QuizCross (Shallow Thoughts)

Akkana's Musings on Open Source Computing, Science, and Nature.

Fri, 05 Apr 2013

QuizCross

Watching people weave into and out of our lane while they texted on the freeway (where are all the cops who are supposed to be cracking down on that this week?), Dave came up with an idea: a competition where you drive some sort of course -- start with an autocross course, or maybe add twists like parallel parking -- while simultaneously texting. Your score is a combination of your time through the course, fewest pylons hit, and the accuracy of your texted replies.

He was thinking of a show we used to see at a pizza place we frequented a few years ago, "Cash Cab". The premise: there's a special taxi that drives around New York City rigged with video gear, and if it picks you up, you get a chance to play a "Who wants to be a millionaire" style quiz show in the time till the driver gets you to your destination.

I have to admit, although Dave's combination of Cash Cab and autocross sounded intriguing, it didn't sound like something I'd actually want to do. Although I see plenty of drivers who seem to love the challenge of parallel parking or negotiating rush-hour traffic with one hand (or no hands!), it's not my thing.

But here's a modification that did sound fun to me: you wear a hands-free headset, and while you negotiate the course, someone asks you quiz-show type questions and you have to answer while you're driving the course. You can still use both hands to drive; just not your whole brain.

It's an exercise in concentration and filtering distractions. Can you figure out what part of the course needs your fullest attention, and which parts you might be able to take nearly as fast while thinking about the quiz question? It's a biathlon for motorheads.

The scientifically minded part of me wants to take a little extra time and add a free run through the course for each contestant at the beginning and end of the event, with no quiz questions. That way everybody gets a baseline time for the course, and it's easy to find out how much the distraction hurts our driving. Some studies say that a hands-free phone is just as distracting as a handheld one. Wouldn't you love to find out exactly how true that is for you?

I know it'll never happen -- it's hard enough to reserve autocross sites without the additional complications of an untried event format. But I'd sure love to try it. If any researchers with funding for distracted-driving studies are reading this and want to use the idea, count me in as either a helper or a study subject.

I'm calling it QuizCross. You heard it here first.

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[ 19:55 Apr 05, 2013    More misc | permalink to this entry | comments ]
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