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Federal Summit Eyes Crackdown On Texting While Driving 408

Posted by Soulskill
from the as-long-as-i-can-still-play-bejeweled dept.
suraj.sun sends along this quote from an Associated Press report: "Opening a government meeting on auto safety, the Obama administration reported Wednesday that nearly 6,000 people were killed and a half-million injured last year in vehicle crashes connected to driver distraction, a striking indication of the dangers of using mobile devices behind the wheel. The Transportation Department was bringing together experts over two days for what it's calling a 'distracted driving summit' to take a hard look at the highway hazards caused by drivers talking on cell phones or texting from behind the wheel. ... Driver distraction was involved in 16 percent of all fatal crashes in 2008. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have passed laws making texting while driving illegal and seven states and the district have banned driving while talking on a handheld cell phone, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Many safety groups have urged a nationwide ban on texting and on using handheld mobile devices while behind the wheel."
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Federal Summit Eyes Crackdown On Texting While Driving

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  • Its just stupid (Score:5, Informative)

    by sopssa (1498795) * <> on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @10:57AM (#29593669) Journal

    This has been the common thing in many European countries for many years already. You're only allowed to talk in car if you're wearing a hands-free device to talk.

    Even more as speaking on a phone, SMS'ing is just stupid. You're not only putting your concentration it, but changing your view from the street to the phone screen. Sound's like a great idea.

  • Dramatization (Score:4, Informative)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @11:05AM (#29593793)

    Here's an anti-texting-and-driving PSA video I came across.

    It's a dramatization, but I found it to be uncommonly disturbing. Worth watching, if for no other reason than the quality of production. []

  • by JCSoRocks (1142053) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @11:05AM (#29593805)
    Receiving a text is very different than sending one. I'll read a text or a brief email while I'm driving. It's not much different from looking down at your stereo. Actually composing a text requires that you focus both on what you want to say and hitting the proper buttons to say it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @11:10AM (#29593869)

    This can generally be a hands free operation. GPS's us this as well and they are hands free. The biggest problem is when you are 'actively' involved in a texting discussion. You can not possibly concentrate on your driving. Same is true for non-hands free phone use. I think there really ought to be a generalized restriction. I have seen people eating a meal, reading a paper or book, smoking (particularly when light up which may require 2 hands), and various out 'stupid' activities as they are driving. Tell me how holding a bowl and eating with a fork or spoon, turning the pages of a book while holding it and reading, or any of these activities are any less dangerous. The ponit here is that when you are driving you should be doing just that. If you want to do the other activities, pull over and park!. I am getting tired of being cut off or having to maneuver around people that are driving erratically while concentrating on doing something else.

    Remember speed does not kill! STUPIDITY DOES!

  • Re:Its just stupid (Score:2, Informative)

    by Trip6 (1184883) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @11:11AM (#29593893)

    Re hands free talking, it's been proven in many studies that it's the distraction of the conversation that's the real threat over the mechanical fumbling with the dialing of the phone.

    California enacted hands-free talking last year then quickly realized they forgot text messaging. They pushed a bill through quickly that also bans texting.

    This is one of those "duh" issues.

  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @11:16AM (#29593991) Homepage Journal

    Yes and it is a good thing gone very bad.
    I would love to get those texts as I am walking out to my car, stopped at a light, or when I am stopped in a traffic jam or when I am riding as a passenger in the car.
    The problem is that too many people will try to read them while driving. I don't buy the idea it is no different that looking down at your radio. If you have to read your radio then you have issues.
    Really folks keep your eyes on the road. Even messing with the radio should be limited to when you are stopped. I could make an exception for the radio on a mostly empty interstate since the odds of running into anybody are slime to none but even that opening leaves too much wiggle room I fear.

  • Re:Its just stupid (Score:3, Informative)

    by MBGMorden (803437) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @11:24AM (#29594123)

    Actually the most recent studies are showing that holding the phone versus using a hands-free device has virtually zero difference in accident rates. The research indicates that merely talking on the cell phone - not holding it - is the main contributor to accidents, which seems pretty obvious to me anyways (it seems pretty obvious that holding a phone to your ear requires a fraction of the attention and concentration that the conversation itself does).

  • Re:Its just stupid (Score:2, Informative)

    by Trip6 (1184883) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @12:00PM (#29594801)

    Any distraction is bad, but cell phones are worse than passenger conversations: []

  • by mbone (558574) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @12:17PM (#29595021)

    You forgot to mention that Liddy Dole, as Secretary of Transportation, was largely responsible for the National Minimum Drinking Age Act. I remember her pushing the 21 year old drinking age, yes, in heavy collaboration with MADD, during the first Reagan administration, a period when this country seemed besotted with stupid ideas.

