January 13, 2009
Cell Phone Conversations Dangerous In Cars

Laboratory research shows that cellphone conversations are dangerous even if you do not hold the phone.

Laboratory experiments using simulators, real-world road studies and accident statistics all tell the same story: drivers talking on a cellphone are four times as likely to have an accident as drivers who are not. Thatís the same level of risk posed by a driver who is legally drunk.

Why cellphone use behind the wheel is so risky isnít entirely clear, but studies suggest several factors. No matter what the device, phone conversations appear to take a significant toll on attention and visual processing skills.

It may be that talking on the phone generates mental images that conflict with the spatial processing needed for safe driving. Eye-tracking studies show that while drivers continually look side to side, cellphone users tend to stare straight ahead.

The interesting thing about this story is that conversations with passengers and listening to the radio do not pose a risk. In fact, passengers are seen as reducing accident risk.

Technological advances are producing more and more effective ways to interrupt our minds and distract us. What I'd like to know: do people at work who do design work become less productive if they have activated cell phones? Do the phone interrupts come often enough to hobble design development? Do cell phones even reduce the amount of mental effort that people put into pondering problems while the are driving?

I've previously read that if you hear only one half of a conversation this is more disruptive to your thinking than if you hear both halves of a conversation. There's a natural flow in thinking that you can do if you can built a complete context. But when half the conversation is missing perhaps your mind puts too much effort into trying to figure out what the other half is. For this reason I oppose lifting bans on phone use in airplanes. I do not want to be mentally distracted by hearing half of phone conversations.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 January 13 11:41 PM  Brain Society

Lou Pagnucco said at January 14, 2009 6:59 AM:

I personally know people who admit having caused accidents due to cell phone distraction.

The National Safety Council cites a Harvard study showing "that 636,000 crashes occur each year in America due to drivers on their cell phones, causing 330,000 injuries and 2,600 deaths."

I believe the numbers.

Two months ago I was looking at my rear view mirror while in a left turn lane only to see a large speeding SUV suddenly veer rightwards, narrowly avoiding a major collision with me. I clearly saw the cell phone in the driver's hand. A couple of years ago, I watched a teen age girl mindlessly drive from a side street into the traffic on the main street I was travelling on. She was engrossed in a cell phone conversation, of course. Fortunately for her, the other drivers were not and dodged her.

Some insurance companies are now offering discounts for people who are willing to put monitors on their cars which indicate mileage, speeding, stopping times, etc. Personally, I have no problems with this, if it's voluntary. If possible, they should put cell phone field strength meters in these devices, and offer further discounts to people who stop using cell phones while driving. I also support traffic fines for cell phone users, especially when they cause accidents.

JerryT said at January 14, 2009 9:31 AM:

Talking on a cell phone while driving is going to reach up and bite you sooner or later. The sad thing is that it will also bite the other driver and passengers in both cars in the accident.

Chuck Pelto said at January 14, 2009 9:44 AM:

TO: Randal Parker
RE: Well...

...based on personal experience....

....most of the accidents I've almost had in the last 10 years were likely to be caused by the idiot talking on a cell phone: running a traffic signal, suddenly turning in front of me from the wrong lane because they almost missed their turn.

Indeed, I do believe that the car that suddenly swerved and caused a 5-ton dump truck to cross over the line and crash into my friend's car, killing him, his wife and one of their two children was someone talking on a cell phone.



Shannon Love said at January 14, 2009 9:46 AM:

Our family makes it a practice never to talk and drive. However, I don't think that cell phones have had a significant impact on auto safety.

Cell phone usage has exploded in the last 15 years but accident rates have remained flat. Unless we have some other positive effect that nearly precisely balances out the negative effect of cell phones it seems that despite the research, cell phones don't really cause that many accidents.

I think assignment bias creates the perception that cell phones cause wrecks. If someone has a wreck while talking on the cell phone, the cell phone gets the blame.

David Gillies said at January 14, 2009 9:50 AM:

Mythbusters did a test which seemed to show that using a mobile phone while driving resulted in more significant impairment than being drunk.

One thing I absolutely detest about phones is the way they act as a Non Maskable Interrupt. You can be in the depths of conversation, but will be instantly hushed in order to answer a phone call. Mobiles extend this rudeness into the public sphere.

Dave G said at January 14, 2009 9:53 AM:

It's not the mode of conversation (cell vs. direct), it's the type of conversation. A cell call is typically a focused discussion. Of course your focus shifts from driving to talking. But, if a person sitting next to you also engages you in a focused conversation, your focus will shift from the road to the speaker in the same way. The studies quoted are misleading.

