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Phone Addicts Are the New Drunk Drivers (zendrive.com)
292 points by zdosb 9 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 275 comments

As others have said, as a motorcyclist, my number one concern on the road is a person using their mobile device while driving. I am less worried about road rage (which is still a top concern for me) than distracted drivers.

I see it literally hundreds of times a day. People are driving their cars at over 70mph while texting. They use instagram and facebook at stoplights. They text or call while driving too fast down residential roads. They cause traffic delays because they don't accelerate at a green light for many seconds after the car in front of them has.

I have seen them hit other cars and narrowly miss pedestrians in crosswalks, completely oblivious half the time that they nearly murdered someone.

If I pull up next to them and tell them to put their phone down by pantomime, half the time they flip me off, laugh, or lay on their horn. They do not think they are doing anything wrong and that I am the asshole for telling them to put the phone down.

Distracted drivers are murderers. Distracted drivers are guilty of reckless endangerment. Distracted drivers need to be punished with prejudice. It is statistically more dangerous than driving intoxicated.

I emigrated from the UK to USA last September and the number of people I see on the freeway here with their phone in their hands is a constant source of amazement for me.

As a keen road cyclist in the UK I actually have bought an off-road bike because I simply don't trust US drivers.

In fact, the standard of driving here is frankly appalling. Tailgating and speeding is rampant. Lane surfing is rife. Couple that with just generally less safety street furniture at intersections and the laughably easy driving tests it's frightening really.

People say self driving cars are a danger, frequently the media report every Autopilot crash but what about the hundreds every day caused by some idiot texting? IMHO the sooner we take the distracted meatbag out of the driving equation, the better. I'm a car guy who just did a 2000 mile roadtrip to the Tail of the Dragon but this has to stop.

More enforcement and stricter penalties. Social stigma might be more powerful than this though.

I just came back to the US for a visit and was absolutely gobsmacked at the wide level of texting/phone usage while driving. People weren't even making an effort to hide it or using hands-free cradles. Just full on swiping and looking down while driving on freeways and at traffic lights. It felt like a surreal dystopian nightmare.

Well, it becomes more unsafe if you hide it from cops. It’s much safer to hold your phone up so that your peripherals can still see the road lines instead of looking down where you can’t see anything.

Yes it’s pretty common, I see phones in driver’s hands about 25-40% in my local area.

I am guilty of this. What I wish to see is a better device that doesn’t distract the attention from the road.

A better voice input so I don’t have to type.

The biggest distraction is a notification comes and you want to see what it is.

But you are right. The best soln is not to use your phone.

I admire the bravery it takes to admit it, and so I'll abstain from judgement.

To help you put it in perspective though, simply ask yourself if you'll stop caring about the notifications the day after running into a pedestrian or a cyclist.

Please turn this on if you have an iPhone: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208090

Honest question. Why do you feel you need any device when driving? Other than for navigation I suppose. As a confessed user do you actually feel it's important to have access to a device while you drive?

I like to be connected I guess. Waiting in traffic sucks, it’s boring as hell. My commute is 1.5 hours each way.

To be honest, I want a self lane following car. Reliably keep distance from car in front, keep the current lane, don’t exceed speed limit. Don’t bumps into objects, stop on traffic lights

5 simple things. I feel like this should be doable reliably in the next decade.

I don’t want to drive. I don’t have another more convenient option.

I have all these features in a 2016 Golf GTI (except traffic light one). The future isn't that far away for the masses.

So you want better public transportation.

Navigation and spotify. I wish there was a way to skip tracks using the volume buttons on the side or something like that to get rid of the need to look at the screen while doing it. Presumably that would drop the dangerous level down to that of fiddling with a radio.

Agreed on every count. In LA, where I am, drivers leave only 2-3 car lengths following distance even when traveling over 100/120kmh. It's incredibly dangerous, and one can't really even try to leave proper following distance because someone will just think "that's an open space" and merge in, putting everyone in danger. It's the __default__ behavior and it enrages me.

Social stigma is great; but I write to my state and federal representatives every quarter of the year about this specific issue. I want distracted driving to be treated as an equal offense to driving drunk.

At the very least, real enforcement and stiffer fines need to happen in order for any changes to take place.

I think the real danger isn’t so much the user’s sending a text. It’s the engaged user’s watching news streams, Facebook video’s, Tiktok video’s, YouTube, Snapchat Stories, or playing video games and such while driving.

What is lane surfing?

I assume continuously changing lanes on a 4+ lane road, such that you don't rear bump fellow drivers. This must be done if you're driving at 130 mph, while the rest go at 70. At those relative speed differences, the rest of the cars look stationary. (note the sarcasm)

I'm not sure what lane surfing is. But aside from the 130mph remark - changing lane to maintain speed is how you're supposed to drive on a motorway/freeway. So long as you're within the speed limit, of course. Braking is a freeway anti-pattern.

In the UK passing on the right (well left for us of course) is illegal and called undertaking. I know it's not illegal here but it still winds me up!

I think it's actually really quite dangerous to have cars passing you on both sides when you're already going 5 over to "fit in". It'd be much better if like in Europe people pulled out to overtake and back in when done and that lane surfers had a little a patience now and again. A few seconds really does not matter. Especially when you overtake them 5 mins later as they're texting anyway!!

If you are being passed on the right in the US then you are doing it wrong. Slower traffic keep right except to pass. By your definition, you're in the wrong lane.

Lane surfing happens in the US because people here don't understand how to drive on freeways. It is non-existent in Germany because drivers there know how to drive.

I used to live in Seattle, a perfect example of a city that has enough freeway but still has traffic jams because people drive cluelessly. Not just my opinion, but the opinion of traffic enforcement in Washington.

And people on their phones while driving just make the situation worse.

I believe this is true in most of Europe - stay to the right except when passing, which you do on the left.

On the other hand, some cities (such as LA) have off-ramps on both the left and right sides, not to mention many multi-lane freeway interchanges located on both sides... combined with Google Maps telling you at the last minute that you need to be in the left 3 lanes, followed by immediately being in the right-most lane in order to get on the right freeway. Almost every visit to LA requires 1 or 2 retries on a few of these freeways. When I'm not constrained for time, I often opt for much slower side streets to avoid the utter insanity of some interchanges.

>undertaking. I know it's not illegal here

I believe it varies state to state.

Agree that the US test is laughably easy to pass compared to the UK, though.

It wouldn't be possible to undertake if folks had proper lane discipline in the first place, although the UK also has it's fair share of Middle Lane Morons

I've heard speak of 'the orbit game' - legally pass the MLM on the left, then pull across into the right lane, slow down so they pass you, then pull into the right lane and pass them again, see how many times you can 'orbit' them

I was in a car where the driver was stopped for prolonged driving in the passing lane in a US midwestern or plains state. This was maybe 25 years ago, but this has been a violation in at least one state at some point.

Same thing happened to my SO in MA a few months ago - I told her she deserved it

No ticket though. They probably use it as an excuse to pull people over to try and ding them for other stuff

Yep,if that's what is meant by lane surfing then that would be a bad idea too. I was referring to lane discipline.

Motorcyclist as well, and yes, I watch for the characteristic head-bob and try to take extra care around people on their phone. I've once or twice made a "hang-up" gesture but who am I kidding, it doesn't make a difference.

Now, the worst part: about a month ago I got pulled over for texting and driving. I wasn't even thinking about it. The cop said, "were you texting?" And I said, "I don't think so, let me check"... pulled up my phone.. yeah a half-written text to a friend. I got a ticket and have kept my phone in my pocket since then.

