No Really, Hang Up The Phone And Drive.
Posted by Chuck Schott (+1284) 12 years ago
I made a short drive to the store at noon today, no more than a couple of miles both ways. I would bet a full 60% of the female drivers I passed had a phone plastered against their heads. And men are not far behind and may be leading if more people would talk to them. It's just gotten way out of hand, we need another law or a tax or a bounty or more brain tumors or something so I don't have to wait at a four way stop for a break in conversation.

You know who you are so just stop it.
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Posted by Heath H (+641) 12 years ago
and GET OUT OF THE FAR LEFT LANE if you are doing the speed limit.
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Posted by Dan Mowry (+1437) 12 years ago
One of my better selling bumper stickers over the years (increasingly) has been one that is printed in reverse (designed to go on your front bumper and viewed by the driver ahead of you in their rear view mirror) that says "Would you drive better if that phone was up your butt?"
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Posted by Wendy Wilson (+6165) 12 years ago
Dan, I want one. Right now!! Where can I get it?
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Posted by Joe Whalen (+612) 12 years ago
While you're at it, Dan, another request? A follow-up to Heath's sentiment, my dad's favorite fast-lane expression...Drive it or milk it!
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Posted by Josh Rath (+2305) 12 years ago
I am guilty. Yes, I drive with my cellphone in my hand or "plastered to my head". This being said, I have seen the drivers you speak of. If i am on the phone, and I know there is coming a point in driving i need to concentrate hard (IE Underpass intersection) I go silent on the line, and do what I need to do. Which so far has worked well.
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Posted by Dan Mowry (+1437) 12 years ago
Wendy, Mayor, your wish is my command.

http://www.cafepress.com/...ic/6932067
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Posted by Dan Mowry (+1437) 12 years ago
Josh - your plan only works well so far because you've been driving only long enough it could still be practically measured in months.

Drive for a few decades and you'll realize you're headed for trouble. Please, if not for your sake then for someone else's, let it go to voice mail and call them back when you get to where you're going.

Better to call your buddy back later at your destination than to call your folks early from the emergency room.
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Posted by Josh Rath (+2305) 12 years ago
Very true, which is why I had a bluetooth module in my previous car. It rings, and waits for me to say "answer" if I dont, it sent it to voicemail. I wish I could afford another one, but it was spendy.
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Posted by polar bear (+509) 12 years ago
It is illegal here to drive and use a cell phone. I thought that was true everywhere!
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Posted by john newcomer (+299) 12 years ago
Plus with a bluetooth setup you run the risk of people thinking you're crazy and talking to yourself in the car. I guess as long as you don't start carrying on both sides of the conversation ......
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Posted by Dan Mowry (+1437) 12 years ago
Is it illegal to drive and use... or just use a hand held but bluetooth is okay?
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Posted by David Schott (+17052) 12 years ago
Hands-free is okay in WA. Using a handheld is a "secondary" infraction; the police have to observe you breaking some other "primary" law before they can ticket for using a handheld phone.
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Posted by Wendy Wilson (+6165) 12 years ago
Josh, you're just fooling yourself if you think bluetooth helps your concentration on the road.

It's not illegal to drive and talk in most places in the US. Utah just passed a law to restrict text messaging while driving though.
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Posted by Kyle L. Varnell (+3745) 12 years ago
It is illegal here to drive and use a cell phone.


Actually Polar, providing you use a "hands-free" device a cell phone is ok to use. I think it's the same elsewhere but I'm not sure. I think cell phone is no more distracting than eating, doing your make-up, drinking coffee etc. Hell I've even seen a person playing a guitar on the freeway so I don't see how cell phones are any more dangerous than those.
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Posted by Wendy Wilson (+6165) 12 years ago
Kyle, are you saying that you attend to your conversations with the same concentration you apply to drinking your coffee? Boy, I'd hate to be your friend.
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Posted by Denise Selk (+1670) 12 years ago
This thread is eerily on-point. My husband was at the intersection of Strevell and Main yesterday afternoon. A woman in a large black, or dark gray, SUV blew right through the red light on Main, talking away on her cell, not paying attention to the lights. He only avoided being t-boned by this woman, who was driving at a pretty good clip, by slamming on the brakes at the last second.

If this could have been you in the SUV, get off the phone. You obviously cannot handle driving and talking at the same time!!!!!


BTW, Montana has no cell phone restrictions while operating motor vehicles.
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Posted by GW (+439) 12 years ago
Yesterday sitting behind a school bus, one that had stopped, had the lights on and stop sign pulled out, a vechicle from the opposite direction went right by, while the 2 little kids stood in front of the school bus watch and waited for it to pass. I yelled at her while she drove past me and she flipped me off and had the cell phone stuck to her ear. Good thing the kids who were approximately 6 and 8 were paying attention.
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Posted by Dan Mowry (+1437) 12 years ago
It's all about attention.

