back to article Can you talk and drive?

The UK's Department of Transport has launched a free game that demonstrates how hard it is to listen while driving, addressing the fact that 30 per cent of young drivers admit sending text messages from behind the wheel. The game, and statistics, come as part of the DoT's THINK! campaign, which is particularly aimed at young …


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  1. Ben


    I'm not trying to say using your mobile is right while driving however, does that mean that having a passenger talking to you is also socially unacceptable? I fail to see how a correctly fitted handsfree is different from having someone else in the car (other than perhaps a passenger is more appreciative of things like arriving at a junction).

  2. Grant
    Thumb Up

    Well done DoT

    Doubt it will stop many people from feeling that anything should interfere with their right to drive in any condition doing what ever they want and if the pedistrian DoT

  3. Herby

    You get off cheap in the UK

    50 quid? That is a pretty cheap citation here in sunny (well, it did rain yesterday) California. Minimum fines for anything involving a moving vehicle will set you back over $200 before you can say "traffic school". If you don't, the price goes up.

    Unfortunately (or fortunately depending) the enforcement isn't that good, and yes people keep blabbing away!

    The only thing that is that cheap is a parking ticket, which varies quite a bit, but usually less than $100.

    At current exchange rate of $1.50 to the pound (or so).

  4. Mat Child

    Nanny State

    I agree that texting and using hand held phones whilst driving is very wrong, but and idea can be taken too far.

    If they decide that having a conversation on the phone (hand-held or otherwise) whilst driving is too much, what will stop the safety lobby from dreciding that all conversation whilst driving is unsafe.

    Are not passengers in the car not as distracting? Kids in the fighting in the back seat causing mummy dear to turn round to remonstrate and then crash the car used to be a staple scenario for casualty (along with the old dear up a ladder just fixing somethig before tea).

    Would the next logical step from banning phone conversations be to ban all conversations with the driver, legislating that all multi-occupancy vehicles have a special cockpits for the driver that separate them from everyone else?

  5. jake Silver badge

    Yes, I can talk and drive.

    But me talking & driving has nothing to do with this comment from the article:

    "addressing the fact that 30 per cent of young drivers admit sending text messages from behind the wheel."

    Who the fuck uses a 'phone to send text messages?

    Serious question ... Aren't most such messages sent 'phone to 'phone? Why not simply call the party you are (supposedly) trying to communicate with? You DO want to talk to them, right? So why not TALK to them? That's what a telephone is FOR, right? Talking with people?

    Maybe I'm missing something ... I am an old fart, after all ...

  6. JMB

    Talk and drive

    If it is so dangerous then why do the police allow single-crewed police vehicles use their radios (often almost identical to mobile phones) and use a host of electronic gadgets whilst driving?

  7. Eddie Edwards
    Thumb Down

    Usual Govt Bollocks

    "demonstrates how hard it is to listen while driving, addressing the fact that 30 per cent of young drivers admit sending text messages from behind the wheel."

    Not addressing that at all, in fact, since sending a text message has a 0% listening component.

    "The game isn't focused on text messages, but instead challenges the player to listen to a woman's voice and press the space-bar whenever a question is asked, while keeping an eye on pedestrians wearing colour-coded T-Shirts."

    And they've designed a game which is almost, but not entirely, completely unrelated to driving a car.

    This obviously proves whatever it is they set out to prove.

    Meanwhile, it continues to be illegal to text my wife to tell her I'll be late while sitting stationary in an M6 traffic queue, and I will continue to do it anyway.

  8. uncredited
    Thumb Down

    Interesting test

    Interesting test, have a person doing two tasks, neither of which he (or she) is likely to ever have done before, let alone simultaneously and if the person fails this test, assume that he would automatically fail at doing two different tasks, both of which he does several times every single day and quite often both at the same time.

  9. David Coveney

    Of course I didn't pass...

    If someone rings me up and I'm driving then they should realise that they don't have my full attention. So although I only miscounted by two points I missed eight of the rambling and meaningless questions. I also saw rabbitman near the end - he was hardly difficult to miss.

    I'm not a good listener when people ramble on, which may irritate my girlfriend but it certainly makes me a lot less likely to run somebody over. I suspect other people prioritise the phone call higher and they're the dangerous ones.

    Looks to me like a campaign is starting that will inevitably attempt to ban the use of telephones in a car and those of us who are cable of communicating safely whilst driving will have to resort to PTT systems which can't really be made illegal due to their use by police officers, ambulance drivers and so on.

  10. Anonymous Coward


    and why are the Police exempt, in the UK, from this law? If driving and using a mobile is so bad then there should be no exemptions.

  11. Anonymous Coward


    Exactly my fathers point every time he walks past a police car. They have personal radios. Mobile phones. And they use the, all while driving. Even that weird novelty phone they have on the dashboard.

    What is with that test. About 10 tshirts walk past you. It does not prove anything but. Who counts tshirts while driving..... 19% of people aparently

  12. randomtask

    RE: Who the fuck uses a 'phone to send text messages?

    Well the royal mail simply refuses to deliver mail to moving vehicles and until such a service becomes available people will continue to use SMS to communicate whilst on the move.

    Mines is the coat with the letterbox strapped to the back....

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    Ahh, the police are allowed to do that because they have 'special training' according to a family member who joined that particular club.

    What you should be really worried about is the horde of socially inadequate, fat, scruffy, smelly, pipe smoking old gits commonly known as 'radio hams', or, to really piss them off, posh CBers.

    They are also allowed to use two way radio whilst on the move, the only reason given seems to be that the authorities got sick of them moaning about it/the smell of unwashed cardigans and pipe smoke.

    Paris, two way, three way, all good.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    no title needed

    Yes, anyting a driver can do whilst driving makes them a dangerous person on the road, listening to the radio, nagging wife in the passenger seat, looking at a billboard and even reading a sign that says if you feel sleepy whilst driving then take a rest.

    I for one will only be happy when driving is regulated to the point that if you are driving in a vehicle then all un-necessary sensory input is suppressed via fines and points on your licence if you get caught willfully accepting un-necessary sensory input.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Biased test

    So they asked men to look at passing women's chests while trying to listen to the woman in the passenger seat talking. And we are surprised at the result?

  16. Tom Haczewski


    You're absolutely right, there's no difference. It's all to do with distraction - but essentially if the Gov can get away with charging £60 every time someone's caught on a phone while driving (easy to prove due to mobile phone records) then don't you think they will!?

    Also, I just took the test and passed - but didn't notice the 'surprise'. Does that make me a bad driver? I don't think so. I still SAW all the pedestrians crossing the road, which is the important thing - surely it doesn't matter what the hell they were wearing!!

    *Steps off soapbox*

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    If talking is to be banned when will...