So ban cell phones as a distraction, then? Let's also ban pets riding in the driver's lap, kids screaming, eating food, drinking beverages, changing radio stations, and talk radio of all varieties. We can also institute reaction time measurements into driver testing, just to weed out those impaired drivers. Takes all those pesky seniors off the road. And we can just take all teens off the road, they can't drive without being distracted anyway. No distractions, period! Then we'll all be safe, and there will be no more accidents! How lovely that will be.

What a load of BS.

Cell phone accidents are caused by people who are too wrapped up in themselves to realize that if you are having a focused conversation in traffic, PULL YOUR ASS OVER, OR CALL BACK LATER. Or put the phone down for a second, until the traffic has cleared. But having a call while you're cruising down a rural interstate is safer than falling asleep at the wheel.

Ban cell phones while driving? Ban stupidity while driving, too.

Gary said at January 14, 2009 9:55 AM:

I have long believed that the act of talking to someone NOT IN THE CAR while driving is very dangerous, and this seems to confirm it. The reason I think it's so much more dangerous than talking to a passenger? A passenger sees the road and dangers just as you do, and they will understand if there is a lull in the conversation while you eye a child playing ball near the street or see someone driving erratically near you. In fact, they will likely help you see such dangers (this probably accounts for a passenger being found to be safer).

The person on the other end of a cell phone call, on the other hand, has no such knowledge and expects the driver/talker to keep up your end of the conversation, forcing the driver to be less focused on hazards while they try to have a normal conversation.

I'm going to try to limit my car talk time from now on.

Joe said at January 14, 2009 9:59 AM:

One thing I have long observed is that when I'm working on my computer (doing programming) I can usually carry on a conversation with someone next to me. However, I have a hard time doing that when talking on the phone. Same with computer games. I've observed this in other people as well. One suspicion is that listening on a phone takes more concentration because the audio simply isn't as clear--all phones not only cut off the very upper and lower frequencies, this and noise control devices of cell phone mask or hide mask subtle sound cues which our brains use to process all the conversational information requiring a higher level of concentration.

Think about how much information you receive from someone you know from just a nearly silent sigh. Or how they are breathing. Or filler sounds they add to sentences--one sound may indicate they are simply thinking, another that they have something difficult to say and are fearful of offending you. Another may be that they are angry and trying to control that anger.

Gandalf said at January 14, 2009 10:09 AM:

The only problem I have ever had while driving and talking on a cell phone is when the big Mac I was eating fell apart in my lap while going through a toll booth.

NormD said at January 14, 2009 10:10 AM:

If talking on a cellphone is soooooooo dangerous then the accident rate between 1990 (0% of drivers having cellphones) and 2008 (100% having cellphones) would have skyrocketed.

It didn't

It dropped.

Why do we give any credence to small scientific studies or stories from zealots when we have already done a MASSIVE experiment with very clear results: Cellphones have no appreciable impact on driving safety.

Joe said at January 14, 2009 10:11 AM:

Gary makes a very good point; when people converse in person, they often modulate their conversation according to what they and/or the other person is doing. Think about, say, moving a refrigerator into a house. You and your friends are talking, but when you get to a step, the conversation often shifts spontaneously to the task at hand, and then just as spontaneously back again once you get up the step.

Fat Man said at January 14, 2009 10:12 AM:

"The interesting thing about this story is that conversations with passengers and listening to the radio do not pose a risk. In fact, passengers are seen as reducing accident risk."

I have noticed this also. The real question is why?

Kim McAllister said at January 14, 2009 10:15 AM:

There has to be a connection between this and why cell phone conversations are so irritating in stores and in lines.

Someone can be talking to a companion, I think nothing of it. Someone in front of me talking to the same person on the cell phone becomes an irritation.

Andrew_M_Garland said at January 14, 2009 10:16 AM:

"conversations with passengers and listening to the radio do not pose a risk"

Your passenger said all of the important stuff before getting into the car, and the radio is boring. Both demand little mental attention. If your passenger has anything important to say during the trip, like "I want a divorce", he/she is usually smart enough to wait, not wanting to upset your driving.

In contrast, the call you receive or make is important enough to be worth the risk. Con: It increases your risk of injury. Pro: It is important, and probably worth the risk.

I suggest, allow cell phone use, hand-held or hands-free makes no difference, but only in the two slow lanes, or at speeds less than 30 mph. It should be a special factor in fines for bad driving and higher co-payments for accidents, along with eating, putting on makeup, shaving, and reading.

