Cell Phone Drivers

“Why does every woman have to talk on her cell phone while driving?”

“That’s pretty chauvinistic, don’t you think?”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because just as many men talk on their cell phones as women do.”

I thought I was right, but I have been known to be wrong in the past.

Lots of times.

But I haven’t been wrong for at least a week, so I decided to go test my theory; let’s see who talks more on a cell phone while driving.

Men or Women?

Unfortunately I lived on one of the busiest streets in all of Utah. Midland drive. Anyone reading this post from the Ogden area of Utah can attest to this claim.

The good news? The experiment could be conducted sitting in my driveway with a cooler full of beer.

On a typical workday, from 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm, six thousand cars pass by my front yard. Yes, that is what I said – 6000. I can tend to exaggerate from time to time, but this is a proven fact.

I know because I counted them.

I used two hand tally counters like you might use to keep track of your golf shots. One in the right hand and one in the left. When a woman drove by talking on her cell phone, I clicked the right-hand counter. When a man was babbling, a click on the left.

I was tempted to keep track of the number of women talking on their cell phone and
applying makeup at the same time, but that was too much to keep track of. This additional tally would greatly hinder the beer drinking, which for scientific purposes was unacceptable.

The “cell phone/make up experiment” would have to wait for another day.

I didn’t want to look at the counters until the experiment was over. This is highly scientific stuff and I didn’t want to induce any Hawthorne Effect into the results.

At 7:00 pm, the clickers were compared side by side.

Results

Of the 6000 total drivers, 50% were male and 50% were female.

Right-hand clicks = Women = 592
Left-hand clicks = Men = 605

After running a statistical T-test on the two numbers, the results were inescapable;

The number of men vs. women, who babble on cell phones, while driving, are the same.

About 20% for each.

My wife was right.

Although this study is obviously worthy of a Scientific American Award, the point of this article is not really about cell phones.

It is about going out and testing things instead of assuming you’re right.

Whenever my students and/or employees have a new idea for a product, service, or improvement, I ask them to put together a simple pilot program. Make it quick and easy.

“How can you fail in 2 weeks?” I say.

When I propose it to people that way, it gets them to think from a different viewpoint. Instead of a long and expensive test program, they have to figure out how to run a low-cost, simple 2-week experiment.

Let’s face it; I solved one of the most pressing social issues of the day with just a 2-hour driveway experiment.

In Aerospace we had a couple of phrases we used;

“Opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got one.”

and

“In God we trust, all others bring data.”

Before you launch your next major project, how can you test your theory with a low cost pilot program?

p.s. Some people still insist I should get a real job or that I have too much free time on my hands. These simple souls are incapable of realizing the great service I am providing to mankind. It’s not their fault; so please let them be.

Mark L. Fox
slyasafox.com

About admin

Mark L. Fox is a leading authority on teaching practical creative thinking techniques for business. Mark was the youngest Chief Engineer ever on the Space Shuttle program at the age of 31. He received NASA’s highest recognition of “Launch Honoree” at the age of 23. Mark has an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering with an MBA. Having held top management positions in Rocket Science, Aircraft Hydraulics, Engineering Services, Customer Service, Software, and e-Business, Mark has an extremely diversified background.

4 Comments

  1. Interesting study Mark.

    What I was wondering was, why you have a full cooler of beer for just two hours of research.

    More importantly, with a clicker in each hand, how could you drink any beer. You definitely need a research partner so you can leave one beer drinking hand free. Or you can buy one those helmets with beer holders and plastic tube straws.

    Thanks for the penetrating insight my-man.

  2. It was only a 32-quart cooler, so it was small. However you are right, I still have some tweeking to do in regardes to the scientific process

  3. and here I was wondering why you had only one cooler for two hours . . .

  4. Am at work and I completely bored. I decided to see if your website would come up. Not to say that I have to be bored to check this out…but , you did come to mind. This cell phone thought is funny. I was also going to suggest the beer hat, I bought Steve one and am sure I could find you one also. If it were not for your message that I never answered the phone..I guess could have missed out on being a right hand click. I do like the title.

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