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Federal Summit Eyes Crackdown On Texting While Driving

Soulskill posted about 5 years ago | from the as-long-as-i-can-still-play-bejeweled dept.

Transportation 408

suraj.sun sends along this quote from an Associated Press report: "Opening a government meeting on auto safety, the Obama administration reported Wednesday that nearly 6,000 people were killed and a half-million injured last year in vehicle crashes connected to driver distraction, a striking indication of the dangers of using mobile devices behind the wheel. The Transportation Department was bringing together experts over two days for what it's calling a 'distracted driving summit' to take a hard look at the highway hazards caused by drivers talking on cell phones or texting from behind the wheel. ... Driver distraction was involved in 16 percent of all fatal crashes in 2008. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have passed laws making texting while driving illegal and seven states and the district have banned driving while talking on a handheld cell phone, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Many safety groups have urged a nationwide ban on texting and on using handheld mobile devices while behind the wheel."

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Its just stupid (5, Informative)

sopssa (1498795) | about 5 years ago | (#29593669)

This has been the common thing in many European countries for many years already. You're only allowed to talk in car if you're wearing a hands-free device to talk.

Even more as speaking on a phone, SMS'ing is just stupid. You're not only putting your concentration it, but changing your view from the street to the phone screen. Sound's like a great idea.

Re:Its just stupid (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29593847)

The dangers of texting while driving are completely overblown. I do it all the time and have never gotten into an accidsdiosdfnkasdnsdjksdfjhsdjkhkhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Sent from my Blackberry Wireless Handheld

Re:Its just stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29594383)

Why limit this to just talking and texting. There are many things that can cause distracted driving. Shaving with an electric razor, putting on lipstick, unwrapping that hamburger and trying to take a bite while turning with your knees, etc. This is just a law on one area of distraction while many exist. The root of the problem is distracted driving. I think a retna scan should be installed in every vehicle and monitor where the eyes are looking while driving, then we can fine everyone who takes their eyes off the road for any extended period of time no matter what they are doing.

Re:Its just stupid (-1, Troll)

cellurl (906920) | about 5 years ago | (#29593891)

This should be handled by insurance, not Big Brother. If you wreck, you pay higher premium. OR perhaps I should create a j2me app called was-the-dude-texting?
Back Seat Driver []

Re:Its just stupid (4, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | about 5 years ago | (#29594003)

I bet the insurance is a nice deal for the guy that got killed while someone felt like turning him/her view from the road to the phone screen to sms.

But atleast the guy got higher insurance premiums!

Re:Its just stupid (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | about 5 years ago | (#29594153)

Maybe I don't share your faith in the power of the state, but I doubt they will be able to resurrect the dead guy either.

Re:Its just stupid (2, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 5 years ago | (#29594357)

So the thing is to reduce the chance of him being killed in the first place. Banning texting does that. "Leaving it to the insurance companies" doesn't. Don't let libertarianism take away your logic.

Re:Its just stupid (5, Insightful)

mea37 (1201159) | about 5 years ago | (#29594407)

So we should also abandon laws related to murder?

You're missing the point. It is legitimately illegal to risk other people's lives. You don't get to buy the right to do it via insurance premiums.

If anything, distracted driving laws - like many traffic laws - ought to account for the fact that they can't "make things right" after the fact by doing a better job of prevention. You should not be able to 'fix' a ticket to a non-moving violation, and if you do something truly stupid you should lose the privilege of driving.

Just because American society has reached the point where driving is assumed commonplace to the extent that we'll let a turnip do it, doesn't mean that's how it should be.

Re:Its just stupid (1)

cellurl (906920) | about 5 years ago | (#29594447)

ok, what I really really mean is that some people know its probably ok to text message at stoplights. Others know perhaps you can text message in an emergency. Others know you can drink one beer on a dirt road when no bicycles are around. My point is careless people will get modded down by insurance. I am smarter and older than a teen and wiser. No wrecks in years... You can regulate or put all people into one basket. The special cases are endless... Ok I feel better. Bye.

Re:Its just stupid (5, Insightful)

bcmm (768152) | about 5 years ago | (#29594063)

This should be handled by insurance, not Big Brother. If you wreck, you pay higher premium.

Requiring that people pay attention when operating dangerous machinery in a public place is "big brother"? Should it also be possible to drive drunk, provided you have expensive drunk-driving insurance?

The market isn't going to solve everything. Preventing you from getting killed by idiots is pretty much the most legitimate function a government has.

Re:Its just stupid (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | about 5 years ago | (#29594161)

The market isn't going to solve everything.


Re:Its just stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29594281)

Where can I buy this "drunk-driving insurance"?

Your post pretty much sums it up. People are going to cry "Big Brother", but what it comes down to is the need for a law to make driving safer. This isn't about removing the rights of humans, but rather keeping stupid people in check. If you're against this for the Big Brother reason, then you're probably also against stop signs and red lights - it's illegal to not follow these rules of the road, but they're there to help (the enforcement helps, if/when it's ever done) prevent people from doing stupid things.

