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US Agency Blocked Cellphone / Driving Safety Study 464

Posted by kdawson
from the no-one-wants-to-know dept.
By now you've probably seen the NY Times's long piece on distracted driving — about how most drivers and most legislators willfully ignore the evidence of the dangers of talking on a cellphone, texting, and other electronic distractions while behind the wheel. According to this article, cellphone use while driving causes over 1,000 fatalities a year in the US. Another shoe has now dropped: it seems that the US National Highway Safety Administration blocked a proposed definitive study of the risks. The NHSA now cites concerns about angering Congress. Two consumer safety groups had filed a FOIA request for documents about the aborted study, and the Times has now made the documents public — including the research behind the request for a study of 10,000 drivers.
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US Agency Blocked Cellphone / Driving Safety Study

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  • scary thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Monday July 20, 2009 @09:33PM (#28764675)
    The highway safety researchers estimated that cellphone use by drivers caused around 955 fatalities and 240,000 accidents over all in 2002.

    The scary thing about this is that those numbers were from 2002. Think about how many more cellphones there are out there today than there were in 2002.
  • Re:scary thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ImNotAtWork (1375933) on Monday July 20, 2009 @09:36PM (#28764709)
    now think about how many touch screen phones that are out now. You can easily fumble your way through a phone number on a pad... but a flat touch screen requires a bit more focus.. that should be on the road anyways.
  • by SethJohnson (112166) on Monday July 20, 2009 @09:37PM (#28764713) Homepage Journal


    Meanwhile, every public pool has a policy of emptying everyone if thunder is heard. "Oh, you might get struck by lightening!" Yeah, well, you know what the chances of that are? A hell of a lot less than the risk that one of these brats is going to run out into the street and get run over by a car (perhaps while the driver is calling to see if the pool is open).

    It's like people take all these precautions against the least likely dangers, while the more likely risks are ignored.

    Seth
  • by rally2xs (1093023) on Monday July 20, 2009 @09:45PM (#28764783)
    Ban cell phone conversations in cars? That'd be the only way - the "hands free" laws are as good as no laws at all, its the division of attention that causes the accidents, not the holding of the phone. The only thing the hands free law is good for is for keeping the other drivers from knowing that the reason that a person is driving like a drunk is that they're blabbing on the phone. And banning phones in cars will cause some people to turn in their phones and cancel the service, because the car is about the only place they use and need them (like me.) So, I want to see the study that pits the consequences of fewer cell phones in society vs. the death rate, since it may take longer to get an accident called in to 911, or for help for a lot of other things to be summoned, etc. It's always a 2-edged sword if you ban something, since you have to consider the effects of its absence as well as the effects of its presence.
  • Re:stunned (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 20, 2009 @09:45PM (#28764787)
    Guess what. If there's a chance that the US could be behind in something, we'll likely do our damnedest to make sure we're behind. It reminds me of this guy I work with. Whenever something like this (or poor health care, or poor education) comes up, he always responds with "But we're America. It shouldn't be like that here." And then he turns around and consistently votes against the people that try to improve public safety, education, health care. Go figure.
  • by Hadlock (143607) on Monday July 20, 2009 @09:47PM (#28764811) Homepage Journal

    I think the main problem is that while it's unlikely you'll be struck by, much less killed by lightning, if you're in the pool and lightning strikes within 200 ft or so (ballpark figure), well, you've got a bunch of people in the pool. Stick a fork in the toaster to get the bagel out, you're in for a shock, drop the toaster into the bathtub and you're done. The current for the lightning comes from the ground and goes to the sky, so if the pool is in the vicinity, there's a good chance of shocking/electrocuting a lot of people, particularly children, which is bad PR. The shock might be enough to trigger an epileptic seizure, or knock out someone's pacemaker, or give an elderly fatty a heart attack, any of those causing the person to drown. The kids who get run over in the street leaving the pool, well that's probably for the best, they won't pass on the bad parenting skills they learned from their parents. The rest of us survive to adulthood playing in the street, keeping an eye out for traffic with zero problems.

  • by Hunter0000 (1600071) on Monday July 20, 2009 @09:48PM (#28764815)

    Eggs must be broken to make omelets. What happened to the can-do, damn-the-torpedoes attitude that got us to the moon?

