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The End of the Road For Texting Truckers

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the six-days-on-the-road-and-I'm-gonna-text-home-tonight dept.

Communications 171

crimeandpunishment writes "The US Transportation Department is calling for a permanent ban on texting while driving, for interstate truck and bus drivers. An interim ban has been in place since January. The government says it is doing everything it can to make roads safer by reducing the threat of distracted drivers. The Transportation Department says nearly 6,000 people were killed and half a million injured in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2008."

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This requires federal government intervention? (1)

ThunderDan (788062) | more than 4 years ago | (#31696712)

I would have thought private companies and municipalities would have already implemented protocols prohibiting texting while driving.

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#31696736)

Reckless driving is already an offense in every state I know of. Why not just enforce that law?

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (3, Informative)

ThunderDan (788062) | more than 4 years ago | (#31696808)

That's a good point, although this way you don't have to worry about developing a common law in every state's traffic court interpreting reckless driving to include texting while driving, or run the risk of some courts not interpreting in that way.

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (1)

Al's Hat (1765456) | more than 4 years ago | (#31696818)

Your point is better...

which shows something wrong... (3, Interesting)

beh (4759) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697638)

I will side with Hatta that there are reckless driving charges - and these should be made to stick.

ThunderDan's point shows that something is wrong with the law in general, though, and that is people think more and more laws need to be added to ensure that courts can't re-interpret things in a different way.
On the other hand - the rising number of laws increases the complexity of the law in such a way that it might well require courts to make bigger or even more ridiculous judgement calls, based on different individual laws that maybe might make sense on their own, but show discrepancies when seen together.

Secondly, the constant addition of more and more laws - to clarify what is legal and what isn't - basically fucks our own 'moral compass'. How should you even begin to form a feeling what's legal and what isn't when law books become ever more complex to clarify more and more things that SHOULD be obvious to be seen as 'wrong' by even a casual observer.

Take an example - right now, it may be forbidden to specify age or gender (or physical attributes) of potential applicants in job ads.
That's all fair enough. On the other hand, I think we are approaching the situation where a company could actually place a job ad specifically to hire, say, a developer, female, age 30, at least 5'8" tall, slim, very attractive simply based on a companies attempt to support 'diversity' in its workforce (because right now, we don't have any good looking young women working for us - so we may actually be required to try and hire one, JUST so that to the outside it doesn't look like we're descriminating against good looking candidates).

Surely, this example IS exaggerated, but what has been around have been cases, where laws were created (in the name of equal opportunity), which specify a women's quota in specific jobs; and this resulted in a man being turned down for a promotion because the local administration still had too few women at the next level up. The guy had to go up all the way through the courts to get his way, after he could show that in the years before, his performance had always ranked better - but the law to 'clarify' that we need more women effectively barred him from getting ahead in his job. Is this still equal opportunity? No. The law 'requiring' the promotion of women, because there are too many men in higher positions right now, basically was a bad thing for women as well - as the promotion of a 'lower performing' women just to satisfy the quota can't be a good thing for women either - it will damage companies (which don't get to pick the best possible candidates; and it hurts women, if women in leading positions are seen as 'only having been promoted because of a law, not because of skill' - therefore enforcing the view that many women may be worse employees.

Don't get me wrong here, I am against sexual discrimination in the work place; women should not be barred from higher positions based on their gender. But they shouldn't be hired/promoted because of a law forcing it, as that would discriminate against men that might be better suited to the specific role at hand.

What we need is not more laws to 'clarify' the situation, what we need is more investment in education to fix and strengthen people's moral compasses in a way that the same kind of discrimination will not happen in the future. Or - in this case - that people KNOW any kind of distraction while driving is a bad thing, and should be considered reckless.

The only people who can really benefit from the law getting bigger, to me, seems to be lawyers, professional crooks, and rich people who might have pockets deep enough to figure out what loopholes have been created in the law, due to the addition of more laws.

Re:which shows something wrong... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31697782)

tldr

Re:which shows something wrong... (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31698058)

The phenomenon you describe - ever more specific and detailed laws - feeds off itself, because the more they do it, the more juries expect it.

