Whatever You Do, Don’t Do This

Via the Atlantic Wire:

At 8:33 A.M. on Thursday, a 32-year-old woman driving to work in High Point, North Carolina, took out her phone and posted to Facebook:

The Happy Song makes me so HAPPY.

At 8:34 A.M., police were notified of a crash.

The driver died.


Open thread, I guess.

Image: Théodore Géricault, The Wreck 1824 or earlier.

111 replies
  1. 1
    Karen in GA says:

    Thinning the herd.

    Okay, sorry, I know she has family and friends grieving right now. But at least she died before she could kill anyone else.

    Christ, I hate when people use their phones while driving.

  2. 2
    scav says:

    Another of the dangers of over-sharing.

  3. 3
    Capt. Seaweed says:

    What a pleasant story to start the week.

  4. 4
    Cassidy says:

    These types of images should saturate our society. OTOH, I get to play with really cool tools when people do dumb shit, so, whatever.

    There is a billboard on my drive home that shows an ambulance with the line “Don’t let them answer your text.”

    ETA Something like this: https://handsintheworld.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/ambulance_539x256_full.jpg

  5. 5
    Anya says:

    That’s so very sad. Poor woman made a really stupid mistake and as a result lost her life. The Muslim faith would say that she was meant to die at that very moment and nothing would’ve prevented it, sometimes that fatalistic faith can help those who grief a lose from a senseless death.

  6. 6
    Soonergrunt says:

    She died happy.

    Assuming she didn’t take anyone with her, there ARE worse ways to go.

  7. 7
    Patrick says:

    I hope one day we as society will think just as badly about people that text/call while driving as we do about drunk drivers.

  8. 8
    brendancalling says:

    I have to force myself not to text when driving. It can be REALLY tempting, especially when I’m stuck in traffic on 76, which is often at a standstill.

    Speaking of standing still -or rather, the opposite of standing still- I’m doing my second Broad Street Run, raising money for the Fairmount Park Conservancy. I’m about $15.00 from my $500 goal, so if any Philly-area juicers want to contribute, now’s your chance.

  9. 9
    Betty Cracker says:

    Bring on self-driving cars! I’ve gotta say, as a parent whose child will get her solo license in a few months, this scares the shit out of me. All it takes is one moment of stupidity.

  10. 10
    kbuttle says:

    She took a selfie at the wheel, drifted across lanes, and ran head-on into a guy driving a truck. He walked away, but could just as easily have been a lot worse off.

  11. 11
    Bill B says:

    I don’t even know how to text, because I’m old and stupid. And alive.

  12. 12
    CaseyL says:

    Familiarity breeds, if not contempt, then at least mindlessness.

    We drive so much we think of our cars more as extensions of ourselves – even I’ve done that – and less as metal missiles traveling at speeds that render even an instant’s inattention lethal.

    And smart phones… FSM, don’t get me started on those goddamn things. I’ve gone hiking with people who never look up from the tiny screen; have seen people walking down the street with their eyes fixed on the tiny screen; and of course I’ve seen drivers holding their phones on the steering wheel and staring at the tiny screen. They’re not even conscious of doing so because they do so from the time they wake up to the time they go to bed. Staring at the tiny screen instead of their surroundings is as normal and natural as breathing.

    One fatality won’t stop it. Hundreds won’t stop it. The best we can hope for is that they only kill themselves.

  13. 13
    Amir Khalid says:

    Does anyone remember this police PSA from Wales about texting while at the wheel? It went viral a few years ago. Everyone who drives should see it.

  14. 14
    Thunderbird says:

    I was already in a bad mood, and this just makes it worse. Ugh.

  15. 15
    Another Holocene Human says:

    Somebody tried to murder me last night on the Florida Turnpike, weaving in and out of their lane with a screen on. My wife was all “it must be GPS”. No. It was in the middle of fucking nowhere between Orlando and Yeehaw Junction. Texting.

  16. 16
    Marc says:

    @Anya: I can tell you exactly what would have prevented it–not texting while driving.

  17. 17
    Rob in CT says:

    I have a friend who, while driving me someplace (prep for his wedding), told me the story about how he recently crashed his car while texting. And then proceeded to pull out his phone and text.

    I was pretty pissed, and decided then and there he’s a terrible driver and I never want to be in the car w/him if I can possibly avoid it.

    The trouble is that there are thousands and thousands of people just like him behind the wheel.

