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No Cellphones When Driving

Posted January 03, 2012 7:09 AM

Except for emergencies, cellphone use by drivers should be banned, according to a U.S. National Transportation Safety Board recommendation. The logic behind the thought is that even hands-free conversations can distract drivers, causing accidents that result in preventable injuries and deaths. One big problem is enforcement — for instance, a driver singing along with a tune could be mistaken for a perpetrator making a hands-free call. What do you think?

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#1

Re: No Cellphones When Driving

01/04/2012 7:41 AM

I think it is crap. I have never understood how hands free telephone conversations could be any more dangerous than talking to someone in the car. The only logic behind any of this that I can see is initiating the call. You know, scrolling through the phone book or actually dialing the number. Personally I use the speaker phone option on mine. I still have to hold it but it is below my face and does not limit peripheral vision or limit me being able to turn my head to check blind spots.

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: No Cellphones When Driving

01/04/2012 8:49 AM

I don't know what exact action was taking place at the time, but I have left the road at least 3 times in the last 10 years to avoid being hit from behind by someone talking on a cell phone. I have maintained for at least that long that cell phones should be disabled when the vehicle is moving. If a phone call is important to make, it is important enough to warrant pulling off the road so you can focus your full attention on the call. Texting is even worse.

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#3
In reply to #1

Re: No Cellphones When Driving

01/04/2012 9:02 AM

"I have never understood how hands free telephone conversations could be any more dangerous than talking to someone in the car"

Talking / listening to someone in the car involves non-verbal comunication and context can be taken into account.

You can tell many a guy to be on the phone by the way he gazes straight ahead as he drives. He´s concentrating on the only channel available (sound). Ask a guy something like how many traffic lights were green after he started a conversation and he will tell you he was "on automatic". OK, not everyone...

brgds

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#8
In reply to #3

Re: No Cellphones When Driving

01/04/2012 1:09 PM

As a general rule I do not count green traffic lights as they don't slow me down. It's the red ones that get my attention. The exception lies in if I am getting directions from the person on the phone to whom I am talking to. "Turn left after the 3rd light and go 2 stop signs. Pull around to the 3rd house on the left."

I agree there are those that can be easily distracted and adding another item to the mix might be the last straw be for they cannot focus at all. Why should I have to be punished for it?

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#6
In reply to #1

Re: No Cellphones When Driving

01/04/2012 10:24 AM

The issue is that when a driver is talking to a passenger, the driver is not as detached as when the driver is talking to someone at a home, office or other location (plus based on the environment, the passenger usually knows when to "pause" the conversation for the sake of the driver). Part of your brain is in essence 'teleported' to the other location. I have observed this phenomena in myself. I use a hands-free device and I try to limit my calls while on the road especially if the traffic or road conditions are more challenging than limited-access super-slab droning.

That being said, I oppose unilateral bans on cell phone use. People need to act responsibly. It's no different now than when they started putting radios in cars and folks got all wound up about that too.

When I am convoying with others (pulling long trailers for instance), staying in contact actually enhances safety because we can coordinate lane changes, routing, and "watch each other's back". The nanny state is getting out of control but on the other hand we need to prosecute the idiots for negligent driving. Most states already have laws on the books to deal with the zipper-heads.

Cheers !

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#7
In reply to #1

Re: No Cellphones When Driving

01/04/2012 10:49 AM

It does not matter whether hands on or hands off, all the same conditions apply either way. You are having to focus your attention to someones conversation. Talking on a cell phones takes 85% of you attention away from the road, as stated in Defensive driving course. Increased your chances by 23x that of someone that isn't talking on a cell phone. It slows your reaction time down to equivelent of that of someone driving with a .08BAC.

It never ceases to amaze me how people can defent talking on a cell phone, when I'm sure everyone has had to slow down behind someone driving way under the speed limit and not paying attention because they are too busy talking on a cell phone. Or people making left turns in front of you causing you to have to stop because they were talking on a cell phone.

