Study Details Cell Phone/Driving Impairment, Even Hands-Free

Dec 11, 2003
Denton, Texas

This is pretty important, though we probably all realize it. Seems about guaranteed these days that if somebody is doing something weird on the road, they're probably jamming a cell phone to their ear.

I use a hands-free kit, but this study notes that even drivers with those have slower reaction times. I believe this because I notice that I tend to abandon the conversation if something something particular on the road (or in the sky) requires my attention. Unless you're cruising the interstate on auto-pilot, it's difficult to properly attend both.

A new study confirms that the reaction time of cell phone users slows dramatically, increasing the risk of accidents and tying up traffic in general, and when young adults use cell phones while driving, they're as bad as sleepy septuagenarians.

Strayer and his colleagues have been down this road before. In 2001, they found that even hands-free cell phone use distracted drivers. In 2003 they revealed a reason: Drivers look but don't see, because they're distracted by the conversation. The scientists also found previously that chatty motorists are less adept than drunken drivers with blood alcohol levels exceeding 0.08.
I certainly agree that there is a level of impairment. I notice the same results when I am involved in a lengthy QSO on the ham radio as well, and most times keep it short if I'm in traffic.

I agree that hands-free devices aren't a fully suitable alternative, but it does free up a hand for those curling their hair, holding their coffee cup, and holding their pop-tart on the way to the office.......yikes!

Well, before this spins too far away....LOL. One of the reasons I posted it is because those people are us. Chasers are on the phone all the time. I know one chaser from Kansas (who shall remain nameless) who I have NEVER seen--not once--not on the phone in his vehicle.

I am as guilty as the next chaser, too. I'm talking to nowcasters, talking to other chasers, just running my trap like there's no tomorrow.

I posted this so that of all us, myself included, can consider the impact on our driving skills and take those risks into account.
Distracted by cellphone? Can't be nearly as bad as trying to type out a message in chatroom while chasing! I know someone who has done that from time to time.
I believe it's been a known factor that when driving, any sort of distraction is going to slow your reaction time. Notice they used the youngest (more accident prone) and the oldest (again, more likely to cause accidents) drivers. These are the folks that are generally a higher insurance risk.

Most stated collect the data on accident reports. I know in the two states I worked in Law Enforcement, there was a little check box that asked if a cell phone was in use. Was this always the cause of the accident? No. Kids squabbling in the back seat was always a good one. Changing a radio station was another. Looking at the lady or man walking on the sidewalk was yet another. In most cases, it was something that caused to driver to stop paying attention to the driving. Cell phones? Yep, it's a factor.

Chasers? Yes, I would say we're even more at risk. We're trying to pay attention to several things happening at once. The Cell phone going off, the 2M squawking, the scanner blaring, what's the storm doing? Oh S**T, what's that car in front of me doing? What an idiot! Geez, did I just Hydroplane? OMG! Did you see that hailstone that just bounced off the windshield? Man! Were's the next turn off so I can get around this sheriff.

I also believe a lot of us are being pretty careful out there. Since we do have all the input overload, we tend to be more aware of what's going on around us. This isn't always the case when tunnel vision sets in during the tornado chase, but most of us are pretty safe. We have it hammered into our heads to keep an eye on everything around us. We watch the "Yahoo" and "Locals" out for a spin and it makes us more aware of our driving. We discuss it routinely on the boards where even the most dense of us who reads the board is aware of it. Some of it has to sink in somewhere.
GPS another factor

While I don't have a cell phone yet (sigh), I can see the dangers of driving and talking involved. I got a new GPS device from E-Bay this past summer. I went for a spin on the local Interstate to check it out. I went westbound for about 10 miles then decided to head back. I was on the onramp getting back into eastbound traffic when the unspeakable thing happened. :shock:

I was moving down the onramp and apparently I was too busy looking at my GPS to notice that I was not up to highway speed. Next thing I knew a SUV pickup whizzed by me just scant inches from my driver side door handles!! That shocked me to the point I stepped on the brakes. Then I realized my speed was below the minumum limit for the Interstate.

That SUV was in heavy traffic and probably was not able to change lanes to let me on the Interstate. Still that was a "wake up" call of a high magtitude for me. I made sure from that point on that when I need to look at or check my GPS while driving, I would do that when I'm in the clear or stopped in traffic.

I think the same thing holds true for anything you are doing while driving: PAY ATTENTION :!: :!: LJK
We, as a group, have got to be either the craziest drivers or the best "multi-taskers" in the world. we drive, shoot video, talk on the cell or HAM, navigate with maps and GPS, and download radar on the laptop all at the same time while driving 70+mph in wet and windy conditions!!! lets see the NASCAR guys do that!!!

I have no clue how nobody has been killed yet or at least totaled a chase vehicle or two. That is why I now have a partner to help with some of this stuff. I did it alone for many years but now realize how crazy I was. Now Kanani drives (most the time) and I worry about the storm and data. This year I am going to make her do some targeting and make some decisions on how to work the storm. Nothing like experience.
Originally posted by Amos Magliocco
I posted this so that of all us, myself included, can consider the impact on our driving skills and take those risks into account.
I'm always watching my camcorder aim and fiddling w/ GPS on the laptop to plan my next turn. A cellphone is the least of my worries! :mrgreen: