Drivers irate at the slow speeds of
their work day commute may have found a new group to target their
anger against -- cell
phone chatter. A
new U.S. study at the University of Utah's Traffic Lab, headed by
civil and environmental engineering professor Peter Martin, revealed
intriguing insight into why new and innovative traffic control
systems have done little to curb the problem of traffic
Martin's team discovered that drivers using cell
phones were the major cause of the delays. They observed
that cell phone chatting drivers impede the flow of traffic and clog
highways resulting directly in longer commutes for the American
"It's a bit like breaking wind in the elevator.
Everyone suffers," Martin states, with regret.
studies have shown that driving while talking or texting on a cell
phone is as much of an impairment to safe driving as being mildly
intoxicated from alcohol or other substances.
This new study
focuses more on how the use of cell phones affects the flow of
traffic. The key is the slow reaction times of cell phone users
leads to choppy breaks in the traffic flow.
driver who is not distracted is in a traffic stream and the vehicle
in front slows down, the driver will brake in response. When a
vehicle speeds up in front, the driver will respond and speed up,"
The tests were conducted by 36 university
student drivers, traveling along a 9.2 mile stretch of freeway in
scenarios in low to high density traffic and speeds resembling an
interstate highway. Half of their trips they used a hands free
phone, while the other half they used no phone. They had to
obey traffic laws, but all other decisions and maneuvering
preferences were up to them.
The hands free phone
conversations proved to be a distraction, slowing the drivers, making
it harder for them to react and change lanes. On average they
drove over 2 MPH slower than drivers that weren't distracted.
The net result was that not only did their commute slow -- everyone
else's did as well.
Studies show that up to 10 percent of U.S.
drivers are using cell phones on the road at any given time.
Also, many of these drivers aren't even using hands-free headsets
like the University drivers, so may experience significant physical
distractions and impairment as well.
"Delays in traffic
streams of very small amounts grow into massive numbers when you
project it across a highway and across a nation," Martin
Martin and his team for their next project plan to
estimate the total financial loss based on this usage. He
has already stated that he thinks the numbers will be very, very high
based on this preliminary information.
The U.S. currently has
no nationwide ban on cell phone use while driving, although more than
50 nations enforce such a ban. The U.S. does ban
cell phones on planes and many
states do have laws in place upping penalties for traffic violations
when using a cell phone. Perhaps when faced with hard numbers
of the financial impact of this use, some in the government may be
compelled to contemplate tough decisions such as banning cell phone
use on highways.
quote: "It's a bit like breaking wind in the elevator. Everyone suffers"
quote: Indeed, there should be microphones put in every vehicle in America so we an make sure people aren't talking, leading to distracted drivers clogging our highways. We must not stand for this atrocity.
quote: The difference is that passengers are aware of you, your driving, and the conditions on the road. They know when you can consciously comprehend what they're saying and when you can't.
quote: The difference is that passengers are aware of you, your driving, and the conditions on the road. They know when you can consciously comprehend what they're saying and when you can't. When you're on the phone, the person on the other line unknowingly expects your full attention leaving you to choose between driving and talking.
quote: It's like my old single-core computer. When I asked it to do more than one thing at a time, it was slow too.
quote: If it is a geniune emergency, get off the road and then talk longer, but 99.5% of calls are not real emergencies (though you'd think it was 50% by the way people justify their cell phones).
quote: Simple, answer the phone, say you're driving and you'll talk later. Total time should take less than 10 seconds. If it is a geniune emergency, then talk longer, but 99.5% of calls are not real emergencies (though you'd think it was 50% by the way people justify their cell phones).
quote: The problem is people who are bad drivers to begin with. There's plenty of other things besides cell phones that can distract people.
quote: The radio, someone reading the paper while driving, women putting their makeup on while driving (yes I've seen it, at 80 mph no less), etc.
quote: s it ever enforced? Rarely. If you're being pulled over and are on the phone without one or are spotted driving recklessly and are on the phone without one, they'll bust you for it. Rarely will they pull you over just for that though. Cops have better things to do.
