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New System Detects Calls While Driving

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the police-states dept.

Communications 421

Gary writes "Talking on your cellphone while driving isn't a crime in most states, but it should be. Studies have shown that people who drive and talk are many times more likely to have an accident. A new company is releasing a device to automatically detect drivers talking on their cell phones. Instead of police officers needing to observe a cellphone in use, the system automatically detects a cell phone call and records which car was making the call." The article is fairly light on details, but it would be interesting to see how the system differentiates from a driver talking on a cell phone versus a mere passenger.

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Sooo... (4, Funny)

Tuoqui (1091447) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532509)

Who thinks a blow up doll in the car will fool this technology?

Re:Sooo... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19532611)

A blow-up cop?

Re:Sooo... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19532613)

Better be something better than blow up.... http://realdoll.com/ [realdoll.com] Where she might help you even get out of a ticket if caught, in exchange for a favor...

Re:Sooo... (3, Interesting)

Technician (215283) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532951)

Who thinks a blow up doll in the car will fool this technology?

More important, how many without a cell phone will be tagged because they have On Star. It may take the blinking 12 o'clockers a while to figure that one out.

(Blinking 12 o'clockers, those with every VCR and microwave clocking blinking 12:00)

Re:Sooo... (1)

Robber Baron (112304) | more than 7 years ago | (#19533099)

Who thinks a blow up doll in the car will fool this technology?
Hey, if it works for HOV lanes...

Here it comes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19532529)

Brace yourselves for the flood of people who will say "Sure, *statistically* it's dangerous to talk on a cell phone and drive, but I'm an exception! Really!"

Also be on the look out for the classic "It's no worse than talking to a passenger!"

Re:Here it comes (2, Insightful)

TommydCat (791543) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532603)

How about my handsfree system?

From what I've seen, it's mainly the fact that you are holding a taco on the side of your head that requires some effort to ensure it remains there and obscures your field of vision not only by blocking one side of your head but making it difficult to turn your head and see all areas around your car. I can't count how many times I've seen someone talking on their phone on the left side of their head, making a subtle motion that they are glancing in the lane to their left, then trying to change lanes on top of me since they didn't actually look.

Driving with a taco on the side of your head has been made unlawful in many states, but handsfree systems for the most part are ok. How is this new system going to distinguish between the two?

Instead of posting something stupid like "brace yourself for a flood of comments" (DUH), why not flood us with links to statistical studies proving your inferred point?

Re:Here it comes (4, Informative)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532779)

why not flood us with links to statistical studies proving your inferred point?

I'll start. [nsc.org]

From the study:

The principal findings for this experiment are that: (a) SPs [study participants] that engaged in cell phone conversations missed twice as many simulated traffic signals as when they were not talking on the cell phone, (b) SPs took longer to react to those signals that they did detect, and (c) these deficits were equivalent for both hand-held and hands-free cell phone users.

Re:Here it comes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19532789)

wrong.

this has already been tested, moron. not only by mythbusters, but in many other studies. go google it fool.

handsfree is no better.

just means the fucking moron on his call will run you down with two hands in stead of one.

Re:Here it comes (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19533031)

Your studies are flawed. Talking to another person in the car, eating french fries, etc, is at least if not more distracting.

Hands free cell phone use is not as distracting. Just go out and try it sometime. I may sound anecdotal, but I'm right. It's like saying the sky is blue, obviously hands-free is safer than holding your arm up to your head and obstructing your vision.

I think the accident rate is more likely attributable to the fact that reckless people are more likely to use a cell phone when driving, not that cell phones are inherently more dangerous than other things done while driving.

And how many times does mythbusters need to be debunked? It's a TV show with an editorial decision made bout results. They are always very predictable.

I don't like cell phone use in the car, but this is a stupid system. How about we stop giving out tickets for speeding and use that manpower to patrol, unmarked, and videotape the really awful drivers out there. A 12 person jury could then sentence reckless drivers to a large fine and a year long driving suspension. You would see fewer road ragers and red light runners and general assholes, but people who are just being normal are fine to responsibly use the phone or speed. Assholes would be afraid to drive badly.

Too bad this doesn't give much power/money to bureaucrats.

Re:Here it comes (2, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#19533163)

Talking to another person in the car, eating french fries, etc, is at least if not more distracting.

I can't speak to eating french fries, but I do know why speaking to a passenger isn't as dangerous. The passenger is in the car with you can see things going on just as well as you can. So they're less likely to speak at inopportune times. They also tend to keep their own eyes on the road while speaking, so they can alert you if they see a danger that you don't.

Re:Here it comes (1)

GregPK (991973) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532995)

Statiscally speaking, I drive better while on the phone than not. Sure I remember in the early days when you'd make it all the way home and not even remember the drive because you were on a call. But when you drive 40k a year that half of your life you spend on the phone and drive are one in the same.

Re:Here it comes (3, Funny)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 7 years ago | (#19533021)

There was a radio breakfast show in Melbourne Australia talking to the legendary (and not very bright) Warwick Capper [wikipedia.org] who they were interviewing by phone while he was in his car. Warwick says he has to put the phone down because there is a cop up ahead and does so... you then heard the high-pitch thick aussie accent shrill of a female saying "Warrick.... I'm the one driving".

Im all for banning cellphone useage by drivers (2, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532533)

But this sounds rather invasive to me.

And what the hell is this shooting your car with paintballs? Or EMPing all your electronics? WTF?

Re:Im all for banning cellphone useage by drivers (1)

Xemu (50595) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532581)

And what the hell is this shooting your car with paintballs? Or EMPing all your electronics?

It's a joke, that is what it is.

