Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Cell phone drivers

A shared pet peeve, from Chris Clarke:

If you drive a car, you’ve almost certainly done this. You’re driving along at night listening to the radio/CDplayer/iPod and you’ve got your tunes/sports/inane neocon yammering turned up pretty loud, and then you get to within a couple blocks of where you’re headed and you’re looking for the right address and it’s dark, and you’re having trouble seeing the street numbers. And the first impulse you have, the first action you take to help you see those street numbers?

You turn the radio down...

A recent study suggests that eating and drinking at the wheel doubles your likelihood of an auto accident...

But to me, one brain-sucking cognitive black hole outdoes them all.

The other day I was walking Zeke and saw someone stopped dead still in the middle of a street, nosed into a T intersection, and he had managed to block traffic in three directions. People were lining up both behind and in front of him, and on the other street as well. Zeke walks slowly, and so it took about three minutes for us to pass out of his sight, and he was just pulling away when we left.

He was talking on the phone, and the conversation was apparently so interesting that he just stopped in the middle of the street.

Now I admit that’s a better choice than continuing to drive. Witness the woman who nearly ran me down on Sansome Street a year or so ago while chatting on her phone, seeing me only at the last minute. If not for me and my amusing, panicked gesticulations, she likely would have sailed on through the red light. Her response to my angry, frightened yelling at her to watch where the fuck she was going? “I’m on the phone."


Anonymous said...

I've got some Estonian language tapes in the car that I find I can use only on long between-city interstate stretches. When there's not much traffic.

Another thing we all commonly do when we're concentrating on our driving is remove ourselves from conversation with the passengers.

"Hmmm...ssshh...I need to look at the street signs."


helmut said...

I do the same thing. Multitasking is not good in the car.

MT said...

Too focused an attention isn't good either, I think, at least for defensive driving. If danger comes from where you least expect it, you'd better not be so focused on what you expect that you fail to notice when it arrives.