Help Me Pick the Winner of our HANG UP AND DRIVE Contest!
On 13 September 2007, I sent a letter to National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) Chairman Mark Rosenker in which I pointed out that restricting cager cellphone conversations could have saved as many as 10,660 lives in 2006, which is about 15 times more than would’ve been saved by lidding every rider in the land.
But the calls continue … and so does my call for Mr. Rosenker’s resignation. One reason we delay in dealing with this deadly distraction is the slippery slope argument that there are many other sources of distraction that are equally dangerous. In other words, why single out talking on a cellphone as opposed to eating a burger, drinking coffee, fiddling with the radio, flirting with your date, or yelling at the kids? Are cellphone conversations really more distracting and deadly than any of these? Well, the cellphone industry certainly wants us to think the answer to the last question is “No.”…
…but as Malcolm Gladwell and David Strayer explain, the true answer is “Yes!”:
“This is a common problem in driving. Talking on a cell phone and trying to drive, for instance, is not unlike trying to count passes in a basketball game and simultaneously keep track of wandering animals. ‘When you get into a phone conversation, it’s different from the normal way we have evolved to interact,’ David Strayer, a professor of psychology at the University of Utah, says. ‘Normally, conversation is face to face. There are all kinds of cues. But when you are on the phone you strip that away. It’s virtual reality. You attend to that virtual reality, and shut down processing of the here and now.’ Strayer has done tests of people who were driving and talking on phones, and found that they remember far fewer things than those driving without phones. Their field of view shrinks. In one experiment, he flashed red and green lights at people while they were driving, and those on the phone missed twice as many lights as the others, and responded far more slowly to those lights they did see. ‘We tend to find the biggest deficits in unexpected events, a child darting onto the road, a light changing,’ Strayer says. ‘Someone going into your lane. That’s what you don’t see. There is a part of driving that is automatic and routine. There is a second part of driving that is completely unpredictable, and that is the part that requires attention.’ This is what Simons found with his gorilla, and it is the scariest part of inattentional blindness. People allow themselves to be distracted while driving because they think that they will still be able to pay attention to anomalies. But it is precisely those anomalous things, those deviations from the expected script, which they won’t see.”
So given both scientific evidence and statistical proof that cellphone conversations–using hands-free as well as hand-held devices–are one of the deadliest of all driver distractions, how do we get cagers to HANG UP AND DRIVE?
Last month, I posed that question to our readers in form of a contest. Here was the offer…
“IF YOU HAVE ANY SERIOUS, ORIGINAL, FEASIBLE AND LEGITIMATE IDEAS AS TO WHAT ACTIONS AMERICAN MOTORCYCLISTS CAN TAKE ON THE STREETS TO ENCOURAGE CAGERS TO HANG UP AND DRIVE AND/OR PENALIZE THOSE WHO DON’T, PLEASE POST IT ONLINE HERE:”
“THE CONTRIBUTOR OF THE BEST QUALIFYING IDEA POSTED NO LATER THAN 15 SEPTEMBER 2007 WILL RECEIVE A CASH PRIZE OF ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS ($100.00). ALL ENTRIES WILL BE JUDGED BY BRUCE ARNOLD, WHO WILL ANNOUNCE THE WINNER AND MAKE THE AWARD BY 15 OCTOBER 2007.”
…and the results are:
THERE ARE MORE THAN 18 WAYS TO SHUT’EM UP…
You will find the totality of our contest submissions posted here:
Unfortunately, not all of the more creative and colorful suggestions you will find there meet the requirement of being “serious, original, feasible and legitimate ideas”. Of those that do, you will find 18 appended below, unedited and as submitted.
Our contest rules say I will choose the winner, but it seems in all fairness I should ask for your opinions and feedback first. So please take the time to review the 18 suggestions appended below, then place your vote for the winner by number in a forum posting here:
We promised to announce a winner by Monday, 15 October, so please post your votes to our forum no later than midnight ET on Sunday, 14 October 2007.
Until Next Time … Ride Long, Ride Free!
** Suggestion 1:
Date Posted: Aug 14, 07 – 3:50 PM
Message: My suggestion runs along the lines of the restriction of bars when they are caught serving to minors. The loss of cellphone for three,5 days or two weeks for those caught talking on cellphones while driving. after being caught three times you are now on a no cellphone list for 6 months with all the companies involved adhering to the list. If you are caught with a cellphone after being on the no cellphone list, you lose your drivers license for thirty days. Taking away someones cellphone that breaks the law would be easier for lawmakers to swallow. It’s a graduated system that does not take away someones right to earn a living by taking there license.
