Word of 2009: Distracted Driving

In case you missed it (I actually did, being more or less on holiday), Webster’s chose “distracted driving” as the word of 2009.

And here’s Leonard Evans on the subject:

Driving while distracted is not like drunk driving — it is far worse.

The victims of drunk driving are overwhelmingly the drunk drivers themselves, and their usually similarly drunk passengers. The majority of drunk driver deaths occur in single-vehicle crashes in the “wee small hours” when most people are asleep.

In stark contrast, the victims of distracted driving are in all too many cases random road users behaving responsibly. Sober drivers, for example, are responsible for 90 percent of the child pedestrians killed each year.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 13th, 2010 at 2:01 pm and is filed under 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.

5 Responses to “Word of 2009: Distracted Driving”

  1. Bossi Says:

    I can’t help but be a bit bothered that a logographical lexicon (yay big words!) would refer to a phrase as a “word”… it’s “phrase of the year”; but my biggest gripe is that we’ve come to this point at least a decade later than we should’ve.; indeed, at least a decade later than traffic engineers have been ardently attempting to raise just such an awareness. Better late than never, I suppose… though I fear that this time next year we’ll be onto a whole new buzzword (buzzphrase?); a whole new topic; a whole new subject entirely.

  2. Rich Wilson Says:

    Seems a good time and place to mention

    Prevent injuries and save lives by eliminating cell phone use while driving.

  3. John Says:

    Mr. Wilson,

    The best data is from the Virginia Institute of Transportation. Their conclusion for hands-free cellphone use is– no more dangerous than the difference between day and night driving.

    What will undoubtably happen, if enough websites call for the elimination of cellphones in a car, is it becoming a scofflaw as speeding is. There has to be a more informed discussion here. It will probably evolve into a moot point with a radio-type communication device.

    Certainly, “distracted driving” mostly involves taking one’s eyes off the road.

  4. John Says:

    If they are going to outlaw cell phone use to protect us from ourselves, then they better outlaw any kind of conversation in the vehicle, kids riding and fighting in the backseat, etc. Just more stupid laws! Similar to drunk driving legislation….when are they just gonna start arresting stupid drivers?

  5. Rich Wilson Says:

    @John I’m all for arresting stupid drivers, but I’m not sure what metric you’d use to identify them.

    If I read the VTTI paper right, they looked at where peoples’ eyes were when they had collision or near collision, and it was usually when peoples eyes were off the road. I remain unconvinced, but I do think we need better data than simulators.

    I’m curious as to why you think drunk driving legislation is stupid. Is it .08 you have a problem with? Or do you think we should wait until someone at .24 crosses the yellow line to arrest them?

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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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