Someone talking to you in the car and radio isn't anymore distracting than any other ambient noise. Talking on a cell phone, you have to focus your attention to that phone and that is focus you are taking away from the road. It's what you are requiring your brain to do to listen to that phone that causes it. Cops that I see talking on cell phones and driving really irritate me because they know the dangers and choose to ignore it because they seem to think the forces of nature don't apply to them, it just tells me they gave an idiot a badge because they've been schooled on the subject.

And it's not a matter of blocking your vision from seeing your blind spots, it's a matter of taking your attention from remembering to check your blind spot is the issue.

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#11
In reply to #7

Re: No Cellphones When Driving

01/04/2012 1:30 PM

Talking on a cell phones takes 85% of you attention away from the road, as stated in Defensive driving course. Increased your chances by 23x that of someone that isn't talking on a cell phone.

I'd like to see the research data for the stats on this. Maybe a good myth busters episode.

It never ceases to amaze me how people can defent talking on a cell phone.

Those that can talk while driving will argue for our privilege to do so. At the same time we will also agree with you about those that can't shouldn't.

I'm sure everyone has had to slow down behind someone driving way under the speed limit and not paying attention because they are too busy talking on a cell phone.

Maybe they are new to the area and are getting directions on the phone?

Someone talking to you in the car and radio isn't anymore distracting than any other ambient noise.

You must be married too. I can tune out my wife but I'll never let here here me refer to her conversations as ambient noise.

Talking on a cell phone, you have to focus your attention to that phone and that is focus you are taking away from the road. It's what you are requiring your brain to do to listen to that phone that causes it.

It is not the phone that is distracting it is the conversation.

Please do not take this reply as cheap hits or pot shots to your post. I did log in so you know who I am. I just do not agree with banning cell phones in cars. I personally hate it when I get near someone with a phone crammed in their ear because it does limit the ability to keep track of blind spots and can in my opinion create a blind spot. But my post was with regards to hands free. I have been in cars where the driver was distracted just by talking to the other occupants. It did not matter if a phone was involved or not. If we really want to reduce distractions then children should not be allowed in cars with parents. Fighting sibs or a crying baby have been the worst distractions I have had to deal with.

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#15
In reply to #11

Re: No Cellphones When Driving

01/04/2012 2:06 PM

I got a speeding ticket and attended defensive driving class. The issue of talking on the cell phones was brought up along with legislation that was in play at the time. This was before any State imposed any hands free only laws, the instructor stated 85%.

I am in charge of safety for the company that I work for and receive safety news bulletins from Cal-OSHA. That is where I got the information about 23x more likely to get into an accident and the response reduction to being like of having a .08BAC.

You're right, Mythbusters should take this on. I imagine their findings might be inconclusive.

My attitude is "Safety First" and since this is such a controversial subject, there is reason that it is an issue and those that like talking on cell phones while driving should take note because they are taking something for granted when the information is out there telling them they are screwing up.

Keep this in mind, all you talkers on cell phones while driving and think you have a handle on it. If you are in an accident and you were talking on the cell phone at the time and someone gets killed, you can be charged with VOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER. They will find out if you were or not just by checking your phone records and They check everytime if there is a cell phone in your possession.

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#19
In reply to #15

Re: No Cellphones When Driving

01/04/2012 3:14 PM

Thank you for not taking my reply as a joke. I know several people in law enforcement including those in the HASMAT and commercial trucking sections. This subject comes up occasionally. As a matter of fact the State of Illinois has banned cell phones while driving for all state troopers. To me this is ridiculous as they require them to use the radio at high speeds. But I guess we need to keep in mind that they also have strict policies regarding high speed chases as well. I have heard the cell phone restriction was made to keep people happy as this has become a hot topic over the past few years. As I understand it there are laws that make it illegal to text while driving a commercial vehicle. As I said I know people in law enforcement. I have played guinea pig for the PBT for one friend when he went through the academy. I did not complain about the proposition. I do not drink much normally and had a hard time getting any where near drunk on the scale but I was hammered and could not walk very well. So, to me a .08 comparison seems a bit much. I have rambled long enough and yeild the floor to the next speaker.

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#20
In reply to #19

Re: No Cellphones When Driving

01/04/2012 4:10 PM

I wouldn't do that. All your points are very valid and I respect them.

