Off Topic: Cellulars

While using a cell phone is certainly a distraction, do any of you actually believe that this legislation will have any real positive effect on traffic accidents? If it does, how will you know (borrowing your premise that statistics are not worthwhile)? Drunk driving, the use of illegal drugs, and property theft are all indictable offenses with HUGE penalties, yet they are no less prevelent (and in some cases, more common) than before the laws were passed.

Just a side note, when the ban was passed here in NYC (or something, since someone is saying it’s going in effect november), some one died when he pulled over on the shoulder to use his cell phone. I hate cell phones myself, but they’re just one of the many distractions that cause so many accidents.

You can find those numbers in the USA “Snapshots.” You know the little graphic towards the bottom of the frontpage of their site? :wink: It doesn’t have the details your looking for, but it’s got a neat picture. LOL

Ahh, yes, USA Today. I checked out their numbers, but they’re not from the NC study, so they obviously don’t match the numbers Mike provided (they actually indicate that cell-phones are MORE dangerous than Mike’s numbers would show). USA Today got their stats from Progressive Insurance. In any event, I’d hardly use USA Today’s reporting (or Progressive Insurance’s stats) as a basis to determine social policy. But yeah, the pictures sure do look neato!

For the record, I do not feel that we need do draft new legislation banning cell-phones, merely expand the current laws to include them as a distraction. I also realize that some people are capable of using them safely while driving, however laws are written with the average person in mind, and I’ve already stated that I don’t feel that this hypothetical person could pull both tasks off safely. And yes, I think that once a few tickets are written, people will be more inclined to think twice about taking that call while on the road. It won’t put a total stop to the problem (no law ever does), but it will help.

That was me who made the crack about the USA Today snapshot. I was curious about the details of this study, too, so I looked it up. If you look up the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, you’ll find what you’re looking for. In the interest of saving space, though, I’ll only post the part that is most interesting to me here:

Study/Data Limitations

Missing data: The CDS data has a high percentage of "missing," "unknown," and "other" data. In spite of extensive investigations, driver attention status is "unknown" for almost 36 percent of the drivers. In addition, 34 percent of the drivers known to be distracted were coded as "other" or "unknown" distractions. Thus, present estimates for known distracting events probably understate their true magnitude.

Sample size: Because of small sample sizes, the data have large standard errors when weighted to reflect national estimates. For example, the estimates for cell phone use are based on only 42 reported cases.

Reporting bias: Some distractions may be more readily reported than others. Drivers may also be more willing to admit to certain distractions, since some distractions are more socially acceptable than others.

Exposure data: It is not known how much time drivers engage in various distracting activities, so relative risk cannot be determined. The CDS data only provides information on how often each behavior is a factor in crashes. More research is needed to document the frequency, intensity, and consequences of real-world driver distraction. Understanding driver distraction is especially important in light of new in-vehicle technologies :slight_smile: Real accurate numbers.

I BELIEVE THAT THERE SHOULD BE A NATIONALLY MANDATED LAW THAT REQUIRES THE USE OF A HEADSET/EARBUD/HANDSFREE/WHATEVER THE FUCK YOU CALL IT IF YOU WANT TO USE A MOBILE PHONE IN THE CAR…I use one and I never have a problem, all of a sudden everyone in this damn country thinks that they should have the right to endanger everyone else around them on the street, especially in Chicago.

Thanks Kevin. This sheds a little light on the “statistics” that everyone seems to bring up in discussions like this. Really, I could go do a “study” tomorrow and “prove”, using real statistics, that putting racing stripes on your car will increase your chances of getting into an accident. Whether or not this is good science, however, remains to be seen.

No prob, demo. And now we know why Mikey didn’t want to post more of the details from this study. They certainly don’t back up the initial impression that those numbers give, which is so often the case.

I live in a fairly big city with too many cars and too many people on cell phones, at least once a week someone talking on the phone while driving nearly runs me down. Should they be banned for city driving? Yes.

