Mobile communications

I think this was a first, at least in my experience. This morning I saw a motorist turn a corner while holding two mobile phones, one to each ear, and apparently operating the steering wheel with his legs. Furthermore, he seemed exceptionally animated in this ‘conference call’, and his eyes were swirling around the place, but paying little if any attention to the road.

It may not be an everyday event to see someone operating two phones at once while driving, but it’s not at all rare to see drivers with at least one phone held to the ear. This has now been illegal for some time, but based on my entirely non-scientific observation it seems to be a growing phenomenon again. Buying and installing and using hands-free equipment in cars is not difficult at all. This is one law which should, I believe, be enforced rigorously.

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9 Comments on “Mobile communications”

  1. Vincent Says:

    A few sent to the ‘joy would provide the education necessary in these situations. These bastards don’t even have the excuse of having their faculties impaired with drink or drugs. They are driving without thought to anyone else but themselves.

  2. Perry Share Says:

    Who says men can’t multi-task!?

    But yes, phoning/texting while driving is likely to be very hazardous, and it appears that hands-free isn’t necessarily much better, due to the particular way that concentrated speech on the phone disrupts attention/concentration.

    • Yes, Perry, I have also heard that point made. However, I’ve also read that talking hands-free has risks, but they are more or less the same as the risks run when having a conversation with a passenger actually in the car. The only totally safe response, apparently, is to prohibit any kind of conversation in the car and impose complete silence. That may be a step beyond what can be done!

  3. kev in denny Says:

    I think its a case of monitoring only what you can measure. Drives can be distracted for lots of reasons, listening to music, chatting with passengers, being angry etc. But we can’t measure those [at least yet] so they go unpunished. As far as I know driver fatigue is as big a killer as drunken driving but there is no equivalent of a breathalizer test so thats ok.
    To some extent this all reflects the “something must be done” mentality. Policy makers need to be seen to be doing something even if its not that effective.

  4. Neal Says:

    A simple fix medium-term fix (And the sooner it’s put in place the better), government (Irish or EU) to force legislation so that all new cars are pre-installed with handsfree (Bluetooth), and that all mobiles sold by operators have it as standard. It’s not an expensive technology anymore anyway…….this could have easiliy been put in place in the past few years.
    O.k., it’s not an immediate fix but considering probably 70%+ of cars are replaced over 10 years, it would bring progressive improvements.
    That and of course, make sure it’s enforced by police (not sure if there’s hope of that).
    Just a thought.

    • I agree, Neal. But apparently of those who hold and use a mobile phone will driving, nearly 40 per cent don’t need to as they have hands-free equipment in their cars! Talk about madness…

  5. Perry Share Says:

    There was a review of research into this published by the RoSPA in the UK nearly a decade ago, which even then showed that the cognitive distraction caused by a hands-free conversation was greater than that of a conversation with a passenger or listening to the car radio.

    I heard an interview on the radio recently that suggested it was to do with the ability of the conversee to pick up on cues that could indicate the driver’s engagement in the driving process (ie the second party would shut up when there was a large truck hurtling towards the car; the person on the end of a phone could not know that this was happening).

    • Perry – wouldn’t the same apply to the radio, in the sense that Ryan Tubridy doesn’t know that truck is coming either… In fact, the research I saw recently (must dig it out) said that the radio is fine because it doesn’t require the driver’s interaction; but telephone calls and in-car conversation produce identical effects. The only safe thing is to forbid the driver from speaking, ever.

      • Perry Share Says:

        The difference with radio is that the person at the other end (Tubridy) is not expecting you to respond to what he says. The unwritten but powerful ‘rules’ of conversation (as theorised by American sociologist Harvey Sacks, amongst others) mean that it is very difficult not to feel obliged to respond to the person at the other end of the phone, regardless of approaching trucks. Even though we may often feel impelled to address Mr Tubridy, there is no social expectation that we do so.

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