Re:Its just stupid (1)

cellurl (906920) | about 5 years ago | (#29594347)

Ok here we go.
I really really really believe in the purpose of government and I refer to this in questional situations like this.
The purpose of the government is to:
Enforce contracts, provide defense, prevent monopolies and to prevent text messaging....

Re:Its just stupid (1)

daid303 (843777) | about 5 years ago | (#29594267)

I wouldn't care less if you wreck your car, wrap it around a tree for all I care. But if you hit me on my bicycle then you will have a problem. If you hit my on my bicycle and you where using your phone, well. Then you better hit me good, because I will make sure you won't use that car to drive away if I have the chance.

No need for big brother to protect you from yourself, but big brother can do a bit to help us protect us from each other. It's not a toy you are driving in, it's a large metal box going at 80Km/h. Which makes it a killing machine.

Re:Its just stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29594361)

so then all the people who have insurance--who pay into the uninsured pool--are responsible for those who dont?

the answer is no.

i live in a very large city. i have auto insurance for the one time/week i drive,etc. the rest of the time i bike. and MOST of the drivers i see are on the phone and/or texting!

no sms while driving needs to be a federal law, so there is a single standard from municipality to municipality. this should supersede states' rights, as this is first a health and safety concern, and NOT a financial concern. that said: if municipalities want to contest this: suspend all Fed. funding for state highways, etc., until 100% of municipalities comply.

Re:Its just stupid (1)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | about 5 years ago | (#29594481)

This should be handled by insurance, not Big Brother. If you wreck, you pay higher premium.

Which doesn't work, because nobody thinks they're going to wreck (probably they just don't think, period). Which would be fine if they were the only people affected by their own carelessness, but they're not.

Re:Its just stupid (2, Informative)

Trip6 (1184883) | about 5 years ago | (#29593893)

Re hands free talking, it's been proven in many studies that it's the distraction of the conversation that's the real threat over the mechanical fumbling with the dialing of the phone.

California enacted hands-free talking last year then quickly realized they forgot text messaging. They pushed a bill through quickly that also bans texting.

This is one of those "duh" issues.

Re:Its just stupid (0, Troll)

rossdee (243626) | about 5 years ago | (#29594401)

"t's been proven in many studies that it's the distraction of the conversation that's the real threat"

They should also ban passengers in cars then, if its the conversation.

And definately ban children in the back seat, they are even more distracting.

It seems that the answer is to have smaller cars with only a seat for the driver. They would also be lighter and use less fuel.

Re:Its just stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29593905)

It really doesn't matter if it is hands-free or not. It's the activity that is the problem. There are numerous studies that back this point up. I can provide citations later when I am not at work.

Re:Its just stupid (2, Funny)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | about 5 years ago | (#29594213)

Oh just pull over at a truck stop and finish your post.

Re: recent British study (2, Interesting)

MRe_nl (306212) | about 5 years ago | (#29593963)

The study showed that drivers who text and drive become more than one third slower than if they were coherent and not texting - this was compared to a person at the DUI limit or under the influence of illegal drugs. Text messaging lowered reaction time by 35 percent, while people high on marijuana slowed down 21 percent and those who were drunk slowed down by 12 percent.
On top of those findings, people reading or writing text messages drifted out of their lane more than people who were focused solely on driving. Texters also had a more difficult maintaining a safe distance from cars around them.

Around half of British drivers between the ages of 18 and 24 text while driving, the RAC Foundation said.

"When texting, drivers are distracted by taking their hand off the wheel to use their phone, by trying to read small text on the phone display and by thinking about how to write their message," said Dr. Nick Reed, TRL senior human factors researcher. "This combination of factors resulted in the impairments to reaction time and vehicle control that place the driver at a greater risk than having consumed alcohol to the legal limit for driving."

Re: recent British study (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | about 5 years ago | (#29594245)

I'd have no problem with a law that metes out the exact same (very stiff here in my jurisdiction) punishments for texting and driving as compared to driving under the influence.

Even the justifications are the same "I'm a better driver drunk/texting than all those other idiots who drive sober/undistracted."

Re:Its just stupid (1)

Zumbs (1241138) | about 5 years ago | (#29594013)

Headsets are also a distraction, as you are still concentrating on the conversation when you should be concentrating on the road. Which is why it is also illegal where I live. The fine for use of mobile phones, however, is rediculously low: ~100 Euro.

Re:Its just stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29594409)

100 Euros? Damn, that's like US$5000!!!

Re:Its just stupid (2, Informative)

MBGMorden (803437) | about 5 years ago | (#29594123)

Actually the most recent studies are showing that holding the phone versus using a hands-free device has virtually zero difference in accident rates. The research indicates that merely talking on the cell phone - not holding it - is the main contributor to accidents, which seems pretty obvious to me anyways (it seems pretty obvious that holding a phone to your ear requires a fraction of the attention and concentration that the conversation itself does).