So some guys playing Super Mario on his PSP when he slams his 18-wheeler into a schoolbus - the jury acquits because the law says "using a phone (for voice or text) ... watching a television ... ironing a shirt" but nothing about video games. So the law gets amended. A week later someone does the same while carving chess pieces. The law doesn't say anything about driving while doing woodwork.

Rinse and repeat.

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (2, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31696850)

because someone texting may not be appear to be driving recklessly but still be dangerous as all hell. the same goes for smoking and eating while driving.

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697006)

And the same goes for having an argument or talking about something emotional to a passenger. People look at each other all the time.

It's a question of how dangerous texting is.

Which means they need some hard counts of how many accidents involve texting specifically.

Is it 100? 200? The article throws around 6,000-- is that it?

Or is it another "all the glaciers will be gone by 2035" factoid?

I've almost T-Boned a person talking on their cell phone who pulled right out in front of me and as I'm smoking the tires to stop they panic and stop instead of continuing onwards.

But that's the only time in my life so far that cell phone usage has been a problem.

I mean- if you really want safe driving, then you put people in single passenger vehicles and don't allow them to eat or drink either.

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (2, Insightful)

evil_aar0n (1001515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697076)

I agree with the majority of your points, but if you want "safe driving," take humans out of the equation. Put "Hal" in charge of transportation and let the "system" get you there. A side benefit is that it might actually speed things up.

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (2, Funny)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697596)

Trust the computer is modded Insightful with all the recent Toyota problems? This should be modded Funny, he even mentioned putting Hal in charge

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (1)

fdragon (138768) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697674)

Trust the computer is modded Insightful with all the recent Toyota problems? This should be modded Funny, he even mentioned putting Hal in charge

I learned a long time ago, NEVER trust the computer. You don't have enough clones. Paranoia [wikipedia.org] isn't when the computer really is out to get you.

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697280)

so because there's some risks you can't control like people argueing, we shouldn't try control any of the risks at all?

there's conclusive research showing texting and talking on the phone impairs the drivers abilities. you've got one hand off the wheel and your distracted.

there's nothing wrong with just not answering the phone, pulling over or installing a hands free kit.

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697396)

I mean- if you really want safe driving, then you put people in single passenger vehicles and don't allow them to eat or drink either.

And install Cabin Voice Recorders (CVR's of this sort are not new technology), and take away the radio. No unnecessary distractions while operating a motor vehicle........

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (1)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697814)

Take away the radio? Aside from the lobbyists that will have your head from Pioneer, Sony, et al.... Wtf do you do to entertain yourself for long drives. If if didn't have the radio or aux input I'd probably end up going crazy and never reaching my destination.

Your crazy CVR idea aside, it's called OnStar and plenty of people yank them from vehicles for good reason.

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (1)

Nethead (1563) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697920)

You can take the the mic. from my ham radio from my dead, cold hands....

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697980)

I'd say about half of the near misses I've had (both as a pedestrian and a driver) have been due to the other driver yapping on the phone. Or perhaps they were just be shit drivers anyway.

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (1)

mirix (1649853) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697074)

Smoking? how do you figure?
Doesn't take much attention to smoke.

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (3, Insightful)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697082)

As any smoker/ex smoker would know, it takes more attention not to smoke.

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697300)

because they fumble around lighting the smoke in the first place, take their eyes off the road to tap off the ash and if you drop it in your lap you bounce around trying to avoid it.

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (1)

HereIAmJH (1319621) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697326)

Doesn't take much attention to smoke.

You wouldn't think so, but I had a neighbor that tried to light a cigarette while backing out of the driveway. She backed out, dropped the cigarette, put the car in drive and pulled forward while bending over to retrieve the cigarette from the passenger floorboard. 20 feet later she plowed into the back of another neighbor's car.

Driving while stupid isn't illegal yet either...

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697984)

The smoking is not the problem; its the backseat on fire that is distracting.

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (1)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697794)

Don't you take away my burrito and ganja abilities... Then I'll have to revert to checking /. on my iPhone while driving because although texting and talking is out, surfing isn't.

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (1)

blackest_k (761565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31698410)

Smoking while not good for health isn't a dangerous activity whilst driving in fact over all it is probably safer than banning it.

