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February 8, 2005 - Ed Checks His Facts

With the 2005 Film Festival in the can, life returned to normal for the dedicated staff of edhat.com. After ten days of going to parties, staying up late, and rubbing elbows with the rich and famous, we were very excited to get back to our humble office (with new carpeting), taking out our clickers, putting on our Edhat hats, and counting the cars as they drove down de la Vina.

We didn’t even need a press pass to gather the information for today’s story!

Yesterday’s count was an effort to update and verify the results of a count we did 14 months ago


You see, despite the fact that everyone these days is driving around talking on their cell phones, we found in our count at that time, that everyone was only 6% of drivers. In Edhat studies that followed, we found a similar cell phone usage percentage both for people walking and for people sitting at coffee shops.

But, when we’re on the road doing our Edhat dog-and-pony-show-and-tell, we’re often met with disbelief over our 6% figure.  Sometimes people have suggested that our study is out-of-date.  They have also questioned whether we did our study during an odd time of day.

So, to put the critics to rest, we did it again. And, this time, we gathered our information during two distinct time periods – a fifteen-minute span at around 11 AM, and a fifteen-minute span at around 4 PM.  For the morning count, we sat on a wall across the street from our office, in front of the Fielding Graduate University. Because of the repositioning of the sun, and because a Brown truck (you know who) had parked at a red curb (can they do that?), we had to do our afternoon counting from our side of the street. We sat on a stool on the grass parkway.

As the cars whizzed past, it became obvious that the results of our first count were fine. 


There were some cell-phoners; one who did a dangerous phone-induced swerve into the Taffy’s parking lot, and one who was wearing a neck brace (from another time he was talking and driving, we guessed).  But, most of the people we saw weren’t doing anything but driving.  They were saving their anytime-minutes for later.

In the morning we observed 146 cars, and counted 8 (5.5%) drivers on the phone. In the late afternoon, we observed 225 cars, and counted 16 (7.1%) phoners.  If you combine both time periods, you wind up with the same number we had before, 6.5%.

On our way home from the office, it seemed to the dedicated staff that we saw a lot more phones than we had during our count.  Turning left in front of us, there were two in a row. 


Waiting at the Stop Sign, there was one more.  Was our count in error? We called up Ed on the phone (our cell phone, while we were driving).

Ed told us that this is just an illusion.  We notice the cell phone drivers because they stand out in the landscape like flowers in the desert.  And, since we notice them more, we tend to think they are more prevalent. The key, Ed told us, is to see all drivers as equals. And, when we do, the truth will come to us.  Then he told us to hang up the phone and keep our eyes on the road so we wouldn’t get hurt.  Ed cares.

In yesterday’s contest, subscribers showed that they, too, questioned our previous results. The average guesses for 11AM and 4PM were 13.9% and 18.4% respectively.  Wahine’s guess of 5.5% and 7.0% was the best.  Wahine wins a 2005 Santa Barbara Axxess Card. Our once-coveted Film Festival passes are now worthless. But, the Axxess Card is still good for money-saving discounts all over town.

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