A reader writes:
One study from one guy done during one off-peak driving time of the day and you have a reader that responds “At last!”? My guess is this is somebody who uses their phone while in the car on a regular basis, feels more than a bit defensive about it, and is grasping onto this one straw to justify their behavior. There have been plenty of studies showing an decrease in attentiveness and driving ability from cell phone usage. Regular handset usage is worse than driving over the legal alcohol limit of 0.08% and texting is much worse.
Another piles on:
Here’s an article on a study done back in 2003 that showed that drivers on a cellphone were more distracted than those who were legally drunk. And this was done even before the advent of widespread texting. Money quote:
Drivers talking on cell phones were 18 percent slower to react to brake lights, the new study found. In a minor bright note, they also kept a 12 percent greater following distance. But they also took 17 percent longer to regain the speed they lost when they braked. That frustrates everyone.
Another chips in:
I know this study doesn’t include drivers specifically, but the awareness level of pedestrians who were just walking and talking on a cell phone was startling low. Even if cell phone distractions aren’t causing wrecks specifically, I don’t believe that a driver using a cell phone in any fashion isn’t distracted.
Your reader suggests that cell phone distraction is offset by the attentiveness increase in performing an activity. Here’s a perfect solution: Drive Stick. It certainly keeps me more attentive when I drive, and I challenge anyone to text while driving stick in traffic.
Driving is a skill, and it should be honed daily. You wouldn’t talk on the phone while you’re practicing the piano, would you?