Your smoker driver is more likely to become irritated by smaller things whilst deprived of nicotine.
More likely to feel drowsy and fall asleep.
More likely to drive faster and less responsibly (in order to get where they are going and make up the time they lose on a cigarette break as well as boredom).
smoker is more likely to open the window getting fresh air in the car and increasing alertness.

Even eating isn't the danger you suggest it's not like your cutting up steak while driving but a bit of gum or a boiled sweet will aid concentration and minimise boredom and raise energy levels and alertness.

Typing whilst driving on a tiny phone keyboard has to be taking your eyes away from the road for significant periods of time.

Driving does not need the constant use of two hands, eating and smoking both use one hand from time to time the same as changing gear in a car with a manual gearbox.

In fact if you drive a manual you should be adept at choosing appropriate times to change gear.
Smoking and eating while driving are similar skills.

 

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (2, Insightful)

Slow Smurf (839532) | more than 4 years ago | (#31696852)

Because that's a lot harder than it sounds. If a cop pulls you over for "reckless driving" you have a chance to say it wasn't reckless because you're a just that good at driving or a variety of other subjective excuses. This can eat up court time etc.

If they pull you over for talking on a cell phone, all they have to do is testify you were talking on a cell phone. Case closed. Same reason they use radar guns.(Aren't those often required to give speeding tickets nowdays?)

Not saying it's right, but that is certainly why they do it.(along with grandstanding of course)

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697156)

They can't testify that you were texting though without pulling records from your cell phone company. I wasn't texting, I was just caressing the keyboard of my phone with my thumb. She likes it when I do that.

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (2)

tombeard (126886) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697306)

Yea, which is the problem.Here in SC the law allows the arresting officer to "inspect" the phone in question to determine if it was being used illegally. Ain't that nice.

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (1)

YeeHaW_Jelte (451855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697766)

This is why you should just make it illegal to hold the phone while driving. It's a distraction even if you are not texting, calling, emailing or whatever, just drooling over your new iPhone or whatever.

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (1)

Slow Smurf (839532) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697780)

Good point, I wasn't paying enough attention.

I just was thinking about the normal ban on cell phones. Banning just texting is down right retarded.

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (1)

Sam36 (1065410) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697364)

Because we are democrats and we like to make new laws so we can sneak extra stuff in that no one will notice. Or atleast we hope no one notices.

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31697804)

Good point. Why is driving while intoxicated a separate law, either? I understand drinking out of a bottle while driving might be distracting, but that's why I have my co pilot pour shots.

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (1)

Excelcia (906188) | more than 4 years ago | (#31696744)

Many private companies and municipalities have. However many municipalities haven't, and also many highways don't really fall under any particular municipality's jurisdiction. Should it be legal to distract yourself texting because you're in the middle of the Nevada desert, or because Backwardsville hasn't gotten around to banning it?

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31696860)

Every single state in the nation has reckless driving laws, and every portion of highway is under the jurisdiction of a peacekeeping force whether it is a local town or the highway patrol. Use those laws instead of instituting new ones and needlessly gorging our legal texts with unnecessary laws.

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (3, Insightful)

evil_aar0n (1001515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697152)

Yes, but at the same time, law-makers can say, "I took a stand against this, and voted for your safety!!!1one!" The alternative is to stand around, impotently, and say, "We _have_ laws on the books; it's tha po-lice that ain't doin' their jobs." Law-makers have to consider "Directive #1": get re-elected.

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (4, Insightful)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 4 years ago | (#31696864)

Most trucks drive on state and federal highways, so state and federal legislation makes sense.

Of course, truckers can still look up contacts, dial their phones, look up addresses and map them, download apps, and play games on their smartphones while driving. They just can't text.

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (2, Interesting)

ThunderDan (788062) | more than 4 years ago | (#31696906)

Of course, truckers can still look up contacts, dial their phones, look up addresses and map them, download apps, and play games on their smartphones while driving. They just can't text.

You raise an interesting point. Would a court be persuaded if the driver introduced their statement from their wireless carrier showing they didn't send or receive texts around the time of the citation? Or if the driver simply argues they weren't texting, can the state then pull their statement? It probably boils down to a question of state evidentiary rules and prosecuting economy, but when you can't be certain of a person's activities by simple observation, these questions inevitably arise.

