Apparently we're all too busy to realize we're NOT distracted.
Distraction.gov 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 Distraction.gov : http://www.distraction.gov/research/
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."
YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!?!?!??!?!
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: http://craigfriebolin.blogspot.com/2010/03/cell-phone-ban.html
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?