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Rolling Office: Smarmy Executives Nonchalant Regarding Irresponsible Driving

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On: Thu, Oct 1, 2009 at 4:00PM | By: John Welch

Rolling Office: Smarmy Executives Nonchalant Regarding Irresponsible Driving

Listen, I appreciate how strapped every one of us is for time. We are busy, and we have to drive everywhere, constantly. Germans visit our country and demand to know where the village is. "There is no village; we do everything in our cars, work, eat, sleep, . ." It's a wonder Europe has a better selection of interesting automobiles than we do. Ahh, but that is a different gripe all together.

Today's gripe involves the laissez-faire attitude some members of our driving community take towards working while driving. Take Sean Ryan, an analyst for a market research firm, IDC. Regarding cheking his email while behind the wheel, Mr. Ryan says, "I might as well get a quick e-mail taken care of, or at least, delete spam.”

“When I get to the office, I’ve saved 15 to 20 minutes of work."

Did I mention that the firm Sean Ryan works for has conducted a study on this matter? IDC estimated last year that there were 111 million mobile workers in the United States, including all manner of people who do work outside an office, whether in a car, café, or airport lounge. 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.) Sweet.

David Vered, 53, chief executive of Pacific Yogurt Partners, which operates Golden Spoon frozen yogurt stores in San Francisco, is even more brazen. He has trained employees to send concise messages so that he can read them while driving on the highway as he visits stores. Holy crap, that's a little frightening. “With the BlackBerry, you can hold it up over the steering wheel,” he said. “I just hit ‘open’ and see what the issue is.”

Very good Mr. Vered, I'm glad you enjoy taking all of our lives in your hands. I read an article the other day, investigating American's feelings towards mandating the installation of portable breathalyzers in all new cars sold in the US. I thought it was complete fascism. How quickly one's opinion can be swayed. Only, let's not stop at breathalyzers, obviously there considerable threats from drivers who don't need to imbibe alcohol in order to be too moronic to operate an automobile. Some people just wake up stupid. Or arrogant. Or a little of both. Or a LOT of both.

Studies show that drivers who send text or e-mail typically take their eyes off the road for an average of five seconds. But Mr. Vered said he was vigilant about safety. Besides, he said, he never reads e-mail on his bigger laptop computer, which he keeps on a desk he has installed on the passenger seat of his small Toyota SUV. Mr. Vered said "I'm an adept multi-tasker."

Good for you, buddy. I'm sure you're a frikkin concert flutist, a champion crochet expert, and a telepath too. David Vered most likely climbed K2 while teaching himself Mandarin. Before he was six. This guy is successful? I suppose good multi-tasking skills really do trump common sense in the American hierarchy of corporate usefulness.

This delightful anecdote is taken directly from The New York Times;

Unintended Costs

Jered Noe was driving a Coca-Cola delivery truck on a quiet stretch of two-lane highway in Seminole County, Oklahoma., two Novembers ago.

Samantha Dawn Earnest, with her three children, Jason, 7; Dakota, 5; and Hailey, 4; was driving along the same road in the other direction in her green 1999 Chevrolet Malibu.

In the back seat, Jason and Dakota talked about decorating the walls of their shared room. Jason favored pictures of dinosaurs. Dakota preferred horses.

As Ms. Earnest crested a hill, the delivery truck swerved into her car, spun it around and sent it careening across the highway. Jason died on impact.

Ms. Earnest, stunned and bleeding, saw the truck driver walking toward her.

“I said, ‘Why, why, why?’ ” she recalled screaming at him. “He told me, ‘I just took my eyes off the road for a second because I was looking at my computer.’ ”

She started chasing him.

“I went into a mad rage,” she said. “If he’d said he’d fallen asleep, maybe I’d have understood. But using a computer?”

Mr. Noe, 24, received a suspended sentence for negligent homicide, a misdemeanor, and the Earnest family sued Mr. Noe’s employer, the ADA Coca-Cola Bottling Company.

The company settled, and the terms of the agreement are confidential. ADA did not respond to requests for comment.

Lawyers and expert witnesses in cases involving multi-tasking drivers say such lawsuits are common.

Last year, International Paper reached a settlement to pay $5.2 million because of a 2006 accident in which an employee on a phone hit another driver, whose arm had to be amputated.

Katherine McArthur, a lawyer in Macon, Ga., who sued International Paper in that case, said the company permitted employees to use a cellphone while driving if it had a hands-free headset (this remains the company policy, according to International Paper).

But Ms. McArthur said that several studies show that drivers using headsets face the same likelihood of crashing as someone holding the phone to their ear. That risk has been compared to driving at the legal limit for intoxication.

“What I’m arguing in these cases is that these companies are authorizing something as bad as drunk driving and that they knew about the research or should have known,” she said. Ms. McArthur said that companies should expect more such lawsuits.

“They’re the deep pockets,” she said. Some may pay before an accident even happens. Insurance executives say that when setting premiums the industry has started to consider whether companies have policies on cellphone use.

Totally awesome. I'm sure a couple million dollars completely makes up for the loss of an arm. No question.

That pretty much says it all . . .

Below is some more solid proof that mobile devices are dangerous behind the wheel; a BUS DRIVER texting while working. Caution, he utters some naughty words after the 30 second mark . . .


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