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (3, Insightful)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697392)

Of course, truckers can still look up contacts, dial their phones...

He would never find time in my truck. You need both hands, feet and plenty of concentration to double-declutch through the ratios on an 18-speed Eaton Fuller gearbox while keeping the rig moving in the right direction.

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (1)

Cerium (948827) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697506)

Double-declutch? The hell is that? I can't even work a regular clutch. You, sir, have given me a new reason to appreciate truckers.

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (1)

Aranykai (1053846) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697840)

Its a technique to match input rpm to output rpm when down-shifting so you cause less strain on the gearbox.

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (2, Insightful)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697940)

He would never find time in my truck. You need both hands, feet and plenty of concentration to double-declutch through the ratios on an 18-speed Eaton Fuller gearbox while keeping the rig moving in the right direction.

Sorry, but every experienced truck driver I've ever known doesn't use the clutch except when starting and stopping. The rest of the time they do what's called floating--shifting gears without using the clutch. If you time your upshifts properly and match engine and tranny speeds on downshifts, it's a piece of cake. I do it all the time, even in my personal vehicle.

You're absolutely right about needing plenty of concentration, though. Keeping one of those fuckers on the road can be challenging in the best of times. Add in traffic or wet roads or wind or ice and snow and it's white-knuckle time. Most of the companies I've driven for have policies forbidding the use of cell phones while driving, period, and for good reason.

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#31698104)

The rest of the time they do what's called floating--shifting gears without using the clutch.

That can be fine on a gearbox with a lot of mileage on it, but it can cause a lot of wear and tear on a newer box where the tolerances are finer, and you do NOT want to fuck up a piece of machinery like that, The manufacturers fits a clutch for a reason, and it's stupid not to use it. It does, however, only need the barest touch of it to match the revs to let it "fall" into gear.

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31697064)

It doesn't matter, this law is bullshit. Nobody can tell if a truck driver is texting. This is the US, where truck cabs are 4 stories up in the air.

Re:This requires federal government intervention? (1)

ImNotAtWork (1375933) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697318)

I would have thought private companies and municipalities would have already implemented protocols prohibiting texting while driving.

Federal government sets the minimum standards for driving with CDLs. The states can be more restrictive if they wish. This has been the case since 1986. Also I know more people who are more likely to blow off a rule made by a company but would not risk breaking the law.

Learning the lessons from across the pond (1)

arielCo (995647) | more than 4 years ago | (#31696776)

Yeah, they know well how that ends up [bbc.co.uk]

Wait wut ? (1)

pawzlion (1740746) | more than 4 years ago | (#31696788)

Are you trying to tell me that people other than interstate truck or bus drivers are ALLOWED to text while driving ? That's crazy. It should be illegal for everyone, and as pointed out above, reckless driving is already an offense anyway.

But what about Teddy Bear? (1)

realmolo (574068) | more than 4 years ago | (#31696792)

His daddy died in a wreck about a month ago, and now he guesses that cell phone belongs to him and his mom.

Re:But what about Teddy Bear? (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 4 years ago | (#31696936)

Oh, fucking WONDERFUL - thank you so very very much! 35ish years to get that out of my head, and now it's back.

Re:But what about Teddy Bear? (1)

The Grand Falloon (1102771) | more than 4 years ago | (#31698228)

... What?

Just another example of the... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31696838)

Massive Federal intrusion into private industry! Not to mention denying the progress of evolution!

Truly we must resist this onerous regulation and the unfair burden presented by its unfunded mandate!

Yes, I did hear about this on Foxnews.

Re:Just another example of the... (1)

pcolaman (1208838) | more than 4 years ago | (#31696932)

Don't feed the trolls...even the anonymous ones.

Re:Just another example of the... (1)

NCTRNAL (780392) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697002)

Sorry, are you calling me a troll?

OMGPONIES (0, Offtopic)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 4 years ago | (#31696846)

April Fools! Ha-ha!

Odd... (4, Interesting)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 4 years ago | (#31696856)

I remember when truck drivers aimed for 1 million miles with no accidents, usually because it ended with a nice pretty statue, name in most of the large trucking magazines and a nice wad of cash. Well that was before the semi-licenced idiots got on the road. Carry on...carry on.