Something funny happens. I would think, "ah I'll just check that message, maybe it's important?" Or, "I've got to tell someone something" and out comes the phone. Mindless. Or maybe I think I can drive and text, it's those other clowns that are the dangerous ones. I'm glad I got the ticket. I deserved it. I think it helped me connect my actions to real life consequences. Glad it was just a ticket and not a wreck.

Good on you for admitting your mistakes and making a change to avoid making the same one again.

Sometimes I'll get so fed up with people that, at a stoplight, I'll actually get off my bike and knock on their windows and tell them to put the phone down. All black visor and gear makes one intimidating enough for them to stop for a few hundred yards. Better than nothing, I suppose.

You do what you want, but I don't think that's a helpful way to act. It might give you a rush, a little feeling of control, but if you come at someone aggressively like that and they think theyre just minding their own business, now you've just riled them up for no reason. Just adding more anger into the world.

Amen, brother.

I used to be on a white R1200RS and I'd get mistaken for CHP in California. It was amusing to see them try to hide their phones when I'd honk at them.

A lot less amusing when they'd wander into my lane, oblivious. Every single close call I've had in the last year of riding has been from a motorist operating a cell phone.

I'm nearly of a mind to roll a helmet cam and start a Twitter account with footage of these people, along with their plates and a CHP tag. I haven't done it yet because that would take my riding focus away from steering the safest path. But it seems like it's gotten worse lately, and there doesn't seem to be much enforcement.

I ride a bicycle with a helmet cam and I don't think the helmet cam has made me ride any less safe. It's quite rare that I'll look somewhere for the specific purpose of recording something. I'd fully recommend it to motorcyclists and bicyclists.

The helmet cam also has been quite useful for "post-mortems" of close calls. I can replay the video and think about what I should have done differently.

Do it. If you mount an action camera on your bike it has a wide enough field of view that you can record the idiots while still steering a safe path.

Ha! I just saw a guy wearing a cop-like getup on a white R1200RS and let off the throttle immediately (because Vance and Hines pipes + cop + overpass == possible $1k ticket). Totally thought he was a cop until I passed him.

I would love it if you started that account, but safety first. I'm about to splurge on a helmet cam, myself.

It __does__ seem to have gotten worse lately. The only cops I've ever seen enforce it are... you guessed it, motorcycle cops. Cops in cruisers don't do shit in my area.

I'm a motorcyclist as well, and I've often wondered about trying to pitch a vigilante hardware product to our police force. I'd build a product around a button that when pressed marks the previous 15s plus the next 15s of helmet-cam footage as a candidate, then uploads that somewhere when the camera is next being charged. If the police would accept a clear camera recording of a numberplate plus a person using their phone, they could make back the cost of supplying the hardware to any motorcyclist who offers to be a vigilante in a matter of days.

In Seattle, the police literally couldn't care less. They've even stopped enforcing penalties for people blocking crossings/the box. When the police decide not to enforce laws, in any other country that is called corruption. I now have a helmet-cam for walking into work. Even with clear footage of people running red lights and almost mowing over pedestrians, the police won't do shit. It'll take a wave of pedestrian deaths for anything to change.

Israel has this kind of pilot governmental program in place:



Thank you, that was very interesting to read through and is a possible avenue to pitch this idea too. Cheers!

PSA: iOS has a feature that puts your phone into DND while you’re driving. Turn it on if you haven’t and you find yourself tempted to use your device while driving. Maybe it will save a life.


What makes it statistically more dangerous? The volume of drivers doing it? The likelihood of an accident?

Statistically because drunk drivers are looking at the road and aren’t seeing everything correctly (or quickly enough), distracted drivers aren’t even looking at the road.

Even if you’re hammered enough to have 5% of your normal driving ability, not looking at the road at all is a straight 0% driving ability. It’s essentially driving with your eyes closed every time you look down.

Also specifically when drinking, your frontal cortex of your brain becomes impaired. This is a region associated with reasoning and judgement. Your ability to reason and judge yellow & red lights is noticeably reduced and you become more likely to think you can make it through a light in time. This is why so many of the people T-Boned at intersections were so frequently hit by drunk drivers.

> It is statistically more dangerous than driving intoxicated.

It might cause more deaths/accidents, but how many more people are driving distracted compared to driving intoxicated?

If I had to guess, probably 100-1000x more people are driving distracted than driving intoxicated.

I'm a cyclist. Over the past 5 years or so I've learned to check inside of people's cars to see if they have a phone in their hands. If they do, I try to keep as much distance between myself and them as possible.

Until we change the incentives, distracted driving is very likely to remain a problem. Right now there's a lot of talk but very little action. I live in Austin, and I've spoken with the police about distracted driving after nearly being hit by a driver who ran a red light because they were distracted by their phone. (I spoke with them afterward.) The police tell me that they periodically do distracted driving enforcement operations, but only in school zones so that they get double fines. I've never seen a single distracted driving enforcement operation in Austin, but I've gone through cyclist stop sign enforcement twice. It would be interesting to see the statistics here. How many people are ticketed for distracted driving every year?

As a cyclist, I try to keep as much space from a car as I can. A particularly worrying time for me is when I am traveling around the same speed as a car. So many times I have almost been hit, and a few time shit by someone just turning. This is not a problem when you are passing cars or they pass you, because they see you.

But yes, fuck people using their phones while driving. It happens every single day, every third car sometimes.

I used commute on I294 in Chicago. The drive home was awful. In bumper to bumper traffic, speed oscillating between 0 and 45. Id look around me and typically I'd see 5 or 6 people in my immediate vicinity would be on their phones. Id see people watching videos, texting, talking. It was appalling.

I was hit 3 times last year. Pretty sure at 2 of the times it was due to distracted driving and the 3rd due to the asshole being an impatient and rude prick trying to skip the line and jump in. When I was read ended, the woman that hit me rolled into me at a red light. We had been sitting there for a minute or so, stopped and just as the light was about to turn green, just rolls into me. I get out and check my bumper, and there's a crack in the paint and about a dime size dent. Not a lot, right? I was expecting a around a $500-600 repair, and that was the initial estimate range. When they got in there and removed the bumper, found a lot more damage. Ended up with a new bumper, impact absorption materials and backup sensors. Ended up being around a $4k repair. All because she was distracted at a stop light. Mind I didnt have to pay that, but it was still an inconvenience having my car in the body shop for a few weeks.

The kicker is, she got out to look at the damage and tried to claim there was no damage. I called the police to get a report. She started freaking out and getting hysterical, yelling at me and pulling at my arm I'm holding my phone with, while I'm on the phone with the police. I got back in my car and locked the doors and stayed in there until the police arrived. Crazy woman kept pounding on my window until the officer showed up.

Not sure if she was cited, but I got the police report with her listed at fault, which is what I wanted to make dealing with insurance easier.


I see the new Subaru's have this feature where they seem to track your eyes and alert you if you're looking down at your lap. I think that could be a possible solution, it needs to be in the vehicle since the vehicle is the thing causing the damage, not the mobile device.

I don't like Apple's method: When it senses you moving (which gets triggered for false positives as mentioned), it locks your phone unless you press the big button that says "I'm not driving.". Let's be real, if you're going after the people who actively text and whatever while driving, a single button press is not a real barrier to entry.

The problem for Apple is they don't know you're not a passenger.

