On the heels of last week methodology-flawed and poorly reported study that distracted driving laws in Minnesota and other states don’t work, we’re talking risky driving today and looking for your feedback.
I’m looking for your stories of encounters with the distracted driver, or — if you are looking for absolution — your confessions. But beyond that, we’re talking about the risks you take that you know have a high chance of misfortune, but you take them anyway.
The guests on today’s show are:
* David Pizarro: is Assistant Professor of psychology at Cornell University.
* Craig Fox: is Professor of Policy and psychology at UCLA.
* Kathleen Vohs: is Professor of Marketing at the University of Minnesota.
Listen on the radio and talk with us in the comments section below.
Here are Kerri’s questions:
Can we bring the kind of social pressure that eventually built against drunk driving.. to bear on distracted driving? Can we make texting while you drive the kind of social no-no that smoking has become? Do we need to combine tougher laws with ethical arguments?
9:09 a.m. – Prof. Fox says in matters of economics, we don’t like risk so much. People would take a guaranteed $5,000 over the chance of winning much more. “We’re all given to positive illusions; people think they’re safer drivers than average. They think the odds don’t apply to me.
9:11 a.m. – Mr. Pizarro says one of the reasons distracted driving doesn’t get the same response that anti-drunk-driving efforts have is that people haven’t processed the numbers. And it won’t change, he says, until someone you know is killed or injured in a distracted driving accident.
Here’s the Distracted Driving Summit Web page for additional resources.
9:15 a.m. – Interesting observation. Because we saw 9/11 unfold, the visions forced us to stop flying and start driving more, even though driving is more dangerous.
9:22 a.m. – Caller says he started writing a motorcycle five years ago and that changed all of his driving habits. He says because he’s more vulnerable, he drives better. “I never text and drive, I’m just so much aware having been on a bike.”
9:24 Mr. Pizarro says he gets annoyed when he sees someone texting, but he texts while driving.
9:26 a.m. – The producer says a caller on hold admits to being “addicted.”
9:28 a.m. – Just read Brooke’s comment (below) that over time changed behavior fades. Prof. Fox agrees and says employing a psychological device is the only thing that’s going to change people for good.
Caller Chris says he doesn’t have to think about driving any more because newer cars take over a lot of the work. He says he’s excited about the technology “assisting” with texting “because I can’t stop it myself.”
Pizarro says there either needs to be a stiff penalty or your chances of getting caught get higher. He admits getting two tickets for talking on the phone while driving. “Now I have a GPS on my phone and I think how can they — the police — know the difference between whether I’m entering an address or texting. There’s no radar for this sort of thing. So the possibility of getting caught goes way down.”
9:33 a.m. – Professor Fox is done. We’re taking a news break. After the break we’ll be joined by Prof. Vohs over at the U of M.
9:35 a.m. – Joking with Kerri that I should be doing this while driving around the Twin Cities. As with so many things on News Cut, it would be a veiled psychological test to see if that repulses you or entertains you.
9:38 a.m. – We’re back and Prof. Kathleen Vohs at the U of M is joining us. Maybe we’ll devise an anti-texting marketing plan. “You want to make people have the visceral reaction of “I want to pick up the phone, ooooh that’s a bad idea.” She says she’d tried to use people’s will-power and get them to see it as an act of self-control. So there you have it: You’re texting? You’re weak. Prove us wrong.
“What’s the reward for exercising willpower,” Kerri asks.
“It gets hard for people to imagine,” Vohs says. “It’s like saying, ‘you don’t want to be like your mother.’ She says they try to give people alternatives. One way is to think of it as a goal, and next is give yourself a rewarding behavior as a result.
>> Inside glimpse. While Kerri is listening to the guests, she’s also looking at the list of people on hold — the list has the point they want to make — and directing the producer to stack the calls in a certain order depending on whether the question advances the discussion. It’s very impressive juggling. <<
9:43 a.m. - You don't have to send a text message back right now, just because someone sent you a text message, a guest says. But I've been with drivers who get a text message and if they don't, there's another one...and then -- ding -- another one... and another one.
9:45 a.m. - Caller Tyler says he's dating a woman who's "a notorious text and driver." He was inclined to text her about this conversation. "Communication is paramount. You just have to tell people about things."
9:47 a.m. - Prof. Vohs says texting and driving will be passe in two years and says people who do it will be seen as foolish. She brings up the old seat belt campaign, which reminds me of one of the original seat belt ads which said, "Nobody wearing seat belts has ever been killed within 25 miles of their home." That has nothing to do with the conversation, of course, but I was distracted by my memories.
9:50 a.m. – A paralegal calls to say she works on a lot of car crashes and the first thing attorneys do is ask for a driver’s cellphone records.
9:52 a.m. – I’m intrigued by the idea that someday texting will be as societally-negative as drunk driving. But 1 in 7 Minnesotans have a DWI. Have the anti-DWI efforts really worked?
9:54 a.m. – A Duluth school bus driver says he’s been nearly hit many times by people on their cellphones. Several have failed to see the stop arms on his bus. He doesn’t see it changing because students in high school are joined at the hip with their cellphone.
9:57 a.m. – Prof. Vohs mentions this PSA — graphic.
Listener Sasha writes:
I have two babies with me in the car all the time. And every time I see somebody texting I just wanna call the police. I believe we should have the right to call the police EVERY time we see somebody texting. I just recently visited Germany and drivers next to you will literally honk and wave and even call the police if they see you texting or talking.
This concludes our distract driving broadcast day.