Re:Odd... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31697414)

A million accident free miles isnt all that uncommon.

A guy i used to drive with had over 3 million accident free miles.

You dont get a statue or anything, but some companies will give you a nicer truck.

On a side note... (3, Funny)

ThunderDan (788062) | more than 4 years ago | (#31696874)

...we need to address the more troubling issue; sexting while driving.

So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31696912)

How do you enforce the ban? How do they prove the driver (truck or car for that matter) was texting absent a subpoena for telephone records? If they are going that far, there has most likely been a fatality or serious injury and it would come out during the investigation anyway. If it is a smart phone and a driver is pulled over, all they have to do is claim they were changing a song, or even scrolling through their phone book. I'm all for ticketing crappy drivers, but ticket them for reckless driving. Bans such as these are silly.

Re:So what? (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697344)

book them if they were changing song or looking at their phone book. who gives a fuck they are still piloting 1 tonne of speeding metal without looking where they are going.

Re:So what? (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697424)

book them if they were changing song or looking at their phone book. who gives a fuck they are still piloting 1 tonne of speeding metal without looking where they are going.

I am pretty sure that these are more than 1-T trucks....

However by your view the truck driver who glances at the spedometer is guilty of reckless driving, right?

Re:So what? (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31698024)

your misrepresenting the situation. the driver has to glance at his speedo to tell if he is speeding. he does NOT need to be talking on his phone (without a hands free kit) while driving.

Why only truckers? (3, Insightful)

Trip6 (1184883) | more than 4 years ago | (#31696920)

All the studies show it isn't safe - it has been banned in several states. Why not everybody?

Re:Why only truckers? (2, Insightful)

ThunderDan (788062) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697042)

Since the Transportation Department (who proposed the ban) has to rely on Congressional constitutional powers, the proposed ban will only be applicable to interstate drivers, pursuant to Congress' interstate commerce regulatory power. Although for as laxly as the Supreme Court is willing to interpret commerce to be, it's not an inconceivable stretch to include texting.

Re:Why only truckers? (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697442)

Why not everybody?

Well, there's this little pesky document called the Constitution. Banning texting on the road would be about as Constitutional as a federal ban on violence against women..... I am pretty sure that would fall outside the bounds of the Commerce Clause.....

Re:Why only truckers? (1)

ProfanityHead (198878) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697686)

Why not everybody?

Well, there's this little pesky document called the Constitution. Banning texting on the road would be about as Constitutional as a federal ban on violence against women..... I am pretty sure that would fall outside the bounds of the Commerce Clause.....

BS! Remember, driving is not a right. It's a privilege. That's how they get around the Bill of Rights when they setup drunk driver roadblocks. Also, if they can pass crap like the Patriot Act, they can pretty much do anything they want until we, the people, fire them.

Re:Why only truckers? (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31698038)

so i can just beat up on women since you can't ban it?! where's my pimp cane.

Re:Why only truckers? (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697628)

First, truckers are commercial drivers, so they're being paid to drive and supposedly be good at it. Second, the are controlling 20+ tons of hurt.

Re:Why only truckers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31698238)

You friggin idiots...ban this and you just force me and everyone else to put the phone in our laps making it REALLY hard to text and drive at the same time. At least before we could hold it up in front of our view and see brake lights ahead of us. Now, I have to keep looking up and down. Stupid California banning cell phones and texting.

I usually wait for a stop light to send my texts, but now all you suckers can wait behind me when I don't move on the green ;)

How about we ban iPods too....I spend a hell of a lot of time sifting through music trying to find something to listen to.

(Correlation == Causation) = Over-regulation (1)

spmkk (528421) | more than 4 years ago | (#31696926)

"...nearly 6,000 people were killed and half a million injured in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2008."

There is a flaw in jumping to conclusions of causality with statements like this, and it's disappointing to see it repeated here on Slashdot.

The presence of a characteristic in a given scenario does not make it an influencing factor. Individual "distracting" actions are not necessarily causal factors - many of them (driving "fast", using a mobile phone, etc.) can arguably be done perfectly safely in the right circumstances. The causal factor is bad judgment: not understanding when it's prudent to slow down, when to ignore a phone call or hold off on texting in favor of driving more attentively because the situation calls for it, etc.

