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Legal Restrictions on Cellphone Use Gain Traction

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the hands-on-for-hands-free dept.

526

Carl Bialik writes "The Wall Street Journal is reporting that States are scrambling to impose tougher restrictions on cell phone use by drivers, addressing what safety experts say can be a deadly distraction. From the article: 'Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia have written legislation on the issue, mostly since 2003, [...] This year, other legislatures are tackling the subject, and two states have passed laws on it. [...] While no state has banned talking on a cell phone while driving, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Washington, D.C., have the most restrictive laws: Except in emergencies, motorists in those states can use cell phones only with hands-free devices, such as earpieces. Restrictions vary across other states. Some prohibit teenagers, bus drivers and drivers with learning permits from using cell phones -- even with earpieces.'"

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1st (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15147692)

1st post

try children (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15147701)

Anyone tried concentrating on the road with two sqabbling under-10's in the back? It's far worse than any phone conversation.

Re:try children (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15147787)

Then we need to ban children.

Re:try children (3, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147909)

Absolutely! In all seriousness, I think it should be completely illegal to leave a child on their own in the back seat. Is having someone sit in the back seat to watch them really too much to ask?

I've seen three year olds break out of restraints and jump up and down in the back seat while two adults sit in the front seat and do nothing about it except the usual "sit down" [or else]" routine.

In any case, it's very unfair to a child to take them on a long, boring trip where they are obliged to do the one thing they hate, namely, sitting still, all alone. I've seen parent dump a two month old into the back seat whilst they sit up in front and then wonder why the child is howling.

Personally, I think cars are some kind of advanced intelligence sapping device.

Re:try children (5, Informative)

unapersson (38207) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147933)

"I've seen parent dump a two month old into the back seat whilst they sit up in front and then wonder why the child is howling."

Airbags and carseats don't tend to mix very well. That's why you'll see most car seats strapped in the back.

Re:try children (3, Funny)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147945)

1) Check the rear mirror to see if nobody's tailgating you.
2) Wait up the moment they are too distracted to pay attention to you.
3) Push the brakes Really Hard.
4) Say "Shut up".

Taxi Driver (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15147705)

As a cabbie I use My cell phone daily while driving, for calling customers who are hard to find, calling the office when needed, and for the occasional 911 call. I do however use a bluetooth headset and voice dialing.

Ban annoying ring tones (2, Funny)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147707)

Anyone with a "Larry the Cableguy" ringer needs to be lynched!

Re:Ban annoying ring tones (1)

BigDogCH (760290) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147789)

Git 'er done...Git 'er done...Git 'er done...Git 'er done...Git 'er done...Git 'er done...

Okay, now I see your point.

Re:Ban annoying ring tones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15147907)

Go to Ill Will Press [illwillpress.com] and download the foamy ringtone.

"Follow the sound of my voice and kill whoever is holding the phone!"

Now install it on some annoying plicks phone ;)

Stupid drivers w/ cells (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15147708)

"The cellphone, like eating a hamburger, putting on makeup or talking to your friend in the back seat is a distraction," says William Cataldo, Macomb County chief of homicide and assistant prosecutor, who is handling the case.

I ctually saw thing dingbat once driving her gigantic SUV, putting makeup on, and talking on her cellphone. I was running beside the road and she swerved, almost hitting me!

90% of the time when I see someone doign something REALLY stupid on the road, they're on the cell!

Re:Stupid drivers w/ cells (2, Interesting)

ettlz (639203) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147763)

90% of the time when I see someone doign something REALLY stupid on the road, they're on the cell!
I agree. Most times when I've been cut up or another driver has made a major foul-up, they're chin-wagging down a mobile. Talking on a phone not only distracts you from keeping track of hazards, it compromises control of the vehicle something rotten. One wonders how some of these characters are deemed fit to roam free with such a cavalier attitude, let alone take charge of a motor vehicle.

Re:Stupid drivers w/ cells (1)

ThePhilips (752041) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147824)

Still I think ban is something too strict. I have similar experience - on both sides of the issue. I once hit other car when my sister distrubed me from the back sit. And I was hit by guy talking on cell. (Most ridiculuos part of later accident was that guy did NOT notice he hit my car - he was busy talking and guess that - he hit me *second* time. Got to remake left side completely).

I beleive that use of mobile has to be a weightening factor when accident happens. When driver gets into something while talking on cell he has to be charged twice/thrice/etc times more. IOW, similar to drunk driving.

I have friend who can multitask perfectly. He can drive car perfectly and at the same time keeping an eye on FM and talking to his friend on cell. If person *can* multitask - then why not?

Hands free? (4, Insightful)

homer_s (799572) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147709)

Except in emergencies, motorists in those states can use cell phones only with hands-free devices, such as earpieces

I thought it was the distraction of talking to someone whom you cannot see that was the problem - most drivers can steer the car with one hand.
So what now, ban drinking coffee in cars, applying lipstick while driving? After all, this also causes the driver to take one hand off the wheel.
Don't they *think* before making these laws?

Re:Hands free? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15147719)

It would be cool if you died in a fiery car crash today.

Re:Hands free? (3, Informative)

Deaths Hand (93704) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147730)

Over here in the UK, you already can be prosecuted for eating, drinking and applying makeup at the wheel, along with talking on your mobile phone without the use of a hands free kit. Most of these are covered under the catch all of "driving without due care and attention" but they have also passed a law specifically covering mobile phones.

One woman [bbc.co.uk] recently came to light in the national press

Re:Hands free? (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147734)

most drivers can steer the car with one hand.

Or with no hand at all... That's what you knees are for ;-)

ban drinking coffee in cars,

No, that one is only to protect Mc Donalds against frivolous lawsuits.

Re:Hands free? (1)

backwardMechanic (959818) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147745)

As a cyclist and pedestrian I'd say yes, ban them all. It's driving without due care. A car is a big, dangerous lump of metal. Too many drivers forget that. Are you seriously telling me you can drink coffee and keep full attention on the road at the same time? Is it really so hard to pull over, or wait 5 minutes to finish your coffee, apply your makeup, or whatever it is you have to do? Don't these drivers *think* before killing someone?

Re:Hands free? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147755)

Drinking shouldn't be illegal, but I think applying lipstick while driving is quite moronic, since you're likely to be checking yourself in the mirror, rather than paying attention to your driving.

