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Driver Using Two Cell Phones Gets Year-Long Driving Ban

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the gt-2-run-cops-r-bug'n-me dept.

The Courts 478

coondoggie writes "This guy is the poster-child for why cell phone use in cars should be banned in more places. According to press out of the United Kingdom, a man who was driving at 70MPH while texting on one phone and talking on another has been banned from driving for a year. Initial reports said that the driver, David Secker, was apparently using his knees to steer the car, an accusation he tried to refute in court."

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Diving with your knees is not dangerous (3, Insightful)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102188)

Unless of course you are talking on one phone and texting on another. I think there should be jail time for this behavior regardless of whether they injured someone.

Re:Diving with your knees is not dangerous (3, Funny)

preacha (1233936) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102500)

DIVING with your knees sounds pretty dangerous to me... I usually stick my arms out first when entering the water.

Re:Diving with your knees is not dangerous (1)

vgerclover (1186893) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102668)

Damn you, now I'll have to try a knee first dive on the pool once summer hits the southern hemisphere. That will raise some eyebrows.

Re:Diving with your knees is not dangerous (1)

preacha (1233936) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102712)

Just wear a helmet dude :)

Re:Diving with your knees is not dangerous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37102530)

Diving with your knees is not dangerous unless of course you are talking on one phone and texting on another.

Under what system of logic? You don't exactly have great grip or freedom of motion, if an obstacle suddenly appeared (eg. something falls off a truck and comes right at you) then you are going to have difficultly making a large swerve. Human reaction time generally is not good, increasing the time it takes from perceiving the threat and managing to actually start taking action to avoid it does not do wonders for safety.

If you want to claim that you can steer with your knees on a mostly straight stretch while you screw around with something for a few seconds then I'll let that go, this is a little beyond that.

Re:Diving with your knees is not dangerous (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102578)

I would drive with my knees for hours at a time back when I was in college, routinely traveling low-traffic Interstates, mostly just to give myself something to do.

Re:Diving with your knees is not dangerous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37102640)

I used to drive with my knees while taking crack hits!

Re:Diving with your knees is not dangerous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37102818)

... nahh. On second thought, that's too strict. Fines and bans are enough to teach most people their lesson.

Re:Diving with your knees is not dangerous (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102838)

This is nothing... I was driving from St.Louis to Springfield, Ill and I happened to look over and saw someone reading the newspaper while driving.

This kind of shit is not abnormal.

And the sad part is... (0, Troll)

IGnatius T Foobar (4328) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102198)

And the sad part is ... the nanny state will use this an example of why we "need" extremely restrictive laws regulating how and when cell phones and other devices may be used while inside a car. A couple of morons with bad habits are going to ruin it for the vast majority who know better than to take their hands off the wheel.

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37102252)

How is not using a (non hands-free kit) phone while driving "extremely restrictive"?

Re:And the sad part is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37102364)

At what point to you say enough is enough? Just because there are a few morons who abuse the privilege and put other drivers in serious danger should not prevent the rest from doing what is otherwise not that dangerous. At the extreme all phones would be banned from possession in cars if you can accept phone use should be restrictive. Schools tend to be a good example of extremes. Banning all electronics, phones, pagers, etc. A reckless driver should be stopped regardless if they pose a significant risk. If they are not driving recklessly they should not be stopped. Using a phone while driving is NOT significantly dangerous. Not any more so than the other things people do while driving. Drinking, eating, and more. Yes- people die with phones. They also have died long before phones existed. The road is not and should not be a safe zone.

Re:And the sad part is... (2)

Intropy (2009018) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102454)

The road should be made as safe as practical. Restrictions on driving habits are warranted so long as they lead to an increase of safety that exceeds by some amount the costs they instigate. I think you are probably right, though, that the costs of restricting cell phone use exceed the safety benefits.

An IQ test? (1)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102480)

What about an IQ test for drivers? What about yanking out the radio for people on the lower end of the scale?
There are some people out there who can't talk and drive at the same time. There are people who are so dumb they get their ashtray confused with the window.

Maybe we should take those people's licenses?

Re:And the sad part is... (2)

yourmommycalled (2280728) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102514)

Your starting with the false premise that it is just "a few morons". The problem is that I see talking on the phone while putting on makeup, talking on the phone and texting at least once a mile on the drive to/fromwork every day. It used to be when a you saw someone driving eracticaly the question was "is he drunken?" then it became "is he on a cell phone", now it is is he on a cell and using a tablet or second cell phone?

