists at the same time. Trying to come up with a thoughtful and articulate response to someone who is somewhere else and is waiting for your reply is a good way to blow through a stop light or miss a car pulling out in front of you until it's too late.

      •  In my entire life, I've never had to have anyone (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        stop talking in my vehicle so that I could concentrate. I honestly feel like if someone is that poor of a driver in the first place, they are putting themselves at serious risk of an accident in general. God forbid that they ought to sneeze or have to pee or something.

        Click the ♥ to join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news & views written from a black pov - everyone is welcome.

        by mahakali overdrive on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 07:10:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's possible... (3+ / 0-)

          ...that you have not noticed the ways that they pause and mention things. It's very subtile, but makes a huge difference. But then, the most recent research shows that a passenger who isn't looking is  almost as distracting as talking on the phone.

        •  I'll venture that you've never drivien in or (6+ / 0-)

          around a complicated transit system like Paris, Madrid, or New York, where you are driving on unfamiliar roads/expressways, and need to read the road signs to keep track of where you are, figure out which lane to get into and watch for a place to get fuel. Add fatigue, rain or fog to that mix.

          I'm a very good driver, and I'll admit that fast moving, multi-lane traffic concentrating is silence is preferable that trying to carry on a conversation about anything interesting or important.

          But I also refuse to talk on the phone with anyone who is driving, hands free or not. The last thing I want to experience in life is the sound of screeching tires, crushing metal, or someone screaming as they are about to die in a car accident.

          "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

          by LilithGardener on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 07:50:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Paris, across the US, Turkey, NYC, LA, etc... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I took one driver's exam in heavy NYC traffic, FWIW.

            Click the ♥ to join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news & views written from a black pov - everyone is welcome.

            by mahakali overdrive on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 09:49:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  drove a taxi in nyc for six months (it was a blast (2+ / 0-)

              and worth every hair raising incident!)

              the problem with drivers is they are no longer taught defensive driving skills.  i drive as though every other driver is in a yellow cab - leased variety.

              i used a blue parrot headset (trucker's headset) that is crystal clear - if not, i call later.  i have no problem telling the person on the other line that i'll call them back because traffic is getting heavy when it needs my complete attention.

              if every person on the road knew who was behind, beside, in front of and coming up on the side back as WELL as the flow three to five cars ahead of them, we'd not have these problems.

              if folks didn't try to squeeze into a space 3" larger than their vehicles at 70mph so they can get to the stoplight first, we wouldn't have these problems.

              if people practiced road courtesy, we wouldn't have these problems.

              if people only realized that doing 80 instead of 65 will get you to your destination only  save you a very few minutes of your life - (try 15 or less) and if you left 15 minutes earlier OR accepted the fact that you will be LATE, we wouldn't have these problems.

              well, a former taxi driver can dream, can't she?

              EdriesShop Is it kind? is it true? is it necessary?

              by edrie on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 10:58:50 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Okay, your driving (0+ / 0-)

              experience is clearly superior to most drivers if you learned to drive in heavy NYC traffic.

              "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

              by LilithGardener on Tue Jun 18, 2013 at 05:04:23 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  you should consider your disregard for the safety (4+ / 0-)

          of others before ever turning the key again.

          How big is your personal carbon footprint?

          by ban nock on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 07:52:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  cell phones kill (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      futurebird, historys mysteries

      up to 25% of fatalities are while on a cell

      ten percent of drivers are on the phone at any given time.

      How big is your personal carbon footprint?

      by ban nock on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 07:51:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well doesn't that mean that most drivers talking (0+ / 0-)

        on the phone don't cause a fatality?

        Or did you just make up those numbers?

        "Jersey_Boy" was taken.

        by New Jersey Boy on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 07:58:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Most drunk drivers (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Noisy Democrat

          also do not cause fatalities. That doesn't mean it's safe to drive drunk.

 longer in SF.... -9.00, -7.38

          by TFinSF on Tue Jun 18, 2013 at 04:14:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Using that logic, it's really not safe to drive (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            at all.  Ever.

            •  You get, I assume, my point (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Roadbed Guy, ban nock

              right? The fact that most people can do something without dying does not make that thing safe? Most people don't die of snake handling. Most people don't die when they drink a 5th of whiskey in an hour. Most people don't die when they visit a war zone....