    Also, too: driving while really tired is terrifically dangerous – significantly worse than driving with a BAL high enough to get you a DUI. That one is really hard to deal with, because of course people have to get from point A to point B and sometimes they’re tired and whatayagonnado?

    So yes, please, bring on the self-driving car.

  18. 18
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Patrick: According to all the research, a non-emotional phone call (ie, not an argument with your main squeeze) does not result in a higher risk of crash for commercial drivers although it does slightly raise the risk for car drivers. It’s dialing the phone, a task remarkably like texting, that raises the risk of crash.

    That’s why the feds allow interstate drivers to use a mounted one-touch phone dialing hands-free system, but will fine the shit out of a commercial driver caught actually trying to enter numbers manually (and their company).

    The difference in car and truck crash rates could be because the people that commercial drivers call (like their dispatcher at work or even their spouse) are accustomed to breaks and pauses in conversation because the CDL driver’s concentration is on driving, not the conversation, whereas people calling in cars are more likely to be engaged in sales calls and shit like that. Or maybe driving a car is just more hazardous. The visibility sucks for one thing.

  19. 19
    Suffern ACE says:

    I’m pretty certain that when Margarethe and Carl Schurz brought the kindergarten movement to the US in the 1850s, they had singing and dancing in mind and not college prep.

  20. 20
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Rob in CT: While we’re waiting for that self-driving car can we please have some public transit? Thanks.

    MAP 21. Call your congress critter.

  21. 21
    The Dangerman says:

    Since phones have GPS, you think they’d make them such that with a certain rate of change, they’d cut out. Yes, you’d have to pull over to order that pizza on the way home, but, oh well…

  22. 22
    maya says:

    God tweeted her home.

  23. 23
    Karen in GA says:


    I hope one day we as society will think just as badly about people that text/call while driving as we do about drunk drivers.

    As you probably already know, research shows that people who use the phone while driving are just as impaired as drunks. I actually have a little bit more sympathy for drunks. Drunks do stupid shit with no concept of the risk they’re taking or subjecting others to, because the alcohol is fucking with their thinking. They’re not usually consciously deciding to be callous bastards with no regard for anyone else’s safety.

    People who are sober, unimparied, and taking out a phone while driving? They know the risks. They just don’t give a fuck.

  24. 24
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    On the news this morning, I heard someone say (with a straight face): “The people who were in those communities at the time the tornado hit described it as a chaotic atmosphere.”

  25. 25
    Poopyman says:

    @The Dangerman: How do you distinguish between driver and passenger?

  26. 26
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    @Another Holocene Human: And before anyone asks, yes, Yeehaw Junction is a real place.

  27. 27
    The Dangerman says:


    How do you distinguish between driver and passenger?

    Well, my solution would be the bigger hammer approach to solving problems; phones just wouldn’t work in cars (maybe there would be some enabling with hands free or voice activated devices).

    ETA: More correctly, cars being driven over a certain rate of speed.

  28. 28
    Mike in NC says:

    Smartphones are mainly owned by Stupidpeople.

  29. 29
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    If you’re driving a car, all your concentration should be on…well, driving the car.

    This seems to be a very simple thing, but, alas, we get into a zone of comfort that distracts us from just how dangerous an automobile can be.

    ETERNAL VIGILANCE! is needed, ala Mad Eye Moody.

  30. 30
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Suffern ACE: good heavens

    who is going to stop the madness?

  31. 31
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Mike in NC: Says the guy who’s still making calls on his Nokia Candy Bar.

  32. 32
    catclub says:

    Ryan Grimm is very soon to get a D after his name on Fox.

    “The Republican congressman, who is a former FBI agent, was arrested Monday morning a few hours before Justice Department officials unsealed the indictment. He was transported to FBI headquarters in Manhattan. “

  33. 33
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Quaker in a Basement: Just down the road from Petticoat Junction?

  34. 34
    Suffern ACE says:

    @The Dangerman: Yeah. But unfortunately, those areas where the speed limit is slow are the places where you’re most likely to encounter pedestrians, cyclists, school children and other such riff raff.

  35. 35
    Belafon says:

    I absolutely love my technology, but the one thing that really really scares me is the new car, Nissan I think, that has Facebook, Twitter, and other social media stuff built into the car. Hopefully it won’t work while the car is in motion, but yeah.

