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Why the NTSB Is Wrong About Cellphones 1003

Posted by timothy
from the illusion-of-perfect-safety dept.
YIAAL writes "After a multi-car pileup involving two school buses, the NTSB is urging states to ban all cellphones and personal electronic devices in cars, even hands-free phones. But on looking at the NTSB report, it appears that the big problem was a school bus driver who was following too closely, and another school bus driver who wasn't watching the road. Why is the NTSB targeting gadgets instead of bad drivers?"
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Why the NTSB Is Wrong About Cellphones

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  • multitasking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:04PM (#38387436)

    About 1% of the population is capable of multitasking. Only they can focus on their gadget and the road. The rest should stay as far away from that as possible.

  • by icebike (68054) * on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:04PM (#38387440)

    This is exactly what I thought when I saw pictures. The buses ran over the kid who was texting. Not one but two of them.
    How did he cause that?

    Now had the kid been on the phone (hand held or hands free) instead of texting even his accident would not have happened,
    because he would have had his eyes on the road.

    Its my contention that forcing cell phone out of the hands (some states even forbid hands free phoning) represents a cure
    worse than the disease. Too many people fear a ticket for talking, and they compensate by texting from their lap (or below
    the level of window). Texting out of sight takes your eyes off the road. Talking on the phone, while still a distraction, allows
    your eyes to be on the road.

  • by BuildMonkey (585376) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:06PM (#38387484)
    They are targeting cell phone users because when something bad happens constituents expect a government response. While it is impossible to legislate (or enact regulations) to "be a good driver", it is possible to legislate or regulate cell phone usage. Just another regulation that will be arbitrarily enforced...
  • Not to take sides (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anubis350 (772791) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:07PM (#38387498)
    'cause i'm not sure how I fall on the issue of banning phone use entirely at the moment (particularly since I use the tom tom app on my phone as my gps) but..

    Why is the NTSB targeting gadgets instead of bad drivers?

    Because using cellphones statistically seems to downgrade everyone a bit, so an excellent driver becomes a good driver, a good driver an ok driver, an ok driver a bad driver, and... a bad "barely got my license" driver a motor powered angry bird

  • Re:Cell jammer (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:10PM (#38387550)

    Because what you want is the guy barreling down on you to be looking down at his phone to see if his call dropped when he enters your jamming field.

    Won't end well.

  • by bcrowell (177657) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:11PM (#38387564) Homepage

    After a multi-car pileup involving two school buses, the NTSB is urging states to ban all cellphones and personal electronic devices in cars, even hands-free phones.

    This particular accident is not the reason why the NTSB is proposing this. The NTSB is proposing this because there is a huge amount of incontrovertible evidence that when people talk on their cell phones while driving (regardless of whether the phone is hands-free), the become distracted and drive badly.

    Why is the NTSB targeting gadgets instead of bad drivers?

    The NTSB isn't targeting gadges. The NTSB is targeting bad drivers. You can put your cell phone in your car while driving, and nobody will target it. But if you talk on your cell phone while driving, you are a bad driver, and you should be targeted.

  • Busy work (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kimvette (919543) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:11PM (#38387576) Homepage Journal

    It's easy. Politicians love to look busy by passing new laws rather than prodding the executive branch into enforcing laws already on the books. If any of the following were to be enforced regularly, the problem would solve itself by either teaching inattentive drivers to change their ways, or remove them from the roads:

      * reckless driving
      * Driving below minimum legal speed (usually 10mph below speed limit)
      * hindering the flow of traffic
      * improper lane changes
      * failure to use indicators when required
      * failure to yield the right of way
      * failure to maintain control of the vehicle
      * following too closely
      * driving left of center
      * traveling in the passing lane
      * failure to obey traffic signals

    . . . and so on

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:13PM (#38387592)

    If cell phones are allowed on the road, I'd like it to be legal to allow a 1000ft cell jammer in my car.

    That's fine. Since we are granting requests then, I would like to be able to house a jammer-seeking missile in my car. This would have two benefits:

    1) Would allow my cell phone based GPS to continue working.