              But to answer your question, no, driving is not really totally safe. We sacrifice a bit of safety for what many people consider a "need" in our modern society. Whether driving while discussing the latest game of thrones episode with your buddy is a "need", I guess I disagree with most Americans on that.

     longer in SF.... -9.00, -7.38

              by TFinSF on Tue Jun 18, 2013 at 05:39:19 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Most people don't die of snake handling? (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                TFinSF, Wisper

                You mean because they don't handle snakes? Or you mean those who do, don't die?

                In any event, I handled a snake just last weekend, somehow it wandered up on my lawn and after yelling at it to get off for a while (and it listened no better than the damn kids who are on my lawn from time to time) I had to go and physically pick it up (and gently return it to its natural habitat).

                About traffic accidents/fatalities - I'm a bit more on the side of this guy than (oh let's say MADD):  

                The British statistician and seminal road safety expert R.J. Smeed once theorized, in a now famous and much challenged “law,” that road deaths in any country were remarkably constant according to a simple calculus involving population and number of vehicles.

                The physicist Freeman Dyson, a wartime colleague of Smeed, argued there was an almost inexorable fatalism in his work: “People will drive recklessly until the number of deaths reaches the maximum they can tolerate. When the number exceeds that limit, they drive more carefully. Smeed’s Law merely defines the number of deaths that we find psychologically tolerable.”

                after all, how can you be against "inexorable fatalism"? (what with it being inexorable and all)
                •  The second one. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Roadbed Guy

                  And I was actually referring to religious fundamentalists that handle poisonous snakes for .... some purpose I don't understand.  I almost ran over a snake last weekend when mowing my lawn.  In my case, yelling at it to move worked.

                  But I'm not buying that people will stop drinking and driving if traffic deaths increase by a bit.  Drunk people don't always think these things through, you know?  

         longer in SF.... -9.00, -7.38

                  by TFinSF on Tue Jun 18, 2013 at 06:00:32 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  I don't text, period. n/t (7+ / 0-)

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 06:44:57 PM PDT

  •  Bad drivers (5+ / 0-)

    drive badly, and they do so quite regardless of "Hands-Free" or not.

    Maybe if we did something to raise the quite appalling standard of driving in this country, then we could see hands-free in a better context.

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    Who is twigg?

    by twigg on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 06:45:28 PM PDT

  •  As a pedestrian, (13+ / 0-)

    I've learned to pay close attention to whether a driver is on the phone or not.  I've had some really close calls.

    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

    by luckylizard on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 06:46:08 PM PDT

  •  Stats indicate 3000 to 6000 per year killed (4+ / 0-)

    in the US because of distracted driving of which texting is the number one reason.  So you could say that people texting while driving kill many more people than terrorists do, while this country wages a never-ending war on terror and spies on everything we say and do.  You could say that people who text while driving are more dangerous than terrorists, that they're out to kill us.  You could say they're the enemy.  

    "America is the Terror State. The Global War OF Terror is a diabolical instrument of Worldwide conquest."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 06:47:00 PM PDT

  •  I couldn't text while driving... (9+ / 0-)

    Even if I wanted to. I'm usually too busy eating breakfast from the drive-thru, drinking scalding hot coffee, smoking a cigarette, searching for a radio station, and putting on make-up to text.

    "I was so easy to defeat, I was so easy to control, I didn't even know there was a war." -9.75, -8.41

    by RonV on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 06:56:05 PM PDT

    •  While trying to get the dog to stop licking (5+ / 0-)

      your face.  My ex-wife actually got in an accident when a car driving the opposite direction swerved over and hit her head on.  Driver said her dog had distracted her.  Broke my ex-wife's arm, could have been worse.

      "America is the Terror State. The Global War OF Terror is a diabolical instrument of Worldwide conquest."

      by BigAlinWashSt on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 07:09:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sounds similar to what nearly did Stephen (5+ / 0-)

        King in:

        On June 19, 1999, at about 4:30 pm, King was walking on the shoulder of Route 5, in Lovell, Maine. Driver Bryan Smith, distracted by an unrestrained dog moving in the back of his minivan, struck King, who landed in a depression in the ground about 14 feet from the pavement of Route 5.[16] According to Oxford County Sheriff deputy Matt Baker, King was hit from behind and some witnesses said the driver was not speeding, reckless, or drinking.
        People need to pay attention to driving when they are driving.

        "On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps...of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again."

        by middleagedhousewife on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 07:31:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  My phone goes in my bag in my back seat when (7+ / 0-)

    I drive.

    It's funny. In the 1980s-late 1990s, I wasn't so incredibly important and there wasn't anything so important that I needed to talk in the phone while driving. The advent of the ubiquitous cell phone didn't really change me and my importance that much.

