Saturday, March 19, 2011

Uh. Duh!

Cell phones, laptops and PDA's are so prevalent in our "advanced" society.  Does anyone remember that our species has survived thousands of years without 100% connectivity to Facebook, Twitter or work email?

As motorbike pilots (hehe), I'm sure each of us has been a little more aware that something has been getting worse while navigating our metropolitan streets.  For those of you that have been riding for 10 or more years, or rode 20 years ago, you probably see a huge difference in driver attention today.  Speaking for myself as a newer rider, driver distractions have always been on my mind during my riding tenure.

Image taken from web.
I am particularly disheartened when I'm sitting at a stop light and count the number of drivers turning left in front of me on their cell phones.  My counts have been increasing over time.  It started with an average of 30% talking on the phone a couple years ago.  Today the percentages are a higher 60%.  I realize these counts are a snapshot in time.  But it is only a snapshot in time for someone to be focused more on the conversation than the road, and something bad happens.

Image taken from web.
I'm concerned at our society's fixation with their cell phone.  We have all heard the stories of being out to dinner and everyone at the next table over is texting, not talking to each other at the table.  Or walking through the supermarket and think the person walking in the other direction has said something to you.  When you turn to inquire you realize they are talking on the cell phone with their invisible Blue Tooth headset tucked into their ear, like some brainwave antenna.  Mr. Oilburner experiences people on his commuter bus just chattering away on the phone, loud enough that the entire world hears their side of an inane conversation.  Etiquette of soft talking in respect for those around you seems to be gone.

Do you think the "No Phone Zone" and "No Phone Pledge" are enough? 

(Reuters) - Whether is it texting during dinner, talking on a cellphone in a public restroom or using a laptop while driving, most people think mobile etiquette is getting worse, not better.

Ninety one percent of U.S. adults questioned in a new poll by computer innovation company Intel said they have seen people misuse technology, and three quarters think mobile manners have decreased in the past year.

"New digital technologies are becoming a mainstay in consumers' lives, but we haven't worked out for ourselves, our families, communities and societies what all the right kinds of behaviours and expectations will be," said Genevieve Bell, the head of interaction and experience research at Intel.

The poll of 2,000 adults revealed that most U.S. adults wished people practised better mobile etiquette and found the lack of cellphone manners extremely annoying, even though about 20 percent admitted to poor etiquette themselves.

Nearly 75 percent said the lack of mobile manners has created a new form of public rage and 65 percent admitted they became angry around people who misused mobile devices.

The most annoying behaviours were the use of mobile devices during driving, followed by talking on a cellphone loudly in a public place and walking in the street while texting or talking on the phone.

People reported seeing, on average five mobile offenses every day, according to the poll. Nearly a quarter said they had even seen someone using a laptop while driving, and one in five said they checked their mobile devices before getting out of bed in the morning.


  1. Have you watched the Mythbusters episode where they test driving while talking? Turns out: you're a better driver while DRUNK than while talking on the phone.

    Glad I live in a country where there's mass transit.

  2. Steel CupCake:

    We have had a law in place for over a year now. NO electronic devices while driving. This includes cell phones, cameras, etc, but does not include reading the paper, putting on makeup or eating sandwiches. After all this time it still seems that 90% of drivers are still on the phone and ignoring the law. I don't use the phone but it has curtailed my picture snapping while in motion. There was a recent police blitz to catch all these offenders and they were dragging nearly every car off the road and giving out tickets. I think $167. for first offense, and still today 90% of drivers are on the phone.

    I tell everyone to send me a text message, then I can check later when I get to where I am going.

    And what is Mr Oilburner doing on Mass Transit ? Can't he ride his bike to work ? How about a bicycle ? does he carry a camera with him ? Can you drop his off ? can you pick him up ?

    so many questions . . . and so little time . . .

    Riding the Wet Coast

  3. Cell phone use is illegal over here while driving. Saying that it does not see, to stop people using them . I do agreee, cell phone etiquette is crap, life seemed simple when we didnt have them.

  4. I don't think that we have such a law in place. Not that it would matter much. Many, if not most, people these days have gotten used to the idea that laws are only obeyed if it's convenient for them at any point in time. Laws are also selectively enforced when it's convenient. This may be a result of some of the inane laws passed which seem to have a political or financial motivation behind them rather than laws to "enhance the public good".

    I think I'm in a cynical mood today...