I should probably just let this alone, but I’ll post once more. It seems like the “statistics” that Mike posted have been pretty well disproven - not surprising. Only a knee-jerk fool would post one study supporting his political position and then have enough hubris to contradict the common-sense experiences of everyone else. I was also wondering about that 10.8% that was attributed to “passengers”. Did it say just what those passengers were doing? Was it just talking, or were they giving the drivers blowjobs? If this is a sample of Mike’s ability to interpret statistics and think constructively, well, I’m less than impressed. I also don’t see why he felt the need to be so gratuitously rude in his original post. (Perhaps an apology to the forum would be in order.) Oh, and finally, Mike, a “full order of magnitude” above 1.5% would be 15%, last time I checked - about half-again as much as your 10.8%. Tip: When you’re losing an argument, it doesn’t help to make wild exaggerations to try to bolster your point. I’m outta here.

Okay, I’m pissed. What we have here is a bunch of morons who think they can intelligently comment on topics they don’t understand. Tell me, do you have a degree in math from a respectable university? Did you graduate Summa Cum Laude at the very top of your class? What’s that? You say you didn’t? Then don’t fuck with someone who did.

To clear up some of the common misconceptions wasting bandwidth on this forum: (1) simple statistics cannot be “disproven” because they are observational in nature. When a survey reports that 10.9% of all reported accidents were blamed on passengers, that’s exactly what happened – 10.9% of all reported accidents were blamed on passengers (unless of course a mistake was made in the data collection process). (2) You can’t find statistics to support any position you want (at least, not truthful statistics). Although biases can and do occur, and the randomness of the sampling affects the reliability of the analysis, the cases where significant abberation occurs are in the minority. (3) You can’t manipulate statistics to say anything you want (at least, not without changing the statistics themselves). You can, however, present them in such a way that untrained idiots will draw the wrong conclusions. (4) Statistics does not establish cause and effect, only correlation. Both are fundamentally different methods of analyzing phenomena. (5) It is irrational to jump from the premise “The data are not 100% reliable,” to the conclusion, “The data are false,” or “What the data say is false, is, in fact, true.” We may not have perfect data, but given no other recourse, we must treat the data we have as perfect – unless we know exactly how it errs. For example, cell phones may cause 100% of accidents (maybe all the people were lying), but we have no data to suggest this. The data we do have suggests an accident rate of 1.5%, and until we have better, we must use this information to draw conclusions.

It almost goes without saying that no one has constructed defeaters for my arguments, and that, conversely, I have defeated all the “arguments” put forth thus far. I suggest all of you rethink your case rather than blindly spouting more nonsense in support of a cause you may believe in, but which has absolutely no merit. Because right now, you’re sounding as irrational and blindly ignorant as a bunch of religious fanatics.

Um, okay Mike, I’ll bite. I currently hold a degree in Sociology with a Criminal Justice minor. I have completed both qualitative and quantitative research projects using NORC data and carefully controlled field research. And I absolutely refuse to believe any stats until I get a good look at the study. Graduating as you did, I’d expect you to be a little more critical of raw data, 'cause sorry man, numbers absolutely cannot speak for themselves.

Also, you haven't told me where I can see the study, or even an abstract. Point it out to me. I could very well be convinced, if the study is compelling.

Oh, and by the way, I wouldn’t consider myself a zealot on the matter. I’m just tired of seeing people slam on the brakes to avoid a collision because they’re preoccupied with a phone call. Is it that hard to just pull into a parking lot?

You know they did a study that if you preface whatever you say with “You know they did a study…” most people will believe you?

I don’t think cell phones are the problem, it’s the people using them. Some of us can talk on the cell phone and drive carefully. Others cannot. When I receive a call in the car, I tend to drive slower and more cautiously, as I know I have another distraction to deal with. My cell phone is convenient and efficient, and many people need to constantly be in touch (work related stuff)while driving. Obviously, the safest thing to do is to pull over or buy a hands-free device.

And if Florida eventually follows the NY law, then I'm sure I'll get a hands-free device as well. But it comes down to the driver. Whether it's a cell phone, radio, A/C controls, other passengers, etc, some people can better handle those situations. So I think it's unfair to take away the use of cell phones while driving just because a few people abuse it and cause problems. And yes, I try not to make or take calls while driving because there are enough distractions and bad drivers to watch out for, but sometimes you just have to do it.

