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Saturday, July 23, 2005

Talk about major reckless driving

This story came from WTOL-TV in Toledo, Ohio. The lady in this article was so busy talking on her cell phone that she missed a school bus with it's warning lights on and the stop sign out. I think that should have been obvious. Apparently that phone call must have been extrenely important. The article reads like this:

OREGON -- One day after the death of 5-year-old Dameatrius McCreary, Oregon Police have filed charges against the driver accused of hitting him. Late Friday, prosecutors filed aggravated vehicular homicide against Angelique Dipman.

The crash happened Thursday afternoon around 5:30pm in the 2700th block of Starr Avenue in Oregon. Police say a school bus stopped, with warning lights on and stop sign out, to let McCreary off the bus. Ohio laws require drivers to stop, but police say 27-year-old Dipman drove past the bus, and hit McCreary, throwing him several feet into the air.

McCreary was taken by helicopter to The Toledo Hospital where doctors pronounced him dead. Officers told us they released Dipman at the scene, but Dipman turned herself in on Friday after receiving word that the charge had been filed.

"My prayers go out to the family," said Dipman as she was led into police headquarters by her attorney. When asked what happened, she reiterated, "I have no other comment other than my prayers go out to the family."

Police believe Dipman was on her cell phone at the time of the accident which may have distracted her. "You just don't drive by a stopped school bus with the lights flashing unless there is some distraction in some shape or form," said Oregon Police Chief Tom Gulch. The mother of Dameatrius, Sandra TenEyck, agreed by saying "This woman was on a cell phone. She didn't stop for a bus that had its stop sign out. I mean you have to see that. There's no way."

News 11 checked Dipman's driving record and found her license has been suspended twice. She also has been cited for speeding 4 times, going 84 in a 55mph zone in Clay Center, 70 and 71 in a 55mph zone in Perrysburg; and 51 in a 35mph zone in Northwood. Oregon Police say Dipman was not speeding yesterday and her license was valid.

The family of the victim says this tragedy has to send a message about drivers near school buses. "This should not be happening to a kid, getting off a school bus from school. They're supposed to be safe. You expect people to obey the laws and unfortunately, they don't and this is what happens," said Colleen Gamble, Dameatrius's grandmother. Chief Gulch agreed, saying, "There's nothing more imperative for drivers than to realize a stopped school bus means children are present and our obligation is to preserve those kids lives."

Dipman was released on a supervised bond on Friday afternoon. She will appear Tuesday morning for an arraignment in Oregon Municipal Court. Count on News 11 to stay on top of this story.

Updated by AEB

Come on, a school bus with the lights on and the stop sign out should be fairly obvious. But, that is what happens when drivers talk on their cell phones while driving. Unfortunately, this lady had been ticketed before and did not learn her lesson. It Is even more unfortunate for the family that lost their son.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Hopefully, this driver learned his lesson

I just got this story from Car Talk. The father in this story learned where his attention should be when he is driving his car. Fortunately, he learned that it was not worth the risk to take the call. I just hope his son learns this before he starts driving.

used to think that it was no big deal to drive while talking on a mobile phone. That was until I came close to killing myself and my ten-year-old son. We were traveling down the road one Saturday morning when I thought I heard my phone ring. I looked down where I normally kept it and it wasn't there. It had slid down between the two front seats. Still thinking it was ringing, I literally forgot that I was driving and tried to get to it. The next thing I knew, I had rammed into the car in front of me. The car had come to a stop while waiting for the car in front of it to make a left hand turn into a driveway. A split second after we hit, a truck hit us from behind.

My car was a total loss. The airbag inflated and the inside of the car was filled with smoke from it. I looked over at my son and saw that he couldn't breath because of the smoke. I will never get the look on his face out of my mind. Fortunately, we came through with only a few bruises and scrapes; we were both wearing our seatbelts. There never was a phone call. I only thought I had heard it.

It is good to hear that no one got hurt in this incident. The outcome could have been much worse!