We do our society a disservice when we ban or try to eliminate everything that CAN be a danger if done foolishly, rather than try to redress the foolishness. It leads to needless restrictions that limit self-determination with little to no benefit [9wsyr.com] .

(Note: I do believe it's fair to say that drunk driving is a causal factor in accidents - the difference being that alcohol is a cause of bad judgment while things like driving too fast for the conditions are an effect of bad judgment.)

Re:(Correlation == Causation) = Over-regulation (2, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697014)

Can you elaborate on how you can text safely in a moving vehicle that you are driving?

I agree with your argument about other types of distraction (such as talking on the phone) but it's not a matter of correlation vs. causation. Being distracted causes your risk of being in an accident to increase. That causal link has been shown by experiments, not correlation only studies. You're correct, there are situations, and drivers, in which you're at a low risk of collision anyway and your total risk including distractions remains acceptable. Poor judgement causes you to be distracted in a bad situation, which causes you to be in an accident. The direct cause is still the distraction.

I agree, it would be best to attack the problem at the ultimate cause, not the proximate one, but unless you recall everyone's drivers license and make them take proper training and a real test, discouraging the worst forms of distraction are the only real workable solution.

Re:(Correlation == Causation) = Over-regulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31697244)

well, smartass (my teenage daugheter) texts without looking at the keypad. She only looks at the screen to read the messages. This is not a *good thing* but it is an interesting skill. So, she uses no more attention then I do talking to myself while driving. Further, it's asynchronous, which means that she has much less motivation to respond immediately then do folks who are talkign on the phone or yelling at the talk radio host.

Re:(Correlation == Causation) = Over-regulation (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697314)

Oh? Do you look at screens while you're talking to yourself while driving? And use your hand as well? Perhaps you stare at yourself in the rear view mirror while using one of your hands for, um, something else. Still sounds dangerous to me.

I'll also dispute the "asynchronous" bit. Most people I know who text are completely useless while sending a text, they're concentrating so hard on where to put their fingers, what they're going to say, spelling, whatever. Rarely do they stop in the middle because they'd lose their place. These same people manage to put their conversations on hold in order to write a text.

Re:(Correlation == Causation) = Over-regulation (4, Insightful)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697160)

can arguably be done perfectly safely in the right circumstances.

I wouldn't call luck being "perfectly safe".

Seriously, do you understand what you have to do to text while driving? You have to take your eyes off the road completely and focus most of your attention on entering your text message.

Most of your job while driving is not keeping the vehicle running down the street straight. A six year old can do that (there are a number of COPS episodes that prove that). Most of your job as a driver is making sure you are not going to run into someone else, or that someone else is not going to run into you. It doesn't take a PHD in statistics to recognize that any activity that requires your entire attention, and requires you to remove your eyes from the road, is going to prevent you from doing your job as a driver. It isn't rocket science.

I do believe it's fair to say that drunk driving is a causal factor in accidents - the difference being that alcohol is a cause of bad judgment while things like driving too fast for the conditions are an effect of bad judgment.

There are a number of studies that show your judgment while just talking on a cell phone is nearly as impaired as being drunk. Can you honestly say texting is going to be better than that?

Common sense man, you don't need a scientist to tell you everything. Correlation does not prove causation, sure, but this isn't bizzaro world where correlation proves there is no causation. Correlation is strong evidence suggesting a link, and a little common sense points out the obvious factors. Distractions cause accidents, in fact very few things cause accidents except distractions and chemical or physical impairments (i.e. drugs, alcohol, or sleep deprivation). To take something as distracting as texting and say you can't assume it causes accidents is down right idiotic.

To sum it all up, you sir, are a dumbass.

Re:(Correlation == Causation) = Over-regulation (3, Insightful)

spmkk (528421) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697422)

"Most of your job while driving is not keeping the vehicle running down the street straight. A six year old can do that"

Since we are talking about "interstate truck and bus drivers", actually it IS. And since most truckers and bus drivers are presumably more developed than a six-year-old, maybe it's not necessary to force them into highway hypnosis [wikipedia.org] by making them do nothing else at all while keeping the vehicle running down the street straight.


"Correlation is strong evidence suggesting a link, and a little common sense points out the obvious factors."

