SMOKE: Cellphone Drivers
Originally published: 15 January 2004
When research meets the real world, collisions are inevitable.
I read a SAPA story yesterday about a Swedish researcher - Anne Bolling of the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute - who did a study of 48 drivers, where half were given cellphones as they drove a course on a simulator.
The other half had no distractions and Bolling concluded from the results that people who talk on cellphones while driving are more careful, as they slow down and give extra attention to their driving.
Obviously Bolling has never actually got stuck behind someone talking on a cellphone while driving. But I have - more often than I care to - and I don't need even one test subject to tell you that her findings are utter hogwash.
Women and cars - not the perfect marriage, I'm afraid. I suppose it is fitting that a woman should come up with such nonsense - most of the cellphone drivers I see are women, who chat gaily and with careless abandon while swerving all over the road, blissfully unaware of the thousands upon thousands of lives they place in jeopardy every single day.
But before I get a slap on the wrist from the Centre For Gender Studies or a welcome home card from Wifebeaters.com, I'll concede that no matter what your sex - if you drive while talking on the phone you are a road hazard that should be removed.
It's like drunk drivers - anyone who drives drunk will tell you that they are excellent drivers while under the influence, and it's the same with some pigheaded cellphone folks.
You might think you're being careful and no doubt believe in your multitasking abilities, but it doesn't alter the fact that you're wrong - you are a menace to other drivers.
I've long since lost count of the amount of times I've seen a car ahead of me behaving oddly, only to see the driver holding a cellphone plastered to his fat, stupid ear (or her sweet, delicate little ear, depending on the circumstance).
[Quick aside here: I react completely differently to male and female drivers on the road. I can be fuming with rage at a car, and ready to launch my rockets at them, only to discover it's a little hottie who's just so gosh darn ditzy and cute, and I magnanimously wave her through, indicating not to worry in the slightest, no problem here, A-OK, life is beautiful, fancy a shag? If it turns out to be a bloke he also gets gestures, but of a very different kind. Chicks - gotta love 'em. And I do.]
But back to the swine in front with the fat ear, which no doubts oozes all sorts of wax and dirty bits in a thin film all over his earpiece. My worst is the stop-start nature of his driving and his inability to indicate properly or in time.
Chatting away the driver starts slowing down, realises he is doing so and speeds up again, only for the procedure to be repeated ad nauseam. You can never get past the bastard and to do so would probably be ill-advised at best - cellphone drivers have a nasty habit of suddenly realising they are supposed to turn and swerving swiftly and violently while indicating at the same time.
Drives me absolutely bananas. Unless it's a hottie, of course, all filled with shame and embarrassment at her own silly little itsy-bitsy-witsy mistake, waving and smiling sweetly in apology, and allowing her shoulder strap to dislodge from her fantastic collar bone and hang on her tanned, lithe arm.
A bit lip, a flutter of the lashes, a foot on the gas and a rapidly disappearing memory.
And they know it, the little tarts, and we are powerless to stop them or resist their charms. But no matter how offensive they may be, nor how many cellphones they are talking on - you can't hate a hottie. A hot, hot, hot little number. A saucy little strumpet with hot, hot little shoulders. A filthy-hot little hottie. Filthy. Shoulders. Hot.
Or better yet - a hot little soccer mom. A filthy, hot little - ag, just forget it.
Anne Bolling (that hot, filthy little Swedish researcher) reckons that Sweden has no plans to outlaw cellphones while driving. "If you ban cellphone calls in the car, how do you react to other things that distract drivers, like talking to passengers?", she asked in the SAPA article.
Once again I see where she's going, but vehemently and respectfully and please let me pinch a nip disagree - holding a cellphone with one hand means your gear shifts have to take place with no hand upon the wheel, and it also becomes that much harder to indicate.
More importantly - you can block out other distractions in a car, but when you're having a conversation with someone you have to concentrate on what they are saying, and by doing so it means a certain portion of that concentration is not going to be directed at what is happening on the road.
Your reaction time to danger is far slower than if you have both hands available, not to mention full concentration on the road.
The reason I get so upset about all this is that I don't care if a cellphone driver slams into a brick wall and decapitates themself in mid-conversation - idiots deserve what they get. I'm far more concerned with my own health and life, which is why I fly into an abnormal rage whenever someone comes close to wiping me out.
The amount of times I have had to take evasive or impatient action with cellphone drivers is way too many for me to be comfortable with them, and I wish the thing could be better policed.
It can't, of course - people simply drop their phones when they spot a cop - but if it could I wouldn't be unhappy to see them dragged away in chains.
Unless, of course, they're hot, filthy hotties.
All Smoked Out,