Friday, July 15, 2005

The National Safety Council studies "inattenton blindness"

This is from The University of Utah. It shows a certain correlation between a driver's inattention to the road and the use of cell phones while driving a vehicle. Take note, the study only involves cars, but I believe all wheeled vehicles( including bicycles) should be involved.

Study Finds "Inattention Blindness" in Behind-the-Wheel Cell Phone Users
Itasca, IL -- A new study in the February/March 2003 issue of the National Safety Council's Injury Insights™ describes new research that explains, specifically, how cell phone conversations while driving become a potentially dangerous distraction. The study, by researchers David Strayer, Frank Drews and William Johnston at the University of Utah, titled "Cell Phone Use Can Lead to Inattention Blindness Behind the Wheel", shows that conversing on cell phones while driving disrupts the driver's attention to the visual environment, leading to what the authors call "inattention blindness", or the inability to recognize objects encountered in the driver's visual field.

In a previous study reported in the August/September 2001 issue of Injury Insights, the same authors found that conversing on cell phones while driving can lead to significant decreases in driving performance. The study found that driver distractions due to cell phone use can occur regardless of whether hand-held or hands-free cell phones are used, and that cell phone conversations create much higher levels of driver distractions than listening to the radio or audio books. The authors suggest that banning hand-held devices, but permitting hands-free devices in motor vehicles is not likely to significantly reduce driver distractions associated with cell phone conversations.

The new study, conducted at the University of Utah, used 20 participants in controlled, simulated driving conditions. A city-driving scenario was used and a number of digital images of real-world billboards were positioned in the driving scene in clear view as the participants drove past them. An eye-tracking device was used to determine whether or not the participants fixated on each billboard. Afterwards, participants were given a surprise recognition memory test to determine incidental memory of billboards. One-third of the billboards were presented in the driving but not conversing (single-task) condition, 1/3 were presented in the driving and conversing on a hands-free phone (dual-task) condition, and 1/3 were used as control stimuli in an incidental memory task, not presented in the driving scenarios.

The authors suggest that even when participants are directing their gaze at objects in the driving environment, they may fail to "see" them when they are using a cell phone because attention is directed elsewhere. The data also suggests that legislative initiatives that restrict hand-held devices but permit hands-free devices are not likely to eliminate the problems associated with using cell phones while driving. The problems are attributed in large part to the distracting effects of the phone conversations themselves, which direct attention away from the external environment and towards an internal, cognitive context associated with the phone conversation.

"This study sheds additional light on the subject of driver distraction and its causes," said Alan C. McMillan, President of the National Safety Council, "and it underscores once again that a driver's primary obligation is to give his or her full attention to operating the motor vehicle safely. More research is needed to help us fully understand the impact of cell phones and other electronic devices on driver distractions and motor vehicle safety." In a "Multitasking Statement" adopted by the National Safety Council in March 2001, the Council noted that "a driver's first responsibility is the safe operation of the vehicle" and that "best practice is to not use electronic devices including cell phones while driving." (The statement can be found on the Council's website at National Safety ouncil.)

The issue of driver distractions caused by cellular phones becomes increasingly important as cell phone use becomes more prevalent in American life. According to studies conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), some form of driver distraction is a contributing factor in 20 to 30 percent of all crashes. The Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association estimates that there are currently 134.5 million cellular phones in operation in the United States, and a recent NHTSA survey found that nearly 75 percent of drivers reported using their phone while driving. A NHTSA observational study released in 2001 estimated that 500,000 drivers of passenger vehicles (cars, vans, sport utility vehicles and pickups) are talking on hand-held cell phones during any given daytime moment throughout the week. The two studies featured in Injury Insights are part of a larger research project conducted by the University of Utah researchers. Copies of the studies from Injury Insights can also be found at the NSC website, http://www.nsc.org/. The results of the larger project, including the study described in this issue of Injury Insights, will be published in the March 2003 issue of The Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied.