Re:Its just stupid (1)

corbettw (214229) | about 5 years ago | (#29594191)

It's already illegal in several states, with more debating the laws. This isn't a Federal issue, so why are they even wasting time talking about it?

Re:Its just stupid (1)

zorg50 (581726) | about 5 years ago | (#29594377)

You're not only putting your concentration it, but changing your view from the street to the phone screen.

Not if you can touch-type and have a QWERTY keyboard on your phone!

Re:Its just stupid (1)

comnadzor (1647257) | about 5 years ago | (#29594399)

Yes, This isn't a Federal

Re:Its just stupid (2, Interesting)

0100010001010011 (652467) | about 5 years ago | (#29594431)

What about everything else? Makeup, Food, Kids, etc? Does the EU regulate what you can and can't do in your cars? I know Americans are different from a few countries in the regard that driving is a waste of your time and you can multitask, where other countries see driving as 'the task at hand'.

After driving German cars for most of my life, you can see that Germans use their cars to drive. I can just see the conversation now from back in the day:
Manager: Zee Americans komplain about 'cup holders'.
Engineer: Vee can not put cup holders. Vee vill spill Das Bier! Plus, How can you drink at 175 kph?
Manager: Zee Americans vant it. Zehr 'interstate' has 100 kph limit.
Engineer: Oh. Here. Perfekt cup holder for 12 oz. Plenty of fluid for zeh average human.

Before 1993 VW's didn't come with any cup holder.
1993-1999 You could fit a can of soda... but not use the ashtray.
1999+ they seem to hold some bigger cups/cans.

Compared to most American cars I've been in since the 1980s seem to be able to hold a Super Gulp 64 with ease.

Re:Its just stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29594507)

Real, working, hands-free devices that are universal for all phones need to be made more widely available before states completely ban cell talking while driving. I can see banning txting regardless... but in today's fast business world of crackberries and iclones - it's unrealistic to think that most folks will obey a ban that tells them they can't talk on the phone while driving.

Re:Its just stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29594541)

Driving can get pretty fucking boring sometimes, especially on highways.

That's why I text occasionally, at least. (Haven't had an accident yet, texting or otherwise. Knock on wood.)

Why do the states text then? (4, Interesting)

hemp (36945) | about 5 years ago | (#29593719)

At least 22 states currently text traffic conditions, emergencies, etc to motorist.

Re:Why do the states text then? (2, Informative)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | about 5 years ago | (#29593805)

Receiving a text is very different than sending one. I'll read a text or a brief email while I'm driving. It's not much different from looking down at your stereo. Actually composing a text requires that you focus both on what you want to say and hitting the proper buttons to say it.

Re:Why do the states text then? (2, Insightful)

afabbro (33948) | about 5 years ago | (#29593851)

I think you think the average idiot reads as fast as you do... Nothing like driving down the road and seeing some chick next to you mouthing each word as she holds the phone up to her face...

Re:Why do the states text then? (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | about 5 years ago | (#29594493)

A majority of the problem comes from how people hold their phones. Quite a few people I see texting seem to either have it in their lap or right up in their face.

May I suggest holding the phone at arms length right above the dashboard. Your eyes won't have to swap focus as much nor will they have to change location. It'd be about the same as a HUD.

I'm not saying it's perfect or better than no texting, but it's much better than setting it in your lap.

Re:Why do the states text then? (3, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | about 5 years ago | (#29593965)

You can also text "hands free" using let's set so double the killer delete select all.

Re:Why do the states text then? (4, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | about 5 years ago | (#29594175)

I think you're deceiving yourself here. It's actually recommended that users specifically NOT mess with their stereo while driving as that too is a major cause of accidents. Taking your eyes off the road is a bad thing. It's why so many cars now come with steering wheel mounted controls for the stereo so that you can skip tracks and such without having to reach over or take your eyes off the road.

Re:Why do the states text then? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29593869)

This can generally be a hands free operation. GPS's us this as well and they are hands free. The biggest problem is when you are 'actively' involved in a texting discussion. You can not possibly concentrate on your driving. Same is true for non-hands free phone use. I think there really ought to be a generalized restriction. I have seen people eating a meal, reading a paper or book, smoking (particularly when light up which may require 2 hands), and various out 'stupid' activities as they are driving. Tell me how holding a bowl and eating with a fork or spoon, turning the pages of a book while holding it and reading, or any of these activities are any less dangerous. The ponit here is that when you are driving you should be doing just that. If you want to do the other activities, pull over and park!. I am getting tired of being cut off or having to maneuver around people that are driving erratically while concentrating on doing something else.

Remember speed does not kill! STUPIDITY DOES!

Re:Why do the states text then? (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about 5 years ago | (#29594051)

In some countries there are major restrictions on billboards and roadside signage, including limits on size and, animation. Obviously billboards are designed to attract the drivers attention which of course distracts the drivers attention away from the road and traffic conditions.

Re:Why do the states text then? (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 5 years ago | (#29593927)

They also will probably email you the same information, that doesn't mean you should pop open a laptop while you drive down the freeway to check for traffic warnings.

