Friday, June 30, 2006


In regards to the article in the New York Times about the 100 Car Study and how so many crashes are due to distracted driving, today yields two relevant items.

First, in the Madison, Wisconsin Capital Times there is an item about a hung jury in a homicide case. The particulars of the case?
Sorum was driving down Hope Road near his hometown of Cottage Grove on June 30, 2005, when his car struck and killed Jessica Bullen, 29, who was on a bicycle. Sorum told jurors he was suffering from strep throat and felt he had something lodged in his throat. He testified that he took his eyes off the road, opened his mouth and looked into the rear-view mirror to see what the problem was.

Before he looked back to the road, he struck the rear of Bullen's bicycle. Although she was wearing a helmet, Bullen suffered a severe head injury and died July 3.
Of course, such things are to be expected:
In closing arguments to jurors on Wednesday and in an interview today, defense attorney Stephen Eisenberg said: "This was just an accident."

The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society just published a study showing that drivers talking on cell phones are just as likely to get into crashes as drunk drivers even if they are using a hands-free phone. A Detroit Free-Press article covers it, as do many others.
While many consider holding a cell phone to be a distraction, it is the actual conversation that distracts the driver, according to the researchers.

"These people reduce efficiency on the highway system," Drews said.

Those who talk on cell phones while driving are 5.36 times more likely to get into an accident than undistracted drivers, the study found.

It's not like this is an isolated problem:
At any given moment during the day, 10% of drivers on U.S. roads are gabbing away on their wireless devices, according to a 2005 estimate by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Don't worry, though, if you get mown down by one of these phone-impaired drivers, it'll just be "an accident".

You can read the actual study here. I like that the name of the PDF file is "celldrunk.pdf".


notlance said...

The best way to get away with murder is to get your intended victim on a bicycle and run him over; you can always claim it was an accident. There was an incident around here a few years back where a guy with a long record of driving violations ran over two middle aged bicyclist, killing them both. He claimed he dropped something on the floor while driving and was bending over to pick it up when he hit the bicyclists. I think he got off with a conviction for reckless driving or failure to maintain control or some such minor infraction. Unfortunately, I’m sure many of you can think of similar cases where you live. The problem seems to be that many judges/juries/police think the bicyclist should not have been on the road in the first place, so if they get hit then it’s their own damn fault.

Anonymous said...

notlance: Upon viewing your profile, I was pleased to see your blog "Conceal, Carry, and Ride", but disappointed to see that there isn't actually a blog linked to it. Any blog by that title seems like it should be a winner.

Michael Lemberger said...

It was no accident. This has been our response.