Yes you can drive with one hand, though obviously you can steer faster with two hands than one, and in fact hold yourself back better than you could if you had to brake harshly whlie holding the phone.. handsfree kits are the sensible way to go if you need to use the phone a lot (and are kind of necessary if you have a manual transmission, unless you're going to use the same hand for the gears and steering, which isn't clever).

Re:Hands free? (3, Insightful)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147797)

handsfree kits are the sensible way to go
I actually tend to think that this is more dangerous. You see, there is actually two problems with cellphones and driving:
A. One hand is taken. That forces the driver to use a pretty uncomfortable position to be able to drive and hold the phone at the same time.
B. Talking to someone you can't see over a link that is not great. This is much harder that talking to someone in your car. And if you're really into the conversation, your reflexes are just numb.

handsfree kits are solving A while increasing B, because you don't NEED to pay attention to your driving anymore. With a real phone, you are in an uncomfortable situation, so you pay attention because it is unpleasant.

I think the only way is to just BAN any cellphone activity by the driver. Of course, that's unfortunately science fiction.

Re:Hands free? (2, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147829)

so you regularly turn to face someone in the backseat while you're having a conversation with them? I've been in a car where the handsfree kit was built in and run over the soundsystem, it worked great, probably better than trying to hear someone in the back. If you're going to ban speaking on the phone, you should ban speaking altogether to anyone in the car, and roadside adverts etc. I remember reading about an old VW advert, I think it featured an attractive young lady in lingerie, causing accidents (and I believe it, that sort of thing appearing unexpectedly can be quite distracting)

Re:Hands free? (2)

cloudmaster (10662) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147808)

Seat belts hold you back better than two hands on a flexible ring of plastic. As far as driving with two hands, this may come as a surprise, but many people have vehicles which require one hand to operate a transmission. Gonna legislate mandatory automatic transmissions now, too?

The problem is that people are incompetent, and don't take driving seriously. The combination is no good. Make it harder to get and keep a driver's license, and the problem will take care of itself - but that won't happen because Americans have this thing about admitting failure. Everyone apparently has the right to not fail at anything, ever, including driver's tests. I was just watching one of those "we follow this family around" style TV shows a day or two ago, and the kid was taking the driver's test to get his learning permit. He had to take the test 4 times before he passed, and the fourth time he *still* didn't get a perfect score. What bizarro world do I live in where it's ok to just know "most" of the rules that apply to driving? It's the *same test every time*. He had a short book with all the answers. And it took him four shots. In the interim, he managed to wreck the family's van on their farm. He should *not* be driving on the road, but in America, no one fails.

Re:Hands free? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147875)

If you read my comment you'll notice that I mention manual gears at the end. I personally dont like holding a phone when driving, yes I did it once. I probably dont actually use 2 hands very often, but was just pointing out that it's safer to do so. Yes a seatbelt can hold you back also, but for an elder or weaker person then they'd probably be better off holding themselves back than having the air knocked out of them.

Wow, thought you were talking about someone failing the practical 4 times there.. driving theory tests are insanely easy, finished mine in 4 minutes with 100% pass.. it's all 'check your mirrors first' type stuff, though now they have introduced a Hazard Perception test for UK theory tests. That still would not guarantee that a person is going to stay vigilant while driving, but I guess it's a step in the right direction

Fix the real problem (1, Informative)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147757)

Seriously, talking on a cell phone while driving by itself is not dangerous. Distracting yourself while on the road is. Drinking coffee , applying lipstick, eating a big mac, fiddling with the stereo, any or all of these can be just as distracting as yapping on a cell, or even more so.

Legislation singling out cell phones does nothing to combat the real problem - a 8am - 8pm working world where you need to squeeze the most out of every second, and damn the consequences.

What should be done is harsher peanalties in the case of accidents. Person gets into a minor fender bender because they were yapping on the phone? What happens now? A minor increase and insurance premuim, and they're back on the road. What should happen - take away their license for 3 months and send them to traffic school - they obviously don't know how to drive properly without distractions. Go after the problem drivers, rather than ticketing the guy who can hanle calling his wife via voice-dial for 15 seconds to let her know he is on the way home. He is not the threat - the threat is the 21 year old power-suit who is spending more time putting on her Chanel while looking in the rear-view than watching the road.

Re:Fix the real problem (5, Insightful)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147809)

No, you are absolutely wrong - driving while talking on the cell phone is extremely dangerous, hands-free or not. Just because you haven't been in an accident yet doesn't mean it's not dangerous. Studies have shown that it's the concentration one needs to carry on a cell conversation that causes the distraction, so hands-free doesn't even help.

It's most certainly NOT the same as drinking coffee of listening to the radio...

Your brain tunes out the radio when you need to concentrate, but it makes more effort to keep up with the conversation when you are talking... and it's worse when you're on the cell phone because you're not hearing the other person with as much clarity as you would if they were sitting next to you, so your brain has to divert even more resources to deciphering what the other person is saying.

Applying make up and doing some other things are certainly worse, because applying makeup typically requires looking in the mirror; but eating or drinking, while not completely safe, are at least safer than either make up or talking on the phone.

I'm sick of people claiming it's not dangerous because they do it and haven't had an accident. That doesn't mean it's safe! I also get annoyed when someone claims that they are a better driver while on the phone than a lot of other people who are concentrating on the road; even if it's true YOU are still a better driver while YOU are concentrating on the road.

Wrong, treat the disease, not the symptoms (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147844)

No, you are absolutely wrong - driving while talking on the cell phone is extremely dangerous, hands-free or not. Just because you haven't been in an accident yet doesn't mean it's not dangerous.

Driving while drinking coffee is extremely dangerous. Just because you haven't been in an accident yet doesn't mean it's not dangerous.**

Driving while applying make-up is extremely dangerous. Just because you haven't been in an accident yet doesn't mean it's not dangerous. p>Driving while talking to your kids in the back seat is extremely dangerous. Just because you haven't been in an accident yet doesn't mean it's not dangerous.

See how foolish this sounds yet? You can legisltae yourself to the moon and back banning specific distractions but it isn't going to eliminate them all. Bad drivers are always going to be distracted with something. The real solution is to get these bad drivers off the road and/or teach them how to not let things distract them while driving.