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102778)

Exactly. Someone driving recklessly is endangering someone no matter what. Someone who isn't driving recklessly isn't. Stop the root problem: driving recklessly. No one died because of a "distracted driver" or a "drunk driver" but they died because of a reckless driver, the person would still be dead if they were driving the same with in a completely silent car with a sober driver still driving the same way.

Re:And the sad part is... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37102286)

It's not about having your hands on the wheel. It's about having your mind on the road.

Anyone who thinks it's okay to divide their attention when they are supposed to be controlling a lethally dangerous machine surrounded by innocent bystanders is a selfish prick. If that's how you drive it's sheer dumb luck which has thus far stopped you killing someone, and that may not hold out forever.

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

Intropy (2009018) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102304)

Are you really trying to make the argument that having a conversation with someone while driving should be banned? How about listening to the radio?

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102332)

I would make the argument that any impairment past a certain level should be banned. The only arguments are about what that level should be. Someone drunk with a .45 BAC (roughly lethal level for an average person) be allowed to drive? After all, you are letting all the other distracted drivers on the road (conversations, radio, etc.).

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

Intropy (2009018) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102360)

And that is a valid point, which is why I framed it in the form of a question. But specifically take away the holding a phone portion of the distraction of talking on a phone, and you're left with just conversation. I personally think that's well on the safe enough side of the line. I think that holding the phone is on the safe side too, but not so far from the line as just talking. Drunk (I don't know about what BAC levels mean in terms of impairment) is on the too dangerous side.

Re:And the sad part is... (2)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102632)

The issue is that impairment can't be measured and the allowed minimum competency isn't set. How do you measure the impairment of a person after you've stopped them? A tired person who was asleep when the cop turned on the lights and siren could be very alert by the time they are pulled out of the car. The only solution I can think of that measures actual impairment is something in the car that monitors eye movement and such to see how often mirrors and such are checked. When they are checked less than once every 20 seconds, the driver is impaired. However, nobody could assign an actual risk to that level of impairment. And the driving skill of an unimpaired driver of minimum roadworthy skill is so low that most would think them unfit to be licensed. How is it fair to have an incompetent driver allowed with a higher risk than a good driver who is impaired by some socially undesirable (thus banned, like drinking or phones) impairment? The problem is that the politically charged issue is never about safety, but about what makes easy tickets and looks like being "tough on crime" without pissing off the majority of voters (because most voters are incompetent drivers with bad habits).

So yeah, you can word your complaints as a question so that you aren't having to put your personal opinion out for public critique. The real solution is easy to come up with and impossible to implement. Most of them require in-car monitoring of some kind. I could come up with 100 ways that would simplify the assessment of impairment and no one would want because when you focus on safely only, then you can't separate out sober and attentive incompetent drivers from those who are "impaired." But keeping incompetent drivers happy is more important than safety...

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

dougisfunny (1200171) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102816)

The easy solution is self driving cars.

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

Mycroft_VIII (572950) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102636)

Unfortunately it's more the conversation than the holding the phone that's responsible for the marked increase in accidents in cell phone conversations.
    I suspect the problem is you brain is spending a lot more power on interpolating from voice the subtle social cues we normally get from facial expressions and body posture, etc. And of course in expressing the same with voice alone.
      I RARELY if ever see someone on a cell in traffic who's not showing clear signs of distracted, and therefore dangerous, driving.
      IIRCC the impairment level is somewhere between DUI and DWI.

    Mycroft.

Re:And the sad part is... (5, Interesting)

PRMan (959735) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102700)

I think that holding the phone is on the safe side too

Actually, I used to agree with you. But since California started doing hands-free only, the number of idiots swerving around in their lane has decreased tremendously. And the only people that still do it are the ones that are still breaking the law.

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102396)

If you can manage to get your car to move with a .45 BAC, nobody should stop what you are doing, Superman.

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102512)

You obviously didn't hang out with a variety of people in college. I knew a few alcoholics, and they'd call 0.45 "warming up" or "Tuesday morning."

Re:And the sad part is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37102784)

I severely doubt that. 0.45 is very very drunk, like need to go to the hospital drunk. How do they know what their BAC was? The calculator says I would need 29 beers in 2 hours to get up to 0.45. If they were using a Breathalyzer, they would get false readings from failing to wait long enough after your last sip. My friend who was almost certainly below 0.2, blew over 0.5, because he didn't wait.