We could also go after corporate america one large sum settlement of a company employee getting in an accident while doing company business would do the trick. Coporate america risk asessment people could be asked what is your companies policy for employees using cellphones while driving on company business. Corporate america runs this country already(sorry..almost went off).
My 2 cents
** Suggestion 2:
Name: Pell Blakeman
Date Posted: Aug 16, 07 – 10:16 AM
I appreciate everything you are doing.
How about a light installed on top of the car, that comes on when the phone is operating. At least we can see, and avoid these extreme hazards.
With today’s technology, this should be easy to accomplish. Voluntary or mandatory, either way would be a big help.
Kentucky Motorcycle Association
** Suggestion 3:
Date Posted: Aug 16, 07 – 12:16 PM
Message: I don’t beleive that this is purely a legislative issue any more than it is strictly a societal issue and the solution will need to address all aspects of the problem.
To begin with this is not just a biker issue. I believe it was Harvard which did an economic impact study which estimated that the property damage incurred by cell phone using drivers will pushing 10 Billion dollars a year.
I think we can learn a great deal from the most successful grassroots effort in recent history, MADD which single handedly changed an entire nation’s attitude about drinking a driving. But first things first.
We need to begin by forming an organization whose sole purpose is to educate and lobby on this sole issue and not just bikers but all people. It should be incorporated as a 501.3(c) with a BOD and advisory council. We should invite people to be on the advisory committe from mfrs, insurance, government, riding organizations etc.
We would further need to identify impacted individuals and groups who may be potential allies such as insurance companies, AMA, ABATE, MRF. We need to actively seek grants as well.
We would then launch a public information effort to educate the public, while educating and lobbying legislators. Actively seek public outlets such as TV, radio etc.
To be blunt, two pissed off mothers changed everything. Here we have tens of thousands of bikers. But we need to organize, focus and work smart, network and build relationships and allies under the umbrella of a single purpose organization which can generate credibility with people.
Personally I stand ready to help because I’m tired of having a bullseye on my back.
** Suggestion 4:
Name: Sandi Hollister
Date Posted: Aug 14, 07 – 6:37 PM
Message: I would like to see cell phone usage (bluetooth, too) considered along the same lines as open containers or not using a seat belt.
Or, have every motorcyclist carry a dart gun. The darts will be the suction-cup kind with a bright orange plastic tail upon which are the words ‘STUPID’. When you come across a cager with a phone glued to it’s head, shoot the car. Next, we’ll have checkpoints where the cager must pay a fine for the number of ‘STUPID’ flag’s he’s waving. The fines could be used to better educate drivers (or at least have one heck of a party).
** Suggestion 5:
Date Posted: Aug 14, 07 – 8:10 PM
Message: How to get cagers hang up and drive. We need to get all the bike clubs and associations to give a day at any major street intersection with large pictures of crashes that were caused by inatentive cagers and banners that asks then to hang up and drive. Stopping cagers that are using there phones and make them aware of the problem, pulling cagers over, and making them aware that they are a driving accident waiting to happen. we also need the authorities to give us permision to do this and make them aware of our problem.
** Suggestion 6:
Name: Chuck DeSario
Date Posted: Aug 16, 07 – 3:07 PM
You answered my question with professionalism. But I have to tell you that I’m sitting here in a massive stupor. I can’t believe (not that I doubt your word) that the MRF, MSF, ABATE, and the AMA haven’t used this information to their fullest advantage.
Let me understand this, you provided them with this information and all they’ve done so far is sit on their thumbs. Well sir, here lies the answer to Bruce’s question. Here lies the plan of approach. We MUST get these individual groups to utilize this information on our behalf. We must also question their reluctance to use it in our battle against highway deaths. These organizations want our money, our loyalty, and our membership, but yet they don’t want to use this information to help save lives! Not acceptable.
I think what we need to do, is a mass emailing, phone calling campaign that lets these folks know that we expect them to represent us in this fight, and anything that can be used to secure a victory must be used, and if they don’t want to take this information to State, and Federal organizations on our behalf, then we as members of these various organizations will refrain from continuing to be members. It seems to me that their refusal to take the information you’ve provided to the powers to be, is nothing short of flat out lies regarding they’re concern about our welfare. How many more of us have to die before our so called motorcycle rights advocates stand up and do whats right.
My next move is to call and email all of the organizations listed, and demand that the information you’ve provided them be used in soliciting new regulations, or they can count on my leaving their organization as a member.
