[FoRK] Laws that ban texting while driving could be counter productive

Stephen Williams sdw at lig.net
Thu Sep 15 09:08:08 PDT 2011


On 9/15/11 7:07 AM, Gary Stock wrote:
>
> Stephen, I'll attempt once more to break it down simply.
>
> This list has many quite intelligent, even wise members.
>
> Several suggest that you are doggedly missing the point.

Perhaps you can state your point clearly.  I'm saying that something is possible.  What exactly are you positing is not?  What 
exactly do you mean by your terms?  Please quantify the threshold of anything like "safe", etc.

>
> In this narrow venue, our simple focus is communication.
>
> The only risks: loss of a few minutes; some frustration.

A few minutes to you perhaps (and to me these days most of the time), but over 50% of many people's free time.  Why do you 
insist that this is not so and minimize the value of their time to them?

>
> In this simple, safe environment, you remain distracted.

How do you know that?  Your proof seems to be your own opinion of what is or is not possible.  If your experience is that you 
cannot safely multitask, that's understandable although it shouldn't be too difficult to agree that some people can safely 
multitask far beyond talking on the phone while driving.  I think you will agree that airline, private, aerobatic, and military 
pilots exist as do race car drivers.  Even shallow investigation should reveal the complexity and multitasking that is required 
of them, or in the case of the latter, much faster processing of the driving loop.  What are you arguing exactly?  That driving 
a simple, mostly automatic vehicle on a mostly empty straight road is somehow exceptionally difficult, dangerous, and impossible 
to multitask?  I don't see it.  And the numbers don't come anywhere close to backing you up.

>
> You are distracted from our messages by your own issues.

Really?  I believe I have acknowledged your messages and then tried to point out that while they apply fully sometimes, they are 
not applicable in all situations.  While risks go up significantly in certain situations (pedestrians, complex driving) they are 
practically non-existent in others (open, empty, straight highways).  I acknowledge the former, you seem to continue to 
categorically deny the latter.

>
> You appear unable to recognize the substance we provide.

Where are your numbers?  Who has and has not provided substance?

>
> This in a narrow space, focused solely ON communication.

Eh?  We're now English majors picking apart the message?
I happen to be reading a most excellent book on writing novels...

>
> Given that, please realize why many of us are concerned.
>
> Are you this distracted while operating a deadly weapon?

How exactly have I been distracted?

As I believe I pointed out, safety third.  (Oops, just back from Burning Man.)
Any safety issue always gets priority.  The bulk of the time, safety concerns do not take 100% of attention or time.  You can 
address concerns in various ways, such as full visual monitoring and short scanning cycles.  In terms of safe driving, I believe 
that the fraction of time where I am distracted in any sense that increases risk is very tiny to non-existent most of the time.  
There's no easy way to prove either of our opinions there, but studies exist that show that it is possible and reasoning about 
much more difficult task sets and environments ought to add weight to a generalization of those facts.

>
> GS
>
sdw
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> On 9/15/11 3:40 AM, Stephen Williams wrote:
>> On Wed Sep 14 21:07:13 2011, Gary Stock wrote:
>>> The risk of driving is largely a ~collective~ risk. It's time to stop pretending otherwise.
>>>
>>> Even the most superior, godlike driver can have an accident. That's why they call them "accidents."
>>>
>>> More than one car is often involved in a collision. That's why they call them "collisions."
>>>
>>> As repeatedly acknowledged here, a significant number of people are "zoned out" or suffer "stunted" performance, while 
>>> another number "Have screaming kids in the car? Thinking? Being hungry? Having to go to the bathroom?" What does that 
>>> distracted segment total? Forty percent all cars on the road? Sixty?
>>>
>>> That leaves safety up to the ~rest~ of us. We must ~compensate~ for that distracted group -- or die with them.
>>>
>>> As our "responsible" segment becomes more distracted by electronic devices and remote activities, safety ~does~ suffer. It's 
>>> foolish to suggest otherwise -- no matter how superhuman we wish we were -- because we're not alone on the roads.



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