Jim said at January 14, 2009 10:19 AM:

Never understood the suggestion that hands-free cellphone use is inherently safer than hands-encumbered (?) cellphone use. Easy enough to test: drive around holding your empty hand against your head. Day or night, heavy traffic or light, bad weather or bright and shiny, really not much of a distraction, so chances are the conversation delivery mechanism ain't the problem.

cheeflo said at January 14, 2009 10:26 AM:

I've observed that physically holding the cell phone to the ear tends to distract the driver to the point where they are more engaged in the phone conversation than in driving the car. The people I see in traffic who are talking on a cell phone tend to slow down and obstruct traffic, miss traffic signals/signs, and miss their turn/destination. They forget they're driving a car and behave as though they're sitting in their living room chit-chatting.

When I am in the car, I use an ear bud and set the phone down on the seat. This way, both hands are on the wheel and the conversation is more like conversing with a passenger. It is far less distracting than holding the phone to the ear.

I am inclined to agree with the poster who suggests that cell phone accidents are caused by people who are too wrapped up with themselves to care what is happening around them. Is he the same poster who is annoyed by the overriding interrupt that a ringing cell phone is? I agree with that, too. Barring emergencies, it's just plain rude to answer a cell phone at an inappropriate moment -- I can't stand customers who conduct business in a retail establishment, like the grocery store, while they're on the phone, or while already engaged in conversation with someone in their presence.

Ted said at January 14, 2009 10:29 AM:

When you are approaching a potentially dangerous or challenging situation, a passenger can see your concentration shift to the situtation an stop talking. A person on the other end of the cell phone cannot. This forces the driver to try to concentrate on two things at once at a moment when their full attention needs to be on the road.

Fresh Air said at January 14, 2009 10:33 AM:

i have studied this issue, and the data cited above is absolutely correct. You have about (IIRC) 40 percent of the available attention span when you are talking on the phone. It doesn't matter whether you are driving or walking. It's about how your mind processes the telephone call. The dexterity of dialing/holding the phone is almost irrelevant. The reason this hasn't gotten more traction is because wireless companies have fought it tooth and nail. They have successfully redefined it as a "hands-free/hands-on" issue, which obviously has a ready solution with earpieces and voice-actuated dialing that, conveniently enough, can be supplied by the same equipment makers.

Another problem is that police don't perceive it as a problem, perhaps because they themselves do it constantly. As a result, the cell phone-caused accident data is highly inaccurate. When accident times have been crossed with telephone records, studies have shown a significant correlation between phone talking and crashes.

If you don't believe any of this, walk down the sidewalk intent on a conversation, hang up and then try to remember what you saw. This is a hugely dangerous problem that makes stuff like asbestos in old buildings look trivial by comparison.

Fritz said at January 14, 2009 10:34 AM:

I agree with Shannon. The people doing the studies, that claim cell phone usage makes driving much more dangerous, are allowing their prejudices to influence their results. As David G puts it, anything that distracts you has the potential to cause accidents so let's not focus on only cell phones. Therefore, policemen can no longer use their radios without stopping; everyone in the car must remain silent at all times so that the driver is not distracted; there must be no changing of radio stations or CD's while the vehicle is in motion and so on. My opinion is that most people refuse to admit that they simply were not paying attention to their driving and are using cell phones as an excuse, and that if suddenly there was a lot of controversy over changing radio stations causing accidents people would be blaming radios for causing accidents. I've seen women putting on makeup while driving down the road, men shaving while driving down the road, and many other things which have to distract the driver's attention, yet all the hew and cry is over cell phones. Perhaps we should ban all drive-through windows at fast food restaurants as a safety measure.

drjohn said at January 14, 2009 10:35 AM:

It's all about how one handles the task. There are two distinct approaches to phone calls in automobiles. Either one happens to be on the phone while driving or one happens to be driving while on the phone.

That sorts out the danger quickly.

Ken Hirsch said at January 14, 2009 10:41 AM:
One thing I absolutely detest about phones is the way they act as a Non Maskable Interrupt.

I read about one clever idea a few months ago: Aegis Mobility's DriveAssist will automatically block incoming calls when your cell phone is moving at driving speeds. I'd sign up for that.

John Burgess said at January 14, 2009 10:44 AM:

Dave G: Since weeding out stupid drivers doesn't seem to be one of the factors in driving license tests, limiting the lethal distractions that affect drivers (stupid or not) seems to be a prudent step.

