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AAA Anti-Texting Video Gets A For Effort, D For Execution

Posted in driving, FAIL, Safety, Videos by Kurt Ernst | February 1st, 2011 | 8 Responses |

Note the one-thumb-under technique, for maximum control.

I’ll admit upfront that I’m probably the most rabid anti-texting-while-driving guy that you’ll ever meet. I’m convinced that it impairs drivers as much as having a BAC over the legal limit, yet it poses more of a risk. From day one we’re taught that drinking and driving is bad, but we’re simply told that we shouldn’t text and drive (or chat on the cell phone and drive), usually by parents who are texting or talking while driving. There’s a double standard here: both behaviors are equally risky, but one is tolerated. You wouldn’t give a new driver a fifth of Jack Daniels before he got behind the wheel, yet how many parents actually check or enforce a no-texting-while-driving rule?

That said, AAA’s intentions with this video, found on Autoblog, are in the right place. Their execution, however, is way off base. I’ve got experience with driver training, and the one universal constant is this: the vast majority of drivers have absolutely no idea how wide their car or truck is. The school I taught at used to run braking exercises to teach threshold braking. When I set up cones eight feet apart, most drivers could enter the braking area at 60 miles per hour without spraying cones all over the rattlesnake-infested infield (good times picking them up). When I narrowed that chute to six feet wide, at least half of the drivers would spray cones nearly to Kansas. Even at 35 miles per hour, a surprising number of drivers couldn’t tell where to position their cars, and the result was usually conemageddon.

There’s no data on the course setup that AAA used, but those gates look awfully narrow, and those turns look ludicrously tight. Since there was no control footage, I have to assume that AAA didn’t run the tests with the same drivers at full attention, sans cell phones. I suspect if they did, all three would have failed the course without the distraction of a cell phone. Of course they all failed with the cell phone in hand, but that was the expected result. If this video isn’t credible to me, how do you think it’s going to look to the average 17 year old new driver? Do you think they’ll take it seriously, and do you think it’ll keep one person from texting and driving? Sadly, I suspect the answer is no.

Source: Autoblog

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8 Responses

  1. The majority of people I see texting and driving while talking on the phone, which is illegal in Ca are mostly adults so I think such a campaing should be targeted towards adults too.

    I don’t think the message of this video will get to anyone. What will scare and get to people (adults and teens) to pay more attention when driving is graphic images of what can happen as a result of texting or being distracted while driving; cars split in two, cars wrapped around the tree, blood on the pavement, body parts injured or severed; show pictures of the injuries. Some can be extremely gruesome. This will show people how seriously it really is.

    • Kurt Ernst says:

      I’m not sure that will do much, either. Driver’s ed classes used to show films like “Red Asphalt” and “Blood on the Highway” to “scare” new drivers into obeying traffic laws; they didn’t have much of an impact. The only thing that seems to work, sadly, is actually getting into a texting-while-driving accident, and not everyone walks away from those.

  2. Canrith says:

    Even if the course looked credible, knocking over a few cones is just a way of saying I missed it by an inch. Many of the drivers I know who actively text and drive would easily say they can pay attention that little bit more and nail it every time.

    If we could show drivers of all ages (I’ve seen all texting and driving, and not saying it’s right, but the younger drivers manage to stay in their lane more than those 30+) the uncensored consequences (read: crash, mangled vehicle, injuries) we might stand a chance at curbing the trend.

    • Kurt Ernst says:

      Canrith, I’d be more in favor of a “pop up” course, like police departments use for SWAT training. Imaging driving down a mock city street, texting away, only to have a kid chase a ball into the street in front of you. One minute, your biggest concern in life is what to get for dinner; the next, you’re facing a vehicular homicide charge and possible jail time.

      Driving is one of those skills that EVERYONE thinks they’re better at than they really are.

      • Canrith says:

        The pop-up course course would be a great idea, but younger drivers would concentrate during the course and fall back to habits shortly after passing(or after one person going through it, word of ‘surprises’ during the course would spread like wildfire within hours). And most counties (at least here in Kentucky) can barely afford to have a regular driving course if they have one at all, a pop-up course wouldn’t be in the cards to have one readily available for everyone.

  3. Jen says:

    Unfortunately, I don’t think any amount of videos, pictures, what have you, will ever get through to those who most flagrantly violate this. That’s because they (teens AND adults who haven’t quite grown up yet) are certain they are invincible. They have a mentality that they are untouchable. They are the same people who run lights which have been red for three seconds, in front of oncoming traffic; the ones who change lanes at the last second with no signal because oh, there’s 6 inches of space, they’ll let me in because I’ll force them to; or, my favorite, the bikers on Hayabusas, doing wheelies down a 6-lane road during rush hour to show off.

    They will scoff at these attempts to knock sense into them as “lame”. Generally, I’d say let Darwinism do its job and they’ll kill themselves off. The problem is, I don’t want to be an innocent “by-stander” who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time while these people tempt fate.

  4. You are right Jen & Kurt, pictures don’t necessarily always “frighten” people either. I guess it depends on the person. Personally I am squeamish, very squeamish so I freak when I hear about internal injuries or severed body parts. I have a friend who drives very recklessly (65 mph on inside streets, runs red lights, doesn’t wear seatbelts) and I showed her some very gruesome pics of a local accident. The pics were leaked online and it was in the local newspaper, it was the “Porsche Girl” incident. You can google it if you have a strong stomach. It scared her for about 20 minutes and a few days later she was driving recklessly again.

    I don’t think Bluetooth is that safe either. Even though your hands may on the wheel, I personally find it distracting to engage in conversation while driving because your mind is still somewhere else; it isn’t focused 100% on driving.

  5. Kurt Ernst says:

    TOC, you’re absolutely correct – I just wish more people realized this.