    Having said that, remember when people would read in the car, a book or newspaper on the steering wheel? We’ve been stupid with giant pieces of metal for a while now.

  36. 36
    Patrick says:

    @Karen in GA:

    I have called my local legislators to get laws passed that are at least a fraction as tough as the DUI laws. They literally could care less. I saw in the news recently there is a proposal for a law that would at least ban texting while driving in a construction zone. Why just there?

    One wonders how many people have to die before there is the same stigma with texting while driving as there is with driving drunk.

  37. 37
    soonergrunt (mobile) says:

    @The Dangerman: there are several apps that will do that, but of course one must download and use one.

  38. 38
    Hungry Joe says:

    State governments issue licenses to drive cars when people have demonstrated that they are capable of controlling them. Texting while driving is hard evidence that someone is not, in fact, capable of controlling a car, and that license should be revoked for … ?? I dunno. A month or three for a first offense? A year for a second offense? It’s every bit as dangerous as drunk driving, and we no longer hesitate to get drunk drivers the hell off our roads.

    Sometimes my cell rings when I’m driving. I either pull over to the side of the road (when possible) or let it ring. So far I’ve missed nothing of consequence. These are not hard decisions to make.

  39. 39
    Poopyman says:

    @catclub: I always picture unsealing an indictment like watching the Oscars.

    “And the indictment goes to … (ripping sounds) RYAN GRIMM!” (Music swells)

    I’m so shallow.

  40. 40
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Karen in GA: Please show your work, because I have never seen any research that shows that people who are talking–not texting–are as impaired as drunks. (Actually, texting is more likely to result in a crash than being intoxicated on average. Get your head around 20-25x enhanced risk of crash.)

    However, it turns out that having a severe cold and driving is as risky as driving drunk. So is being extremely fatigued.

    But this would cost society more money so we’d rather just keep sick/tired drivers driving and pretend all the crashes are because of demon rum.

    Enjoy your delusions, people.

  41. 41
    Rob in CT says:

    @Karen in GA:

    Well, sorta. A guy who goes to the bar, knowing that he has to drive home, and then orders a bunch of drinks is conciously deciding to be a callous bastard, etc., etc.

    And lots of people are (willfully, IMO) ignorant concering the risks of driving & texting or driving & talking the phone.

    Regarding the latter, my own personal feeling is that having a telephone conversation while behind the wheel is very dangerous, even a “non-emotional” call (very much including calls you just answer – no dialing needed). It’s possible that it’s just me, but I can actually fell, in real time, part of my brain disengaging with what’s going on on the road in order to deal with the conversation. It’s sort of like driving while in a mental fog. This is why I avoid using my cell while driving.

  42. 42
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Quaker in a Basement: The state of journamalism in this country continues its sharp decline into the abyss.

  43. 43
    Lee says:


    Believe it or not there are apps for that. One is that you have to answer a series of questions in X amount of time. If you are driving it is not going to happen. Another I’ve heard of (not done any research on) is an eye tracker. Both are enabled when the phone goes over X miles per hour and are disabled after X amount of time.

  44. 44
    The Dangerman says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    …those areas where the speed limit is slow are the places where…

    True, but slow speed collisions only hurt, not kill (speaking highly generally, of course).

    @soonergrunt (mobile):

    Yeah, that’s why I’m taking it to the manufacturer level.

  45. 45
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Belafon: In my experience with Nissan, they have been very good about disabling doo-dads when the car is in motion so that a driver can use them only when parked. The problem is passengers who want to use those things.

  46. 46
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    One wonders how many people have to die before there is the same stigma with texting while driving as there is with driving drunk.

    One wonders how many schoolchildren need to be massacred before we take action on our plague of firearms in this country, also.

  47. 47
    Belafon says:

    @The Dangerman: you can download that as an app for most smartphones.

  48. 48
    scav says:

    OT Yes. Corporate sponsors weighing in on SterlingMouth. That should really catch their attention. State Farm.

  49. 49
    Rob in CT says:


    This is also true.

    Traffic fatalities are actually way, way down over the course of my lifetime. Safety features + better emergency medical response. Not sure if the stats include pedestrial casualties.

  50. 50
    SatanicPanic says:

    I saw a dude texting while riding a bicycle, no hands, on a fast-moving street. People really just can’t put their stupid phones down.

    Add me to the list of people eagerly awaiting self-driving cars.