Re:Why do the states text then? (2, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 5 years ago | (#29593991)

Yes and it is a good thing gone very bad.
I would love to get those texts as I am walking out to my car, stopped at a light, or when I am stopped in a traffic jam or when I am riding as a passenger in the car.
The problem is that too many people will try to read them while driving. I don't buy the idea it is no different that looking down at your radio. If you have to read your radio then you have issues.
Really folks keep your eyes on the road. Even messing with the radio should be limited to when you are stopped. I could make an exception for the radio on a mostly empty interstate since the odds of running into anybody are slime to none but even that opening leaves too much wiggle room I fear.

Obvious solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29593747)

Well there is an obvious solution to this, just make a phone that reads out whatever someone texts you, and then it transcribes what you say into a text message and sends it back. This way you can text back and forth without having to type anything!

Re:Obvious solution (1)

rxan (1424721) | about 5 years ago | (#29593841)

Voice on the Go []

Re:Obvious solution (1)

blackchiney (556583) | about 5 years ago | (#29593979)

The obvious solution is to put a 10-inch stake pointing out the steering wheel. This would not only solve texting, but a whole lot of other problems with aggressive driving. Deaths would be high the first month, but that's just Darwin cleaning up the gene pool.

Re:Obvious solution (1)

Aqualung812 (959532) | about 5 years ago | (#29594313)

Until I get impaled when some jackhole is texting behind me and I have to stop for a light, backed up traffic, etc. Jackhole hits my bumper at 70 mph and, assuming his car actually stops, my headrest hits the back of my skull at 60mph, and I die.
Darwin fails.

Dramatization (3, Informative)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 5 years ago | (#29593793)

Here's an anti-texting-and-driving PSA video I came across.

It's a dramatization, but I found it to be uncommonly disturbing. Worth watching, if for no other reason than the quality of production. []

Re:Dramatization (5, Funny)

afabbro (33948) | about 5 years ago | (#29593865)

Worth watching, if for no other reason than the quality of production.

George Lucas tricked me with that line, and I still have nightmares...

Re:Dramatization (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 5 years ago | (#29593907)

Worth watching, if for no other reason than the quality of production.

George Lucas tricked me with that line, and I still have nightmares...

I'm not sure what I saw that night. It was so dark.

Re:Dramatization (1)

cellurl (906920) | about 5 years ago | (#29593961)

R-rated for gross I imagine. No thanks. I grew up watching the "Ohio state police" gross videos in driver-training rehab so I have seen enough... They don't work. Parents, put a governor on your teens car. I will build you one....

Stupidity...overwhelming (0, Flamebait)

ZekoMal (1404259) | about 5 years ago | (#29593835)

If you're stupid enough to look at the massive scrap of metal around you, zipping around at 50 miles per hour with hundreds of other massive scraps of metal around your scrap of metal at any given time and decide to put even a scrap of your attention elsewhere, you need to be castrated.

You never need to use the phone while driving. You can pull your ass over to answer the phone, it's not that hard to take an extra 5 minutes to get to your destination. You never need to text while driving. Anyone saying otherwise is arguing semantics. Name one instant where you need to answer the phone while driving without pulling off somewhere and stopping your car that does not involve a Hollywood action movie.

Re:Stupidity...overwhelming (1)

fatboy (6851) | about 5 years ago | (#29593955)

You can pull your ass over to answer the phone, it's not that hard to take an extra 5 minutes to get to your destination.

Like pulling off to the side of the road makes it safer? I think it makes you more of a target for someone being distracted by the toddler in the back seat. At least when your driving, the difference in speed is smaller.

Re:Stupidity...overwhelming (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | about 5 years ago | (#29594089)

Yes, pulling off to the side makes it safer.

It is safer to get hit from behind by a car going 55 while you are stationary than it is to be hit head on by a car doing 55 while you are doing 55 in the opposite direction because you crossed the center line.

As someone who spends more time on the roads on a bicycle than in a car, it is safer for me that you pull over to the side and I have to stop, dismount, and walk around you than for you to hit me because you did not see me.

Re:Stupidity...overwhelming (1)

Zumbs (1241138) | about 5 years ago | (#29594117)

Unless the car driving into you comes from the opposite lane ...

Re:Stupidity...overwhelming (1)

ZekoMal (1404259) | about 5 years ago | (#29594133)

At least then it's not your fault; if someone rams into you when you're parked on the side of the road, it's because they were on the phone.

On the other hand, no one sympathizes with you if you didn't pull over because Tiffani totally went to see Twilight at the theaters and totally saw Jessi there and you just needed to know that while weaving between cars on the highway.

Re:Stupidity...overwhelming (1)

NoYob (1630681) | about 5 years ago | (#29593989)

...zipping around at 50 miles per hour...

Actually, they're doing 75 then down to 55, then they pass you at 80, then you end up passing them up ahead at 65 while they're doing 60, then they're passing you again ....while they're in the far left hand lane.

