Listening To Cell Phones Significantly Impairs Drivers

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iMONITOR

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I'm inclined to believe this. Not only from observing others, but I'll admit there have been times I've felt distracted and either made the call short, or pulled off the road to complete the conversation.


Just Listening To Cell Phones Significantly Impairs Drivers, Study Shows

http://www.sciencedaily.com/images/2008/03/080305104905.jpg
Just listening to a cell phone while driving is a significant distraction, and it causes drivers to commit some of the same types of driving errors that can occur under the influence of alcohol. (Credit: iStockphoto/Dennis Oblander)

ScienceDaily (Mar. 6, 2008) — Carnegie Mellon University scientists have shown that just listening to a cell phone while driving is a significant distraction, and it causes drivers to commit some of the same types of driving errors that can occur under the influence of alcohol.

The use of cell phones, including dialing and texting, has long been a safety concern for drivers. But the Carnegie Mellon study, for the first time, used brain imaging to document that listening alone reduces by 37 percent the amount of brain activity associated with driving. This can cause drivers to weave out of their lane, based on the performance of subjects using a driving simulator.

The findings, to be reported in an upcoming issue of the journal Brain Research, show that making cell phones hands-free or voice-activated is not sufficient in eliminating distractions to drivers. "Drivers need to keep not only their hands on the wheel; they also have to keep their brains on the road," said neuroscientist Marcel Just, director of the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging.

Other distractions, such as eating, listening to the radio or talking with a passenger, also can divert a driver. Though it is not known how these activities compare to cell phone use, Just said there are reasons to believe cell phones may be especially distracting. "Talking on a cell phone has a special social demand, such that not attending to the cell conversation can be interpreted as rude, insulting behavior," he noted. A passenger, by contrast, is likely to recognize increased demands on the driver's attention and stop talking.

The 29 study volunteers used a driving simulator while inside an MRI brain scanner. They steered a car along a virtual winding road at a fixed, challenging speed, either while they were undisturbed, or while they were deciding whether a sentence they heard was true or false. Just's team used state-of-the-art functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) methods to measure activity in 20,000 brain locations, each about the size of a peppercorn. Measurements were made every second.

The driving-while-listening condition produced a 37 percent decrease in activity of the brain's parietal lobe, which is associated with driving. This portion of the brain integrates sensory information and is critical for spatial sense and navigation. Activity was also reduced in the occipital lobe, which processes visual information.

The other impact of driving-while-listening was a significant deterioration in the quality of driving. Subjects who were listening committed more lane maintenance errors, such as hitting a simulated guardrail, and deviating from the middle of the lane. Both kinds of influences decrease the brain's capacity to drive well, and that decrease can be costly when the margin for error is small.

"The clear implication is that engaging in a demanding conversation could jeopardize judgment and reaction time if an atypical or unusual driving situation arose," Just said. "Heavy traffic is no place for an involved personal or business discussion, let alone texting."

Because driving and listening draw on two different brain networks, scientists had previously suspected that the networks could work independently on each task. But Just said this study demonstrates that there is only so much that the brain can do at one time, no matter how different the two tasks are.

The study emerges from the new field of neuroergonomics, which combines brain science with human-computer interaction studies that measure how well a technology matches human capabilities. Neuroergonomics is beginning to be applied to the operation of vehicles like aircraft, ships and cars in which drivers now have navigation systems, iPods and even DVD players at their disposal. Every additional input to a driver consumes some of his or her brain capacity, taking away some of the resources that monitor for other vehicles, lane markers, obstacles, and sudden changes in conditions.

"Drivers' seats in many vehicles are becoming highly instrumented cockpits," Just said, "and during difficult driving situations, they require the undivided attention of the driver's brain."

The project was funded by the Office of Naval Research. Other members of the research team included post-doctoral research associate Timothy Keller and research assistant Jacquelyn Cynkar.

Adapted from materials provided by Carnegie Mellon University.
 

mikepdx

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GreatLakes said:
Just listening to a cell phone while driving is a significant distraction, and it causes drivers to commit some of the same types of driving errors that can occur under the influence of alcohol.

...listening alone reduces by 37 percent the amount of brain activity associated with driving.
And it's perfectly LEGAL everywhere.

Just about all of us drivers see the result day in and day out.
Where's the equal shame and disgust by the public as is given deservedly to drunk drivers?

