Thursday, December 01, 2005

Teen Driver + Cell Phone = Bad, Bad Stuff

We've all suspected that cell phone usage while driving makes other people drive like idiots, and the fine folks over at Ford have gone and proved that. Testing teens and adults in a driving simulator, they came up with some very interesting numbers. For example, teens and adults missed only 3% of potentially dangerous traffic hazards while just driving, with no phone. While using a hands-free cell phone, the missed hazard rate for adults increases to 13%, which is to be expected, since people really get into their conversations. What's really scary is, the missed hazard rate for teenagers using hands-free phones jumps to 53%.

I find an interesting parallel between these statistics, and some of the certification hoops I have to jump through when I fly. For example, the rating I'm currently seeking, an instrument rating, requires that I have 50 hours of cross-country flight time logged, in addition to the training I did to get my license in the first place. The reason for this is becoming quite clear, and it's that pilots need to be able to instinctively fly the plane before they add in the rigors of instrument flight.

Most adults don't consider the massive amount of work they do, just driving a car, because it has become second nature, almost instinctive. Teenagers, though, are still learning these skills, and if you add in another distraction, like a cell phone, the entire system starts to completely break down.

It makes me wonder if a graduated licensing schema would be a better choice for teaching our youngsters to drive...

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posted by S.C. @ 8:00 AM |

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