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January 15, 2008

Cell Phones Make Your Commute Longer?

Distraction We all do it people. Don’t even act like you don’t. We chat on our cell phones while driving to work, running errands, dropping off the kids, picking up dinner – you get the idea. I’ve even been sitting in my car and found myself thinking “man there’s nothing on the radio…I’m bored…I should call my mom…” Like there isn’t the business of DRIVING and PAYING ATTENTION to keep me occupied.

This is a subject near and dear to my husband’s heart. He thinks talking on cell phones while driving is probably the least safe thing you could possibly do while driving. Well, except maybe sleeping, though I don’t know, maybe you have a talent I don’t. I try not to judge.

So to add insult to injury, studies are now showing that people using cell phones while driving can actually impede traffic flow. According to the Wall Street Journal, “For someone commuting by car an hour a day, drivers on cell phones could add about 20 hours a year to travel time.”

Titanic The study, which included 36 students using driving simulators, found that drivers on cellphones are far more likely to stick behind a slow car and that they change lanes about 20% less often than drivers not on the phone. Apparently on average driver-talkers take 3% longer to get wherever it is they are going and make other driver’s commutes 5-10% longer.

I don’t know about you but I only run across these slow people every now and then. I usually run across the driver-talkers that are driving like their backseat is on fire and they are fleeing form the flames. And also not looking where they are going. Natch. The article goes on to say that “wireless-phone companies encourage people not to talk on the phone in bad traffic.” But of course.

Cell Luckily my state of California has helped solved part of the problem for us. Arnie (as in Schwarzenegger) has declared that we will all have to use hands-free devices by mid-year this year or he will kick our collective bottoms. With a $20 fine. Yikes. I say that with as much sarcasm as I can muster in a blog. Twenty bucks will surely not deter those most likely to be on the phone from actually being on the phone: rich business people, LA fashionistas, the cast of Real Housewives of Orange County. But anyway, that’s a whole different article!

So take head driver-talkers, you are making my commute 2 minutes longer! Get off the phone and hit that gas pedal! Check out your cell phone laws here.

Breanne_boyle_64_post Breanne Boyle
Contributing Editor

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