Re:And the sad part is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37102384)

Anything clinically proven to adversely impact driving safety as much as being over the limit for alcohol should be banned.

Non- interactive input into a barely utilised sensory channel or interacting with someone who pauses at junctions etc. is NOT the same thing. Are you really trying to make the argument that this guy had enough attention left over to drive with due care and attention? Is that how it sounds to you?

Can I go ahead and assume that you like to have a chat to take your mind off the road too? I'm certainly going to assume that none of your family died in any of the 1 in 4 road deaths caused by inattentive drivers.

Re:And the sad part is... (2)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102596)

Having children in the car is roughly as dangerous as having a BAC of 0.08. Or did you mean the original limits for alcohol, the ones that were actually based on where the curve changed slope?

Re:And the sad part is... (2)

KingMotley (944240) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102750)

Banning children in cars would seriously make the road safer. You could then remove all the soccer moms, SUVs, etc from the road too.

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

MasaMuneCyrus (779918) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102404)

What about changing the radio station while driving?

Re:And the sad part is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37102858)

A friend of mine seriously injured a woman because he was changing the radio station. I'm not sure if she lived or not, but he was never the same again. Found God and all that.

Re:And the sad part is... (2)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102448)

Uh, GP never said that. You're taking a reasonable position ("distracted driving is dangerous") and taking it to absurd extremes. Nobody has ever proposed banning talking or radios, to my knowledge, and pretending that's even relevant to the discussion at hand is bad debate form.

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

Intropy (2009018) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102548)

I agree that it is an absurd extreme, but I didn't take it there. I am analyzing what cause there is for banning cell phone use. The poster said, "It's not about having your hands on the wheel. It's about having your mind on the road." If you remove the distraction engendered by use of hands, what distracting features remain of using a cell phone? All I can come up is conversation. If conversation is the only salient reason, since "it's not about ... hands," to conclude that banning cell phones is warranted, then drawing such a conclusion implies that, at least in terms of distraction, banning conversation in other forms is also warranted. I'm not bringing up irrelevant topics here, and I'm not attacking a straw man.

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102590)

It's been shown repeatedly that conversing on a phone requires substantially more attention than talking to someone face-to-face.

Plus, if the person you're talking to is physically in the car, they know instantly "crap something's going on I need to shut up to let the driver focus". Hell, they might spot a potential problem before the driver does and alert them ("watch out, that moron's trying to cut you off").

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

Intropy (2009018) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102654)

Yep, another person brought that up in another fork. I buy it as a reasonable argument. I'm not sure the "watch out" argument is pertinent since the person can do that irrespective of whether he's in a conversation with you.

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

Macgrrl (762836) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102618)

Personally, I find that if I'm tired or feeling a bit under the weather, having someone talk to me beyond necessary directions, or having the radio on is MORE distractions than I can cope with. That said, if I am having that much trouble concentracting, I probably shouldn't be on the road in the first place. It generally happens on the way home from some event when I wanted to leave some time ago but my husband couldn't drag himself away yet. :(

Re:And the sad part is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37102660)

It's fallacious to compare it to a conversation that you'd have with someone in the car however. The sound quality over the phone is less than that of speaking to someone next to you, so you exert a greater amount of concentration - whether you consciously acknowledge it or not - into merely understanding what they're saying. It also becomes easier to miss subtle vocal intonations which must be reconstructed by context over the phone. Someone talking to you over the phone may even have no idea you're even driving, whereas the speaker next to you will be right there with you, and will understand any breaks or pauses in conversation caused by traffic conditions. The other passenger is also another set of eyes, which may notice something you miss, so even the lessened impact to concentration that you take is somewhat counterbalanced.

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102462)

You don't understand how infinitely more distracting than radio a conversation is ? Especially with someone not in the car with you, who doe not follow the environment's changes ?

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

Intropy (2009018) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102564)

Infinitely? If there's a numerical scale of distraction, I think calling the difference infinite is exaggeration. But, yes I recognize that conversation is certainly more distracting that listening to the radio. I'm asking where the line is.

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102554)

Are you really trying to make the argument that having a conversation with someone who is not in the car while driving should be banned?

Fixed that for you.

Nice attempt to frame the argument but this is not black and white and you conveniently missed out the two most important points.
1) The other person is not in the car and has no awareness of the situation.
2) The driver has one hand off the controls.

