CONTACTTRAFFICABOUT TOM VANDERBILTOTHER WRITING CONTACT ABOUT THE BOOK

Texting While Driving Death

Via the BBC:

“Ms Curtis, 21, told Oxford Crown Court she thought you could use a phone when driving “in the right conditions”. She denies death by dangerous driving.”

The problem is that drivers, particularly younger ones, are ill-equipped to judge what the “right conditions” are — not to mention that the right conditions often become the “wrong conditions” with no advance warning.

“She also told the court she could send and receive messages without taking her eyes off the road.”

Her eyes, perhaps, but her mind? Alas, not.

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This entry was posted on Friday, December 19th, 2008 at 8:03 am and is filed under Cars, Drivers, Risk, Traffic safety. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Responses to “Texting While Driving Death”

  1. Frittz Says:

    FWIW, your blog is very readable from my mobile phone. I’m entering this from the road… albeit from inside a movong bus.

    Texting becomes illegal in California on Jan 1. I think it’s unfortunate that – as your news clip shows – common sense just doesn’t work and legislatures feel compelled to codify every single activity of dangerous behavior

  2. Gary Kavanagh Says:

    There should be a standard set for distracted driving that is open ended and police updated with guidelines of what to look for as technology and in car distractions change. Making a law for every dumb thing seems unnecessary, lets just make it illegal to do dumb things in the car generally.

  3. Nick Says:

    On my cycle to work yesterday a SUV pulled up alongside at a junction. I glanced inside to see 2 women with a Bollywood movie playing on a screen between them in the dashboard. I thought 9am was a little early to watch a movie. I wonder if this is legal in the UK?

  4. mdf Says:

    Frittz: “common sense just doesn’t work and legislatures feel compelled to codify every single activity of dangerous behavior”

    Well, I still remain unconvinced safety/danger is the political issue. I speculate that if using a cellphone while behind the wheel made you driver _faster_, then there would be no uproar, no demands for studies, any studies that were conducted that show a danger would be happily ignored, and no laws would be passed against the practice.

    Gary Kavanagh: “There should be a standard set for distracted driving that is open ended and police updated with guidelines of what to look for as technology and in car distractions change.”

    Distraction has been killing people in cars more or less forever, and probably people on horses before then. Is there any evidence “technology” has increased the kill/injury rate? There is also stuff like this:

    http://edition.cnn.com/2003/TRAVEL/08/06/distracted.drivers/

    In essence, ~70% of observed distractions are the tech-free things like picking your nose.

    Thought experiment:

    You are driving, on your cellphone, talking with someone. You have slowed to 80km/h (to the irritation of the type A drivers behind you, expecting a minimum of 100km/h), and proceed along the road for 5km in deep conversation about differential equations or something.

    You are driving along the same 5km section of road, at 100km/h, no one cares about you … except you are looking at all the road signs, the flashing TV billboards, checking out the babes in other cars, fiddling with your CD player, giving the finger to that jerk who just cut you off, and generally acting as you normally do.

    Which would be the safer drive? Near as I can tell, no one knows the answer to questions like this. If this ignorance is true, are any laws against specific behaviors justifiable?

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Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

Please send tips, news, research papers, links, photos (bad road signs, outrageous bumper stickers, spectacularly awful acts of driving or parking or anything traffic-related), or ideas for my Slate.com Transport column to me at: info@howwedrive.com.

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