Let's make that Apple's problem and not that of the people they kill.

If the phone cannot distinguish driver from passenger, shut it off.

A phone is a tool. It is good for tools to discourage hazardous usage, but that doesn't absolve the user of the responsibility to use the tool correctly.

Making tools liable for their stupid users is not a good idea.

The "tool" has created, of itself, a class of lethal risks to uninvolved and nonbeneficiary third parties, through deliberate psychological engineering on the part of the manufacturer, which removing or disabling the "tool" would cure.

Should it also shut off for the millions of train passengers?

The Apple device considers you "in a moving car" when you're connected to the car's bluetooth or CarPlay. Doesn't trigger in a moving vehicle based on location deltas.

How many people will you condemn to die innocently, if there is no means of distinguihing cases?

Is there no means to distinguish cases?

I agree but I also wouldn't want to be that engineer that caused a crash because I put something like a captcha there.

Which is odd, considering that they made a big hoopla about buying a bus to get an angle down on cars, to check.


Interesting. That article is dated after I spoke to the police, so perhaps they've changed their strategy. Though I still have not personally seen any evidence of actual enforcement.

>I'm a cyclist. Over the past 5 years or so I've learned to check inside of people's cars to see if they have a phone in their hands. If they do, I try to keep as much distance between myself and them as possible.

I guess this is something a self driving car should also keep in mind. Next we have to click on tiles with people using phones before login.

It seems to me that many drivers and cyclists have unique strategies that could be useful for self-driving cars.

My father has a good one for going around blind corners and going up blind hills at night: Check trees and other objects in the direct path of oncoming traffic for light.

I also tend to look around buildings now, which is something self-driving cars probably already do but many drivers don't.

>My father has a good one for going around blind corners and going up blind hills at night: Check trees and other objects in the direct path of oncoming traffic for light.

Back in high school, I convinced one of my friends that I had a 6th sense for cars approaching on a long drive back home at night. My trick was that the light from a cars headlights slightly reflects off the semi-gloss black rubber of powerlines and we lived in an area where everything was still on poles. I never noticed this effect on tree leaves but the power/telephone line trick worked really well because a ~6 foot section would be slightly lit, presenting a very large (but thin) target for your eye to see.

Thanks, I was hoping someone would have another good object to check. Where my father mentioned this, there weren't any visible power lines as far as I can recall.

I wonder if something similar happens with the lines on the road, or crops like corn/soybeans, or even tall grasses.

Was just thinking today that 90% of drivers on the road have no concept of blindspots. Maybe understand a blind spot on their own vehicle but the idea of a blind curve (or other blind situation due to any vision obstruction) is completely foreign.

Cyclists do the same thing. I’m primarily a pedestrian, and lately I’ve seen too many cyclists texting while cycling and blowing through red lights and zebra (pedestrian) crossings as well as riding on the pavement/sidewalks. This is in London.

And for that matter, pedestrians also check their phones while walking and put themselves in danger or just obstruct the pedestrian flow around them. Luckily that is less likely to harm somebody than a car or cyclist.

But let’s not restrict this issue to just drivers. There’s a universal obsession with phones, and people who are unable to stop themselves (whether driving, cycling, walking) if they do need to send a text or email.

I live in Austin as well and unfortunately I can't see myself cycling anywhere in town. Not only would I have to cycle on the roads due to a lack of biking paths and sidewalks around my area, but having to deal with reckless drivers threatening my life is too much.

It's only going to get worse as more companies move to Austin while the city lags behind on infrastructure.

They are constantly looking for people looking at their phone while driving. Quite regularly in certain areas, like along Cesar Chavez downtown. I know because I've been ticketed!

Glad to hear there's enforcement. I don't go downtown, so I wouldn't really know about that location. I'd prefer if they moved farther north. I've seen a lot of distracted driving on Manor, probably more than anywhere else.

> but I've gone through cyclist stop sign enforcement twice.

That's because as a cyclist on the road, you are inconveniencing the operators of highly-lethal, 4,000 lb machines. If you haven't crossed your i's, and dotted your t's, you need to be removed from the road, for their convenience.

It's trivial to mandate a phone be designed so that it can't be used in a moving car or for a certain amount of time since it has experienced significant acceleration. In fact you could ban certain apps like txting and calling during these times. I guess you could even mandate tech to help the phone figure out where in the car the person is sitting and only disable their phone.

It would be hard to filter out the false positives. I'm almost always a passenger or riding a train. Locking out my phone during either of those situations would be a problem.

I can recall a girl playing Pokemon Go on a train. The app seemed to detect the motion and asked her if she was driving every 10 minutes or so.

It's quite frequent even if you're standing still. GPS drift, noise and corrections cause a lot of false positives for movement.

Getting killed or maimed is a bigger problem.

> It's trivial to mandate a phone be designed so that it can't be used in a moving car or for a certain amount of time since it has experienced significant acceleration

No, no it is not. Because a phone is a computer. And a computer should be ultimately under its owners control, running software they choose.

The reason why we have a "war on general purpose computing" is because there are many things that would seemingly be fixed if all computers could simply be made to enforce policy, yet actually mandating they be setup to do so requires going down the path of digital totalitarianism.

I was going to write a rebuttal to this, but mindslight is right. It is the government's job to restrict the usage of technologies that can be very dangerous. But in all the cases we have, the restriction is done via the law enforcers, not via the technology.

It's mandated that you can't drive a car without a license. But the enforcement is done by the cops, not by the car.

It's mandated that you can't own a gun unless you meet certain criteria. But the enforcement is done by the cops, not by the gun.

And so on...

It can be mandated that you can't use a phone while driving. But the enforcement must be done by the cops, not by the phone. If the cops don't do it correctly, then the right course of action is to fix that, not to restrict the phone.

Because once we do start restricting ubiquitous personal devices in order to enforce the government's rules, it will never stop. Democracy can never work if freedom is granted by the government - the people must be able to do whatever they want, with the government potentially revoking a person's freedom after the violation if it finds one.

There are actually plenty of examples of devices themselves having legally mandated restrictions that undermine their own possible uses. There are even purpose-built computing devices (eg a car's ECU) which I am leaving out of this argument.

The problem is that with software on a general purpose computer, the issue must be taken to its logical extreme. Presumably someone advocating for digital restrictions doesn't envision settling for merely having the default install exhibit a behavior that can be changed with two minutes of following online instructions. Simply creating a restriction is not enough - for it to be effective, it must be fortified.

And that's the trouble, for the only way for that to happen is the platform to be fully locked down, removing the user's ability to modify. Phones are already perilously close to this regime, but manufacturers seem to not be seriously addressing rooting for right now. We can look to other areas (eg wifi routers) to see manufacturers only getting the idea because of half-baked government policy, and its needless chilling effects on software freedom.

(of course I haven't said anything about texting and driving itself, so you should just assume I think it's a bad idea like any reasonable person. I'm just pointing out that arguing for outlawing Free phones to prevent it is of the same non-starter category as arguing for outlawing cars)

So even passengers wouldn't be allowed to use their phones?


DUI and driving while using your phone should have equal punishment.

I’m not advocating drinking and driving, but phone use is “no harm, no foul” right now. On the other hand you can drive without crashing into anyone but if you’ve had two glasses of wine with dinner, you can get charged with a crime.

> DUI and driving while using your phone should have equal punishment.

Totally agree. Tickets, insurance penalties, loss of license, jail if necessary. Every phone-addicted driver is just a murder waiting to happen.