When someone is in the car with me, talking to me they know what I am doing and when I need to concentrate. A person on the phone has no such awareness. Secondly and more importantly, the drivers ability to turn or change gears is diminished severely due to one of the drivers hands being off the controls. If you drive a manual, you may as well just drive yourself into a telephone poll then answer your phone whilst moving.

How about listening to the radio?

If listening to the radio distracts you as much as being on the phone then yes, but I'd rather just ban dingbats who make analogies between radios and phones from holding a license as they obviously dont understand what is and isn't safe when operating a vehicle.

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

Intropy (2009018) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102602)

1 is a reasonable point. So I concede that talking to someone not in your car is slightly more distracting that talking to someone in your car. 2 is explicitly disclaimed because it's not about the hands. You bring up an interesting point, but could you please try to argue without accusing people who disagree with you of intellectual dishonesty an bringing in the ad hominems? And you completely missed the point with respect to radios.

Re:And the sad part is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37102852)

So, by that logic, parents should never drive with their children in the car. If you think a cellphone, or a radio are distracting, then you have no children. Morons behind the wheel should be fully prosecuted. legislating complete and utter silence in every vehicle is IMPOSSIBLE.

Re:And the sad part is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37102878)

Let's take a second to think about all the open roads without "innocent bystanders" throughout Canada and America where you won't see another person or car for hours.
It would be perfectly acceptable to use your cell phone (or god forbid - 2 cell phones) while traveling these roads.

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102296)

There are plenty of other examples involving death that could be used if you find this one objectionable.

http://knowledgebase.findlaw.com/kb/2011/Apr/310059.html [findlaw.com]

To me anyway the term nanny state should be reserved for use in cases where innocent bystanders are not dying.

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

Intropy (2009018) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102326)

I'm not a lawyer, and I'm not up on Massachusetts law. But I'll bet killing someone with a car due to negligence is a crime whether or not a phone is involved.

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

TheDugong (701481) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102436)

I'd rather somebody not be killed in the first place though.

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102748)

What's critical is to what degree risking others' lives with a car is a crime. The fact that they actually died is important in establishing to what degree this behaviour is risking the lives of others'.

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102550)

To me anyway the term nanny state should be reserved for use in cases where innocent bystanders are not dying.

I disagree. I don't believe in perfect solutions, and I don't believe in banning something simply because a few people abuse it (even if a few innocent bystanders die). I won't claim to know how many people really do die from using a cell phone while driving, but I was speaking in general. I'd say it's a nanny state if they ban something just because a few people use it and get hurt/hurt other people.

Re:And the sad part is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37102746)

I live in northern virginia where the people when not distracted are just as dangerous on the roads. When you take into account that these people are also not complying with traffic laws because its inconvenient to their cell phone conversation, like looking to make sure the next lane is clear, using a turn signal, etc. If they banned talking without hands free setup, or texting while driving, then a lot of issues would go away.

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

garaged (579941) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102872)

Very few people kill people, should that be unbanned?

Re:And the sad part is... (5, Informative)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102308)

You missed the point. The ban on using mobile phones while driving isn't down to people taking their hands off the wheel, it's because studies have shown that it causes drivers to take their attention away from the road, thereby causing accidents.

Yes, the extent of this particular guy's idiocy is thankfully rare, but your own apparent ignorance of the true danger of driving while using a phone only highlights the practical value of the ban (which already exists here).

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102470)

You missed the point. The ban on using mobile phones while driving isn't down to people taking their hands off the wheel, it's because studies have shown that it causes drivers to take their attention away from the road, thereby causing accidents.

So, uh, what about all the other drivers who don't pay attention to the road in the first place?

Yeah, this guy is a dumbass who probably should be banned, but I see moronic driving pretty much every day commuting to and from work and very few of the morons are using cellphones. Moronic drivers should be stopped regardless; or do you think that driving with his knees would be OK if only he wasn't talking and texting on his phones at the same time?

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102520)

Presumably you already have catch-all laws for careless driving which would cover all those things, just as we do in the UK.

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

KingMotley (944240) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102768)

Then we don't need one specifically for moronic behavior involving cell phones, do we?

Hands off steering wheel on highway seems enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37102324)

Hands off the steering wheel while driving on the highway was against the law before cheap cells phones. That existing law should be sufficient to bust the offender, no new laws required.