    What's really funny is that I actually worked for a company that sold cell phones in around 1985 (yup, those big brick and suitcase phones). But minutes were so dang expensive, we didn't waste them chit chatting while we drove.

    So there's no need. Folks call me and leave messages. I check them when I get to my destination.  Nothing has ever been so darn important that it couldn't wait that little while. And yes, I've worked in industries where bona fide emergencies happen. But my response didn't have to be instantaneous.

    Few of us are really THAT important.

    © grover

    So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

    by grover on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 07:03:40 PM PDT

  •  I don't buy it for a half a second, sorry... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sunbro, Wisper

    Human beings are always going to be distracted. I drove in the transportation industry for years. This was before cell phones were banned. I would juggle a cell phone, a radio, a receiver, the vehicle itself, and sometimes money as well as writing stuff down and keeping up conversation. Not to mention drunk people falling over themselves. I appreciate that there are bad drivers in the world, having seen dozens and dozens of accidents, but I refuse to credit it to any one thing since, if anything, that only minimizes the real reason for accidents: bad drivers.

    Some are bad because they are distracted. That could be by twenty dozen things ranging from thinking about ones' day to your child in the car to fiddling with your hair to being a little hungry. Others are bad drivers because they aren't very commanding of a vehicle, period, whether this is because they are too drunk, too old, or too undertrained to drive.

    I credit the vast majority of accidents to that second category because of how many I've seen. There are a lot of people who can't parallel park, don't seem to understand how to merge, and who tailgate like crazy. I literally saw a small fender bender accident last night because someone was tailgating someone else, and the car in front of these two took a hard right, and the geniuses up there smacked into one another. On a windy country road with no reason to tailgate at all. Needless to say, I wasn't in the wreck because I thought to keep my distance.

    Click the ♥ to join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news & views written from a black pov - everyone is welcome.

    by mahakali overdrive on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 07:08:29 PM PDT

  •  I would like to see research on (0+ / 0-)

    "hands free" speakers vs. "hands free" earpieces.

    Speakerphones are "in the car." Earpieces are in your head, or, more specifically in the original cyberspace, telephonespace, the grey area which is neither "here" nor "there," a place we've been conditioned from childhood to space out in.

    In my (admittedly anecdotal and personal) experience, speakerphones are much more like talking to someone in the car and not in the non-space of telephony.

    Republicans represent both sides: the insanely rich and vice versa.

    by Crashing Vor on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 07:12:01 PM PDT

  •  no (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Can barely do it when i'm not driving. Called out a guy once that works by me after I followed him on the freeway for a time - he had no idea he was driving so shitty. Actually thanked me for it - told him he had cute kids and it would be really sad if he was gone. He still mentions it when we cross each others path.

    Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up. A. A. Milne

    by hulibow on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 07:48:13 PM PDT

  •  I never text while driving (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Carol in San Antonio

    It would get in the way of sex

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 07:49:05 PM PDT

  •  The worst I've ever done... (0+ / 0-) read the paper, shave and have a bowl of cereal in my lap at the same time, with a little twisting to avoid the hairs getting in my cereal.

    What would Mothra do?

    by dov12348 on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 07:49:42 PM PDT

  •  I ride my bike to work everyday and a driver on a (10+ / 0-)

    ... cell phone may very well end up how I die. Texting, talking -- doesn't make any difference. I have had a driver make a right turn into the back wheel of my bike and, literally, push me down the street. She didn't see me because she had the phone in her right hand and she was busy yakking away. I have had so many near-misses from texters that they are now nearly a weekly experience.

    I have told my kids that I may be killed by someone driving and using a cell phone. I have said this to them to make them never do it. They promise me they don't. I trust them.

    My wife started making a call just the other day while driving with me in the passenger seat. I said, "What the hell are you doing?" She was miffed. I told her I will not drive with anyone using a mobile device while driving.

    My freinds on the police bike patrol have innumerable hair-raising and sad tales about people on the phone while driving. It's not pretty.

    Frankly, I think it should be outlawed. First offense, $500. Second offense, lose your license for three months. Third offense, you're done driving.

    Calling other DKos members "weenies" is a personal insult and therefore against site rules.

    by Bob Johnson on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 08:07:56 PM PDT

  •  I don't text (no data plan on my cell phone) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    but I recognize that my brain does not multitask very well when there is more than 1 person in the car while I'm driving (assuming there is an active conversation.)  I make mistakes that I wouldn't normally make while driving alone or even with just one other person.  Under those circumstances I try not to conversate and pay attention to the road...

