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Cellphones Transportation

Text-Messaging Behind the Wheel 517

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the move-over-cb-radio dept.
theodp writes "TIME interviews 21-year-old Taylor Leming, creator of the 600-member Facebook group I Text Message People While Driving and I Haven't Crashed Yet! While Alaska and Louisiana just became the latest states to pass laws banning text-messaging behind the wheel, Virginia resident Leming is still happily texting away while driving despite some near-accidents. 'Sometimes it just seems easier to text 'Be there in 5' instead of calling,' explains Taylor."
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Text-Messaging Behind the Wheel

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  • Darwin (Score:5, Insightful)

    by j_sp_r (656354) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @09:48AM (#23980843) Homepage

    Why is it important to text that you'll be there in 5 minutes anyway? You can also wait 5 minutes.

    And I hope when he crashes and kills himself he doesn't take others with him. Driving and calling (even hands free), texting, or doing anything else (tuning the radio, setting up your nav system) for that matter is just dangerous.

  • Idiot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jrothwell97 (968062) <jonathan@@@notroswell...com> on Saturday June 28, 2008 @09:48AM (#23980851) Homepage Journal

    despite some near-accidents

    Enough said.

    Also, just because someone hasn't had an accident in the past, it doesn't mean they won't have an accident in the future.

  • Kids these days (Score:4, Insightful)

    by iPodUser (879598) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @09:49AM (#23980865) Journal
    I can't believe these people! What's so "fun" about text messages? Why the aversion to real communication? I'd much rather talk to someone than exchange emoticons while risking the lives of those on the road around me.
  • by thewils (463314) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @09:51AM (#23980875) Journal

    Why not simply have a law where you must drive with "due care and attention". This covers everything from texting to putting on your make-up. No need to mention everything specifically. No need to create new laws for new technology.

  • Re:Idiot (Score:4, Insightful)

    by iPodUser (879598) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @09:51AM (#23980895) Journal
    Exactly. If they've already had near accidents then it's just a matter of time until something bad happens. And so help me if they crash into me...
  • Moron (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smolloy (1250188) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @09:52AM (#23980903)
    I hope her first accident, the one that teaches her how dumb and selfish this is, only injures/kills her and no one else.

    I also hope her insurance company reads time.com.

  • Why a law? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tompaulco (629533) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @09:53AM (#23980917) Homepage Journal
    Sure people are dumb. But how can anyone be so mind-boggling stupid that they would think that texting while driving is a good idea? I mean, why not just go to the next step and drive blindfolded? There shouldn't even need to be a law because no one should be dumb enough to do this. But I guess I have too much faith in humanity.
  • Great Idea... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by deadmongrel (621467) * <karthik@poobal.net> on Saturday June 28, 2008 @09:55AM (#23980931) Homepage

    I am starting another group:
      "I am drunk While Driving and I Haven't Crashed Yet!"

    It sucks that we have to make laws to compensate for commonsense.

  • by Joe the Lesser (533425) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @09:56AM (#23980945) Homepage Journal

    I've lost two people in pointless car crashes.

    Please use your goddamn head and pay attention to the goddamn road.

  • by pembo13 (770295) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @09:56AM (#23980947) Homepage
    when society looks down on physical violence. A solid punch to the chin and that guy may see the error of his ways.
  • by Coopjust (872796) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @09:56AM (#23980955)
    Also, I recognize that you do have to continually think about your conversation during a voice call, but you at least have the ability to keep your eyes on the road...
  • by trolltalk.com (1108067) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @09:57AM (#23980983) Homepage Journal

    Why not simply have a law where you must drive with "due care and attention".

    Too vague ... one person's "due care and attention" is anothers recklessness.

    Besides, banning texting for the driver while on a highway is a no-brainer ... because obviously people with no brains think they can do it "despite a few near-accidents."

    I finally bought a bluetooth earpiece when the laws changed, even though my cell already has speaker-phone capability, so it already was "hands-free"; after a couple of weeks, I now wish I had bought it sooner. (Hint - buy a good-quality one with noise and echo cancellation - you don't want to sound like you're talking in a garbage can).

  • by jrothwell97 (968062) <jonathan@@@notroswell...com> on Saturday June 28, 2008 @09:58AM (#23980991) Homepage Journal

    In that case, how long would it be since I get a text reading

    Hello deer, I'm on the mane road and will be hone in to innits.