    The use of radio and music players also be banned. There are few things more distracting and annoying than that Moyles chap if I happen to turn the radio on after my youfs have been in the car. Those grotesque parodies of news and current affairs cause enough rants to distract all but the most sainted of Angels.

    I understand the logic behind banning of the use of distractive devices.Their are risk levels but (that uncommon thing) common sense and judgment needs to be applied in both use and enforcement.

    The iPod is a damned nuisance!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Talking and driving

    I agree with the general push for this. I am not the best or the worst driver around, but I do find that when a driving situation gets more complex - I stop talking to anyone else in the car and ignore them as I need to concentrate harder.


    I am no fan of mobile phones - I hardly use mine - far too old and far too few friends, but I do see the point of texting - you can send a message without having to have the 'whole conversation' - in fact I wish I knew how to send a verbal message direct to someone's voicemail (apparently possible) There are times when I just want to say something without having a 2 way conversation.

    Anon - want to keep the few friends left.....

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Sack of crap, Flash-infested bollockry

    Good idea, implemented in a piss-poor stylee; it's all in the timing of pressing the key/latency of the connection, etc. rather than whether you heard the question or not. I got the t-shirt count 99% right on the first gohaving expected to fail to some degree or another but not because the technology is flawed...

    As for the giant fuck-off rabbit (although I didn't think "bunny", I thought "berk in a fur suit"), of course I fucking saw it, you could hardly miss it.



  20. Steve
    Thumb Down

    I dont count Tshirts when I drive!

    Ok, so this test is hard. But since when do I try to "count" points from people with different colour t-shirts! NEVER! Try this test without counting, i.e. if you were actually driving and monitoring people and not trying to count them, and its very easy.

    This test is better at representing a situation where there's loads of adverts and signs everywhere along a road that distract you. Trying to concentrate on all those whilst paying attention to drivers and listening to someone is dangerous. I haven't seen anyone complain about too many road signs and adverts on our roads.

    So this test is pointless.

  21. Steve

    Transference of intuition

    You blunder about the pavement. too, while talking/texting on your mobile (but you're not so dangerous out of the car). My hypothesis is that you 'empathise' with the caller at the other end, and that your intuitive faculties go 'over there' instead of out to the fool driver in front. Chatting to a passenger is *nothing* like this - both of you have a survival interest in what is ahead, so it's closer to teamwork (with passengers like mine, anyway).

  22. P. Lee
    Paris Hilton

    phone conversations vs passenger conversations

    There is a difference between the two.

    An in-car passenger can see what you're doing and what the road conditions are. They can tell if you need to turn a blind corner or drive through an area with pedestrians on the road. Since they know all this, it removes the pressure on the driver to respond instantly and allows them to switch focus between the road and the conversation as conditions permit.

    With a telephone call there is no such background information being acquired by the other person which increases the pressure on the driver to compensate for this by focusing on the conversation when they should really be focusing on the road.

    Another issue is the type of conversations being had. Conversations with passenger are usually with people you know well and are often of a personal and "light" nature. If the call is business oriented, there is probably a much greater imperative to be absolutely correct in your responses which may involve information which is not an area you know well. That places a greater burden on the driver to focus on the conversation or recalling other events or data rather than the traffic.

    As for the police, I'm not sure but I hope that their driver-training is more rigorous than the general public's. I also hope that the conversations are to do with their travel (where they are going, what's on the road etc) rather than some paperwork which may be back at the office.

    In other words, it isn't so much the use of a phone in a car which is bad (except texting of course!) it isn't even having a conversation or not, its the nature of the conversation which determines the danger. Sadly, the law is a blunt instrument and cannot detect the difference between an safe conversation and a dangerous one. Personally, I don't answer business calls in the car and wouldn't answer personal ones without a hands-free kit.

    Opinion: People need to stop using the law as the measure of what is good and bad. Just because the law says you can use a hands-free kit to talk on the phone doesn't mean that you should. If you can't concentrate on the traffic and conversation, tell the other person and call them back later.

    lolcatParis - "Invisible mobile phone!"

  23. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    if only it was a level playing field

    How is it ok for police drivers to use handheld mics while driving?

    That's a tad hypocritical isn't it?

  24. Brezin Bardout

    re: Talk and drive

    I would guess its probably the same reason they are allowed to travel faster than anyone else when responding to emergencies. The reason being, they are trained to do it.

    I do think sending texts when driving is just stupid but if someone is incapable of holding a conversation and driving safely at the same time then they really shouldn't be driving at all.

  25. J.Wild

    The old ones are the best

    Killed whilst texting? No, I would rather die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather; unlike his passengers who were all screaming......

  26. Patrick Ernst



    I asked a friend who teaches amateur radio license courses about this. Apparently studies have shown that half-duplex conversation does not impair driving but full-duplex does. I take it being unable to speak while the other party is transmitting means one actually looks at the road ahead rather than the mental image one has of the other speaker in full-duplex. For myself I know that I tend to focus inwards a bit if using the dog and bone. Over.

  27. Chris

    Balance and personal responsibility

    Lets have some balance here. Looking down at your phone constantly to text is distracting obviously, holding a phone to your head does distract and only gives you one hand to do the turning and gears, indicators etc, so both these things are unacceptable. However I don't see a problem with short well controlled hands free conversations using a proper well fitted car kit. Some of these nanny state promoters and the blind over zealous DOT need to step back from labelling everyone not glued to the wheel with both hands a child murderer. Just as a driver I am seen as some kind of evil person already.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Ridiculous test

    It is interesting how they have picked a ridiculous test to try and show their viewpoint. Counting things as they happen is a notoriously difficult thing to multi-task. Ask anyone who has shot a rifle about counting the rounds. As soon as you concentrate on targeting (or a combat situation) you lose count. It's why most troops load tracer as the last few rounds in a magazine. Interestingly, driving almost never requires you to be able to count above 2; so this is asinine game produced by an asinine department.

    Incidentally, sending text messages whilst driving or talking on the phone whilst driving can be pretty dumb. If you do it during a busy urban cycle you are pretty much asking for trouble. On the other hand if you do either of those things whilst on a clear road you are likely to be safe. It is little different from changing the CD in the stereo, or looking at the satnav, or one of a million other things peoples do in the car (eg smoking or eating). The thing that is most annoying about all this is that the police already have a system available for prosecution if they think that what you are doing in a car is preventing you from driving safely. It's called careless driving. They used to prosecute people for careless driving when using mobiles before the fixed penalty ticket idea, now they don't seem to any more. It's like so much in driving offences. By switching the bulk of the offences to fixed penalty, black and white offences, they stop police doing what they should be doing and dealing with genuinely bad driving. It would help accident statistics far more if the police dealt with things like tailgating, or general bad driving, rather than just issuing fixed penalty notices, more often than not using robots.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is a big difference

    between trying to identifying shirts of different colours and doing addition based on this, while listening to someone talk, and just talking to someone while you drive (otherwise talking to passengers would be just as dangerous).

