CBS2 Must Stop Reporting While Driving

The local news promo you’re watching was broadcast on CBS2 last week to tout their “amazing new technology” — Mobile2. What is Mobile2? According to the promo, it’s “a fleet of units covering the entire Tri-State area” so that viewers at home can literally get the windshield perspective on what’s going on outside.

Basically, CBS2 correspondents are reporting while driving — filing entire segments with their hands on the wheel, their feet poised near the pedals, and their gaze shifting back and forth between the road and the camera.

So the same news producers who brought you “Bike Bedlam” and gave Marty Markowitz a megaphone to tear into pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements are beaming a big “Who Cares?” about distracted driving into hundreds of thousands of living rooms on a nightly basis. Given everything that we know about the dangers of driver inattention, “Mobile2” is an incredibly reckless gimmick that should be discontinued immediately.

In case the team at CBS2 missed it, distracted driving is big news. A few developments from the past couple of years:

  • The Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, has said that he’s “on a rampage” against distracted driving and has made it one of his signature issues. The U.S. DOT estimates that more than 5,000 Americans die in crashes caused by distracted driving each year, and the agency has put on two major conferences to combat driver distraction.
  • The New York Times has run a long multi-part series about the risks of distracted driving.
  • Driver inattention is the number one cause of pedestrian fatalities and serious injuries in New York City, according to NYC DOT’s Pedestrian Safety Study.
  • Oprah has zero tolerance for distracted driving.

The CBS2 reporters in Mobile2 are engaged in two distinct cognitive tasks: Driving a car, and communicating information to viewers clearly and professionally. They’ve even conducted interviews while driving, like in this segment with reporter Lou Young and former Mets manager Bobby Valentine.

The research on multi-tasking is clear. The human mind can’t do two things at once. Performing more than one cognitive task simultaneously actually requires your brain to switch back and forth between tasks, degrading your performance in both. This “cognitive distraction” explains why researchers have not observed any reduction in danger from using hands-free cell phones compared to conventional handsets. As the National Safety Council explained in this 2010 white paper [PDF], it’s the act of talking on the phone that degrades drivers’ ability to process visual information and slows their reaction times.

Even if Tony Aiello, Lou Young, and company never took their eyes off the road while filing these segments, reporting while driving is dangerous and sends all the wrong messages to CBS2 viewers about how to drive safely. It has to stop.

mobile2_cbs

  • Marty Barfowitz

    Jesus. CBS2 is an embarrassment to itself.

  • Marty Barfowitz

    Forget the distracted driving.

    How do you do quality “reporting” when you never even seem to leave your car?

  • Bolwerk

    This isn’t reporting. This is the ravings of a bunch of self-aggrandizing clowns. In journalism anyway, reporting requires the conveyance of arguably useful information.

  • Danny G

    I hope there’s excessive product placement inside the car such as Dasani water by Coca-Cola in the cup holders and fuzzy dice from Sands Casino hanging from the rear-view mirror. I’d also like the camera work and cinematography to be on par with this: http://whitney.org/Exhibitions/LeeFriedlander/Images

  • ddartley

    I saw this promo on TV last night and would have flipped out if I weren’t so fatigued by all the recent horrible work by the local news media.

    I like how even the speedometer in the animated graphic shows a speed that’s illegal almost everywhere in NYC.

  • Wow, can’t wait for the this next snow storm to hit, maybe the can “bring their technology to [my] neighborhood” and run some people over, gin up some Really Exciting news? Snow coverage by itself is just way over-hyped and booooring.

    I feel like the NY Post could make a really good headline for this.

    OUT OF CONTROL REPORTER INTERVIEWS PEDESTRIAN HE RAN OVER, BLAMES PED FOR BEING INATTENTIVE

  • fdr

    Not only distracted driving, but distracted driving during and after snowstorms when the roads are the most dangerous.

  • Marsha Kramer’s Eyebrow

    CBS2 is unbelievable. They are putting the public in danger. I love how the promo speeds up the footage too, are they trying to infer a ridiculous amount of speed?

    Don’t miss clicking and watching the Lou Young segment – an excellent reporter when not behind the wheel – is amazing in that not only does he a full interview with someone in the backseat, BUT LISTEN TO HIS VOICE…he is so OBVIOUSLY DISTRACTED BY EVERYTHING! The driving, the interviewing, the camera in his face – he stammers and stops, the beginning 5 seconds when the team in the studio throws it to him, is frightening! And then watch as he attempts to throw back to his package, trying to find the key words, and concentrating on driving.

    This is an absolute sham, CBS needs to be ashamed, they really do. The next time CBS reports on distracted driving one of the other networks should ask them about their distracted driving.

    (Streetsblog has this great one up: http://www.streetsblog.org/2009/10/01/cbs2-reporter-warns-against-distracted-driving-while-driving-distracted/)

    And I mean come on, CBS you guys are the real menace out there. Bike Bedlam? You guys are nightmares on the road, remember Tony Aiello reporting on the problem that the Columbus Avenue bike lane has become? http://www.streetsblog.org/2011/01/05/driver-cam-the-columbus-ave-bike-lane-thru-tony-aiellos-windshield/

  • Speedometer

    ddartley – nice catch. Yeah you can only do 45 mph or more on a few highways in NYC. CBS, don’t you know the speed limit is 30 mph in NYC!

  • Doug

    Who in the traffic enforcement division can we send the video to, in order to get a speeding ticket written?

  • MRN

    Is this “amazing new technology”… a camera?