  • Re:This is stupid (Score:3, Informative)

    by ThrowAwaySociety (1351793) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @12:21PM (#29595073)

    It's just another loop hole insurance companies will use to not pay out claims.

    I have no problem with this. Lower premiums for people who are not idiots. This is the way things should work.

    Fault will be immediately assigned to the driver who was texting, there insurance won't pay, everybody is screwed...well except the insurance companies.

    Explain how I will be screwed, since I'm not the driver who was texting.

    Just like if their is an accident and a vehical has a broken bottle of liquor fault is assigned to that vehicle EVEN IF THE DRIVER WASN'T DRINKING, and it's damn hard to get anyone to review and change the fault even with a toxicology report.

    So put it in the trunk. What is liquor doing in the passenger compartment anyway, if nobody was drinking it?

    If someone is driving recklessly, give them a ticket. You can not pass laws to specifically name every way someone could drive dangerously.

    No, you can't. Nor is it easy to convict someone of being "reckeless" or "dangerous" since those are subjective terms. On the other hand, "drunk" (defined by BAC) and "texting" are things that can be proven.

  • Re:Its just stupid (Score:3, Informative)

    by camperdave (969942) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @12:47PM (#29595537) Journal
    Passing on the right on a multi-lane highway has never been an issue. After all the entire point of having multiple lanes is to handle larger volumes of traffic. It's passing on the right on a single lane highway, as that takes you onto the shoulder which is where loose gravel, pedestrians, cyclists, and people with car problems are likely to be.
  • Re:Its just stupid (Score:3, Informative)

    by Al Dimond (792444) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @01:55PM (#29596509) Journal

    It's not that hard to drive completely left-handed with a little practice. Driving a manual-transmission car would be more of a challenge (you'd have to hold the phone between your head and shoulder while shifting, which is hard to do with most cell phones). The big problem is that the people you're talking to are often inconsiderate of the fact that you're driving, and they can't know when you're coming up on a merge or a turn. Police officers have lots of gadgets in their cars, and bus drivers and truckers have CBs, but they're listening for specific things that have to do with their task at-hand. Bus drivers often miss a message addressed to them the first time but notice their call number and ask the dispatcher to repeat. There are often gaps in the conversation while difficult maneuvers are made. And this is taken as a normal order of business. Typical phone conversations with friends and bosses are more demanding.

  • Re:Its just stupid (Score:2, Informative)

    by BrokenHalo (565198) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @02:29PM (#29596969)
    However, three lefts do, in fact commonly make a right.

  • Re:Its just stupid (Score:3, Informative)

    by shiftless (410350) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @06:12PM (#29599527) Homepage

    Texting isn't a distraction; it doesn't distract you, it takes YOUR ENTIRE ATTENTION off of what you're doing.

    Only if you're a dumbass whose ENTIRE ATTENTION is needed to send a text message. It is entirely possible to watch the road while texting.

  • Re:Its just stupid (Score:3, Informative)

    by Calithulu (1487963) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @06:53PM (#29599917)
    All evidence to the contrary, eh []? Look, I can well understand wanting to send a message while driving, but texting really does limit the ability of a driver to actually drive. Accidents where texting is the reason for the failure of the driver to obey proper traffic laws [] are quite common []. But if you've seen studies that show something different, please link them - or articles linking to them - here. I'd dearly love to read them.
  • Re:Its just stupid (Score:2, Informative)

    by madcow_bg (969477) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @05:56AM (#29603349)

    Are you capable of forming an opinion on a subject without requiring a study to back it up? Are human beings in general able to master things that the average person in the average study wasn't capable of?

    I don't doubt that many people are too stupid or unskilled to safely text while driving. There's also a lot of people who can't juggle, and most can't walk on a tight rope over a canyon without falling to their deaths. Yet somehow, some people are able to do these things. I can type out a text message on my phone while watching traffic and barely even thinking about the message I'm sending, the same way I can type at 100 WPM on a keyboard while simultaneously holding a conversation with someone on a different subject. It comes from practice. Maybe you aren't practiced or skilled enough; I'm sorry. That doesn't change the fact that I can do these things, and neither do your studies.

    You can't. Really, you just can't do it. Your overinflated ego can twist and turn the facts in you head to make you believe you can do it, but you really can't. And by doing those things you are making all of us unsafe.

    Most drunk drivers believe they can drive just fine on three beers. They can't, it's a proven fact. It's also a proven fact that people believe they can do it, and this does not make it so.

    You may not have yet killed someone, but I urge you to stop your stupidity before you do. THEN it will be too late.

Theory is gray, but the golden tree of life is green. -- Goethe