quote: It's no tough sell to get people pissed at cell phone drivers, I think we almost all agree that many are aggravating if not outright dangerous.
quote: In general it takes much less concentration to have a face to face than a cell chat, for probably many subtle reasons, IMHO.
quote: I used the term face to face loosely to include a person sitting, likely, less than a foot from you but not looking you in the face. I feel quite confident these ear to ear conversations also take much less concentration than any kind of cell chatting. A hands free cell chat with a good headset is likely better than holding the phone to your ear but it still takes a lot of attention. I'd go so far as to say it's worlds away from talking to the guy right next to you. Look, I'd hate to give up hands free cell chatting as much as the next guy. I'm trying to be honest with myself. It's quite taxing on one's attention. It's subtle. Drunk drivers don't always realize they are impaired either. It's often below the 'noticing' threshold and also subject to much rationalization and denial.
quote: I have always put drunk drivers and cell phone chatters in the same context too, but did you know that driving drunk and chatting on your cell and being high at the same time actually makes you a much better driver? It's like three negatives make a positive, it's really strange. Not that I am endorsing trying this at all mind you.About the hands free thing, I have to say that you must speak for yourself here. I can have a hands free conversation while high, driving, getting a massage from the passenger behind me, and thinking of my next blog all at the same time with no problems (I am just a multitask person, and very good at it, some people aren't).
quote: Worked on me.
quote: I'm hoping and a bit praying that CA will pass a law to bann talking on phones while driving and requiring the use of mics and such.
quote: I hate to use it myself but when I do it's becuase of work. And because it's work my attention is less focus on the road. I hate it and I hate people who do it.
quote: People on phones while driving are dangerous. Females are the worst in my experience, especially in MN during the winter time.
quote: They think because they are in SUV's they can drive much faster than anyone else even if the speed is within limits.
quote: Of course people never learn and never think seriously about it until they themselves or someone they know gets hurt.
quote: Oh well. I'm hoping for the best and that's to rid drivers of being able to use phones, watch TV and other "stupid" actions while driving.
quote: I agree, there should be an IQ test at every DMV (which by the way is actually a portal to hell). If you can't pass the IQ test, you have to car pool! WOO! that would also save some gas BTW.
quote: Well, since you seem to be in a sarcastic mood I'll reply.
quote: You see something wrong me personally wanting CA to bann the phones if so then either list them or shut the hell up about what others are doing or want, religion included.
quote: Did you not understand what I said about me hating myself. Yes, I hate myself when I have to use it for the short period of time that I do. How can I not hate it when I myself hate it when others do it? And what's this religion smearing blood thing have to do with it?
quote: Estrogen? What in God's name are you fcking talking about? Read more carefully next time you dumbshit. I said "in my experience" clearly or did you not understand that because religion is all over screwing with your head? In case you didn't understand what you've quoted it means MY EXPERIENCE with close calls have mostly been with female drivers, regardless of religion, race and all those that you don't seem to comprehend and yet be throwing them about.
quote: Your last comments are freaking absolutely stupid. I literally mean it by it's definition. Maybe ignorant is more suited for you in this case. Do you actually read people's comments carefully before making an Ass of yourself on forums or is this how you are? Nevermind, don't answer because I know the answer.
quote: Let me ask you, with all your religious, sarcastic, meaningless and random responses what do you hope to have achieve besides looking really ignorant to others? Your comments took no stance on what I've said other than talk about religious crap that I've no idea why you even bother bringing up.
quote: Here's advice for you in case you come back to laugh at this, take 5 minutes to think whether you ACTUALLY have something useful to talk about regarding the article or not. 5 Minutes, not long. If you don't move on, if you do then MAKE them. Can you understand this? Good. The nerve of some people LMAO.
quote: I'm hoping and a bit praying that CA will pass a law to
quote: "It's a bit like breaking wind in the elevator. Everyone suffers," Martin states, with regret