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Smartphones More Dangerous Than Alcohol, When Driving 358

Posted by Soulskill
from the mothers-against-tweeting-while-driving dept.
judgecorp writes "The Institute of Advanced Motorists in the UK has carried out live tests which prove that using smartphones impairs driving ability more than drug or alcohol use, making reaction times 37.6 percent slower (PDF). The result is a big concern since a quarter of drivers admit to sending texts from their phones while driving. 'Young people have grown up with smartphones and using them is part of everyday life. But more work needs to be done by the government and social network providers to show young people that they are risking their lives and the lives of others if they use their smartphones while driving.'"
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Smartphones More Dangerous Than Alcohol, When Driving

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  • by SoupGuru (723634) on Monday March 05, 2012 @02:30PM (#39251951)
    I can text, check my Facebook, AND drive with no problems. I think I'm one of only about 20 world-wide that can do it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 05, 2012 @02:31PM (#39251989)
    All driving is more dangerous in the UK, because they insist on driving on the wrong side of the road.
    • the first time I visited the UK (I'm from the US) some friends there asked how I was doing, dealing with the 'opposite side' driving problem. I said it would be no problem, I would just go to one of your nice pubs, have a few and then, I'd just naturally drive on the wrong side of the road. which, in this case, would be the correct side.

      they didn't think it was funny.

    • by digitig (1056110)
      We drive on the opposite side to oncoming traffic. I'm sure that's safest. Which side do you drive on?
  • While what happened in this story [msn.com] is tragic, she knew the consequences. I don't agree with the parent's response of lobbying for new laws, either- theft is illegal, but that doesn't mean people don't steal.
    • by Hatta (162192)

      That story is just natural selection in action. It's only tragic when natural selection is averted. e.g., if the texter survives and procreates, or the texter takes the life of a non-texter.

      I know in alcohol related crashes, the drunk is less likely to die than their victims are. What's the statistics on texting crashes?

      • by DarkOx (621550)

        One of the factors in that statistic is that a large. Number of DUI accidents are with pedestrians. Generally pedestrians fare worse that driver in auto accidents. I would expect cell phone while driving accidents to be similar in that they are more likely to happen in day light hours where more pedestrians are likely to be about. That's is educated guessing though.

    • by robus (852325)

      And if you're a dead victim of their "choice"?

      Laws can be a way for society to set clear limits on acceptable behavior. Currently people aren't seriously considering the risks they're taking with others safety. That has to change - soon.

  • Siri (Score:5, Funny)

    by Oswald McWeany (2428506) on Monday March 05, 2012 @02:33PM (#39252029)

    Siri, how close is the nearest hospital? Is it too far to walk there with one leg broken from a car accident?

    • by Tapewolf (1639955)

      Siri, how close is the nearest hospital? Is it too far to walk there with one leg broken from a car accident?

      Sorry. I can only look for businesses inside the United States, and when you're using U.S. English. Glory to the Flesh. Glory to the Mass.

    • by houghi (78078)

      Not too far, but you will be arrested for jaywalking.

  • by ath0mic (519762) on Monday March 05, 2012 @02:34PM (#39252041)
    Does this risk change if you consider a sufficiently long period of time? Presumably for a given trip you spend more time intoxicated than you do checking or responding to a message on your phone.
    • How about for non-smart phone users?

      Does it help if you don't have to hold the phone with both hands to type?
      • by SpaceLifeForm (228190) on Monday March 05, 2012 @02:47PM (#39252265)
        No. Any distraction, even with a dumb phone, is a distraction. Driving is a full-time job, requiring 100% of the drivers attention.
        • by duguk (589689)
          Everything is a distraction at some degree, even thinking about this message tomorrow while you're driving could distract you.

          Yes or no is meaningless, and 100% is concentration is almost certainly unachievable. Stop being silly and give me numbers, dammit.
    • by King_TJ (85913)

      Great question, IMO ... and I think the answer is, it's only an instantaneous distraction using a cellphone to text. It'd be rather pointless to run one of these studies where you asked a person to just drive with a smartphone sitting next to them in a cupholder, right?

      What bothers me the most are summaries like the one in this topic, stating "more work needs to be done by the government" to help solve this issue.