The February/March 2003 issue of Injury Insights also includes a research study on the inability of young drivers to recognize risk; reviews of other new research; motor vehicle statistics; state data and upcoming events and announcements. Annual subscriptions to the bi-monthly newsletter can be purchased at the NSC website.

The National Safety Council, America' safety and health leader for 90 years, is a nonprofit, nongovernmental community of 37,500 organizations and individuals dedicated to reducing unintentional injuries in the workplace, on highways, and in homes and communities.

It is good that this problem has caught the attention of one of our nation's leading universities. The problem is getting the technology and wireless companies to catch on. Not only that, but this has to be brought to the attention of the American public at large.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

If there are any doubts, this study proves my point

This article was just in today's Grand Rapids Press. It was a study done by the NHTSA. It shows that using a hands free headset while driving does not make any difference in safety. This study had to be conducted in Australia because none of the U.S. carriers would divulge any records. Afraid of losing possible profits, I guess. It just shows just how greedy corporate America can be.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Drivers using cellular phones are four times as likely to get into a crash that can cause injuries serious enough to send them to the hospital, said an insurance study released Tuesday.

Research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety suggests that using a hands-free device instead of a hand-held phone while behind the wheel will not necessarily improve safety. The institute said it was the first attempt to estimate whether phone use increases the risk of an injury crash in automobiles.

"You'd think using a hands-free phone would be less distracting, so it wouldn't increase crash risk as much as using a hand-held phone. But we found that either phone type increased the risk," said Anne McCartt, one of the study's authors and the institute's vice president for research.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal, found that male and female drivers had the same increase in risk from using a phone, along with drivers who are older and younger than age 30.

With more motorists dialing and driving than ever, lawmakers have tried to find ways of reducing driver distraction.

New York, New Jersey and the District of Columbia prohibit talking on hand-held cell phones while driving. In Connecticut, drivers will have to use hands-free devices beginning on Oct. 1. Some cities, such as Chicago, Santa Fe, N.M., and Brookline, Mass., require hands-free devices in automobiles.

But eight states — Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma and Oregon — prevent local governments from restricting cell phone use in motor vehicles, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The study found an overall fourfold increase in injury crashes when drivers were using cell phones. Researchers said there were substantially more drivers who were using their phones when they crashed compared with other similar periods of driving.

The researchers used cell phone records to compare phone use within 10 minutes before an actual crash with cell use by the same driver during the previous week.

It examined 456 drivers in Perth, Western Australia, who owned or used mobile phones and were in a crash that put them in a hospital emergency room between April 2002 and July 2004.
Each driver's cell phone usage during a 10-minute interval prior to the accident was compared to use during at least one earlier period when no accident occurred. Each driver, in effect, served as his or her own control group in the study.

The institute had tried to conduct the study in the United States but could not get access to records from phone companies. The phone records were available in Western Australia, where hand-held phone use has been banned while driving since 2001.

More than nine out of 10 suffered at least one injury and nearly half had two or more, with the majority of the injuries being mild to moderate in severity.

Weather was not an issue in the crashes, with nearly 75 percent occurring during clear conditions. About nine out of 10 crashes involved other vehicles and more than half of the injured drivers said their crashes happened within 10 minutes of the start of the trip.

Many studies examining cell phone use in vehicles have been based on police reports, but critics say the records are unreliable because it is difficult to corroborate whether a driver was using a phone.

A survey released earlier this year by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 8 percent of drivers, or 1.2 million people, were using cell phones during daylight hours last year. It represented a 50 percent increase since 2002.

Jim Champagne, chairman of the Governors Highway Safety Association, said the study reinforced the need for driver education. His organization urges state lawmakers to refrain from enacting hand-held cell phone bans because they "incorrectly send the message to drivers that as long as they are hands-free, they are safe."

