Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Should mobile phones be banned in cars?

                                     Should mobile phones be banned in cars?

    We all know that mobile phone that mobile phones are a distraction in cars. It is annoying and frightening to see people taking on their hand-held mobile phones while driving, especially, when their behavior creates a hazardous situation for everyone on the road. However, banning mobile phones use in cars is like stuffing a Genie into the bottle. There are certain obvious cases were mobile phone use truly should be banned, such as teenage drivers and bus drivers but there are a lot of people who depend on communicating while driving.

    Below we show the results of two recent studies:

AAA study

    This study showed the rank of distraction and gave the distraction level a score from 1.0 to 5.0. Here are the results:
No distractions                   
            Radio on                             
            Audio book                       
            Hands-free mobile phone   
2.27 (talking only, not looking at the mobile phone)
            Talking to passenger          
2.33 (passenger unaware of surroundings)
            Hand-held mobile phone   
            Speech to text                     
            Operational span task         
5.00 (solving a math problem while trying to remember a fact)

Virginia Tech & NHTSA study

    This study found that the risk of an accident depended on the specific task associated with mobile phones. Here are the results:
         Risk  Range (with 95% confidence)
             Hand held mobile phone use
     Portable Hands-free mobile phone use
   Integrated Hands-free mobile phone use
              Visual and manual subtask

Putting things in perspective, accident risk depends on a number of other factors:
  • ·         Speed              

                     Driving (MPH)

  • ·         Choice of roads

There is a huge variation in accident risk depending on the choice of road. The accident rate on a complex urban arterial road is about 10 times higher than a motorway.
  • ·         Age

Drivers under 25 years old are at 3x risk of having an accident. Old age is not a big problem until the driver gets quite old around 70 years old.
  • ·         Gender

Men get in more fatal accidents. Women get in slightly more fender benders.
  • ·         Alcohol

In California State, a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 is the legal limit but any amount of alcohol is dangerous. A legal drunk driver, about two drinks for most people, is about equal to teenage driver.

     Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)
                     Relative Risk
  • ·         More factors

  •              All drivers think they are better drivers than they                        really are.
  •              Some drivers have mental deficits anger issues that                     make them far more dangerous than the rest of                           population.
  •               Citations for moving violations predict how likely                     you will be to get in an accident.

These studies are ones of many that show that any form of talking puts a cognitive load on the brain and causes a degree of distraction. Also, anything that puts a load on the brain also tends to narrow our peripheral vision. That is, we literally see less when we are distracted. Without a doubt, handheld mobile phone use, any task involves touching the mobile phone, talking to passenger in the front seat and taking your eyes off the road will increase your risk of an accident.

These studies show that driver judgement is a big factor but even with typical drive judgement, visual and manual task will cause more accidents. Until we have self-driving cars, it is reasonable to ban the worst offenders: handheld mobile and texting.

Here is what we know:

                    Pros                    vs                       Cons
  • ·         Talking with

Hands free mobile
Hand held mobile
Better for driving
Worst for driving
It is not illegal/It is not easy to enforce
It is easy to enforce/That should be banned
It is not risk-free, Risk Range : 0.25-2.30
Highest risk of accident, Risk Range : 1.20-2.49
It is not as safe as driving without distractions
It is totally unsafe

  • ·         Texting

Speech to text is dangerous
Touching to text is dangerous
Worse that driving drunk
The worst of all
That should be banned (speech to text, score: 3.06 distraction level, where MIN is 1.0 & MAX is 5.0)
That should be banned (visual and manual subtask, Risk Range: 1.91-4.51)

  • ·         Trying to find your mobile

No problem at all
Dangerous, but if the driver uses good judgement, then it is a limited hazardous

When you look at the risk and the carnage on the roads, it is questionable whether humans should be driving cars at all.

        Talking on mobile is about the same cognitive load                    as talking to someone/passenger in the front seat.

         Should talking to a passenger be banned? , yet                          nobody is suggesting banning passengers from                          talking to driver.

         Listening to Audio-book is less cognitive load as a                    conversation or talking but the driver might be                          listening to the Audio-book close to 100% of the time.

         Should Audio-books be banned from cars?

        A teenage driver is about the same risk as a legally drunk         driver. Yet, a teenage driver has to actually drive in order         to learn how or know-how.

         Should teenage driver and/or drunk driver be banned                from cars?