  5. Cellphone/drivers scare me. I had a lady brush my right leg as she passed me while texting... Expletives deleted! LOL

  6. Hi David!

    No, I haven't watched that one (no cable or satellite). I will see if I can find it online. I wonder if DRUNK people are generally trying to concentrate on driving, thinking they aren't too drunk to drive. Whereas cell phone users focus more on the phone/conversation than driving period?

    I remember my mom telling me of an Oprah show where they did a study...and something like 2% of people actually are capable of driving and cell phone usage as their brains have excellent multi-tasking capabilities. However, 2% is no where near 100%... Wish people could just be alone with their conscious for a commute home...

    Do you experience much cell usage on your transit excursions?


  7. Hi Bobskoot!

    Or Stacy's favorite: painting your nails...

    I do not believe $167 is nearly steep or severe enough to show seriousness. It is enough to bring in a steady stream of revenue if someone is caught outside of a net that is. But not severe enough that someone won't do it, expecting to get away with it as it is so difficult to enforce with so few enforcers.

    Now say, a first offense is a $500 fine, a second is 3 mo suspension of license and a third is 1 yr suspension of license, people might follow the law a little more.

    I'm just disheartened that there even has to be a law and people can't just be responsible and put the phone down. Chat with your girlfriends later...

    Sent you a PM in an attempt to answer your plethora of questions. :)


  8. Hi Raftnn!

    So your country is having about as much luck enforcing sane and responsible driving/cell phone usage as the USA and Canada. Sorry to hear. :)

    You said it, cell phone etiquette is crap.


  9. Hi RichardM!

    Repeat after me:

    "Hi. My name is . I'm a cynical man."

    OK gang, say it with me:

    "Hi Richard! Welcome to Cynics Anonymous. You are among friends here."

    You speak true and I agree. Did you read about Maria Shriver being caught on her cell phone while driving three times by TMZ?? If the governors wife ignores the laws what hope do we have for anyone else?

  10. Hi Ken!

    Let me get this wrote "LOL"?? I'm upset just reading your little one liner. But I am happy that you have been able to put it behind you. I know someone that intentionally knocked someone's mirror off the car when she brushed him while changing lanes without looking. I hope you accomplished something similar.

    Oilburner was rear-ended by a 19 year old that was on his phone. I don't have any understanding for people on their phones. I've considered purchasing one of those personal jamming devices. But figure that might cause more problems when the signal is suddenly dropped and they all look at their phones and try to redial...

    And the other day I was witness to some bimbo with the phone in her left had, cigarette in her right, shifting gears. I couldn't tell you what was actually steering that deadly projectile...

    I'm glad it was only a brush. And that you brushed her back a little less tenderly. :)


  11. I can't imagine why people want to be so "in touch". I crave my alone time. Must be the introvert in me.

    I'm with Richard. It seems laws in general are obeyed when it is convenient -- observance is optional. Stop signs, stop lights, crosswalks all now seem to be merely suggestions.

    Also, I wonder about how fragmented we are becoming. I worry about that. Oh well.

    Jack has a good point, drivers have always thought of ways to distract themselves from the task at hand.

  12. With all the crazy distracted drivers around here cell phone use is the norm while driving even though anything but hands free is illegal.

    I've never really used my phone for much and ignore it most of the time. It is for my use when needed and not for people to call me and chat about nothing.

    Driving to Seattle last weekend on I-5 doing 75 mph and a lady a lane over (the center lane) in a large SUV was trying to balance the steering wheel and a mirror and eyeliner at the same time. I looked over with my hands in the air and mouthed "really?"

    It amazes me that people don't take driving seriously enough. Whereas motorcyclists are always learning and bettering their skills, the average motorist takes their test once and never again. Sad.

  13. We have cellphone laws while driving here in Oregon, but makes little difference if it's not enforced or the fine is low. I think there are a number of things along with cellphones that are problems as well.

    I carry a cellphone, I rarely use it. Only calls I take directly are from my husband, my mom, and my kids. Everyone else can leave a message and maybe I'll get back to them. I'm a bit anti-social. :)

    Ron always laughs because I use the least minutes and text the least of anyone on our plan.

  14. Dear Steel Cupcake:

    Here is a simple solution to the problem: Establish a law that automatically requires mobile phone records to be subpoened in the event of an accident. If the person was texting or chatting on the phone at that moment, a $15,000 file will be assessed to the individual, and adjusted in monthly payments to fit their salaries. Money to go to state educational programs.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  15. When I used to commute to NY by bus (1.5 hours) it used to drive me crazy to hear people just chatting about their F*&king lives on the phone. I wish I could sing, anything or had an opera voice and the courage, I would just start singing loudly next to them to drive them nuts too and make it impossible for them to hear the phone ;-)

  16. I remember the pre-cell phone area,
    and yet as kids we were still able to actually get together on time in one spot. Today kids would starve in front of the fridge if they couldn't call their mom (which happens to be driving) to ask where the food is.

