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Text-Messaging Behind the Wheel 517

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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  • by trolltalk.com ( 1108067 ) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @10:51AM (#23980881) Homepage Journal

    What a moron!

    exting away while driving despite some near-accidents. 'Sometimes it just seems easier to text 'Be there in 5' instead of calling,' explains Taylor

    With a bluetooth headset, I say the person's name, my cellphone dials the number, I say what I have to say, and never have to fumble around with the phone.

    Any bets on how long before this guy gets his darwin?

  • I would like to make organ donation compulsory for these people. At least they can be of some use after they crash.
  • by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @10:56AM (#23980951) Homepage Journal

    We can all remember this thread when the asshat wins a Darwin Award. I've been near clipped many times by people fumbling with their phones. Usually they are gabbing, but more and more it's young kids texting. Youth tends to think it's invincible anyways.

    They even reference 'near accidents'. All it takes is for one other person around you to also have a lapse of attention to turn that 'near accident' into a real accident.

    If you need to say 'be there in 5' then pull over, or just make them wait 5 minutes. Duh.

  • by astralan ( 1122953 ) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @11:00AM (#23981009)
    It's thrilling to think of driving south on I-95 in the left lane and see someone driving five feet behind me staring at a phone than my bumper. Isn't that how road-rage gets started? It's more than an accident waiting to happen.
  • by AmaranthineNight ( 1005185 ) <amaranthinenight@NoSpam.gmail.com> on Saturday June 28, 2008 @11:29AM (#23981343)
    I know people who text without looking (Why would you need to check your output? It's close enough to what you meant) and if the text message in response isn't important, like in the case of texting "be home in 5", it requires lifting up your phone for a couple of seconds and hitting send. Calling could definitely be more distracting depending on how proficient you are at text messaging vs. carrying on a phone conversation.
  • Re:Re:Idiot (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 28, 2008 @11:34AM (#23981401)

    I'd like to follow you, or anyone else, around for a day and count the things you do that are irresponsible yet legal that you do despite the dangerous aspects.

  • Re:Darwin (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 28, 2008 @12:08PM (#23981809)

    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?

    I, for one, do not do any of that. I don't eat in the car. I don't listen to CDs in the car. And I always get a good night's sleep, because that's important to me.

    Do people really do all this other crap while driving? If so, then I'm really scared!

    Empirically, I sure don't notice any of this happening. At least once a week, some jerk tries to run me over while talking on a cell phone. I can't remember anybody ever nearly hitting me while holding a sandwich, or reaching for the radio. I'm sure it must happen *sometimes*, but it's certainly not ubiquitous like Driving While Chatting is.

  • Re:Darwin (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xZgf6xHx2uhoAj9D ( 1160707 ) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @12:33PM (#23982129)

    People who tune their radios while driving don't grasp how dangerous it is.

    Seriously, your post comes off as a bit condescending. "Other people who do something seemingly safe are too stupid to realize that it's dangerous. But when I do something seemingly safe, it's because I'm smart enough to know that it actually is safe!"

    That's fantastic that you only do it when you're on a barren straightaway and only press one button. 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.

  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @12:54PM (#23982419) Homepage Journal

    I drive a motorcycle in NYC, which is already really dangerous even when people are running only one machine, their car. It's even worse now that people are in their SUVs, sealed from the rest of the world and throwing their weight around in traffic - especially when they're not really NYC residents, but drive those trucks mostly in the suburbs where there's room for them to drive like fools. It's even worse than that with them talking to their phones pressed to their heads, distracted by what's in their hands rather than concentrating with their hands on the wheel. The worst are the SUV drivers with phones in their hands, and of course the very worst are the ones with both hands on a phone, looking at it while they text someone. It's totally insane, though they don't care since they feel like their giant truck will protect them in a collision.

    A month ago, one of these assholes cut me off downtown, almost driving me into a parked car (except I'm a very good driver, so I barely recovered to save my life). They raced to the next red light, which was only a block away anyway. I drove up next to their window and waved at them. I wanted to tell them to watch out, as most of them just aren't aware of motorcycles at all, which don't register in their vision like cars do. They were busy texting someone, as they'd clearly been while they cut me off, and they ignored me. So I knocked on their window. They ignored me. I knocked harder, angrily now. They glanced up at me, obviously having seen me the entire time, and waved one hand, mockingly making an "oh, I'm scared" face (even though I wasn't threatening them or anything). They laughed silently inside their big truck, and bent back down to resume texting.

    So I bashed off their side rearview mirror. I ripped it from the truck, and smashed at their truck over and over again while they watched in shock.

    Then I drove away and got lost among NYC's millions of other cars. Fixing that mirror's got to cost hundreds of dollars and days off the road. If only I could have smashed their window and grabbed their phone, I'd call to check in on how it's going. Maybe next time. If they haven't learned to just shut up and drive already.

  • by Zen ( 8377 ) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @01:11PM (#23982623)

    First, I agree that texting and using phones in general while driving is a bad idea. But it's not that bad in small doses. It seems that lots of Baby Boomers seem to think it's one of the most dangerous things ever. Let me help you understand - it's not.

    Multitasking is a learned behavior. Depending on how often you do it, unless you're incredibly dumb, you get better the more often you do it. Things like talking while jogging - you can't do it when you first start out because you can't control your breathing. It takes a while to learn how to do it. Same with multitasking while driving. Yes, it does distract you. But as long as your not inept, it shouldn't distract you any more then reading billboards and streetsigns that you pass, changing stations on a radio, talking to passengers, drumming on your steering wheel when your jam comes on the radio, etc.

