Cell Phones, Crashes and Driving
A call came from one of you to the KISS Country Studio Tuesday night (December 13) while I was on the air. “Why has I-49 north traffic come to a stop at the Hollywood/Pierremont exit?” I could only guess that the off ramp construction at Kings Highway had somehow caused a bottle neck, or a crash had occurred. A later call confirmed it was as crash. No one was hurt, but crunched were one each green, red and white car. At least they were Christmas colors. (rim-shot, please.) But interestingly enough, I’d found this study that says texting while driving rose 50% last year, and 20% of respondents in a survey said they'd texted or sent an email from behind the wheel. Imagine my surprise that I had also come upon ANOTHER study suggesting that the premise of driving and talking on your phone causes crashes is not entirely correct! This information poses an interesting conundrum. Richard A. Young of Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit says the problem lies with the analysis method: comparison of crash data along side cell phone records to see who was on the phone when (a) wreck occurred. Drivers might have “not actually been driving during the entire control window.” A phenomenon labeled as “part-time driving” (the car in the driver’s responsibility was being piloted by the back seat driver, maybe??) would cut the odds of causing/having a wreck and make it seem cell phone use and driving is a bigger crash risk than it is. (I think it’s a behavior issue, not a control issue.) So, Young conducted his own study using GPS and found that “on the days of (wrecks), many people were simply on the road more – a fact that by itself increases the odds of having a crash.” He notes if THAT was factored into other studies, crashes while on a cell phone would prove “statistically insignificant.” Let’s be clear: this in NO WAY implies its OK to chat and text while driving. Distracted driving is still the concern. So, let’s try the “Howard Solution.” Build cars with only one seat and a steering wheel. And BAN any method of driving with a passenger (NO side-car rigging allowed!) Also eliminate the speedometer, stereo/CD player, AC/heat controls, signal stalk, light switches and window controls (among other controls). And for heaven’s sake, don’t entertain for a moment the notion about driving your children ANYwhere!