Re:Im all for banning cellphone useage by drivers (1)

darjen (879890) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532705)

I agree... My sorta new car has a very annoying loud beeping sound if I don't have a seatbelt on when I turn the key. I always wear it, and I don't need this stupid warning. Thanks a lot, Ford. Now to figure out which wire I need to clip to disable it...

Re:Im all for banning cellphone useage by drivers (2, Informative)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532915)

In my '06 Ford Ranger, there is a complicated procedure you can follow to electronically disable the seatbelt alarm. It involves a sequence of 'fasten belt x times, etc.' and I haven't yet verified it works. But it's published in the owner's manual. Check your owner's manual. The feature might not be described (or available) in non-truck models.

Re:Im all for banning cellphone useage by drivers (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19533139)

Your car beeping at you as a reminder is far different then your car ratting out on you to the cops.

Re:Im all for banning cellphone useage by drivers (1)

ChuckSchwab (813568) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532919)

I think camping the passing lane or rear-ending someone at a light is even more invasive.

it's just a hidden tax (0, Flamebait)

apt_user (812814) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532565)

Speeding tickets are more about shaving the sheep (taxing the public) than encouraging public safety, imho. If they made another stupid and arbitrary law that allows police to tax people for doing such simple things as talking on the phone, I'll have to start thinking really hard about what country I'm living in. We give up too many of our simple freedoms to people who enjoy to give themselves new powers.

Re:it's just a hidden tax (1)

sayfawa (1099071) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532637)

Numerous studies have shown that driving while talking on the phone isn't just worse than speeding, it's worse than drunk driving [forbes.com] . We've already accepted that a person does not have the freedom to put others in danger by drunk driving, so..

Re:it's just a hidden tax (1)

BroadwayBlue (811404) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532643)

No doubt. In my state, the shoulders of the road are for emergency stopping only. I don't see how a cop parking there to troll for speeders counts as an emergency. Not only is s/he putting her only life at risk for a a hundred bucks or so, but also the traveling public that s/he is supposedly trying to protect. High speed vehicles and stopped vehicles on shoulders are a bad combo. And while sometimes there is data behind the targeted enforcement areas, too often it is arbitrary. What is it, speeders prefer zipping by clumps of bushes and overpasses?

Re:it's just a hidden tax (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532645)

Good thing this isn't about speeding, then. Talking on a phone while driving is probably more dangerous than drunk driving. Yet it is extremely difficult to enforce. People who drink-drive are often subject to confiscation of license, and jail time. Why shouldn't people who engage in activities as dangerous as that also be penalized.

If you want to avoid this (and other) "taxes" - then all you have to do is obey the road laws. It's hardly a "tax" if it is easily avoidable. You don't need to speed, and you don't need to talk while you are driving. So, what's the problem? Talking on the phone while driving was never a right. Driving is a privilege, and you have to follow the rules to earn that privilege.

If people weren't doing stupid shit on the roads, then their power would be impotent.

Re:it's just a hidden tax (1)

TheGavster (774657) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532731)

I think that it goes to show that legislating each and every thing that can impair your driving is stupid. Get rid of the DUI laws, the cell-phone laws, etc, and just ban "dangerous driving". If you're weaving all over the place, I don't care if the phone is off or in your ear.

Re:it's just a hidden tax (2, Insightful)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532807)

Get rid of the DUI laws, the cell-phone laws, etc, and just ban "dangerous driving".

Why, because leaving the nature of charges up to the discretion of individual law enforcement officers has worked so well in the past?

Thanks, but no thanks. If I'm going to be charged with a crime for which my license could potentially be suspended, or for which I might well go to jail, I demand that the state be able to precisely determine the nature of my violation.

Re:it's just a hidden tax (4, Insightful)

BroadwayBlue (811404) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532805)

But why single out talking on cell phones? Where is the system to detect an intense conversation with a passenger, changing the radio station, fumbling with the A/C controls in a rental car, a crying baby in the back seat.... We've accepted that driving is hazardous. Everybody on the road knows it. News flash, there are irresponsible or distracted drivers out there; look out! A driver should be able to safely speed away from someone that is doing something that is stupid. A driver should be able to call the police when they drive by someone who is in trouble. Driving will always by a highly variable and highly hazardous situation that one voluntarily puts themselves in. That little yellow line isn't going to stop someone from drifting over onto your side of the road. You have to pay attention constantly. It shouldn't matter what other people are doing; assume everyone is drunk, distracted, or whatever and adjust your driving accordingly. Stop worrying about them and make sure you are doing what is necessary to stay safe. You only have control of your own situation. A thousand laws won't give you control over someone else.

Re:it's just a hidden tax (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532881)

But why single out talking on cell phones?

I don't think anyone is suggesting that. They already go after speeding and drunk driving. It's not like they are going to stop doing that and only go after cellphone users.

Where is the system to detect an intense conversation with a passenger, changing the radio station, fumbling with the A/C controls in a rental car, a crying baby in the back seat....

I think that system is called "patrol cars," and yes, they are underused. They should do something about that as well.

A driver should be able to call the police when they drive by someone who is in trouble.

What's wrong with stopping to make the call? Or, heaven forbid, stopping to give assistance?

You only have control of your own situation. A thousand laws won't give you control over someone else.

but it could reduce the number of dangerous drivers on the road.

Damn statistics (1)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532907)

I believe that the same studies also indicated that talking to the person in the car is as dangerous as talking on the cell phone.

I remember in a couple of states that the police, for a while, outlawed the use of CB radios under the guise of it being dangerous because you took 1 hand off of the steering wheel.

The study needs to determine if the the person has the ability to talk and drive at the same time. There are some people I have seen driving who lack the brain power to breath and drive at the same time.

Re:it's just a hidden tax (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532827)

Speeding tickets are more about shaving the sheep (taxing the public) than encouraging public safety, imho.

No, they're not.