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#23
In reply to #1

Re: No Cellphones When Driving

01/05/2012 6:36 PM

Using a mobile / cell phone whilst driving here in Australia is ILLEGAL. You will receive a fine and 3 demerit points on your driving record. It is always recommended to pull off the road to have a 'phone conversation.

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#4

Re: No Cellphones When Driving

01/04/2012 9:23 AM

I think the government needs to mind its own business. I have the hands-free "Sync" system in my car, and even initiating a call is done with my voice and is no more distracting that talking to someone in the car. In fact, since no eye contact is made it is even less distracting than having passengers. I'm afraid that we should not let concepts like this turn into legislating what we do in our cars. What next? Getting pulled over for stuffing a french fry in our mouths while driving? Gum chewing? Having a sip of coffee? May as well take the radio out of the car and go back to being just as uncomfortable as possible so we won't have any distractions....We recently had a state trooper wreck a squad car for typing on a laptop while driving 55 MPH....he's a "professional" multi-tasker right? Wrong, he used poor judgement by choosing to perform a task that at speed was dangerous. You can't legislate good judgement.

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#5

Re: No Cellphones When Driving

01/04/2012 9:25 AM

There are no laws that forbid people from using their cellphones whilst operating a vehicle here.

Guaranteed that if there is a car hogging 2 lanes or turning without due care that the driver has a phone grafted to the side of their head.

Better still are those who text, eyes down, whilst riding a motorbike in traffic.

I believe that phone use whilst operating a vehicle is more dangerous than attempting to drive whilst intoxicated.

If the insurers object the laws will change. That's how it always has been.

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#9

Re: No Cellphones When Driving

01/04/2012 1:11 PM

Lots of good comments here!

The issue seems to be whether or not talking on a cell phone is as bad as, better than, or no worse than other forms of distraction. That seems to be dependent on the individual. We are all different and some of us can multi-task better than others. Those who perform better are not as distracted. Before the advent of cell phones, there was much debate on other things that distracted drivers -- like fiddling with the radio, eating, talking to someone else in the car, especially in the back seat -- and whther or not htey should be prohibited. The bottom line is that anything that distracts the driver should be avoided.

The problem is that since we are all different, how to determine who should or should not be allowed to do something that endangers other people? Does a blanket ban on an activity effectively stop the behavior? Does a blanket ban unfairly infringe on those people who are not distracted when engaging in a certain behavior?

Maybe there should be a new licensing requirement! If you pass a performance test, you can talk on your phone while driving. New revenue stream for local government, more jobs for testing personnel. More or larger fines if you cause an accident while engaging in a "unlicensed" behavior. (Ok, this last paragraph is a joke.)

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#10
In reply to #9

Re: No Cellphones When Driving

01/04/2012 1:24 PM

I simply disagree that it takes 100% of my focus to pilot an automobile in a straight line without hitting anyone. Just think of all the professions that require communication while controlling a plane, helicopter or vehicle at a high rate of speed. I'd like to use airline pilots and perhaps even police chases as some examples. A pilot is looking at gauges, radio controls, the horizon and chatting with the copilot or air traffic controllers all while traveling no less than 200 mph. If talking while driving dooms us to chaos in the streets, what would happen in the air if this were true? If a NASCAR driver can drive 200 mph and chat with his pit crew, or a police officer involved in a chase can keep the dispatcher advised of speed and location to coordinate a traffic stop during a high speed chase, I can certainly handle a hands-free conversation while putting along at 55 mph. I suppose a GPS will be doomed as too distracting also?

I'm going to go wrap myself in bubble wrap in case I fall down on the ice....

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#12
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Re: No Cellphones When Driving

01/04/2012 1:35 PM

GA from me

Well said

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#13
In reply to #10

Re: No Cellphones When Driving

01/04/2012 1:36 PM

Of course, it doesn't take 100% but how much of your attention does it take? 75%? 50%? 20%? 15%?

Does the amount of attention vary with road conditions? Does it take more or less on the open highway than on a congested city street? Does it take more at 35 MPH or 55 MPH?

How much of your attention is required to determine that road conditions have changed and you need to focus more on driving?

The examples you give of airline pilots, police and race car drivers are examples of trained personnel. Are you advocating a training course for those of us who want to talk on cell phones while driving?