No wonder nothing gets done.
Thanks Ray for your diligent work.
** Suggestion 7:
Name: gsabate president
Date Posted: Aug 15, 07 – 8:06 AM
Message: Perhaps we should all band together, pick a weekend day, groups of us can pick a roadside stand of our favorite place,Tiki bar, resturant,a parking lot, someplace we dont have to pay for,small groups all throughout our state’s here and there, we can call it “Bikers Against Cellphone Impairment Day”. We can have signs that say things such as ” we’re comming to take your cell phones away”. Much like they want our freedom, now we can hit em hard.We need to educate, let the lawmakers set the fines, If we all band together and chip in a small contribution, perhaps we can turn it into “air time”….Just a few thoughts, thanks for listening,.. Peace,. Sideshow.
** Suggestion 8:
Date Posted: Aug 15, 07 – 9:26 AM
Message: The target of our goal cannot effectively be “a” cellphone here and there. Nor, can it effectively be a cellphone user here and there. The target needs to be the bullseye and have massive impact and consequences for the entire cellphone target. Ultimately, responsibility for cellphone use rests in the hands of the cellphone pusher. We need to pick a cellphone company and hit it hard where it hurts. I would gladly contribute to a legal bullet aimed at a cell phone companies heart. My thinking is put one of those companies in the ground, and then watch the others scramble to invent the cellphone technology or rules to protect us, hence them.
** Suggestion 9:
Name: H. Avello
Date Posted: Aug 15, 07 – 1:44 PM
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.floribamariders.com
Message: The motorcycle safety foundation (MSF) is producing some videos that address this and other issues of cage drivers not “seeing” motorcyclists. They’re 14-15 min. long. I saw an “in process” version of one this past weekend at an update and it was really good. They will be for sale soon. At the grass roots level, individuals can buy one or two of them and do presentations in our communities: High school assemblies, PTA meetings, City council meetings, neighborhood owners association meetings, local libraries’ “summer series”, etc. Be creative and just get out and request some time to show the video.
** Suggestion 10:
Name: Mike Coon
Date Posted: Aug 15, 07 – 3:21 PM
Message: I think we should follow the original model of Mother’s Against Drunk Drivers(MADD.) They got a lot of human interest stories done about the victims of drunk driving and stigmatized what had been thought of as a relatively harmless behaviour. Public interest spots on TV showing Motorcyclists, Bicyclists, and Pedestrians killed or maimed by otherwise responsible citizens. Show the after-effects; wheelchair bound young men, families finacially devestated by the civil suits of those they hurt, young children without fathers, college hopefuls suddenly unable to go because Mom killed a guy while talking on the cell. Make the consequences real, tragic, and visceral. Highlight talking and driving as the ultimately selfish and irresponsible act that it is. Get preachers to sermonize about it from the pulpit as an act that disregards others in a way that insults our faith in Almighty God.
** Suggestion 11:
Date Posted: Aug 16, 07 – 10:26 PM
Message: I want to hit this ball again. If we launch an attack on …..NEXTEL?….. we bikers blame them for the direct, profit oriented, misaligned proffering of attentional blindness producing products that are increasingly and obviously killing us, and put their ass in a VERY hot seat. A hot seat that could potentially cost them millions upon millions of dollars. And we keep a hand at their throat, never letting off. I believe shit will happen. If you want action from bikers, don’t expect much asking them to call politicians. The game is old, and well versed in terms of what to expect. No! Give bikers an enemy. One that needs taken down. Give us a scapegoat to sacrifice. If its a smart scapegoat it might survive. If it does not it will have taught other goats what may save their ass. The cellphone industry is the key to change. I believe it, and I believe we can make them listen.
** Suggestion 12:
Name: Kathy Reitinger
Date Posted: Aug 16, 07 – 10:37 PM
Message: My suggestion, the only way we, as bikers, can do anything is with a sign or signs. Create a t-shirt that says ” if you drive with a cell phone you are a danger to EVERYONE. I also want a sign I can put on someone’s bumper, that says, “I am a JERK with a CELL phone. CAUTION!!!” I will gladly put them on the bumpers of offenders. I may need a bunch of them, though.
** Suggestion 13:
Name: Dennis Gilchrist
Date Posted: Aug 17, 07 – 7:54 AM
Message: the one thing i can do is not use my cell when i drive a cage… we should ask all riders to never use their cells when in a cage… if we don’t like it and we don’t … we as riders should not do it… just a thought… dennis
** Suggestion 14:
Name: Joellen Bruce
Date Posted: Aug 18, 07 – 2:27 PM
Message: I have been teaching this in our(ABATE 20 MI) Motorcycle Awareness program for the last year.