Speed limits are a lowest-common-denominator. Sure, YOU are a good enough driver to handle your low-center-of-gravity perfectly-maintained sports car on a clear day at video-game level speeds. But do you want a half-blind arthritic senior-citizen driving his top-heavy worn-down SUV at those speeds?

Re:it's just a hidden tax (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532973)

Yes they are.

" But do you want a half-blind arthritic senior-citizen driving his top-heavy worn-down SUV at those speeds?"
I don't want him driving at any speed. Yes, I do realize I will be that person, and I hope to hell my family takes my keys away. I fact, I think the test to get a Driver lisense should be substantially harder.
You must be able to drive on the freeway, you must be able to parellel park, you must have decent vision, you must have a decent refleesx, you must be able to hear, and you must be able to know how to behave at a 4 way stop,you must be able to read and understand road signs and you must demonstrate all that to someone giving you a test. Every 6 year until 50, then every 4 until 65, then every 2. You must pay for the test.

Speeding tickets are for generating revenue. If they weren't they would raise them for the number 1 lane. There is no reason 65 should be the top speed in many parts of the freeway system.
If they weren't about revenue generation, they would be pushed to write more speeding tickets all the time. They would be better looking for people driving unsafe, but then that would generate less money. They would not hide looking for speeders with a radar gun, they would be driving up and down the freeways at the speed limit to control traffic. Which would be the safest thing to do.Which is another indicator that it is not about safety.

Re:it's just a hidden tax (1)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 7 years ago | (#19533009)

Add to this the fact that 'mister driving pro, who could actually be a RACE CAR DRIVER if he wanted' is not driving on a well laid out race track. The hotdog in the sportscar is on the same lanes with all the grannies driving Recreation Vehicles, harried mothers trying to keep the kids in the back seat from fighting, etc.

It is not acceptable for drivers to cop an attitude and claim that they should be excempt because they could actually be RACE CAR DRIVERS if they wanted. Actual highly skilled race car drivers are clueful enough to know they need to drive cautiously when out among the unwashed public.

But tardboy is able to make the payments on his frickin' Jetta.

Legal cell phone use (4, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532571)

There's plenty of legal cell phone use in cars too, even if it's not a passenger doing it.
  • Hands-free systems
  • Systems like OnStar, where you can get a weather report at the touch of a button.
  • GPS systems that automatically download maps for nearby areas
    • ... and probably a lot more.

Re:Legal cell phone use (1)

HullBreachOnline.com (1104555) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532673)

Here in Florida, it's still legal to talk on the cell phone, but the first thing police ask when an accident occurs is "Were you talking on a cell phone?" (Yes, even before asking about drugs or alcohol.) I don't think they care if you use a hands-free device or not.

Re:Legal cell phone use (2, Informative)

tfoss (203340) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532707)

Hands-free systems
You're right on with the other two, but hands-free systems are just as dangerous as normal cell phones. It might be legal, but that is because of poorly-written laws, not due to any extra safety from using hands-free.

-Ted

Re:Legal cell phone use (3, Insightful)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532851)

I think there are different levels of "phone calls." I know people that have intense conversations while driving, going on and on. It takes a lot of thought for those kind of conversations, even if the subject matter is stupid, and I have no doubt in my mind that such conversations greatly reduce the driver's ability to poor levels. anything that has a lot of back-and-forth, arguing, memorization (grocery list), etc can probably screw you up. In some of the "tests" I've seen, they've tried to structure the conversation to keep ensuring that the driver is paying attention a lot and engaging in responses, at times "quizzing" them.

But there are also quick/short/to-the-point conversations. "Honey, there's construction on the freeway I'm going to be late tonight." "Son, a package is coming in from UPS. Can you be around today to sign for it?" Etc

Personally, I try to limit any phone calls (through my OnStar system) to short/auto-pilot conversations. They rarely get close to the 1 minute mark and require little thought on my end. Unfortunately there's no way to determine what kind of conversation you're having or how much you're concentrating, short of listening in or perhaps looking at the call time.

Re:Legal cell phone use (1)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532993)

Personally, I try to limit any phone calls (through my OnStar system) to short/auto-pilot conversations. They rarely get close to the 1 minute mark and require little thought on my end.
99% of the time I'm talking on my hands-free headset it's to my wife and she's droning on and on about something that I'm not even paying attention to anyway. It might as well be a talk show playing in the background, but to her it's quality time I'm spending engaging in conversation with her even though it's just the occasional "uh huh", "sure", "OK", "bye". Though shit, even our dinner table conversation rarely gets more complicated than that so I guess I should eat dinner while driving too.

Re:Legal cell phone use (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19532959)

I suppose you want to ban passengers in cars too you fucking elitist liberal prick.

Re:Legal cell phone use (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#19533015)

Yeah, and ditto for Onstar -- that feature only gets exemptions from the cell phone laws because GM is a failing company and legislators want to "take one for the [American industrial] team", and it's pretty much the only thing that GM can hope will keep them alive. That's why they always sex it up as being "the next seatbelt" and use scare tactics in their ads.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onstar#Advocacy [wikipedia.org]

Re:Legal cell phone use (5, Insightful)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 7 years ago | (#19533017)

I disagree. Talking on a hands-free system isn't as good as just driving the freakin' car, but it is better than using a handset.

I ride a motorcycle, and have, therefore, become a keen observer of other people's driving habits. I believe there is a clear hirearcy of cell phone related bad driving.

  1. Email/SMS (Should be punishable by summary execution.)
  2. Dialing (This seems to be far and away the most common cause of really bad driving.)
  3. Talking on a handset. (It seems to create a total lack of awareness of the cell phone side of the vehicle. Not sure why.)
  4. Hands free (Potentially less dangerous than talking with a passenger.)


You can make various arguments that talking to someone who isn't in the car requires more attention, but I think this is more than offset by the visual distraction of conversing with a passenger.

