Be very afraid the next time you’re on the road

A few years ago, on the Scientific American TV show, in a segment about advances in car safety, host Alan Alda paid a visit to Ford’s headquarters.  Ford has a very cool driving simulator, light years away from the clunky monitor and steering wheel I remember from driver’s ed 30 years ago.  Drivers encased in this simulator genuinely feel as if they’re behind the wheel of a car.  In this way, Ford can monitor behaviors and see how they affect driving.  Although I have little memory of most of the show, the one thing I remember the Ford representative saying is that teenagers, no matter how often you tell them it’s not true, believe that when they take their eyes off the road, time stops.

That is, while you or I, if we want to do something (punch in a phone number, find toll money, yell at a child in the back seat), constantly interrupt that task to scan the road, front and back, fore and aft, to ensure that there haven’t been changes in the preceding few seconds.  Teenagers, however, give themselves over entirely to the non-driving task, sublimely confident that, while their eyes are off the road, the situation remains unchanged from the last time they checked.  Any savvy driver knows this to be untrue and if, as I have, you’ve had the misfortune to be in a car accident, you know with what incredible speed the situation on the road can change.

The Scientific American episode was a few years ago, where the worst teenage threat was the time it takes to dial a cell phone.  (Adults click in a number or two, then check the road, then click in more numbers; teenagers just click in the whole sequence, road be damned.)  Things are worse now.  At the New Editor, Tom Elia sites a truly horrifying poll that has 66% of young drivers stating that they they have sent text messages while driving, with 38% believing that there shouldn’t be any laws against this type of suicidal multi-tasking.  Tom takes this frightening statistic and, quite amusingly, extrapolates from it:

I wonder how the Zogby poll correlates with the Rasmussen poll, finding that 61% of self-described Democratic respondents believe that George Bush either knew about 9/11 in advance or are not sure if he knew, and only 39% said he didn’t have advance knowledge of the attacks?

Perhaps both polls correlate with this data from USA Today, showing that only 24 of the 50 largest public school districts in the US graduate more than 60% of their students from high school.

As I said at the top of this post, be afraid, be very afraid.

10 Responses

  1. Because Bookworm lacks the analytic disposition to seek solutions to societal problems, she exercises her fascist inclination to find yet another excuse to blame “the other.” In this case, somehow, she links Jews I mean Democrats to the danger of driving while using a cell phone. What Bookworm could have done, had she been interested in understanding how to solve the cell phone problem, is perform a Google search along the lines of “cell phone use in the car legislation.” But sadly, Bookworm’s interests and politics cause her to demonize, rather than try to solve.

  2. Congratulations to greg for putting his immense analytic disposition to work and solving all of the worlds societal problems with a simple google search.

    Had greg analyzed Bookworms post a little further he would have noticed the indentation that indicates a blockquote.

    But then I guess I’m simply splitting hairs.

    Typically liberals who have no sense of humor advocate legislating problems away, seemingly oblivious to the fact that society as a whole end up paying for the bad deeds of the few.

    But why stop at cell phones? How about ticketing those who change the radio station in traffic, look up at the stars or hold conversations with the passenger?

    Once we have solved that problem we can move to people classified as having adhd. We could ban them all together since their attention span is even shorter that your average teen.

    While we are at it, I think I read somewhere that red cars are more distracting than other colors. We should ban all red cars. Then we can go on down the line, banning all distracting colors until all cars are white. Wait, can’t be white, that would be racist. Ok, all cars would be any color but white. Very uniform. Not quite diverse but very controlled.

    Or perhaps we could try a more novel approach. Let’s stop bringing up our children to be so irresponsible and actually parent them. When parents get involved the results are pretty unsurprising. Teens actually pay attention.

    Other solutions such as increasing the number of hours that teens must drive with an adult before getting their license would help tremendously. But legislating cell phone usage? I’m not so sure that they would observe the law anyway. It would just become the new speeding. Analytically speaking of course.

  3. Greg needs help. Although he might be too far gone into attention lala land for psychotherapy anymore.

  4. Thank you, Trip, for working so hard to make my point. Your review of solutions to the cell phone problem picks up where Bookworm couldn’t care less to go. And thus, Trip, your interest in this topic does not intersect with Bookworm’s glee in demonizing her usual target(s), I’m sorry to point out.

  5. It’s so easy to ignore – what’s the matter with you idiots that you keep being drawn into discussions with it?

  6. Did you really just say that JJ?

  7. Yes – and the question stands.

  8. I for one am very afraid because in just 4 1/2 months my son will be old enough (in Hawaii that happens at age 15 1/2) to get a learner’s permit. I feel more gray hairs popping out already.

  9. Hi JJ,

    Greg has obviously lost every honest intellectual argument he’s ever had. Realizing that, he’s given up even the pretext of honest debate and leads with the rudest insults he can think of, just to get a rise out of people. His personal attacks on Bookworm are so laughably outrageous and obviously untrue that they require no response. But they are such easy targets they are nearly irresistable. Usually I can resist, but sometimes silence looks so much like agreement that I have to comment. Not this time, though. Good question, JJ.

  10. […] of age into his daughter. The funniest part of this post was when he quoted non-Maryland blogger, Book Worm Room, describing teenage drivers and cell phones. … the worst teenage threat was the time it […]

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