    2) Removes an asshole from the planetary gene pool. Now THAT's green!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:13PM (#38387594)

    Listen, most of the people who you talk to think they're one of the "good drivers," who can talk on a cell phone and drive at the same time. It's not like this argument hasn't been used before. I'm sure most of the people you would ask would also respond that they're "smarter than the average person" or "better at X than the average person." NO ONE wants to think of themselves as deficient or average in any manner.

    I work at a driving simulator. We've done quite a few studies on distracted driving (including two studies specifically targeting cell phones). These studies have sampled a few hundred different drivers, from all age ranges, technical abilities, genders, etc. ALL of them show (VERY clearly) that EVERYONE is bad at driving while being congnitively distracted. Hands-on, hands-free, whatever--the facts show that if you're concentrating on something other than the task at hand, EVERYONE has problems.

    Am I concerned about not legally being able to talk while I drive? Hell no. It's about time.

  • Re:multitasking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jdgeorge (18767) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:15PM (#38387630)

    Anonymous Coward is correct. Regardless of this particular incident, there at least two good reasons why it is bad for people to use their phones while driving: Phone use while driving slows down traffic [utah.edu], and drivers using their phones are more likely to be in an accident.

    My read is that the drama of this incident gave the NTSB the opportunity to make a recommendation that would otherwise risk political repercussions from the 10,000-text-message-per-month set.

  • Re:Cell jammer (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:15PM (#38387632)

    And the passengers in the minivan each with their cellphones on and working get theirs jammed why?

    Ram that cell jammer up your ass and turn it on and fry your nards... You DO NOT need to procreate, one of you is enough.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:16PM (#38387648) Homepage Journal

    Yes, those examples cite bad driving while on a cellphone, not just driving while on a cellphone, as the cause of the collisions. But driving while talking on a cellphone doesn't reduce the rate at which people do the bad driving. In fact it seems obvious that distraction by the phone makes it more likely to do more bad driving.

    Just talking on the phone isn't colliding with someone. But talking on the phone doesn't make anyone a better driver. It's obvious to everyone on the road how very often it makes many people worse drivers.

    Handsfree phones should be required; anything else should be prohibited. And any collision or moving violation should cause subpoena of the phone records (phone#s redacted) to see whether the driver was on the phone at the time. If so, they should be found guilty of distracted driving (and perhaps negligent homicide, if they killed someone). And their insurance policy shouldn't cover the event.

  • by brainzach (2032950) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:16PM (#38387668)

    Following too closely will result in a ticket.

    Also cell phones are linked to more than one accident. There is plenty of evidence that cell phones are a major cause of driver inattentiveness and accidents.

    The proposal against banning all cell phones could be excessive, but there are plenty of reasons to be concerned about the issue.

  • theater (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ephemeriis (315124) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:17PM (#38387676)

    Why is the NTSB targeting gadgets instead of bad drivers?

    Because it is always easier to come up with a technological solution (even if it doesn't work) than it is to address the real (usually human) problem.

    even hands-free phones

    This really illustrates the absurdity of the claim that phones are to blame for the problem.

    If you're using a hands-free device, you're just basically having a conversation with someone who isn't actually in the car. It's not going to be any more inherently distracting than having a conversation with somebody who is in the car. So if hands-free phones are a problem... So is talking to a passenger.

  • Re:Cell jammer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GuldKalle (1065310) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:17PM (#38387686)

    Because cars can only contain one person?

  • Re:Cell jammer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:18PM (#38387720) Homepage Journal

    Then they can pull over. There's rarely a case where the person in the car has to be moving while talking. That's what we have emergency responders for - who can be called into action.

    Note that I'm not (necessarily) advocating mobile jammers. Someone in a nearby car might not need to be on the phone, but they might just want to be, and are not driving. It's their privilege to be on the phone, that is not overwhelmed by someone else's interest in jamming everyone.

    I'm just pointing out that these "need to talk and drive" excuses are BS.

  • by jellomizer (103300) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:19PM (#38387738)
    In other words if you have the brain power to be good at it, you are smart enough to know that you shouldn't do it. As you can feel your normal attention drain while trying to multi-task.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:22PM (#38387782)

    You all seem to be commented as if it's only bad drivers who are the problem. If you think that you're good enough at yakking and driving to be able to do it safely, you're wrong. You're not.

