Monday, May 22, 2006

Crashing your car

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute have completed the first year of a truly neat study where they completely wired up the cars of 100 drivers, enabling them to monitor the drivers and cars closely when they were in crashes or in near-crashes.

Their bottom line: people usually crash their cars out of sheer inattentiveness. These are persuasive numbers:
Nearly 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involved some form of driver inattention within three seconds before the event. Primary causes of driver inattention are distracting activities, such as cell phone use, and drowsiness.
The results of the factor analysis are also very interesting:
  • Reaching for a moving object increased the risk of a crash or near-crash by 9 times
  • Looking at an external object by 3.7 times
  • Reading by 3 times
  • Applying makeup by 3 times
  • Dialing a hand-held device (typically a cell phone) by almost 3 times
  • Talking or listening on a hand-held device by 1.3 times.
It's not always easy to avoid looking at maps or dialing cell phones while driving. But if you set your cell phone up with speed-dial for your most common phone numbers, you could really be doing yourself a favor. I use speed-dial regularly, and it's damned convenient.

And of course, the other important safety tip to be gleaned is: don't put makeup on in the car, you nut. At worst, you'll have an accident; at second-worst, you'll roll into work looking like Tammy Faye Baker.

(Photo of burning car from


Blogger Connie said...

The only time I apply makeup while driving is when I put on lip gloss, but I never look in the mirror to do so. I put it on the way you'd put on lip balm. How some women put on mascara while driving not only baffles me, it completely frightens me and makes me want to stay far, far away from any road.

People wildly overestimate their multi-tasking abilities and their driving abilities. What a dangerous cocktail of delusion.

Wednesday, 24 May, 2006  

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