    And in that case, WTF is wrong with just making a phone call?

  • by deadmongrel (621467) * <karthik@poobal.net> on Saturday June 28, 2008 @10:00AM (#23981019) Homepage

    The problem with non-specific laws is that its open to interpretation. Also we can get rid of all specific laws and have one law: "do no evil".
    Your definition of evil may be different from mine.

    Also, most states have laws against careless operation of vehicles already.

  • Re:Moron (Score:5, Insightful)

    by owlstead (636356) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @10:08AM (#23981109)

    You learn or you die, you cannot combine the two. Anyway, I hope she crashes and just seriously damages the car, with the insurance company not paying out. There is no reason to wish her harm just because she (at 21 years old) makes some stupid mistakes.

  • by Max von H. (19283) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @10:12AM (#23981153) Homepage

    I nearly got killed a few years ago by a "distracted" driver who was happily chatting on his cell phone while running a traffic light. It took me over a year to recover and be able to work again and I'll feel the secondary effects of this accident for the rest of my life (definitely NOT a nice thing, trust me).

    In most European countries, using a cell phone while driving is considered impaired driving and you basically face the same consequences as if you were drunk in case of an accident, meaning your insurance will happily run away from you and you'll be declared responsible for the accident even if it's not initially your fault.

    I'm looking forward to the day it'll be the same here in Ontario as a lot of people don't seem to be able to distract themselves from their crackberries while driving. Maybe a $1000 ticket and a license suspension will teach them a lesson before they get to injure or kill someone.

    I for one hope this moron eliminates himself from the human gene pool without injuring or killing someone first.

  • Re:Idiot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jrothwell97 (968062) <jonathan@@@notroswell...com> on Saturday June 28, 2008 @10:12AM (#23981169) Homepage Journal
    But surely if she considers it irresponsible, she shouldn't do it, EVEN if it is not specifically illegal?
  • Re:Moron (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mrbah (844007) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @10:13AM (#23981177)
    That last part is actually a very good point. With employers checking up on prospective hires' Facebook profiles, I don't find it a stretch to think that insurance companies would do the same thing. Here's hoping they quadruple the rates of everyone in that group.
  • Re:Idiot (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 28, 2008 @10:19AM (#23981233)
    Yep. People like her are the reason why religion exists. Let me explain. Despite her reason and common sense telling her that it's not a good idea, she's going to continue doing it simply because "it's not illegal." The only way to get her to actually change her behaviour (and that's a big maybe) is to have some sort of "punishment" go along with the action.
  • And I think you missed his point, which was that driving with a headset has been shown in studies to be no less dangerous than driving with a phone in your hand while you are talking to people. The "hands-free" wasn't the problem, the problem was that being on a phone and carrying on a conversation is distracting, whether you're holding it up to your ear or not.

    I'd like to see a study done on whether talking to somebody in the passenger seat is just as dangerous as talking on the phone (handsfree or not) while driving. Because if it is just as dangerous to talk to a passenger, then really they can either ban talking in cars (imagine the outcry) or stop passing laws against doing other stuff in cars (talking on a cell phone). Although the texting thing is definitely a no-brainer.
  • Re:Darwin (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 28, 2008 @10:29AM (#23981339)
    I haven't got an ArseFace account, but can someone that has log into his group and give him the righteous abuse that the silly little fucker deserves?
  • Re:Darwin (Score:3, Insightful)

    by VGPowerlord (621254) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @10:30AM (#23981349)

    God: Where are you?

    Idiot: Be there in 5 mins.

    CRASH!! BANG!!


    God: That didn't seem like 5 minutes to me.


    Idiot: I didn't die immediately!

  • Re:Darwin (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cyberwench (10225) <tunalei@gmail.com> on Saturday June 28, 2008 @10:33AM (#23981391)

    And yet, barely anyone gives a second thought to tuning their radio while driving or talking to a passenger while driving - both things that are shown to create just as much of a distraction.

    I don't think there's anyone out there who never ever deals with distractions while driving. Having a sandwich, drinking something, changing tracks on a CD, driving while not having enough sleep... everyone does it on one level or another. All of it is dangerous, but the only thing that seems to get people keyed up is cell phone use. Can anyone explain to me why?

  • by lilmunkysguy (740848) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @10:33AM (#23981393)

    you still have to look at the screen to check your output multiple times, distracting you from the road.