    Every other goddam day I pass someone wondering, "What the hell are they doing?" And the answer is always - ALWAYS - yakking on their goddam phone.

    HANG UP AND DRIVE.

  • Re:multitasking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hedwards (940851) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:25PM (#38387844)

    Texting while driving is something which shouldn't be legal. It's not a matter of morality, it's dangerous enough that it should be banned. Same goes for talking on the cellphone without a handset. Eating lunch and really anything else that's distracting and requires one to take a hand off the wheel.

    Now, when it comes to talking with a handset, listening to the radio etc., there's room for debate. Personally I don't do any of those things because the last I heard they were significant risk factors for having an accident. Should those be banned, I really don't know.

    The problem ultimately is that the laws regarding motor vehicles are lax and ultimately it's not just the driver that can get killed, it's the other drivers, passengers and pedestrians that are also at risk.

  • Re:multitasking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Skarecrow77 (1714214) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:29PM (#38387924)

    Texting while driving is something which shouldn't be legal. It's not a matter of morality, it's dangerous enough that it should be banned. Same goes for talking on the cellphone without a handset. Eating lunch and really anything else that's distracting and requires one to take a hand off the wheel.

    So we're banning smoking in cars, manual transmissions, and the handicapped now?

  • Re:theater (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OzPeter (195038) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:31PM (#38387964)

    If you're using a hands-free device, you're just basically having a conversation with someone who isn't actually in the car. It's not going to be any more inherently distracting than having a conversation with somebody who is in the car. So if hands-free phones are a problem... So is talking to a passenger.

    I think that the consensus is that a conversation with a passenger is different from that with some one on the phone - as the passenger is aware of the same environment and you both automatically adjust the tone/pace of the conversation depending on the current conditions. I.E. the passenger will generally keep quiet when you are performing a complex maneuver. That is not to say that passengers can not be a distraction, just that in general a phone conversation is a worse distraction that most passengers.

  • by Brian Feldman (350) <green.FreeBSD@org> on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:32PM (#38387982)

    No, start over. How the fuck does a rear-end collision in front of you cause a rear-end collision behind you? Either the buses could have stopped, regardless of the collision, or they could not have stopped, regardless of the collision.

  • by Bezultek (1109675) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:32PM (#38387990)

    As a motorcyclist since the 80s, let me assure you there was no shortage of people trying to kill us motorcyclists before the advent of cell phones.

    Look, this is pretty straight forward. Show me a graph of car accidents as a function of year, then superimpose the percent population with cell phones as a function of year over it. If you see the number of accidents increase at the same rate as the percent population with cell phones, I'll buy that cell phones are the hazard people claim. But even though there are more drivers today then in the past, the number of fatal accidents over the last 15 years has decreased. Sure, cars are safer now, and that accounts for some of the decrease, and I'm sure advanced Emergency response techniques also accounts for some of it.

    Point is, show me the data. The data I've seen doesn't support the claim that cell phones are as dangerous as they claim.

    And don't even get me started on the claim that cell phones cause cancer....

  • by doug (926) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:34PM (#38388022)

    Makes sense. The only people who should be allowed access to "root" are those who won't use it unless it is unavoidable.

    - doug

  • by realsilly (186931) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:35PM (#38388040)

    In some states there is already a ban on eating / drinking (soda and the likes) while driving.

    Cell phones have been around for 15 + years. The fact is at this point in technology, cars should be better equipped to promote hands free-driving as an automatic installation in all new cars, they aren't. Hands-free is no different then holding a conversation with a passenger, or a parent looking through a special mirror to look into the back seat of the vehicle to check on a child; these are all distractions, period. Cigarettes should be banned while driving. How many times have drivers dropped their lit cigarettes in their lap or in the car and panicked.

    I believe that texting while driving is far worse than talking hands-free on the phone. Anything that takes the eyes off the road is a distraction.

    Conversely, I have witnessed many people perform stupid driving habits (running red lights, failure to signal, improper lane changes, etc...) that cause accidents, but if there's a gadget involved, the accident is usually noted against the gadget.

    I think that we do need more rigorous drivers training and tests. I believe that part of the issue goes into the road planning that is performed by municipalities. There are way more factors than just gadgets that are related to the cause of accidents.