It's not about the mechanism (the phone). Don't let anybody kid you.

Speakerphone, headset, in-car-audio, earpiece... doesn't matter.

Sure, most of us can multitask and many times we do so just fine without a problem. It's a bit of the "struck by lightning" philosophy that if we haven't been struck it can't happen to us. Sadly, we understand more about not going out during a thunderstorm holding a six iron golf club than we do about driving and talking on the phone but more people have car accidents each day than get smoked by a bolt of lightning.

Driving *IS* multitasking. It's extreme multitasking when you think about it and that doesn't even include kids in the back, a chatty passenger, or bobbing your head while listening to the radio.

Ever watch someone at home when they're on the phone? Ever see their eyes stare at the lamp in corner or catch them meander aimlessly around the house looking at the floor as they talk? This is what happens when attention gets fixed. Fixed attention is hard to stave off when driving. Sometimes we can get away with it more and longer... but eventually the conversation may engage you enough that your attention goes from being passive to active and it's at that moment it gets fixed - fixed on visualizing the person you're talking to, fixed on the scenario they're talking about, fixed on the argument you're having with them.

It's at this moment you look up a bit and realize you've covered three city blocks with no real memory of passing anything. You don't know what the temperature is on the bank sign like you normally do. You don't know what movie is playing even though you normally glance at the marquee outside the theater. You didn't even realize what your speed was until you purposely looked down nor notice the vehicles behind you - which is a normal thing to do when periodically glancing in the rear-view mirror.

Essential checks and balances, necessary patterns of checking mirrors, speedometer, distance, speed signs, *other* drivers busy doing their thing... that's where attention should be fixed.

At least a chatty passenger in the car sees roughly what you're seeing... they can pause their discussion intuitively while you drive. They can see the construction or school zone coming up ahead just as you can. They feel the car slow down and ease off the chit chat while they allow you to concentrate a bit more. It's natural. Someone on the phone can't provide the same, instinctual courtesy.

The radio and music is passive. It might be entertaining but no matter how much you love Rush or Michael Reagen... it's not actively engaging your senses the same was as a phone conversation.

I've taken one mile walks around our neighborhood for fresh air and exercise while conducting business on the phone and I'll be damned if I can remember any of the beautiful day, blooming flowers, cute puppy, giggling kids, friendly neighbors I passed along the way? It's like I get off the phone call and suddenly begin to feel like I'm coming out of a trance I'd been in for ten minutes.


I'm old enough to remember rotary dial phones but also young enough to be rather hip to technology (it's part and parcel of my daily and work life). I remember how thrilling it was to get mobile phones with all the promise they had to offer. I even own an iPhone plus a rather expensive bluetooth headset. That headset is so I can type and talk or walk and talk (when you're self employed you're always working even when you're not). I don't drive and talk.

I could easily indulge in the technology I've grown up with and max it out behind the wheel - I'm certainly set up for it and have an affinity for all things that blink and beep.

But I'd never forgive myself if even a $100, 15mph fender-bender snapped a child's neck back and forth in their car seat no matter how superior my full-coverage auto insurance is. Some catastrophes can't compare with whatever seemed so important seconds earlier and once those bumpers collide you can't take it back.

There's a reason we're seeing more reports from reputable studies demonstrating talking *at all* while driving is dangerous beyond drunk driving.

Responsibility as a driver doesn't mean you don't drive 120mph through a school zone. It doesn't mean you don't do cookies in the parking lot of the daycare. Those are given. Responsible driving means you care enough to 'get it' that some things are just not worth it and you sacrifice a little convenience so you (or someone else) doesn't have to sacrifice a lot of their life.

Go play golf during a thunderstorm if you want. Wear your bluetooth though. You may need an easy hands-free way to call 911.
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Posted by Chuck Schott (+1284) 12 years ago
I saw one of Billings Transit bus drivers driving and talking on the cell phone, haven't we learn that lesson. It's all some people can do to drive from point A to B without screwing up and then they expect to carry on a conversation too, they're asking for trouble.

I think Billings is considering a phone ban while driving in city limits.
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Posted by Levi Forman (+3712) 12 years ago
I recently heard about an interesting study on multitasking. I don't remember where it was done but the results showed that most people are not nearly as good at it as they thought that they were, and what was more interesting was that the people who thought that they were the best at it were actually the worst. It also indicated that the human brain is poorly designed for multitasking and doing too much of it can actually cause you to lose some of your ability for concentration etc.
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Posted by Dan Mowry (+1437) 12 years ago
Levi, I'm guessing it was the Stanford study.

http://news.stanford.edu/...82409.html


It essentially points out that one of the reasons people who think they multi-task well are looking at quantity over quality. They believe, mistakenly, that because they've *done* numerous things simultaneously that they've succeeded. Problem is, the study rated quality of results and basically said what you said... more and more and more yielded lesser and lesser quality results.