..and "engagement"-obsessed social media/ad platforms are the equivalent of a guy who hangs out in the parking lot handing out free jello shots to people as they get into their cars.

The problem is proving it.

What a DUI perp says: I'm not drunk! Cops check blood alcohol level.

What a phone user says: I wasn't on my phone! Cops can't/won't check anything, and even if they could, how could the accident time be exactly (for proof) correlated?

My wife was rear ended by an SUV and has health effects to this day (it was over 10 years ago). There was no way to prove, or not, the other drive was on the phone. The driver was coming up to a stop sign in her own neighborhood that had a long line of cars that were stopped. It's highly likely she was on the phone or looking down at something. There was no evidence of brakes having been applied.

I argued with the insurance company for weeks about this. They wouldn't do a damn thing.

If they’re texting, you can ask the phone company if their phone sent a text

True, but that requires more effort on the officer's behalf, and isn't an on the spot check like blood alcohol level is.

Maybe if phone companies allowed officers to see timestamps of texts for a number this would work.

Sure but a minority of people on their phones are sending text messages at that moment.

100% agreed. It’s a perfect analogy, they even drive in a similar manner. Slightly off from the flow of traffic, staying too close to the edge of a lane. Heck I even saw a Houston Police officer in his cruiser texting and driving today. As I get older and grouchier I get more and more infuriated by distracted driving. Most people would be infuriated if a passenger put their hand up in front of their face while driving, yet we have people do it to themselves every day. I’m opposed to a nanny state, but this is one area that I wouldn’t argue that loudly about regulation around phone use while driving.

Fun fact in California: police officers are exempt from being barred from using their phone

There should be an instant ban from driving, you are not allowed to continue your journey, and for at least a week after. Plus fine.

It is ridiculous how lenient the laws are. 40,000 people die every year on our roads.

> It is ridiculous how lenient the laws are.

I think it is because people who make the laws are breaking them too.

> 40,000 people die every year on our roads.

We're largely talking about only the US market here -- in which only (and I say that word relatively) 37,000 people died in any sort of automobile related accident last year.

To put this in perspective, the common Flu (a totally vaccinatable, preventable, and treatable illness) killed about 52,000 people in the US last year alone.

According to the CDC, in 2016, 10,497 people (or 28%) of all automobile related deaths were alcohol-related deaths. Another 16% of automobile related deaths are attributed to drugs other than alcohol in the same year. That accounts for just about 44% of all vehicle related deaths, leaving the true automobile related deaths due to accident at a low number (relatively) of about 21,000 people per year.

According to the CDC, about 3,477 of all automobile related deaths were caused by distracted driving (of all kinds, not just cell phone usage), which amounts to around 9% of all automobile related deaths.

Sure, that number is a lot of people... but it's not some insane cell-phone induced epidemic folks are making it out to be.

Anecdote: As a vehicle driver, I've seen some insane cyclists violate all sorts of road laws, including peddling through red lights and cross multiple lanes of a road without warning... that's just to say, let's not pretend cyclists are totally innocent in all this.

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motor_vehicle_fatality_rate_in...

[3] https://www.cdc.gov/Motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving/impa...

[4] https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/distracted_driving/in...

Beyond the number of people killed--which is atrocious no matter how you try to downplay it--there are something like 2 million more people who are injured every year. I find it problematic that that's rarely mentioned, because the "30 to 40 thousand killed every year" figure makes the problem seem smaller than it is and makes it easier for some people to dismiss the scale of the problem.

There's injuries that never fully heal, trauma, lost wages, loss of a vehicle in some cases, the tremendous waste of resources from unnecessary repairs, etc, all from something that's mostly preventable (very few traffic collisions are true accidents).

Also, the comment you're responding to doesn't say anything about bicyclists, and I don't see anyone in this thread "pretending" they're blameless. And they yearly flu vaccines have a certain rate of effectiveness, which is somewhat less than 100% (the CDC says 40 to 60%).

Cellphone use while driving is a primary offense in Ohio, meaning you can get pulled over solely got that and receive a citation

A citation is nothing. A couple drinks will put you in jail, cost you your license for a while, maybe your job, and thousands of dollars.

My wife got her start as an attorney in the U.S. and her first criminal cases as defense counsel were for drunk divers. It ended up driving (no pun) her away from defense work, because these guys were inveterate offenders and never got more than a slap on the wrist. The penalties on the books for DUI and the penalties actually administered are often miles apart. That may have changed in the last decade though, I can’t say.

What do you consider a slap on the wrist? Everyone I know that’s had a DUI lost their license for a min amount of time with exponential increases for repeat offenders (one month, then two years, then 10 years). And that’s only the ones that weren’t involved in a collision.

Lol, a month for the first offence?

Seriously in Denmark you get 20 days suspended prison if your are above 2.0 for a first offense. If you are above 1.2 you lose your license for a minimum of 3 years. If below 2, your fine is "only" your net salary for the month....

Anecdotal, but I can confirm this as well. I've had extended family members get pulled over for (multiple!) DUIs while getting nothing more than a slap on the wrist. Nothing's really changed as long as you're of a certain demographic.

> never got more than a slap on the wrist

Everybody I know in California who got a DUI got quite penalized--it definitely stopped all of them cold so they would never have to go through the penalties again.

Maybe you can get away with DUI in the country club crowd, but certainly not lower than that.

You might enjoy Austria, where being drunk on your bicycle or as of recently electric scooter will cost you your drivers license.

My old home state of Georgia is stepping back in time (and not in a good way) on a couple of legal positions recently, but I'm pleased & surprised they, like Ohio, have adopted "no phones while driving" about a year ago. From what I know from friends & family they're backing it up with enforcement and people are changing their habits.

I have never seen anyone get pulled over driving with a phone in Ohio.

I was hit on the highway by a phone user who almost killed me and my parents. Speed differential was 55mph. That is, we were completely stopped on the highway and she drove for something like a quarter mile and hit us, leaving me with nerve damage and severe lower back pain. Luckily rehab went stellar and although I have some residual burning/stinging nerve damage, I can walk, run, play sports, go to the gym - you wouldn't even have known that I spent some time in a neck brace, cast, and back pain so back I could hardly leave my bed (but it also hurt just as bad to lay in bed) after almost being killed by the distracted driver.

Oh yeah, the concussion too. That was pretty rough as well.

How did you know she was distracted by her phone? I'm asking not because I don't believe you, but because my wife got rear ended about a week ago, and when the person got out of his car, he had his cell phone in his hand, but that's what you'd expect after a collision (calling family/insurance/police/etc).

Did you have to go through a discovery process or?

What happened to the distracted driver?

To add to it - the driver was ALSO drunk (well, above the legal limit) and also, get this, a nurse.

I was told by my lawyer that the police investigation concluded that she was guilty of DUI but that due her statements the cell phone was implicated as the reason. She was above .08 barely, but she was presumably not drunk enough to drive for a quarter mile or more without looking up at the road.

Here's my test for phone addiction (for men): If you are pissing into a urinal and need to look at your phone during those 15 seconds, you have a problem. And I see this a lot.

A scary game: when in stop and go traffic, have a look at the person behind you. Are their eyes on the road, or their lap? In my experience, 7 out of 10 are looking at their lap, with a quick glance up every 5 seconds or so.

I spend plenty of time on my phone, but geez, have some phone free moments every now and then.