Although I enjoy reading this forum regularly, I rarely participate in discussions, so I can’t believe I’m involved in a cell phone debate. However, my question involves the use of statistics in your argument, Mike. When statistics simply report the incidence as a percentage of the total, is there not some sort of bias involved? What I mean is, if I was to close my eyes while driving I would be very likely to get into an accident, but because very few idiots would do this, the total number of accidents attributable to “eyes-closed driving” would be a miniscule percentage of the total of accidents that occur. Thus, I could report that fiddling with the A/C is responsible for more accidents than eyes-closed driving (which would be true), but this rationale is flawed when used to tell people it’s alright to close their eyes while driving. I wonder if this bias is present in the stats reported for cell phone accidents. Any reasonable comments would be appreciated.

All right, I just realized that I’ve been spouting off asking someone to point me to the study AFTER KEVIN K. ALREADY HAS!! My bad, I guess 40 hours of overtime in three weeks is too much for my brain to handle. I think I hear my cell-phone ringing…

Mikey, I especially like one point in particular that you made in your last post: “(3) You can’t manipulate statistics to say anything you want (at least, not without changing the statistics themselves). You can, however, present them in such a way that untrained idiots will draw the wrong conclusions.” The second sentence here is the best and proves my point. When I said, “Your numbers are transparent.”, I should have said, “Who do you think we are, a bunch of untrained idiots?” Obviously, that is what you thought and still seem to think, because these numbers are still the basis of your entire argument. To say that our argument has no merit or makes no sense at all is absolutely ridiculous. It’s not like cellphone users would be placed under a huge economic burden if required to go out and purchase a hands-free setup. Do you honestly believe that hands-free is not at all more safe than handheld? I would never have gotten involved in this ridiculous debate at all if it weren’t for your attack on Natey that was completely uncalled for. “Fuck this. Fuck that. Go fuck yourself. Don’t fuck with me.” I don’t doubt that you’re a smart guy, Mikey, but I don’t think you’re THAT smart. What I don’t understand is how someone who supposedly graduated from a major university with a degree in mathematics (summa cum laude, no less), would bring that up as though he had just expounded upon stochastic processes or put on an astounding display of his knowledge of robust statistics and nonparametric methods, when in fact, all that you have done is regurgitate some numbers from a study and tell us what you think of them. Wow, what genius. You should never assume that you’re talking to people who don’t know what “the fuck they’re talking about.” Don’t insult my intelligence. I’ll go math-to-math with you anytime. Yes, I think that brains can be a major part of the makeup of a T-man. I think that bragging about them, though, only puts your insecurity on display. Too bad that the major university which you have supposedly received your degree in mathematics from didn’t bother to teach you any social skills.

I think “Question for Mike” is absolutely right. I think Mike the Lib’s statistics prove cell phones are indeed dangerous. I think you will find that the number of people using the cell phone in the car are far outnumbered by people fiddling with the A/C. Using my intuition, I would conclude that 1.5% of the accidents due to cell phones would be much higher if every single driver had a cell phone.

Mike, in the most polite way I can say it over the internet, fuck your study. Every person on this forum has probably seen the effects of cell phones on the way a person drives. It’s so obvious. If they’re on the interstate, they’ll go fast for a little while, and then incredible slow for a little while, with no rational pattern to it at all. In city traffic, they’ll be the last person off the line at a stop light. Your study also doesn’t provide the numbers of how many accidents almost happen because of cell phones. On another point, think of the time involved in the distractions in the study. How long do you fiddle with the air conditioner or radio? a few seconds at most. How long do you talk on the phone? fifteen mother-fuckin’ minutes, that’s how long. I’ll concede that it only takes a few seconds of not paying to cause an accident, but that chance is repeated over and over again the longer someone is using their damn cell phone. Hell, I don’t even like to use the phone at my house. How can you stand takling to people all day long?