    The test in the game, uses the identifying of different colour shirts to simulate the visual aspect of driving, but the listening on the phone and adding up numbers means the language center is being shared. This is a bigger load than just driving and talking. Driving uses the visual and fine motor centers, and in my experience it is possible to ensure these areas are not impeded by the language centers (ask your caller to hang on for a second when you're about to navigate a busy intersection - it's not rocket science).

    Of course texting while driving is a really bad idea, as both require the visual and fine motor centers, with texting also involving the language center.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    Oh crap!

    Herds of people crossing while counting & keeping track of points... seriously, is that a skill I should need when driving?

    Why not hit space when a question is asked and up arrow to drive, down arrow to stop when reaching a red light or when a pedestrian steps into the road? Isn't the issue whether you can keep track of driving conditions while listening to someone? I don't think doing math while having a conversation is quite the same.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    £60? Nice little earner, not in the least a deterrent

    "Certainly the penalties for pressing a phone against one's ear (60 quid and three points) don't seem to be discouraging anyone.. Only by making it socially unacceptable can people be convinced to get off the phone when driving, and even then it won't be easy."

    Making it socially unacceptable, or simply making the penalty much higher? - if you were fined, say £1000 and 6 points then even if the enforcement is weak the risk is sufficiently higher to provide a real deterrent. At £60 a pop however, people are likely to re-offend - representing a nice little revenue stream..

  32. Martin Gregorie

    @ Ben

    Yes, somebody jabbering from outside the car is more dangerous than a passenger talking to the driver: most passengers can see a situation developing and will shut up.

    As a pilot, I'd add another thought: we're taught that the priorities are aviate, navigate, communicate in that order. This also means that ATC or another pilot communicating with an aircraft will not be surprised or annoyed if, instead of a reply, they get a silence while a higher priority event gets dealt with followed by 'say again'.

    Most people get annoyed and more insistent if they think they are being ignored no matter what the reason might be. Getting shouted at for not listening is exactly what you don't need during a traffic situation.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    total crock

    This "test" is a total crock in that it makes many false assumptions and leading statements.

    First, it assumes the person on the other end of the phone conversation requires your undivided attention. If I am driving, the person on the phone needs to wait *especially* if I am near an intersection filled with pedestrians (or waving rabbits).

    Second, it assumes that I care how many pedestrians are present and what they wear. The important thing to a driver is, "what am I about to hit?" When I approach an intersection, whether on the phone or not, I am concerned about the safety of me and those around me.

    Finally, it equates counting pedestrian-chocked intersections with texting and phone conversations.

    Do I use my phone while driving? Yes. Do people on the phone get annoyed with me and ask "are you listening to me?" Yes, because I am focusing on my driving.

    That said, do I believe people should be texting while driving? No, because (my assumption here) it requires you to take your eyes off the road. I don't text, but I have to believe that the majority of people who do need to look at the phone while doing so. That, coupled with the convoluted combinations of button-presses required to enter a simple message make a more mentally taxing function than typing on a keyboard. Again, my opinion.

  34. Lee

    @ Talk and Drive

    Because unlike us the Police do have to do some training - before the flames start, i'm not saying that makes them better, safer etc but can anyone else say they had training to use there mobile whilst driving?

    However i do think that if you are imbecilic enough to try texting whilst driving (unless you can now text without looking at the screen???)

    well if you die in a nasty accident - well it's one less in the 'stupid' gene pool

  35. Anonymous Coward

    Back-seat driver test

    "...challenges the player to listen to a woman's voice and press the space-bar whenever a question is asked, while keeping an eye on pedestrians wearing colour-coded T-Shirts."

    Sounds like more like a test involving a typical woman back-seat driver nagging all the time, while at the same time trying to avoid the Chavs in the street...

  36. Anonymous Coward

    The Problem

    The thing that the gov totally ignores is that once you learn to drive, there is little conscious thought involved. It's like walking - once you learn how to walk you no longer have to consciously think 'lift up leg... move forward... place down' - it just happens when you think where you want to go with muscle memory and what are effectively body movement macros.

    All theses so called 'tests' present you with a totally new situations that require your complete conscious concentration. You might as well take someone who has never driven, put them in a car and demand they pass a driving test flawlessly the instant they get behind the wheel; then, when they fail, claim it was because they were listening to the instructor. Never mind the fact they had never driven a car before.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just another way to ...

    take away the fun in everything.

    From here its safe to say talking of _any_ kind in a vehicle (even talking to yourself) will become illegal. Followed, of course, by having a radio or music of any kind (too distracting) and making it more and more a grotesque Kafkaesque pantomime to try and get a driving licence (it already is compared to when I got mine).

    All its for is to keep people who would otherwise be on the dole in work pushing meaningless bits of paper around. Oh -- and to keep legislation flowing from the minds of nitwits.

  38. Hrishikesh

    @Herby, @Jake

    @Herby - According to CA DOT's website, the fine is $20 for the first offense, and $50 for subsequent offenses, no points (after "penalty assessments" it is 3x that, but they've not specified the conditions). So no, Blighty is not a lot cheaper than in California.

    @Jake - I do. A lot. So does my mom (and she's almost 60 - definitely an "old fart" :). It's an excellent way to get a non-urgent message across without interrupting what the other person is doing. Maybe she wants to tell me something when it's 3am for me. Maybe I want to do the reverse. Or text from the airport saying "got flight, on time, see you at 2230". Just because YOU don't see the utility doesn't mean there isn't one. I'd never have expected Twitter to be so popular, and I'm not yet 30. </rant>

  39. spam

    Too little too late

    Anyone who devotes insufficient attention to driving is a dick. It doesn't matter what they divert their attention to.

    A dick with a phone is still a dick when you take away their (hand held) phone. You can't legislate common sense into people, the legislation was stupid.

    All you can do is try to educate. I don't think the game was very good but at least it is the right approach.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does sound like gov BS

    As someone said the police talk and drive while in "hot pursuit". F1 drivers talk and race, I've conducted tests and it doesn't make a lot of difference.

    Having said which sending an SMS while driving (if you use the buttons) has got to be madness!

    You see this reported on the BBC and they'll say X thousand deaths a year caused by sending SMSs while driving, Y caused by rail crossing, Z caused by drinking, A caused by speeding, B caused by falling asleep at the wheel. However, if you add them all up they come to ten times more than the actual number of deaths!!!!

  41. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    A modest explantion...

