Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Driving while....

The New Zealand Herald asked me for comment on a new study showing that driving while hung over is a bit riskier than driving while at the .05 level. I told them:
“It isn’t particularly surprising that driving while hung over increases accident risk. I would expect that driving while suffering from a very bad cold and headache, or driving with the flu, or being pretty tired, would have similar effect. In all of these we have to remember that increases in relative risk can be much larger than the actual risk imposed: if I’m thousands of times more likely to be killed by an asteroid when standing outside than while hiding in a bomb shelter, I’m still not very likely to be killed by an asteroid.”

“The reported risk increase here is more substantial than driving at .05. Drivers in the .05 to .08 range are about five times more likely to have an accident than someone who is sober, which is just a bit riskier than driving while having a conversation on a hands-free cellphone. I expect all of these are slightly less risky than driving with my five and three year olds in the back seat when they have conflicting views about what should be on the radio.”
A few "driving while" risks:
A few others I've not seen studies about, but surely matter:
  • Children in the back seats, by age and number
  • Finding a screamed-for child's toy on the floor of the back seat while driving
  • Stopping child from kicking the back of the seat
  • Resolving disputes about whether it's her turn for music or his turn for audiobooks
  • Enforcing bargains made in the back seat by the children with respect to turns
  • Driving after child in toilet training in back seat announces "I need to make a pee"
    • Note that post-quake Christchurch, with portaloos everywhere, was rather good on this front.
  • Indulging a five-year old's preference to dungeon master me through a scenario he's inventing on the go and trying to keep track of the rule changes he keeps making.
  • Checking the speedometer every 30 seconds on windy and hilly roads to make sure that you haven't varied by more than 4kph from the speed limit.
  • And, finally, Sue Ellen Mishke
Update: Otago's Nick Wilson commented on the same study for the Fairfax papers. He graciously pointed me to the following additions:

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