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#14
In reply to #13

Re: No Cellphones When Driving

01/04/2012 1:57 PM

Their level of training does not prepare them to adapt to all conditions or there would never be accidents or "pilot error". Recently a MN State Patrol officer broad-sided another vehicle, blowing a stop-sign while typing into his computer....bad judgement on his part. I am sure his training told him that he shouldn't attempt typing on his laptop while driving...My point is you can't legislate good judgement, nor should you attempt to punish those with good judgement by assuming the general public is incapable of exercising good judgement in the use of phones, GPS or other distractions because of the mistakes of a few people. If I get lost, I pull over, make the phone calls I need or get a map out. I don't lay the map out on the steering wheel like I've seen others do. We could make a law against having maps in the car I suppose, but that's not really the point is it? I agree with the Mechanic that fighting kids or crying babies are likely the worst distractions one person could have and there are millions of minivan drivers running about that are plenty distracted with kids, DVD players and gaming consoles all going at once. Common sense would be that if there are already distractions in the vehicle, adding more of them adds risk, but at some point the driver must be held responsible and we should not have the government become the nanny of common sense by passing more laws that are unreasonable or unenforcable.

References: http://www.kare11.com/news/article/947733/14/State-trooper-investigated-after-distracted-driving-crash

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#16
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Re: No Cellphones When Driving

01/04/2012 2:12 PM

I fully agree with you that we cannot legislate good judgement. In fact, we have been saying much the same -- you can only legislate (attempt to control) behavior.

You can't legislate greed or generosity, but you can make burglary and theft illegal and punishable. Since most of us are basically honest folks, why have these laws which restrict us from taking whatever we see or want (and isn't ours)? You can make tax breaks for charitable contributions. If you establish limits on the charitable contributions, is that a punishment for those who contribute in excess of the "allowed" amount?

To your final point, if "...at some point the driver must be held responsible..." how will that be done unless "the government become[s] the nanny of common sense" and makes the behavior illegal or punishable?

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#22
In reply to #10

Re: No Cellphones When Driving

01/05/2012 12:24 AM

It all depends on where you are driving and how chaotic the environment is.

I never talk on a phone or even a two way radio while driving.

Stopping safely for 5 minutes wastes less time than even a minor traffic altercation.

If you need to perform non flight critical comms and can't stop then employ a pilot to keep the rig moving while you blither away.

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#24
In reply to #10

Re: No Cellphones When Driving

04/28/2012 8:23 AM

What percent do you feel it takes to pilot an automobile? It like saying, I don't need 100% eye sight to pilot an automobile. People do it, but the drive differently. You have to be responsible. It's that percentage that you don't use to drive that creates the accident. No one goes out to have an accident.

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#17

Re: No Cell phones When Driving

01/04/2012 2:18 PM

I am usually a "Live Free or Die" kind of guy, but when you consider the growing threat of possible mistakes or misjudgements which could likely have a "life or death" effect on not just ourselves but others, I can not in good conscience ignore the consequences. Common sense would conclude that if I am the sole controller of a lethal 2 ton missile, it would employ my undivided attention. Unfortunately, too often common sense does not prevail so I would place this in the DUI category (diminished capacity). Not many would contend the reasonable legal restriction, even with the difficulty of adequate enforcement.

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#18
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Re: No Cell phones When Driving

01/04/2012 2:48 PM

DUI? Had not heard that angle before. Would this be similar to "driving to fast for road conditions resulting in an accident?"

Not jesting just asking in earnest.

As I am pondering this, I am left thinking that it would mean having / using a cell in a car would not be illegal. That is, unless it is found to be a contributing factor in an accident. Sounds like the lawyers will have a hay day with this and make millions.

Again I am not making light of your concept. I am in fact intrigued by the proposal.

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#21
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Re: No Cell phones When Driving

01/04/2012 4:11 PM

I apologize for lack of clarity. I was not proposing that using a cell phone should be prosecuted for DUI, just that it fell into the same category of diminished capacity therefore justifying the banning its use while driving. Eating, reading, putting on make up, etc. are also in that same category in my humble opinion.

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