I daily see boneheads distracted by their phones while driving. I'm hyper alert to them when schools are opening and closing as teens seem to be far more cavalier about the dangers than grown ups, but even those blue-haired beauties pose a danger while talking on phones while driving.

I have always had a rule that I don't use the phone while driving, even at a stop light. If I feel like taking the call, I'll pull over and park. When the use of a phone was necessary for work, dealing with an ongoing and changing scheduled event, for instance, I'd have a co-worker in the car to handle the phone conversations.

Cell phone use should be banned, universally, while driving. Until existing laws are enforced, however, we're all put in danger by someone else's sense of importance. Or sheer stupidity.

bill said at January 14, 2009 10:47 AM:

Oh come on! The regulatory people have had it "in" for cellphones for years. Accordingly, every accident where someone was on a cellphone is classified as "cellphone related," even if the cellphone babbler was broadsided by a drunk driver.

Changing a CD, punching a SIRIUS button, looking at a passenger, talking to a toddler--all of these are just as distracting. This is simply the nanny state chipping away again.

Haywood Jablome said at January 14, 2009 11:18 AM:

Oh come on. Next thing you know, they will try to ban drivers from receiving oral favors while driving. That can be distracting too, y'know. ;-)

Steven Den Beste said at January 14, 2009 11:25 AM:

The problem is that using a cell phone ties up one of your hands.

Talking to a passenger doesn't.

rjschwarz said at January 14, 2009 12:01 PM:

With bluetooth the cellphone no longer ties up your hands. That was the last arguement along the slope.

However the passenger is likely to scream when they see you about to hit another car. That has to be factored in somehow.

Greggpvc said at January 14, 2009 12:04 PM:

Some are idiots when they use a cell phone. I once saw a lady talking on a cell phone who turned left at an intersection directly in fount of a fire truck with red lights and sirens blazing. The fire truck had the right of way even without the lights and sirens. Passengers and radios help keep folks awake. Passengers are also an extra pair of eyes and attention. I've had my fill of Nannys banning what is bad for us however.

Aragon said at January 14, 2009 12:26 PM:

I find having a conversition while driving on a bluetooth earpiece is much easier than driving with a front seat passanger. I have two hands on the wheel at all times and never need to look at the facial expressions of my passenger. The people that are incapable of phoning and driving are the same people you notice at the airport talking on their cell phones at a decibel level audible three gates away. Some people are inherently inconsiderate and stupid. You will notice them in the left lane with their cruise control set 3 mph over the limit. They will not leave that lane until 100 yards from their exit, and will take all three lanes in one move without turn signals.

Alec Rawls said at January 14, 2009 12:58 PM:

The answer to the person on the other end of the phone not knowing you are driving is to TELL THEM THAT YOU ARE DRIVING. I always do this when I am on the cell phone. So does my brother when he calls me while driving. (Hey, I'm driving, so you must not be busy.) Then there is no need to explain the occasional "hold on"s. It takes a little getting used to, but I think it becomes not much different than chatting with a passenger.

momochan said at January 14, 2009 1:04 PM:
If talking on a cellphone is soooooooo dangerous then the accident rate between 1990 (0% of drivers having cellphones) and 2008 (100% having cellphones) would have skyrocketed.
It didn't
It dropped.
Why do we give any credence to small scientific studies or stories from zealots when we have already done a MASSIVE experiment with very clear results: Cellphones have no appreciable impact on driving safety.

The question I have is, by how much more would the accident rate have dropped if cell phones had not been invented? During this time there were other variables pushing down the accident rate: automobile design, highway/street architecture, proactive buyback of clunker cars by states like California (mostly for pollution rather than safety, granted, but it benefits accident rates as well). Also I believe that during this time period there was increased action to test elderly drivers in certain areas, as well as continuation and consolidation of strict DUI enforcement. Seatbelt laws may also have an ironic psychological effect of making drivers even more aware of driving safety.
So there are a host of factors which would be expected to push down accident rates. I wish we could control some variables and run the numbers.

bains said at January 14, 2009 3:06 PM:

The main difference between conversations via phone verses in person is fairly simple. In fact, it is quite analogous to teen drivers alone verses with passengers. Namely, the non-teen in the passenger seat is likely an experienced driver themselves, aware that they are having a conversation in an inherently dangerous environment. Unlike the teen, and impossible for the person at the other end of a phone conversation, the person in the passenger seat reacts to that environment - a sharp "RED LIGHT, RED LIGHT" or a audible intake of air because of another driver's swerve to the left alert the driver that something is amiss.