    Like flipping through the radio stations? Here here! Let's call all radio station flippers names and ban radio station flipping!
    Honestly, the cell phone, or the texting, isn't the problem. There are times when it is perfectly safe to text (long empty roads on the way to the coast, for example). As someone above said, the rule should be that you "drive with due care and attention." Banning a particular technology because your view can't apply it in a safe way doesn't seem to be the right answer.

  • by davmoo (63521) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @10:40AM (#23981471)

    A number of comments here have asked questions like "how hard is it to pull over" or "why not just call them". Here's another one...

    Why not RTFA and discover that its a joke group and its creator is not trying to condone texting while driving.

  • Re:Darwin (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Free the Cowards (1280296) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @10:42AM (#23981493)

    People who use their phones while driving don't grasp how dangerous it is.

    I'll tune my radio on the road, but only when I'm in a clear patch when nothing is happening at the moment. I also take as little time as possible to do so; all of my favorite stations are programmed into buttons, so it just takes a moment, and doesn't take much attention.

    The same is true with my passengers. When the driving gets tough, I will stop talking to them, often in mid-sentence.

    But people who use cell phones on the road don't seem to understand these ideas. They will frequently place the cell phone first, driving second. They won't interrupt their conversation for a difficult section of driving, they won't try to minimize their conversation, and to compound it all they frequently have only one hand free for actual driving, which means less steering control and poor or nonexistent use of turn signals.

  • Re:Darwin (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stickerboy (61554) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @10:50AM (#23981585) Homepage

    >And yet, barely anyone gives a second thought to tuning their radio while driving or talking to a passenger while driving - both things that are shown to create just as much of a distraction.

    I don't think there's anyone out there who never ever deals with distractions while driving. Having a sandwich, drinking something, changing tracks on a CD, driving while not having enough sleep... everyone does it on one level or another. All of it is dangerous, but the only thing that seems to get people keyed up is cell phone use. Can anyone explain to me why?

    Mostly because it's the bigger idiots that try to text message while driving. There seems to be a tiered system of stupidity while driving. On one level there's the eating a sandwich or sucking on a soda pop or leaning over to tune the radio. On a higher level of idiocy, there's the people reading a newspaper, doing makeup, driving without your seatbelt, and texting or calling on a cell phone.

    Unlike talking to a passenger, who should have a nominal idea of what's going on in traffic, the person on the other end of a call has no sense of when they should shut up or avoid bringing up issues requiring heavy thought. I have no problem with someone making an essential short call when it's safe to say, "Hey Dave, the meeting is canceled today. See you", and then hanging up. It's just that most people who I actually see talking on their cellphones in traffic aren't that bright, and continue to natter on forever while they're swerving and stomping on their brakes.

    The title of the Facebook group says it all about the people who text message while driving. "Haven't died, yet!" Congratulations... you win the dumb luck award? Soon to turn into another Award?

  • Re:Idiot (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wk633 (442820) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @10:55AM (#23981653)

    "I would support [a law], however, because I consider myself to be a pretty good law follower and would feel pretty horrible if something happened because of me breaking a law."

    Yeah, because something bad happening because you do something you know if fucking stupid would be ok.

    What, she'd only feel bad if she killed someone while doing something 'against the law'?

    Idiot.

  • Re:Darwin (Score:2, Insightful)

    by socsoc (1116769) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @11:04AM (#23981759)
    Try [msn.com] another [cambridge.org] dictionary [merriam-webster.com].
  • ook (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pak9rabid (1011935) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @11:11AM (#23981855)
    between shit like this and the countless pictures I've seen of girls on facebook taking pictures of themselves while they're driving, remind me again why auto insurance is higher for males?
  • Re:Darwin (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Drakonik (1193977) <drakonik@gmail.com> on Saturday June 28, 2008 @11:13AM (#23981863) Homepage

    Because to use your cell-phone for texting, you must look AWAY FROM THE ROAD and at a small screen to read texts.

    When you're talking to a passenger, yeah, you're distracted, but talking and listening does not require that you take your eyes off the road. Nor does adjusting the radio, once you're used to using it.