I guess, at that point, it's worth asking how far driving quality can be diminished before broken bones are involved? I mean, lousy performance on data entry or remembering to call a client back are bad when over-tasked but those don't usually have such dire consequences.

We have a daycare van around here at the elementary school and I cringe every time I see it pull in to the school. The lady is driving while talking on her handset and is one of those physical talkers... her arms and hands are constantly going up and down and you can see she's really into the conversation. She bangs the steering wheel, makes gestures with her hands, often that one remaining hand is off the steering wheel and I'm seeing little backpack wearing kids in the windows of the van as she swings the corners. If I were one of those parents I'd come unglued if I saw that. I notified the school of my concerns (because she also haphazard around the other people bringing kids to school). No idea if anything will come from it.
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Posted by Levi Forman (+3712) 12 years ago
Yup, that's it.
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+11757) 12 years ago
The conversation you are having just before the hideous accident is probably a stupid one. I have overhead many a cell phone chat and they are rarely of any importance. They are usually "I'm here and am going there." So what? Is inane pointless blather worth dying over? To some people, apparently it is. And if, on the rare chance, the conversation actually IS important, why not actually dedicate yourself to that conversation rather than give it a fraction of your attention.
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Posted by Sharon Clarke (+74) 12 years ago
I couldnt agree more with your posts Dan and Amorette. Very well written. I know I am guilty of doing it in the past, but don't make a habit of it now.

I have altered my behavior and have chosen to pull over or just call the person back. My daughter has become angry with me for not answering her calls while I am driving and my response is always that I was driving and can't talk on the phone.
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Posted by Lorin Dixson (+596) 12 years ago
I have always known that I couldn't talk on the phone and drive. And like the previous poster have endured comments like "You can't do two things at once?" My answer is nope I can barely walk and chew snoose at the same time. So maybe if I spit my chew out I could have talked to you, but I didn't want talk to you all that much.
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Posted by Wendy Wilson (+6165) 12 years ago
I love you guys. Please move to Utah. (Except Josh. We have enough of those.)
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Posted by Bob Netherton II (+1905) 12 years ago
It's not just driving. People try to do EVERYTHING while on the cell phone or will interrupt ANYTHING THEY ARE ALREADY DOING to answer their cellphone. The conversation is usually something like "What up?"
A couple of grunts. And finally "Call me later."
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Posted by Septimius (+66) 12 years ago
Ok...

Now who here has seen KIDS while riding their BIKES... on Main st.... TEXTING!!??

(raises hand) I have..

But.. I admit I do talk on cell phone if driving.. I answer.. I dont dial.. (maybe)
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Posted by Bridgier (+9193) 12 years ago
The conversation is usually something like "What up?"
A couple of grunts. And finally "Call me later."


You paint such an alluring picture of your romantic endeavors there Bob...
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Posted by Dan Mowry (+1437) 12 years ago
I watched a grade school kid ride on the rear-wheel pegs while his buddy pedaled the bike. The kid in back was on his cellphone. That was all a bit weird.

Of course, it's not just talking on the phone while doing various things. It's also doing various things while driving. I've watched someone eat a McDonald's Big Breakfast while driving (if you didn't know that's a platter of scrambled eggs, biscuit, sausage and has browns you have to eat with a fork). I see women putting what appears to be a full topsoil layer of makeup on, men trimming their beard, yes... brushing teeth and even flat-out reading a book while driving.
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Posted by Shu (+1794) 12 years ago
Dan - you make the point very well, I must say...and no, I don't talk on a cell while driving, either. I never have....and if I have to talk, I pull-over first.

This is, perhaps, off-topic: I work in the retail/production field. I find few things more rude or irritating than when a customer is talking on a cell while I am trying to wait on them. I am giving that customer my full attention, I don't feel asking for their's in return is asking too much.

But then, maybe that's just me?
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Posted by Bob Netherton II (+1905) 12 years ago
Bridgier - I haven't had a romantic endeavor since before cell phones existed.
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Posted by Wendy Wilson (+6165) 12 years ago
Shu, depending on the situation perhaps you could simply move on to the next customer. If the cell phone lout complains, feign innocence and say that you thought they weren't quite ready since they were still on the phone. Or just put up a sign letting people know that they need to be ready when waited upon. I've seen those at a few coffee shops.
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+11757) 12 years ago
Pharmacies have sign saying due to privacy laws, a customer HAS to be off their cellphone to be waited on. Makes me want to work in a pharmacy.
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Posted by Shu (+1794) 12 years ago
Wendy, I don't work at a coffee shop. The company I work for USED to have a sign up saying something like: "be off the cell phone when you come for assistance" but the regional boss took it down. He said it was against company policy.

Otherwise, yeah, I'd do that.
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Posted by Wendy Wilson (+6165) 12 years ago
Maybe you could whip out your own cell phone and chat (or pretend to chat) until the rude person realizes what he's doing?
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