Driver safety Web site from Car Talk, U of Utah

Mar 22, 2010
These are University of Utah psychologists David Strayer and Frank Drews in a driving simulator used to show how cellular telephones and text messaging impair drivers. Strayer and National Public Radio's Car Talk show have teamed up to launch a Driver Distraction Center at the show's web site cartalk.com/distraction The center features a blog by Strayer about the dangers of distracted driving. Credit: University of Utah.

NPR's Car Talk guys, Tom and Ray Magliozzi, may be a couple of motor mouths, but they always put a lid on using cell phones behind the wheel. The perennial jokesters confirm their serious commitment to addressing the issue of devices that take a driver's focus off the road by teaming with the University of Utah to launch the Driver Distraction Center at their web site: cartalk.com/distraction .

The center, sponsored by Allstate, offers information and resources dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers of driving under the influence of technology.

Though Tom and Ray have been speaking out about distracted driving for years, National Safety Council research indicates that use and texting while driving cause at least 28 percent of all - around 1.6 million accidents each year.

This startling statistic moved the brothers to redouble their efforts and partner with the University of Utah Applied Cognition Laboratory to produce the online Center. The site's centerpiece is a blog by noted University of Utah cognitive researcher David Strayer, a psychology professor whose expertise has also been tapped by The Oprah Winfrey Show and findings cited by the New York Times and PBS's NewsHour.

Tom and Ray Magliozzi of National Public radio's Car Talk show have teamed up with University of Utah psychologist David Strayer -- a noted expert on how cell phones and text messaging impair drives -- to launch the Driver Distraction Center at their web site. Credit: Richard Howard

Other features include Tom and Ray's tips for responsible driving, a driving simulator, a quiz, and informational resources such as the links to reports, a listing of driving laws by state, facts on pending legislation and personal testimonies.

"When you're trying to merge onto the highway between a moving tractor trailer and a FedEx truck, your brain is performing a complex mathematical calculation," says Tom. "I think most people know that they can't do that and have an intelligent conversation at the same time. And we have proof of this, because every one of us has had a near miss with a jerk holding a cell phone up to his ear."

"And sometimes, that jerk is US!" says Ray. "The evidence is becoming clearer and clearer, and that's what this site is all about."

"I've been a fan of Car Talk for years," says David Strayer. "Having studied for the past decade, I was excited to collaborate with Tom and Ray to get people to think twice before multi-tasking behind the wheel."

"My only stipulation was that I'd talk about the science behind driver distraction and leave the comedy to Tom and Ray and the rest of the Car Talk gang," he adds.

Strayer is known for his pioneering research on the dangers of driving while distracted. A decade ago, Strayer, University of Utah psychologist Frank Drews and their colleagues demonstrated that talking on a hands-free cellular phone while driving was just as distracting as using a hand-held cell phone due to a phenomenon known as "inattention blindness."

In subsequent studies, they demonstrated that when young adult motorists talk on cell phones, their reaction times are as slow as elderly motorists; when motorists talk on cell phones, they are as impaired as people just above the blood-alcohol limit for drunken driving; and that cell phone users impede traffic while driving and talking. In a more recent study, they found that text-messaging while sharply increases the risk of a collision.

Explore further: Best of Last Week – Detecting dark matter with GPS, a gel that stops bleeding and the benefits of fasting

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cell phone users drive like old folks

Feb 06, 2005

Elderly also drive worse when chatting, but not as bad as expected If you have been stuck in traffic behind a motorist yakking on a cellular phone, a new University of Utah study will sound familiar: When young motorists ...

Driving while phoning danger as bad as drink-driving

Jun 12, 2008

Motorists who use cellphones while driving make as many, if not more, driving errors as clinically drunk drivers, according to educational psychologist Professor Michael Townsend. He says the proposed ban on hand-held cellphone ...

Drivers ignore the risk of mobile phone use

Dec 11, 2006

A George Institute road safety study has revealed an alarmingly high rate of mobile phone use amongst Australian drivers. Published in the Medical Journal of Australia this week, the survey conducted in NSW and WA found ...

Stop sign ahead for texting while driving?

Oct 01, 2009

(AP) -- Targeting text messaging behind the wheel, the Obama administration plans to offer recommendations to address the growing traffic safety risk of distracted driving and the use of mobile devices by ...

Recommended for you

James Watson's Nobel Prize to be auctioned

3 hours ago

Missed the chance to bid on Francis Crick's Nobel Prize when it was auctioned off last year for $2.27 million? No worries, you'll have another chance to own a piece of science history on Dec. 4, when James D. Watson's 1962 ...

Engineers develop gift guide for parents

Nov 21, 2014

Faculty and staff in Purdue University's College of Engineering have come up with a holiday gift guide that can help engage children in engineering concepts.

Former Brown dean whose group won Nobel Prize dies

Nov 20, 2014

David Greer, a doctor who co-founded a group that won the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize for working to prevent nuclear war and who helped transform the medical school at Brown University, has died. He was 89.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.