    "If it is so dangerous then why do the police allow single-crewed police vehicles use their radios...."

    Because it isn't dangerous per se. Just like speeding.

    Doing 120 down a deserted motorway at 2 am in the morning is fairly safe. Trying to do 30 down a road near a street market 10 minutes after a nearby school has just emptied is very dangerous. Similarly, talking on a phone on a long straight dual carriageway is safe compared to talking on a phone while trying to navigate a magic roundabout at rush hour.

    A sensible traffic policeman, unencumbered by legislation, would be able to make a balanced judgement on these examples. But we have moved imperceptibly into an oppressive society where extreme laws are passed using terrorism and mass murder of babies as justification, and then applied to any passing photographer or pedestrian who doesn't cringe suitably when an Officer of the Law passes...

    The other reason is quite simple - there's one traffic law for the police and another for the rest of us. How many policemen actually get fined for speeding?

  42. Anonymous Coward


    Yep, you're displaying advanced symptoms of Farticus Oldissimus ;)

    Seriously, the "yoof" of today have entire damned conversations by text:



    "Wht r u doin"


    "Coming over"


    "Wht tim"



    {note the lack of fully formed words or punctuation}

    Generally, these exchanges convey little or sometimes no information whatsoever. I too am an "old fart" and have observed our teenage son doing this sort of thing for hour after hour, often whilst on Messenger at the same time to other "m8s".

    Mine's the un-puffy one without the snorkel hood.


  43. Angus

    This is nonsense

    First of all, that "test" was nonsense. It proves that most people can't add up by assessing crowds of people as values while being forced to listen to a woman talking about something you have no interest in. This is a most shocking result! I'm not even saying people can talk and drive, but if you're going to prove something, at least prove it with relevant tests. The test makes you do things you would NEVER do in a car. An F1 driver has a ridiculous amount of things to do as well as race, but ask them to start adding up t-shirts in a crowd and you may not get too many passing.

    Second, I agree with some of the above comments, the test has nothing to do with texting while driving. Performing tactile actions have a different response to performing visual and mental tasks. Most of these young people can text without looking.

    And third, don't most people learn to drive while talking to their instructor and listening for instructions? Would it really be that difficult to give people more training in chatting and driving since, if we're realistic, it's not going to stop because you'd have to ban talking to your passengers?

  44. Tom Paine

    anecdotal data point

    When I got my first phone in 2003 I used it whilst driving, until a near miss for a nasty prang at a roundabout. I'm not worried about getting nicked and fined, I'm worried about causing an accident and having injuries or deaths of third parties on my conscience.

    @Herby - £50 isn't much, it's the three points on your license that's assumed to be the real disincentive. When you reach 12 points you lose your license. (Then again three points is the standard penalty for doing, say, 75mph in a 60mph zone, and I don't see much evidence the disincentive works for speeding, probably because although you've a similarly low chance of getting caught by the fuzz, most drivers think the additional risk of actually hurting themselves or others is relatively low.

    @Grant, mattchild and jake, making similar points: I'm reminded of the (urban myth?) of the driver of the first car to kill a pedestrian in London; he told the police "Well, be reasonably, how can I be expected to drive in a straight line when I'm so drunk I can barely walk?"

    If you cause an accident because you were distracted by screaming children in the back seat, guess what, you ARE guilty of an offence; the long-established "Driving Without Due Care and Attention". There's nothing new there. Same goes for being distracted by loud music, daydreaming about that hot chick in accounts, or anything else. (And if you have an accident and can't point to the actions of another driver as the primary cause, it's going to be put down as pilot error; ie., you MUST have been DWDCAA, because you crashed your car. QED.

    Police drivers are much better trained than civvie drivers, well beyond the level of the Advanced Driving Test, and that includes the safe operation of radios, et cetera (and - single-occupant police cars? I never thought about it before, but I don't remember seeing many police cars without two occupants.) Of course, police drivers screw up and cause accidents too, sometimes, with predictably tragic results: .

  45. Anonymous Coward

    Where are the police?

    Using a mobile whilst driving is dangerous. Be it text or talk (even hands free). If we had any traffic police left (those munching doughnuts behind a revenue generator (speed camera) do not count) then we might be able to crack down on this.

    I'd like to see offender face a year ban (with extended test afterwards) for a first offence.

    Driving is a privilege, not a right. It was time drivers in the UK were made to realise that.

    @mat and others

    "If they decide that having a conversation on the phone (hand-held or otherwise) whilst driving is too much, what will stop the safety lobby from [deciding] that all conversation whilst driving is unsafe."

    Is not "deciding" it is a proven *FACT* that using a mobile to talk (even hands-free) is more dangerous that drink driving. But the Government caved it to petulant, bleating ninnies like you. Are you seriously telling me that your little call can't wait five minutes for you to find a services/parking spot from which to make the call in safety?

    Dear God, what a jumped-up opinion of your pathetic little life you have.

    As for passengers - for whatever reason they are not as distracting (although they are still a distraction). This may be because a large amount of communication is non-verbal and enough of that still passes to the driver to allow for semi-decent communication. The other thing is the passenger can see what the driver sees and will know when to shut up and let the driver concentrate.


    "I fail to see how a correctly fitted [hands-free] is different from having someone else in the car"

    The you, sir, fail. This attitude is the exact problem with drivers in the UK "I don't believe it, therefore it is not true". Do some sodding research! It's not hard y'know. Most of it is on the 'net and the rest can be got from the library.

    Hands-free is more dangerous than drink driving. 100% proven *FACT*.

    Bloody hell people. A car is a lethal weapon and yet you give it such scant regard. When was the last time you read the Highway Code, had a driver lessons, read up on correct driving techniques or even got off your lazy backside and practised them?

    Perhaps you idiot are the reason that around 3,000 people die on our roads every year, and that number is rising. Even Spain has safer roads than us! And no, speed cameras are not the answer.

    Getting the dangerous and idiotic drivers 9like some of you lot appear to be) off the road is.

  46. Nick Askew

    Rabbiting on

    To be honest that test was really hard. I realise it was only to prove a point but you would have to be an idiot to use a phone in a situation like that. I am sure I am not the only one to point out to a caller that I am driving and that my concentration may be elsewhere. The woman nattering on starts with the question are you driving and then proceeds to take no account of this fact when you are distracted.

    But I am seriously tempted to go along with a ban on phone use in cars. Clearly that demo shows that even with a hands free kit at least some portion of your attention is elsewhere. In Holland even having a phone in your hand is an offense (although somehow cyclists do not seem to realise this).

  47. Anonymous Coward

    @ JMB

    Any Two-way radio is legal, not just the Police.You cant be stopped for trundling down the outside lane of the M27 using a CB/HAM/PMR radio.

