Monday, January 12, 2009

Don't Call Me While I'm Driving . . .

. . . in fact, don't call me on my cell at all!

Today on Google News, I saw this article explaining why the National Safety Council wants to ban cell phone use while driving. Overall, I think the reasons are sound. The fact is that driving an automobile is one of the most dangerous things we do, and we do it routinely, every day. It's honestly a life-threatening activity. Why would we want to split our focus, then, between driving and having a telephone conversation?

Some commenters on the article I linked to argue that they might as well ban passengers in the car, as these people cause distraction when the driver talks to them. Well, I don't know about you, but when I'm a passenger in a car I'm sensitive to the driving conditions and the driver's need to pay attention to the road. I "pause" my conversational flow as needed, and don't generally get into deep or engrossing conversations because I can tell the driver should concentrate on his surroundings. Usually, the person on the other end of the cell phone can't have the same sensitivity. The problem with this scenario is that choosing to talk & drive doesn't just impact you but also affects the fellow drivers around you. I'm going to make a conscious effort not to be distracted and not to talk on my cell while driving.

In the oddly enough category, just this morning a friend emailed me an article about the health risks of cell phones in general. I choose not to link to that article, because it contains nudity (!) and also because I doubt the authenticity of the research. Still, some people still worry about whether cell phones are completely safe. It's a question people are not asking right now, and sometimes those are the questions most worth examining.

1 comment:

Mike Roesch said...

Probably another interesting gender split. Men and women pay attention in conversations very differently, and it's interesting that while women are traditionally considered better "multitaskers," they're also stereotypically worse at multitasking while driving (e.g., I remember in drivers' ed hearing of a scientific report that showed that men check the car gauges several times more often than do women).

In general car conversation, I've noticed that women in the passenger seat almost invariably look at the driver while having a conversation, while a man in the passenger seat will recognize that the driver won't be looking back, and thus will look straight ahead or out the window or wherever. And I don't think I've ever seen a man make wild gestures when on a cell phone while driving.

When I'm driving a long distance is actually when I'm most likely to have a long phone conversation (with bluetooth headset), to avoid boredom.