It's most certainly NOT the same as drinking coffee of listening to the radio...BS. I have personally been in an accident involving a person screwing around with their morning happy meal, hence my ** above. The whole "your brain tunes out the radio when you need to concentrate, but it makes more effort to keep up with the conversation when you are talking" is absolute garbage. Driving does not require concentration so much as it requires *attention*. Anything that involves you taking your eyes off the road, be it make-up, eating, radio - is **orders of magnitue** more dangerous than someone talking on a phone with their eyes *on* the road. It only takes a split second for road conditions to change, and if that split-second is the same one as when you are bending over to pick up your monring pick-me-up, you're toast.

Re:Fix the real problem (2, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147902)

"It's most certainly NOT the same as drinking coffee of listening to the radio..."

Bullshit. In both cases, you take your eyes off the road to either line up the coffee cup to your mouth OR to fiddle with the options on the stereo. You can shake your head all you like, but there were plenty of studies showing the dangers involved with both of the cases you described.

You made his point for him (1)

GuloGulo (959533) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147931)

"Studies have shown that it's the concentration one needs to carry on a cell conversation"

That's exactly what GP said. It's not the phone, it's the failure to attend to driving. The distraction, as you said.

Re:Fix the real problem (2, Insightful)

gsslay (807818) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147833)

Go after the problem drivers, rather than ticketing the guy who can hanle calling his wife via voice-dial for 15 seconds to let her know he is on the way home.

So you're suggesting that the law should be based on someone's evaluation of their own capabilities?

"I think I can handle talking on the phone while driving, therefore it's legal. It's those other scatter-brain guys who are the problem."

"I think I can have five drinks and still drive home safely, so it's legal. It's those other guys who can't handle their liquor that are the problem."

Re:Fix the real problem (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147856)

No, I think that when someone is involved in an accident, *of any magnitude*, if the cause of the accident is determined to be because the driver was not paying attention to the road, they should have their license revoked for a period of time.

There is currently no incentive for these people to change. They hit another car, their insurance goes up a few bucks, whoopdie-do, what do they care, they're loaded. Take their license away for a few months - that will change their tune.

Re:Fix the real problem (1)

RockModeNick (617483) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147911)

From what I've seen people with their license taken away keep driving anyway, and unless they do something immensely stupid aren't caught for years unless they speed...

Taking that first step to the darkside.. (1)

Inoshiro (71693) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147878)

"Go after the problem drivers, rather than ticketing the guy who can hanle calling his wife via voice-dial for 15 seconds to let her know he is on the way home. He is not the threat -"

Much like Anakin Skywalker, this person has taken the first step. 15 seconds, eh? Can't be bothered to make this call at his desk before he leaves, while walking to the car (a few minutes is many times 15 seconds over!), or while in the car, but with the car not turned on yet?

The only situation I could see this happening is if someone absolutely had to answer the phone while in the car. Myself, I ignore the phone and pull over before answering. If I can't pull over, I can call them back. Driving is the most important thing I'm doing when I'm driving (you should repeat that to yourself a few times if you don't understand it).

Re:Hands free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15147862)

"Don't they *think* before making these laws?"

Is that a trick question?

How about dialing the phone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15147886)

I bet your wonderful at doing that blindly with one hand, never taking your eyes off the road.

Right?

Because, doggone it, you can't be required to keep your attention wholly on driving a 2-ton missile? It's your right to be allowed to do something that could cause you to flatten an entire family in one fell swoop!

Because, after all, you're oh-so SPECIAL and can drive safely with all types of distractions. You're not one of those twits that get distracted while on the cell phone and drift all over the road. That's everyone else .

"distracted" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15147888)

Actually, the DC law specifies 'Distracted Driving' to allow officers to go after people eating, doing makeup, typing on blackberries, or yelling at kids in the back seat.

Re:Hands free? (1)

barzok (26681) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147903)

Don't they *think* before making these laws?
It's an election year, and it's a "hot-button" issue. They don't need to think beyond "how can I use this in my campaign?"

We already have laws covering inattentive driving, cell phone use is already covered under that. This is purely a law to help small municipalities generate revenue (it's a $100 ticket in NY, and you can't bargain it down or get the charges reduced) and get incumbents re-elected.

BTW, the one time I actually did pull to the shoulder to make/take a call because I didn't have a handsfree setup, a cop actually pulled up behind me and approached my car to find out what I was doing - despite the fact that I was obeying the letter of the law! He actually had to ask me, even though he clearly saw the phone pressed to my ear.

Re:Hands free? (1)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147904)

Perhaps one of our German friends can enlighten us, but when I was in Germany a few years ago, I seem to remember it being illegal to drive without both hands on the wheel.
Now, I know that this is just one man's anecdotal eveidence, but I have noticed that the biggest danger to me (when i am out walking, jogging or cycling) are women in giant SUVs on the phone. (My wife is one of them) I have seen other scary drivers on cells, but in my area, it is the giant SUV women who are the worst. They seem to pay NO attention, and it is hard to check your blind spots before changing lanes when you have a cell phone held to your ear.
I used to be one of those people that said NO ONE SHOULD USE A CELL WHEN DRIVING (except me!) but about a year ago I just stopped using mine behind the wheel. If I was in sales or had some job where I needed to be accesible while on the road, my tune might change, and I don't begrudge people who need to for work. But for me, there is nothing pressing enough for me to talk on the phone while driving...
I see policemen all the time driving while on the cell- but they are trained professional drivers. (I have heard operating a police radio while driving is tougher than using a cell). Same goes for truckers. I guess my point is, I can understand people who have to have business conversations behind the wheel, but I am scared sh%tless by the giant SUV cellphone women.

Sleeping and driving?!?!? (4, Insightful)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147718)

In the accident, the 20-year-old driver fell asleep while talking on the phone, crossed three lanes of traffic and hit a car driven by a 55-year-old woman, who later died. Authorities lodged what they thought was Michigan's first cellphone-related negligent-homicide charge. Later, they added drug charges, after a medical exam allegedly turned up illegal drugs in the driver's system.

Hmm, so the driver got into an accident while he was:

  • phoning
  • sleeping
  • driving
  • having drugs in the system
Incidentally, he was also breathing, and (presumably) had a good meal within the last 24 hours.

Now, in you're opinion which combination should be outlawed? Driving and Breathing? -> Don't think so!
Driving and drugs? -> Makes more sense already.
Driving and sleeping? -> Makes lots of sense!
Driving and yucking on the phone? Hmm, with all the other stuff going on here (drugs, sleep, ...) I don't really think that this accident should be hold up as an example for the dangers of driving while phoning! I don't argue that phoning may distract you, but please, if you want to illustrate that point, please use an example where there weren't any other more likely causes! If anything, the phone keeps you awake!