There are several other common distractions. Fiddling with the stereo, disciplining children, applying makeup, and eating come to mind. Map reading ranks. I actually saw a guy reading a novel while merging onto the highway about a week ago. Unreal.

Anyway, I think voice dialing is a HUGE win, and hands free talking has noticeably less negative impact on driving in my experience.

I would genuinely like to know why you disagree.

-Peter

Re:Legal cell phone use (1)

cabinetsoft (923481) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532947)

or a passenger talking on the phone, not the driver... or a bus with 10 passenger talking on the phone. Or who knows, a guy using the cellphone to connect his laptop to the internet and read /. ...

Re:Legal cell phone use (1)

morari (1080535) | more than 7 years ago | (#19533001)

Legal? Sure, but that's only because there are no laws against yuppies.

Also: cellphone car bugs (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#19533199)

At least one "system like OnStar" (allegedly not OnStar itself) has been used by an investigative agency to bug an alleged crook's car. (Such systems are, after all, remote-controlled cell speakerphones.)

In one case the agency bugged a car for a month, until the operators of the system demanded they cease and desist because the monopolization of the channel was imparing their emergency service. (Not to mention that, if the buggee had been involved in an actual emergeny, hitting the button would have made a "beep" on the agency's tape rather than bringing the aid he was paying for.)

Now if this system is deployed I can imagine some inter-agency foulups, as cops pull over the bugged cars to ticket the drivers.

Newsflash: "Legal" doesn't always equal "safe"... (2, Insightful)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 7 years ago | (#19533211)

First of all, I'll point out the blindingly obvious. Something can be legal yet still be unsafe.

In the case of driving, you could quite easily be driving along the road and be in danger, not least of all because you don't drive in isolation: all those other cars and other vehicles around you are only a split-second away from presenting you with a multi-ton hazard that could potentially end your life.

When you're driving from A to B, your priority should be to get their safely:

1. without causing a hazard to yourself and others; and
2. without falling foul of any hazards that others might cause you.

It doesn't take a genius to see that anything that distracts your attention from anything that might fall into the second category, or that decreases your reaction time, could potentially kill you.

Anybody who thinks that a hands-free kit will mitigate the risks of driving whilst talking on a phone is deluded. Multiple studies have been carried out on this subject and, to my knowledge, all have clearly shown that the ability of a driver to deal with road hazards is just as impeded when he's talking via a hands-free kit as it would be if he was cradling the phone next to his head. (Which, by the way, is about the same level of impairment that you'd experience if you were drunk.)

If you want to test this yourself then try this out. Fire up your favourite RTS, FPS or MMORPG and get busy killing. Then make a hands-free call to a friend whilst attempting to play the game at your usual tempo. Keep talking and listening to the other person as you would do if you weren't playing the game (obviously, don't talk about the game, talk about something different!) and I guarantee you that you gameplay will suffer, simply because you react to things less quickly than you would have .

Now translate that loss of performance to the road. And then work out what matters most, that phone call or your personal safety.

Do yourselves, your passengers and those around you all a favour. Save the phone calls for when you get there.

What if a passenger is making the call? (3, Insightful)

leptonhead (791323) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532575)

Automatic law enforcement is cheap but it's not the way to go. Make it illegal and slap offenders with a hard punishment to deter people. It works well enough with all other reasonable laws, so why do it differently with this one?

Re:What if a passenger is making the call? (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532689)

So, how do you prove that someone was talking ona phone while driving? That's much harder to do than detecting speeding or blood alcohol levels.

Anyway, what is wrong with "automatic law enforcement"? It works very well with speed cameras - the automatic systems are much more accurate and fair than the manual ones.

Re:What if a passenger is making the call? (1)

metoc (224422) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532771)

I for one pull over when I use my cell phone, and have no problem delegating to my spouse or teenagers if they are riding with me.

Re:What if a passenger is making the call? (1)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532895)

I for one pull over when I use my cell phone, and have no problem delegating to my spouse or teenagers if they are riding with me.

Same here. It's amazing how many people consider talking on the phone to be as great a necessity as concentrating on the operation of driving.

And yes, I understand that some people receive urgent phone calls while driving. That's nice, but too small a factor to explain the prevalence of this behavior. I've been in a car with someone who suffers from the following laughable bit of irrationality, and considering the staggering human capacity for denial and delusion, I assume this is not rare by any means:

"Oh, it's my mother. Well, it might be really important, she might need a ride or be in the hospital, so I better get it. Hi mom!" (Twenty minutes of drivel ensues.)

Re:What if a passenger is making the call? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532817)

" It works very well with speed cameras -.."
No is doesn't. Unless by 'works' you mean generates more revenue.
Consider:
Some state ticket the vehical when using cameras, not the person breaking the law.
In most(if not all) cases the yellow light is shortened to specifically generate more tickets.
The do not reduce traffic accidents or violators. The only time violations is decreased is during the first few weeks, if people are aware the camera has been installed. All accidents in intersection is caused by someone not paying attention. Traffic camers do not magically make people pay attention.
They do not take into account unusual events thay may have lead to someone runing a light.

Re:What if a passenger is making the call? (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532957)

No is doesn't. Unless by 'works' you mean generates more revenue.

No, I mean that it works. In that, it is very accurately detects speed, and photographs the offending vehicle. Very accurate. None of this "I saw you driving too fast... and by the way you are black" stuff. None of that "I didn't see you speeding, Mr. Mayor" stuff either.

Some state ticket the vehical when using cameras, not the person breaking the law.

In that case, you declare who was driving the vehicle at the time, and they go after them instead.

In most(if not all) cases the yellow light is shortened to specifically generate more tickets.