    Which to me seems a bit off. Given that to all intensive perposes TETRA handsets are mobile phones it seems evem more biased.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Fun game, but not an accurate comparison to talking on the phone while driving.

    It's not that hard to drive around, avoid hitting anything, and following traffic rules while talking to someone on the phone.

    It's a different matter trying to count pedestrians wearing coloured t-shirts. Try doing that while doing anything else and the result will always be the same.

    Pointless imho.

  49. Steve

    @ JMB

    "orientation, navigation, communication - in that order." as some pilot said once.

    A conversation on a 2-way radio is very different from a 'duplex' phone call. I don't know why, it just is. Try it.

    For some reason, when one's brain hears a message on a 2-way radio, it queues it up behind all other actions of changing gear, steering, observation, etc. until a suitable moment when you safely transmit your reply. You have control. Also, the subject matter of these conversations are highly likely to relate directly to your journey. (bike courier, police, trucker, etc)

    A mobile phone call, OTOH, is a dynamic, real time brain activity that WILL override and interfere with driving technique. You are sharing control with someone who cannot see what you see. The subject matter is unlimited, and your concentration will be split between this activity and the other dynamic, real-time activity ie driving.

    A conversation with a passenger is different again. Unlike a phone caller, they should be able to discern safe or unsafe opportunities for communication, and could also be told to shut up if needed. Again, your concentration remains under your control.

    I spent 4-5 years surviving on a motorcycle in and around London as a courier. You can see a lot more of other driver's techniques when you can ride (carefully!) through traffic jams from such a relatively high vantage point. Spotting a tw@ on a phone was easy. Initially., your eyes would be drawn to clumsy driving and you would just KNOW that, if it wasn't a Volvo, it was another distracted selfish prick on a phone. They stood out a mile.

    Texters are also easy to spot. They are the ones stuck in the car in front.

  50. stefan

    CB Radios

    Why is it fine for me to drive along using my cb radio. surely thats just as distracting? but perfectly legal.. laws are all messed up

  51. DT

    If the public were treated like adults they'd wish for a nanny state.

    @Mat Child

    I don't hear you arguing against the mobile phone ruling itself? Is that too going too far? You didn't say, but you did give a classic absurdist "slippery slide" argument, which can be applied to everything with equally silly implications. By the same "logic", a "Quiet please" sign in a library is a precursor to a totalitarian state.

    All the examples you gave are already covered under the law "driving without due care and attention" which is applied, in the most part, with discretion. There's a safe way to have a conversation in a car (a passenger usually provides a 2nd pair of eyes). There's no safe way to use a mobile.

    Yes, people acting immaturely require a nanny. Only children are forgiven for not understanding, or being answerable for, the consequences of their actions.

    Advocating full personal responsibility, necessitates treating people as adults; with sentences to match to seriousness of the consequences. Death by dangerous driving entailing the same punishment as manslaughter by any other deadly implement.

    As for cops doing it too; that's just the "two wrongs" reasonings. They shouldn't be doing it either.

  52. Cameron Colley

    Talking on a phone and driving is bad...

    ... but talking on a phone whilst in a queue of traffic, or stopped at the side of the road with your engine running and your handbrake on not so much. Unfortunately, due to the fact our legislators and our police are morons there is not difference between the two.

    @jake: Text messages are far less rude than phone calls and don't expect the recipient to drop everything, including ongoing conversations, just to find out something that can be said in a few words.

  53. E_Nigma

    Turning the Problem Upside-Down

    Isn't trying to keep track of the colours of the shirts of people passing by during a ride more distracting than talking to someone (and just as unrelated to traffic safety)?

    It's quite obvious that the test was designed so that people would fail it. There was no phone or even a hands-free device involved in the process and the participants were only required to notice a question had been made, so it was actually even less distracting than having a passenger on board. And we've all somehow managed to survive such situations, haven't we? ;-)

    So what does all that say about the test and it's relevance?

  54. decoherence

    Aren't passengers just as distracting?

    The answer is 'they can be' but generally they aren't. Why? Because a responsible adult having a conversation with you while you drive is hopefully also at least peripherally aware of what is going on on the road. So if you're in a situation that requires your concentration, the other person in the car can shut up for a minute. Or, if they are oblivious, they can at least look around and discover that they should shut up for a minute when you don't answer immediately.

    Children, in general, should be ignored when in the car, as should your drunk mates.

    Ontario recently passed a bill banning cell phone use while driving. It comes in to effect some time in the fall. Hands-free kits are still allowed because enforcing a band on those would be near impossible, particularly the ones that wire in to your car stereo.

  55. Anomalous Cowherd Silver badge
    Dead Vulture

    @jake: Text messags

    See this happening all the time in London - probably because you can keep the phone in your lap so "it's less obvious". However the big prize goes to the guy I saw a few weeks ago texting while on his scooter, doing about 20mph on the A3 near Clapham Junction...

    Gravestone as I'm sure that's where he's heading.

  56. John

    What a waste of our money

    I just goes to show that the Civil Servants in the DfT are a waste of space!

    And it doesnt work on firefox!

    But the rabbit was funny!

  57. Anonymous Coward


    Why does that old chestnut of "surely talking to a passenger is just as dangerous as talking on the phone?" come up every time this is mentioned? Are people still too thick to have clicked that a passenger knows they are talking to a driver who has other things to concentrate on so will understand there will be breaks in the conversation, can see the road conditions a driver is experiencing so knows when to shut up, and has a vested interest in not crashing? Clear enough for you lot yet?

    It's frightening enough to venture onto the road as a vulnerable user in the first place without knowing that people are so unaware of how their concentration is affected by different distractions.

    And as for the guy who doesn't understand the popularity of text messages: just what rock have you been living under for the last decade?

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Talk and Drive

    The police are trained to understand the issues and so have a basic clue, unlike people exemplified by those on here who can't work out why a phone conversation is more distracting than a passenger.

    They will also be talking to people who know they are driving and will understand if they have to pause the conversation.

    And they ought to be making short, to-the-point calls, not to be gossiping about completely irrelevant subjects which lead them into forgetting they are supposed to be driving.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: Talk and drive

    ahhh, JMB, you miss the point. Police, by dint of their 26 weeks of night school, have recieved extensive training in how to drive and use radios, cell phones, and computers safely.

    yes, I actually had a cop give me this as an excuse... until i pointed out that i've got over 10 years experience talking on the phone, troubleshooting hardware, and listening to the radio simultaneously... and that my experience came from the work environment where a mis-step had the potential to result in a fried nerd.

    got out of THAT one... :)

    of course these days, as a motorcyclist, i rant over everyone who cuts me off and almost creams me, regardless of cell phone usage.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    talking to phone vs passenger

    Surely the key difference is that a passenger sitting next to you knows when to shut up?