    I personally have witnessed 3 Spanish speaking men cheating on a written driver's test, and what did the DMV do, they yelled at them. Instantly those three should have been thrown out of the DMV.

    People forget, driving a vehicle is NOT a RIGHT, it is a PRIVILEGE in this country, and this privilege is not revoked enough for people to understand the consequences of their actions.

  • Re:multitasking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:36PM (#38388074) Homepage

    And less than 50% of the drivers can actually DRIVE SAFELY. A majority of the drivers on the road are idiots and morons that think tailgaiting is safe, speeding is safe in heavily congested areas, and they all believe they are freaking experts at driving. Most are incapable of driving and less than 30% know how to control a car in a spin or slide.

    Let's start there, make it more difficult to get your license and keep it.

  • by Gen-GNU (36980) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:37PM (#38388090)

    While this is true, it misses the larger issue. There are a number of factors that change driving performance. Eating while driving has a similar effect to talking on a cell phone, much like applying makeup, shaving, etc. In contrast, having a second person (or more) seems to improve driving performance. A young child who is sleeping in the back seat can greatly improve performance, while a small child who is screaming and crying has a negative effect.

    If we want to use the logic "it hurts performance", we should ban all electronic devices, and have the radios in cars have 1 big button that can turn on or off road information messages. We should ban all eating while driving. We should require any children that are in cars to be drugged and remain unconscious, and it should be illegal to drive without a second person in the car. That would, statistically, increase driving performance across the board.

    Banning cell phones simply because they can be shown to have a negative performance is singling out a single cause because we don't like it. Instead, as usual, the problem is larger and more problematic to fix. Personally, it comes down to how much risk we, as a society, are willing to accept. The current rates of traffic accidents and fatalities are lower than they have been in previous years[* [bts.gov]]. Personally, I am comfortable with the current level of risk when I step into a vehicle, either to drive or to ride as a passenger. If society, in general, would like to make changes to improve those numbers, we should have a realistic discussion about what would changes would help, how much each change would help, and what cost would be associated with each change. Simply pointing out one cause, and removing it, without addressing any other issues, is simply punishing a behavior based on personal bias.

  • by nschubach (922175) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:37PM (#38388092) Journal

    I'll admit to not reading the article, but from that description I can think of at least one situation, however unlikely, that would invalidate the phone. If he sent 11 texts, hopped in his truck and sped off in fury. You could have have a good 5-8 minutes to get into a wreck.

    Maybe it's just the programmer in me that sees "11 texts in 11 minutes" and wonders what the distribution of those texts are in that 11 minutes.

  • by localman57 (1340533) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:38PM (#38388120)

    So we're banning smoking in cars, manual transmissions, and the handicapped now?

    I think that's the mentality that's missing from this whole argument. A risk / benefit analysis. I think LaHood said that 3000 people a year die due to distracted driving. Out of 300 million. Or around 1 in 100,000 . Everybody would be safer if they stayed in their basement, rather than getting out. But there's a whole world out there that's worth exploring, and it's worth the risk to leave your basement. Being able to communicate with other people while traveling makes your life better. That's worth something. Listening to the car radio is worth something. Reading the newspaper while driving makes the ride more fun, and is worth something. Each of these items has risk. Some risks are worth the benefit. Others aren't.

    In the end, we're all going to die of something. The challenge is not to make every moment its best, nor to live the longest possible. It's somewhere in the product of these two.

  • Re:multitasking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ancientt (569920) * <ancientt@yahoo.com> on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:38PM (#38388126) Homepage Journal

    You made me think. Why isn't eating-while-driving a bigger issue, is it significantly safer? I did a quick search, and got the startling answer that it is much more dangerous to eat-while-driving than text-while-driving.

    You want the answer? Policy makers are not texting, but they are drinking coffee. I'm not just talking about while driving, I'm talking about generally. Ban what those reckless youth are doing, fine, but you'll get my coffee cup when you pry it out of my cold dead hands (and you'll probably need the jaws of life to get to them.) Voters will approve something to punish those youths making the roads unsafe, but you'll never get them to approve legislating cheeseburger access.

    http://www.drive-safely.net/eating-while-driving.html

  • Re:Cell jammer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nschubach (922175) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:41PM (#38388190) Journal

    Then they can pull over. There's rarely a case where the person in the car has to be moving while talking. That's what we have emergency responders for - who can be called into action.