I don't think your test is all that good. If I'm out with friends, I try to consciously avoid using my phone when we're together so that I'm present and so that they know I value their presence. Those 15 seconds at the urinal are often the best time to check notifications before getting back to phone-free socializing.

Agree with your other points though.

Might just be me, but I don't think it's appropriate to pull a camera out at the urinal

Hmm, I've never heard anyone hold this viewpoint in person and I've certainly used my phone at the urinal (and seen countless others do the same) enough times that I think it'd have come up.

I don't mean to say it's not a valid concern, I just think that it can be done in a way which makes it clear that one is not doing anything weird.

It's more appropriate to compare the photos rather than the actual things.

Why do notifications need to be checked?

To see if any are important enough to require action?

Because that’s part of the whole “notification” process. I don’t think it is enforced by the OS, but if a notification didn’t need to be checked, maybe it didn’t need to be a notification?

Or perhaps I have misunderstood you, and instead you’re one of those types that thinks people need to answer to you for the things they do. In that case, I have no help for you.

Server might be down. Spam might've been posted to a site of mine. Might've missed an important call.

I don't whip out my phone at the urinal, but I'd check it on my way to or from the bathroom rather than while spending time with friends.

The people who give me money might have some work for me to do. Welcome to the gig economy.

If someone pulled a camera phone out anywhere near me at a urinal, they would probably get punched.

Exactly what I do, cutting back on smoking means peeing is the only chance I get to actually answer people.

I'm one of those people but for the opposite reason. If I'm with someone I don't look at my phone at all. When I step away to use the restroom it's my chance to check for any missed notifications.

A couple of years ago I was in stop-and-go traffic, and while at a stop, I watched in my rear view as the woman in a minivan behind me slowly rolled into my bumper while looking at her lap. We pulled over to see if there was damage, and she had the nerve to claim that someone had rear-ended her, pushing her van into my bumper, then they sped off. Even if I hadn't witnessed what really happened, the freeway was at a stand still, nobody was speeding off anywhere.

I mean ok. I do this to check (at the urinal) my messages because i don't look at my phone when out with friends.

I just assume someone with a water sports fetish is about to get a dick pic.

I do the former, but not the latter.

Turns out, one of them is dangerous.

But why? When I see people doing this I figure they have zero self control. How had is it to put the phone away for 30 seconds?

This is extremely bad. In Portugal I don't cross the road if the person is using a phone, unless they fully stop of course. Yet this is a problem so big that even people walking cross roads with their faces glued to their phones.

It happened to me more than once almost getting into an accident, both while walking or driving because the other party is distracted by a smartphone instead of paying attention to driving or walking. People cross road like complete maniacs while using smartphones, luckily I have quick response time to brake the car, but there are other people that might not have such luck. I am afraid that in the future when my response time increases this might become a problem, even if I lower the velocity.

I never use my phone while driving, not even in stop signs or red lights. Yet it is so socially acceptable to do it these days it's disgusting. I hate this so much I make an simple website to try to raise awareness[1]. I haven't dedicated much time promoting it because it was just a small side project to experiment with TailwindCSS, but I might as this problem affects even my family...

[1] https://github.com/mig4ng/2min.pink

> this is a problem so big that even people walking cross roads with their faces glued to their phones.

I see this comparison a lot, and I just want to clarify: when you are distracted as a pedestrian, you're risking your life. When you are distracted as a driver, you're risking other people's lives.

Getting behind a wheel drunk is considerably more dangerous to society than going home on foot. Phone use equivalently so.

I have far more patience with people risking their own lives, rather than those of others.

> I see this comparison a lot, and I just want to clarify: when you are distracted as a pedestrian, you're risking your life. When you are distracted as a driver, you're risking other people's lives.

You are letting distracted pedestrians off too lightly. They are not just risking their own lives; they are risking the lives of motorists, cyclists, and other pedestrians by potentially forcing motorists and cyclists into erratic evasive maneuvers to avoid them. Ditto for drunk pedestrians. We should not be giving them a pass just because drunk/distracted drivers are more dangerous.

True. It's not good. But I'd argue we should also not include them in the same category, because they dilute the severity of the matter.

Sorry to be cruel, but I'm passionate about drunk and distracted driving. Less so about drunk pedestrians. I'd really like to focus our efforts and not get distracted.

Let's start a separate conversation about texting pedestrians. I'll join. But please let's keep this one about just this one thing: people putting others' lives at a significant risk on a daily basis. It's a different ballgame.

If one effort is to get people to think how their actions impact themselves and everyone else, and there are consequences (life threatening or some form of punishment). Then why limit that to just driving.

Also, if the issue is an attitude of "no fucks given", then they seem just as severe to me because then they might take their "no fucks" on to the road.

Oh come one. Motorists are driving dangerous killing machines around, distracted pedestrians are just walking.

I agree with this sentiment.

What is the big deal with phone use at a red light? It will, at worst, hold up traffic slightly.

I literally see this happen almost every time I'm at a stop light. Someone in the queue is looking at their phone and by the time they react only a handful of cars have gotten through a light that's normally timed to move them all. Multiply this by hundreds of intersections and the effect leads to rising travel times and frustration across the board. I've also noticed a large uptick in people running stale yellow lights/newly red lights, I believe this behavior is precipitated by the red light texting crowd.

What should possibly need your attention when stopped at a red light?

If it's something frivolous then it can wait. If it's important then are you really able to compartmentalize it? Will you be able to put the conversation out of your mind, or ghost your chat partner as soon as traffic starts moving?

Are you saying people shouldn't be driving if they have something on their mind or a passenger they're chatting with?

Interestingly, chatting with a physical passenger in the car is an entirely different level of distraction, from trying to chat with someone you can't see on the other end of the phone. For some reason (invoking visual synthesis to imagine how they are responding?) the phone case takes quite a bit more mental effort.

Try putting 'blinders' on when talking to a passenger and driving normally. E.g. put a hand up so you can't see them, even out of the corner of your eye. This A/B test (for me anyway) ups the mental effort 2X or more.

As a motorcyclist, this has become my primary concern on the roads in the past few years. I constantly and actively check for drivers using their phones. If I can see their eyes or heads glancing up and down, I get far away. If they're having trouble staying in their lane, I get far away. At night, if their faces are illuminated in a blue glow, they're holding their phones and I get far away. I use those techniques in addition to all the other safety measures you get taught by the MSF. If I didn't love riding so much, I'd quit. Seriously. It's more dangerous than it's ever been. You have to be so diligent. But on two wheels, an open road without distracted drivers is still as glorious as it has ever been.

This is "old man yells at cloud" area, but seriously - why can we not just leave our phones in our pocket until we get to our destination? What's that important?

I totally agree with you and don't think that you are an old man yelling at clouds. Then again maybe we both are.

I am a zealot about driving mindfully, actively and defensively. When I am driving, I am driving. I go the second the light turns green, I scan ahead constantly to change lanes a hundred yards before a slow car or obstacle. A lot of other folks do this, it is not unique or special. But... I think the vast majority of people do not drive this way and it drives me absolutely nuts.

How often do you see someone accelerating towards a car that is decellerating (usually in the far right lane) and then, at the very last minute, they slam on their brakes realizing the situation they are in. Why didn't that person notice the situation before it happened, since it happens all the time, and move over before getting stuck?

How often do you miss a turn lane signal because people in your line were either not paying attention or taking their sweet time to react?

It's not just the fault of devices, though that is a significant factor. I think phones exacerbate the real issue which is that, lately, people are not mindful about what they are doing (driving, walking, etc...)

