Cell Phones Make You Drive More

Er, I mean, technically, cell phone use, car use, and a tendency to plan things at the last minute are all correlated. It’s poor form to confuse correlation with causation, even if it does gratify my latent Luddite tendencies.

Or so says a survey of Norwegian families. Er, I mean, technically, the abstract to a paper about a survey of Norwegian families. I haven’t read the paper; insert open access rant (and/or a lament about local university library budgets) here.

Still, it makes a nice story. You’re making plans at the last minute (which only works because everyone involved has a cell phone with them at all times), you don’t have the time to sync up with the bus schedule or make sure that you know which errands you need to do on the way back. Oh well. You can always just drive there, and drive back, and then go out again for that jar of herring.

Now, I use public transit and frequently fail to carry my cell phone; I do sometimes run into people who expect that my lead time for making or changing plans will be as short as theirs, and it’s a little annoying. Thus the latent Luddite tendencies. But when last-minute space caseness takes root in an already car-driven culture, it doesn’t just irk some crotchety bloggers, it prevents us from making some easy lifestyle changes to reduce our impact on the planet.

I’ve tried, but so far I have been unable to halt the advance of socially-mandated cell phone possession, and I am definitely ineffective against flakes. Any suggestions?


  1. arvind wrote:

    Although I agree with your luddite sentiment (especially when bolstered with arguments for greener choices), I feel that cellphones are useful beyond the social mandate. Especially if you’re stuck in a bad part of town, or need some other emergency help. One middle-ground solution could be to have a cellphone, but always keep it on silent mode, and only check it at some pre-determined frequency – say every couple of hours or a few times a day in case someone contacted you for something.

  2. Randolph wrote:

    [In passing] In some cities, including the one your live in, a cell phone can also tell you when the next bus will arrive. If you have a really fancy cellphone which provides web access, you can even get it to direct you to the next bus to your destination.

  3. yogi-one wrote:

    Talk about Luddite, I’m a cell-Neanderthal . I can prove it:
    I have a cell that is NOT internet enabled
    I use my cell for phone calls only (talk about pre-historic!)
    I keep it the ringer on “Buzz”.
    I do not have any ringtones.
    I check – and return – calls at my convenience (not the phone’s convenience, not the caller’s convenience).
    I do not answer the cell when driving.
    I do not answer the cell when working, unless I already know ahead of time I am expecting a particularly important call. Then I look to see if it’s the expected caller – if not, back in the pocket it goes!
    I do not answer calls from unknown numbers.

    As a result of my Stone-Age Bonehead mentality re cell-phones, people have largely quit bugging me with the damn thing, and usually expect to get my answer service and a return call later in the day.

    In other words, I run my phone, and not vice-versa.
    And the real result is more happiness and peace of mind.

    I like having the 24/7 connectivity, don’t get me wrong. But I still insist on being the one who decides when and where I will access that connectivity.

    The common wisdom is that the world must be leaving me behind. The reality is that I am more present and undistracted, and get more productivity and enjoyment from my time.

    BTW, my experience with people who are dependent on moment-to-moment cell connectivity is that they do not plan well, waste time and get easily distracted. Those are not traits that are magically transformed into successful habits by the technology.

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