# Driving Problems

You know it's dangerous to drive while talking on your cell phone (in many places this is now illegal). Now scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) are keeping you safe by testing a system in the Detroit area that will help you drive in bad weather by passing along information from other drivers about black ice, fog, and other hazardous weather conditions ahead.

Here's something you probably didn't know: you shouldn't drive if you have a bad cold or the flu. BBC News reports that having a head cold turns out to be as bad for your driving as having a couple of drinks?even though you still pass the breathalyzer test.

And even if you're NOT sick, some drivers have a lot of trouble seeing the lines painted on the highway?and researchers are trying to figure out why.

Take a guess?how long are the dashed lines that are painted down the middle of a road? If you?re like most people, you answered, "Two feet." The real answer is 10 feet. That's the federal guideline for every street, highway, and rural road in the United States, where dashed lines separate traffic lanes or indicate where passing is allowed.

A new study has found that people grossly underestimate the length of these lines?a finding which implies that we're all misjudging distances as we drive, and are driving too fast as a result.

Psychologist Dennis Shaffer and his team tested more than 400 college students in three experiments. When asked to guess the length of the lines from memory, most answered two feet. Even when the students were standing some distance away from actual 10-foot lines or riding by them in a car, they judged the size to be the same: two feet.He says, "We were surprised, first, that people's estimates were so far off, and second, that there was so little variability."

The finding holds implications for traffic safety. Each dashed line measures 10 feet, and the empty spaces in-between measure 30 feet. So every time a car passes a new dashed line, the car has traveled 40 feet. But in this study, people consistently judged the lines and the empty spaces to be the same size, claiming that both were two feet.

Shaffer says, "This means that to most people, 40 feet looks like a lot less than 40 feet when they're on the road. People cover more ground than they think in a given period of time, so they are probably underestimating their speed."

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

One of the nicest things about holding our Dreamland Festival in beautiful Nashville is that you can leave your car at home?everything will be in walking distance of our beautiful (and AFFORDABLE) hotel!