    Everyone in the space program that got us to the moon knew the risks and accepted them. By your logic drunk driving should be legal because its a known risk on the roadway. I'm sure that logic will be comforting if one day you "break an egg" (or are broken yourself) because you were distracted responding to an email. This isn't about your right to do whatever the hell you want, its about the right for some degree of safety on a public transit network.

  • Re:scary thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AndrewNeo (979708) on Monday July 20, 2009 @09:48PM (#28764821) Homepage

    I've noticed that with my new touchscreen phone, even with text prediction it's a lot harder to do it because I have to look at the screen to make sure I'm hitting the right buttons, or at all. With my previous phone, I could just feel the buttons, and I knew what the text prediction would come up with, so I could write entire texts without looking at the phnoe until it was done. Not that it's still entirely safe, but if you're going to do it anyway..

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Monday July 20, 2009 @09:58PM (#28764889)

    For starters we could enforce the existing laws. Caught talking on your cellphone twice, hand over your license.

    All the existing laws are "feel good" laws for sanctimonious pricks. All the studies that have been published show that it isn't the act of holding a phone up to your ear that causes a driver to be distracted, it is simply talking on the phone that matters. But all of the laws give free passes to anyone with a handsfree phone. That's arguably worse than holding the phone to your ear - if you do that, at least the other drivers have a chance of noticing that you are on the phone and giving you a wide berth, handsfree makes you look like all the other drivers even though you are not as engaged with the road as they are.

    If a pilot be required to be communicating on a radio while they land and take off - in a fast moving vehicle that falls out of the sky if not kept within parameters, at the edge of those parameters - I think drivers can be taught to drive safely on a cell phone.

    One difference is that he is talking on the radio ABOUT what he is doing. His brain isn't focused on flirting with the ATC.
    Another difference is that the ATC knows when to shut the hell up and let the pilot do his job if something goes wrong, just like someone in the passenger seat would. But someone on the other end of the phone may not even know he is talking to a driver.

  • by rueger (210566) on Monday July 20, 2009 @09:59PM (#28764895) Homepage
    The NYT article is pretty specific that the study of 10,000 drivers was needed because all of the current estimates of the impact of cel use on driver accidents are based on unproven assumptions and (one might suggest) speculation.

    The problem as always is that so much traffic safety "data" is founded on police reports of the "speed was a factor" variety. These are subjective guesswork, not scientific evidence

    Certainly any distraction raises the likelihood of driver error, but that includes a multitude of things including loud music, scantily clad women on street corners, animated electronic billboards, and kids fighting in the backseat

    You can't eliminate all distractions, so how can we teach drivers to filter out non-essential stimulation, or create auto technology that will protect drivers in moments of distraction?
  • by bigdavex (155746) on Monday July 20, 2009 @10:06PM (#28764959)

    If a pilot be required to be communicating on a radio while they land and take off - in a fast moving vehicle that falls out of the sky if not kept within parameters, at the edge of those parameters - I think drivers can be taught to drive safely on a cell phone.

    I think a key difference here is that the people on the radio are communicating with the pilot about flying the plane, not, say, where to eat or how to fix the toilet.

  • by dirk (87083) <dirk@one.net> on Monday July 20, 2009 @10:16PM (#28765033) Homepage

    Driving while distracted is (and always has been) dangerous, there's no questioning that. But my question is if cell phone usage is as huge a deal as everyone makes it out to be. There hasn't been a huge increase in car crashes since cell phone came into common usage. In fact, the number of deaths from auto accidents has actually gone down as a percentage of the population according to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_in_U.S._by_year). So the number of deaths from car accidents hasn't increased with the introduction of this huge danger.

    I think the issue is that cell phones are something easy and visible for people to blame. Where before an accident was caused by someone playing with the radio, or changing the CD, or eating or whatever, that was easily ignored or missed, now everyone sees that the person was on their cell phone and they KNOW that was the cause. Even when someone cuts them off in traffic, it must be the cell phone, when it is probably the person is either just an asshole or a bad driver. But because they were on the phone, it must be the phone.

    If they want to do studies, why not do them on cell phones as well as other common things people do while driving? What effect does playing the radio, changing the CD, programming and following your GPS, eating and drinking, or anything else have on your driving?