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102434)

I think there are studies that show the *mental* effort of holding a conversation is enough to impair a majority of drivers, regardless of where their hands are. So it's not just "a couple of morons", its a far greater percentage of the population. And these come in all shades of varying degree of impairment and judgement on when to use it, so if you allow it all, the law very quickly becomes a question of how much impairment is okay? Is it okay if I only use it at stoplights? Or put it down while merging? Will my fine be lower if I score highly on a multitasking evaluation of some sort? Is it only a problem if I cause an accident? Or if a cop looks at me funny? I think most people would argue at that point that no level of impairment is okay, which is where we are today. The hypocrisy is clear, given the amount of fatigue and drunkenness we seem to accept as normal, but that is the argument.

Of course, you're right--the factions lobbying for electromagnetic shielding in windows and velocity-based lockouts are totally misguided, since those restrict the passengers as well as the driver. But the fact is the problem is somewhat bigger than you make it sound.

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102444)

And the sad part is ... the nanny state will use this an example of why we "need" extremely restrictive laws regulating how and when cell phones and other devices may be used while inside a car. A couple of morons with bad habits are going to ruin it for the vast majority who know better than to take their hands off the wheel.

Nanny state? Really? Dude, he was driving with no hands on the wheel. I don't care if he was holding two cellphones or both your mom's boobs, the "hands-not-on-the-wheel" thing is the problem, not the exact nature of the objects in question.

And a "couple of morons with bad habits"? OK, hardly anyone -- statistically speaking -- commits murder. Just a few n'er-do-wells. Really don't need a law for such an unlikely thing. Right?

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102560)

And a "couple of morons with bad habits"? OK, hardly anyone -- statistically speaking -- commits murder. Just a few n'er-do-wells. Really don't need a law for such an unlikely thing. Right?

I'd say go after the people who hurt others. I don't think you should ban things just because a few people abuse them.

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102452)

No. Sorry, but you've got it wrong. Call it whatever dip-shit term you like, but taking people to task for willfully placing the lives of others at risk is something we should all be doing, every chance we get, including having laws against it. I'm still recovering from being rear-ended by an idiot who was fucking with his phone while driving. While my injuries were not severe, my vehicle was totaled, as was the idiot's, I suspect. I see accidents like mine, or near misses, almost every day. There is no excuse for it. None. The penalties should be on the order of those handed to drunks who chose to drive. The authorities in the U.K. got right. Good on them.

Re:And the sad part is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37102580)

Fair and unbiased.

The really sad part is... (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102458)

That you dont even have your license.

How do I know, because if you did you would know what it's like to almost be taken out by some complete dingbat talking on the phone and not watching where he's bloody well driving.

Damned right they should clamp down on this hard, IMHO they didn't come down on him hard enough, if there was ever a reason for the courts to crush someone's car this is it, and make sure the moron's phones are in the centre console.

However the saddest part is, this punishment will not stick, he'll be back on the road in a few weeks with an exemption license (whatever the UK equivalent is), the ruling overturned as being unfair or just plain driving illegally. This moron is going to kill someone and as sods law would have it, not himself and you cry "nanny state", now that is sad.

Re:The really sad part is... (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102568)

How do I know, because if you did you would know what it's like to almost be taken out by some complete dingbat talking on the phone and not watching where he's bloody well driving.

He doesn't share your opinion so therefore he must not have a license? Or, perhaps, he has a license but doesn't share your opinion.

Re:And the sad part is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37102542)

and then there is the remainder of us that know that the issue has little to do with hands. Your brain can only be doing so many things at once. Eyes on the the Road, Hands on the Wheel, and to quote Yoda, "Your mind on where you Are, what you are Doing!"

Even if you are the selfish type, and think this is for "the other guy", imagine being the driver in a horrible accident with fatalities, then wondering the rest of your life if your wife would still be alive if you had put the phone down.

Anything less than your best will haunt you the rest of your life.

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102566)

I would much rather make it merit based and treat cell phones in cars the same way we treat guns, as useful tools that are dangerous if not used properly.

You should be required to get a license or permit to use a cell phone while driving, and getting one should require passing a quiz and possibly a demonstration about how to do so safely.

As it is we already let cops and truckers use cell phones because we presume them to be competent enough not to fuck up.

Re:And the sad part is... (4, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102612)

A couple of morons with bad habits are going to ruin it for the vast majority who know better than to take their hands off the wheel.

He didn't just take his hands off the wheel - he took his eyes off the road. There is no safe way to drive without being able to see the road. Nobody that I know of considers it a good idea to have people who cannot see allowed to drive; but this person is for all intents and purposes blind while writing or reading a text message.

