If you’re reading this while driving, put your phone down right now. This article — as engrossing as it is — will still be here when you reach your destination.
We provide that friendly bit of advice because, as The New York Times reported this morning, a whole bunch of motorists are occupying themselves with their smartphones — and distracting themselves from the road — in ways that go way beyond talking and texting, according to a new survey conducted by Braun Research for AT&T.
The pollsters surveyed 2,067 smartphone users who drive daily, and their findings should be frightening to anyone on the roads. More than six in 10 smartphone users surveyed say they text while driving. It gets scarier: Nearly 40 percent of smartphone users admit to checking in on social media while driving, with 27 percent admitting to using Facebook and another 14 percent saying they use Twitter and Instagram while behind the wheel. Of users who cop to posting on Twitter while driving, 30 percent say they do it “all the time.” Given those figures, it’s amazing that #TwitterAccident isn’t always trending.
Some other troubling stats from the survey: 17 percent snap selfies or other pictures when in the driver’s seat and 12 percent shoot videos — with 27 percent of those videographers thinking they can do so safely. Astoundingly, 10 percent of drivers say they video chat while on the roads.
AT&T says it will expand its It Can Wait public service campaign about the dangers of distracted driving, which launched in 2010, to focus on hazards beyond just texting. But as Matt Richtel of the Times points out, the AT&T campaign and other efforts like it face a stiff challenge in trying to counter the social pressures and strongly ingrained habits that keep people constantly checking their phones.
Tough laws and widespread educational efforts have been effective at reducing drunk driving and encouraging use of seat belts. But we still have a way to go in getting drivers to understand that “mobile” doesn’t mean when you’re behind the wheel. Right now, 46 states and the District of Columbia have outlawed texting while driving. As you can see above, that hasn't helped much yet. Smartphone users still need to be convinced of the danger they pose — or face — if they use their devices while driving.
As Lori Lee, AT&T’s global marketing officer, put it: “For the sake of you and those around you, please keep your eyes on the road, not on your phone.”
The partial government shutdown has hit the economy like a hurricane – and not just metaphorically. Analysts at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget said Tuesday that the shutdown has now cost the economy about $26 billion, close to the average cost of $27 billion per hurricane calculated by the Congressional Budget Office for storms striking the U.S. between 2000 and 2015. From an economic point of view, it’s basically “a self-imposed natural disaster,” CRFB said.
The U.S. could save billions of dollars a year if Medicare were empowered to negotiate drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies, according to a paper published by JAMA Internal Medicine earlier this week. Researchers compared the prices of the top 50 oral drugs in Medicare Part D to the prices for the same drugs at the Department of Veterans Affairs, which negotiates its own prices and uses a national formulary. They found that Medicare’s total spending was much higher than it would have been with VA pricing.
In 2016, for example, Medicare Part D spent $32.5 billion on the top 50 drugs but would have spent $18 billion if VA prices were in effect – or roughly 45 percent less. And the savings would likely be larger still, Axios’s Bob Herman said, since the study did not consider high-cost injectable drugs such as insulin.
It may be small beer compared to the problems faced by unemployed federal workers and the growing cost for the overall economy, but the ongoing government shutdown is putting a serious crimp in the craft brewing industry. Small-batch brewers tend to produce new products on a regular basis, The Wall Street Journal’s Ruth Simon says, but each new formulation and product label needs to be approved by the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which is currently closed. So it looks like you’ll have to wait a while to try the new version of Hemperor HPA from Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing, a hoppy brew that will include hemp seeds once the shutdown is over.
The amount spent on medical marketing reached $30 billion in 2016, up from $18 billion in 1997, according to a new analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and highlighted by the Associated Press. The number of advertisements for prescription drugs appearing on television, newspapers, websites and elsewhere totaled 5 million in one year, accounting for $6 billion in marketing spending. Direct-to-consumer marketing grew the fastest, rising from $2 billion, or 12 percent of total marketing, to nearly $10 billion, or a third of spending. “Marketing drives more treatments, more testing” that patients don’t always need, Dr. Steven Woloshin, a Dartmouth College health policy expert and co-author of the study, told the AP.