  • by blueg3 (192743) on Monday July 20, 2009 @10:19PM (#28765053)

    For commercial passenger aircraft, there's also a copilot. Both of them have substantially more training requirements than a person who wants to drive a car, and they're ostensibly focusing on the task. (Certainly they're communicating on the radio about the task.) They also have substantial electronic assistance in doing their jobs.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 20, 2009 @10:20PM (#28765067)

    Breaking eggs is called natural selection... well, sure, you got to believe in evolution.

  • Re:scary thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by davester666 (731373) on Monday July 20, 2009 @10:28PM (#28765131) Journal

    I don't know why handfree is considered significantly better than holding the cell phone up to your ear, any more than holding a coffee/pop/hamburger.

    Unless you are having a totally trivial, meaningless conversation, it's the attention your brain has to give to listening to what the person is saying and how you will respond that screws up driving.

    I've personally noticed that for non-trivial calls that last more than maybe a minute, I'll have gone miles without knowing exactly how (basically, driven on autopilot).

  • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Monday July 20, 2009 @10:33PM (#28765171)

    But all of the laws give free passes to anyone with a handsfree phone. That's arguably worse than holding the phone to your ear - if you do that, at least the other drivers have a chance of noticing that you are on the phone and giving you a wide berth

    why can't *this* kind of thinking (ie, actual thinking) be present in those who are making our laws?

    you have a really good point. at least when you're holding the phone, others can take that into account and 'work around you'. give you more room or just stay out of your way and assume you need more 'buffer' space around you. just in case.

  • by seifried (12921) on Monday July 20, 2009 @10:36PM (#28765195) Homepage
    We can't even teach people to signal turns and lane changes reliably. Teaching cell phone safety to the public is about as likely to happen as someone winning the lottery jackpot 37 times in a row by finding discarded tickets in the street.
  • by Falconhell (1289630) on Monday July 20, 2009 @10:40PM (#28765211) Journal

    Avaiators have a little saying that goes;

    Aviate, navigate, communicate.

    Meaning, the last priority is to communicate.

    It is extrememly doubtful any pilot worth his salt
    (I certainly would not)would make radio calls whilst taking off or when about to land. Such calls are made well before critical periods of a flight-as they may be a distraction.

    What you advocate is to say the least dumb.

  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Monday July 20, 2009 @10:48PM (#28765259) Homepage

    From an economic standpoint, 1000 deaths a year is a small price to pay for the productivity gains had by communicating while in transit.

    You are making the assumption that most cell phone conversations in cars are 'productive' in some sense of the word. From what I have seen, I seriously doubt that is true. Most of conversations are just mindless babble that could just as well never happen.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 20, 2009 @10:50PM (#28765271)
    Maybe you should also research the change in DUI laws, automobile safety and total number of auto accidents, not just fatalities.

    Anytime 50 fucktards would be jumping up and down screaming that correlation != causation. This time, since the evidence suits their needs, they keep their mouths shut.

    As for the rest of the causes, yes, they are causes of accidents. No one said they should be exempt.
  • Re:scary thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hedwards (940851) on Monday July 20, 2009 @10:50PM (#28765279)
    It's not any better, I think subsequent research demonstrated that it's a questionable assertion. Really at this point, the prudent thing is to turn off all audio devices and anything that isn't really necessary so that one can more easily concentrate.

    These sorts of laws aren't terribly useful until they ban it for all drivers and make it a primary offense.
  • Re:scary thing (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 20, 2009 @11:02PM (#28765361)

    Hands-free goes a long way with standard transmission. Doubly so if your alignment is off.

    Not that I drive and talk much, or condone it, but it's also not hard to say "hang on a second" while navigating a tricky situation.

  • by Savior_on_a_Stick (971781) <robertfranz@gmail.com> on Monday July 20, 2009 @11:02PM (#28765365)

    It called Maintaining Control of Your Vehicle.

    Good drivers don't really need any other law in order to comply with the above.

    They observe what's going on around them, and adapt accordingly - whether it's slowing down, stopping for a nap, adding following distance, or refraining from phone use.

    What we actually need is enforcement of the above.

    Involved in an accident?