    I HATE DISTRACTED DRIVERS! This morning I saw somebody eating a cereal while driving. With milk and all, steering with the legs obviously and swerving in my line.

  17. Lori,
    In downtown St. Louis there are carriage rides. I was without a camera today when I saw a driver of a carriage in top hat and tails holding the reins in one hand while talking on a cell phone he held in the other hand. Oh well, it did make me smile.

  18. Its the same over here, although I seem to see it more with folk from the city, driving around sprouting drivel into their phones. Saying that, most of them are pretty crap drivers at the best of times anyway.

  19. @Circle Blue: I am in agreement with you. I like to leave the phone down while driving/riding. People need "down time" and never get it always being in contact.

    Fragmented...interesting. Had this conversation with someone the other day. We seem to be advancing on a global scale and shrinking on the community scale. I converse more with blog friends from around the world, but not my neighbors. Of course, there are two empty houses near my and quite a few "natural" lots without houses. :)

    @Trobairitz: Did that eye-liner applying dingbat see or respond to your query? She probably told the story at work of some lady passing her that was bad-mouthing her while she innocently drove. She probably didn't give it a second thought that she was concentrating on DRIVING!

    I still feel that we should put driving back in the arena of "privilege" and not "right". I wonder if Europeans have the same issues when they spend months and thousands of dollars earning the right to drive. I'm going to have to guess that they do feel the same considering some of the power anti-cell and anti-texting commercials coming from them.

  20. Hi bluekat: I'm like you. I'll let more people leave messages rather than answer will driving or something. Oilburner and I resisted jumping onto the cell phone band wagon for years. The only reason we broke down was when he started school in downtown Atlanta, more for safety. Now we generally text more than we actually use the phone.

    I'm glad you aren't ruled by an electronic leash! :)


  21. Hi Jack: I love the theory. But the law would somehow have to cover a blanket time so that people couldn't sue their way out when the exact time of the accident isn't known. They could always argue that they had just gotten off of the phone or something. Or that was when they were calling for help.

    Nikos wrote something about building a personal jamming device to 100m. While I have also thought about that, I was more afraid of distracted drivers then trying to determine why their cell phone isn't working. ;)

    But I do like the idea.

    -Steel Cupcake/Lori

  22. Hi GeorgeF: Ya know...I would have encouraged you to sing especially without an opera voice! Would just have emphasized your point. :)


  23. Hi SonjaM! Eating cereal while deplorable! That is not something that could ever possibly be eaten one handed. I really wish I could understand what was going through people's heads.

    I remember a study years ago about the top ten foods eaten while driving. Would you have guessed that spaghetti was on that list? Because it was...


  24. Hi Keith/Circle Blue: I'm glad that it made you smile. I would have been shaking my head in hopelessness. It seems that gone are the days when most people could entertain themselves for a few hours.

    At work we will actually have people leave a 15 minute meeting to answer their cell phone. Adult onset ADHD. :)


  25. Hi Mike: I was really hoping that it wasn't the same in Europe, but I believe you are telling me it is. :( A global dumbing down maybe? I hope the C90 can avoid the projectiles a little quicker. :)

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!


  26. Talking / texting on a phone while driving is illegal everywhere in the UK and while it hasn’t stopped, it is greatly reduced. It is now close to the point of being deemed anti-social and people do vent their feelings (especially bikers) when they see someone using a mobile phone when driving. The police try to crack down but people stupidly still use them. I like to play a fun game when walking in London – I don’t get out of peoples way if they are walking and texting at the same time, in fact I make it a point to walk in their direction! Some get really pissed off when they are barged out of the way! It’s a great sport that should be included in all future Olympic Games.

  27. I've never met up with any group of BMW riders. Maybe they'd be my type, maybe not... I tend to get a long with Honda owners pretty damned well, and I met a fellow Connie owner the other day.

    Maybe I just don't have enough brand loyalty... I've got three different makes now and love each one for a different reason. The Beemer does seem to be the best put together, but it carries with it a degree of severity you wouldn't really expect in a dual-sport. Maybe I'm just used to riding a claptrap Honda from the 70s.

    Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life