Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Too Much Bad Information: Cell Phone Bans

I've grown tired of reading study after study and the many different findings that all seem to contradict one another or are just totally ridiculous. So I decide to call the National Safety Council and ask them "What is the most conclusive data you've got?" ... Unfortunately the person I really need to speak to was already gone for the day but the person I DID speak to (who admitted they were knowledgeable but not an expert on the topic) recommended I start by looking at a recent Virginia Tech study.

After starting to read it I realized that I've already been through it but I do agree with some of the opinions they offer in this part:

The Disconnect Between Naturalistic and Simulator Research
It is important to keep in mind that a driving simulator is not actual driving. Driving simulators engage participants in tracking tasks in a laboratory. As such, researchers that conduct simulator studies must be cautious when suggesting that conclusions based on simulator studies are applicable to actual driving. With the introduction of naturalistic driving studies that record drivers (through continuous video and kinematic sensors) in actual driving situations, we now have a scientific method to study driver behavior in real‐world driving conditions in the presence of real‐world daily pressures. As such, if the point of transportation safety research is to understand driver behavior in the real‐world (e.g., increase crash risk due to cell phone use), and when conflicting findings occur between naturalistic studies and simulator studies, findings from the real‐world, and not the simulator‐world, must be considered the gold standard.

It is also critical to note that some results of recent naturalistic driving studies, including those highlighted here as well as others (e.g., Sayer, Devonshire and Flanagan, 2007) are at odds with results obtained from simulator studies. Future research is necessary to explore the reasons why simulator studies sometimes do not reflect studies conducted in actual driving conditions (i.e., the full context of the driving environment). It may be, as Sayer, Devonshire and Flanagan (2007) note, that controlled investigations cannot account for driver choice behavior and risk perception as it actually occurs in real‐world driving. If this assessment is accurate, the generalizability of simulator findings, at least in some cases, may be greatly limited outside of the simulated environment.

Why Am I Opposed to Cell Phone Bans?

With a growing number of Cities and States implementing 'Fine-Based' bans on hand held devices while driving I feel it is important that the data used to base the decision of such legislation be accurate and unbiased. Furthermore I feel it is import that these bans actually address the problem and do not create additional problems; either by way of adding undo finical strain on innocent motorists or by over-extending those involved with enforcing the bans and indirectly creating more harm than good. I think most would agree it is not advantageous to take away the personal freedoms of citizens and/or fine those who do not abide by the ban when there is little to no benefit of implementing or enforcing the ban. Nor is it beneficial for police officers to be apprehending cell phone users instead of violent criminals, especially when the decision to do so is based off of flawed, biased, or incorrect data.

Thus far I have found multiple studies that paint a distorted picture of the dangers related to cell phone use while driving and feel it is unfair and irresponsible for legislators to even consider implementing any type of bans based upon this data. Additionally I have found no evidence that cell phone and texting bans have a positive effect in areas that have implemented them. Typically proponents for these types of bans complain there is no positive effect due to lack of enforcement while enforcement officials argue that they are either enforcing the bans but it is having little effect or that the bans are too difficult to enforce. Whether you feel cell phone use while driving is dangerous or not, there is more and more evidence that banning these devices, in any capacity, is not accomplishing the intended goal and merely adding undue hardship on citizens and law enforcment officials in those communities that implement these bans.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The website and Cell Phone Bans

Apparently we're all too busy to realize we're NOT distracted. is a government website that warns about the dangers of driver distraction. HOWEVER, while I can't deny that being overly distracted is dangerous, I will say the government has a huge bias and really bad information on the subject. Especially when it comes to enforcing the Ban on Cell Phones while driving.

Below is a review of the information found on the *RESEARCH* page of :

Research items as of today March 22, 2010:

1) "Driver distraction in commercial vehicle operations" is long (285 pages), complex and kind of odd. I mean, why would the dangers of distraction vary by vehicle? That aside... it concludes that DIALING a cell phone while driving is more dangerous than 'Read[ing a] book, newspaper, paperwork, etc.' but not as dangerous as reading a map, and also finds that talking on a cell phone isn't dangerous at all (which completely contradicts every other study ever done). Interesting, Huh?

2) "Cell phone-induced failures of visual attention during simulated driving" is 10 pages and shows that we don't pay attention to Billboards? Seriously I have no idea why that is even in this study. Anyway, it was done by David L. Strayer using a SIMULATED CAR and it says people in the study break slower when they are on the phone. WAIT! David L. Strayer? That sounds familiar.