    The burden is on you to prove you did everything a reasonable person would to prevent it.

    Currently, I can pull out from an intersection and deliberately t-bone someone and suffer no serious repercussions, unless I'm proven impaired, or some other gross act.

    "Oops - I didn't seem him" gets people out of what should have been criminal charges all the time.

    I blame mandatory insurance for some of this.

    Everyone looks at accidents like "you were insured? no harm - no foul.

    I see people every day who should be locked up for the lack of common care they put into their driving.

  • Re:What about... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Monday July 20, 2009 @11:05PM (#28765385) Homepage Journal

    "Maybe some people can handle it. Maybe they can't."

    It isn't terribly different from drinking and driving - both affect judgement. Drinking is outlawed for drivers, so cellphones should be too. Saying that "I can handle it" is one of the macho things men said 40 years ago, before they ran a kid over on the way home from the bar.

    Anyone who claims that the cell phone doesn't impair their driving is being dishonest with himself, not to mention being dishonest with the rest of us.

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday July 20, 2009 @11:08PM (#28765403) Journal

    I have no problem with you taking risks that effect just you. But as far as I'm concerned, if you make my next drive unsafe, then you're behavior must be modified, either willingly or be force.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 20, 2009 @11:11PM (#28765423)
    he hardly introduced facts. merely stated a number of deaths on roads without taking into account the reduction in deaths from improved roads, improved vehicle safety (airbags etc) and improved vehicle control mechanisms and as such his fact is completely meaningless and does not help either side of the argument. For all we know when put in context cell phones could be causing 40,000 deaths a year 300% a year since 2000 or they could be causing zero. Simply throwing a statistics into the argument without any context is idiotic. In effect he has used facts and yet provided absolutely ZERO substance and relevence to the debate.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 20, 2009 @11:18PM (#28765479)

    90% of human activity is just mindless babble that could just as well never happen.
    its the 10% that counts.

  • Re:scary thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by noidentity (188756) on Monday July 20, 2009 @11:33PM (#28765597)

    I've noticed that with my new touchscreen phone, even with text prediction it's a lot harder to do it because I have to look at the screen to make sure I'm hitting the right buttons, or at all. With my previous phone, I could just feel the buttons, and I knew what the text prediction would come up with, so I could write entire texts without looking at the phnoe until it was done.

    And this is why "smart" (AKA unpredictable) computer interfaces are worse than dumb ones: you have to constantly find out what it did in response to your last input before you continue. It's essentially like a TCP connection with a very small window, preventing the sender from sending a lot at a time. Even though the "smart" interface might reduce the amount of input needed, it introduces lots of delays while you verify each step. Give me an interface I can simulate in my mind and therefore fire a lot of input at without constantly verifying that it's accepted as I expected.

  • by noidentity (188756) on Monday July 20, 2009 @11:38PM (#28765631)

    Meanwhile, every public pool has a policy of emptying everyone if thunder is heard. "Oh, you might get struck by lightening!" Yeah, well, you know what the chances of that are? A hell of a lot less than the risk that one of these brats is going to run out into the street and get run over by a car (perhaps while the driver is calling to see if the pool is open).

    It's like people take all these precautions against the least likely dangers, while the more likely risks are ignored.

    The pool situation is different because the person staying in the pool bears the risk, not others (unless they are required to pay for hospitalization, which wouldn't surprise me). With cellphone use, the driver is exposing everyone to any increased risk it causes. Big difference.

  • Re:scary thing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by icebike (68054) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @12:33AM (#28765931)

    Not hard, says you.

    But the studies show otherwise.

  • by fractoid (1076465) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @12:42AM (#28765967) Homepage
    Also, while the consequences for mishap in a plane are generally more severe, flying a plane generally takes a helluva lot less attention than driving a car. If you're sitting at 100km/h on the freeway, the wrong control input for 1/10th of a second could easily kill you. If you're in the cockpit of an airliner, you have an exclusive packet of airspace that's literally kilometers wide, and unless you're in final approach you're probably at least a kilometer off the ground. Take your eyes off the controls for a few seconds and there's not going to be any huge consequence since there's nothing to hit.
  • by 1u3hr (530656) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @12:43AM (#28765981)
    From an economic standpoint, 1000 deaths a year is a small price to pay for the productivity gains had by communicating while in transit.

