From the Driven to Distraction series in the NY Times
At 60 MPH, Office Work is High Risk
NY Times, By MATT RICHTEL,Published: September 30, 2009,JOPLIN, Mo.
Exerpts from the article:
On Wednesday, (also see thread US DOT Distracted Driver Summit) the Transportation secretary, Ray LaHood, called the broader phenomenon of distracted driving a “deadly epidemic” at a meeting on the issue in Washington. Real estate brokers, pharmaceutical sales people, entrepreneurs, marketers and others say they have little choice but to transform their cars into cubicles. In this merciless economy, they say, they have to make every minute count, and respond instantly to opportunities and challenges.
Truckers, plumbers, delivery drivers and others are tethered to dispatchers with an array of productivity devices, including on-board computers that send instructions about the next job and keep tabs on drivers’ locations. Such devices can require continual attention — distracting drivers who are steering the biggest vehicles on American roads.
The compulsion to work while driving often trumps clear evidence that such activity is dangerous. Studies show that someone who talks on the phone while driving is four times more likely to crash, even using a hands-free headset, than someone who is simply driving. The risks are even greater when sending text messages.
"There is an illusion of productivity,” said David E. Meyer, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan. “It’s actually counterproductive. To the extent that someone is focused on driving, the quality of work product is diminished. To the extent someone is focused on work and not driving, there’s a risk of crashing and burning. Something’s got to give.”
And in a 2007 survey, IDC found that 70 percent of owners of BlackBerrys and other smartphones used their device in a car at least once a week. (The survey did not specify whether the phone users were drivers or passengers, but 80 percent of people typically drive alone).
The complete article is available at At 60 MPH, Office Work is High Risk
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