  • Speedometer

    Doug – I don’t know about speeding, but this evidence of distracted driving, the three reporter’s not looking at the road while driving in their OWN PROMO – there should be something the city can do to write them a ticket of some kind! This is unacceptable!!

  • fafacious

    Insane. I can’t for the life of me understand how CBS could ask its reporters to endanger themselves and others on the street. It so reprehensible.

  • Shame on You!

    So CBS news reporters are out driving around driving distracted but just a few days ago the network news says pedestrians are walking distracted and being killed. What is wrong here?

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/01/26/eveningnews/main7287295.shtml?tag=cbsnewsTwoColUpperPromoArea

  • BigHank53

    Don’t worry too much–the first accident they’re involved in will be recorded, the footage will be subpeonaed, and CBS2 will pay an enormous amount of money to make the problem go away. If they manage to seriously hurt or (god forbid) kill somebody, the station itself is toast.

  • Lois Carsbad

    If there’s an accident involving these Mobile 2 vans there will certainly be an element of schadenfreude in the response from people all over. With their terrible reporting on safe streets, Tony Aiello and the geniuses at CBS2 are asking for it. It’s like the preacher who rails against gay people, only to be discovered doing meth with a male escort.

    I only hope that no innocent bystanders are hurt when these guys are taken down a notch. Pray that they plow into a comically large truck filled with hilarious banana peels and loaded mousetraps instead of a person.

  • Tubulus

    Weirdness of the day – the center of the homepage is a story about a bicycling fundraiser. An INDOOR bicycling fundraiser, natch.

  • This is clearly a dangerous thing to be doing. It shows a general lack of awareness for the issue of distracted driving and it shows a general lack of consideration for the safety of other people on the road.

    They need to trash this idea and use their “amazing technology” in a way that doesn’t put people’s lives at risk.

  • Edward Pino

    CBS2 Reporter Warns Against Distracted Driving While Driving Distracted. Boy is this an oxyMORONIC thing to do.

  • Lars
  • Does this mean Cash Cab should be canceled too?

  • Marsha Kramer’s Eyebrow

    This issue makes laughable CBS2 even reporting this on the air.

    http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2011/01/25/ny-sen-wants-ban-on-chatting-while-crossing-street/

  • Scott

    A pretty young reporter getting decapitated in a crash on live TV might help the cause of fighting distracted driving.

  • Adam

    Isn’t this basically illegal? Using any video display that is not part of the car design (GPS) by the driver is illegal in NY State, no?

  • jj

    Idiots !!!

    They are using cameramen

  • Lars

    jj – are you kidding? Of course we know that. It’s irrelevant. Allowing that to be “okay” because they are using cameraman is ridiculous. It’s just part of acceptance of distracted driving. The case is clear CBS 2 is allowing their reporters to go on the air filing reports by not paying 100% to their driving. Not acceptable in any case, any time.

  • mark

    They spoke about this on the news cast last weekend , and showed the producers holding the cameras

  • jj/mark — as Lars said, the question of who’s holding the camera is irrelevant. The problem, as explained in the post, is the reporter juggling cognitive tasks as he or she files a news report while driving a car. It’s not safe.

  • Franny

    You guys are insane .

    Your presumption is a wild m crazy guess — simple as that

    How does a cameraman holding a camera in the passengers seat make any difference ?

    Is this any different than how movies are made in automobile chase scenes ?

    What are you smoking ?

  • fafacious

    Franny-This is not a closed movie set, these reporters are driving while distracted on snowy, icy NYC streets LIVE. There are no stuntmen, if they hit someone, they will be injured. It’s just plain dumb and dangerous.

  • My Two Cents

    Mark – CBS actually showed “how” they do this on the air? So they are trying to justify their reporting saying their reporter is not distracted because he isn’t holding the camera?

    If so, that’s completely insane. Bonkers, off the wall. It means CBS is even more out of touch with reality than I thought. And it still doesn’t explain how in the promo they have reporters looking away from the road and into our living rooms!!!

    One day they are gonna injure or kill someone while doing this. It is inevitable. The lawyers are gonna have a field day.

  • Joe R.

    “I like how even the speedometer in the animated graphic shows a speed that’s illegal almost everywhere in NYC.”

    Well, give them one point for honesty in reporting there, and one demerit for encouraging irresponsible behavoir ( hey, if Mobile2 does 50, then it must be OK! ). Legal or not, unfortunately those are typical speeds many drivers go on local streets.

  • Brad

    I just saw a segment on CBS2 where a woman was driving while broadcasting in the aftermath of the blizzard. While she’s driving she’s asking people to pay attention to the road because viability is low and pedestrians are not looking before crossing the street.

    ???

  • NY City abounds in tourist attractions, offering lots of wonderful moments to be cherished. In fact, the city has something for everyone – from Manhattan Skyline to Station Island’s natural beauty; from buzzing nightlife to magnificent beaches; from historic heritage sites to memorials like 9/11 memorial and the Statue of Liberty. Not for nothing does it attract millions of tourists throughout the year from all around the globe.

  • Dougwill2001

    By such standards should not police be prohibited from using radios or computers while driving?

  • BrooklynCoffeeLover

    Police shouldn’t use computers while the car is in motion. As far as I am aware that is illegal. Radios are for emergencies and should be used.

  • Anika Kaur

    Those things are insane and must be prohibited
    regards
    Stoya

  • Well, give them one point for honesty in reporting there, and one demerit for encouraging irresponsible behaviour http://shaniyaa.com

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