Friday, April 16, 2010

'Supertaskers' who can drive and talk are rare

Think you can safely drive and talk on your cell phone at the same time? Then you probably can't. A new study shows that 'Supertaskers' who can drive and talk on phone are rare - only 2.5% of population can do it. Even more interesting, the people who *think* they can do it safely are usually the very ones who can't, the study says:

This supports the results of the Driving Distraction experiment that organized in January. Click here to read an article I wrote about that for Yahoo! Canada.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Driver behaviour and how we share the road

This poor blog has been neglected over the last year. Not because I've lost interest in the sport (far from it) but because I've been getting somewhat involved in covering our four-wheeled cousins. I spent nine months editing the Autos Channel at Yahoo! Canada, and was fascinated by the many ways the two interests intersect. Particularly when it comes to trying to predict and understand driver behaviour.

The latter, in particular, has become a keen area of study for me. After being hit twice two years ago, I was stunned at the attitudes of both motorists who hit me. The first, a man in a Pathfinder who sideswiped me in bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic, got out and carefully examined the side of his van before yelling at me (while I was still lying in the road) for not getting out of his way. He had, after all, signalled. Even in my stunned state (came perilously close to fracturing my pelvis that time- the hip pads in my gear saved me), I almost laughed at his sense of entitledness. And wondered where it came from. The driver in the car behind me, who was alert enough not to run me over, stopped his car and made sure I was OK before starting to direct traffic around us until the EMTs could arrive.

The second time, a woman zoomed out of a parking lot in downtown Toronto to dart across three lanes to cut me off. She took off without stopping. Miraculously, the fellow in the pickup truck behind me not only didn't run over me when I went down, but chased after her and stopped her at the next red light to tell her she had to come back and give her insurance information. He said she told him "No I don't," before taking off again. He wrote down her plate number, came back to give it to me (along with his cell number) and asked if I wanted him to wait for police with me. I thought I was fine, so just thanked him (profusely!) and sent my white knight on his way. Found out later I'd broken a rib and a thumb.

Both times perfect strangers in cars behind me came to my rescue. And both times the person who'd hit me could have cared less that he or she (no gender divide, here) had almost ended another human being's life. I will be writing more about that, and the possible underlying causes, later. Will also be writing about Ontario's peculiar justice system, which seems to depend on insurance companies to penalize people for dangerous driving.

The penalties certainly aren't a deterrent. The man in the Pathfinder was fined $200 for an illegal lane change. The woman who hit me and ran was fined $500 for leaving the scene of an accident.

Think about that. $200 and $500. And compare it to fines for speeding that endanger other drivers but don't directly impact them.

Clearly, I have thoughts on that subject.

Stay tuned!