  • Re:Darwin (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gewalt (1200451) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @11:28AM (#23982055)
    6 billion years didn't seem like a week either.
  • Re:Darwin (Score:2, Insightful)

    by liquidpele (663430) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @12:05PM (#23982551) Journal
    Are you serious? Do don't realize kids don't use texting for communication, but for playing? Christ, get a grip on reality.
  • Motorcycles (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Platinum Fire (914649) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @12:05PM (#23982553)
    I drive a motorcycle and it was already bad enough with people not paying attention, and not seeing you in the mirror and about taking you out, and lately about 90% of the time when someone pulls into the lane and about hits me I notice they are on their phones usually texting. they need to just drive off a bridge already and rid the world of some more morons.
  • by Dire Bonobo (812883) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @12:19PM (#23982709)

    I finally bought a bluetooth earpiece when the laws changed

    "a 2006 study concluded that talking on a cell phone while driving is as dangerous as driving drunk, even if the phone is a hands-free model." [caasco.com]

    The problem isn't the phone occupying your hands; the problem is the phone occupying your brain.

    one person's "due care and attention" is anothers recklessness.

    Apparently.

  • Re:Darwin (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Free the Cowards (1280296) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @12:24PM (#23982761)

    You know what else is dangerous? Driving.

    I'm not saying that I'm safe while other people are not. I'm saying that there are things you can do to limit your distraction and reduce the danger of the activity. The problem is that people who talk on cell phones while driving by and large do not do these things. Some of them do, and are thereby reasonably safe, and I have no problem with them.

  • Re:Cognitive load (Score:5, Insightful)

    by camperdave (969942) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @12:31PM (#23982843) Journal
    The problem isn't the cell phone. It isn't the radio. It's the fact that the majority of driving does not require a lot of concentration. It has a low cognitive load. Thus drivers have a lot of free attention that needs to be channeled into something: listening to the radio, talking on the phone, etc. Otherwise they get bored and sleepy. That's why a lot of highways have rumble strips on along the side.

    The problem occurs when driving suddenly requires a lot more concentration/attention than we have to give it. If we can't shift mental gears fast enough to act to avoid a situation, we crash.
  • Re:Darwin (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jez9999 (618189) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @12:41PM (#23982949) Homepage Journal

    But people who use cell phones on the road don't seem to understand these ideas. They will frequently place the cell phone first, driving second.

    Sorry, but that is nonsense.

    Using your mobile (cell)phone whilst driving is illegal over here, because our Orwellian government passed a law against it. I don't think it's sensible. Before that, I did talk on a phone whilst driving and you know what? I was able to put the mobile phone SECOND and driving FIRST. What makes you think that the class of drivers who are unable to prioritize tasks properly are limited exclusively to those using a mobile phone whilst driving?

  • by tompaulco (629533) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @12:50PM (#23983071) Homepage Journal
    You seem to be claiming that if you give everyone a wide berth, you could close your eyes for 10 full seconds at highway speeds without danger. Stupid.
    Without danger to others, yes. Without danger to themselves, no. I don't care what people do to themselves as long as they don't hurt other people.
  • Re:Darwin (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Free the Cowards (1280296) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @12:53PM (#23983111)

    What makes you think that the class of drivers who are unable to prioritize tasks properly are limited exclusively to those using a mobile phone whilst driving?

    Absolutely nothing at all! There are plenty of worthless drivers out there, both with and without cell phones.

    However, most people using cell phones on the road will be this worthless sort. Why? Well, first, because most drivers are this worthless sort, period. Secondly, because people like you and I will generally make short calls out of necessity, whereas this worthless sort of driver will make constant long calls. Thus the odds are extremely high that any given driver on a cell phone is a worthless moron who can't prioritize.

    Yes, there are people who can do it responsibly, but they make up a vanishingly small proportion of the population.

  • Re:Darwin (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fjandr (66656) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @12:57PM (#23983147) Homepage Journal

    Phone talkers who only phone while on straightaways and only press one button to do it (speed dial) can make exactly the same argument. Guess what? It's still dangerous. Changing the radio station while driving is dangerous. Period.

    Talking on the phone engages your attention for a continuous period of time. A half-second to push a button != several minutes of distraction. Not saying the momentary distraction is not dangerous, but it does not even come close to approaching the level of danger that talking on the phone while driving presents.

    Text messaging is even worse though, since it requires the concentration to produce the text mentally (much more thought intensive than speaking naturally) and some form of error correction (or worse, watching your phone constantly as you enter text). Sadly, these people don't always have one-party crashes. If they only killed themselves in car crashes, I'd be fine with it.