  51. 51
    Rob in CT says:

    @The Dangerman:

    I’m not sure how true this is, even allowing for your caveat (generally). I mean, the high-speed stuff typically involves all of the people being encased in steel boxes (organ donors, I mean motorcyclists, excepted). A “low speed” crash involving a car on the one hand and a pedestrian on the other can be quite lethal.

    Recently, a teacher at the local highschool died after being hit in the parking lot (by a mom picking up her kid, apparently). I doubt the mom was tear-assing around the parking lot in that minivan. It’s just that a minivan moving at low speed will do bad things to a human body.

  52. 52
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Well, that statement could have been technically true. I don’t know enough fluid mechanics to comment, but it does seem at least possible that there is chaotic advection around a tornado.

  53. 53
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Rob in CT: This can happen with a passenger too, if they ask you something that requires memory or thinking. Short-term memory or “where are you right now where are you headed” not so much.

    Texting you won’t notice because you literally can’t visually process the road and find/feel or look at keys at the same time, not humanly possible, so all attention is drawn from a critical portion of the driving task. Hence the ENORMOUS difference in relative crash risk.

    Again, they found no significant difference between truck talking or not talking so there’s something about car driver’s behavior or about driving cars that makes talking in a car 60% or 70% more risky than not.

    I would say it’s the CDL sorting out drivers but guess what–since Rick Scott came in companies and agencies that train operators can certify them as passing CDL. So here’s the to CDL’s out of the cereal box (as we used to taunt our bus drivers in school when they hit a bump) and you may want to consider Amtrak on your next Florida vacation. (From Chicago you can take the Capitol Ltd to the NEC and then catch the Meteor or the Star, depending on where you’re going. From LA, take an airplane.)

  54. 54
    mhph says:

    @The Dangerman

    slow speed collisions only hurt, not kill (speaking highly generally, of course)

    No, slow speed collisions only hurt, not kill people in other cars. But pedestrians, cyclists, children, etc. are very common in areas where the speed limits are low (because that is why the speed limits are low). A car going twenty miles an hour is going more than fast enough to kill someone who isn’t sealed up in a carefully designed metal safety cage.

    Heck, a car going under five miles an hour will do the trick just fine: cars are big and heavy. They don’t feel that way when you’re inside one, but trust me, if you’re outside of one it’s very, very clear how dangerous even a low speed collision can be.

  55. 55
    Cassidy says:

    Apparently, the treasonous insurrectionists in Nevada are making people pass through checkpoints or some other such nonsense. I think it’s time for some decisive violence of action to show all these pants pissing cowards what it really means to fight the US gov’t. The tree of liberty needs to be watered with some RW terrorists.

  56. 56
    Marc says:


    Ryan Grimm is very soon to get a D after his name on Fox.

    That would be a double coup, since his name is Michael.

  57. 57
    sensesfail says:

    Despite the observation that most people seem to be okay with driving and talking on a cellphone, I am principally against doing this.

    The problem with it is the fact that the driver, while having a cellphone conversation, is speaking with someone who is not present in the vehicle and therefore cannot see what the driver is seeing. And since most people seem to have a desire to keep the conversation flowing without unexplained pauses, there will be times where the driver needs to stop talking and just focus on the road but won’t in an effort to avoid this unexplained pauses.

  58. 58
  59. 59
    dr. luba says:

    @Another Holocene Human: “We found that using a cellular telephone was associated with a risk of having a motor vehicle collision that was about four times as high as that among the same drivers when they were not using their cellular telephones. This relative risk is similar to the hazard associated with driving with a blood alcohol level at the legal limit.

    “We observed no safety advantage to hands-free as compared with hand-held telephones. This finding was not explained by imbalances in the subjects’ age, education, socioeconomic status, or other demographic characteristics. Nor can it be explained by suggesting that those with units that leave the hands free do more driving. One possibility is that motor vehicle collisions result from a driver’s limitations with regard to attention rather than dexterity. Regardless of the explanation, our data do not support the policy followed in some countries of restricting hand-held cellular telephones but not those that leave the hands free.”


  60. 60
    Jay C says:

    @catclub: @Poopyman:

    That’s actually Representative Michael Grimm (R-NY) – represents the 11th District (mainly Staten Island – of course); and it looks like the issue that finally did him was hiring undocumented help at a health-food restaurant he owns (oddly, about 5 blocks from where I live!) and fudging the numbers for Social Security. A real class act – Read the whole thing.

