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Author Topic: Mobile Phone use in Cars  (Read 3607 times)

Offline Dr B

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Mobile Phone use in Cars
« on: 19/03/2006 07:56:39 »
Just listened to a recent Naked Scientists where we were advised not to use mobile phones whilst driving - I agree.  Tests were discussed in which hands free mobile phone use dramatically affected reaction time and thus braking distance.

What is the effect of having a conversation with a passanger, is this the same as using a hands free kit?  I imagine that I am more likely to look at a passenger than a phone ....

Dr B



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Re: Mobile Phone use in Cars
« Reply #1 on: 19/03/2006 11:37:14 »
Not sure that this really should be in general science, being more chat or radio show feedback, but be that as it may.

I think this obsession with mobile phones is missing the point.

The mobile phone, to me, is a very valuable safety tool in the car.  The problem is, what purpose is the phone put to.

When driving, one should concentrate on driving.  Insofar as the mobile phone is used in support of this (and my greatest use of the mobile phone when driving is to tell people if I am delayed this, to me, allows me peace of mind for the remainder of the journey, and thus enhances the safety of the journey).  The problem with mobile phones (and this can also be a problem when chatting to passengers) is when it is used as a business tool while driving one should not have one's mind on business while driving a car.

My attitude is that driving a car is not about what one's hands or what one's eye's might be doing, but what one's mind is doing.

I have both made and taken calls on a mobile phone while driving, but the moment the call started getting serious (i.e. absorbing too much concentration), I have simply said that I cannot talk now, because I cannot apply my mind to the conversation.  My mother has used mobile phones, and radio phones (precursors to mobile phones) for years, but she always has said that the driving had to come first, and if something occurred while driving that would interrupt the conversation, she would drop the phone, even if that risked damaging the phone.

The only thing that can be said that makes chatting to a passenger safer than using a mobile phone is that the person whom you are talking to is sharing your environment, and so if some external event during driving happens to stop the flow of conversation, the passenger is aware of the situation.  When talking to someone on a mobile phone, the person on the other end of the phone may not immediately understand why the flow of conversation has been interrupted.

I have never had an accident, or even anything close to an accident, while using a mobile phone (although I have been in cars where the driver has used a hands free mobile phone, where I have been actually nervous of his driving because his phone conversation was getting too intense, and getting in the way of his driving).  As I said, to me, using a mobile phone has actually improved my driving, because it has made me a calmer driver, because I know that if I am delayed I don't need to worry about someone waiting for me, and being uncertain about when I will arrive.

Many professional drivers (police, taxis, bus drivers, etc.) use some sort of radio communication devices while driving, and it has never been suggested that these devices make them more dangerous drivers; but then the devices are used by people who understand that the messages must be short and pertinent to the needs of the driver, and these devices should not be used to try and continue aspects of one's life that are not pertinent to the task in hand (e.g. running a business while driving a car).

« Last Edit: 19/03/2006 11:37:36 by another_someone »

Offline Ophiolite

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Re: Mobile Phone use in Cars
« Reply #2 on: 19/03/2006 18:33:51 »
If I give offense by describing your post as one of the glibbest pieces of rationalisation I have read for some time, so be it. Using a mobile phone while driving is dangerous. Full stop period. It should not be practiced and I decry your attempt to justify it: it encourages irresponsible behaviour.

The peace of mind you gain from being able to notify people of delays can be readily handled in two safer ways.
a) Pull into a service area, lay by, or to the side of the road, and make your phone call.
b) Give yourself sufficient time for your journey, including contingency events.

In regard to Dr B's query on the effect of talking to passengers I believe there has been research that shows it can be a problem, but is at a much lower level than that of a phone. The reasons for this lower level seem easy to understand. The passenger is aware of the driving environment and can pause the conversation: woe betide members of my family if they are foolish enough to continue a conversation when we are approaching a junction, or I am preparing to overtake. The driver feels it more natural to say, 'wait a moment', when the passenger can see the reason for the pause. On the phone he feels an obligation to provide a fuller explantion.

Observe; collate; conjecture; analyse; hypothesise; test; validate; theorise. Repeat until complete.
« Last Edit: 20/03/2006 12:09:40 by Ophiolite »

Offline VAlibrarian

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Re: Mobile Phone use in Cars
« Reply #3 on: 20/03/2006 03:24:27 »
Drive now, talk later. Too many people are dying to have an unimportant conversation that could be waiting 10 minutes until two people are in the same room. What do you want me to buy for dinner? Did you hear who won the basketball game last night?
There is often a lag phase after the arrival of new technology while people figure out the best way to misuse it.

chris wiegard

The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: Mobile Phone use in Cars
« Reply #3 on: 20/03/2006 03:24:27 »


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