3) "The Role of Driver Distraction in Traffic Crashes" is 70 pages and Cell Phones as a distraction barely makes the list. The study was done by AAA who also says; "At this time, AAA believes it is premature to ban the use of cell phones while driving...."

4) "A comparison of the cell-phone driver and the drunk driver" is 11 pages of crap on a study done by David L. Strayer WAIT! David L. Strayer? That sounds familiar.

5) " Profiles in Driver Distraction: Effects of Cell Phone Conversations on Younger and Older Drivers." I admit I haven't even read the full study because the link just goes to a summary page. You have to PAY to read the full study but the summary says something to the effect of; young people on the phone drive like old people, and old people on the phone don't drive much worse than normal. Hmmmm? Obviously it's the cell phone and experience doesn't factor in at all. Right? It seems like blaming the phone is an odd conclusion by David L. Strayer. WAIT! David L. Strayer? That sounds familiar.

6) "Examining the Impact of Cell Phone Conversations on Driving Using Meta-Analytic Techniques." Is another study I can't read without paying for an account BUT it is a study of studies?! You're kidding me right!? Follow the logic ... they are more or less saying "all the studies show mixed results so we're just going to side with the studies that show MORE of the SAME results and call it a day". Which means they're not even going to check and see if they have an excess of bad data before they draw a conclusion. Convenient, Huh?

7) "Wireless telephones and the risk of road crashes." OMG! This "study" shows that merely OWNING a phone puts you at higher risk of a crash!? I can't even explain how retarded this is ... you read what they wrote:

"The Société de l’Assurance Automobile du Québec (SAAQ) mailed a questionnaire and letter of consent to 175 000 licence holders for passenger vehicles. For cell phone users, questions pertaining to the use of the telephone were added. We received 36 078 completed questionnaires, with a signed letter of consent. Four wireless phone companies provided the files on cell phone activity, and the SAAQ the files for 4 years of drivers’ records and police reports. The three data sources were merged using an anonymized identification number. The statistical methods include logistic-normal regression models to estimate the strength of the links between the explanatory variables and crashes.

The relative risk of all accidents and of accidents with injuries is higher for users of cell phones than for non-users. The relative risks (RR) for injury collisions and also for all collisions is 38% higher for men and women cell phone users. These risks diminish to 1.1 for men and 1.2 for women if other variables, such as the kilometres driven and driving habits are incorporated into the models. Similar results hold for several sub-groups. The most significant finding is a dose-response relationship between the frequency of cell phone use, and crash risks. The adjusted relative risks for heavy users are at least two compared to those making minimal use of cell phones; the latter show similar collision rates as do the non-users."


 8) "Engrossed in conversation: The impact of cell phones on simulated driving performance." Is another study you have to pay for to read. But why would you? Doesn't this say it all: "Thirty-six college students with a median of 6 years of driving experience completed a driving history questionnaire and four simulated driving scenarios. The distraction tasks consisted of responding to a signal detection task and engaging in a simulated cell phone conversation." ... I understand simulated driving but what in the world is simulated cell phone conversation!??

9) "The effects of text messaging on young novice driver performance" is basically a 40 page homework assignment where they experimented on 20 young adults ages 18 to 21 who were driving for 6 months or less on a probationary drivers license. ... You can see how this data would be relevant to the banning of cell phones for everyone right?

10) "Distracted Driving Fatality Report" is a 12 page mash-up of numbers. It's hard to explain but I'll try; They take a survey that asks if you own a phone and use it when you drive then they take crash data and do some crazy math problem to make an educated guess as to who was on the phone and who wasn't at the time of a crash. In other words ... they're guessing.

To make it worse Appendix A points out these fun new fields that are being added to future reports:

• Cellular Telephone Present in Vehicle
• Cellular Telephone in Use in Vehicle

Notice how NEITHER of them is anything like "The Crash Was Caused by This Driver and they were on the Phone" ... Why are we collecting bad information on purpose? Really? Who stands to benefit from this?

11) "Electronic Device Use by Drivers" ... did we really need to do a study to find out more people are using their phone while they drive? That's all this is. It doesn't have ANY DATA to show cell phones are a distraction ... just information that we use cell phones.

12) "Fatal Distraction? A comparison of the cell-phone driver and the drunk driver" Hey! Didn't we already do this one!? Oh... wait this is the 5 page version of the same crappy study by David L. Strayer WAIT! David L. Strayer? That sounds familiar.