Further, most drivers live a nanosecond in the past, reacting to the environment rather that anticipating plausible changes. These are the drivers that are in the furthest left lane five hundred feet before their exit. Or the driver 'parked' in the left lane with cruise control set at 66mph knowing full well that at some point they will pass another vihicle on thier 300 mile jounrey.

Yet there are just bad drivers (insert George Carlin here), drivers whom even without any external distraction, put in peril the rest of us. While banning plausible distractions (cell phones) is stupid, holding drivers responsible for accidents while distracted would more likely have the desired effect.

Brian said at January 14, 2009 4:58 PM:

I remain unconvinced that the Cel phone itself is the problem. They remain a tool for better or worse depending on the judgment of the individual using it.

Cel phones can in fact make driving safer by allowing a driver to contact law enforcement, request directions, road closure information, or simply calling their spouse or a friend to say they're caught in traffic relieving some anxiety. A counterpoint might be if your arguing with your attorney about pending divorce proceedings while navigating rush hour traffic, that might be downright distracting. trying to legislate responsible behavior is a losing proposition, there's simply too many ways to do stupid things, and it's easy to trigger unintended consequences.

Two personal examples:
1) The most dstracting driving experience I've had was talking about my divorce with my ex while we were going to take care of something. I nearly killed us both turning left in front of an oncoming vehicle. The oncoming vehicle was speeding and I simply didn't assess their speed accurately due to being distracted.
2) I've had hour long cel phone conversations of lighthearted joking with a friend while driving across Montana in the early morning hours, they helped keep me awake and alert on an otherwise mind numbing drive.

If drivers are penalized appropriately for accidents, perhaps even including requiring some kind of retest or driving class you might find better results than blaming a poorly used tool. It's less intrusive and leaves the individual on the scene at that moment the freedom to decide what's best.

Capable Driver in St. Louis said at January 14, 2009 6:04 PM:

This is the silliest thing I've ever heard. While I completely agree that holding a cell phone, and certainly texting, while driving leads to accidents, I disagree that using a handsfree device has the same level of impact to driving skills. It is no different than holding a conversation with the person sitting in your passenger seat and, in fact, less dangerous as one tends to look at the passenger (rather than the road) while they are talking. Also...what about those parents who insist on disciplining their children while they are driving? Oh yeah...and what about women who decide to make up their face on the way to work? Oh... let's not forget those who have stopped at the fast food joint for a burger and eats it on their way to their destination. Has anyone ever decided to do a study on those statistics and ban the activity?
As for talking on a bluetooth enabled device while driving, well I think that is more aptly compared to "walking and chewing gum" at the same time. Puh..lease! Let's get our mind on the REAL safety factors folks!

John Moore said at January 14, 2009 6:51 PM:

Clearly cell phones, at times, used by some people, are responsible for accidents. So are lots of other distractions, including daydreaming.

The statistics being thrown around are likely a result of assignment bias, as already pointed out.

However, the important thing to get from all of this is:

The cars need to drive themselves!

How much time is wasted driving cars in the world? It's enormous! Advances in robotics are going to lead us to more and more automation in the driving of cars. Already cars can parallel park themselves, do cruise control with sensing of traffic, and alert the driver to various hazards.

If there is any technology we need sooner and faster, it's cars that drive themselves.

Did I mention that the same technology will be environmentally beneficial?

mrsizer said at January 14, 2009 10:46 PM:

You are all brainwashed and totally missing the point: Potential does not equal Criminal.

Why is driving drunk illegal? It causes no harm. Crashing into people causes harm.
Why is skateboarding on sidewalks illegal? It causes no harm. Crashing into people causes harm.

Increasing penalties due to circumstance is perfectly reasonable. If you crash into someone accidentally you get penalty A, but if you are drunk when you do it, you get penalty B. However, potential to cause harm should NOT be illegal.

Should you be searched on exit if you wear a long coat into a store? You COULD be using it to hide shoplifting.
Should your tires be inspected? They could be too smooth to stop properly. How often should they be inspected?

Those evil, nasty people with 2-wheel drive cars are a HAZARD! Save the CHILDREN! Every car must have all-wheel drive because a 2-wheel drive car _might_ not be able to maneuver around hazards. What about those pivoting headlights? All cars must have them, too.

Where does it stop? God save us.
- Mark

Jerry Martinson said at January 14, 2009 11:26 PM:

There's a lot of people that are trying to turn their car into an office and you can't really do that since driving is the #1 priority.