    I'm sitting alongside the road, calling 911 because my passenger is having a heart attack and you drive buy cutting me off.

    Now, depending on the power of this jammer, I may not be able to call anyone for a few minutes... life and death minutes.

    That line of thought is the same reason people ride in the left lane at the speed limit because "other people shouldn't be driving faster!" You have absolutely no idea why the person in the other car is doing what they are doing. If you don't like what they are doing, you always have a choice of giving them plenty of room to get away from you. Taking the law into your own hands is never the appropriate action unless you are defending your life from an IMMEDIATE risk.

  • by krotkruton (967718) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:46PM (#38388258)
    True. One other thing to add to that risk analysis is that people need to also look at alternative ways to reduce risk and figure out which would be more productive. Maybe here in the US, we start raising the requirements for passing driving tests and require people to re-test more often. I think that would do far more to decrease traffic accidents than banning cell phones. Or even better, let's work on our public transportation system so we don't have as many people driving.
  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:51PM (#38388344)

    No, because there's lots of super-smart people who are/were bad at multitasking. I don't know for sure, but I'll bet Einstein wasn't exactly a great multitasker; people like that generally aren't. In fact, men tend to be very bad multitaskers, compared to women. And just because someone's great at multitasking doesn't mean they're going to be smart in anything else.

  • Re:multitasking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by characterZer0 (138196) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:52PM (#38388372)

    Shifting a manual transmission is not a distraction from driving, it is part of driving. Also, you can always abandon a shift at any point and disengage the clutch if you need to put your shifting hand on the wheel to steer. If that is not an automatic reaction, you need to more driving time.

  • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:58PM (#38388462)

    So we're banning smoking in cars, manual transmissions, and the handicapped now?

    I think that's the mentality that's missing from this whole argument. A risk / benefit analysis. I think LaHood said that 3000 people a year die due to distracted driving. Out of 300 million. Or around 1 in 100,000 . Everybody would be safer if they stayed in their basement, rather than getting out. But there's a whole world out there that's worth exploring, and it's worth the risk to leave your basement. Being able to communicate with other people while traveling makes your life better. That's worth something. Listening to the car radio is worth something. Reading the newspaper while driving makes the ride more fun, and is worth something. Each of these items has risk. Some risks are worth the benefit. Others aren't. In the end, we're all going to die of something. The challenge is not to make every moment its best, nor to live the longest possible. It's somewhere in the product of these two.

    Cost-benefit, shmost-benefit. This is 'Merca! If we can justify invading two countries resulting in tens of thousands of deaths, shredding the constitution, bankrupting the nation and squandering our reputation in the world community for 3000 people who died 10 years ago, we can certainly justify nuking France -- at the least -- to solve the problem of 3000 people who die every year from distracted driving.

  • by localman57 (1340533) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:59PM (#38388484)

    Did you just seriously say that talking on the phone is better than risking dying?

    I'm seriously saying that 'X'-ing is better than the risk 'Y' of dying, for cases where the benefit of X is sufficiently large, and the risk Y is sufficiently small. Average samples for percieved and measured values of X and Y across the population, and set a threshold. Everything above the threshold is legal, and everything below it isn't. For example, shooting guns on your property in most rural areas of the US is legal. Shooting guns on your property in most urban areas of the US is not.

    There's always going to be assholes no sense of self preservation (or care about others). We can't let them do whatever they want. And there's always going to be cowards who are afraid of everything and would outlaw every risk in order to improve their own safety. We can't let them restrict our freedoms. Somewhere between the "Protecting my rights" crowd, and the "What about the children" crowd, lies the balance.

  • by Stargoat (658863) * <stargoat@gmail.com> on Thursday December 15, 2011 @05:03PM (#38388534) Journal

    Ummm, no. China and India have some of the highest PER CAPITA traffic fatalities in the world for non-African countries. I also suspect these both countries are rather underreporting (particularly China) and with deaths per capita likely to grow as infrastructure improves.