    What "productivity gains"? You speak as if you have quantified it. What economic value do mobile phone calls have? The great majority are just socialising.

  • Re:scary thing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kuroji (990107) <kuroji@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @01:23AM (#28766177)

    Yeah, and your caller cheerfully keeps blathering on despite telling them three times to hold on, god damn it, I'm in the middle of rush hour traffic trying to merge. This was the point that I decided that just about anyone on the other end of the phone while I'm driving is probably not going to listen to me anyway. If it's important they can leave a damn message and I'll get back to them at my convenience.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @01:29AM (#28766205)

    Go spend a few days riding around on a motorcycle and see how many stupid things happen when people are on cellphones. Most people barely have enough brain capacity to drive. Put a cellphone in their hands and their brain capacity quickly becomes zero.

  • Re:scary thing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @01:33AM (#28766217)

    He has a point though... not all passengers are equal.

    I cringe whenever I see a "super mom" driving around obviously more engaged in Quality Time with the baby in the rear seat than in her driving responsibilities. It is proof that the survival and "maternal protection" instincts do not imbue rational behavior in many cases. I have seen this both with women focusing intensely with tunnel vision on their rear-view mirror (which is of course aimed incorrectly to show them the back seat instead of the view out the back of the car) and with women who actually twist and look over their shoulder for long periods of time.

    I am not trying to pick on moms, as I see plenty of other scenarios just as bad, ranging from couples apparently conducting divorce court in their car to couples trying to make babies while driving. Meanwhile, my own wife took months to be able to handle my "quiet now!" bark when I was focused in intense traffic and she was in the passenger seat. I find it easier to say "hold on" and drop my earphone during a phone call than to say "hold on" and have some passenger keep talking or start arguing. People who claim passengers do not cause interference have apparently never had an argumentative passenger.

    This issue is actually the one time that I can see the value of intrusive "black box" systems, but it would be a "cockpit voice recorder" and video camera to show the actual environment and actions of the occupants in the moments leading to a crash. I don't care what you are doing, if it causes a distraction and leads to a crash, liability should be assigned accordingly. That could be answering a phone, changing the music, scratching your ass, spilling coffee on your lap, getting a blow job, falling asleep, picking your nose, being whacked out on cold medicine, having a speed-racer moment, getting bit by your unrestrained dog, having objects thrown at you by your unruly child, etc. I don't care the reason. You accept responsibility for operating a deadly machine when you drive it, and you should accept the consequences when you fail to live up to the task.

  • Re:scary thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dkf (304284) <donal.k.fellows@manchester.ac.uk> on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @03:49AM (#28766877) Homepage

    While cellphone use is definitely a potential distraction and reduces focus on driving, I claim that most people who can drive properly can actually learn to talk over the phone while driving safely.

    I really doubt your claim. There have been studies done, and apparently talking on the phone makes your reaction times slow more than having drunk quite a lot of alcohol. It's not exactly rocket science to go from "slower reactions" to "more accidents", especially when you consider that one person's inattention can cause a lot of damage to others.

    Illegality or not, get off the phone while driving. If not for your own sake, then for mine and everyone elses. OK?

  • by dunkelfalke (91624) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @04:40AM (#28767101)

    The difference is, driving is neither a right nor a liberty. It is a privilege. This privilege comes with some conditions. One of the condition is that you may not use your car on a public road when either your car is not fit for it or yourself aren't. It actually makes your argument about not being at your peak alertness a moot point - yes, it is already illegal, it is just too difficult to prove and no one cares. There also clear rules about turn signals. For example from the German traffic law: "whoever wishes to turn must make their intention clearly and in a timely manner, using the vehicle indicators".

  • by sFurbo (1361249) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @07:44AM (#28768033)
    Ahh, but you can quantify how much the people value using the phone in the car, by looking at how much people are willing to pay for talking on a cellphone, compared to a normal phone (which they would presumably have at their destination). Hmm, I can't find the article, but it turns out that the rational reaction is to allow people talking, as they value that more than they value the (small) decrease in the risk of getting killed. I don't like that conclusion, but I have a hard time finding reasons to reject it...
  • Re:scary thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @09:17AM (#28768797) Journal

    Even if never look at your phone and just say "call home", a study by the AAA Car Club has shown that merely *talking* on the phone distracts the driver.