Evidence? I heard that happened in some cases, but I believe that was dealt with in court. Where do you get the idea that it happens in a majority of cases?

The do not reduce traffic accidents or violators.

It still catches people who are violating the law. It probably would lead to fewer violations if they started cancelling licenses belonging to repeat offenders.

They do not take into account unusual events thay may have lead to someone runing a light.

Firstly, what are those "unusual events"? Secondly, why can't that be dealt with by appeal to the courts? You don't have to accept an automated ticket - you can appeal.

Re:What if a passenger is making the call? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19533205)

Why is it a good idea to massively generate tickets and have the courts handle them? It is a waste of time and tax payers' money.

Also, most of these autmatic tickets are easy to get appealed anyway. First, someone has to show up as defense. Second, you can always request the tape to be shown. If one of these are not present, then you win by default. Easy.

Re:What if a passenger is making the call? (1)

LBt1st (709520) | more than 7 years ago | (#19533077)

I'm not sure about everywhere but in CA, vehicles can not break laws, people do. And to charge a person running a light, it must be possible to identify that person. So if your face is obstructed from the camera's view, they can't enforce the charge.

Re:What if a passenger is making the call? (1)

flerchin (179012) | more than 7 years ago | (#19533147)

How about not using automated enforcement because it makes the roads more dangerous [thenewspaper.com] ? For those too lazy to click, it shows that roads in the UK are actually less safe than they were after the more than 5000 traffic cameras were installed. The injury and death rates both went up! People behave around courts, they do not around cameras. The only thing the cameras were good at, (quite good at actually) was revenue generation. What government of, by, and for the people would want to tax its people at the cost of their lives?

Driver only? (1)

LinuxGeek (6139) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532595)

So does this detect the driver speaking on a cell phone or simply someone in the car talking on a cell phone? TFA did not give details. Seems like a big problem if they mistakenly identify a car and a ticket is issued for a passenger using a phone.

Re:Driver only? (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#19533225)

So does this detect the driver speaking on a cell phone or simply someone in the car talking on a cell phone? TFA did not give details.

Also: Does it distinguish a phone being rung from one being used for a conversation?

Clarify For Me (3, Insightful)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532609)

I support drunk driving laws. And I have heard that cell driving is similar in impairment to drink driving (though I think the studies so far have been less than perfectly rigorous). So that makes me tend to support the idea of cell driving laws.

However, at the same time, I see plenty of erratic and dangerous drivers who aren't talking on cell phones. Why is a cell driving law a better idea than simply getting tougher on poor driving? Or at least shouldn't getting tougher on poor driving come first?

It seems like the main (or at least first) question should not be, "Are you on a cell phone?" but, "Do you present a risk to others?"

Re:Clarify For Me (2, Interesting)

Donniedarkness (895066) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532711)

I agree with you completely. I fully believe that there are people out there who can talk on a phone with no change in their driving skills (and also, people who can't drive worth a damn while operating a motor vehicle). The solution isn't to ban cell phones + driving, but to get a little more harsh about BAD driving. Besides, what's the differnce between talking to a passenger while driving a stick-shift and talking on a cell phone?

Re:Clarify For Me (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532923)

Usually, the passenger has the sense to shut up when the driver needs to concentrate on his current situation. Someone on the other end of a cell phone doesn't know what's going on. That said, I find it very distracting to converse with passengers. I prefer that they limit their conversation to essential items. Just shut up and look out the pretty windows.

The Difference... (1)

WiseWeasel (92224) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532997)

I'd say the difference from an operational standpoint is that driving a stick-shift, your right hand is only on the shifter when you want to change gears, which is typically for brief periods in between long periods of hands on the wheel. Also, taking your hand off the wheel to shift gears is part of the driving task, and so it's easier to integrate it with the rest of the actions involved in driving. Talking on a cell phone without a hands-free setup ties up one of your hands for as long as you're on the phone, and it's a completely separate task from driving, and so it has the potential to be more distracting. Personally, I drive a stick and talk on my phone at times without hands-free, and I'm able to prioritize the driving over the phone call, and so I'm not afraid to put my phone down and use my hands to drive when needed, even in the middle of a conversation. All you have to do is realize that the driving task risks your life and the lives of those around you, where the phone task only risks your social life. Clearly, the driving task should take precedence for most people. It does seem that certain individuals are not so skilled at multitasking and establishing priorities, even with their lives at stake. Clearly, this is a form of natural selection, although chances are they will kill innocents as well as themselves... Maybe dealing with distractions should be a part of driver's ed and training, although it seems intuitively obvious that the driving task should always take the highest priority...

Practical politics (1)

Tim Ward (514198) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532885)

Simple as that.

If nobody was allowed to drive without being trained and tested to the same safety standards as pilots then you wouldn't have those bad drivers. But anyone who tried to introduce such a law would get instantly voted out of office by the vast numbers of bad drivers who would lose their licences under the new regime.

Goes Too Far (3, Insightful)

blueZhift (652272) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532621)

I don't see a system that shoots paintballs or shuts off cell phones getting too far in the US. This really goes too far and can potentially create more chaos than it is worth. I can almost hear the lawsuits being filed now the first time one of those paintballs causes a wreck, or when a physician talking to a patient has his/her phone disabled rushing to the hospital. Technology is a great thing, but ultimately laws should be enforced via human education and discipline.

Teach people to multi-task (-1, Troll)

syousef (465911) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532633)

For goodness sake stop making stupid laws against doing something simply because people are a danger doing it when they haven't been taught properly.

Pilots are REQUIRED to make radio calls and communicate with Air Traffic Control. We'd need one hell of a sophisticated system to elliminate the need to communicate with ATC. Yet they're able to fly vehicles much more challenging to operate than cars, trucks and other road vehicles, remaining more safe statistically speaking, all while constantly making radio calls that are just as distracting as mobile calls are to drivers.

