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Viewing this video of a texting bus driver who rammed into another vehicle(s) on the highway, a few things came to mind:

1.) The passengers, it seems, saw him texting; did any feel empowered to say something?

2.) Although he apparently tried to deny it, he was caught in the act by camera; which makes me wonder how many crashes related to in-vehicle communication are not reported as such (and this by the way is a very typical distracted-by-mobile-device crash, giving one’s self a presumably comfortable “cushion” and then seeing that cushion instantly disappear).

3.) Psychologists suggest we feel risk more intensely when we feel it is out of our control. Does someone view this behavior with a more critical eye than than they would cast onto their own similar behavior — in which they may be operating under the “illusion of control”? E.g., the surveys that show a majority of people opposing texting while driving, and then substantial numbers saying they’ve done it.

(Horn honk to Hard Drive)

This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 at 9:34 am and is filed under Uncategorized. 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.

7 Responses to “Intexticated”

  1. Alan MacHett Says:

    A few times in the past year or so, I’ve been ever-so-slightly annoyed with bus drivers who park the bus at a stop and then get off to talk on their cell phones. In retrospect, kudos to them! I will never, ever be annoyed with a driver who *stops* to use their phone…

  2. Joel Says:

    As a motorcyclist who rides on a highway that often gets these types of rear end-causing backups, I shutter to think what would have happened if the last vehicle in the queue had been a bike instead of a car.

    THIS is why we need to legalize lane-splitting.

  3. Fritz Says:

    The bus drivers got caught because of the in-bus cameras. What about the rest of us who don’t drive buses and aren’t monitored? How many rear end accidents collisions are there where the driver quickly puts the phone away afterwards?

  4. Jack Says:

    Alarming? Not at all. I see cell phone use (and distracted driving) everyday. Typically it doesn’t end with an accident but only with the irresponsible driver running a red light. Cyclists like me (and the motorcyclist) remain particularly vulnerable and don’t have airbags to save us.

    As Matt states “we should show this tape over and over again”. Not enough, we need to change our irresponsible habits and that usually means new laws and stronger enforcement procedures.

  5. aaron Says:

    Lane splitting sounds like a great idea. Time restrictions could also be beneficial.

    Aside from mismanagement of traffic signals and speed limits by the Road Commission of Macomb County, I think a large part of our congestion in Michigan comes from overloaded trucks that for some reason travel very frequently during commuting hours. After that, I think it’s the slow and lazy, the tired, the cell phone talkers and texters, and the hung-over and drunk that cause our congestion.

    Not only is texting and talking dangerous, I think it is decreasing fuel economy and increasing drive times (though decreased volume from unemployment is trumping those effects at the moment). The talking and texting uses up our mental bandwidth, delaying our reaction times both for starting and stopping. It reduces road capacity because the driver uses a larger following distance (though not large enough to be as safe as normal). Also, the driver is slower to get up to speed, meaning many fewer vehicles make it through each traffic signal.

    On the other hand, most of the talking and texting is probably caused by the inadequate flow of traffic. People are compelled to use the excess mental bandwidth they have. Unfortunately, that mental capacity is no longer available when it becomes needed.

  6. Grant Johnson, PE, PTOE Says:

    When I drive I don’t ever take my eyes off the road (excepting those split seconds when we look at a thing or two like a speedometer, etc.). What is difficult for me is to be a passenger talking to a driver and they turn to talk to me and look at me, for seconds at a time! I stop the conversation and tell them to look at the road! In fact, I am looking at the road for them in the mean time until they get their head turned back in place! Some people just don’t get it, and they don’t even have a cell phone or texting involved. They apparently just don’t sense the danger of taking eyes off the road, to avoid that accident waiting to happen.

  7. Tom Says:

    “People are compelled to use the excess mental bandwidth they have.”

    “Excess mental bandwidth?” This is a joke, right? I’m always surprised when I see someone who can walk and chew gum at the same time.

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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.

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