13) "100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study" does not link to the study that makes some pretty big claims concidering it was nothing more than a guess rather than real world information. It's done a lot like #10 in our list. The link doesn't go to the full study but if you look around you can find the 183 page monster. After reading it all I realized I didn't need to read past page 2 to realize this was all just a scientific guess.

14) "Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Status Report: Teens Talk" This isn't research or a study or anything of the sort ... it's a freakin pamphlet! Why is this even listed in the research section?

15) "Teens and Distracted Driving" is 24 pages that outline the results of a freakin survey that makes bold claims about Teens and Texting. If I was a teen I would be seriously upset about this.


Obviously we have some very mixed results;

All of the studies by David L. Strayer find that TALKING on a cell phone while driving is distracting while other studies find DIALING a cell phone is distracting but TALKING on a phone is NOT. (Keep in mind that David L. Strayer also proves it's safer to drive drunk than it is to drive sober) .

One study shows that it's more distracting to read a map and drive than it is to dial a cell phone and drive, while another shows it's more distracting to dial a cell phone and drive than it is to read a news paper and drive. LOLOL!

Another study shows that studies have mixed data but if it had to make a guess based on the studies then they're guess is that cell phones and driving is distracting.

Another study shows that merely owning a cell phone, even when you're not driving, means you're going to crash?

The rest of the 'Research' is a lot of guessing using math problems rather than real data or is clearly just irrelevant.

It all makes sense now. After reading all that ... I'm moving to Canada! Crap! They have a Cell phone ban too! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!

But seriously ... each 'study' disproves the other because none of them use REAL WORLD data in a REAL WAY. It is not surprising to me that recent reports show States that have had Cell Phone Bans for years have not seen a reduction in crashes. That is because the FIRST THING I did was look at REAL DATA:  

That REAL DATA told me that Cell Phone Bans won't fix the problem because there isn't really a problem. If there was the crash rate would increase with the amount of cell phone subscribers. Plain and simple. No scientific studies required.

So why do people like David L. Strayer keep putting out reports that Cell Phones are dangerous? Well, he doesn't. That is just the way people interpret them. If you REALLY LOOK he is just saying people break slower than normal but he isn't saying they break dangerously slower.

Now you might wonder why do people like David L. Strayer KEEP ON putting out these reports ... I would imagine it is because he's getting paid to do so and those simulators aren't cheap. Or maybe he has a personal agenda founded on his personal bias. But whatever the reason; should we let one persons bias dictate policy especially when the REAL DATA doesn't support his findings AND when other studies flat-out contradict them? I'm going to have to say; No.

The logic of implementing a cell phone ban in the hope that it will "save just one life" should be offset by the knowledge that almost a million innocent people have already been fined $50 to $1000 in various States and the REAL DATA doesn't show ANYONE is being saved by a Cell Phone Ban (this INCLUDES texting bans) Combine that with the knowlege that the "studies" don't justify their own results; So how can they justify the persecution of innocent people?

This all raises a bigger set of questions;
Why is our government collecting and giving out bad information on purpose? Who stands to benefit from this?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bias of Cell Phone Ban Data by Ban Supporters

Maybe Oprah Winfrey and Ray LaHood could explain all of this to me someday but for right now it doesn't look like people are being honest with us ...

#1 ) Really? Cell Phones and Driving are as Bad or Worse than Drunk Driving?

In the study by David L. Strayer called: "FATAL DISTRACTION? A COMPARISON OF THE CELL-PHONE DRIVER AND THE DRUNK DRIVER" (Which MANY Pro-Ban supporters LOVE to quote as some kind of bible scripture without ever reading it)

The data of the study was adjusted to reflect socially accepted results (... in other words they cleverly hid some REALLY IMPORTANT information ... HERE IS THE LONG VERSION ) On page 10 the study notes; "... this is the third in a series of studies that we have conducted evaluating the effects of cell phone use on driving using the carfollowing procedure (see also Strayer & Drews, 2004; and Strayer et al., 2003). Across these three studies, 120 participants performed in both baseline and cell phone conditions. Two of the participants in our studies were involved in an accident in baseline conditions, whereas 10 participants were involved in an accident when they were conversing on a cell phone." However zero (0) drunk drivers had accidents in any of the tests. Which means if you believe that this study PROVED cell phones are as dangerous as driving drunk you must then admit it also PROVED it is safer to drive drunk than it is to drive sober.

Think I'm crazy? Well maybe you should read their explination as to WHY they think the drunk drivers performed better: "One factor that may have contributed to the absence of accidents in the alcohol condition of our study is that the alcohol and driving portion of the study was conducted during the daytime (between 9:00 a.m. and noon)." ... Really? That's the best explination they could offer?