    20+ years without an accident.

    To you, I'm an atheist. To God, I'm the loyal opposition.” ― Woody Allen

    by soros on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 08:08:05 PM PDT

  •  When they made hands free the law in NJ (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ZenTrainer, Lost and Found

    There was no reduction in accidents. Perhaps this is why.

    Now I talk on the hands free phone while driving, but I usually wait till I'm in a part of the road where I can handle the distraction- next exit is miles away, for example.  But that's if I'm making the call.

    I've definitely ended calls due to a busy driving situation, and also pulled over to focus on a call.  I think it matters to know your limitations.

    Seems like there are probably a lot of accidents from people reaching into the back seat for something. Same logic applies - sometimes you can get away with it, sometimes it's incredibly reckless.

    "Jersey_Boy" was taken.

    by New Jersey Boy on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 08:08:35 PM PDT

  •  Where did you see that (0+ / 0-)

    there was a significant difference between a conversation with a person in the car and talking on the phone in terms of driving?  

    The article you linked to (ok - the blog that you linked to that discussed the article) contained 2 charts: one showing a comparison of reaction time and the other a comparison of glance probability.  Neither showed any significant difference as far as I could see.  I followed their link to an article discussing the study and followed that link to what was supposed to be the study but I seemed to have gone down the wrong rabbit hole.

    "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

    by newfie on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 08:12:02 PM PDT

  •  Put my sister in your car (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dbug, chimene

    We go grocery shopping together and she doesn't drive except in the back seat.  She'll scream if she thinks I'm coming too close to the car in front of me at the stop light and I don't even use my cell in the car!  If I do get a call and someone is in the car with me I have them answer the phone and tell that person I'll call them back and if I'm alone I'll either answer it and tell the person calling that I'll call them back or not answer it at all.

    Never be afraid to voice your opinion and fight for it . Corporations aren't people, they're Republicans (Rev Al Sharpton 10/7/2011)

    by Rosalie907 on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 08:18:53 PM PDT

  •  Many times I've been in rush hour traffic (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    futurebird, begone

    And I see a car that's weaving. My first thought is, "That guy might be drunk." So I either slow down or I speed up and pass them. I'd prefer to get ahead of them, actually, so I don't have to brake when there's an accident.

    Lately, though, I usually notice they're probably not drunk, they're on a cell phone. Doesn't matter if it's hands free (bluetooth) or not.

    I have a friend who has to deal with work problems on his cell phone. Sometimes he gets a call when he's driving and I'm a passenger. But goddammit, I can tell he's driving distracted. He thinks everything is just fine and he thinks he can multitask. He thinks he's driving just fine. And solving the problem at work is more important to him than not killing me in a car crash. We've had several arguments about this.

    "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

    by Dbug on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 10:23:23 PM PDT

    •  do NOT understand the call of the cellphone. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      we recently got our very first, because we're planning to be house-hunting, from the car, two states away from home base this summer.

      but the idea that ANYTHING is urgent enough to distract you from TRAFFIC is just so incomprehensible... what could be urgent enough that you would RISK YOUR LIFE (and those of your passengers) for an immediate interaction on the phone?

      I mean, WHAT!? Driving is dangerous enough when you have your full concentration available for keeping an eye out on the dangerous maniacs who are occupying the road with you. What could possibly be important enough for you to take your attention off of THEM for a split second?

      "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

      by chimene on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 11:02:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Oh my, of course not. (0+ / 0-)

    It's against the law, so what a silly question!

  •  If I'm in an accident caused by a cell phone user, (0+ / 0-)

    I guarantee I'l get a mean lawyer and sue the LIVING CRAP out of them.

  •  just one of the reasons I don't have a cell phone (0+ / 0-)

    (there are others, like no good service out here in the woods, etc) but yes- one of the reasons I don't own a cell phone is I would be tempted to use it, and I have always joked to my passengers that "I can't even talk and drive."

    And if you are on the road, don't call me until you pull over. I never ever want to hear an accident on the other end.

  •  when we are in the truck and a call is made or (0+ / 0-)

    recieved, the passenger answers it.  If it can be answered by me (because my husband drives 99% of the time), it is. If it can't be, "he'll call you back", or "just a moment while he pulls off the road."

    When you come to find how essential the comfort of a well-kept home is to the bodily strength and good conditions, to a sound mind and spirit, and useful days, you will reverence the good housekeeper as I do above artist or poet, beauty or genius.

    by Alexandra Lynch on Tue Jun 18, 2013 at 10:20:15 AM PDT

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