Monday, January 29, 2007

It's called multitasking.

It seems that the transport secretary Douglas Alexander has made an announcement. "It's quite simple - it's impossible to do two things at once and do them well". Read here. It's to do with driving and being on the phone at the same time.

But the problem is it's not true. We do many things at once all the time. There is even a name for it. It's called multitasking. Now I know there are a few jokes around about politicians not being able to chew gum and walk at the same time but I can do that. I can even hold a conversation whilst chewing gum, walking and scratching my bum. Yet still have enough situational awareness to monitor a tasty bit of crumpet. Although my granddaughter has difficulty with walking while concentrating on her toys. Are our politicians really still at that level mentally?

I do believe that when you are thinking about your conversation while driving you do become less attentive to hazards on the road. That's why I end up driving slower where I am on the phone. You can't pay attention to everything at once. It's my normal comment on cascade failures. You can afford a mistake there is enough leeway in that but when another mistake happens you can't compensate. With the phones while your mind shifts gears from the conversation you are having to to emergency situation at hand then time has passed. Time you would normally spend with your foot on the brake.

In reality we continually drive and talk on the phone and nothing happens. Mainly because there is such a wide safety margin nowadays. So this announcement is really another rule in place to try and legislate all risk out of our society. Most of the time we spend driving we are looking out for speed camera's, coppers with radar traps and trying to navigate the many one way streets with road signs, speed bumps and traffic lights all over the place. All, while still keeping an eye out for crumpet walking along the street.

Perhaps he should also consider all the other things we have to put out attention too whilst driving. If he removed all these other distractions from the road, except for the crumpet of course, maybe we could concentrate on safer driving. After all if he believes ' it's impossible to do two things at once and do them well' then perhaps he needs to reduce the part of driving workload that the politicians themselves put in place.

Of course he can't do that because this is one of the cases where he can't do two things at once as it is clear that persecute the motorist off the road is the primary objective.


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