Obvious != true. It is obvious that ice cream causes skin cancer, since places where people eat more ice cream have a substantially higher incidence of skin cancer. More to the point, it is obvious that talking on the phone while driving causes more accidents. Except that it doesn't [9wsyr.com] .

No, of course we don't need a scientist to tell us everything. But we DO need to avoid the cargo-cult approach to passing laws. For most of my life I've lived in a country where we don't impose restrictions without measurable benefit merely for the sake of imposing restrictions. I would kind of like that to continue.


"To sum it all up, you sir, are a dumbass."

That was well thought-out, eloquent and appropriate. It is the kind of comment that adds value to the conversation, substantiates your point of view, and encourages others to re-evaluate theirs.

Re:(Correlation == Causation) = Over-regulation (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697542)

Most of your job while driving is not keeping the vehicle running down the street straight. A six year old can do that (there are a number of COPS episodes that prove that). Most of your job as a driver is making sure you are not going to run into someone else, or that someone else is not going to run into you. It doesn't take a PHD in statistics to recognize that any activity that requires your entire attention, and requires you to remove your eyes from the road, is going to prevent you from doing your job as a driver. It isn't rocket science.

Ok, when I used to work at Microsoft, I worked a graveyard shift four days a week and would then drive and visit my parents after working all night for three days a week. The drive was about 3.5 hours each way. More than one, I got to my destination realizing that there were significant gaps in my memory getting there (in particular I would have no memory of driving through several small towns along the way). I wasn't overly sleep deprived or to the point of falling asleep behind the wheel but driving a familiar stretch of road over and over when mentally tired from a demanding work schedule lead to a form of hypnosis and accompanying amnesia.

I bring this up because I think it gets at something important which is related to this discussion: when we are driving long distances, keeping one's entire focus on the road at all time is actually dangerous as it induces these sorts of hypnotic states. What's the first thing a hypnotist does? Get your entire attention on a focused task. Getting rid of all distractions is actually something I would be worried about. The two automobile accidents I was involved in as a driver (and the at-fault one) involved these hypnotic states.

So while I think it is dangerous to, say, grab your breakfast to eat in the car on your 15 min. drive to work, having a number of small and largely harmless distractions on the open road on a long drive may provide a net safety benefit. Currently the bans on texting and cell phone use while driving haven't lowered the accident rate. That means I will reserve the right to eat, drink coffee (or tea), talk on the speakerphone, do CD-based foreign language courses via the car stereo (no reasn to see this as functionally different from cell phone use w/hands free), etc. when I am driving long distances (more than about an hour each way). I do this in part because I think it makes me a safer driver.

CB Radio (1)

RevWaldo (1186281) | more than 4 years ago | (#31696982)

So how many deaths were attributed to CB radios at the height of their popularity? Is there a ban on using push-to-talk mics?

Re:CB Radio (2, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697044)

Surely you see the difference between texting and talking on a CB radio? If not, try it sometime. In a simulator.

Re:CB Radio (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697572)

Surely you see the difference between texting and talking on a CB radio? If not, try it sometime. In a simulator.

I think texting is inherently dangerous in a way that cell phone use is not. As for CB radio? If non-hands-free cell phone use is banned, why not ban all such radio traffic as well?

In fact, why not ban all cell phone and two-way radio entirely, and make cops pull over before they talk into them?

Re:CB Radio (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697602)

Sorry for the snark at the end.

But I do wonder how many state texting bans are written to be inappliable to, say, police officers' habits of typing (on their laptops) while driving.....

Re:CB Radio (1)

RevWaldo (1186281) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697608)

Didn't say there was/wasn't a difference. Just wondering if there was any similar moves to restrict CB radio use, after perhaps the inevitable "eighteen wheeler mows down VW Beetle full of teenagers; trucker was talking to his old lady on CB while turning onto exit ramp" story.

Re:CB Radio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31697800)

I guess it is easier to say '10-4 Rubber Ducky' vs typing it...

How about editing slashdot while driving? (4, Informative)

Zouden (232738) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697028)

This is not only a dupe of an article published 5 hours ago [slashdot.org] (still near the top of the front page), it's from the exact same submission. Perhaps samzenpus has been editing slashdot while driving and this is the result?