Note: here is Oregon, our bought and paid for state legislators
enacted a bill upon pre$$ure from the cell phone lobbyists,
that forbids the local governments from implementing their own cell phone ban.
I know of no other state that has went to this extreme in the wrong direction.

A lot of things have went south since our state supreme court
declared the old political contribution limit law unconstitutional.
The sky's the limit now.
 
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iMONITOR

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mikepdx said:
And it's perfectly LEGAL everywhere.
Where's the equal shame and disgust as is given deservingly to drunk drivers?
There are several areas in S.E. Michigan where they are starting to clamp down. If you are in an accident while using a cell phone, and they can prove it, there are more serious consequences.
 

WouffHong

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Cell state status listings..

See the summary of countries and States' current law status and note those that have been shot down by state or local Officials. :-(

Reference: http://cellskill.us For the status listings..

Tom

GreatLakes said:
There are several areas in S.E. Michigan where they are starting to clamp down. If you are in an accident while using a cell phone, and they can prove it, there are more serious consequences.
 

mfn002

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I was crossing a street once on campus (where pedestrian crosswalk signs are clearly posted) and was nearly run over by a guy in a big dually talking on his cell phone. Once, my dad was nearly T-boned by a woman who ran a red light while talking on a cell phone.
 

farmfun

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"The driving-while-listening condition produced a 37 percent decrease in activity of the brain's parietal lobe, which is associated with driving."
Since 60 percent of the drivers only use 50 percent of their brain driving anyway, this leaves most cellphone operating drivers with only 13 percent of brain for driving....

Traffic makes sense now!
 

DocDaddy

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Just Listening To Cell Phones Significantly Impairs Drivers, Study Shows

"Just Listening To Cell Phones Significantly Impairs Drivers, Study Shows"

well, duh.
 

Thayne

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Having to pee while driving seems to distract me more than it used to--life was much simpler back in the 60's & 70's.
Then if you drank a lot of beer (While driving) you could just jump out and drain the snake.
Now, there would be somebody around to see it and the cops will bust you good for drinking in the car; and MADD hates it too. Old men my age have to be PC and not do any of those things, and a 7 ounce junior size pepsi will make me have to pee more than 2 quarts of Schlitz would when I was 21. :twisted:
 

RedPenguin

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Cell Phones only?

Everyone always talks about cell phones being bad while driving, but what about these other strange stuff that drivers do.

I've heard of people putting on make-up while driving. I guess this is mainly a woman thing, but today, I guess you never know.

I've even heard from a guy, who would always run into a guy, that would actually shave while driving.

I even seen an ad on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, they claim, if you are too busy but want exercise, to buy weights you lift, while driving.

What other weird insanity is going to be next? Having sex while driving? But then again, I guess that's already happened.

What other weird thing is there left to do while driving? On COPS, they've already got people driving nude.

Why are people so stupid? Do people lack logic? When I think of what people do, I just get confused because it's like there is no logic behind things people do. I don't drink or smoke, but when I heard what some people do, I feel like I'm in a very strange county. Don't get me wrong, I love my county, it's the best there is, but we have some oddballs. LoL.
 

slicerwizard

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DocDaddy said:
"Just Listening To Cell Phones Significantly Impairs Drivers, Study Shows"

well, duh.
Exactly. This is hardly news. Plenty of studies have been done and they all back this up.


RedPenguin said:
I've even heard from a guy, who would always run into a guy, that would actually shave while driving.
I do it all the time. What's the big deal? It's not like it uses any brain cells.
 

RedPenguin

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Ok...

slicerwizard said:
I do it all the time. What's the big deal? It's not like it uses any brain cells.
Well, how do you keep your eyes on the road then? Don't you need the rear-view mirror to see where you are shaving or do you just assume where to shave and only use one hand on the wheel?
 

slicerwizard

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RedPenguin said:
Well, how do you keep your eyes on the road then? Don't you need the rear-view mirror to see where you are shaving
Uh, no...


or do you just assume where to shave and only use one hand on the wheel?
Uh, yeah...

I guess at only 19, you aren't as familiar with the lay of the land? :)
 

XTS3000

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Try texting and driving. Worse than drinking and driving if you ask me. ]

I tried it once, and bout crashed. never again!
 

gmclam

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Cell phones & driving

I've often wondered about members of law enforcement who have computers in their vehicles and full QWERTY keyboards. Calls are dispatched and you have to read the info from a computer screen. Answer by typing a message. And there is only one officer in a vehicle, who is also driving and talking on the radio. Sounds like a disaster to me, but explains why they usually don't signal turns.