Re:Sleeping and driving?!?!? (1)

FhnuZoag (875558) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147733)

Maybe the phone call persuaded him to take drugs, and finally made him fall asleep?

Re:Sleeping and driving?!?!? (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147744)

Maybe the phone call persuaded him to take drugs,

Nope, he took the drugs already before.

and finally made him fall asleep?

Usually, you fall asleep from lack of distraction (long straight road, boring landscape, speed limits that are far too low...), not from too much of it.

Re:Sleeping and driving?!?!? (1)

MooUK (905450) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147838)

I think that in this case, driving and sleeping was probably the SOLE cause of the accident. If you're asleep, the distraction of a phone or any effects of the drugs on reaction time aren't going to make a difference.

Re:Sleeping and driving?!?!? (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147857)

sleeping was probably the SOLE cause of the accident.

But possibly, the sleeping was the consequence of drug abuse.

Re:Sleeping and driving?!?!? (1)

MooUK (905450) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147874)

Possibly. It could simply be tiredness, however; falling sleep from just being tired is quite a large cause of accidents.

I suppose it could even be the result of a very very boring phone call.

Without more information, it's hard to say.

I know! I know! (2, Funny)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147908)

Somebody was singing a lullaby on the phone and this catalysed the effect of the drugs and made him fall asleep! If not the phone, he wouldn't crash!

Re:Sleeping and driving?!?!? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15147949)

As someone who rides a motorcycle and / or a bicycle when it's nice I've been nearly killed by many people. You know what people who violate traffic rules and nearly kill are often doing (in order):

1) Yakking like idiots on a cell phone. (Yes this really is #1)
2) Screaming at their kids
3) Stuffing their fat faces
4) Putting on makeup
5) "Rocking / Jamming / whatever" out (mostly younger drivers)

You'd be suprised at the attention you can gather with a 120 decibel European Hi/Lo horn. Funny thing is then they act like you invaded their lane space. Cycles (motorized or not) have equal rights folks, please make sure you're looking.

Nothing New In The UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15147720)

Well this is nothing new in the UK we have had this in place for nearly a year. You can only answer your mobile phone in a car using a hands free kit. Even if you are parked and the engine is still running. And if caught you get a fine a 3 points on your licence (12 points and you loose your licence).

How is this the fault of talking on the cell? (2, Insightful)

technothrasher (689062) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147724)

In the accident, the 20-year-old driver fell asleep while talking on the phone, crossed three lanes of traffic and hit a car driven by a 55-year-old woman, who later died. Authorities lodged what they thought was Michigan's first cellphone-related negligent-homicide charge. Later, they added drug charges, after a medical exam allegedly turned up illegal drugs in the driver's system.


So this kid took drugs and fell asleep while driving, and somehow the cell phone is to blame? I think I'm confused...

Just a couple of thoughts (4, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147726)

  1. Most of us were raised on cop shows where the good guys are always driving around calling around on their radio system. Now we have our own radio system we naturally want to use it. Police no doubt have policies about these things so perhaps they should publicise them: we don't use the radio/phone while driving and you shouldn't either. Or something like that.
  2. Here in Australia it is customary for people who have serious accidents in their cars to get breath tested to see if alcohol was a contributing factor. Perhaps the police should pull the phone records of the driver (happens all the time on law and order, shouldn't be that hard to do) and charge them appropriately if they were shown to be on the phone at the time of the crash.
  3. This really comes down to distractions in cars. Whether it be the kids screaming to be taken to macdonalds or the mother in law going off about something in the back seat or that idiot guy who is always on the fucking radio. There is a lot of distraction out there. Perhaps this needs to be looked into, otherwise the narrower issue of people talking on cellphones without using an earpiece will look pretty silly.
  4. Because of insurance you can go out and do a lot of damage with a car and pretty much get away with it. You can kill someone with a car and get less time in jail than if you did it with a gun. I think that needs to change. If it did people might start taking responsibility for their actions and they might start looking where they are going when they drive their car. That would make life a lot safer for bike riders like me.

Re:Just a couple of thoughts (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147806)

You can kill someone with a car and get less time in jail than if you did it with a gun.

I think the difference here is intent. Much easier to prove intent if you point a gun at someone... afterall why do you have a gun unless you plan to use it (I live in Australia).

But, along the same lines, take two people with similar illegal levels of alcohol in their blood. They both drive home. They both run a red light. In running the red light, one of them runs down and kills a pedestrian.

Assuming both were drunk enough to not notice a pedestrian right in front of them, and it was just (bad) luck that someone was crossing at the traffic lights at that exact moment, is the one who killed the pedestrian really any more guilty than the one that didn't? Should the size of the sentence really take that 'luck' quantity into account?

I think that maybe the justice system is more focused on seeing 'justice done' rather than making the world a better place.

Re:Just a couple of thoughts (1)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147882)

"Should the size of the sentence really take that 'luck' quantity into account?"

It does. Alcohol has different level of impact on different people. One might steer clear of the pedestrian, the other did not. We'll never know if the first one would, because with that "luck" no pedestrian happened. The other certainly didn't.

One introduced certain, unknown though pretty high level of danger to the roads. He will be punished by suspending his driver and by a high fine. He will try to be more cautious and not drink next time. Due to this luck factor we just don't exactly know -how- dangerous he was. The other leaves no doubt. He was way too drunk to be able to drive safely and the known effect of his actions leaves no doubt as to sentence he deserves.

This is just blurring the "guilty/not guilty" border in case it cannot be decided, with some similarities to alleged attempted murder. Instead of pondering whether he would or wouldn't kill someone and pledge either guilty or not guilty and give full or no punishment, we assume "very likely to kill someone" and give something halfway.

Re:Just a couple of thoughts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15147873)

"You can kill someone with a car and get less time in jail than if you did it with a gun"

Uh huh. I'd wager that the difference there is that most people that kill with a gun do so with malice aforethought. Whereas most people that kill with a car do so by accident.

Killing people is bad, mmkay, but premeditated murder warrants a tougher sentence than carelessness, or do you not agree?

