If you’re reading this while driving, put your phone down right now. This article — as engrossing as it is — will still be here when you reach your destination.
We provide that friendly bit of advice because, as The New York Times reported this morning, a whole bunch of motorists are occupying themselves with their smartphones — and distracting themselves from the road — in ways that go way beyond talking and texting, according to a new survey conducted by Braun Research for AT&T.
The pollsters surveyed 2,067 smartphone users who drive daily, and their findings should be frightening to anyone on the roads. More than six in 10 smartphone users surveyed say they text while driving. It gets scarier: Nearly 40 percent of smartphone users admit to checking in on social media while driving, with 27 percent admitting to using Facebook and another 14 percent saying they use Twitter and Instagram while behind the wheel. Of users who cop to posting on Twitter while driving, 30 percent say they do it “all the time.” Given those figures, it’s amazing that #TwitterAccident isn’t always trending.
Some other troubling stats from the survey: 17 percent snap selfies or other pictures when in the driver’s seat and 12 percent shoot videos — with 27 percent of those videographers thinking they can do so safely. Astoundingly, 10 percent of drivers say they video chat while on the roads.
AT&T says it will expand its It Can Wait public service campaign about the dangers of distracted driving, which launched in 2010, to focus on hazards beyond just texting. But as Matt Richtel of the Times points out, the AT&T campaign and other efforts like it face a stiff challenge in trying to counter the social pressures and strongly ingrained habits that keep people constantly checking their phones.
Tough laws and widespread educational efforts have been effective at reducing drunk driving and encouraging use of seat belts. But we still have a way to go in getting drivers to understand that “mobile” doesn’t mean when you’re behind the wheel. Right now, 46 states and the District of Columbia have outlawed texting while driving. As you can see above, that hasn't helped much yet. Smartphone users still need to be convinced of the danger they pose — or face — if they use their devices while driving.
As Lori Lee, AT&T’s global marketing officer, put it: “For the sake of you and those around you, please keep your eyes on the road, not on your phone.”
The White House on Friday unveiled plans for a new effort to ramp up testing for Covid-19, which experts say is an essential part of limiting the spread of the virus. This chart from Vox gives a sense of just how far the U.S. has to go to catch up to other countries that are dealing with the pandemic, including South Korea, the leading virus screener with 3,692 tests per million people. The U.S., by comparison, has done about 23 tests per million people as of March 12.
The Air Force has scrapped a planned upgrade of its B-2 stealth bomber fleet — even after spending $2 billion on the effort — because defense contractor Northrup Grumman didn’t have the necessary software expertise to complete the project on time and on budget, Bloomberg’s Anthony Capaccio reports, citing the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer.
Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, told reporters that the nearly $2 billion that had already been spent on the program wasn’t wasted because “we are still going to get upgraded electronic displays.”
Bernie Sanders wants to eliminate $1.6 trillion in student debt, to be paid for by a tax on financial transactions, but doing so won’t be easy, says Josh Mitchell of The Wall Street Journal.
The main problem for Sanders is that most Americans don’t support the plan, with 57% of respondents in a poll last fall saying they oppose the idea of canceling all student debt. And the politics are particularly thorny for Sanders as he prepares for a likely general election run, Mitchell says: “Among the strongest opponents are groups Democrats hope to peel away from President Trump: Rust Belt voters, independents, whites, men and voters in rural areas.”
That’s how much Michael Bloomberg is spending per day in his pursuit of the Democratic presidential nomination, according to new monthly filings with the Federal Election Commission. “In January alone, Bloomberg dropped more than $220 million on his free-spending presidential campaign,” The Hill says. “That breaks down to about $7.1 million a day, $300,000 an hour or $5,000 per minute.”