Then there are the folks who walk to their car, get in, and then dial heir phones. It as if they waited to get in their car in order to use the phone. My wife used to call me on the road. Every time she did, I would ask if there's anything important. If not, I would tell her to concentrate on the road because of the idiots on the road she has to watch out for. Sh still calls me from stop lights, but no longer when she's in traffic. BTW, this is Metro Atlanta where, I believe, has the highest per capita of morons driving - in one of the worst commutes in the country. I think only LA has us beat.

Re:Stupidity...overwhelming (1)

ElSupreme (1217088) | about 5 years ago | (#29594379)

+1 for Atlanta having idiots driving. But you also don't have do deal with the 30mph Town Car of Doom that everyone in Florida has to deal with.The only time I have almost been at fault in a serious accident (over 5mph) was when driving 80 (in a 70) on I75 from Tampa to Sarasota, mid day on a weekday, empty interstate and almost rear ended some 90 year olds going ~35mph in the left (of 3) lanes. I saw them way out in front, and took a bite or changed the radio or something. Next thing i knew I was panic swerving into the middle lane to avoid a rear end collision.

But that was off topic. Really why does 'holding' a phone cause accidents? It doesn't your blue tooth is probably more dangerous because the sound quality goes to crap and you have to focus harder to decphier what the other person has said.
Don't talk and Drive! Don't text and drive! Don't read the newspaper and drive! You should DRIVE!

Re:Stupidity...overwhelming (1)

Narpak (961733) | about 5 years ago | (#29594461)

You can pull your ass over to answer the phone, it's not that hard to take an extra 5 minutes to get to your destination. You never need to text while driving.

It is essential that I drive above the speed-limit and take any incoming call/text while driving; any stop or slowdown I make cuts into my masturbation time.

Driving is risky (2, Interesting)

swb (14022) | about 5 years ago | (#29593849)

Not paying attention while driving is even riskier. Do we really need to establish a new Federal law, complete with its own bureaucracy and enforcement regime to control (another) risky behavior?

At what point will people feel "safe"?

Re:Driving is risky (1)

ZekoMal (1404259) | about 5 years ago | (#29593879)

I'll feel safe when no one has arms anymore. Just have 'em lopped off at birth and you get robotic arms attached only after passing twenty seven complicated common sense tests. That way the morons that cause these safety laws to be required don't stand a damn chance of getting voted in to congress anymore. Maybe we can make a similar method for breeding, too...

Re:Driving is risky (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | about 5 years ago | (#29594215)

Four things will make me feel safe:

1) Make the driving tests harder. Many people are simply bad at controlling a vehicle. If more than 75% are passing the test, it is too easy.

2) Make the punishment for a DUI conviction an automatic 5 year suspension. Make the punishment for a second DUI conviction a suspension forever.

3) Make hit and run an automatic felony.

4) Make people pay attention. Two hands on the wheel except to shift and control lights and wipers. And get the damn radio control buttons off of the steering wheel.

Re:Driving is risky (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | about 5 years ago | (#29594321)

4) Make people pay attention. Two hands on the wheel except to shift and control lights and wipers. And get the damn radio control buttons off of the steering wheel.

Minor quibble, but radio control buttons on the steering wheel are actually safer, as the alternative is for someone to lean over and find the button, which is almost going to necessarily requiring looking at the radio. If they're on the wheel in a simplified fashion (volume up/down, and track forward/backward), then a user can generally do that by feel without having to look away from the road.

Also, I'd question whether two hands on the wheel makes any difference. Heck when I was learning to fly I instinctively put two hands on the yoke and was immediately told not to - too much pressure on the controls tends to make you go with the flow and follow pulls and such as they happen. One hand with less pressure allowed you to receive more feedback from the controls and adjust more quickly. My inclination would be to say the same could very well apply to cars.

Re:Driving is risky (1)

swb (14022) | about 5 years ago | (#29594373)

I think (1) makes a lot of sense, and I'd buy into the idea of the behind-the-wheel test involving a drive on real streets and highways for an extended distance (20 miles?). And why not it a re-test every 7 years after age 55?

The rest makes sense too, although radio controls on the steering wheel I think makes you MORE focused, not less, since you're not reaching for the controls.

Re:Driving is risky (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29594575)

Tougher punishments only work when people think they might get caught, drunk/hit-and-run drivers are probably very confident they won't (or rather, they actively avoid thinking about the possibility).

Progressivism (-1, Offtopic)

lcoscare (1121345) | about 5 years ago | (#29593867)

Big Brother is slowly limiting the activities they allow you to do. We already have a decent legal system, there is no need for more laws, if someone is found to be doing something dangerous, then let the legal system work. It starts with something simple like talking on the phone, or seat-belts, but it won't end until the gov't dictates everything you do!

Re:Progressivism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29593939)

Yeah, the can pry my cell phone from my cold dead . . . (no carrier)!

Driving While Distracted (5, Insightful)

bannerman (60282) | about 5 years ago | (#29593895)

Driving while distracted is already illegal. Telling us exactly how to do everything is not making people any more responsible. Solve the problem by applying existing law using common sense instead of making new laws that are easier to apply.

