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  • Cell phone bans don't reduce crashes

    http://www.iihs.org/news/rss/pr012910.html

    HLDI researchers compared the District of Columbia's collision claim frequency trend not only with statewide trends in Virginia and Maryland but also with the trend in the nearby city of Baltimore. Again, the finding is no difference in the pattern of collision claims. Nor were any differences apparent when the researchers applied a time-based regression model to claims data for each of the study and comparison jurisdictions.
    I know I get bad as a driver when I have a passenger, as the distraction level goes way up. My elderly mom doesn't drive anymore so I have to take her everywhere, and the distraction level is pretty severe. I suggest we ban multi-passenger vehicles. Particularly those used by soccer moms to drive highly distracting kids to their school and recreational events.
    Dude, seriously, WHAT handkerchief?

    snooggums' density principal: "The more dense a population, the more dense a population."

    Iliana: "You're a great friend but if we're ever chased by zombies I'm tripping you."

  • #2
    Re: Cell phone bans don't reduce crashes

    We have had such a ban in effect for a few months so I have heard plenty lately about studies saying that the bans don't reduce crashes. I remain unconvinced. Surely it is more dangerous having one less hand free while holding a phone to your ear (or two less hands free while texting). Personally, it seems that every time I see someone driving erratically I later notice they have a phone to their ear.

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    • #3
      Re: Cell phone bans don't reduce crashes

      Perhaps what they're finding is that cell phone bans don't reduce cell phone use while driving.

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      • #4
        Re: Cell phone bans don't reduce crashes

        Or that the problem isn't with holding the cell phone, but with any use, including hands-free. Most bans only ban hands-on use.

        Are there any studies comparing cell phone accidents to accidents resulting from distraction from passengers? I would speculate that they'd be similar. (Although texting adds an additional dimension with the extensive manual interaction, so I'd want to factor that out.)
        Dude, seriously, WHAT handkerchief?

        snooggums' density principal: "The more dense a population, the more dense a population."

        Iliana: "You're a great friend but if we're ever chased by zombies I'm tripping you."

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        • #5
          Re: Cell phone bans don't reduce crashes

          I know personally I consider myself much more impaired while texting than calling, mostly cause I have to keep looking down at the phone to see what I'm doing. But talking to someone on the phone is functionally similar to talking to someone next to me -- theyre both slightly distracting, but not hugely so, and I don't find the occupied hand to be a big issue either. I can drive just fine with one hand 99% of the time, and you'd better believe on that last 1% I'm gonna drop the phone before I drop the wheel.

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          • #6
            Re: Cell phone bans don't reduce crashes

            Originally posted by Kerostasis View Post
            I know personally I consider myself much more impaired while texting than calling, mostly cause I have to keep looking down at the phone to see what I'm doing. But talking to someone on the phone is functionally similar to talking to someone next to me -- theyre both slightly distracting, but not hugely so, and I don't find the occupied hand to be a big issue either. I can drive just fine with one hand 99% of the time, and you'd better believe on that last 1% I'm gonna drop the phone before I drop the wheel.
            You and I are a rarity in that we will drop the phone for the road. In every test I have seen the person driving is just as impaired while talking on the phone as texting, and much less than with a rider since the passenger can know to stop talking when something happens.

            Handsfree, held in hand voice or texting are all very serious distractions for the vast majority of motorists. Charges of inattentive driving should be set against anyone using a phone while driving if they are in a wreck, and if DUIs are based on slowed reaction time the same rules should apply to phones because they are about equal in tests.
            |TG-6th|Snooggums

            Just because everyone does something does not mean that it is right to do.

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            • #7
              Re: Cell phone bans don't reduce crashes

              But talking to someone on the phone is functionally similar to talking to someone next to me
              From what I've read this is absolutely incorrect. You pick up cues from people next to you on how much danger you are in and in some cases it may make you a safer driver. But a person on the other end of a phone-line is distracting, not assistive at all.

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              • #8
                Re: Cell phone bans don't reduce crashes

                Originally posted by snooggums View Post
                You and I are a rarity in that we will drop the phone for the road. In every test I have seen the person driving is just as impaired while talking on the phone as texting, and much less than with a rider since the passenger can know to stop talking when something happens.
                I'm afraid you guys might be overestimating your abilities. From my observations drivers with a phone to their ear do not perform shoulder and mirror checks so they are less aware of their surroundings even in normal situations. On top of that there's always the chance that the extra time to toss the phone and grab the wheel will be critical.

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                • #9
                  Re: Cell phone bans don't reduce crashes

                  Originally posted by RandomGuy View Post
                  I'm afraid you guys might be overestimating your abilities. From my observations drivers with a phone to their ear do not perform shoulder and mirror checks so they are less aware of their surroundings even in normal situations. On top of that there's always the chance that the extra time to toss the phone and grab the wheel will be critical.
                  I might be, but I often ask the person to repeat themselves due to my not paying them much attention :) I meant it is a rare person that will actually stop listening to the other person if something comes up.
                  |TG-6th|Snooggums

                  Just because everyone does something does not mean that it is right to do.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Cell phone bans don't reduce crashes

                    Originally posted by Sam Hoy View Post
                    From what I've read this is absolutely incorrect. You pick up cues from people next to you on how much danger you are in and in some cases it may make you a safer driver. But a person on the other end of a phone-line is distracting, not assistive at all.
                    Well maybe that has something to do with the fact that the people next to me never provide helpful cues -- most of the drivers I know are much less cautious and more aggressive than I am to begin with, and added to the fact that a non-driver is typically going to be less aware of road conditions than the driver is anyway, I find most passengers to be far more distracting than assistive. The only times a passenger actually helps me is when I am unsure of the correct route and need navigation help.
                    Originally posted by RandomGuy View Post
                    I'm afraid you guys might be overestimating your abilities.
                    That's possible. But I enjoy examining my own thought-processes, so let me continue to estimate my abilities awhile longer here, and feel free to comment if you want.

