It’s past time for debate on the foibles of cell phone use while driving. It’s dangerous. Period.
Yet he argued this with one mobile gabber as a passenger, as she swerved about while describing her day on-air. He thought she’d expel him but she drove so poorly that walking seemed preferable. So he spoke anyway. Just like tobacco and alcohol, this debate will rage for decades beyond when science resolves it. Why?
The dangers talking on cell phone while driving are easy to see.
Now, back to the studies: Actually, numerous large-scale observations and epidemeological numbers crunching suggest that when a person uses a cell phone while operating a moterized vehicle, they become more apt to have an accident than someone who is drunk. These works have been cited often on CNN, Dr. Phil, NBC’s Nightly News, and so on. Also, remember that numerous studies have also concluded that there’s no correlation between cigarrette smoking and lung cancer either. Unfortunately, it’s much harder these days for evolutionary forces to weed out idiocy from the species. But we can only hope that natural selection will take care of it. 🙂
More Distracting to Talk on Smart Phone than to a Passenger
Conversations with passengers are safer than those with folks on the cell phone, also, because the passenger can observe the driver’s body language, and can also see the road conditions to the same degree that the driver does. So, when a attention-demanding situation occurs, the driver need not tell the passenger to be quiet, but might have to tell the person on the cell phone. The person on the phone does not as directly observe the road conditions and can thus, unintentionally distract the driver with his banter. Also, a passenger’s voice demands less of the driver’s brain power to comprehend than a voice on a cell phone – hands-free or not. The audio in cell calls tends to be more muffled and constrained in audio frequency bandwidth and volume, and thus, is less intelligible than a voice on a radio, or a passenger’s voice for that matter. Additionally, intermittent cell signals often cause some words to be lost; there’s a lot of, “What did you say?” and “I can’t hear you” with cell phones that cause the driver to (albeit momentarily) direct his attention away from the road. In this way, even a hands-free cell phone conversation demands much more mental overhead than a direct verbal exchange with a passenger, and thus, places the driver as well as his passengers in greater peril. The technology is not mature enough to be consider safe to use while driving.
All Distractions Pose Dangers
Yes, drivers are responsible for ignoring many distractions. So why add to that already large list by talking on a cell phone while driving? Indeed, the with freedom comes responsibility. But people often enjoy the freedom without actually shouldering this responsibility, as is the case for those phone gabbers on the road.
Ideally, a person should be able to self-police, and abstain from an action when what he’s considering is beyond his capability. She may think she knows when she’s unable to operate a car safely while chatting, and perhaps many can. In fact, drunk drivers invariably feel that they can safely drive a car while inebriated. But while many boast that they can, many of those also prove that they cannot; they kill another with their car while gabbing. People overestimate their multi-tasking abilities with cell phones as well. So, they need regulated, and, unfortunate but true nonetheless, if it takes a ban to do that, then that’s what should be done.
The bottom line: Anything that distracts the driver from the road enough to put others in peril when riding with him / her, not to mention those in other vehicles sharing the road with him, is a bad thing and should be forbidden and punished severely. That includes cell phones while driving. Just ask anyone who has been injured by a cell phone wielding road warrior, and they likely feel the same. If you need to use such devices then just pull over and stay off the rode until you’re done.
For more similar discussion see our GPS Units Safer than Cell Phones piece.
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- 2015-12-04: Added appropriate tags.
- 2014-12-25: Moved to the Tom’s Tek Stop blog, added whitespace, revised content, and adjusted ad placement. Revised content and moved the discussion about GPS units to the GPS Units Safer than Cell Phones post.
- 2010-08-01: Originally published in the Tom’s Views blog.