I chose the second option for this week which involved choosing and critiquing a Mythbusters clip. The clip that I chose was ‘Is Talking on the Phone While Driving as Dangerous as Driving Drunk?’. To test this question, two of people would drive a course that had various obstacles without any mental/physical impairment added. Then, they drove the same course and completed the obstacles while talking on the phone to someone that was providing them with various tasks (such as repeating sentence back to them). Finally, the course was driven a third and final time after the subjects consumed a certain amount of alcohol. Each time, there was a driving instructor in the car who judged whether or not they passed or failed the course.
Before watching the video, I assumed that talking on the phone would definitely be difficult for the driver but would not be as impairing as driving while drunk. While their experiment showed that both of the variables negatively affected the driver (as the test was failed by both drivers when on the phone and when drunk), it was mentioned that they failed the test by greater margins when talking on the phone. I found this quite surprising. Not so much that talking on the phone resulted in worse results than driving drunk, but in that the margins were so much larger. I think that this could be in part due to the set up of the experiment. While they did have an adequate control, in the form of the first run of the track without any impairments, there were some areas that were lacking.
One problem I saw was in the test run after they consumed alcohol. They did not mention in the video how much alcohol they consumed or what the results of the breathalyzer were. I would assume that if the levels of alcohol consumption had been larger then perhaps the results would have been more comparable. Another potential problem that I saw was in how the experiment was not repeated. Each run was only done one time which would leave a large amount of room for error. Overall, I found the results a little bit surprising and while there were some errors in the execution of the experiment, I do not feel that the results would be too different. Ultimately, it can be concluded that both talking on the phone while driving and driving while drunk are very dangerous.