                    I know some people have this mysterious ability to concentrate on two things at once. I can't do that at all really -- I only ever have focus on a single task at a time, and everything else is just on autopilot. But because I have to autopilot like that on a regular basis anyway, I have gotten very good at (a) making good mental autopilot routines, and (b) switching instantly and completely between tasks as needed.

                    My least-effective autopilot routine is probably the conversational one. I can sort of hear about half of what you say, and can't really respond at all beyond "I see, sure" types of minimalist phrases. So you can tell pretty fast when my attention is on something besides you. But my driving autopilot is so good I often use it even when not doing anything else anyway. I sort of unfocus my eyes and take in the whole road at once, and let the subconscious part of my mind that processes physical trajectories take over. If anything that I can see is on a course that intersects with anything else I can see, or with me, my attention immediately jumps to that point and I lose focus on whatever else I might have been doing instead, in favor of the road. (Unfocusing my eyes is pretty easy with my poor vision history... :)) I calculate trajectories both using constant velocity and perceived acceleration, and you'd be surprised how effective it is. The most annoying thing about it is that I frequently have to break out of my trance to double-check cars on side streets that pulled up to their stop signs a little faster than normal, because their constant velocity trajectory would have put them in my lane about the time I passed them.

                    So talking on a cellphone presents a very minimal interference because I can keep up that unfocused whole-road scanning pretty much uninterrupted. Any time the scanning finds something that might be important, the conversation fades from my mind completely and I focus on the road till its over. Then I have to ask the person on the phone to repeat themselves. Sound familiar at all snooggums? =P

                    A passenger is worse because I occasionally look at them, which breaks my line-of-sight to the road. I try not to look at them too often, but it feels rude to talk to someone without ever looking at them, you know? Texting is worst of all though because i have to look down at the phone screen repeatedly to see the messages. I try to do most of my typing by feel and just glance down briefly to double check that the spelling is correct, which helps a little, but I still prefer to avoid texting while driving most of the time.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Cell phone bans don't reduce crashes

                      I can't say if a phone is going to be more distracting, because I simply can't drive one-handed. I'm dangerous with french fries. ;) But I do know I've done amazingly dangerous and stupid things due to the distraction of passengers, and I hate driving with them. (I hate driving itself, because I find it so stressful, but passengers compound it.)
                      Dude, seriously, WHAT handkerchief?

                      snooggums' density principal: "The more dense a population, the more dense a population."

                      Iliana: "You're a great friend but if we're ever chased by zombies I'm tripping you."

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                      • #12
                        Re: Cell phone bans don't reduce crashes

                        The real underlying problem is the fact individuals drive cars. Almost all individuals are not very good at maintaining the focus needed to do it safely. I think it is likely that the distraction introduced by passengers, radios etc has already been minimized because existing laws and devices (speed limits, multilane highways etc).

                        I also think that most people already recognized the dangers presented by phones and didn't do really stupid things. (Or did them at the same rate as before the phone was introduced.)

                        Those dangers presented by phones are probably about the same as tuning radios, changing CD's, eating, putting on makeup, checking GPS etc. The driver that would allow their attention to drop because of phones and texting would be the same ones that would eat breakfast on the way to work. So the extra collisions produced by phones may have just replaced the collisions caused by other distracting tasks. If those predisposed to being distracted are not using a phone they will go back to eating and playing with the radio (or just staring at billboards).

                        Basically what I am saying is that I bet there is a pretty static collision rate. This rate is a factor of sum of individual behavior and driving ability, vehicle engineering, existing traffic laws and road conditions. New distractions will not add to this rate, they will only replace old distractions. Thus laws that reduce or eliminate new distractions will only eliminate wrecks cause specifically by these new distractions, not the wrecks cause by all distractions.

                        Edit: I forgot to mention that I helped with research on situational awareness. One thing to understand is that you either have situational awareness or you don't. It isn't a continuum where a person can have x amount of situational awareness. So being distracted by X then adding another distraction Y doesn't decrease situational awareness more. It is already gone and Y has, essentially, no effect. There are exceptions and some subtleties but that is generally what happens.
                        Last edited by El_Gringo_Grande; 02-11-2010, 01:32 PM.
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                        • #13
                          Re: Cell phone bans don't reduce crashes

                          Originally posted by El_Gringo_Grande View Post
                          Those dangers presented by phones are probably about the same as tuning radios, changing CD's, eating, putting on makeup, checking GPS etc. The driver that would allow their attention to drop because of phones and texting would be the same ones that would eat breakfast on the way to work. So the extra collisions produced by phones may have just replaced the collisions caused by other distracting tasks. If those predisposed to being distracted are not using a phone they will go back to eating and playing with the radio (or just staring at billboards).
                          So it's the law of conservation of easily-distracted nitwit. I like it!
                          Dude, seriously, WHAT handkerchief?

                          snooggums' density principal: "The more dense a population, the more dense a population."

                          Iliana: "You're a great friend but if we're ever chased by zombies I'm tripping you."

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