Driven Crazy

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Reader Justin Cook points to this USA Today story on the perils of "distracted driving." The piece cites a University of Utah study showing that drivers with a .08% BAC performed better on a driving simulator than subjects chatting on cell phones. So does the article's author infer that the .08% cutoff is probably a little silly? Of course not—the study proves that those insidious talking drivers are even more dangerous than "drunken" drivers.

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  1. I get distracted when I smoke a cigar while driving, especially when the hot ash falls into my lap. I hereby propose we ban smoking while driving. Eating, too. Of course, the radio will have to go, as well as the DVD player, toaster oven, vacuum cleaner and jacuzzi. Doing so will reduce costly accidents and make healthcare more affordable for all us comrades, er, citizens.

    Regards,
    Your Congressman/woman/thing

  2. What about a .08% BAC using a cell phone,
    with a baby and four year old in the back seat,
    and a hot coffee at hand and egg biscuit, too?

    What about a boy on a date with a girl in short pants?

    What about any of the above on a highway with billboards?

    I use hands free, and my phone has voice dial & auto-answer.
    I think everyone should do as I do and no less,
    but that I should do as I do, and no more.

    By my observation,
    old people drive slower, holding their heads very still;
    young people drive reckessly, moving about a lot;
    blacks drive faster on the highway, but stop in the street;
    whites from up north follow too close and use the horn,
    but never wash or wax their cars exterior;
    whites from the south can’t drive in the snow,
    and change lanes like they are on a race track;
    west coast people vote green, drive 100K/year,
    never ride mass transit, and speed all the time;
    men think they can drive better than others;
    women don’t think very far ahead, or behind;
    lesbians have trunks organized for every emergency;
    gay men sit too upright, close to the steering wheel;
    idiots speed away when the light turns green,
    then stand on the brakes at the next light to wait,
    to speed away when the light turns green again;
    the more radical, extreme, and bizarre you are, the more bumper stickers you have on the back of the car;
    clunkers with Republican stickers are delusional;
    luxury cars with Democratic stickers are hypocrites;
    cars that won’t turn right on red are fundamentalists;
    cars that turn right on red, but don’t stop, are libertarians;
    voters for political winners keep their stickers on longer,
    or at least until the first major disappointment;
    voters for political losers take off their stickers fast;
    born losers keep their third party stickers on for years;
    anyone with a ‘free Tibet’ sticker is to be avoided,
    unless you are soliticing for a non-profit;
    big cars with dents on all 4 corners have right of way;
    people who don’t have cars are secretive and to be watched.

  3. I guess this doesn’t fall under reckless driving and therefore need a new law preventing cell phone use while driving.

    Reckless Driving must be the weakest law ever created. There must have been some driver cited for reckless driving using a “I was on the phone” defense when hitting a pedestrian and getting the charges thrown out.

  4. We’re watching you, DJ!

  5. First of all, the insurance lobby is licking their chops to get cell phone chatting while driving criminilized… for obvious reasons.

    Second, I bet Julian Sanchez is a great multitasker – and can handel a cell phone while tossing back a few high balls at 80mph… however most other drivers aren’t.

    I bicycle every day in Chicago’s Loop and I’m convinced that there is no greater danger to my safety than someone chatting on a cell phone as they drive, get into and out of their car, and peds stepping blindly out infront of me while fiddeling with their picture messaging.

    The reason someone with a BAC of .08% (3 to 4 beers for someone of us within a couple of hours) drives better than someone talkaing on a phone is because they know they had better pay attention to the road and their driving becuase if they get caught they could get in big trouble.

    The fact is: if laws are created that penalize drivers who yak it will cut down on the number of accidents. And some law makers will aruge that even one prevented accident is enough to justify such leglislation.

    Cell phone users have had it coming for a while now – and it has more to do with personal responsibility than anything else. Sensible people are fed up with cluless cell phone users…

  6. “Cluless.”
    Heh heh.