  61. 61
    Karen in GA says:

    @Karen in GA: Whoops, I think I screwed up that first link.

    <a href="here“>Here.

    Although it’s in moderation anyway. Probably because there were too many links backing up what I said.

    ETA: Arrggh. Dammit. It’s supposed to be a link to a study from 2006.

  62. 62
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Gin & Tonic: If so, well, then the journalmalist accidentally stumbled on to it, because I got the distinct impression that the comment was about the human aftermath of the tornado moving through the area.

    Large natural phenomenon disrupts day to day life as we know it. “It’s chaos!” I’m like, tell me something I don’t already know!

  63. 63
    catclub says:

    @Marc: ack – readerfail. thanks for the correction.

  64. 64
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Cassidy: Passing through checkpoints?

    Time to school these yahoos.

  65. 65
    JPL says:

    @Karen in GA: While trying to get home during the ice story, I texted. That is the only time but I have to admit that I read my nook also. Of course anyone sitting on Roswell Rd., that day knows traffic wasn’t moving at all. It’s interesting that you can carry guns everywhere but you can’t text while driving. I agree with the texting law, though.

  66. 66
    srv says:

    social networks kill

    Story of a couple people and a steet guy getting on a crowded Muni, driver tells everyone to move back. Everybody is staring at their phones. Vagrant yells “Move back you fucking phone zombies!”

  67. 67
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @srv: It’s like dealing with the Borg Collective, it is.

  68. 68
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    Times change. When I was a young man, back in the 1960s, I was pulled over for eating a burger while driving. The cop let me go with a warning. He said that while I was driving I had to put my full attention on driving and nothing else.

  69. 69
    Karen in GA says:

    @Rob in CT:

    Well, sorta. A guy who goes to the bar, knowing that he has to drive home, and then orders a bunch of drinks is conciously deciding to be a callous bastard, etc., etc.

    Good point. In that situation, I’d say he’s on par with someone using the phone. “Yeah, it’s dangerous when other people do it. I’ll be fine.”

  70. 70
    Patrick says:

    @dr. luba:

    A really quick google search revealed tons of research showing talking to a cell phone while driving was just as dangerous as driving drunk.

    The benchmark study comes from the University of Utah in 2006. A test of 41 adults found that driving while intoxicated was actually less dangerous than driving while talking on a hand-held phone or a hands-free phone. The study found non difference between performance in the hand-held and hands-free conditions, but cellphone users had more crashes than drunk drivers. That was a small study but its results have been repeated.

    This year, a study at Touro University of 80 drivers found that impairment between drunk drivers and hands-free cellphone drivers was roughly equal.

    In real life, 24% of all car crashes involve cellphone conversations, according to the National Safety Council.

    The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration believes that the research shows that talking on a phone is more risky than talking to a passenger in the car with you.

    Here are three more studies in the PubMed database showing similar results.
    And, if you’re still not convinced, the MythBusters crew put the hands-free myth to the test and found that Adam, who tried to conduct a conversation over the phone, did worse on a driving course than Kari, who drove drunk.

    Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com.....z30CJ4VyxX

    By the way, I remember once driving in a 45mph zone when the guy in front of me was yapping away on his cell phone. He was driving 20mph and had no clue that I was behind him or that 4-5 cars was also behind me as a result of this clown insisting on using his cell phone. Somebody eventually tried to pass me so that they could pass the cellphone guy. Fortunately they changed their mind as another car from the opposing lane came towards us. You can never convince me that yapping away in a cellphone is not dangerous.

  71. 71
    Karen in GA says:

    @JPL: My brother-in-law and his girlfriend (separately) were also stuck in their cars in the Roswell/Alpharetta area during that storm. I wouldn’t call it “driving” so much as “forced unconventional parking.”

  72. 72
    catclub says:

    @Patrick: “He was driving 20mph and had no clue that I was behind him”

    Another use for an extremely loud horn. .. after getting as close as possible.

  73. 73
    Karen in GA says:


    I remember once driving in a 45mph zone when the guy in front of me was yapping away on his cell phone. He was driving 20mph and had no clue that I was behind him or that 4-5 cars was also behind me as a result of this clown insisting on using his cell phone. Somebody eventually tried to pass me so that they could pass the cellphone guy. Fortunately they changed their mind as another car from the opposing lane came towards us. You can never convince me that yapping away in a cellphone is not dangerous.