Re:How about editing slashdot while driving? (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697594)

Maybe it is an (early?) April Fool's Day prank.

What about taxi drivers? (1)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697110)

Some taxi companies have custom texting rigs in the cars used for receiving dispatching info and sending status updates (usually sent by pressing one of the pre-programmed buttons). "On my way." "Picked up fare." "Dropped off fare." "Off duty." "Available." "Being hijacked/robbed!" (I'm just assuming that last one's in there.) Is that kind of thing also going to be banned?

Re:What about taxi drivers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31697372)

In fact, *lots* of trucks have dispatch terminals permanently mounted in the cab -- I believe it's Globalstar that makes most of its money this way -- and yeah, the law better say whether they have to pull over to read a dispatch note.

And guess what: if they do? Your food's gonna cost more.

Sure, maybe just a penny or two here and there. But OTR truckers *already* can't get it all done in the amount of time we allot them. You make them pull over every 15 miles or so, and it's all goin' to hell.

Re:What about taxi drivers? (1)

starblazer (49187) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697418)

No. Normally when you are hitting those buttons you are stopped or just starting to move, plus they are predefined.

Apples to Oranges (0)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697124)

"Distracted driving" kills millions. That's not any indication texting is responsible for even a fraction of those, or any at all. Show me a more applicable statistic, and maybe I'll buy the "It's for the good of the children!" argument they're throwing.

Re:Apples to Oranges (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697266)

You will never see that. Why? Because no one wants to ban radios or kids in cars.

Re:Apples to Oranges (1)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 4 years ago | (#31698056)

I want to ban kids in cars. Not just juveniles, but those damned kids under 50 who can't drive properly.

but it is okay for cops (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31697264)

to talk on cell phones, type into their computer as they fucking drive anyway they want "in the name of the law"

 

tech solution (2, Insightful)

mondotom (703921) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697534)

phones traveling greater than so many feet per second are disable for texting or phone needs to be in one place for longer than so many seconds before texting is enabled

sledgehammer where you need a tackhammer (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697640)

phones traveling greater than so many feet per second are disable for texting or phone needs to be in one place for longer than so many seconds before texting is enabled.

So, you think passengers in a car or bus (or cab, or other commercial vehicle) must be prevented from texting too? Why?

Re:tech solution (1)

Rigrig (922033) | more than 4 years ago | (#31698018)

Because obviously everyone in a car/bus/train is driving it...

Re:tech solution (1)

Ponyegg (866243) | more than 4 years ago | (#31698098)

Turn all truck cabs into Faraday cages?

Aren't there already laws that cover this? (1)

dotfile (536191) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697696)

Negligent driving -- do we really need such granularity that we have a separate law for each object or activity that comes along? I always wonder whether having so many laws creates the mental masturbation that seems to be pervasive at all levels of government, or whether said mental masturbation results in such a ridiculously high number of laws and regulations.

What? (1)

colinRTM (1333069) | more than 4 years ago | (#31697896)

Maybe they should look at other, more effective road safety measures, like installing limiters for trucks that stop them exceeding 56mph (like they do in the UK).

Being overtaken by a tractor/trailer at 70+mph is quite disconcerting.

commenting with cornell university (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31697950)

From the release:

DOT and the Obama Administration are striving to increase effective public involvement in the rulemaking process and strongly encourage all parties interested in this rulemaking to visit the Regulation Room website, http://www.regulationroom.org/ [regulationroom.org]

In this rulemaking, CeRI will submit to the rulemaking docket a Summary of the discussion that occurs on the Regulation Room site; participants will have the chance to review a draft and suggest changes before the Summary is submitted. Participants who want to further develop ideas contained in the Summary, or raise additional points, will have the opportunity to collaboratively draft joint comments that will be also be submitted to the rulemaking docket before the comment period closes.

Is everything a threat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31698198)

Sheesh, they make it sound like truckers and bus drivers make their vehicles go on rampages. Don't get me wrong, I understand (and support) the idea of making people safer drivers, but the wording is a bit odd.

Notify Homeland Security (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31698220)

> nearly 6,000 people were killed and half a million injured

So distracted truckers killed and injured more people than all the terrorist attacks of the last decade.

Bin Laden must be envious.

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