The fact of the matter is this was a VERY POORLY done study FILLED with bias and questionable methods. (ie - The constant mention of increased crash rates while in fact crash rates are down, only 40 people in the study, some never owned a cell phone, only some of those cell phone users ever used the phone while drving, it was done in a simulator, they were asked to talk to a research assistant, only 1 baseline test and 1 drunk drving test against 3 cell tests, and the list goes on and on and on ... )

Still don't think David L. Strayer (the primary author of this study) was biased? Well you should know his "Lab" ( ) is Partners with (Advocates for Cell-Free Driving)

I don't know about you; but if someone had something against rap music and then paid a doctor to find 40 people who crashed their car while listening to rap music, wrote a report on it called "Rap Music More Deadly Than AIDS", and then passed it off as "science" I think we should question the results.

Items 1(a) and 1(b) of the ordinance to  ban cell phone use while driving in my city quotes this crappy "study" as the primary basis for implementing the ban! Grrrrrrrrrrrr!!!

"a. Mobile phone usage while driving increases the likelihood of a crash fourfold;

b. Drivers operating motor vehicles while using a mobile phone are as impaired as drivers with a 0.08 percent blood alcohol level-the level that defines drunk driving in most states; "

BTW, any rational person should be able to realize the wording of this statement is completly false: "Mobile phone usage while driving increases the likelihood of a crash fourfold". But my City Council passed the ban unanimously anyway. UGH!

#2) It's All in These Reports?
This is fun ... if you visit this page you might think "WOW! That's a lot of data and studies and stuff" ... that is until you start clicking around and realize most of the links aren't what you and I would concider "RESEARCH" of any kind. I've done a breakdown of each item here:

#3) Numbers Don't Lie?
This is just one example of a common tatctic used to misrepresent the data. 

First lets give some perspective to the numbers: The total Traffic Fatalities in New Jersey for 2008 was 509 ... now read on:

"Since 2008, handheld cell phone use was involved in 3,610 crashes and 13 deaths, compared with 3,129 crashes and 6 deaths where a hands-free device was being used."

What it fails to mention (and what we REALLY want to know) is how many of those accidents were caused by the cell phone user.

For example F.A.R.S. uses estimates based on:
[   ] Cellular Telephone Present in Vehicle
[   ] Cellular Telephone in Use in Vehicle
(Ref. page 8 of:

This information is applied to ALL vehicles involved in an accident. In other words; someone on a cell phone could have been hit by a driver who ran a red-light and this data is added to the cell phone statistic merely because a cell phone was present. Even if nobody was using the phone at the time of the accident and no matter who was at fault.

"... I once litigated a case where a trucking company attempted to make a defense that my horribly injured client was contributory negligent simply for being on a cell phone. The facts of the collision were that a semi at full speed crushed my client’s car without braking as she was slowing with her signal light on to make a turn.

Now that fact scenario may seem beyond logic but the Trucking Company went so far to hire a so called expert to opine that by the simple fact my client was honest about being on her cellular phone, she thus was distracted and did not take evasive action from the semi behind her. No fact existed to support this other than cellular phone studies showing an increased risk in accidents. In reviewing the cited literature I immediately noticed that not a single study cited dealt with the cause of the crash, who was at fault and what type of crash was involved with use of the cell phone...."

#4) Call in the Experts?
WOW! This guy really sounds like he knows what he's talking about! RIGHT!?

First you should know that the man in this video; Dr. John Medina has not been published in any medical journals (on ANY subject). While I won't say he's equal to the "Doctor" in those ExtenZe commercials ... I will say you might want to get a second opinion. Like saaaaaay ... this one .... 

Brodmann area 10 / BA10 / Medial Frontal Cortex:
"Although this region is quite extensive in humans, its exact function is still poorly understood. Koechlin & Hyafil have proposed that processing of 'cognitive branching' is the core function of the frontopolar cortex. Cognitive branching enables a previously running task to be maintained in a pending state for subsequent retrieval and execution upon completion of the ongoing one. Many of our complex behaviors and mental activities require simultaneous engagement of multiple tasks, and they suggest the anterior prefrontal cortex may perform a domain-general function in these scheduling operations. However, other hypotheses have also been proffered, such as those by Burgess et al."

In other words ... they don't know what this part of the brain does. BUT by Dr. John Medina logic nobody would ever be able to play drums or walk and chew gum or as one funny comment on YouTube pointed out; "Watch Porn and Masturbate"

The Big Question is Why!?
With all that said; my question is WHY?! Why is the government putting out bad and biased information? Are we no longer allowed to make informed decisions?