    My favorite was the woman on the phone who decided to get from the right into the left lane while I was next to her in said left lane. I had nowhere to go, so I leaned on my horn until she finally noticed. After almost hitting me, she looked at me like I was the one at fault, and didn’t put down her phone.

  74. 74
    Patrick says:


    I thought about that, but I was afraid the horn would scare that guy and he might accidentally drive into opposing traffic. He was completely into his own little world with the cellphone.

  75. 75
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    That really is just fucking insane. And did you catch the comment?

  76. 76
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @The Dangerman: Waze makes you respond to a dialog box (Are you a passenger?) before you can search if the car is moving. Would be nice if more apps did that.

    I don’t see any median guiderail in the photos. My guess is that the median is wide enough there that it wasn’t required, but it might have made a difference. So might wearing her seatbelt properly. (Last line of the local Fox8 article.) But it’s NC, and there’s probably no money available for continuing the guiderail effort.

  77. 77
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Oh, I’m quite certain that’s not what he/she meant, probably never even having heard of fluid dynamics. I just found it amusing.

  78. 78
    Hungry Joe says:

    A speech pathologist told me that one of the reasons talking on the phone is more dangerous than talking to a passenger is that the sound quality on phones is very poor. We’re used to it and don’t notice, but we actually have to devote more brain power to deciphering phone speech. Haven’t seen any studies to back this up, but it does make some sense.

  79. 79
    Karen in GA says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: That comment was some world-class snark right there. Doug J would be proud. Assuming he didn’t write it.

  80. 80
    Violet says:

    What do people think of texting in a car when the car is not moving? Even if you’re the driver and you’re stuck at a red light and going nowhere for the next four minutes? Is there any point at which texting (or equivalent) in a car is okay?

  81. 81
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Karen in GA:

    You are right. I had accidentally mislaid my snark meter (it was with my keys and glasses).

  82. 82
    Calouste says:

    @Hungry Joe:

    State governments issue licenses to drive cars when people have demonstrated that they are capable of controlling them.

    Maybe some states do, but having done the Washington State driving test (after having done one in a country where they actually properly test drivers), I can tell you that I doubt there would be a noticeable difference if they just mailed every resident a drivers license on their 16th birthday.

  83. 83
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Karen in GA:

    After almost hitting me, she looked at me like I was the one at fault, and didn’t put down her phone.

    OK, this is terrible of me, and shows some nasty prejudice, but I’m thinking “Real Estate agent”. If she was driving an expensive car, it’s closer to a lock.

  84. 84
    Bitter and Deluded Lurker says:

    @Violet: As a pedestrian, I’ve noticed that the driver is more likely to start when he shouldn’t (i.e., somebody is walking in front of him). Or they start moving again without looking to see what’s happening around them.

    As a driver, I’m tired of cars passing me and then continuing to text after the light turns green.

  85. 85
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Calouste: Exactly. In Germany, driving is very much a privilege, and must be earned at significant financial cost.

    In this country, it’s very close to a right.

    Given how public transportation is ubiquitous in Germany, and not so much here, except in the largest urban areas, it’s not surprising in how the two countries approach the needs of transportation.

  86. 86
    Steeplejack says:


    Pretty sure that comment was snark.

    I was going to quote a snippet, but here’s the whole thing for convenience:

    To be fair, I didn’t spend months preparing my toddler for the entrance interview to get her into the best day care and then preparing her to get her into the best pre-K and then preparing her to get her into the best kindergarten for bullshit like talent shows and Christmas pageants.

    She has to worry about what grade school she’ll get into and then what preparatory school she’ll get into and then what Ivy she’ll get into so that she can find a nice, filthy rich tech scion to marry.

    That’s what kindergarten is about, not dicking around on a stage singing bullshit songs and dancing bullshit dance routines.

    We report; you decide.

    The original story is headlined “Annual Kindergarten Show Canceled to Allow Kids to Focus on College.”

    ETA: Snark previously detected. This left for lazy BJ readers.

  87. 87
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Steeplejack: What is frightening about the comment is that it’s darn good example of Poe’s Law in action.

    There are people who actually obsess to that level about getting their newly arrived bundle of joy into the “right” places.

    Many of them appear to be in the same social circles as our best journamalists.

  88. 88
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @catclub: I’m thinking more of onboard guided missiles, or at least a hood mounted Gatling gun.

    A disintegration beam weapon of some type would be ideal.