Re:Driving While Distracted (1)

bcmm (768152) | about 5 years ago | (#29594199)

Solve the problem by applying existing law using common sense instead of making new laws that are easier to apply.

Not everybody has common sense. As it stands now, I'm sure there are plenty who think they are supermen* who aren't "distracted" just because they're texting. Sure, if they cause an accident, the judge won't agree, but it's better that they've heard unequivocally that "texting and driving is illegal", and don't cause an accident in the first place. Just like the way we have drink-driving laws as well as accident-causing laws, because idiots think they can handle driving drunk.

*Nearly everybody thinks they are an "above average driver".

Re:Driving While Distracted (1)

narfman0 (979017) | about 5 years ago | (#29594385)

It's not the common sense of the driver, but the law enforcer. The law enforcer can already pull someone over if they deem it dangerous, while they probably won't pull them over while texting if it's not dangerous. Yes, I believe there are safe texting while driving scenarios, but this law rules them all out at the get-go.

Re:Driving While Distracted (1)

locallyunscene (1000523) | about 5 years ago | (#29594219)

Agreed, this is covered by existing law and it doesn't need it's own. I'm not against the law itself, but it is redundant.

Re:Driving While Distracted (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29594243)

Simple solution. Make everyone sit and watch this:

If you text while driving again after watching this you shouldn't be allowed to drive, ever.

Re:Driving While Distracted (1)

spgass (1217724) | about 5 years ago | (#29594323)

I actually support no-texting laws to bring awareness to everyone who apparently hasn't gotten the message about driving while distracted. Although, I wish in Virginia it wasn't a secondary offense [] . I suppose you could also make the argument that DWI/DUI laws aren't necessary either because that could be covered under reckless driving. Then we'd have more people thinking they could drive drunk so long as they don't drive badly.

Insert standard anti-government rant here (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29593899)

NO! NEVAR! We can't possibly put more government interference in our lives! PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY AND LIBERTY FOR ALL. If people want to text while they drive, that's THEIR RIGHT AS AN AMERICAN(tm) CITIZEN(c). If you're concerned with them losing concentration and crashing into people and killing them, well, that sounds like it's YOUR problem, and you're just going to have to DEAL with it, 'cuz I ain't gonna let this country turn into some socialist commu-terrorist state like them goddamn FROGS out in Europe!

Freedom and liberty and personal responsibility and monster trucks and AMERICA!!1!1!

Re:Insert standard anti-government rant here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29594079)

You had a great post until you mentioned monster trucks, then the trolling became obvious.

This is stupid (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 years ago | (#29593909)

It's just another loop hole insurance companies will use to not pay out claims.
Fault will be immediately assigned to the driver who was texting, there insurance won't pay, everybody is screwed...well except the insurance companies.
Just like if their is an accident and a vehical has a broken bottle of liquor fault is assigned to that vehicle EVEN IF THE DRIVER WASN'T DRINKING, and it's damn hard to get anyone to review and change the fault even with a toxicology report.

If someone is driving recklessly, give them a ticket. You can not pass laws to specifically name every way someone could drive dangerously.

OAN: isit me, or is EVERYTHING more dangerous then driving while drunk?(.08)

Re:This is stupid (-1, Flamebait)

whisper_jeff (680366) | about 5 years ago | (#29594223)

It amuses me to see you use "there" and "their" in the same post yet incorrectly each time.

Re:This is stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29594527)

ticketing a reckless driver is after-the-fact. it does not undo any consequences of the actions.

prevent the reckless driving should be the minimum responsibility of government at every single level: to equally protect all its citizens.

Scary stats- need less buttons (1)

fisch144 (1646057) | about 5 years ago | (#29593949)

Scary statistic : According to, on average a text message takes drivers focus away from the road for 4.6 seconds. AT 55 mph thats the length of a football field. Also dialing and using Ipods cause a 10 percent increase in unintentional lane changes. We need more states with Laws for hands free devices. It seems that dialing and song switching where you are focusing on buttons and dials is one of the biggest issues with driving and communicating.

Re:Scary stats- need less buttons (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | about 5 years ago | (#29594509)

If people are playing around with their iPods while driving they seriously need to get a better car stereo. My brand new one I spent a whole $100 on has iPod controls, so I use the remote (not requiring me to look at the stereo to control) and it does what I want.

Why a specific law? (1)

advocate_one (662832) | about 5 years ago | (#29593959)

Don't you have an existing one that applies, like driving without due care and consideration? []

example applications

accidents caused as a result of distractions such as smoking, changing a CD/tape or eating/drinking are likely to be prosecuted as careless driving.

are you guys subjected to the "something MUST be done" syndrome [] by your politicians as well


47. Another problem identified by a number of witnesses was what might be termed the "something must be done" syndrome. Lord Baker reflected upon the passage of the Aggravated Vehicle Taking Act in 1991 when he was Home Secretary:

"What happened was that gangs of youths would steal a car, usually a high performance car, and do the most amazing tricks with it at night to such an extent that people came and watched it as a spectator sport and the television cameras came and filmed them night after night after night ... The Chief Constables of both [the affected] authorities came to the Home Office to see me and said that something must be done. That was the birth of the aggravated vehicle taking offence" (Q 61).

