The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Use Our Product and Die 

Use Our Product and Die
Originally uploaded by schweitn.
Here is an article on MSNBC about how people are more likely to crash while driving with a cell phone. Please note the big Verizon Wireless advertisement at the top... and the Nokia advertisement on the right if you click on the screenshot.

Not exactly what I would call good product placement if you ask me.

Update: After reading the actual article, I find this rather interesting:

The institute said it was the first attempt to estimate whether phone use increases the risk of an injury crash in automobiles.

"You'd think using a hands-free phone would be less distracting, so it wouldn't increase crash risk as much as using a hand-held phone. But we found that either phone type increased the risk," said Anne McCartt, one of the study's authors and the institute's vice president for research.

Alright... that's a pretty major conclusion if you ask me. So how did they come to this conclusion?

The researchers used cell phone records to compare phone use within 10 minutes before an actual crash with cell use by the same driver during the previous week.

It examined 456 drivers in Perth, Western Australia, who owned or used mobile phones and were in a crash that put them in a hospital emergency room between April 2002 and July 2004.

Each driver's cell phone usage during a 10-minute interval prior to the accident was compared to use during at least one earlier period when no accident occurred. Each driver, in effect, served as his or her own control group in the study.

Hold on. You looked at cell phone records? So how do you know if it was hands free or not? Just because the phone is capable of being hands free doesn't mean it was automatically used that way... and some phones may be labeled as "not hands free" by the researches but still have that ability. So how on Earth is their conclusion valid?


Q. Does cell phone use while driving cause traffic crashes?

A. Research shows that driving while using a cell phone can pose a serious cognitive distraction and degrade driver performance. The data are insufficient to quantify crashes caused by cell phone use specifically, but NHTSA estimates that driver distraction from all sources contributes to 25 percent of all police-reported traffic crashes.

Q. Is it safe to use hands-free (headset, speakerphone, or other device) cell phones while driving?

A. The available research indicates that whether it is a hands-free or hand-held cell phone, the cognitive distraction is significant enough to degrade a driver’s performance. This can cause a driver to miss key visual and audio cues needed to avoid a crash.

First two questions on the NHTSA's cellphone research page. I remember reading this in a local paper. The distraction from either is enough to risk accidents.

  Posted at July 12, 2005 4:27 PM by Blogger Be  
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Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.

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