When do they legislate muzzling the kids? (2, Insightful)

CaptainBogus (816440) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147735)

Are these attempts to increase safety, or a puritanical knee-jerk reaction? Hard not to notice that there are not similar laws against smoking/arguing/eating/etc. while driving, http://www.misc2.com/whisper.html [misc2.com] has a scenario on how this plays out long term...

We have this law in the UK. (1)

pekoe (623399) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147740)

"In the accident, the 20-year-old driver fell asleep while talking on the phone, crossed three lanes of traffic and hit a car driven by a 55-year-old woman, who later died. Authorities lodged what they thought was Michigan's first cellphone-related negligent-homicide charge. Later, they added drug charges, after a medical exam allegedly turned up illegal drugs in the driver's system."

Besides being a bit of an inane statement, that only shows that you need to address all of the sources of negligent driving.

Here in the UK, we have restrictions of the use of cell phones whilst driving. On top of that I'd like to see:
- proactive training of people to prevent dangerous habits like tailgating, poor lane discipline etc
- better understanding of the effects of narcotics - at the moment, "don't smoke and drive" is a concept off the radar because we have a government who aren't interested in controlling drugs, just banning them (effectively burying their heads in the sand)
- more police to enforce laws - we have a 6-man squad to cover the entire Thames Valley, apparently. How the heck are they supposed to enforce a law against the use of cell phones whilst driving, when they are constantly dealing with RTAs?

At least we have plenty of "don't drive tired" signs. But it's not enough.

Re:We have this law in the UK. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15147827)

I live in the UK and have seen drivers narrowly miss hazards because they were lighting up or actually smoking and not paying full attention to the road only for them to notice in just enough time to avoid an accident.

you still get the cellphone wankers though and last year I saw a driver on a mobile phone (no hands free) overtake a marked police car and the police didn't seem to care.

A law is only as effective as the people who are put in place to enforce it.

Re:We have this law in the UK. (1)

Mark Gillespie (866733) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147896)

Actually, we only have half a law int he UK. The penalty for getting caught on your cellphone whilst driving, is a fixed penatly £30 fine, no points on your driving licence. What this means, if you are a member of the BMW/Porsche/Audi club, you can afford to get caught every day, with no problems. In the UK, they need to: a) actually ENFORCE this part of the law b) make it a 3 point on your licence offence (more than 12 = driving ban).

It's not the cellphones (5, Informative)

AtlanticGiraffe (749719) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147741)

Here in Iceland, hands-free equipment is now mandatory for drivers. It didn't seem to help at all. Later studies have showed that it's not the phone itself, but the conversation that distracts drivers. Holding the phone while talking, using an airpiece or just talking to someone that's sitting in the car with you all seems to cause the same amount of distraction for the driver.

Re:It's not the cellphones (1)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147841)

The problem is enforcement. It is very hard to detect someone is using a handsfree cell phone.

Lonely, hungry, ugly drivers... (1)

Flaming Babies (904475) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147742)

"The cellphone, like eating a hamburger, putting on makeup or talking to your friend in the back seat is a distraction," says William Cataldo, Macomb County chief of homicide and assistant prosecutor, who is handling the case.

So when are they going to pass laws outlawing drive-thru's and passengers?
Looks like there's going to be a lot of empty carpool lanes in the future.

surprising (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147743)

That's quite surprising that it's only happening now. In France, it's been for years that you can't phone while driving without a hands-free kit.

Extra legislation????? (2, Insightful)

hughk (248126) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147747)

Why introduce extra legislation?

Many countries already have offences such as Driving without Due Care and Attention. This is fairly non-specific and can be used against any driver who endangers others by performing a non-driving activity (such as having their groin scalded by superheated coffee) whilst nominally in control of a moving vehicle.

The same problem is had by those who fiddle with their GPS while driving, or even the entertainment system. Must we introduce specific legislation for each device?

It should be noted that I do agree with the clampdown which is already in place in much of Europe. Handsfree units are convenient and quite comfortable to wear now, especially the lightweight BT varieties such as the Plantronics 640 [plantronics.com] which even my wife wears without problems.

If you don't like the cost of BT, there are still wired headsets which often ship for free now or are a very low cost extra.

Re:Extra legislation????? (1)

Rydia (556444) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147815)

Because if you don't explicitly say "talking on your cell phone is illegal" people aren't going to realize that they can't talk on the phone. Remember, no one actually read the laws, so they don't know what "due care and attention" means. But when you say "we're passing an anti-cell phone law," people will actually understand that they can no longer use their cell phones.

Re:Extra legislation????? (1)

pimpimpim (811140) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147848)

The same problem is had by those who fiddle with their GPS while driving, or even the entertainment system. Must we introduce specific legislation for each device?

There's been a lot on the news lately on people being distracted by navigation systems while driving. As these things can see if you're moving or not, they could be made in such a way that they don't accept input while driving. Anyway, if people were really honest to themselves, they would see that they're not driving as good while using their other hand for other operations while they're driving, being it putting on lipstick, phoning, or typing on a notebook (one guy in holland had built a clamp for his notebook behind his steering wheel!)

So you're right, a law for using a specific device while driving is as useless as a law against licking someone's toes on a beach [msn.com] :)

Whatever (3, Funny)

wetfeetl33t (935949) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147756)

I'm fine with cell phone restrictions as long as I am still allowed to read the newspaper and watch TV while I drive.

If they are going to ban talking whilst driving.. (1)

caliph_salahuddin (695795) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147758)

.. they should really ban anything else that could cause a distraction. I still don't understand how drinking coffee while driving is acceptable, but talking on a cellphone isn't...
Not that I'm defending cellphone talkers .. with the prevalence of bluetooth/handsfree kits today there isn't much excuse to be driving with one hand and holding a cellphone with the other. I don't think a total ban on anything that could cause you distractions (radio, cellphone etc etc) is the right answer, but why would anyone be opposed to banning people from driving dangerously? I don't really care if you are talking on a cellphone and end up in a ditch .. as long as you don't take me with you.
I know a lot of people say that they've been driving for years and years and never got into an accident while talking on the cellphone but here's some food for thought:

1. How many people have been forced to take evasive action because you're too distracted to concentrate on driving and you've simply been oblivious to it?
2. How sure are you that it isn't just pure blind luck that you've need had to react in a split second to avoid a collision?
I'm not one to blindly agree with all "nanny" legislation, but some people just really are a hazard to themselves and others and if it means some nut/housewife in a 4 ton SUV doesn't swipe me while talking on the cellphone/putting on makeup so be it.