While for the last 3 years (since I have been with the Awarness program) we have taught that talking on cells while drive is worst that driving drunk I have added a local reason that really wakes up our students(15-17 year olds).
The students usually start making excuses for the cell cell phone use when I ask this question …..”How is the person your talking to going to explain to your parents and family family that they were HEARD YOU DIE. Not only did you kill yourself and the people in your car, you messed up the person you were talking to for life.”
After this question I get total silence. Most of the cell phones get pulled out and turned off.
We lost a 17 year old cheerleader from a local high school along with 4 of her best friends due to the fact she was TEXT MESSAGING WHILE DRIVEING ON I-75. This hits our students below the belt, it wakes them up.
maybe this story could wake a few more kids and adults up.
CELL PHONES KILL
ABATE Region 20 Michigan
** Suggestion 15:
Date Posted: Aug 19, 07 – 10:32 AM
Message: How about we start with a better business burea complaint campaign on all cell phone companies. They have to answer the complaints as it directly affects their business Identity and image.
** Suggestion 16:
Name: roy e fisher
Date Posted: Aug 19, 07 – 2:59 PM
Message: how about a device that would static cell phones if your motor was running. like the old ignitions used to do to radios. that way, one would have to pull over and shut off the motor to answer a call. it would not be an expensive item to add to cars. after all, we are talking about public safety, and you know how the state wants to look after us. we should be able to start some kind of movement. Hands free does not deal with the problem. it is the distraction that takes some drivers minds completely off the task of operating their vehicle. We have all seen ity. someone, most cases I have seen a female, with head tipped back, yakking away, like she is sitting on the sofa at home. (I do realize thet women are not only to blame) the other day, I was honking at some young man at a green light as he was going about 5 mph text messaging, with both thunbs texting away and driving with his knees. who could have seen a motorcycle?
** Suggestion 17:
Name: Cari M
Date Posted: Aug 20, 07 – 11:43 PM
Message: We can never expect Utopia – and it is only going to get worse. Here in Hampton Roads they’re planning yet another shipping terminal, thousands more semis on the roads and inevitably even more gridlock, congestion, frustration and people wanting to call home to tell the spouse to hold dinner as they’re still stuck in traffic… Short of banning cages, we have to learn to be more attentive to the idiots out there with phones to ear, drinks to mouth, boom boxes rattling their few brain cells, whatever.
Here in Virginia we have the law “kill a biker, go to jail” – for one year. I’m not sure that any of the cagers out there know about it. We need to get out to the schools and talk to the kids when they are first learning to drive. We need to talk in the town halls, the churches, wherever the people are. And we need to enhance that law – kill a biker, go to jail for a year, but if your cell phone was in use, your time in the hoosegow doubles. They may not stop driving and nattering on their phones, but at least they will hopefully be a bit more aware of the damage they could cause. They sure won’t want to be inconvenienced by two years in prison.
And yes, I’ve been there, done that (no, not the hoosegow, I’m disgustingly law-abiding). Both sides, although I hang up if traffic gets heavy and I am VERY careful to make sure my eyes are swivelling twice as hard as usual from mirror to mirror, to make sure I have my situational awareness intact! On my scoot, I’ve followed someone for miles, very obviously, until they finally stopped and asked why – and then I explained very precisely how they failed to be aware of others on the road. Short of following my initial instinct (which would be to carry my 9mm with me), I can only rely on trying to get the message across to the cagers – even if I would just as soon shove their cell phones somewhere nice and dark!
** Suggestion 18:
Name: Dave Kipp
Date Posted: Aug 23, 07 – 7:24 AM
Message: Here’s an idea I myself was thinking about the other day. Why don’t we impose a helmet law for all drivers of any vehicle, cars, buses etc.etc.etc. It would be next to impossible to use a cell phone without pulling over and removing the helmet. We here in NY have a law on cell phone use while driving unless it is hands free. Yet, no one seems to pay any attention to that law. The fine is $100.00 first offense and $200 for a second. Law enforcement doesn’t seem to interested in enforcement because they themselves seem to be on the damn things as well. I have been thinking about trying to get a legislator to introduce such a law here in NY as a way to get our helmet law repealed. I know such a law would almost surely be rejected.
Greene County ABATE President