Of course, the companies that manufacture the equipment would have us believe that their headsets solve the problem. They are the ones making tons of money off these things. They would divert our attention from the real problem. That is the conversation. The only solution is to use the cell phone only for emergencies.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

At least one wireless company understands the problem

Cingular wireless has published an article available at Drive Now, Chat later . It is about a program that they are sponsoring called "Be sensible: Don't drive yourself to distraction". Though the program targets specifically teens, I believe it applies equally to all drivers.

Teen Driving Program
Cingular Asks Teens to "Be Sensible"

Because we believe that distractions are an even greater issue for new drivers, Cingular produced a comprehensive in-class program free of charge for high school educators and driving schools called "Be Sensible: Don't drive yourself to distraction." This program teaches novice drivers how to manage all distractions and includes a video, detailed educator's guide, educational wall poster, and classroom activities. A free copy of the video "Be Sensible: Don't drive yourself to distraction" is available to all educators on request.

The teen driving program has reached an estimated 10.3 million students to date. The program is now in use in more than 17,500 high schools and professional driving schools across the country, and 99 percent of teachers who used the program say they will use it again.

In addition, senior education and safety administrators in 12 states (Maryland, Virginia, Maine, Ohio, Indiana, Georgia, New York, New Jersey, Mississippi, Kansas, Florida and Alabama) have accepted the program for statewide use.

View the teen driving safety video (requires Windows Media Player).

The program includes the technical assistance and counsel of the nation's top driver education advisors including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association (ADTSEA), and the Driving School Association of the Americas (DSAA).

NHTSA data shows drivers ages 16 to 20 years old are four times more likely to be involved in distraction-related collisions.

Tips for Teens

Cingular recommends that teens do not use a wireless device when driving during their graduated-licensing period except in the case of emergencies.

Cingular's teen driving program provides new drivers with the following tips on managing distractions while driving:

Ask passengers to help by changing the CD or radio station, placing a cell phone call, or reading directions for you.

If you don't have a passenger, wait until you come to a complete stop at a red light or stop sign before changing the CD or radio station.

If you must take or place a call, pull off the road, well away from traffic, into a safe, busy, well-lit area or let the call go to voice mail.

When picking up fast food, make the time to enjoy your food inside the restaurant or take the food home. If you're traveling with someone, take turns driving while the passenger eats.

Avoid stressful or emotional conversations while behind the wheel.
Don't be a "rubbernecker." Let your passengers do the sightseeing for you.

Like I stated above, these are great tip for teens. They are good habits to pick up early. But these tips are not just for teens when they start driving. These tips should be used as a guideline for everybody on the road. If people followed these rules, our roads would be a lot safer.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Keep your attention on the road

This incident happened in my own home state. The driver in this case was so much into his conversation on his cell phone that he was not watching where he was going. He didn't even have time to react before he rear ended the person in front of him. This account is from Drive Now, Chat Later.

This incident happened several years ago, but it will always stick in my mind. I was driving with a friend on I-75 just north of Detroit. Traffic was medium heavy and traveling around 55 mph. I was in the passenger seat, so I was able to look around and daydream and see the sights.

I happened to look at an individual who was driving next to me. He was talking on his cell phone, and it looked like he was having a wonderful conversation with someone on the other line! He was talking very fast and very loud and laughing hard. This went on for several miles, up to the point when he was so far into this conversation that he forgot the fact that he was driving and literally looked up at the ceiling of his car.

This process lasted for about five seconds. Little did he notice that the traffic had come to a complete stop in front of him. When he finally lowered his head he was about 1.5 car-lengths from the car in front of him, and, with the cell phone still clutched in his hand, he let out a scream into the phone that hit glass-shattering decibels and slammed into the car without even hitting his brakes. All this took place while traveling at 55 mph. I learned from his mistake that talking while driving could have a big IMPACT on my life and maybe someone else's!
Michael Robb

People say that they can react fast enough to avoid. If that is so, then it is possible for them to overreact and make things worse. A driver's attention needs to be on the road in front of them. If they are paying attention, then they shouldn't have to react.

Always remember to Drive Now, Chat Later.