Why? Because pilots are taught how to monitor more than one thing at a time. They must keep speed, altitude and direction all within certain parameters while communicating. Critically they are tested on these skills before they are granted a license. What we need to be doing is including talking on a mobile phone while staying safe on driving tests. Then you'd see people more able to do this than you currently do. Of course it's much easier for authorities to instead make talking on a mobile illegal then collect revenue from law breakers while the lot of us mindlessly talk about the dangers of mobile phones while driving.

Re:Teach people to multi-task (3, Insightful)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532765)

The key difference is that you can't usually crash your airliner if you lose attention for a split second.

A car traveling at 80kph makes 22 meters per second, that's more than the width of the average road. And all you need to die is to lose control for a moment.

Re:Teach people to multi-task (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532799)

What we need to be doing is including talking on a mobile phone while staying safe on driving tests.

So, you penalize safety-conscious people who don't use mobile phones while driving, and at the same time, encourage driving with a phone? That doesn't sound very productive.

Drivers should be taught to focus on driving and minimize distractions. Using the phone is not necessary while driving. It has nothing to do with the operational radio communications that a pilot performs. And the phone system is not optimized for driving, like the radio system is for flying. Aircraft also tend not to fly in close proximity to one another, with hundreds of them mashed up together in lanes.

Re:Teach people to multi-task (1)

xXenXx (973576) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532809)

I've always been told the difficult part about driving isn't actually the "driving", it's avoiding other cars. While yes, pilots do have to do more, the flight computer _does_ do a lot of it for them, and passenger jets are never flying closely in formation so the pilot really doesn't need a good reaction time. If he dozes off for a second, would it really matter?

Also keep in mind that big planes typically have two or more pilots. Cars only have one driver.

There's a vast difference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19532865)

The trouble with talking on a cell phone is that the person you're talking to isn't part of your driving experience. You don't have the same problem talking to a passenger in the car for instance. You also don't have the same problem listening to the radio. If something happens on the road, you just ignore the radio and pay attention to the road. The passenger sees what's happening and the rhythm of the conversation fits what's happening on the road. The person on the other end of the cell phone, on the other hand, doesn't accomodate traffic conditions. You can't ignore that person so your attention gets divided with the result that you aren't paying enough attention to your driving.

Using the radio is part of flying. When you're using the radio you shouldn't have to react to surprises. In fact, when you're flying in controlled airspace, there should be no surprises. The two cases (cell phone in the car vs. radio in the cockpit) aren't even close to the same.

Re:Teach people to multi-task (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532975)

Yet they're able to fly vehicles much more challenging to operate than cars, trucks and other road vehicles, remaining more safe statistically speaking, all while constantly making radio calls that are just as distracting as mobile calls are to drivers.

If you have a two-second emergency in an airplane, someone dropped the ball. If you have a two-second emergency in an automobile, well, you're just in rush hour traffic.

(Not to mention that re-testing everyone on the road is as impractical as deporting every illegal immigrant in the country.)

What passengers? (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532639)

"The article is fairly light on details, but it would be interesting to see how the system differentiates from a driver talking on a cell phone versus a mere passenger."

Next time you are in city traffic, look around and note how many people are in a car where a cell phone is being used in a non-hands free manner.

Re:What passengers? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532721)

If I am sitting in traffic, then tlaking on the Cell phone isn't really going to increase my chance of an accident now, is it?

Besides, the send me a ticket I can say "I was car pooling not driving." or "I was on the bus"

Automated law enforcement is always flawed.

What about talking on your cellphone is criminal? (2, Insightful)

cenonce (597067) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532667)

I communte 80 miles roundtrip to my office. I don't like when people are wondering all over the road and then I realize they are talking on their cell phone. But heck, what makes that behavior rise to the level of criminality? Doesn't civil law amply address the issue of irresponsible people who cause accidents when talking on their cell phone (or eating a bag of Doritos, putting on make-up, reading the paper, futzing with the Nav system... whatever...)?

Re:What about talking on your cellphone is crimina (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532821)

Doesn't civil law amply address the issue of irresponsible people who cause accidents when talking on their cell phone

Not really, because those accidents are far too common - and few people are prosecuted because of it. I think the idea is to reduce the accidents in the first place. Civil law after the fact can't bring victims back to life, so it doesn't really address the problem at all.

We should ban radios and children in cars too (3, Insightful)

WalterGR (106787) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532669)

Instead of police officers needing to observe a cellphone in use, the system automatically detects a cell phone call and records which car was making the call.

The system should also automatically detect children in the car, and report those to the police. Or how about radios? That's easy - just report every car. From here [esteybomberger.com] :

Around 98 percent of reported accidents involve a single distracted driver concentrating not on the road, but rather on one of the following:
  • (snip)
  • Child/Passenger Distraction (9%)
  • Adjusting Radio/CD (7%)
  • Cell Phone (6%)

(Of course, I understand that radios in cars are far more common than cell phones. Was merely making a point.)

Re:We should ban radios and children in cars too (1)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532839)

Indeed, but maybe you were making a different point to the one you thought. They cite "cell phone (6%) as distinct from "cell phone misuse" which they say "Many [accidents] are due to"

Re:We should ban radios and children in cars too (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532861)

So what the heck is "Cell phone misuse" -- throwing it at your obstreperous children??!

Re:We should ban radios and children in cars too (1)

WalterGR (106787) | more than 7 years ago | (#19533073)

Indeed, but maybe you were making a different point to the one you thought.
I don't think so, but maybe I misunderstand your question... My point was that cell phones aren't the only cause of distraction; in fact children (and radios) cause more accidents than cell phones. At the end of my post I was recognizing that radios are more common than cell phones, hence their statistics may suggest that per cell phone use the likelihood of a crash is greater than that of radio (or child) use.