  89. 89
    different-church-lady says:

    @Karen in GA:

    Thinning the herd.

    ‘Course, that wouldn’t be so funny if it had been someone else’s calf she had killed instead of herself.


    What do people think of texting in a car when the car is not moving?

    I think the problem there is that people underestimate how long the text is going to take, traffic starts moving again, and they can’t resist the urge to finish the text and start driving again. (Guilty of this myself on rare occasions, but after a second or two I have the good sense to put down the phone.)

    What we really need is a “chill the fuck out on our obsessive communications” program. At least we had the good sense to draw the line at texting, but we should have drawn it at phoning, which is not even close to being as benign while driving as people think.

  90. 90
    different-church-lady says:

    @The Dangerman:

    Well, my solution would be the bigger hammer approach to solving problems; phones just wouldn’t work in cars (maybe there would be some enabling with hands free or voice activated devices).

    Oh, you jokester! Of course you’re aware that cars are now being marketed based on how well they coordinate with your phone, yes? Who cares about things like gas mileage and performance and reliability anymore? What’s really important is if your car can find you Chinese take-out.

  91. 91
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    Pretty sure that comment was snark.

    See #79 and #81.

    ETA: Snark previously detected.

    And you did!

  92. 92
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Patrick: Key difference: there’s the addiction element in alcoholism; driving while texting is just stupid, and there’s no obligation legislators to protect the stupid from their actions. How many deaths does it take to make them pay attention to this? Just one: a sibling or child killed by by someone DWT.

    FWIW, there are state laws appearing (MD has one) that prohibit DWT (and all other handheld cellphone activity) – but getting law enforcement to care is at least as great a chore as getting the laws passed. I’ve seen texters fly past patrol cars without incident. DWT in most places should fall under “reckless driving.”

  93. 93
    Steeplejack says:


    Snark detection previously detected.

  94. 94
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @Steeplejack: I walked past a wall of signs once in Japan. It started with a college, a bit further down was the entrance to a high school with the same name of the college, a so-called “escalator” school which funneled HS graduates into the college. Further down the road was a junior high, escalator to the senior high school, followed by the elementary (grade) feeder school for the junior high, followed by the kindergarten school and then the associated daycare facility. I half-expected a maternity hospital and perhaps a embryology/artificial insemination clinic to follow but no. Not yet.

  95. 95
    Mnemosyne says:


    Personally, I say the only time a driver of a car should text is when they’ve pulled over out of traffic and have the car in “park.” Trying to do it in traffic is way too dangerous — what if the guy in the lane ahead of you wants to turn left, but you don’t notice because you were texting, so you rear-end him?

  96. 96
    Tripod says:

    People on the phone are easy spots. They tool around at or just below the speed limit, and it’s a constant state regardless of traffic conditions.
    Their focus is very much inside the vehicle.

  97. 97
    Mnemosyne says:

    Also, as we unfortunately found out here in Los Angeles, it’s not just drivers of cars texting who can cause terrible accidents. 25 dead and 135 injured because of a text message.

  98. 98
    Patrick says:


    It used to be the same with drunk driving decades ago. Eventually MADD was founded and political pressure finally brought about change. The question is just how many people have to die until there will be enough political pressure to change current laws regarding both texting and using a cellphone while driving.

  99. 99
    different-church-lady says:


    Their focus is very much inside the vehicle their own head.

    The insidious thing about phones is they put you in two places at once: there’s the car, and then there’s the “conversation” space. When you’re on a phone you both where you are and in an abstract space at the same time — without realizing it, you’re imaging yourself in the same place as the person you’re talking to.

    The problem arises when the person you’re speaking to isn’t sharing the same experiences you are. If a pedestrian suddenly walks out in front of your car while you’re talking to a passenger, both you and the passenger see the pedestrian and have the same reaction. In fact, your passenger might even see the pedestrian before you do.

    When the same thing happens when you’re on the phone, your brain is torn between two different experiences: the real one of danger, and the social one. The split second it takes you to figure out which one gets priority could make all the difference. As social creatures we have phone ettiquite — we’re supposed to say, “Hang on a minute…” to the person we’re talking to.

    My way of putting it is: it doesn’t matter where your hands are, it matters where your head is.

  100. 100
    catclub says:

    @different-church-lady: “My way of putting it is: it doesn’t matter where your hands are, it matters where your head is.”

    Sounds like sex therapy.

