Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Distracted Driving?

Why does everyone think that only cell phones are major distractions?? Many human activities take place in automobiles that cause MAJOR distractions to the driver and even other drivers. In all fairness, I think the full range of driver distractions should be discussed without fear of being deleted…Cell-phones are relative newcomers when it comes to distracted drivers…

Hear hear. I threw a post with similar sentiment into the cell phone thread. Thanks for putting the issue up more prominently.

True, but some are worse (cellphone equated to drunk driving or worse). I can drink a soda without taking my eyes off the road, and not using more than a couple neurons.

I actually did a study on this early in my college career,

I found that the cell phone itself is really, not at the top of the list of distractions (this was in 2005 when texting wasn’t nearly as “hip”).

Mainly, I found that distracted driving is mainly all about the state of mind that it puts you in, rather than physically talking on the phone. Playing with the CD player or eating a sandwich are exceptions, of course. In short, anything that takes your mind off of driving is just as distracting as yacking on the phone.

I drive ~ 250 miles round trip on the interstates on a weekly basis and for me, staring off into space / day dreaming is the main distraction.

And I’ve been typing till my fingers turn blue,
That all basic driver’s ed has GOT to include this stuff !

All of y’all should lobby your states to toughen the driver’s ed standards.

But, of course, THAT doesn’t re-train the masses who just don’t get it now.

Even the good ol’ paper road map was a dangerous distraction when one was engrossed in reading that liitle type font or trying to figure out just where in the h you were.

( have you ever seen an air chart ? It unfolds to be 59" accross, 21" tall. Try flying a little Cessna and read THAT map simultaneously.)

I have flown a “little” Cessna with one of those many times, they’re called sectionals actually. You get very, very good at folding your route into a 8" x 4" section that sits nicely on your lap. As you get more and more proficient with the air-GPS, eventually the sectional is left in the back of the airplane, folded up and not really needed until an electrical failure. (But that can’t happen, right?)

Talking, in general can be a distraction. I made a post on another board about how I get fairly uncomfortable riding in the car when my mom is driving. I’ve drove my mom and stepdad around several times and my mom will comment about something off in the distance, almost inviting me to look. I’ve also told her a few times that I can’t really look, I need to watch the road. I may glance in the direction if I know it’s not too far off from the road, but I don’t just turn my head and stare in the direction either(like she did one time while driving).

Which brings up an additional driving distraction device that defers one’s attention from the road ahead.
That aforementioned GPS device can be as dangerous as texting. I’ve seen it in action.

( "But officer I wasn’t texting. It was the GPS… and it’s made for the car you know. )
Find your route.
Then drive. People just don’t get it, do they ?

( I stopped flying our Cessna 172 for economic reasons back in '85. Waaaay before them thar new fangled GPS thingamabobs. )

I seldom use a cell phone when driving, maybe 5 times total. However I have noticed that I am far more distracted talking to someone on the cell phone than a passenger. I would guess that is because if something happens, your passenger can see it and you don’t need to explain why you stopped talking while you were trying to change lanes. You passenger can see it and does not need you to explain why you stopped talking.

It is true that cell phone use is not the only source of distraction for a driver.

As has been said, eating while driving (especially if the driver is trying to avoid getting nacho sauce on his shirt) is distracting.
So is the use of a GPS.
So is having to discipline unruly kids.
Some people can be distracted just from carrying on a conversation.

I used to absolutely dread having to ride in my boss’s car for several reasons. Aside from the fact that he was a terrible driver, and aside from the fact that he always needed to stop for gas while his underlings were in his car (Hint, Hint, Chip in for the gas), he became possibly the world’s worst driver once he began one of his rambling stories.

When he talked, he apparently wanted to see the reaction on the faces of his passengers. That caused him to constantly turn to look at his passengers while he drove. Each time that he turned to look at one of his passengers, he would hit the brake.

The result was not just that his eyes were off the road for a significant amount of time, but that his passengers were subjected to ongoing whiplash-like situations as he alternately jammed on the brake and then hit the gas to compensate for slowing down too much. This could go on for…maybe 25 miles or so…while we traveled to another campus for a meeting. The effect was simultaneously terrifying (as he narrowly avoided other cars) and nauseating (as our heads bobbed forward and backward).

Some people just shouldn’t be allowed behind the wheel of a car.
Yes, I mean YOU, Jerry R in NJ!

[ Each time that he turned to look at one of his passengers, he would hit the brake. ]

hahahaha. Priceless.

Why does everyone think that only cell phones are major distractions??

I, for one, don’t think only cell phones are major distractions, and every time someone brings up cell phones, someone else brings other distractions into the conversation. Every time that happens, I, or someone else, acknowledges the other distractions, and agrees that they deserve equal attention.

If you take a closer look at the various cell phone threads, where this very issue has been addressed, you will find much agreement with your position.

Caddyman, I think you need a vacation.

Hah! I remember a car insurance company commercial from years ago. In it there is an apparently driverless VW bug going down the road and after about 10 or so seconds a long-haired hippy type sits up clutching a cassette tape that he then then puts into the tape player. The tag line was, “he’s out there.”

So, no, cell phones are not the only distraction. In 1972 an L1011 airliner flew into the Everglades in Florida due to the flight crew being distracted by a malfunctioning indicator light. The pilot, co-pilot, and flight engineer were all looking away from the instruments for something like 4 minutes as the plane slowly descended into the swamp.

The final NTSB report cited the cause of the crash as pilot error, specifically: “the failure of the flight crew to monitor the flight instruments during the final four minutes of flight, and to detect an unexpected descent soon enough to prevent impact with the ground. Preoccupation with a malfunction of the nose landing gear position indicating system distracted the crew’s attention from the instruments and allowed the descent to go unnoticed.”

We all have distractions when driving. Most are difficult to control. Some are minor distractions some large. Cell phones fall into a category of easy to control, just turn it off. The cute blond on the corner, is a little harder to turn off.

Anybody want to talk about the GPS dashboard displays that are becoming standard equipment?

Ah, so GPS is OK to discuss, but Blonds in the passenger seat, sorry, that’s not appropriate…


The computers truck drivers use are usually automatically deactivated when the truck is in motion. Only when a truck has been assigned to a team does the computer stay activated while the truck is in motion.

In dash GPS units should be the same. Obviously, the GPS would need to work while the truck is in motion, but you shouldn’t be able to program it unless the car is stopped.

Ok - I think this discussion now needs to be safety standards for cars with distracted drivers. We’ve got beepers to warn people who are behind cars and to keep us from running over the kids bikes - why not a different sound for when you get too close to the car in front of you - like 3 car lengths. And, if you’re swerving into the next lane, maybe you can get a shock through the steering wheel - assuming you’ve got a body part touching it. These safety items could also curb these aggressive - road rage drivers as well.

I think Mercedes already has these features on some of its newest models. If you want a car that can drive itself, you can buy a Mercedes or take mass transit.

I agree that cell phone are not the only source of distracted driving also. I own a cell phone but I never use it while driving. If the phone starts ringing, I won’t answer it until I have found a safe place to pull over. I have gotten distracted while talking to my husband in the car while I am driving or sometimes I will get distracted by my own thoughts. I think that cell phones are the biggest distraction though.

With today’s radio and climate control systems being designed such that you have to take your eyes off the road to focus on pushing those sequential menu buttons and looking at the LCD displays to tell what you’re doing, just changing the radio station or the blend door setup is now a distraction.

Give us back the old controls that we can “read” and change just by feel!