  61. blue


    Presumably a driving game, where you simply avoid knocking people over whilst vocalising "yeah, uh-huh" undermined their case.

    Counting people, assigning a different value to them on the basis of colour and keeping a running total in your mind is not driving. It is not automated in the same way driving is (or walking or picking up that coffee cup beside your monitor) you have to think in a very focussed way.

    The way you do when you're first LEARNING to drive, in fact.

    Keeping a running total of arbitrary colour-based numbers (for the first time) - is a very different process from avoiding knocking people down on the road ahead of you. Add to that a misleading and distracting environment (the video) where you might wrongly anticipate needing your driving skills (to not run people over or steer into a wall) and ...

    Well, it's almost as if they wanted to design a game where they could guarantee a large percentage of failure.

    And then draw a spurious conclusion from that so they can go "See! See!"

    This is neither an equivalnt or fair test. It sets you up for failure. In the same way they use nearly all statistical data, surveys, etc. their intent here is to say that the test is equivalent to driving whilst on the phone, but this is untrue.

    Business as usual for government departments with social engineering on their mind, then.

    That's not to say that talking on the phone whilst in a built up area with lots of pedestrians and junctions is a good idea; it clearly isn't (my father who was a driving instructor always turned the radio down or off when entering a built up area so he could fully concentrate) but bullshit propaganda like this is not what we need.

    I guess they just can't help themselves.

  62. Steven Hunter


    The difference is that a passenger can see what the driving conditions are like and will STFU if it gets nasty. They can also act as an independent set of eyes on the road able to alert you to the car that just pulled out in front of you even if you didn't see it.

  63. mr.K
    Thumb Down

    What does it prove?

    I tried the game, and I am struggling to figure out what it tried to prove to me. It reminded me of my driving teacher asking me stupid question like, "How many animals have we passed in the last 30 min?" where I was supposed to have counted the cows on a field we passed 10 min ago. I usually wasn't able to recollect the cows altogether. Another point he made was about a statue of a deer in a garden, nearly none of his students noticed it he said. I didn't say it to him of course, but what I was thinking that it was a bloody relief. I mean, driving is about focus. It is about scanning the traffic, the surroundings and spotting potential hazards and make adjustments accordingly. Once you have either dismissed something due to it posing no threat whatsoever, like a bunch of lazy cows half a kilometer away on a field, or you have spotted a potential hazard and made the appropriate adjustments and passed it, you are to forget them and free up your brain to focus on what you are doing, i.e driving. If somebody spend their time counting coloured t-shirts and cows, and admiring statues in the garden while driving, I rather not drive with them.

    Then I want to take a hit or two at the task in itself, I bet most people wouldn't be able to keep an accurate t-shirt score alone without the part of trying to pay attention to the woman. I didn't.

    Then they ask me if I spotted something odd. Yeah, I did, I actually found several other things a lot more strange than the rabbit. For instance the large amount of people with coloured t-shirts, the large amount of pedestrians arriving from two different direction at the same time in some quiet street were more than one pedestrian at the same time would make you raise your eyebrow, and last, but not least, the fact that we drove through several rips in the fabric of space and time and still were able to maintain a static free mobile conversation which I might add seemed to me to happen in chronological order.

    Ben, you would think that hands-free would be the same as talking with a passenger in the car, but it isn't. I have tried and it doesn't matter, hands-free or not, talking on the phone drags my focus away from traffic. I notice this because I manage to drive just fine, but I remember very little from it and usually miss my exit. I have also tried to figure out the reason for it. I think it is because when you are talking on the phone you are forced to keep the conversation running. When you have somebody in the car with you they see what you see and lets the conversation die down for a moment when you become busy with something slightly tricky in the traffic for a few seconds.

  64. Henry Wertz Gold badge

    Distracted driving

    "Using a phone from the car seems to be falling out of favour: more than 80 per cent of the public believe that talking on the phone increases the risk of an accident, even if a hands-free kit was being used."

    Well, not necessarily out of favor then... people here in the US also say how dangerous talking on the phone while driving is, and then those very same people do it anyway, seemingly in increasing numbers.

    @jake, you're missing the point -- some people don't want to have a full-on beginning-to-end conversation, so they text instead. In some situations, picking up the cell and talking is rude, while (if the text message "beep" isn't too loud) texting is just fine. The people texting while driving are missing the point too though -- one feature of texting is supposed to be that it tolerates delays in the conversation; that is, if someone send me a text while I'm driving, I won't even look at that phone until I'm at my destination, or at least at a looong stop light.

    A big problem people apparently have when they are driving while talking (even with a hands-free unit), is apparently people are ingrained to look at who they are talking to. If they are talking to a person they'll glance over.. (and still probably see the road out their peripheral vision at least). If they are on the phone, they'll look at the phone every so often, taking eyes off the road; if they are on hands-free, they'll keep looking at the hands-free unit's speaker. Why? I don't know, I think it's social or a human reflex.

    That said, I think this should all be covered under wreckless driving, distracted driving, etc. A special law doesn't need to be made for each CAUSE of distracted driving, if police want to stop this dangerous texting while driving they should just resolve to enforce the existing laws.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Always fail in IE6

    I hope they aren't basing the 19% pass mark on the test being taken online since it *doesn't bloody work* in IE6 (pressing the space bar has no effect so it always says you missed 8 questions). Since the number of people still using IE6 is not completely insignificant how much is that skewing their results? (There is a reason I have IE6 installed here still, no I'm not going into it).

    Next up I was having trouble counting the number of pedestrians when paying no attention to the phone call what-so ever. The main problem being the small field of view of the camera with people I had already counted going out of view as you got closer then coming back into view again.

    And finally that rabbit was just pointless. They ask us to concentrate on red and yellow shirts and ignore grey ones. Therefore although we know there is a grey object there it isn't something we need to concentrate on so missing it is expected. All it proves is either you're a normal human or exceptionally good at multitasking, both of which are fine.

    Utterly rubbish test which proves absolutely nothing.

  66. JB


    listen to women while driving?


  67. Justin Clements
    Thumb Down

    counting tshirts?

    Don't remember driving down a road and having to count tshirts....

    The only reason that 19% of people got it right is because of the education system!

  68. jake Silver badge

    @AC 12:25 & Police

    "And as for the guy who doesn't understand the popularity of text messages: just what rock have you been living under for the last decade?"

    That guy would be me. One of the rocks I've been living under is the ceiling of the rooms containing the hardware that allows phone-to-phone text messaging to occur. I still don't see it as a useful tool. There are better non-urgent ways to communicate. Maybe my thoughts on the subject are colored by "talk" on old PDP-11 gear in the '70s ...

