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October 15, 2009


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Ian Brown

This subject is also explored in depth in the book "Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)" by Tom Vanderbilt.

Anyone reading this blog would likely find it well worth reading.

Sean Nakoneczny

Agree that cell phones hands free or not, are definitly a distraction.

I'd like to know if there is any recent data on the collision rates. For all the street racing and speeding that Fantino seems hell bent on erradicating, it appears our average collion rates have been on the decline since 1986. Effective policing? My experience from the last 20 years travelling the hwy 401 appears the averge speed at approximately 120 kms/hr. The OPP don't even bat an eye.

My point being, everyone has a cell phone yet, I don't see these devices having an impact on safety. Our roads appear safer? I'd like to see recent data though.


Nick B.

Replying to Sean...

"...averge speed at approximately 120 kms/hr. The OPP don't even bat an eye..."

Absolutely NOT true. It all depends on the type of car you drive. Do 120km/h in a Chevy Malibu; now do the same in a Porsche or a BMW or a Benz or a Civic with a fart-can muffler.

Guarantee you that the Malibu will not be pulled over; guarantee you that others will be ticketed.

Blue Caller

Speaking of cars and conversations...

I work on an assembly line, building rear brakes/suspensions.

We talk while working, and occasionally the chat will be complex enough that we become distracted from performing a simple task that we have performed a 100 times that day already, and have performed 100,000 times in the past. Performed enough that I have literally assembled a part blindfolded.

We talk and miss small items, like not inserting a bolt and driving the nut on. The bolt that holds your suspension in place, for instance. Or your brake caliper on. Unimportant stuff.

Note that our talking is "hands free". The distraction is psychological, NOT physical. And the tasks performed - or missed - are much, much simpler than driving a car.

If you think that we don't care about our work, I can tell you that we are graded on quality and are non-union. Co-workers have been fired for poor quality.

And for those who think "those auto workers are simply too dumb to multi-task", please note that science has proven that humans are incapable of multi-tasking. We serial task. Period. We may rapidly divide our attention between tasks, but the scientific FACT is that our brains are serial processors. Sometimes, even when we really don't intend to, they lock onto one process for a little too long.

Hence we have multiple redundancy auditing of parts. Where is the redundancy auditing of driving performance for hands-free cellphone talkers? I'm guessing the coroner does that during the autopsy.

For those that think conversations are not a problem, or that hands-free is a solution, I certainly invite you to have brain surgery performed on you while your surgeon uses a cellphone to give a complex (but hands-free!) lecture to fellow practitioners.

Scientific fact: conversations in the car are as deadly as alcohol. We can't ban passenger convos, but we certainly can ban the use of cell phones, and should, preferably by using a proximity disabler.


Speaking of hands-free, how safe is driving a stick shift? Is the danger posed by maneuvering the gear and the clutch really worth it?

(Hey Jim,

I love my stick shift. This issue occurred to me just this morning, and I was horrified that one day they might ban vehicles with standard box. (You can never underestimate the power of a bunch of lawmakers!) Can you add the above comment just for fun?

Let's see what happens. Just cover me if comments get nasty)


After dealing with the public as an after market provider of safety designated items for a multiple of years. The overall consensus regarding my own business is that unless it was absolutely necessary and hazardous to their own health they declined the necessary repair. I've been in the automotive repair business since 1960. Probably longer than most of these fools have been alive. Society today thinks of themselves first and could care less about whom they hurt as long as it was no-one in their own circle.They would be the ones to scream the loudest if their family were the ones, maimed or killed.Even if they were the perpetrators of that same action.

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