    These are bicycle cultures where people follow bicycle rules, because in their minds they still only perceive the likelihood of bicycle damage.

    There aren't even seatbelts in many cars. Physics still applies, even in China.

  • by Ichijo (607641) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @05:14PM (#38388744) Homepage Journal

    And yet, a study done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicates that states with cellphone bans have seen no real decrease in accident rates.

    All that proves is that laws aren't very effective without enforcement.

  • by HFShadow (530449) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @05:19PM (#38388846)

    So what you're saying is that you pulled some random stuff about Einstein out of your ass and are trying to use it as justification for your argument?

  • by rkfig (1016920) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @05:24PM (#38388924)
    Minneapolis, the 16th largest metro are in the US, regularly has temperatures around -30F in the winter, without figuring in wind chill. Getting off a bus/train/whatever and walking the last 5-10 blocks is a potentially deadly health risk to the very young and very old at that point. There are plenty more problems than just living in the country that make all those "idiots complain that it won't work."
  • by Anonymous Psychopath (18031) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @05:28PM (#38388988) Homepage

    This makes perfect sense to me. The same argument applies to the .08% BAC "drunk" definition. I heard a sheriff on the radio say that 25% of the people driving on a holiday are drunk. My first thought was "that's not true" and my second thought was "maybe it is, but only if we've defined 'drunk' incorrectly". Because clearly 25% of these drunks aren't so impaired to the point where they are driving dangerously. Not trying to be flamebait and I've never been popped for DWI, just don't like stupid laws created by lobbyists.

  • Re:multitasking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scottbomb (1290580) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @05:30PM (#38389020) Journal

    Don't forget eating, conversing with passengers, putting on makeup, looking at the baby (who's in the back seat), reading a billboard... etc...

    It all boils down to: personal responsibility. Nothing new here, just a new gadget to blame.

    For the record: I caused a car accident in 1996. I was very tired after working a double shift and I was fiddling with the radio, looking for interesting music. Better ban that too.

  • by scottbomb (1290580) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @05:35PM (#38389094) Journal

    Or when the train doesn't go anywhere near your work. We have light rail in Dallas. It worked great for me - when I worked downtown. But now they charge you to park your car in the lot at the train station (in addition to the train fare). If I were still working downtown, I'd have to do a cost analysis between gas and the fare+parking fees. Might as well drive, it costs less!

  • by hitmark (640295) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @05:40PM (#38389196) Journal

    Supposedly he liked working at the patent office, because it allowed him peace and quiet to think.

  • by Endo13 (1000782) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @06:30PM (#38390164)

    The bus drivers still should have avoided the accident - that's the whole point of paying attention and having safe following distance. With the buses not crashing the entire accident wouldn't have been nearly as bad.

    So the "professional" drivers did far worse than the kid, and without even having the excuse of a cell phone distraction.

  • Re:multitasking (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HarrySquatter (1698416) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @07:31PM (#38391042)

    I didn't say it was due to listening. It's due to fiddling with the radio. And my citation is the AAA [aaafoundation.org]

    Distracted Driver Crashes
    Outside object, person, event 29.4% (602 cases)
    Adjusting radio, cassette, CD 11.4

    Those are the top two issues. Cellphones are 8th at 1.5%. Now where are your stats?

  • by fahlesr1 (1910982) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @07:51PM (#38391252)
    I'm going to bet you live in a city. Where I grew up, my next door neighbor was one mile away. The nearest Wal-Mart was an hour drive. What you are proposing would have left me and my family more or less under house arrest. Public transportation isn't always available, and driving is not so dangerous as to justify the draconian measures you are suggesting. We aren't talking about flying airplanes!
  • by DragonHawk (21256) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @10:26PM (#38392962) Homepage Journal

    the correct answer is to move to the city.

    You're somewhat out of touch with reality. Half the world's population lives in rural areas[1]. Moving 3.5 trillion people to cities is not a realistic solution.

    Cites also have the problem that, if infrastructure fails, everybody dies. They're not "survivable", in military terms.

    And some of us just like the country.

    [1] http://esa.un.org/unup/p2k0data.asp [un.org]

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