    As for the police using phones while driving, yes, they are trained to do so. Doesn't make it a good idea, though ... and maybe I misled some people with mine. Despite having had a mobile telephone as long as they have been around (well, nearly ... my first was a Motorola Dynatac in the early 80s), and despite talking while driving the entire time with no accidents or close calls, I choose NOT to talk on the phone and drive, as of about 3 years ago. Why? Glad you asked ... read on.

    Out of curiosity, I did five laps of Infinion^WSears Point in my old Datsun 510 just concentrating on the track, and then another five while talking on the phone (hands free). I averaged 4 tenths slower while talking. Bear in mind that I know the car very well (I've been racing it in one configuration or another for about 25 years), the track is my home track, and I was the only person on it at the time. Losing a full two seconds in five laps at race speeds equates to a serious concentration lapse ... After that little eye opener, me & mine stopped talking on the phone while driving. It just makes sense.

  69. tardigrade
    Thumb Down

    With your speakers muted no one can hear you phone.

    I didn't see the bunny, or see him turn and wave. According to the flash show this is because I was distracted by the woman on the phone. How does that work then? I had my speakers muted because I couldn't be bothered to listen to it. So how does this explain me not seeing the rabbit turn and wave? Am I supposed to hear voices?

    Maybe it's because I was too busy trying to remember the value of the red and yellow shirts, do arithmetic and keep a tally, instead of concentrating on the road.

    Pointless invalidated test. A game indeed and you shouldn't play games when driving. Idiots.

  70. Francis Boyle Silver badge

    Re: The Problem

    "once you learn to drive, there is little conscious thought involved. "

    As an Australian I certainly hope you aren't. Because I don't want to be on the same continent. let alone the same road as you.

    And before you all start, yes I'd rather take my chances with the the auto-eroticists.

  71. David Ramsay

    A townie obviously

    "Driving is a privilege, not a right. It was time drivers in the UK were made to realise that."

    I have to disagree, where public transport is available or cheap taxi's then I might agree but in the country it is an essential for life.

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some people can and some cannot

    The ability to drive while talking on the phone varies hugely between drivers, so we punish all drivers, just because of a few dumb ones*.

    I guess you need a test and certificate to filter the dumb ones out.

    *Dumb ones: balance the phone on shoulder, unable to plug in hands-free, unable to negotiate a roundabout...

  73. Iain Thomas

    Idle question.

    Just thinking, er, typing out loud...

    To what extent does the brain having to work to understand GSM mangled audio as opposed to unmangled audio from a passenger, make a difference? If any?

  74. SonofRojBlake

    Reaction time a factor? I'm too quick...

    Did the test and apparently missed EIGHT questions! Given that I'd hit the space bar an estimated eight times during the test, I found it hard to believe there'd been sixteen questions in such a short space and I'd missed fully half of them. So, having got the number spot on and spotted the rabbit, I did the test again with my eyes shut.

    Once again, I missed ALL EIGHT questions, with no distractions at all, apparently.

    So I did the test again, blind again, and this time I didn't react to the questions as quickly - I deliberately slowed my reaction time down. And suddenly I discovered they've programmed some replies in!

    This test is clearly optimised for numpties who have slow reaction times. Call me again when you've some programmers not in their seventies or suffering some sort of brain disorder (you can call me when I'm driving, apparently, as I react too fast even for the test to pick it up...)

  75. CTG

    Invisible bunny

    The fact that the bunny is invisible to most people is because they took advantage of the search image phenomenon.

    The instructions say that you should assign the values 2, 1 and 0 to red, yellow and gray t-shirts, and then sum the points value at the end. If you take that literally, then you would count the number of gray t-shirts, multiply that by zero, and add that to the total. But that would be pointless, so the vast majority of people will translate that into "ignore the gray t-shirts". They only form a search image for red and yellow t-shirts, so that is all they see. Anything gray is ignored because you don't have a search image for it.

    So what they seem to be saying is "you are a prick because you didn't see something we specifically asked you to ignore". It's like asking someone to do a "Where's Wally?", and then saying they failed because they didn't count how many non-Wally people were in the picture. FAIL

  76. Andrew Matthews


    Distracted driving

    By Henry Wertz

    "That said, I think this should all be covered under wreckless driving"

    Umm, that should be RECKLESS driving, tho' 'Wreckless' is good!

  77. Arclight


    "So how does this explain me not seeing the rabbit turn and wave?"

    Because you have expcetiontally bad observational skills.

    Talking on the phone, even handsfree, while driving is distracting, but it depends on the type of conversation. A conversation like the one in the game is not as serious as a work related conversation. Something general isn't much different to talking to someone in the car, but asking difficult questions that require thinking about does distract you, maybe not totally, but given the amount of near misses we all have while driving, even the slightest level of distraction makes a difference between missing that kid that just stepped out, and leaving a red smear on the road.

    If they had wanted to make the test more relevant, they should have had the woman asking a question that actually made you think, even if its only 12 + 6, and have someone step out into the road in front of you, rather than a silly counting game.

  78. Blacklight

    It's so real!

    Counting pedestrians? Personally I'm too busy trying to second guess where all the BMW driving twunts are randomly going to drive (indicators are, at the last check, not an optional extra).

  79. Steve Martins

    CBs are different to phones...

    I've always been of the opinion that the G729 codec used to compress voice down to 9.6kbps whilst doing a great job at keeping it comprehensible, increases the level of concentration required to understand compared to a standard CB radio. Therefore speaking on a mobile phone, hands free or otherwise, will always be more dangerous than speaking to a passenger, or even someone on a CB radio.

  80. CockKnocker

    You think the police can drive?

    ahahaha, they suck just as much as the rest of us!

  81. Toastan Buttar

    Empathy with caller

    Thanks to the commentors who pointed out that you get involved with the caller during a phone conversation and 'put yourself over there' rather than in the here and now. I switch my mobile off when driving (I hardly use it at all at other times) but I hadn't considered just how much that would distract me from concentrating on my immediate surroundings. I'm sure a campaign which highlighted this aspect would make a certain percentage of people think twice.

  82. Toastan Buttar

    Is £60 and 3 points a deterrent ?

    I was fined for speeding last year (39 in a 30 zone, clocked on a hand-held device - it's a fair cop, guv). The money was a bit annoying (plus the fact I had to get a reprint of the paper part of my licence - another £25). But what REALLY hurt was getting 3 points on my until-then clean licence.

    The net result is that I am now ultra-cautious about knowing the speed limit for the road I'm on and sticking to it. So, in this one case of anecdotal evidence, 'safety cameras' have had their intended consequence. I think if someone was sitting on 9 points, they'd be even MORE paranoid than I am.

    Go, but go safely !