Re:If they are going to ban talking whilst driving (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15147819)

Why do people have a problem with this? It isn't the talking that is an issue; the problems are:

  • Taking your hand(s) off the wheel to hold the phone
  • Taking your eyes off the road to dial the phone

Additional idiocy such as scrabling to plug the phone into the lighter socket because it needs charging.
You want to talk to someone? Sure. Just use a hands-free kit.

Re:If they are going to ban talking whilst driving (1)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147828)

And now if you drive while holding the cup of coffee in one hand and the cell phone in the other, now THAT is distracting!

Other Cellphone restrictions (1)

querist (97166) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147759)

In South Carolina it is illegal to talk on a cell phone in a public library. Granted, I've never actually seen anyone arrested for it, but it is very clearly posted on all of the doors and in numerous places throughout the libraries.

The penalty... (2, Interesting)

gedeco (696368) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147762)

In my country:
The penalty for using a cell phone while driving is worse then the cost of a hands free set.

Pick you're choice.

Re:The penalty... (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147822)

You've missed that part about human nature that turns your statement into:

The penalty for getting caught using a cell phone while driving is worse then the cost of a hands free set.

You see, that little "getting caught" part is the real wild card. Do you pay up the $$$ up front, or take your chances that you won't be snagged by law enforcement? Here in the US, most people exceed the speed limit - some by a large amount, but on an infrequent basis. Despite the knowledge that an extra 15 or 20 mph might only get them to a local destination minutes or seconds faster, and getting pulled over will cost them at least 10 minutes (and lots of $$$), they exceed the speed limit. If I only talk on the phone once in a while, why spring for a handsfree system - I probably won't get caught.

Re:The penalty... (1)

rcamera (517595) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147840)

the cost of being caught on a cell while driving without a hands-free device in my state IS the cost of a hands-free device. you have on the order of 30 days to show the state a receipt for a hands-free device and they will drop the charge. of course, this only works the first time you're caught...

lots of emergencies in DC (1)

gray code (323372) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147767)

motorists in those states can use cell phones only with hands-free devices, such as earpieces.

I'm in DC all the time, and from the number of drivers I've seen with a phone up to their head, there must be many many emergencies happening..ALL the time. Even though there's a fairly stiff fine, people seem to ignore this law, by and large, and from what I've heard, the cops do nothing to enforce it.

Re:lots of emergencies in DC (1)

cloudmaster (10662) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147834)

Right. This'll become just another of those laws that aren't enforced, but go into the pile of "if a cop wants to ticket you for something badly enough, he can probably find something". And everyone will magically feel safer. Kinda like the law passed in IL a couple years ago making it illegal to drive in the left lane on the interstate if you're not actively passing someone. People still do it, and it never shows up in the newspaper's "police beat" section as an offense anyone was ticketed for...

Re:lots of emergencies in DC (1)

PhoenixFlare (319467) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147835)

I'm in DC all the time

Even though there's a fairly stiff fine, people seem to ignore this law, by and large, and from what I've heard, the cops do nothing to enforce it.

I think part of the reason for that might be that the laws are not as restrictive in the surrouding states - it's fairly easy to start a conversation while it's technically legal (as far as I know) to do so in Virginia, but be in DC before you finish.

Personally, i've had one situation where I got lost rather badly going somewhere in northern VA and was still on the phone trying to get directions from somebody when I crossed into DC. Definite "Oh @$#&!" moment when I happened to stop right next to a police car while wandering downtown, but the officer didn't even bat an eye.

Re:lots of emergencies in DC (1)

Nathrezim Paladin (930946) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147891)

The cops in DC talk on their phones more than the average civilian while driving. People talking on cells while driving is a small concern compared to the other infractions I see in DC. I love when people make right or left turns from the center lane and then get pissed at you for make a turn from the correct lane and cut them off. If there is one award DC deserves, it is having the worst drivers in the US. Cell phones aren't the root of the problem in DC, just an additive.

Distractions Schmaction (1)

FooMasterZero (515781) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147774)

Cell phones are hardly the problem, people who do not understand thier own limits are the problem. If cell phones are a distraction than surely someone driving with thier dog on thier lap so they can stick their head of out the driver's window isn't distracting? The list can go on and on and on about what is distracting but what is distracting to some is not distracting to others, that paticular example strikes me odd since i would see it as the most distracting.

We already have laws that enforce responsibility and accountability while driving, no more laws are nessecary in this department. Let people drive and eat, play with thier pet, goose neck at an accident, or talk on the phone if they can do so. Once they are irresponsible with driving, they will pay the consequences and blaming the distraction shouldn't be a trump card.

Re:Distractions Schmaction (1)

ettlz (639203) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147781)

Once they are irresponsible with driving, they will pay the consequences
Sadly, they often make others pay along with them.

Use a Cell Phone == Dead (1)

Ana10g (966013) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147783)

The fact that hands free devices are made legal while banning handsets will not improve safety. The IIHS discovered that the type of device used makes no difference in the statistics:
from http://www.iii.org/media/hottopics/insurance/cellp hones/ />
"Motorists who use cell phones while driving are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves, according to a study of drivers in Perth, Australia, conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The results, published in July, 2005, suggest that banning hand-held phone use won't necessarily improve safety if drivers simply switch to hands-free phones. The study found that injury crash risk didn't vary with type of phone."


Analog

The law does nothing (1)

Evro (18923) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147802)

I live in NY and there may as well not be a law. Every day I see people with their cell phone attached to their ears. And regardless of what they may say, it DOES make them drive poorly, especially when they try to make a turn at a stop light - the kind of maneuver that requires two hands. I've even seen bus drivers and cops driving with their phone to their ears. A couple of years ago I was at a stop light behind some clown in a Lincoln Navigator and I could see he was talking on his phone. The red light changed to a left-turn arrow and he stepped on the gas, plowing into the car in front of him. The first thing he did after smashing into the guy was hang up his phone, apparently he realized a bit too late that he shouldn't have been using it just then.

Anyway, I think it would be a beneficial law if it was actually observed.

Why bother? (2, Interesting)

Jeian (409916) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147803)

It's also illegal to drink and drive, and we all know how effective *those* laws are.