48. Professor Bradley told us that "the desire to legislate rapidly may be a response to an event of current prominence in the media. It may be difficult to separate the need for rapid legislation from the government's interest in being seen to respond decisively to current issues. Critics of such legislation may argue that the government could and should have asked Parliament to legislate at a much earlier date" (p 91). Professor Dickson warned that "members of the public may feel that the government is engaging in a knee-jerk reaction so as to be seen to be 'doing something' about the incident that has just occurred, even though existing laws may be adequate to deal with that incident" (p 84). Liberty were also fearful that "the policy behind such legislation will at best be ill-thought out and at worst may be motivated by political objectives to be 'seen' to be responding to an event or judgment" (p 51). Dr Fox questioned whether "public opinion and media pressure--and public opinion is a fickle thing--would meet grounds for immediacy" (QQ 7, 9).

Re:Why a specific law? (1)

corbettw (214229) | about 5 years ago | (#29594239)

Yes, we do have those laws already. Every state in the Union has one, there's no need for a Federal crackdown. Careless driving has nothing to do with interstate commerce or any other area of the Federal government's responsibility. Color me shocked that Obama* and his team still feel the need to poke their noses into this issue, though.

Re:Why a specific law? (1)

berashith (222128) | about 5 years ago | (#29594293)

I am not sure about a due care type of law in the US. A few years back, some idiot was watching a dvd in his pickup truck and killed another driver. The specific act was not written as illegal yet, so he got off without any big charges against him. If lawyers can use this defense, then the laws are unfortunately going to have to be written out explicitly as what is not allowed to be done.

Military installations... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29593993)

We've had a policy of only hands-free phone usage on military installations since roughly 2005. I wonder why it is taking this much longer to be placed upon the civilian sector. Enforcement problems perhaps?

Good. (5, Interesting)

SCHecklerX (229973) | about 5 years ago | (#29594001)

This guy was coming right at me, crossing 2 lanes of traffic one night. Driver behind him reported that he was looking down and fumbling with a device while driving (likely texting): []

He never slowed down after hitting the bank on the opposite side of the road, and nailed the house at around 50mph.

Technical Solution (0)

Sporkinum (655143) | about 5 years ago | (#29594011)

Wouldn't this be fairly easy to address technically? With GPS in a phone it should be trivial to detect motion and prevent those functions from working.

Re:Technical Solution (2, Insightful)

jolyonr (560227) | about 5 years ago | (#29594049)

A bit damn annoying if you're on the train, or a passenger in someone else's car.

Re:Technical Solution (1)

Sporkinum (655143) | about 5 years ago | (#29594569)

The train thing should be easy enough, since train tracks don't move around and there aren't that many of them. A small table of local vectors should cover that, or make it server based. The passenger thing would be more difficult or possibly impossible. It would be nice though, to have a motion locking function for teen's cell phones that are part of a family plan.

Re:Technical Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29594571)

What, is there some other transportation that driving your own Hummer with air conditioning alone? Amazing!

Re:Technical Solution (1)

Jeian (409916) | about 5 years ago | (#29594451)

Does the word "passenger" mean anything to you?

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What is saddest (4, Insightful)

jolyonr (560227) | about 5 years ago | (#29594091)

... is that people have to be told that sending/reading text messages when driving is unsafe.

Are people really that fucking dumb these days?

Judging by the evidence above, it seems so.

So, what percentage of drivers (3, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 5 years ago | (#29594111)

The summary says that "nearly 6,000 people were killed and a half-million injured last year in vehicle crashes connected to driver distraction". What percentage of accidents was that? What percentage of people who drove last year was that? How many of those "driver distraction" cases were text messaging? For that matter, how many were from people using "mobile devices behind the wheel"? How many were changing the radio station? How many were eating something?
Texting while driving is stupid, but current laws already cover it. I am pretty sure that a ticket for reckless driving given to someone texting while driving would hold up in court.

just saying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29594147)

16% of accidents involved distracted drivers is a useless statistic. It doesn't say how many drivers at any one time are "distracted", so the effect of distraction on the likelihood of being in an accident is impossible to gauge from it.

Distracted? By What? (2, Insightful)

kalirion (728907) | about 5 years ago | (#29594149)

Opening a government meeting on auto safety, the Obama administration reported Wednesday that nearly 6,000 people were killed and a half-million injured last year in vehicle crashes connected to driver distraction, a striking indication of the dangers of using mobile devices behind the wheel.


Transportation officials said in a research report that 5,870 people were killed and 515,000 were injured last year in crashes where at least one form of driver distraction was reported. Driver distraction was involved in 16 percent of all fatal crashes in 2008.