This. I think you and I (and I venture to say many people reading HN) are a specific type of person. Where mundane difficulties such as dealing with a predictable 'bad driver' actually gives us ammo for optimizing our habits and achieving better results over time.

The reality is most people go about their days doing their business, not analyzing what they've done that day or thinking on how it can be improved the next. This is a phenomenon (to me) since it's considered a positive cultural trait (改善 Kaizen) in other cultures.

改善 literally only means improvement and it’s not a cultural trait. It’s just a word, and to many, a buzzword.

Japanese drivers are always glued to their phones. Almost every car has a built in TV and drivers watch it while driving and messaging someone on their phone. Bicyclists often hold an umbrella in one hand while playing a game with the other. Police aren’t making any effort to crack down on it and nobody is willing to accept that their own driving is dangerous and in need of improvement. The western idea of “kaizen” is sorely lacking here.

Its tempting to glance at the text and see if they're expecting you/changed plans. It's urgent because you need to make an exit decision soon depending on the answer. Its pointless to pull over because that takes longer than making a mistake about the exit.

Its a drug, the potential to optimize your plans on the fly is so attractive that even folks that swear they'd never text and drive, do it the moment it has utility?

> Its tempting to glance at the text and see if they're expecting you/changed plans.

My desire to avoid the inconvenience of some extra driving (if I drive all the way to the destination only to leave because plans changed) is not more valuable than other people's lives.

There's no good reason to be on your phone while your car is in motion — absolutely none.

But its an explanation of why people are tempted to do just that. You may miss the event entirely if delay is too large.

> You may miss the event entirely if delay is too large.

And yet... that's still a pretty minor inconvenience when weighed against the potential to cause people to die or otherwise be seriously injured. There's no valid justification for it.

Even though my car doesn't support Android Auto, I still have it set to auto-launch on my phone. If you attempt to close Auto with the auto-launch set up, it simply re-launches.

> see if they're expecting you/changed plans

This is impossible with Android Auto, you can't read or send texts (without voice, which doesn't work properly in my car). It auto-responds telling people to phone me if it is time-sensitive (like changed plans).

If they don't call back I'll arrive late, big whoop, at least I'm not arriving in a body bag. If they have a problem with me being late, they changed plans last-minute. None of which has happened to me.

> do it the moment it has utility?

It never has utility.

>see if they're expecting you/changed plans

Where is this culture where it's acceptable to change plans on a guest that is driving to your house while they are driving?

Welcome to being in your 20s in the USA.

E.g. you leave for the group lunch before they decided where its going to be (you were working at home and it'll be somewhere downtown).

Going to 'somebody's house' has all but disappeared from modern culture, for most of the population. Maybe at Christmas.

There are a million legit reasons a person would need to use their phone while driving a car.

But for some bizarre reason, most drivers find it unthinkable to simply pull over for 2 minutes to handle their business.

If I need to fiddle with a map or respond to a text, I pull over. It's really super ridiculously easy to do and takes almost no time at all.

This is one reason why I love driving a 4wd pickup. Many of the roads around here don't have proper shoulders, but I can confidently pull over in spots where someone in a small car would hesitate.

Are you allowed to pull over on the highway in the US. Certainly can't do that on a motorway in the UK.

Yes, into the shoulder

In most places yes, the places where it's not allowed have signs prohibiting it.

Why not check your phone while at a stop sign? Why not check your phone while on a straightaway with no cars in sight? Why not check your phone to make sure you're on the right route?

I get what you're saying but these are the thousands of little thoughts in the back of your mind that encourage you to use your phone in the car. "Just leave the phone in your pocket" has to defend itself against every one of these little pervasive thoughts. Why do you think the mobile tech companies are worth tens of billions? They got a drug better than any other.

> Why not check your phone while at a stop sign?

I attempted to answer that question recently.


What I don’t get is what is so important that requires “checking” every 5 minutes? Are we all business executives now, executing million dollar deals? Or day trading stocks? What’s so urgent?

I run my phone in Do Not Disturb mode 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No notifications. No texts. No calls. No E-mails. I’ll check these things at night sometime when I’m not doing other things like driving a 2000 pound steel death machine on the interstate.

I've gotta say out of everybody I know even my 80+ year old grandpa - your phone notifies you of the least. Idk if you're in a contest here but that's just now how most people's lives go. Most peoples lives are engrained with their phones and I think most of us are healthy enough to make it be a net positive. (Not implying anything you're doing is wrong!)

I'm not defending or justifying doing it - im simply explaining why it's such a common phenomenon. People are often in conversations all day long with others. Or engaged in online discussions like this. Life is filled with boring moments and phones alleviate us of that. That's why people do it.

Because it's dangerous!! Figure out where you're going before driving off! If you get lost PULL OVER! It's really not that difficult and it shows that you actually care about people in the world other than yourself.

I have an issue with most of the defenses of using a phone while driving, but are you saying we should not be able to use a dashboard mounted phone as a GPS unit? Should all dashboard mounted GPS units be illegal, or just phone as a GPS? The advice was literally to keep the phone in your pocket.

No. But if you need to change your directions, or search for something in the GPS, your eyes won't be on the road and you should pull over. If anything you're doing in your car is taking your focus away from operating a multi ton killing machine, then be an adult and stop it.

Having a dashboard mounted phone as a GPS unit is fine, interacting with it any way other than briefly looking at it is not.

This is not true for everyone, but many of us have trained ourselves to check the phone when we’re bored, and to reply to messages as soon as we see them. When driving for 15 minutes, our mind can drift and it can feel like a good time to check the phone, even though it’s unsafe.

I feel the same way about people who stop in front of subway staircases and block people behind them while they check something on their phone.

Why is this a thing?

My wife expects timely logistical updates.

Your wife's desire for timely updates comes second to the legal (and, hopefully, moral) requirement of not recklessly and needlessly endangering those around you while operating a motor vehicle.

"I will be hours late because I got into an accident attempting to text this to you."

If she can't wait 10 min for you to safely reply there is something seriously wrong with your marriage.

Before I start the car I sometimes send "share the location" on WhatApp to my gf.

iphone/imessage, turn-on find friends, leave phone in pocket, done. my wife knows where I am 24x7 (for better or worse lol)

People (and especially kids) don't know how to handle idle time anymore.

I did a fun experiment recently. I was sitting in a doctor's office waiting room with several other people, all on their phones of course. I wanted to see how long I could sit there without pulling out my phone. I made it about 5 minutes. Just sitting there, no magazine, nothing. It was excruciating.

My neighbor was killed walking on sidewalk in a parking lot. Driver was staring at phone in his lap and missed turn, plowed directly into him. Put your goddamn phone away... and trying to "hide it" in your lap is worse than just holding it up in windshield.

Unintended consequences strikes again.

I ride a bike in London traffic and you can tell which drivers are on phones from quite some distance. I think when police stop them they are mystified as to how they got caught - they genuinely don’t realise just how all-over-the-place they are.

I worked at T-Mobile and did some work on this very subject our studies showed that people are so addicted that unless there is a threat of jail time or drivers license suspension people will not put down their phones.

The deterrence effect of punishment relies on two factors: severity of the punishment when caught and the probability of getting caught. You can only up the former so much before a single stupid mistake ruins your life. But we could increase deterrence a lot by increasing the second factor. Just think about it: You a $5 fine stop you from using your phone? Right now probably not. But if it cost you $5 EVERY TIME you used your phone in the car you'd stop rather quickly.