Here in California, a law will take effect soon that bans talking on cell phones unless using a hands-free device. I guess we don't have the brightest law makers here. I see this law as actually making things worse. Now we'll have people causing accidents and others won't be able to see what they were doing (since presumably both hands will be on the wheel). It is NOT about the "hands", it is about the "brain".

What I want to see is a law that TRIPLES the penalties when any traffic offense is committed while talking on a phone (or text messaging).
 

TLTownsend

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Being 57 years old it makes me wonder I ever lived all those years before cell phones came along. The only reason i have one now is because my wife makes me carry one. She is basically the only one with the number and she only calls to tell me what she wants from the store after I get off work. Personally I think they ought to do away with cell phones all together and go back to CB Radios. Life was a whole lot easier without cell phones.
 

ibagli

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mikepdx said:
Note: here is Oregon, our bought and paid for state legislators
enacted a bill upon pre$$ure from the cell phone lobbyists,
that forbids the local governments from implementing their own cell phone ban.
I know of no other state that has went to this extreme in the wrong direction.
I actually agree with that law, at least so much as that local governments shouldn't have the power to enact statutes that create new moving violations.
 

gmclam

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ibagli said:
I actually agree with that law, at least so much as that local governments shouldn't have the power to enact statutes that create new moving violations.
I agree with the law in the sense of not ABSOLUTELY banning cell phones & driving; but as far as moving violations are concerned, there are quite a few out there that need to be addressed!!!
 

slicerwizard

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gmclam said:
Here in California, a law will take effect soon that bans talking on cell phones unless using a hands-free device. I guess we don't have the brightest law makers here. I see this law as actually making things worse. Now we'll have people causing accidents and others won't be able to see what they were doing (since presumably both hands will be on the wheel). It is NOT about the "hands", it is about the "brain".
It most certainly is about the hands (and the brain); with a phone held up to your ear, you can't properly turn your head before/during lane changes, nor can you properly operate all controls (signals, wipers, heater, AC, defogger, etc.)
 

RedPenguin

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I kinda agree

TLTownsend said:
Being 57 years old it makes me wonder I ever lived all those years before cell phones came along. The only reason i have one now is because my wife makes me carry one. She is basically the only one with the number and she only calls to tell me what she wants from the store after I get off work. Personally I think they ought to do away with cell phones all together and go back to CB Radios. Life was a whole lot easier without cell phones.
I kinda agree, I'm not saying cell phones are 100% useless, but it seems like, it's all just personal stuff. I can't remember that last time, I actually heard a business person actually using his/her cell phone for business. It always ends up being personal stuff. It also always seems to be personal stuff that can wait until later.

I ride public transportation, and many of the bus drivers use cell phones. You think it's bad enough for car drivers to use a cell phone, we got bus drivers with huge buses, sometimes full of 32 people, talking on a cell phone.

Bus drivers maybe have some kind of talent though, because I never ever heard of any bus wreck in my entire area related to a cell phone, actually I never ever hear of any bus wrecks, even though, our buses are out every single day.

Sometimes people talk to the driver the whole time they are driving and still no wrecks. So again, maybe bus drivers have special talent. LoL.

Car drivers have less distractions and they wreck, yet buses have more and wreck less. Something fishy going on there, LoL.

EDIT: Call me one heck of a weird dude if you want, but I still actually use payphones, especially when I need to call for a bus to come in and pick me up. See the bus companies use a special number that makes using a payphone a free call. It's called a toll-free number. (800/877/866/888). (I mentioned about toll-free calls being free at payphones because most people I talk to, have no clue that you can call toll-free numbers for free at payphones.) See I'm not a phone talker, I like using IM/E-Mail/Forums/IRC. If I'm not going to use a cell phone, I'm not going to pay $30-$100 a month for it, especially when all the calls I need can be done for free. I can even call anyone from a payphone for free, using a free www.phonehog.com calling card. You just feel out ads and get free phone time. Only problem that I face is how payphones seem to be disappearing from certain areas. Other than that, I have no problem.

EDIT: Does the 1-8xx number actually have to pay the phone company for the call or is it already included, because how does the payphone company never lose money on 1-8xx numbers? Or does the company just pay the same rate each month for the 1-8xx number and payphone calls are included? Also, not that anyone would do it, but could a home person, seriously get a 1-8xx number?
 
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