Driving is mostly subconscious but sometimes conscious thought is required. Riding on a staight freeway in light traffic for miles while talking lightheartedly to someone about silly stuff seems acceptably compatible to me. Notice the mythbusters thing had them doing complex problem solving verbally while driving through an obstacle course; they didn't give the person the option of saying, "wait a sec... I'm driving on a complicated part... okay I'm back...". I think there's a big difference. I find it impossible to talk on the phone at the same time while doing driving tasks that require conscious thought. I think there's a difference in some people on this. I just stop talking and say ".uhhhh.... " a lot or narrate what I'm doing when there's some driving task that requires thought. I like to think that I "drive first, talk second". But I think there are some people that "talk first, drive second", and these people are a lot more dangerous.

averros said at January 15, 2009 1:04 AM:

I'm a pilot; and for pilots talking while flying is necessary (and one really has to pay attention to what is being told, and filter your callsign from chatter on the same frequency). So, talking while flying skills is a part of any pilot training course (the basic mantra is "fly the airplane first, talk when you're not busy").

This skill can be learned, and it is kind of surprising that none of the driving courses ever attempted to include it into the curriculum. (Similarly, DUI is not dangerous to people who learned to drive while impaired... in France, they actually teach people to drive while drunk! It's all a question of developing go/no-go judgement, and being able to compensate for the reduced performance when "go" decision was made.)

No law can replace sound judgement. Shouldn't even try. Instead, we should have strict liability for the accidents, and deregulate insurance companies - so they'd be able to change insurance rates based on the actual driving skills and driving education record, rathern than on bullshit indicators like demographic brackets and zip codes. Lowering insurance payments can be a real incentive to learn to drive better.

Randall Parker said at January 15, 2009 6:34 PM:


Increasing penalties due to circumstance is perfectly reasonable. If you crash into someone accidentally you get penalty A, but if you are drunk when you do it, you get penalty B. However, potential to cause harm should NOT be illegal.

So then do you advocate legalization of private ownership of nuclear weapons? After all, we can always punish a person who detonates a nuclear weapon.

Most people do not want to be put at risk because the ability to inflict punishment afterward (assuming the accident causer is even alive) provides no satisfaction.

Also, lots of people who create risks for others are not reasonable. You can threaten them with prison or death if they kill another while drunken driving. But this will not deter them.

David Shockley said at January 15, 2009 7:05 PM:

Individuals with low intelligence and/or substance abuse problems cause most of the accidents. The bottom tenth of the bell curve and those with DUIs should be limited to two-wheeled vehicles and the next tenth limited to small cars.

averros said at January 16, 2009 12:16 PM:

> So then do you advocate legalization of private ownership of nuclear weapons?

The posession of a nuclear weapon implies intent to murder a large number of innocent people. It cannot be used in defensive capacity.

Therefore neighbours and other concerned parties (who may justifiably consider themselves being targeted by the perp) have pretty good justification for self-defense (i.e. preventing the nuclear weapon from being built or used). It is no different from the right to shoot first in case of an imminent lethal attack - the case for pre-emptive self defense is based not on immediacy or "potential to cause harm", but rather on the clear demonstration of intent and capability to do harm by the aggressor.

The "private nukes" an old anti-libertarian red herring from the gun grabbers, and the "potential to cause harm" theory of pre-crime punishment is the mother of all collectivist tricks to expand control over population.

Harold said at January 22, 2009 4:02 PM:

Pointed out before in way, but worth repeating. If cell phone talking were really as dangerous as drunk driving, total number of accidents and accident rates would be way, way up. They're not. That fact alone falsifies the statement that cell phone talking is as dangerous as drunk driving. There are a lot more cell phone talkers on the highway than drunk drivers, and at all hours of the day and night, not concentrated right after closing time. And the highways are not filled with carnage.

Randall Parker said at January 23, 2009 9:34 PM:


If an alcoholic drives around dangerously weaving on the road should we let the driver weave even though it is not their intent to kill anyone?

Patrick Nava said at July 22, 2009 11:11 AM:

I believe the newest danger due to cell phones will be due to people taking pictures of themselves while driving. All you have to do is look on twitter pics and see the thousands of photos of people who've taken a pic of themselves, staring right in the camera, instead of keeping their eyes on the road. Another danger is people taking photos of their speedometers or GPS maps. So even if a there's an investigation to the cause of an accident due to being on a call; there won't be a time stamp for a call, because the person was taking a picture and not a call. Unless there is a time/date stamp on the camera for such.

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