July 8, 2008 - Wrong Numbers
The new law says that you must use a hands-free device when making a phone call while driving. Last Monday, the day before this law took effect, the dedicated staff of edhat.com sat on a wall above the Four Corners Intersection of Chapala & Carrillo like humpty dumpty before the accident. We counted the drivers going by who were making their last legal calls. On that day we found 4.6% of drivers calling hands-not-free.
Yesterday we did the same experiment. The only difference this time was the new law. Let us be the first to tell you that, drivers are obeying the law, and cell phone driving has gone down dramatically. Only 1.8% of the drivers we saw had a phone up to their ear, or in the general vicinity.
But, there is some adaptive behavior going on. We saw 5 people (1%) holding their phones up in front of their faces and typing on the keypad. Whether they were texting or dialing we cannot say for sure. Also, we saw 2 people with iPhones wearing their ear buds and using a hand to hold the mini-microphone up to their mouths (not their ears, so it was legal). And, of course, we saw more people with borg-like blue-tooth pieces behind their ears (maybe 10 … but sometimes they're hard to spot).
We saw a man calling car-free, but walking across the street where there was no crosswalk (photo above). We also saw a man driving a van while reading a bunch of papers that were resting on his steering wheel, someone eating a Popsicle, and some smokers. Last week we saw people driving with dogs on their laps. This time we didn't see any canine passengers sitting anywhere.
On the way back to the Edhat office we found ourselves stopped at a traffic light next to a girl in a nice BMW SUV who was talking very fast on into her hands-free device while holding some sort of health drink up next to her face. That's still legal for now.
The winner of the contest, with a guess of 1.890054 was MessyMeg. She wins a clean Edhat t-shirt that will get messy if you wear it while driving and eating a Popsicle.
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