  • by Kabuthunk (972557) <<moc.liamtoh> <ta> <knuhtubak>> on Saturday June 28, 2008 @01:47PM (#23983613) Homepage

    The problem is that it makes no difference if some people are good at texting while driving. Hell, it doesn't matter if 98% of people could do it flawlessly. In today's day and age, all you need is one jackoff to be retarded, and laws are created that affect everyone.

    These days, things are always put in place to appease the extreme minority, even if it pisses off the rest of the majority.

    Why do you think the warning "do not stop chainsaw with hands" exists?

  • Re:Kids these days (Score:3, Insightful)

    by L0rdJedi (65690) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @03:11PM (#23984361)

    Since I wasn't logged in at the time, here's my post again:

    As you honestly don't seem to understand the use of text messages, I'll explain why I find them useful: for communicating small amounts of information that don't require conversation, and out of respect for the other person's time.

    Let's face it, most people don't want to be interrupted whenever they're doing something. You might be out shopping for groceries, visiting a friend's house, or eating a restaurant, and you probably have your phone with you in case there's an emergency and/or you need to call somebody, but you don't want somebody to call you and suddenly want to have a conversation. Heck, at least in those situations you can talk if you want to; you can't exactly answer your phone and have a conversation at all if, say, you're watching a presentation at work, or if you're already on the phone with somebody else.

    Ever heard of voicemail? If I'm somewhere where I can't answer the phone and I get a call, I simply let it go to voicemail. If it's that damn important, leave a short message. If the voicemail notifier goes off, I excuse myself and check it. Otherwise, I figure I can call them back later.

    If I ever get a text message asking me a simple question while I'm in the grocery store, I would probably be 1) pissed because it just cost me $0.15 and 2) pick up the phone and call the person back. Pick up your damn phone and call. I will decide if your call is important enough at that time to take. If it's not and I'm really busy, it can go to voicemail. Most people have enough sense to realize that if it's really important, they'll either leave a voicemail or they'll call back right away a second time.

    When you get a text message, rather than answering your phone immediately, you can view it at your leisure, and it only takes a second of your time to read it.

    Who says I have to answer my phone at all, even when a call comes in? Again, that's what voicemail is for. If I decide your call is important or I'm not doing something important, I'll answer. Otherwise, go to voicemail. And that one second is one second more than I want to not be looking at the road.

    I can tell my girlfriend, "working late tonight, I'll be home in an hour," or my D&D buddies, "On my way, be there 30 minutes," or a couple of my coworkers, "Meet for lunch at Rudy's BBQ", and it only takes ten seconds of my time and effectively none of theirs. I can even send the same message to half a dozen people at once, and that's much faster than calling half a dozen people and repeating the same conversation every time. If, for some reason, they need to answer the message, they can also do so without disturbing any people around them who don't want to listen to somebody chatting on their cell phone.

    Ten seconds that you're not paying attention to what you're doing. With all the groups you mentioned, you should be able to call one person and let them know and then they can tell everyone else. Sure, it takes a little longer, but if you've got a bluetooth headset with voice dialing, at least you'll be looking at the road and not your damn phone.

    YWhy even text 5 or 10 people if they're all waiting in the same place? That makes even less sense then a short, 1 min phone call to tell one person "Be there in 5 mins". If that one person can't let everyone else know, then maybe they're just retarded.

    Does that make more sense? Yes, text messages are a horribly inefficient way of having a conversation, but they're not for conversing, they're for disseminating information.

    Yes, and we all know that everybody uses every piece of technology exactly the way it was always intended to be used. In short, no, it doesn't make more sense.

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @03:11PM (#23984363) Homepage Journal

    Is already illegal to drive impaired. Why do we need another law to say the same thing is illegal?

  • Re:Darwin (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 4D6963 (933028) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @12:13AM (#23987725)

    Text is a noun [askoxford.com], not a verb.

    Welcome into the English language. Any noun gets turned into a verb, adjective, whatever else that's not a noun, verb or adjective, and it's been like this for a while.

  • Re:Darwin (Score:3, Insightful)

    by toddestan (632714) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @09:55AM (#23990333)

    Cell phones impair driving, and that's why cops should be able to pull anyone on the phone and behind the wheel. They take your attention away from the road, reduce your reaction times, and usually tie up one hand. You may think you are some kind of amazing driver who can do both at once, but like everyone else who says the same thing, you're not. That's my point.

You see but you do not observe. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes"

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