      You know what? Government is NOT always your "go to" group for all the answers. In fact, it of

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday March 05, 2012 @02:43PM (#39252185)

    The Mythbusters showed that [youtube.com] years ago. It was actually quite shocking how similar the test results were between someone who was substantially drunk and someone just talking on the phone (got even worse when they were texting).

  • Input method? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by scorp1us (235526) on Monday March 05, 2012 @02:43PM (#39252187) Journal

    I've on occasion attempted to text while driving. Yes, I know, bad me, but unlike others I do realize how terribly risky it is. So I only do it at red lights now. However there are a few things that make it even more tempting to do while in motion:
    Swype keyboard (and others) - with decent enough recognition, you can almost thumb-swype a whole message without looking. Corrections are a pain though.
    Dictation (Siri, Evi, and speech-to-text) - actually works quite well.
    But they all take more concentration from the road than they should.

    I think combining a HUD with dictation might just be the way of the future. We need to get these systems developed and studied before we blanket-ban messaging and driving.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      or just wait till you get to your destination to respond. 99% of stuff doesn't have to be handled RIGHT THIS DAMN MINUTE. People won't die, the world won't end, ect if you respondin 30 or 60 minutes. and if it is that important to respond right now, pull over and respond.

    • Jesus, no! Drivers have no business texting while the car us in motion, and the law should be very clear in saying that drivers seen holding a phone while the vehicle is in motion will be treated like drunk drivers. Why even think about a HUD when drivers could simply pull over to browse the web or work on their matchstick model of Big Ben?

      I see no reason to waste time making a moronic and dangerous activity slightly safer

    • Re:Input method? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Monday March 05, 2012 @02:51PM (#39252357)

      We need to get these systems developed and studied before we blanket-ban messaging and driving.

      There is overwhelming evidence at this point that the distraction of being on a call or dealing with a message is actually the main danger, and that the physical effort of manipulating the device, while not completely irrelevant, has a much smaller effect.

      That suggests we blanket ban these dangerous activities (and enforce it) first, and if anyone thinks they've come up with a safe way of doing it the onus is now on them to prove it so before it is permitted on public roads.

      • by yabos (719499)
        That's true, yet all the laws so far mandate using headsets or some other hands free device to use your phone while driving. This does basically nothing to keep you from getting distracted.
        • Sadly, yes. As I noted in another post, the biggest screw-up the government made in the legislation here was that they didn't ban hands-free kits as well, apparently on the basis that enforcement would be impractical. That sent a clear message that driving using a hands-free kit was OK, which was then used extensively in advertising campaigns shortly after the laws were introduced.

      • by lgw (121541)

        There is overwhelming evidence at this point that the distraction of being on a call or dealing with a message is actually the main danger

        There's ovewhelming numbers of people making this up and repeating it on the internet, to be sure. Keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel is 90% of the battle. You have millions of years of evolution helping you focus your attention on the scary thing that just happened, but only if you see it. Looking down at a screen is really troubling.

        Also, "X might be ban, lets just banX and worry about it later" is exactly the sort of trading freedom for safety that eventually destroys freedom.

    • We need to get these systems developed and studied before we blanket-ban messaging and driving.

      your selfishness does not trump safety.

      I doubt you truly understand how much energy a moving car has and how much damage it can do.

      short of a bonafide emergency (almost never happens) there's no good reason to allow such distractions.

      sorry, but you are just not even THINKING, here, dude. no text or email is worth this.

  • by Securityemo (1407943) on Monday March 05, 2012 @02:45PM (#39252215) Journal
    I've heard that it is or was common for Japanese domestic cars to have TVs installed. It seemed strange to me when I heard about it, because I certainly couldn't keep attention to both a TV screen and the road. On the other hand it would probably be easier to regulate attention to that versus a phone conversation where I'm actually pressured to perform two tasks at the same time.
  • Why the focus solely on young people? I see plenty of so-called "adults" that are texting and jabbering incessantly behind the wheel.
    • Why the focus solely on young people? I see plenty of so-called "adults" that are texting and jabbering incessantly behind the wheel.

      Texting or otherwise using a cellphone while driving in fact suggests that the individual is too self-centered and too into instant gratification to be considered to be an "adult".