I don't understand why people see the possibility of a drivers license suspension as being worse than the increased risk of vehicular manslaughter.

One is a few months of decreased mobility. The other is an entire life.

They're not convinced that it impairs their driving.

Consider that a plurality, if not a majority of the population is convinced that they're efficient at multi-tasking, and specifically that they can perform each task as well as in isolation. But we know that almost nobody multitasks well, period, and absolutely not with equivalent performance.

Don't forget that a vast majority of the population thinks that they are above average at $TASK, no matter what it is

If I had to hazard a guess: because that option is so extremely negative, that cognitive dissonance protects our brains from seriously entertaining the thought that we could ever be involved in such an accident.

I'm unsure. Mindless anxious mind wandering (worry) often causes people to imagine worse situations and exaggerate their probably.

For many, many people in the US, a suspended license means loss of your job, which in turn will lead to loss of all other assets you may tentatively possess, possible dissolution of your family, etc. In terms of personal impact weighted by probability of occurrence, the penalty for loss of license may not be so far off from that of vehicular manslaughter.

A vehicular manslaughter charge often leads to jail time. That's more likely to cause someone to lose their job.

Sure. But let’s say the chance of losing your license is a hundred times more likely than that of committing vehicular homicide, and the effective penalty for a homicide is 10 times worse than that for losing your license, you should be 10x more worried about losing your license.

Most people do not think like that logically.

In addition, I believe the effective penalty for vehicular manslaughter is probably ten thousand times worse because of the psychological cost of being responsible for someone's death.

Indeed. Somehow this doesn’t occur to people though when they get behind the wheel of a 3000lb death machine and decide to start looking at their phone. I personally find the prospect terrifying.

People assume they can handle driving while texting.

It would be interesting to see if painting lurid stripes on the car as a punishment would help. Or require the driver to have warning sign attached in prominent places. Make it as embarrassing as possible.

Some states have different license plate designs for people convicted of drunk driving.

Make a phone-themed one!

Can we do this for other driving offenses? Like drivers who don't signal lane changes or drive slowly in the passing lane? I'm all about publicly shaming drivers into doing better.


If you regularly act a certain way in public, you haven't got much ground to complain about the shame of pointing out how you act in public.

Design a metal mesh to install over the entire car that acts as a Faraday cage haha.

Yeah, in practice it seems the only thing that will really work is license suspension.

People drive with suspended licenses all the time. What I'd really like to see upon conviction for distracted driving or drunk driving (similarly dangerous) is criminal forfeiture of the offender's vehicle and a court order prohibiting the offender from owning or possessing an automobile.

It's weird how humans don't care about the threat of death. I'm not being sarcastic, we clearly don't.

It's a conditioned suppression. Otherwise fight or flight would be kicking in every time you crossed the street.

> Otherwise fight or flight would be kicking in every time you crossed the street.

That exact thing does happen to me. The drivers in my country are atrocious even if we do not consider the use of phones. Having to cross the street is quite stressful and do not dare to do so without running, even if I am in a another country with more sane drivers.

How does the joke go? You almost get hit by another car and you freak out and are amped up the rest of the trip. But doze off and drive on the shoulder, you just go back to sleep after a few minutes.

So, like punishment for a DUI?

In this day and age of really great machine learning I find that most people refuse to use voice services unless they are forced to do so (usually because of injury). Trying to tap out a message at 80km/h on a 5" screen is pretty fucking futile. But most distracted drivers will attempt to do it anyway.

Here's a neat trick, just say, "Hey Siri* Send a message to $firstname $lastname's $phone. Tell them I'm [on my way, 5 minutes away, picking up milk, buying pizza]"

* Or whatever platform you use. I'm an iOS user.

Trying to use voice input is more distracting to me than typing. And it's easier to take a break in the middle of typing. Not to mention that voice input almost never works, and i end up typing anyway, which means I'm distracted and angry. Native californian, I mumble, but otherwise no speech pathology; but maybe i try to enunciate too hard because the computer doesn't understand me.

The problem with your solution is that voice assistants excel at practical tasks which aren't at the root of phone and social media addiction. These are people addicted to the dopamine rush of validation and acceptance they get from social media like FB, IG, and Twitter, as wel las personal text messages. It's an addiction like nicotine, small effects repeatedly played out over time. But it gets to the point where they are dangers to all of us when they are driving on top of all the other social costs (worse performances at work and school, for example).

Couldn't you just phone them and leave a voicemail? Use your cars bluetooth so you don't need to touch the phone.

I tried, but Siri is still really bad at speech recognition whenever I try it.

If your accent doesn't match the country you are in, change Siri's language to your native one. As a British person living in the USA, if I don't set Siri to British, she has a terrible time understanding me, but it works fine on British mode.

Not always; if you set it to Scotland, the phone just complains that it can't understand you either in angrily incomprehensible brogue.

I think it's gotten quite a bit better over the last couple of iterations. I use it all the time and works well for most simple tasks.

This is taken as an obvious truth, but when you look at actual collision data, there seems to be no effect whatsoever.

In fact, our roads have continued to become safer in the 10 or so years since the release of the iPhone.

Car fatalities are down because the passenger compartment has become safer. Pedestrian fatalities are up because idiots are still plowing into them [0]

[0] https://www.npr.org/2017/03/30/522085503/2016-saw-a-record-i...

Could you supply said data? Also, in what way is it safer? Less collisions? Less damage? Less fatalities?

Small nit you may not be aware of: use 'fewer' for nouns which can be counted (collisions, fatalities), and 'less' for nouns which can't (damage).

That's purely the personal preference of one curmudgeon from 1770. "The OED shows that less has been used of countables since the time of King Alfred the Great -- he used it that way in one of his own translations from Latin -- more than a thousand years ago (in about 888). So essentially less has been used of countables in English for just about as long as there has been a written English language."


While you seem to have started a grammar war complete with grammar Nazis, I appreciate the feedback.

Stop nitpicking this. There's nothing unclear or ambiguous about 'less'. It refers to a smaller quantity of something. There's no reason not to use it. This is just pointless grammar Nazism.

Debating grammar is perhaps one of the best ways to actually learn grammar and otherwise sharpen language skills. I don't think it's a coincidence that grammar and language discourse has been a past time of the learned for millennia around the world.

Not interested in weighing in on less/fewer, but not sure architects of genocide is the comparison we want for grammar sticklers, even if it's become a common turn of phrase. Cheapens the real thing, doesn't it?

I can't find it right now, but I recall there was a study that suggested the trends in total collisions followed total miles driven fairly well, and that distracted driving was not needed to explain the recent increase in collisions. (Or something like that.)

I have no idea if this study's conclusions are controversial or not. If someone could identify the study, I'd be appreciative.

Is it that smartphones are having no impact, or that they're offset by other factors such as widespread availability of sensors?

I wonder how much autonomous braking and lane correction systems are contributing to obviating distracted driving?

Traffic fatalities in the US have been trending up since 2014.

Edit: corrected to 2014, not 2015.

This is my understanding as well. Supporting data:


Note that fatalities per 100M population has not just been trending up, but it is doing so after trending down for many previous years.

That’s because the data is garbage. If I’m standing on the corner holding a bag with a 6 pack and you run me over, it’s an alcohol related accident.

Human drivers are becoming less road worthy. Full autonomous drive can't come soon enough.

I was driving about 3mph in traffic texting my wife and did 3500 dollars damage to my car. I'm glad I learned my lesson the easy way instead of killing someone.