Where did this "striking indication" come from, when the statistics given by the article do not say how many of those crashes were related to being distracted by cell phones? It could just as easily be babies in the back seat, blow jobs, etc. The point is, we don't know.

Imagine the following made up story:

Opening a government meeting on home safety, the Obama administration reported Wednesday that nearly 6,000 people were killed and a half-million injured last year in accidents around the house, a striking indication of the dangers of keeping guns in the home.

Leave it to the states (4, Insightful)

RepelHistory (1082491) | about 5 years ago | (#29594159)

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have passed laws making texting while driving illegal and seven states and the district have banned driving while talking on a handheld cell phone.

This is an example of states setting their own laws to respond to an issue that directly affects the lives of their citizens. The possibility of the federal government stepping in and usurping this power is analogous to America's situation as far as the legal drinking age goes - MADD used its lobbying power to get Congress to essentially coerce the states into following its will. Keep in mind, barring a constitutional amendment, congress lacks the power to directly affect the drinking age - hence their questionable approach (albeit one that has been upheld by the courts) of saying, "well look, states, we're not telling you you HAVE to set the drinking age at 21, but if you don't, something might happen to your federal highway funding. We're just saying, it could happen." I realize that it would be somewhat impractical for the federal government to stay limited by an extremely strict interpretation of the Constitution, but there is absolutely no reason for the national government to waste its valuable time meddling here (don't we have a health care crisis or recession or whatever that they should be dealing with?). Cell phone use, like the drinking age, is one of those areas which should not be controlled nationally - if we take away all the powers of the states to set their own laws, then what's the point of even having a federal system to begin with?

In Dash Computers (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 5 years ago | (#29594325)

And now, all the new cars are coming with these fancy IN DASH computer [] thingies with GPS and stuff, creating even MORE distractions in the car.

I can't wait till we start to see those bastards on the road.

Why don't people just call their friends? (1)

WebmasterNeal (1163683) | about 5 years ago | (#29594367)

Why are people texting while driving in the first place? You have a phone, dial your friends number and talk to them. It isn't that hard.
Also, couldn't there be some sort of voice recognition software created to solve this problem if people still want to text while driving?

In the USA speed is the only ticket... (3, Interesting)

ScottCooperDotNet (929575) | about 5 years ago | (#29594371)

...and maybe running red lights. But you'll never see existing driving-while-distracted laws enforced. So all this hullabaloo about a Federal Summit ignores the fundamental flaw in roadway policing. The cops pretty much ONLY care about the speed you're going. They never pull anyone over for violating basic rules like failing to use a turn signal, zig-zaggers who change lanes endlessly to get 3 car lengths ahead, etc. And to make it even more inane, the speed limits are arbitrary and political, rarely having a correlation to the road they are posted on.

NY Just Screwed This Up (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 5 years ago | (#29594463)

NY state just passed "tough" new laws prohibiting texting while driving. But that made the roads a lot less safe in much of the state.

Two of the most trafficy counties, Nassau and Westchester (the two suburbs right next to NYC, with millions of their own people, and millions more through commuters) already had texting prohibitions for drivers. If a cop there saw someone texting on the road, they could be pulled over just for texting, and given a pretty steep ticket. Repeat offenses quickly revoked their drivers' license.

But the new law prohibits cops from pulling them over for just texting. Cops can cite drivers for texting if they pull them over for something else (like speeding). Texting drivers are erratic, so now cops have to catch them at the few seconds every minute they actually break some other traffic law. Or catch up with them later, when the fiery crash with several victims makes it hard to find the phone as evidence. When pulling them over for weaving or something, the texting driver will have hidden the phone that was their real crime.

I'd bet that the legislators making it safer to text while driving in NY are getting paid by telcos to protect that lucrative, though suicidal, market.

Slow and Careful (1)

Maladius (1289924) | about 5 years ago | (#29594525)

It's really not that hard at all to text while driving and be safe at the same time. You just need to text very very slowly. Taking a quick glance at the phone to see where a letter is or what that word was is no more dangerous than the quick glance you take at the radio, or the speedometer, or at that colorful sign on the side of the road. The people who say "oh, but you have to concentrate on what it is you want to say in response", are kidding right? People think about all SORTS of things unrelated to the road while they're driving. No one is thinking 'road road road road, straight straight straight straight, follow lines follow lines. If you limit text writing to very brief glances at the phone, I don't see how your risk factor could be increased any beyond that created by the normal distractions of driving. The problem is with those who stop looking at the road for extended periods of time, and that's a problem that goes way beyond texting.

How about we enforce existing laws instead? (3, Insightful)

dasunt (249686) | about 5 years ago | (#29594573)

If someone was weaving all over the road while trying to shave, we wouldn't ask for a law against shaving-while-driving to be passed.

Instead we would charge that individual with some existing law against negligent driving.

Give the person a ticket. If he or she contests it, proving that the driver was weaving shouldn't be hard in this day of police vehicles with front-dash cameras. Problem solved.

Why not enforce the existing laws instead of allowing politicians to pat themselves on the back for passing a popular law that is redundant?

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