Cellphones almost as bad as alcohol (1)

marcybots (473417) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147804)

People who talk frequently on the cell phone are almost as bad as people who drink and drive when it comes to getting in car accidents, yet we demonize drunken drivers and act outraged when the government wants to stop people from talking on the cell phone while driving. I teach criminology and the statistics show that the rate of traffic accidents while drinking and driving is slightly higher than talking on the cellphone, meaning talking on the cellphone is really dangerous.
      I think its because people consider drinking morally wrong and something undesirable people do, but cellphones are usually work related and something upper class people do all the time, thus the outrage and reluctance to pass laws attacking their use while driving. In a word driven by objective reality, the punishment for talking on a cellphone while driving would less than drinking and driving, but would reflect the fact that its a serious threat to road saftey, so a fine on the order of speeding would not be out of line and would save thousands of lives every year. Yes, the inconvienince of you not being able to talk on your cellphone will save lives, period.

As Always... (1)

Dracophile (140936) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147811)

...enforcement is the key. In NSW, Australia, it's against the law to use a mobile phone while driving, unless you're using some sort of hands-free solution. Problem is, it never seems to be enforced. There are so many drivers hooning about with a phone surgically attached to their heads, and it really screws up their driving. If people are getting booked, it's getting just about zero public attention, and that discourages no-one from using their moby while driving.

It's just like Transit Lanes (or HOV Lanes); they're almost never policed, and they are useless as a result. You can put these feel-good laws in place, but you have to enforce them if they're to work.

The bans are useless (4, Informative)

gte910h (239582) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147813)

It's not the fact your hands are busy that makes you have an accident, it's that you're not paying attention to the road as much consciously and unconsciously.

A study that proves it [bmjjournals.com]

All the current bans are useless. We need to ban USE in the car, not USE WITHOUT A HEADSET. Hands Free doesn't help.

                        --Michael

Re:The bans are useless (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147914)

It's not the fact your hands are busy that makes you have an accident

... but the lack of blood in your brain, because with "busy hands" it's now elsewhere... [SCNR]

I do it all the time (1)

szembek (948327) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147816)

I talk on my phone, without a hands free kit every day. Hands free kits are a pain in the ass. Usually I just keep my eyes peeled for cops and if I see one I drop the phone. Once I got a ticket, but I showed the DA that I bought a hands free kit and he dropped the charge for me. Also in NY it's -phone to ear- that actually gets you the ticket. So apparently holding a CB radio in front of your face while driving a sixteen wheeler, or browsing the web on your phone is perfectly fine. It's all bullshit.

I stop in the middle of a ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15147821)

(sorry about that, just distracted by a crash on the other side) ... sentence if I'm in conversation and come to some junction or sign or heavy traffic. Just can't talk and "drive" except when the driving is simple.

TWO HANDS ON THE WHEEL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15147832)

(if you have two hands)...

No cell phones, no cheeseburgers, no eye makeup, no reading newspapers, no doing paperwork, no DVD movie watching, no drinks in hand while driving, no painting your toenails (! yes I have seen all of this in traffic !), nothing but the WHEEL.

How many people have to get bagged and toe tagged in local E.R. rooms before the government WAKES THE F' UP and makes common sense a Law?

Cell Phones and Drunk Driving (4, Funny)

zerocool^ (112121) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147836)

I'm reminded of previous stories on slashdot, fark, and others, reporting that Driving while talking on your cell phone is as dangerous as driving drunk. [allencount...ealive.org]

Of course, the first thing I thought when I saw this wasn't "Oh, wow, cell phones are dangerous". It was "Well... Driving drunk is no more dangerous than driving while talking on a cell phone, and I do that all the time!".

~Will

What about accident rates? (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147852)

I haven't seen anything about this: Have automobile accident rates climbed since cell phones become popular? I see so many people talking while driving, that I would expect accident rates would climb if the phone use was dangerous. If accident rates haven't changed, then it seems unlikely that cell phones are a problem.

Drive carefully (1)

slushbat (777142) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147853)

Driving to the office this morning on the motorway, I looked over to my right and there was a woman in a brand new BMW doing 90 miles per hour with her face up close to her rear view mirror putting on her eyeliner! I looked away for a couple of seconds and when I looked back she was halfway over in my lane still working on that make-up!! It scared me (I'm a man) so much that I dropped my electric shaver, which knocked the bacon roll out of my other hand. In all the confusion of trying to straighten out the car using my knees against the steering wheel, it knocked my mobile from my ear, which fell into the coffee between my legs, causing it to splash and burn BIG JIM AND THE ROUND TWINS, causing me to scream, which made me drop the cigarette out of my mouth, ruined my shirt and DISCONNECTED AN IMPORTANT CALL. F****NG WOMEN DRIVERS !!!!!! (From an email)

States without laws? (1)

cloudmaster (10662) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147860)

From TFA: In states without laws, a number of municipalities have passed their own local restrictions.

There are states without laws? Huh. I thought all states had at least a few anti-sodomy laws or similar on the books. But no laws at all. Weird.

In the UK (3, Informative)

ledow (319597) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147877)

The US sounds a bit behind with this one.

In the UK, for at least a year or so (probably more - my memory is flaky - there was a massive advertisement campaign from the government telling people how it was going to work for MONTHS on end, months before it became "law"), it's been illegal to operate any phone while driving - that means that the ONLY legal way to make/take a phone call in a car is with a hands-free kit that DOES NOT require the driver to push any buttons etc. to dial/recieve a call (i.e. voice activated dialling/answering with a hands-free earpiece / car stereo integration) and even that is greatly discouraged by the police.

Needless to say, there's always someone who will wedge it between their shoulder and their ear but THAT'S always been illegal in the UK as far as I know (usually charged as dangerous driving - like the woman who was booked for doing her lipstick as she drove). However, now it's a specific "rule" that it's an offence to even USE the phone in the car unless you can do so 100% without removing your hands from the full control of the wheel (i.e. without touching the phone or any hands-free component (e.g. buttons, switches, wires, etc.))

It's only common sense - look at the number of people who near-miss you every day on the roads and then count how many of them were on the phone / playing with their laptop on the passenger seat etc.

Other dangers (1)

Bega (684994) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147879)

While speaking on a cellphone while driving, without handsfree, is dangerous, speaking with a handsfree doesn't make it any less dangerous. The biggest disadvantage of not using a handsfree (naturally) is that you either (hopefully) keep your free hand on the steering wheel, or use both hands on the wheel while keeping the phone between your shoulder and ear.