    I've seen this myself in real life, where a woman almost clipped my front end when she drove straight through a redlight. Her eyes were on the road, they saw the redlight, but her brain never processed the information, because she was animatedly talking to her somebody on her phone (held in her right hand against her head). The mere act of talking means you are not giving your full attention to the world outside your car.

    Remember our brains are poor multitaskers - like an old IBM 8088 PC but much worse. Studies have found that a multitasking brain given two separate tasks does not split them 50-50. It's more like 30-30 with 20% wasted on overhead as the brain struggles to taskswitch.

    Talking on a phone while driving should be banned. ALL the driver's attention should be on the road.

  • Re:scary thing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mcgrew (92797) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @09:37AM (#28768981) Homepage Journal

    It's not just the dialing, although I miss my Razr and its voice-activated dialing. The actual talking is a bigger distraction; it's almost impossible to pay attention to both the conversation and the road. It's not like talking to a passenger.

    As to distracted driving, they need to outlaw letting pretty girls walk down a roadway. I almost killed myself on my motorcycle when I was 19, because I was paying attention to two females walking down the highway when I should have been making sure the car ahed didn't stop. Sliding under a stopped car isn't a pleasant experience; I limped for months.

  • Re:scary thing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by greed (112493) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @10:28AM (#28769675)

    Thing about passengers....

    They can at least look at what's going on outside the car. (Though passengers who _do not drive_ tend to not know when to shut up.)

    But you're right: there's plenty of people driving distracted by conversations in their own car. Kids yammering in the back seat, "domestic dispute" in the front, lots of things taking their mind off the task at hand.

    Too bad we can't ban the lot. And mandate, "Only drive when neutral or happy, never in anger."

  • by 1u3hr (530656) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @12:48PM (#28771511)
    I can't find the article, but it turns out that the rational reaction is to allow people talking, as they value that more than they value the (small) decrease in the risk of getting killed.

    Not rational at all. People are very poor at assessing risk. More importantly, the risks are not only to the person using the phone. They KILL OTHER PEOPLE. They run over pedestrians. They go through red lights. For the same reason (and this is a very close analogy) we don't allow people to drive drunk, even though drunk drivers are quite willing to accept the risk to themselves.

  • Re:scary thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    Not that it's still entirely safe, but if you're going to do it anyway..

    This is the mentality that causes accidents in the first place isn't it? Why would you be doingit anyway? I hate to break it to you, but there's very little in life that's so urgent that you simply must deal with it NOW, damn the consequences. And in the rare event where something /is/ that urgent, why wouldn't you pull over to deal with it - and give it the attention it deserves?

    Understand - I'm a crackberry addict. Can't go a day without having it attached to me - access to all of my remote servers and shells, web sites, email, etc. Nonetheless -- you won't ever see me driving down the road and typing on it. (Traffic lights are another story ;) And that's with a full qwerty that can be navigated by touch.

    Please don't contrive ridiculous corner cases to justify this -- in everyday usage, what justification is there for placing your own sense of urgency above the lives and safety of the people you share the road with?

  • Re:News report (Score:3, Insightful)

    by digitig (1056110) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @07:32PM (#28776521)

    I'm sort of with that, except it means that you don't know what you can and can't do.

    Actually, I would be amazed if there isn't such a clause in your laws in whatever country you live in already.

    The offence here (UK) seems to be based on something going wrong with the actual driving -- an example given is "someone missing a traffic light turning green because they are singing along to their favourite tune a little too excitedly"; just "singing along to their favourite tune a little too excitedly" doesn't look as if it will do it.

    The police and judges can't actually determine how much attention you were paying to what, and the person who is actually the safety driver on the road could end up in court because the authorities can't tell. I think there's a lot to be said for the sharp steel spike from the steering wheel to the driver's chest...

    That is the price we pay for "innocent until found guilty--- lots of people gets off the hook until they actually cause some damage. Or learns how to drive with whatever distraction the world offers.

    I'm more concerned with people failing to get off the hook when there was really nothing wrong with their driving.

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