  • And similar to having a drunk person on the road, the consequences often end up ruining the lives of people who were not making the horrendously bad decision. The problem, of course, is proving it when something bad hasn't happened. This is why so many people get away with sending text messages while driving, because they don't get caught doing it. Unfortunately it gives them the false belief that they can do that safely.
  • by sideslash (1865434) on Monday March 05, 2012 @02:47PM (#39252267)
    I predict that factors like this will be the impetus for society ultimately being OK with switching over to computer driven vehicles. Not saying that's good or bad, just predicting.
    • by Tony Hoyle (11698)

      Gives a whole new meaning to 'my computer crashed' though...

    • by davevr (29843)
      Amen! I for one welcome our autonomous car overloads. To paraphrase Homer Simpson: "Technology: The cause of, and solution to, all of the world's problems!"
  • A little smart phone is probably worse than a little alcohol.

    Maybe a heap of smart phone is still worse than a heap of alcohol.

    I doubt that a whole whopping bunch of smart phone is proportionately worse than a whole whopping bunch of alcohol.

    Though, I could be wrong.

  • This is BS. I'm posting this from my mobile phone while speeding down the freeway at 80 mph, and look no problems whatsoev (*&$&*# NO CARRIER

  • ...since I use it extensively as a GPS/navigation aid, as do many other people. It allows me to focus on the road more when I am driving in unfamiliar places.

    For many, it is also a music player (which has been a standard component in cars for decades). I doubt that hitting a "play" button to launch a playlist with thousands of songs *once* provides more distraction than going through a CD wallet every hour.

    On the other hand, SMS messaging has been present on pretty much cell phones since the beginning,

  • Stuff which distracts a driver's attention could be dangerous?
    Now there's a surprise!!!

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0LCmStIw9E [youtube.com]

    Then again, what teen watches TV anymore?
  • That's why they invented software like Vlingo for smartphones! and Bluetooth headsets for talking. A Smartphone is only as smart as the person using it.
  • Very irresponsible, implying that a slower reaction time means a worse driver.

    Plenty of older folks have very poor reaction times (and I'm not talking senile oldies), and almost all young folks have great reaction times. Clearly, a lot of practice and knowledge and judgment goes into driving.

    Alcohol impairs much more than just reaction times. Alcohol can't be switched off.

    Here's a story:

    "The other day when driving home, I was drunk as all hell, but there was hardly any other traffic around. But when I hi

  • Accident statistics in the U.S. do not seem to support the supposed danger of driving while talking on cell phones. During the period when cell phones became wildly popular here, the automobile accident rate has dropped sharply. According to the Centers for Disease Control http://www.cdc.gov/Motorvehiclesafety/mmwr_achievements.html/ [cdc.gov] "From 2000 to 2009, while the number of vehicle miles traveled on the nation's roads increased by 8.5%, the death rate related to that travel declined from 14.9 per 100,000 pop

  • by sdo1 (213835) on Monday March 05, 2012 @03:32PM (#39253049) Journal

    Show me the massive increase in accidents and fatalities that have come along with the massive increase in cell phone usage. Then I'll believe there's a real correlation. The results of a controlled test designed to yield a certain result isn't useful data.

    Here's the fatality list through 2009. It shows steady decreases in fatalities per mile driven.

    http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx [dot.gov]

    Of course, that's 3 years old now, but still... there's been an increase in cell phone use through 2009, so if using a cell phone is as dangerous as drunk driving, I'd expect to see a big increase in the fatality rate, not a decrease.

    And here's another flawed study (2010)... http://www.nsc.org/Pages/NSCestimates16millioncrashescausedbydriversusingcellphonesandtexting.aspx [nsc.org]

    They estimate that 25% of crashes involve the use of cell phones. Based on that, I would expect accident rates to increase (to a degree) along with cell phone usage. But they don't. Many states have banned cell phone use by drivers. In those states, shouldn't see a big decrease in accidents? Do we? I doubt it.

    -S

  • Idiots (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DerPflanz (525793) <bart@frieEINSTEINsoft.nl minus physicist> on Monday March 05, 2012 @04:14PM (#39253689) Homepage

    Everybody who does something else than drive while driving is an idiot.

    Here in the Netherlands, just *holding* a phone will cost you 180 euros. I really do not understand why people think it is OK to text and drive.

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