Here is all the UN-BIASED information you need:

PS - My Mom is going to kill me for calling Oprah out! lol

Friday, March 19, 2010

Stupid Cell Phone Bans

While THIS is all you need to know, here is even more info on why cell phone bans are stupid:

"At this time, AAA believes it is premature to ban the use of cell phones while driving...."

Bad Bill to Ban Cell Phone Use While Driving Passes Senate

Ford Says Cell-Phone Use Danger Exaggerated; Supports Texting Ban : Cell-Phone Ban Not a Good Call

Top Driver Distractions:

N.J. police have issued 225K citations for cell phone use while driving

Statewide highway deaths reach historic lows (without a cell phone ban)

Even more info on the stupid cell phone bans:

Definitive Arguments Against Cell Phone Bans

If you are Pro-Cell Phone Bans ... you should know this:

Accident rates keep dropping while cell phone use sky rockets.

Bans don't solve anything in places that have them:,0,4721082.story

People won't stop using their cell phones:

Accident rates won't change:

Stop saying using a cell phone is like drinking and driving. If you believe that study proved cell phones are really as bad as drunk driving; you should know the same study also proved it's safer to drive drunk than it is to drive sober. (it's a REALLY POORLY DONE study with a flashy headline):

The "studies" on this topic are REDICULIOUS! You really should read them! REALLY! Just because some place called; The National Institute Of We Think We Know Some Stuff Council put out a report doesn't mean it's not total crap. You should READ IT and not just skip to the "conclusion" (BTW, the most insane stuff is almost always AFTER the conclusion):

"Distraction by cell phone" is not a option on a police accident report so a large majority of the numbers people spout off as being fact are either made up or from questionable sources:

To summarize ... Cell Phone Bans don't work and only accomplish the following:

  • They encourage road rage towards those who choose to use a phone while they drive
  • Criminalizes over 98.5% of people who are not guilty of any moving violation
  • Over extends the duties of law enforcement because now they are chasing down cell phone users rather than violent criminals, etc.
  • Gets those who support the ban all-fired-up because they feel the ban is not being enforced (Weather it is or not! Which is not surprising since they didn't look into reasons for supporting the ban so why would they look to see if it is actually being enforced? The same people who use "I saw a guy doing something bad on a cell phone" as their logic to punish everyone are the same people who will use "I saw a cop drive by a guy on a cell phone and not give them a ticket" as their logic to say the ban isn't being enforced.)
  • Lastly, It adds to the hyper inflation of the danger on the subject. Thus creating a greater bias and more problems ... such a this:

Most of the information to draw these conclusions has existed for a long time ( but everyone chooses to ignore it in favor of studies that nobody actually reads or questions ... but they keep telling us to use common sense while supporting a law that clearly won't solve anything!

Let's not forget most places are combating this "problem" with *FINES* ... But I guess if we had to only punish those that actually were involved in an accident, then that would limit our punishments to the guilty instead of those that might be guilty at some time in the future.

Obviously speculative correlation with draconian fines is our only hope.

Sure we are going to fine hundreds (perhaps thousands) of people who didn't hurt or endanger anyone, but this is the cost of the extremely remote chance it might save one life. Think of the children!
(How remote you ask? Take your odds of being in an accident then factor in your odds of being on a cell phone at the time of being in the accident)

Apparently; Education is useless and punishment of the guilty is just too hard.

Still not getting it? Answer this:
Have you ever driven in a city where there isn't a cell phone ban and even with the "super crazy increased danger that driving and cell phones create"; you did it anyway? ... Why was it was worth the "risk" when it was YOU who had to give up a personal freedom? Will you stop driving in places that don't have a call phone ban?

There is a clear bias to get these bans passed ... here is an example video:

- Around :30 seconds into this video, the driver who almost hits someone IS NOT on a cell phone while those who are on a phone aren't doing anything dangerous. But when you slice the video up in this mannor it leads people to think otherwise.

- The kid at 2:18 just speeds up and runs into the video game car in front of him on purpose ... what's that about!?

Here is the reality:

Here is what Cell Phone Ban Supporters seem to think is happening everywhere and most also act like this guy wouldn't get a reckless driving ticket:

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Cell Phone Ban Debate Rages On

Below are links to the vaious places I'm trying to educate people on this subject.

The Daily Show Forums: (My personal favorite, only because the debate is more articulate and nobody is trolling)

Councilman Mike Schlossberg's Facebook Page:

The Morning Call:,0,4790930.story