Thursday, October 19, 2006

Hang Up And Drive

Maybe it's observational bias caused by fear or prejudice, but it sure seems to me lately that most of the inattentive drivers who terrify me when I'm riding on two wheels are talking on their cell phones.

The most common behavior I see is braking late at stoplights and consequently nosing one's car right up to, or into, the perpendicular lane. Maybe that's not so spooky if you're driving an SUV, but I'm hypersensitive to it when I'm scootering, because if I'm not watching out for them, and they for me, ouch. Big ouch.

Next most common is cellphone-talkers turning right directly into me when I'm walking or jogging in the crosswalk, with the light. Often they don't even bother to look.

I yelled at a lady who did this to me downtown, but she didn't take it well, and didn't even bother to stop talking on her phone.

I have a "Hang Up And Drive" bumper sticker on my minivan. Some people wave when they see it, and others wave with just one finger.


Darkmoon said...

Making them hang up won't make it any better, just fyi. I've found from watching that those that drive poorly and talk on the cell phone, would drive poorly anyways.

eg. the cell phone just makes it slightly worse.

I'm willing to bet that if you're jogging, the same people that turn into you without looking on a phone will do the same. It's the same on a motorcycle. Have to be hypersensitive, not because of the motorcycle but because there are these people driving SUVs with the absolutely no look shift, with no turn signal. I guess we all have to be psychic at one point or another.

Bob Grenier said...

The other problem evident with people like this include:

-- other motorists sitting behind the cell phone user at traffic lights for 3-4 seconds after the light turns green, then having the user getting angry at you when you toot the horn and use your hands to plead for a little response.

-- users weaving in and out of their traffic lane, as if they were driving the only vehicle on the road.

-- users parking themselves in the left hand lane, traveling approximately 10 mph slower than the traffic flow.

-- users speeding up, then slowing down, all based upon the verbosity, intensity, and direction of the conversation.

-- slowing down with turn signal on, then not making the turn, and speeding back to normal speed.

I find it very hard to believe that people could not reduce their cell phone usage while driving by a factor of 10.

People use cell phones behind the wheel because they can, not because they need to.

The timing on your post is good, David. I'm ready to start a new automotive/motorsports blog, and subjects like this fit into one of the categories I intend to write about.

Jim Rosenberg said...

Next year, in Velo City?

David Wharton said...

Hey, Sun, post your transportation porn elsewhere. This is a family site.

Anonymous said...

I cannot stand cell phones and got rid of mine a year ago. Realizing I should have some sort of phone in case of emergencies, I got a little tracfone, which I love. It was 20.00 and I hardly ever use it so I don't have to spend a lot of money. So far, minutes and phone included, I have spent less than 200.00 for an entire year. When I had a real cell phone I was paying 60.00/month! Cell phones, in general, bother me. I see people everywhere on the phone. Nobody talks to anyone else anymore. Walk around a store and you see kids walking next to each other but they're not 'with' each other because they're talking or texting someone else! Look at resturants...same thing. Drives me NUTS! Can't we just talk to each other, in person? Why this obsession with the phone?

I think if people really must talk on the phone and drive, they should at least get a hands free system. Of course, many people have that now, and I can no longer tell who to avoid on the street. ;-) Used to be, the person walking down the street talking to nobody was they probably just have a bluetooth.

David Wharton said...

Kim, I think studies have shown that the hands-free phones are equally distracting.

It's not the hands, it's the conversation.

Anonymous said...

They probably are equally distracting,but at least they can have both hands on the steering wheel. If you think about it, car radios are pretty distracting, as well...people fiddle with them, listen to what's going on, etc. Passangers in a car could have the same effect. But, yeah...cell phones in cars are bad, except for in emergency situations. I wish people would just pay attention to the road. The other day I had someone cut me off with little room to spare, then slam on the brakes at a red light, then sit through a GREEN LIGHT while talking on a cell phone. I uttered all sorts of not nice words under my breath!

David Wharton said...

Here's some intersting research about cell phones and driver distraction.