It’s the conversation, stupid!

Carols Vault points out information about cannabis, which brought to mind the study showing doped drivers are safer than drunk ones. The study is useful in discussions with people avidly opposed to changes in drug laws.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting driving while under the influence. Far from it. I respect the fact I’m hurtling down the road in a 1-1/2 ton projectile, and while I get complacent at times, I try to keep in mind that conditions change rapidly while driving.

It’s because conditions can go from boring to emergency in heartbeat that we frown on our pilots napping or having cocktails while flying. Usually, it won’t matter, but on that rare occasion it does, oh, does it ever matter.

That said, I wasn’t in favor of the law Seattle recently enacted against driving while using a hand-held phone. I wasn’t in favor for these reasons:

  1. We already have laws about driving dangerously. There is no reason to enact laws about a specific cause…after all, the problem is the driver being distracted regardless of the cause.
  2. Police won’t stop you for talking on a hand-held. There is a fine only if you’re stopped for another reason–say, because of an accident. (See #1.)
  3. My gut feeling that it isn’t the phone that’s the problem, but the conversation.

I don’t mind learning when my gut feeling is wrong, but I also don’t mind learning when it’s correct. I just didn’t know how correct.

John Medina, Ph.D, spoke to a rapt audience at Thingamajiggr II last Friday, June 13th. Many things caught my attention…naturally, since attentionality was the subject. (Attendee Joe McCarthy has a great summary of the talks here.)

The most impressive fact? Whether you are driving while talking on a hand-held or hand’s-free phone, you are a more dangerous driver than a drunk.

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