This is equally as dangerous to the public as driving drunk, and should be handled the same way the rest of the industrialized world handles DUI - mandatory felony for the first offense.

That said I am not aware of "nanny states" looking to use this to take away reasonable cell phone usage privileges from drivers. You can still talk on your phone, but for the sake of everyone on the road don't take your eyes off the road. Reading and writing text messages is simply not safe while driving. You can't read the newspaper while driving and expect to get away with it, there is no reason why a text message should be any different.

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

lgarner (694957) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102782)

It's always about "a couple of morons." Why do you think it's illegal to discharge a firearm in the city? You may have a range set up in your back yard and never miss the target of go over the wall, but you can be there's "a couple of morons" who will.

Or speed limits on the highways (in most places)? Most people would probably drive fairly safely, but there's always "a couple of morons" (in this case a whole lot more than a couple) who ruin it for everyone. And the problem in both cases is that the morons don't just kill themselves, which would make the world a better place. Instead they end up hurting or killing someone else. Yes, a lot of such safety-related laws are over-reactionary and probably unnecessary, but it is the morons who bring them about.

Re:And the sad part is... (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102804)

A couple of morons? LOL. I can't figure out whether you're simply ignorant or so wrapped up in partisan politics that you can't face reality.

On days with good weather, I take my bike to work. I pay attention to what drivers near me or doing because it's a survival skill. Easily 80% of drivers who do something outrageously fucking stupid are holding a cell phone to their ear. It might even be more than that. And this is in a province where hands-free cell phones are legal, but holding one in your hand isn't. We aren't talking about one or two people. There are thousands of them, and each one is stupider than the one before.

First to say it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37102200)

Just a year?

He needs cell phones to drive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37102220)

so it should be enough to ban him from using cell phones.

Well, he's no Dale Sr. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37102226)

Dale Earnhardt Sr. drove with his knees while wiping mud off his Windshield.

And he won the race! Or something.

lol what? (1)

itchythebear (2198688) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102244)

"This guy is the poster-child for why cell phone use in cars should be banned in more places."

"was driving at 70MPH while texting on one phone and talking on another

If we have to make an abnormally stupid person a poster boy for average people, shouldn't he be the poster boy for why using multiple cell phones in a car should be banned in more places?

Re:lol what? (2)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102574)

If they really cared about dangerous behavior on the road, they wouldn't give these assholes such light sentences. It's just like with driving drunk. Why should you ever *EVER* get your license back after you've been driving drunk? At the most lenient, you should get one chance. Drive drunk and you lose your license for five years. Drive while suspended during that time and lose it forever. Drive drunk a second time and lose it forever. Drive very dangerously (putting on makeup, getting dressed, having sex, talking on two cell phones while going 70mph, texting, using a computer, etc) and lose your license for a couple years. Second time, lose it forever.

Why we give lazy, careless, dangerous people continued access to dangerous hunks of speeding metal that can repeatedly put the rest of the public in significant danger is fucking beyond me.

But, of course, that's not what will be done in this case any more than it is in others. They'll use it to springboard some bullshit authoritarian narrow-minded pandering garbage.

Re:lol what? (1)

itchythebear (2198688) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102690)

It actually might be better to just make driving tests significantly harder. And have to be retaken more often.

Re:lol what? (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102874)

It actually might be better to just make driving tests significantly harder.

I don't know what your perspective is here, but driving tests in the UK are significantly harder to pass than in the USA.

Re:lol what? (1)

vgerclover (1186893) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102780)

If they really cared about dangerous behavior on the road, they wouldn't give these assholes such light sentences. It's just like with driving drunk. Why should you ever *EVER* get your license back after you've been driving drunk? At the most lenient, you should get one chance.

Well, then the definition of drunk driving comes into play. If I had two glasses of wine on a night out, am I legally drunk? I've seen enough cars flipped over with corpses inside at night due to exhaustion/lack of sleep of the driver to firmly believe that regardless of drunkenness a lot less people should be driving than there already are. (If anybody mistakes this for me being on favour of the utter moronic and destructive practice of drunk driving, you should try and understand what I'm talking about, and not what I am not.)

Drive very dangerously (...) having sex (...)

I wouldn't want to be the one braking when getting head. Ouch!

Why we give lazy, careless, dangerous people continued access to dangerous hunks of speeding metal that can repeatedly put the rest of the public in significant danger is fucking beyond me.

