The Electric Commentary

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Dictated by the stupid.

Because some of you are morons I can no longer talk on my cell phone while driving. Well, that's not entirely true. If you're reading this it is exceedingly likely that you are not a moron, and I can in fact still talk on my cell with a hands free device. Except putting the hands free device on is a pain, and highly distracting and dangerous, so I refuse to do so unless I know in advance that I will be talking for a long time. However, I am not a moron, so if I do plan on speaking for an extended period of time I try to arrange for the conversation to occur while I am stationary. Therefore, I only make short, informational calls in the car (or answer them). In general, I say things like this:

1. Sorry hon, traffic is terrible.

2. Sure, I can pick that up.

3. Yeah, let's go there. That is a good price for Boddington's.

4. Pepperoni.

5. I'll be there before the previews start.

6. I can't talk right now, I'm driving.

Now I face a fifty dollar fine plus the real possibility that I will smart off to one of Chicago's finest, all because a bunch of you suck at driving.

To reiterate, I am perfectly capable of driving while talking on the phone. Really it's no different than talking to the person next to me. Moreover, for most of my commute my car is not actually moving. I suppose in those instances I'm not even technically breaking the law if I make a call, as that cannot be considered driving in any serious way. No no, I have nothing to do with this ban. Like most bans, it is all your fault.

So shape up. I'm getting sick of all of these bans. I don't want to be a criminal (although I suppose it makes me cooler than I otherwise would be), but I will be one if I must.

I've seen you around town, walking too fast on wet floors, sticking your hand in the Hippo pen at the zoo, sticking your head out of the L because you smell a musty tunnelly smell up ahead and want to know where it's coming from, and staring open-mouthed at the flock of pigeons overhead. And I know that you don't wash your hands when you come out of the restroom. You may run the water like Costanza, but your hands haven't touched water since this morning (if we're lucky).

You are the ones who should not be talking on a cell phone while driving. Don't lump me in with those people.

You know who you are.


  • I've come much closer to crashing while changing a CD than I ever have while talking on a cell phone. Heh.

    By Blogger Mike, at 11:45 PM  

  • I'll trade ya. Let the ban happen in my city and you can have your free reign back.

    By Anonymous mitch, at 10:01 AM  

  • When I was working for a safety engineering firm in Ann Arbor, I came across research that claimed:

    Talking on a cell phone is about as bad as driving drunk, has a total different effect than talking to someone next to you, and the impairment lasts for a significant length of time after hanging up. However, the impairment comes from the conversation, and any actual impairment from holding the phone or operating it is very small.

    I don't know what I think about that, but I do know that there is a big difference between talking to someone in the room while playing video games, and talking to someone on the phone while doing the same. I would guess it has something to do with the disconnected environments and the likelihood of topics in both situations.

    Also, did you hear WI is considering seat belt legislation? Michigan already has it. I know you are likely against it, but I have to say it is good policy. Just a lot safer, assuming it gets people to wear them.

    By Anonymous Phil, at 12:48 PM  

  • You may be surprised to here this Phil, but when seat belts were first introduced in cars, accidents increased significantly. People felt like they could take bigger risks, so they did.

    And you're right. Even though I always choose to where my seatbelt, I think legislating it is stupid. Why is it goodd policy? What does it accomplish, other than to raise some revenue for the state?

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 12:59 PM  

  • at first maybe, that doesn't surprise me, the same was true with kids bike helmets and child-proof aspirin. What about the long run? I find it hard to believe people drive any more reckless dependant on seat belts now that they have been around for a while.

    What does it accomplish you ask? It saves lives. True, it won't make everyone wear them, but, over time more people will wear them. Danny might suggest that its cheaper for people not smart enough to wear their seatbelts to die, which I doubt is true, and secondly, even if it was, it would be worth the extra cost.

    By Anonymous Phil, at 1:20 PM  

  • Hey, don't put words in my mouth. In the long run it probably IS cheaper though. A 30 year life that ends abruptly will certainly incurr fewer medical expenses than a 90 year life that gets alsheimers and cancer and heart disease. But maybe not because 30 is still prime earning capacity. ANd car accidents kill people of all ages. It's not like smoking where it kills most people right after their done making money and right before they begin incurring expenses for old-people-diseases.

    And kids bike helmets and childproof aspirin are totally different because they are laws designed to protect kids. Kids are not equiped to make their own decisions. I would whole-heartedly support a law requiring kids to wear seatbelts and issueing fines to their parents for violations.

    By Blogger DannyNoonan, at 1:28 PM  

  • There is a study on the CNN website under the Technology tab.

    It says that while talking on cellphones increases the risk of a serious accident by four times, headsets don't help at all, in fact, they probably hurt, because people will talk and drive more.

    By Anonymous Phil, at 4:00 PM  

  • Have you seen the people that sign up for these studies?

    Like I said, they didn't test me. I can drive and talk just fine, and I do so an appropriate amount. (While wearing a seatbelt, mind you.)

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 4:09 PM  

  • It wasn't people who volunteered for a study, it was researchers who studied serious traffic accidents, and then followed up with the victims.

    By Anonymous Phil, at 8:10 AM  

  • So, in other words, the sample size consisted entirely of people who got into traffic accidents?

    That's a pretty questionable study.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 8:54 AM  

  • Phil makes a very interesting point, though, regarding video games and talking on the phone. I've noticed that, too: my Tetris skills are unaffected when I'm talking to someone in the room but decline when I'm on the phone. Paul, do you know for sure that you're just as good a driver while on the phone as you are when you're not talking to anyone?

    By Blogger MDS, at 2:42 PM  

  • Yup. It's because my conversation skills suffer, not my motor skills. I'll gladly take on all comers in a game of distracted tetris to prove the point. And it's why I keep car conversations to the one word variety.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 2:52 PM  

  • My wife and I were talking about this in the car yesterday and she pointed out that a big difference between talking to a passenger and talking on the phone is that a passenger can see when the driver needs to pay closer attention and stop talking.

    By Blogger MDS, at 10:25 AM  

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