    Yes, I text while driving. But on a blackberry, not a cell phone. Blackberry's are different - one button per letter. Since I've been using blackberry's for so long, I can pretty much type without looking at the screen, and I just have to glance at it every once in a while to make sure the last sentence was correct. I don't glance away any more then I do to look in the sideview mirrors or look at my center console to check my speed.

    I agree it's bad, but I disagree that it is always dangerous. I think there is a small percentage of people who happen to be bad at multitasking who try to talk/text and drive at the same time. Same as there's a small percentage of semi-truck drivers who are dangerous and cut small cars off at the last second, but we all watch out when we're around any truck because they have a bad reputation. Some people can compartmentalize and do multiple things at the same time, and some people can't handle it.

    I don't understand legislating the use of a phone while driving, because it's already covered under reckless driving laws. If you're sending a quick message, or having a few sentence conversation I don't see a problem with it at all. If you're having a heated argument, that's going to take a lot more attention away from you, and you should know better then to do that while driving.

  • by DF5JT ( 589002 ) <slashdot@bloatware.de> on Saturday June 28, 2008 @02:11PM (#23983257) Homepage


    For years I have had a shortwave transceiver in my car and since I don't like voice communication, I had a morse code key between the seats. I am quite proficient at the code, doing something like 40 WPM easily while driving on the Autobahn and I found that concentration was more difficult when I had an actual person to talk to in the car.

    I wish there was a mobile phone with twoe keys, one for dots, one for dashes to let me input text messages. Anything less than a full size keyboard is a PITA for text input; morse code would be a fine alternative, but i realize it's not for everyone. I look forward to a new generation of mobile phones that is open enough to make something like this possible.

    Please no hint at Darwin: I am an experienced driver and listening to music is just as distracting as watching parts of the landscape and in fact when doing morse code at 120 mpH I never need to take my eyes from the road. I would agree, however, that any input interface that requires a look at the input device is an invitation to cleanse the gene pool.

  • Re:Why a law? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by foniksonik ( 573572 ) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @02:17PM (#23983325) Homepage Journal

    Ever been stuck in traffic for 30 minutes on a freeway, going 2 MPH?

    You can read a book, eat a burger and write out a 2 page email with absolutely no concern for the cars around you.... there's no where to go and nobody can go fast enough to even dent your car much less cause an accident.

  • by ari_j ( 90255 ) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @07:42PM (#23985955)
    Many motorcyclists have the advice to always assume that you are invisible to other drivers. I make a slightly different assumption when I'm on my bike. I assume that every other driver is aware of my presence but actively trying to kill me. It's a lot easier to remain vigilant when you are being hunted rather than simply ignored.

    I'm glad you survived that asshole and, while I can't advise anything unlawful, if I were in charge of your insurance company I would gladly indemnify you for any claims that result from what you did, lower your rates to thank you for making the roads safer for other motorcyclists, and keep the other driver's insurance company embroiled in legal battles long enough to drive up his/her (you used "their" consistently) rates.

    One time, near Sturgis, SD, the week before the big rally, I was on my bike on a road with two lanes in each direction and no median strip, just a turn lane. I was behind about three or four Harley owners (I won't call them "riders" as a matter of principle) in the left lane. They were passing a minivan in the right lane, slowly and safely. The minivan suddenly, without using its signal (please, people, use your signal even when you think nobody is around to see it - chances are that you just aren't aware of the people who need to see it most), moved into the left lane. Two of the bikers were past it but one was next to it and, being less experienced, barely managed to wobble his way around and in front of the van.

    I decided to at least let the minivan driver know that the world was upset with him, so I sped up into the right lane (after checking that it was clear, of course, and with correct use of my directional signal), pulled up alongside the van, and looked inside the passenger window to see two men, aged in their mid-50's. I knocked on the window while maintaining my position next to the van until they were both looking at me, flipped them off until they both comprehended, and then sped up to get the hell away from their vehicle of mass destruction.

    Everyone, pay attention: Motorcyclists are highly vulnerable to the mistakes that you are too self-centered to care about making. Even a helmet and full leather body coverage can't save a life against being run into oncoming traffic, a guard rail, or the bottom side of your tires. They will be polite and courteous to you as long as you do the same for them. This includes crotch rocketeers, BMW road warriors, Goldwing tourists, and Harley biker dudes. There are exceptions, like the morons you see popping wheelies with their unhelmeted girlfriends on back or wearing flip flops, shorts, and nothing else as they cruise along the road (hint: your body doesn't care if your skin is one inch left of center or one hundred feet), but by and large a little bit of awareness on your part will make the world a better place.
  • by theshowmecanuck ( 703852 ) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @10:33PM (#23986971) Journal
    Here is an accident where a driver who was texting killed someone because he was not paying attention to the road. [engadget.com]
  • IDIOTS! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by stanjam ( 1057588 ) * on Sunday June 29, 2008 @12:58AM (#23987657)
    I ride a motorcycle. It is MY LIFE these idiots are playing with out there. It is bad enough I have almost been killed numerous times by people on their cell phones, but TEXTING??? I see anyone texting near me they are gonna get a fender kicked in!

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