I hear you brother, I hear ya.

Equal Rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37102262)

And they say men can't multitask

Car insurance is expensive for some people (5, Funny)

lucm (889690) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102264)

I used to have a coworker who complained a lot about the price of car insurance. Then at some point he complained that he could not find insurance at all. I found it bizarre because I had no problem whatsoever with car insurance and we were practically neighbours.

Apparently he was "extremely unlucky" (his words) because idiots kept stopping without warning in front of him on the street so he got in accidents all the time. Obviously these accidents had nothing to do with the fact that while driving he was also watching movies on his portable DVD because he "wanted to keep his mind busy". I also remember him submitting a bug fix from his laptop while driving.

On a completely unrelated matter: this guy recently went back to visit his hometown... in China.

Re:Car insurance is expensive for some people (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102356)

Did he ever live in Alaska? I've never had trouble with crashes, my fault or otherwise. However in Anchorage, I've been rear-ended three times. Twice while driving a bright-red Porsche 911 (the pickup truck was tall enough he completely missed my bumper and it cost his insurance company $3000 for hitting my car at under 5 mph while I was at a complete stop yielding to the fire engine).

Poster Child? (0)

Intropy (2009018) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102272)

So the poster child for the argument that cell phone use while driving should be banned is a man who successfully used two simultaneously while driving with his knees?

Re:Poster Child? (1)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102408)

If you think "didn't kill anyone before he was stopped" counts as success...

Re:Poster Child? (1)

Intropy (2009018) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102484)

If the outcomes are really binary did or did not kill anyone, then yeah, I'm going to have to go with "didn't kill anyone" being success. In the real world you can observe (or not) such things as swerving, driving over the lane markers, following another vehicle too closely, etc. None of those, happening I would call success (and maybe would allow following too closely as well since seemingly everyone does that all the time phone or not). Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence, so I can't conclude logically that none of those happened, but I suspect if they had it would have been reported.

better poster child (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37102314)

This story reminds me of a remarkable picture from failblog....
better poster child [failblog.org]

Did his car have accident avoidance system? (1)

justcauseisjustthat (1150803) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102372)

I'm curious if his car had an accident avoidance system? If the thought is TXTing is unsafe due to the accidents it cause wouldn't the new "accident avoidance systems" basically solve that?

In the end people will always do things that are distracting while driving, so the question is, how can technology solve the issue?

Subject him to some experiments... (1)

linatux (63153) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102390)

Certainly sounds like he's much more coordinated than me!!

I'm impressed (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102392)

a man who was driving at 70MPH while texting on one phone and talking on another has been banned from driving for a year.

If he managed to pull that off without crashing or injuring someone, my guess is he (would be/is) actually a fairly safe driver. I couldn't do that. Maybe they should get this guy to teach others how to actually drive. Minus the phones, of course. Couldn't possibly make most drivers worse, anyways. /p.

Re:I'm impressed (3, Informative)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102410)

Or he managed to be lucky for a while, which is far more likely.

Re:I'm impressed (3, Insightful)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102496)

If he managed to pull that off without crashing or injuring someone, my guess is he (would be/is) actually a fairly safe driver.

The fact he was caught proves he is a terrible driver, but the fact everyone around him can actually drive and was paying attention to the road is what prevented this from becoming a pileup. Someone who willingly ignores not only road rules but basic common sense should not be driving, let alone teaching other people how to drive.

People like him rarely injure themselves. It's the people they hit that get killed.

Re:I'm impressed (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102600)

I doubt it - just lucky nothing is in his way. As a pedestrian I've nearly been run over by people talking on phones and they never even noticed that I've run out of their way. On all but one occasion they were travelling at low speed and turning into driveways while talking on the phone. I gave one of those idiots nearly as big a scare as he gave me by yelling at him - he thought I'd come out of nowhere.
The other occasion was a complete tool that was speeding, talking on his phone and driving on the wrong side of the fucking road. I was halfway across and out of his way so it probably doesn't count, but it was very clear that he was unaware of me and probably wouldn't have noticed me until impact if I was in the way.
There's no easy way to put it - if you think you can do anything on the road that you couldn't do asleep while talking on the phone then you really do not know how to operate a vehicle. Various studies have shown that people are really crap at multitasking but easily deluded into thinking they are good at it (eg. the teenage homework with radio and TV experience). Even just talking and listening uses a huge amount of your brain and experiments have shown how crappy people become at even simple tasks when preoccupied (eg. one with verbal "shadowing" and very simple rat in a maze level navigation). If you've got a critical task with potential death you really don't want to fuck about with other tasks that take up a lot of your attention.