    Putting it indeed.

  101. 101
    Citizen Alan says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Nothing will change on gun control — NO THING AT ALL — until some class of people feared by white old people start arming themselves. If we had a national program to help black people in the inner cities buy assault rifles, we’d see gun control so fast it would make your head spin.

  102. 102
    TerryC says:

    @Patrick: “I thought about that, but I was afraid the horn would scare that guy and he might accidentally drive into opposing traffic. He was completely into his own little world with the cellphone.”

    I live on a dirt road and have an outdoor perch that I work at, sometimes, that is a few feet higher than the road and close to it. You would be shocked how many drivers go by texting, never look up, and do not see me 10 feet from the road as they go. What I see: They never lift their eyes from the phone; and I can watch them for more than 300′. My wife and I walk on that road <shudder>

    Stopped at a crosswalk headed East on the U Michigan campus last fall to let a coed cross. As she crossed, I saw another young woman driving toward us heading West, head down, eyes on her phone. She missed the pedestrian, who never even saw her, by less than two feet. I was unable to do anything, windows were up, if I had honked, the pedestrian would have stopped and been struck. Inearly had a heart attack watching this train wreck unfold.

    I chased the drive down several blocks awayand chewed her out until she was crying. Luckily no police came by while I was doing that.

    More stories: Got t-boned by a phone talker who ran a red light. More, too, but that’s enough.

  103. 103
    Patrick says:


    Good. I hope she learned a lesson.

  104. 104
    psycholinguist says:

    @Another Holocene Human:

    No, it isn’t just dialing the phone. Hands free devices etc. do not lower the risk when talking on the phone while driving, and the risk is greater than being above the legal limit. It’s about managing the tiny supply of attention we have at our disposal to deal with non-automatic variables in our environment. When that is devoted to maintaining a conversation, there isn’t anything left for monitoring for that kid that just ran out in the middle of the road, or the car that stopped without a blinker, or the light that just turned red.

  105. 105
    dr. luba says:

    @Patrick: The NEJM study was the first major study to come out, and has only been confirmed by later studies. It has the comparison to drunk driving and the evidence that hands-free is not safer, nor safe.

    I have argued this point ad infinitum with my tea bagger brother, who refuses to “believe” these studies. Because he has a hands-free phone, science has a liberal bias, and he knows what he knows.

  106. 106
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Citizen Alan: That already happened in California in the late 60’s. Ronald Reagan himself signed the bill.

    All it took was Black Panthers brandishing firearms in the California state capitol building.

  107. 107
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Violet: On the shoulder. In park. With parking brake on. With flashers on.

    Outside of that, no. Too many variables, and too many idjits around you that your temporary immobility doesn’t offset.

  108. 108
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Real estate agent. Attorney. Physician. Law enforcement, or former law enforcement. Soccer Mom – especially if talking to one of the kiddies about when/where to meet her. There really isn’t an occupation that drives worse than others, however dearly one might wish for such. The problem isn’t so much driving skills or personality traits that drive success in a given job, as it is the entitlement: between the “Me Generation” of the 70s and the Special Unique Sparkleponies that came after, there’s just no room in their universes for anyone else.

  109. 109
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Patrick: The problem is that DUI has never really gone away, and IYAM MADD is part of the problem. When you make a law, there’s a very strong countercultural impetus to break it; if, however, you make the behavior socially unacceptable, you see a lot more change. We’re FINALLY starting to see that with alcohol consumption, as more and more alternaties to DUI become available, but there’s a long way to go still.

    DWT, however, faces too many opponents: between the constantly-connected social world and increasingly 24/7 nature of the workplace, there’s just too much driving people to remain connected, even if it costs them their lives (and the lives and/or wellbeing of others). Until constant connectivity becomes both socially and professionally unacceptable, change will be far harder to achieve.

  110. 110
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    Simple answer would be to put the ‘phone in airplane mode while driving.

  111. 111
    Ruckus says:

    You don’t drive the 80 miles a day that I ride in LA. I’ve seen people texting and driving 80, weaving in and out of traffic and rarely looking up. I see all the time people texting and tailgating in 70-75 mph traffic. I also see people talking on the phone who are paying very little attention to the road. Many, many people. They are sort of the Clive Bundy’s of the driving world, so self important that they don’t care if they are on the verge of stealing lives from the rest of us. They socialize but they don’t want to live in society. They want society to live around them.

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