Wednesday, January 07, 2004

THE PROBLEM WITH using cell phones while driving has little to do with the driver's hands.

The problem is with the driver's mind. Have the hands-free advocates -- or those who pooh-pooh the whole idea that this is a problem at all -- ever had a telephone conversation? The mind focuses on that conversation, to the detriment of focus elsewhere.

Ever looked at the elaborate doodles you made while on the phone and had no recollection of making them? Ever been shocked at the pile of empties that had formed by the end of the conversation? (Or maybe that's just me.)

Maybe the anecdotal evidence is faulty. Drivers who do stupid things these days are always on the phone, but so are most other drivers. But I don't think you need to see a pile of research to know that drivers should be focusing on the road and not on a distant conversation partner. And while the distraction of having to pick up a phone and answer it or dial it is also a bad thing about these devices, it's not the bad thing.

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