  83. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's a matter of intelligence

    Intelligent people prioritise driving over talking whether it's on the 'phone, CB or to a passenger. If we ban any one of the three we should ban all three, anything else is hypocritical.

  84. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmm... tried the game and...

    I don't see what its trying to prove.

    I keep an eye on pedestrians but thats about it. I couldn't recall the number of t-shirts worn (as keeping count of each colour equally distracts). As long as you're aware of the surroundings (in terms of people/animals/cars/motorcycles) your driving should be OK. Whats more dangerous is the looking at your speedo/passing a camera as your not looking at the road but at the speed you are doing.

    Out of interest, the woman on the phone would have got a stern No I'm driving - when she asked if it was OK to talk.

  85. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Once I was texting and going 35 in a 30...

    And some kid ran into the side of my car from behind a white van.

    Thank god I wasn't paying attention to the speed limits or she would have been all over my bumper.

    This isn't even a joke.

  86. Dave


    "F1 drivers talk and race"

    And if you were ever to hear the full radio traffic, you would regularly hear expletives from the drivers after receiving a message while negotiating trickly corners, or as was the case a couple of years ago, when FAILING to negotiate said corner.

    It is the people like you that think there is no problem at all that worry me - I am well aware that conversations within my car get a little one-sided when the traffic gets heavy, or the road gets tight. My other half is also well aware of this, and does not get upset when I ask her to repeat stuff.

    Yes this test is crap, but it is more sensible than blanket fines that statistically speaking are never applied. Same thing with seat-belts - the fine never had a great effect, whereas the educational efforts did.

  87. Anonymous Coward

    @ David Ramsay

    The necessity of driving still doesn't make it a right. You can hold a *licence* to drive a motor vehicle, but you can have your licence revoked.

    Contrast that with a bicycle, upon which you do have a right to traverse Her Majesty's Highways. Even if you were arrested repeatedly for cycling offences the police have no way of stopping you riding under the road laws. Of course, they'd probably try and bodge an ASBO in instead...

  88. Martin

    Stilll a privilege, even in the country!



    "Driving is a privilege, not a right. It was time drivers in the UK were made to realise that."

    I have to disagree, where public transport is available or cheap taxi's then I might agree but in the country it is an essential for life.


    No - it's STILL a privilege. Go drink and drive and get caught, and you'll discover soon enough that it's a privilege. Given that it's so important to people in the country, that's all the more reason why they should be careful to keep that privilege.

  89. Stephen Hunt
    Thumb Down

    Load of rubbish

    I tried with the volume up answering questions, failed by -2

    Tried with the volume down, just tapping space, failed by -1.

    Missed the 'obvious thing' both times, even though in the second I knew it was coming up.

    This test proved nothing about texting.

  90. Mr Michael Strelitz
    Thumb Down

    Its more dangerous than drinking and driving

    The title says it all.

  91. Anonymous Coward

    This is totally pointless

    The first thing I do when I speak to someone on the phone is tell them 'I'm driving', no matter who they are. If they want to continue the conversation after that, fine. If they don't we can speak later. They are then told "hold on a minute" whenever the driving situation gets complicated.

    Nobody I converse with seems seems to have a problem with that.

    This test is total rubbish - it assumes the goal is to pay attention to the woman on the end of the phone. It's not. The goal is to drive, and conduct your phone call with whatever spare capacity you have left.

    Additionally, in dull situations like motorway journeys, having a conversation is a very good way to keep you from dozing off.

  92. JohnG

    @AC Posted Monday 4th May 2009 10:16 GMT

    "Hands-free is more dangerous than drink driving. 100% proven *FACT*."

    Oh really? Proven by whom? Perhaps from the same source that told you Spain has safer roads. According to the EU....


    .... the UK still has the safest roads in the EU with 50 fatalities per year per head of popualtion. Spain has 86. If you look some more, you'll find that per person, per kilometres of road, per kilometres driven, the UK has the least fatalities and the least injuries of any country in the EU.

    The government needs to stop hounding motorists and make some attempt to fix the economy.

  93. Cortland Richmond

    Richard Feynman

    did an informal experiment years ago and found two different types of exclusionary intellectual activities. Unfortunately, I don't have his book at hand, and don't remember what they were.

    I don't recommend driving whilst mentally doing one's tax forms; that way lies madness.

  94. Anonymous Coward


    "Oh really?"

    Yes - really. Your figures are three years out of date, sir, being as they are from 2005.

    General de Trafico reported a drop of about a fifth in their 2008 figures, 2182 fatalities in 2008.

    In the UK the total was 2946 for the same period. (Source: "The Road" [Magazine ot the Motorcycle Action Group], May/June, Page 19)

    Britain has, in fact, one of the worst safety records in the EU.

    Why is this so in my opinion?

    1) Obsession with speeding to the exclusion of all else (tailgating, lane hogging, failing to signal, driving an unfit vehicle, driving whilst unfit cannot be caught by a camera, only by traffic police; and we have precious few of those left)

    2) Lack of investment in road infrastructure (potholes abound and even when new infrastructure is put in, it is often inappropriate (e.g. "cheese wire" barriers))

    3) Lack of investment in the railway system (if the trains, ran on time, went faster, were not overcrowded and did not charge obscene prices; people would use them)

    4) Lack of investment in driver training (look at the new test centre shambles)

    5) Morons like you lot who think it is safe to use a mobile phone and drive at the same time.

  95. Richard
    Thumb Up

    So many idiots

    Why do people think that it's acceptable to not give the road their full attention.

    It's not rocket science that the human brain has limited ability to concentrate on more than one thing at a time. When the consequences can mean people being killed, then we should try and reduce distractions.

    The issue with using a mobile is that the sound quality is poor. Your brain has to do extra work to fill in the gaps, thus removing your attention from the road. (I think this appeared in an Australian study, but was quoted in New Scientist.)

    Also, when talking to a passenger in the car, there's a shared understanding of when the driver needs to concentrate. Someone on the other end of the phone wouldn't have that.

    Although it's not ideal for the emergency services (or taxi firms) to use radio:

    1 - They don't have long conversations.

    2 - They do it because they have to be able to communicate with HQ.

    3 - The device is loud and easy-to-use (ie one button) which is less distracting than using a mobile, and much less distracting than texting.

    None of those points really to normal mobile use.

  96. Mudslinger
    Black Helicopters

    Automatic taxis are coming.

    This is all leading, slowly but inexorably, to the day when driving is taken out of our hands because we can't be trusted to do it properly.

    There will be no user operated controls , in the current sense, in the car of the future. Instead you will enter your destination into the navigation system and the car will take you there. An automatic taxi.

    No problem if you're too pished to stand so long as the nav sys knows where you want to go. And if it's your own car only you are going to be upset when you puke.

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