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Driving Hazard Test: TV Beats Alcohol

Posted June. 28, 2006 03:02,   


Men in their 20s and 30s gathered in front of a driving simulator, an exact replica of a car. Every one of them was quite confident of their driving skills with at least three years history of driving a car.

Some of them received Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (DMB) devices and others got alcohol to drink.

Then they sat behind the steering wheel.

Which would be more outrageous one—the one who’s watching TV while driving or the one who drank?

Samsung Traffic Safety Research Institute recently conducted a research on the effect of watching DMB on driving of 37 drivers.

DMB is a service that enables people to watch TV even in cars going at a high speed. It was introduced last year for the first time in the world and is being fast applied to cell phones, but there hasn’t been research on what kind of influence it has on driving.

According to the research, constantly taking a glimpse at the TV while driving is more dangerous than drunk driving.

The “TV team” received either a DMB enabled cell phone or a car DMB TV for the research.

For the first round of the research, the drivers drove the car without any device. In the second round, they drove with a DMB cell phone on their right side, and lastly with the car DMB TV on.

Meanwhile, the 15 “alcohol team” members drove the car first without drinking, then the next two rounds each with 0.05% and 0.1% blood alcohol content. 0.05% is the basic percentage for drunk driving; 0.1% means one is heavily drunk and driving licenses get invalidated.

According to the research, the ability to keep within the lanes and to control speed was lowest when using DMB phones. The ability to look straight ahead was lowest in cases of watching DMB TV.

When drivers were drunk, they looked straight ahead but lacked crisis management ability, for instance when another car suddenly moved in front of them.

According to the final result of the research, using DMB cell phones was the most hazardous behavior while driving, followed by 0.1% blood alcohol content, watching DMB TV, and 0.05% alcohol content.

Unlike the analog TVs, DMB’s advantage is that people are able to watch the TV with a clear picture even in a moving vehicle. Over a million terrestrial DMB cell phones that show over-the-air broadcasting were sold in just seven months.

In August last year, a bill revising the current road traffic law to prohibit drivers’ watching DMB unless the car has come to a halt or is parked was introduced. However, the bill has not been passed for the last ten months.

A bill for WiBro (portable Internet), which will soon start service, is not even available. WiBro is a technology that enables people to access Internet in high-speed cars, and it will be commercialized in Korea for the first time in the world. Thus, there is no legal ground to crack down on surfing the Internet while driving.

Other countries regulate the use of picture devices.

In the U.K., people using multimedia devices while driving are subject to a 1,000 pounds (around 1.75 million won) fine maximum.

Japan and Australia also forbid drivers to see any picture generating device by law. Oregon, Illinois, and Virginia in the U.S. ban any picture device where the driver can see it.

Suk-Min Hong Sang-Hoon Kim smhong@donga.com sanhkim@donga.com