The biggest disadvantage of speaking on a phone, however you do it while driving, is that your time to react to circumstances becomes alot longer than if you're not talking on a phone - whether it was handsfree or not.

Now, me being a metric whore, even if your reaction time is decreased from 0.5 seconds to say, 1 second, or even 1.5 seconds, that means that if you're doing 120kph on a highway, you've travelled over 50 metres forward during that time. That's not that much, but compared to the ~20 metres you'd get without using the phone, it's quite a difference. The best would be not to use cellphones at all while driving -- but since when have most of the people thought about that too seriously?

Great, but what about... (2, Insightful)

caudron (466327) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147885)

...all the other reasons these careless drivers cause road problems. Seriously, Cell phones are a good start, but how about addressing the hypocrisy of SUVs. A vehicle with a Gross Weight of over 3 tons gets special tax incentive for work use, so they all get claimed, but vehicles over 3 tons also get regularly banned from certain roads for being over weight limit, which these same owners pretend doesn't apply to them. Not to mention that they should require a trucker license to pilot such a beast, which they would need if the federal regulations weren't rewritten specifically to get these things into the hands of Soccor Moms everywhere.

But that's not politically safe to talk about.

How about minimum driving ages being changed? It shouldn' surprise anyone that kids under the age of 18 account for a HUGELY disporportionate piece of the accident pie. How about something like a learners permit (requiring a licensed driver in the car until 17 instead of 16. How about a restricted license (to work and back, etc...) until 18. Give these kids a chance to learn how to drive before we shove them off on their own. Seriously, now we give them a permit at 15.5 yrs and by 16 we shove em out of the driving nest to fly on their own. Them we get outraged at the damage they cause.

But that's not politically safe to talk about either.

How about some real draconian legislation to end drunk driving. If you are drinking and driving in this day and age, you, sir, are a fucktard. Seriously, have NEVER seen an afterschool special? Is your head planted so firmly in your own buttocks that you failed to hear the upteen warning shouted from every media outlet we can bring to bear on the topic? Of course not. That's why if you drink and drive, giving you any "1st offense" effect is a waste. You knew. You did it anyway. Manditory jailtime. Manditory removal of license...not restricted license, REMOVED license. It's a priviledge and you just lost it. STFU and pick up a bus schedule on the way home from the jail when you get out.

But that also is not politically safe to talk about.

How about serious legislation to curb car use in general. Something to give commuters and travellers a real alternative. People will bitch, though, because God forbid (no, literally God forbid---I mean car use is a right spelled out in the King James Bible, right?) anyone points out just how many lives are lost every year because the bar is so low on who we are willing to let careen through our neighborhoods behind the joystick of a 2+ ton screaming fast hunk of metal.

But that's DEFINATELY not politically safe to talk about.

Americans need to end their love affair with their cars.

But I guess cell phones are a good start. :-\

Tom Caudron
http://tom.digitalelite.com/ [digitalelite.com]

Good (1)

quokkapox (847798) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147887)

Talking on the phone while driving ought to be banned. It's highly distracting.

Go ahead and eat french fries, sip coffee, listen to the radio while you're driving. None of these require your undivided attention. Talking to another person who is not in the same car *is* distracting and does require some significant part of your attention. It's extremely dangerous and should be illegal. Any competent driver knows this and can corroborate this statement.

You're moving at 45 mph. Your primary mission is to drive safely, not to discuss what you're having for dinner or what your friend said to your other friend or whether you should go in for an interview with XYZ company. I see this happening all the time and it's frightening.

Idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15147889)

Just reading these comments makes me mad that there are so many stupid people in this world that think
talking on a phone is dangerous. The people that can't talk on the phone and drive are the same people
that can't drive to begin with.

Ban morons from getting licenses, leave the rest of us alone.

Where's the dramatic increase in auto accidents? (4, Informative)

sdo1 (213835) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147901)

If talking on cell phones while driving is so dangerous, then why hasn't there been a very large and dramatic increase in accident rates to go along with the dramatic increase in cell phone usage?

Answer... there hasn't been. In fact, the number of deaths continues to fall [cnn.com] in part due to safer cars, but also the number of accidents [iii.org] is falling too. Huh? I thought cell phones were such a serious problem that we have to pass laws to keep people from using them while driving? I'm sorry, but the data DOES NOT support such a conclusion. Incredible increase in cell phone usage. Small decrease in accident rates.

I just don't get it. Law makers need a boogey man to go after... to make it look like they're doing something.

It's not the phone... it's the driver. Some can handle a small level of multi-tasking... some can't. So the answer is to punish everyone and give the police something else to distract them from actually fighting crime and dealing with the truly dangerous people in our society.

-S

Re:Where's the dramatic increase in auto accidents (4, Interesting)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147926)

Frankly I'm for mandatory re-testing every 5-10 years. You get one chance to pass and if you fail you have to take a weekend or two of drivers ed and retest. Fail again and you go back in the learner permit category.

That would sufficiently piss off and scare people into ... KNOWING WHAT THE FUCK THEY ARE DOING.

I swear half of the errors I see drivers make is simply because they forgot the lessons taught in drivers ed. Like checking before switching lanes, turning into the proper lane from a turning lane, not speeding, not tailgating, etc...

Driving isn't hard once you get the feel for the wheel. It just takes vigilence to actually keep up on "10 and 2", checking the blind spots, etc, etc.

Tom

As I said in the nuclear power thread.. (1)

Gleemonex (961772) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147912)

About. Fucking. Time.

-Glee

Oh fer chrissakes (1)

DCyfer (40637) | more than 8 years ago | (#15147930)

This is nothing more than election year hot air. Truly, how many of these politicians, media-types, and others who are pushing for this sort of legislation spend half their lives on the cell phone, and driving? I'm willing to bet a large majority of them.
This is typical political stupidity of "you don't know what's best for you, we do, and we'll legislate it for you" mentality, and the problem is that people just accept it because 'it sounds good'.
I have no problem with requiring a hands free device, but what about that woman I saw putting on her lipstick in the mirror while driving? How about that idiot that I passed who was shaving in his rear-view while driving at 70mph down I-94?
The sales guy who is reading his email on his laptop in the passenger seat with a cellular modem card?
All these things are way more distracting than holding up a phone to one's ear. But perhaps we should require an IQ test prior to allowing people to purchase a cell, to keep the stupid ones who can't handle more than one thing at a time from getting them.
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