Wait a minute! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37102420)

Doesn't the second cell phone cancel out the first, leaving the driver undistracted?

What the FUCK is wrong with some people? (3, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102562)

The fact that some people are stupid enough to think that they can safely drive when they are not looking at the road is utterly ridiculous. These people should not be given their licenses back, because they won't learn. Some time ago I mentioned in a journal entry here a similar dipshit who did a similar thing in MN [slashdot.org] - 80mph the wrong way down the road while texting. To the cop it looks like a drunk driver and from a public safety standpoint it is just as bad. Both should be mandatory felonies on the first offense.

Wrong conclusion! (0, Flamebait)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102576)

I'm *so* tired of this "ban cellphones in the car" crusade!

This guy's behavior was obviously reckless and stupid - but that doesn't mean the ANSWER is to ban the devices. I've regularly used a cellphone in my vehicle for YEARS and never really had an issue with it. I've had a total of two accidents in the last 5 years,and you know what? Both times, people rear-ended me and it was clearly not my fault whatsoever. (The first time, I simply came to a stop on a 30MPH road where a guy was making a left turn into a shopping plaza entrance and a woman behind me in her minivan didn't stop. The second time, traffic came to a sudden stop on the interstate, and I stopped in time, but a guy behind me in a pickup truck had worn tires and wasn't able to stop completely.)

I always use bluetooth hands-free kits these days, but I used to simply hold the handset in one hand and that was doable too, though admittedly slightly less safe than a hands-free kit, simply because you can't keep both hands on the wheel while holding one. I don't text while driving, since that's pretty clearly a bad idea.

This whole problem comes down to people needing to use some common sense, and perhaps needing some awareness training. One has to develop a subconscious awareness that anything related to the cellphone is of only secondary priority to driving the vehicle. EG. If I suddenly run into a difficult traffic situation, I tend to tune out the person I was talking to for a little while, to focus on the road instead. Afterwards, I'll simply apologize, telling them I had to deal with some traffic and ask if they could please repeat whatever they were saying. If I'm holding a cellphone and suddenly find it's hindering me from making a turn I need to make, I'll just let go of the phone. It's better to interrupt a phone call suddenly and have to hassle with finding where the phone fell under your seat, after you pull over to the side, than get in a wreck because you didn't want to let go of it!

I suspect if this was actually taught as part of drivers' ed, the cellphone problem would cease to be a real problem.

Re:Wrong conclusion! (4, Funny)

kamapuaa (555446) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102656)

Totally! And I've driven drunk a bunch of times (including right now) and never had any problems - drunk driving should also be legal!

Re:Wrong conclusion! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37102678)

You sound like a dangerous idiot.

Re:Wrong conclusion! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37102868)

I *DO* professional driver training. At absolutly NO point is using a phone at any time regarded as approriate. All good trainers and people that know how to drive (you dont or else you wouldnt have said what you did) know that ANY distraction while driving is not on at all.

I tell my passengers to keep it quiet, I also dont drive with a radio on. I have no gadgets. I do what I'm supposed to be doing and that's called driving.

What about the people that CAUSE ACCIDENTS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37102620)

If this guy gets his license suspended for a year for potentially causing an accident, why does someone who ACTUALLY causes an accident get nothing?

I understand the importance of preventive justice, but it seems like the person that actually causes an accident should automatically be at a higher crime than someone who potentially will cause one.

What a clever dick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37102662)

"David Secker, was apparently using his knees to steer the car, an accusation he tried to refute in court."

What a clever dick!

contortionist (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102672)

David Secker, was apparently using his knees to steer the car, an accusation he tried to refute in court.

If he did not want them to think he was driving with his knees when his hands were clearly unavailable, what the hell did he want to convince them he was using to grip the wheel ?

RTFA --wasn't just the cellphones (4, Informative)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102694)

The driver was also driving without insurance which would have helped to get the driving ban.

Indeed! (1)

J'raxis (248192) | more than 3 years ago | (#37102846)

Indeed! A person who was skillfully using two phones at once and didn't cause an an accident is certainly the "poster-child for why cell phone use in cars should be banned." Not causing an accident is clearly evidence of how, um, accident-prone cell phone use while driving makes people!
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