Re:We should ban radios and children in cars too (1)

pravuil (975319) | more than 7 years ago | (#19533149)

Another problem I see is with use of a cell phone other than the person driving. So are passengers going to be affected by this? Are paintballs going to fly if anyone in the car will not obey to no-call zone? Right now, the laws for cell phone driving are different from state to state, but the states with the greater restrictions still allow the use of hands-free kits. I would rather spend $20 on a hands free kit than a bloated system designed solely for masochists. Even it was state imposed, who is going to end up paying the repair bills?

If any device should be disabled when driving, it should be the blackberry. Reading/typing while driving has always been a bad idea.

is it already in place??? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19532671)

I may have personally experienced this tech in action. I live in Chicago area and about a month back I tried to call my wife, who I knew was driving, and I got a interesting reply..."the person you are calling is currently driving". The call then ended abruptly. I called a few minutes later and it started working although my wife was still driving....kinda interesting.

Don't need to detect. (1)

whois_drek (829212) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532683)

The police don't need to detect whether a passenger or a driver is the one talking. The vast majority of cars only have a single occupant (carpool lanes, anyone?) and they'll cherry-pick those, while ignoring the cars with multiple occupants. There will still be more than enough cars to keep them busy.

"but it should be.." (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532699)

No it shouldn't.

Distracted driving should be a crime. IF the person is observed driving distracted, then ticket them. I don't care why they were distracted, whether it is cell phone use, putting on make up, or getting a blow job.

Mythbusters... (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532703)

Anyone remember the mythbusters where they tested and determined that driving proficiency was greater when drunk than while talking on a cellphone? Cellphone use while driving should be illegal. Hell, people talking to the driver should be illegal.

Re:Mythbusters... (0, Flamebait)

brxndxn (461473) | more than 7 years ago | (#19533065)

Driving should be illegal, you fucktard. Duh.

Also, it should be illegal to get exercise because exercise can cause injury. Plus, being fat makes you less likely to hurt yourself if you do fall (we'll ignore the increasingly likelihood of falling because of severe fatness.)

God.. why the hell aren't more things illegal? Speech? Bad speech can piss people off and others can get offended.. Fucking ban it OMG!

Browsing the Internet? There's bad stuff there and directions for making boms (spelled wrong because I'm paranoid).. OMG make it illegal!!!

Everything that can do anything bad should be illegal!!!

Re:Mythbusters... (0)

WiseWeasel (92224) | more than 7 years ago | (#19533167)

Just because some people aren't able to deal with distractions and prioritize driving doesn't mean that others can't do it perfectly safely. It's not the act of talking on a cell phone while driving that's dangerous, it's not paying attention to your driving while you do this... If you use the phone responsibly, (foremost by using a hands-free device to free up your hands), putting the phone down and ignoring the conversation when driving demands your attention, then you can't tell if a driver's talking on a phone or not just from their driving. If people let phones or other distractions take their attention away from the driving task for any appreciable amount of time, then they are going to die, or kill someone else. I think it is possible to dedicate some spare cycles to talking on a phone or whatever else while driving, but the driving task must always take precedence over anything else, and cannot be ignored for more than a half-second at a time or so. Once you become skilled at driving, there are certainly some spare fractions of seconds that can be used for other tasks, as long as driving is the highest priority.

The system does not zap/paintball your car. (3, Informative)

e9th (652576) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532719)

The company's site explains (in annoying Flash) that the system merely photographs the car. Later, the photos are manually inspected to determine whether it was the driver who was using the phone.

From the article... (1)

Snowspinner (627098) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532725)

"The company attaches a paint gun to mark the car, or even an EMP gun that can disable the offending cell phone."

This is going to go SPECTACULARLY when somebody with a pacemaker is talking on their cell phone.

So where's my insurance rebate? (4, Insightful)

gelfling (6534) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532735)

Tell you what, Nanny State, you criminalize the phone. But in exchange I want massive reductions in my car insurance because now everyone is safe and snug.

distractions (2, Insightful)

grapeape (137008) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532737)

I have no problem as long as their is equal effort in citing drivers for loud music, eating, putting on makeup, shaving, smoking, having their dog run back and forth on the front seat, DVD players active while driving, reading billboards, applying bumper stickers or any other things that drivers do all the time that lead to distraction.

I work as a consultant, I have to answer my phone or I have no business. I do use a hands free device and its usually very short but based on this logic tuckers shouldn't have cb's and cops shouldn't have their radios. Bad drivers are going to be bad drivers regardless of whether there is a phone involved.

If there has to be a law, make it one that requires hands free devices that can be cited only when being pulled over for another offense, much like the way most states enforce seatbelt laws. That kind of leads to another question why is wearing a motorcycle helmet considered a personal choice yet wearing a seat belt isn't?

Dont fool yourself this has nothing to do with protecting people or even getting people to drive more responsibly, its all about revenue.

Re:distractions (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532847)

Many state wearng a helmet is law.

I think if you are over 18, then it is up to you to wear a helmet or seat belt.
You should wear one, it just shouldn't be up to the government to make the decsion.

Not just cell phones (4, Funny)

badc0ffee (969714) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532739)

I was driving down the freeway with all the other traffic doing about 70MPH when I noticed this blond in the car next to me putting on her makeup in the rear view mirror. She started creeping into my lane, and upset me so much I dropped my cell phone into my coffee, which got my donuts all wet and soggy.

I go for a bicycle ride every morning and have noticed that in about 1 of 4 cars, the driver is either not looking at the road while dialing, talking or just finishing a call. If I have to cross traffic, I make sure the driver sees and acknowledges my presence. If they are on a cell phone, even at a stop sign, they are either oblivious to my presence or the invisibility cloak is working.