  7. Note to Will:

    Preview button heepum good.

  8. Preview button heepum good.

    Yeah yeah yeah… cut me some slack, I had a late night.

  9. When you go on the road you are joining the game. Everyone should accept his share of incidental bends and scrapes, with only gross negligence or criminal misfeasance being really punished. This sounds like no-fault.

  10. On smoking and driving, here’s a true story:

    Once, getting very late on heading out to the airport, I had a sudden nosebleed. I went into the bathroom to wash up and try to stanch the flow with cold water. It wouldn’t stop that easily, however, and I ended up just jamming a huge wad of tissue in my nose and running out the door.

    In the car and on my way, I took it in mind to have a cigarette. Not really thinking about the thing, I whipped out my freshly-fueled Zippo and instantly ignited the wad of tissue hanging out my nose. So; there I was, driving up the road with my face going up in open flames.

    I wonder if that was dangerous.

    I think somebody oughta write a law against setting fire to a wad of tissue-paper hanging out one’s nose while driving.

    (solemn nod) It’s the only way to keep people safe.

  11. dj,

    How could you leave out the clueless Asian women drivers? That’s gotta be like a 0.12% right there!

  12. Technically, most laws on the books make absolutely no reference to alcohol or drinking while driving. The term is “Driving While Impaired.”

    The argument can already be made for anything. Alcohol, pills, fatigue, bad eyesight, cell phone use, being asian.

    These are clearly all risk factors. And other than the precedents available for each case, there is no technical difference.

  13. > We’re watching you, DJ! How could you leave out the clueless Asian women drivers?

  14. I think that evertime I have hit a pedestrian was because I was checking myself out in the vanity mirror.

    Maybe there should be a law about that, so I don’t do it anymore.

  15. > The greatest danger to your safety is bicycling every day in Chicago’s Loop!

  16. The reason someone with a BAC of .08% (3 to 4 beers for someone of us within a couple of hours) drives better than someone talkaing on a phone is because they know they had better pay attention to the road and their driving becuase if they get caught they could get in big trouble.

    And that’s all she wrote, folks. Of course, well, there’s the little matter of the fact that this was a DRIVING SIMULATOR. I mean, I know that whenever I’ve had anything to drink and I’m behind the wheel, even though I know I’m not at .08%, I take extra precaution to stop at every stopsign, obey every speed limit within 5mph (going at or below the limit can look suspicious), and pay attention to the road. I think Will is right, that since DUI’s are prosecuted so roughly, you’re “scared” into trying to attract no attention; but, well, it couldn’t be objectively, scientifically proveable unless it was done in a realtime road test, wherein the subject ACTUALLY was at risk of being pulled over and arrested for DUI. This study was, as I said, done in a simulator. The subjects had no reason to fear DUI charges. So, Will, while I agree with you in reality, I can’t say that it applies to this particular study.

  17. The thing I noticed about the driving simulator was how poorly it simulated driving.

  18. “Using the same model they did a study and found that for the same results you didn’t even have to be using the phone, you just had to own one.”

    I’m not at all surprised. Never mind cars. Based on the people I see who can’t sit in a restaurant, theater, library, wedding or funeral–or even go down the sidewalk–without being electronically wired into a perpetual conversation, I’d say they’ve easily got IQs on the average 20 points lower than the rest of the population.

    The international symbol for ignorance and stupidity should be the silhouette of a stupid cunt with a cell phone glued to the side of her head.

  19. Will,

    “I bicycle every day in Chicago’s Loop and I’m convinced that there is no greater danger to my safety than someone chatting on a cell phone as they drive…”

    Cripes! Uh, dude? The greatest danger to your safety is bicycling every day in Chicago’s Loop!

    That’s like saying “When I’m in a burning building, the greatest danger is cluttered floors.”

  20. I’ve always felt that the driving test for licensure should include a portion where the driver must navigate a guantlet of orange cones with a full martini in one hand, with points deducted for spillage.

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