Don't text and drive no matter what, it's easy to pull over if it's necessary!

One time when I was walking on the sidewalk I saw a college age kid texting while driving with his windows open. I yelled something like "EYES ON THE ROAD!!!" He was startled and nearly crashed. Not recommended, but I think he learned his lesson too...

Sorry that happened. Thanks for sharing.

What damage on your vehicle caused the high cost of repairs? Just surprisingly high for a 3~ MpH impact.

A lot of cars today have body panels that have to be replaced instead of repaired. Add in any sort of special paint color and a single panel can run $1k to make like new. Side swipe something that runs across a few panels and it can quickly add up.

In addition, bumpers (front and rear) are designed to pop off quite easily, to deflect force away from the vehicle. the way they crinkle up and come off, full replacement often makes sense.

I backed out a parking spot and into some guy speeding through the lot. Me, a bit of rubber on the bumper that I wiped off with a magic eraser. Him, front quarter panel and both passenger doors had to be replaced. I was pissed off about the unfairness of it all. That him driving reckless and me being in the wrong place made me at fault for thousands of dollars in damage.

I'm not surprised to see a car accident with wildly different results on both vehicles.

Aren't you at fault though even per your own version?

You pulled into a driving lane that the other vehicle was already in. Your justification for why you shouldn't be at fault is that he was "speeding" but there's no set speed limit in a parking lot, and you're meant to verify it is clear before locomotion.

Plus if you witnessed them "speeding" you would have known you were pulling out in front of them, which makes you in the wrong anyway. If you didn't know they were oncoming you couldn't have known they were "speeding." It doesn't make basic logical sense that you could have both known they were speeding AND pulled out into them, because to know that you would have had eyes on their car.

Yes, I’m at fault simply for backing out into the lane as far as the insurer is concerned. I’m also at fault for not having eyes in superposition. I can’t simultaneously see out of my rear left and rear right.

All to say, you weren’t there and don’t know what happened. And I’ll leave it at that.

In many states, parking lots have a 5-15 mph speed limit. In California, the alleyway limit typically applies. There is also the basic speed law: drive no faster than is safe.



bumper, hood, radiator, connecting parts, paint matching on a 7 year old car, etc. Not a big deal, I just wanted to tell people my story so people realize even doing it in a parking lot or neighborhood can probably kill if it is possible for me to crash that hard in bumper to bumper traffic.

Matthew Walker's book Why We Sleep makes a clear case that drowsy driving is worse than drink driving, too.

So that would mean drunk driving is actually the third leading cause of impaired driving damage.

Why is the third cause villified, but not the first two?

> So that would mean drunk driving is actually the third leading cause of impaired driving damage.

That's a hard "citation needed" claim you're making.

Peculiar to blame the phone for killing people and not the several ton object that crashes into them.

Of course people should stay off their phones, but there are plenty of ways that people can make mistakes driving, and the best way to make pedestrians safe is to limit their interactions with cars.

We need to fundamentally back away from the automobile oriented design of our cities. This is the real solution, not doubling down on car infrastructure and hoping that some vaporware self driving software will save us.

I had just started actually reading TFA because this topic interests me, I was skimming past some infographic of "phone addicts spend x% not looking at the road" when - pop! - a little distraction popped up in the bottom right corner offering "hey <domainname> wanna chat". A distraction, a creepy "personalized" one no less, on an article about distractions. Too meta for me, I ctrl-w'd outta there.

It got me too. I've now disabled JS for that site in uMatrix.

Texting while driving and drunk driving should be treated as the SAME offense.

It's possible to go from composition to focused in the span of time it takes to move the hand (and eyes) from the phone back to driving mode.

It isn't possible to become 'not drunk' that quickly.

I rank drunk driving as worse than dealing with screaming kids as worse than writing something at a red-light as worse than just reading a preview on the screen for a measured quantity of time when in a situation that is safe enough to mentally relax and not be at 100% focus is at-hand.

> It's possible to go from composition to focused in the span of time it takes to move the hand (and eyes) from the phone back to driving mode.

And yet it takes even less time to irreversibly ruin somebody else's life because you weren't paying attention when it mattered.

Whatever is happening on your phone is not more important than other people's lives. Don't use your phone while your car is in motion — period.

The article suggest that this isn't true. You can't regain situational awareness instantaneously:

> The researchers specifically found that cell phone users are:

> - 9 percent slower to deploy the brakes

> - 19 percent slower to return to normal speed after braking

That isn't relevant to the context I'm talking about. Any kind of actual composition of text should only happen while stopped; E.G. at a red light (and ideally NOT while first in line).

Its disappointing to see that so many voices in this discussion are focused on self-driving cars and the like as the savoir solutions - I always wish there would be some discussion of ways to help people be less reliant on cars, so they spend less time driving, are less likely to get distracted while doing it, and everybody is both safer _and_ living in a less car-centric world.

We are - realistically - decades away from outright bans on human-operated vehicles at any real scale... so why not try to reign in the ever-expanding sprawl and car-centric planning that encourages/requires such widespread use of vehicles by distracted people, drunk people, etc in the first place? If its not alcohol, its phones. If its not phones, its makeup, or breakfast, or a fight with a passenger... more people who can walk, take transit, bike, etc means fewer deadly distractions or impairments.

this new world of connectedness really has some major downsides.

distracted driving.

instagram killing natural spaces from lack of crowd control.

decreased mental wellbeing and increased suicide rates.

facebook privacy concerns.

somebody needs to tackle these social crises, since the incentive is not there for the companies to address it themselves.

During the T9 days, was texting while driving statistically safer, or merely not a problem due to general low adoption/addiction? It feels like touchscreens in general are horrible input devices, which we compensate for by devoting an awful lot of attention to using them.

I'm not asking because I'm personally interested in "safe" ways to text and drive or whatever, just really to contextualize. It also seems highly relevant to the crop of cars being released with touchscreens and soft controls for what have traditionally been tactile interfaces.

> During the T9 days, was texting while driving statistically safer

I have fond memories of being in high school and texting one-handed in class on my Blackberry without looking. Not quite as ideal as T9 for one-handed use, but I was essentially stupid for the few moments I spent doing that. My brain was elsewhere. The problem with distracted driving isn't purely vision (although that's a factor). The mental context-switch is a huge problem.

I am seeing users on their mobiles very frequently when I see through the back mirror while driving in the city where I live. I assume this is mostly WhatsApp use.

Phone and software makers have an unique opportunity to save lives on the road by taking measures to prevent this terrible behaviour. They'll be rewarded by getting some of the public trust back, and seeing they are optimizing around public good as opposed to eyeballs.

A good example is Android Auto, which prevents the driver from typing on the car's screen while driving.

The problem is always differentiating between driver and passenger.

I was thinking the same thing, but for example, you could put black boxes recording phone usage for the police to access in case of an accident or random pull-over.

How does it distinguish driver from passenger?

1) front and rear-facing dash cams to defend against damage claims

2) configure cars to track phone usage, time-stamped, and downloadable thru the OBD port. If driver is sole occupant, some use of phone would be provable. No good for off-line activity, like games. Obvious privacy issues like other OBD data.

3) Pedestrians need an app for the “self-walking phone” with sub-1-meter location accuracy that flashes green man, or yellow or red hand when phone-obsessed user is about to step off curb into cross-walk or traffic.

2) Actually the black box could be in the phone itself. Could be actually be implemented in existing phones via software upgrade.

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