What about blackberry users? (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532745)

Is the technology smart enough to tell the difference between data and voice?

Just because you can ... (1)

eck011219 (851729) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532773)

... doesn't mean you should. While I would love to see people obey the law about not talking on the phone (or shaving, or eating a bowl of cereal -- I kid you not, I've seen it on Lake Shore Drive) while driving, what about the first time someone with an open window gets a paintball in the face? Or someone near the car? Or someone walking down the street gets their cell phone jammed?

No, this is just plain stupid. I (and others here) have been able to come up with really simple reasons why this is a bad idea at a rate faster than I can type them.

There are too many laws like this now -- stupid reactionary laws that hurt as many innocent people as lawbreakers. When politicians (the vast majority of whom NEVER touch as much as a cell phone, leaving such things to their staff) start dictating how technology should be used, it never goes well.

Re:Just because you can ... (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532905)

Or wait til someone reporting an emergency gets jammed, and the subject of the emergency dies because no one was able to report it in a timely manner.

I smell lawsuits.

Can it techno-magically detect Blackberry's, SMS? (1)

metoc (224422) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532829)

I suppose this toy is smart enough not to nail you for receiving SMS messages?

What about Blackberrys? They are quite chatty.

GMs OnStar system uses cell technology. What about them?

I would rather see law makers think about what they do and allocate resources to enforce laws, and not expect technic-magically enforcement.

they should ban... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19532857)

SO's that want to argue while you are trying to drive. that is far more distracting than any cell phone use.

Risk is not a crime (1)

Orig_Club_Soda (983823) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532913)

"many times more likely to have an accident. "

Yet, its NOT an accident. Risk is not a crime. Risk is why we have the Patriot Act. Risk is why we are at war in Iraq and Afganestan. Risk is why we have wiretapping and GITMO.

You people are foolish to invest so much trust in government to take care of you. Security is not a fair price for freedom.

Sure, increase the penalty when an accident occurs. But until there is an actual accident, there is no victim. No crime.

What most should think about this.. (2, Insightful)

brxndxn (461473) | more than 7 years ago | (#19532981)

HORSESHIT BUZZWORD PARANOID KNEE-JERK FUCKTARD CRAP!

Goddamn.. how the fuck does this make it to the front page of Slashdot? The article suggests using an EMP gun to disable the offending cell phone? So, it's some kind of perfect EMP that targets ONLY the cell phone and ignores the car's electronic systems - systems REQUIRED for slamming on the brakes... What the fuck?

And, the system not only can distinguish between drivers and passengers talking on the cell phones... but it can also detect whether drivers are properly using bluetooth devices.. or even built-into-the-car bluetooth devices that enable hands-free talking at all times?

God.. what a bunch of fucking total morons. Seriously.. whoever decides money needs spending on this crap.. whoever decides a knee-jerk reactionary law banning use of cell phones while driving because they're distracting just because it's newfangled technology that everyone seems to agree is fucking useful while ignoring all other distractions that have been around forever - eating, talking to passengers, looking at scenery, smoking, doing drugs, reading directions, playing with the fucking stereo, road head..

Seriously.. whoever takes this seriously needs to understand that he or she is a fucking moron who needs to start thinking about the entire picture and quit trying to solve society's problems with one specific fucking instant knee-jerk at a time.

God.. fucking morons.. FUCK YOU. /eh.. I don't feel this strongly.. but who cares.. this is the Internet.

Where are the studies? (1)

sacrilicious (316896) | more than 7 years ago | (#19533059)

Studies have shown that people who drive and talk are many times more likely to have an accident.

Great. Now just tell us where these studies are so we can evaluate them, rather than inviting us to give sheep-like acceptance to the idea.

Study Misleading... (1)

^hedge^ (104230) | more than 7 years ago | (#19533087)

These studies are misleading. I would like to compare this data with a driver that is having a conversation with a person that is IN THE CAR WITH THEM. I suspect that in-car conversations are just as distracting as cell-conversations on a hands free setup...if not more distracting. Now, are we going to outlaw passengers?

-h3dge

No Talking (1)

dekkerdreyer (1007957) | more than 7 years ago | (#19533159)

"Studies have shown that people who drive and talk are many times more likely to have an accident."

Then we should ban talking while driving. They don't say that using the phone is the problem, they say talking is the problem. There should be a nation wide ban on having communications with anyone else inside or outside the car. I think this would be quite difficult to enforce. An easier option would be to ban passengers along with cell phones. Without a passenger or a cell phone there would be no conversations. No talking, no accident.

Wrong. (1)

sootman (158191) | more than 7 years ago | (#19533169)

"Talking on your cellphone while driving isn't a crime in most states, but it should be."

No it shouldn't. ANYTHING can distract a driver--the radio, passengers, kids yelling in the car, stupid fucking ads on the side of the road that are getting more and more brazen every day, etc etc etc. Should we just make all of that illegal?

Drunk driving is illegal for a reason--there's no good reason to drink and drive. There are, however, many good reasons to talk on the phone while driving. I agree that talking on the phone while driving can be dangerous, but that doesn't mean it should be totally banned.

My Solution (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 7 years ago | (#19533203)

If I were making the law, I'd make it perfectly legal to drive while on the cell phone, but you would have to have your cell phone number prominently displayed to the front and rear of the vehicle. If you want to talk, great, but be ready for others to call and let you know if you are driving unsafely. And yes, that means they would have to be displaying their number to call you from their car.

Asshat (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 7 years ago | (#19533213)

"Talking on your cellphone while driving isn't a crime in most states, but it should be."

There are already laws for dangerous driving in EVERY state.
We don't need more laws.
It's covered.

Oh, but you say if you outlaw cellphone driving, people would stop doing it.

Right, just like drunk driving.

You, sir, are an asshat.

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