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Fines Fail To Curb Cell Phone Usage While Driving 339

Posted by Soulskill
from the try-bullets-next-time dept.
andylim writes "An in-depth study of over 14,000 London drivers by the Transport Research Laboratory has found an increase in the number of London motorists making and taking calls using their handsets at the wheel between 2008 and 2009, even though harsher penalties were introduced in 2007. It seems that most people, at least in London, still don't respect the fact that there's a much higher risk of being involved in an accident if you're using your cell phone."
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Fines Fail To Curb Cell Phone Usage While Driving

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  • by cptdondo (59460) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:23PM (#30415758) Journal

    It's the enforcement. We have really, really high fines here for all sorts of traffic violations, but enforcement is so lacking that it almost seems random. Your chances of getting caught are miniscule, so people learn to ignore the law. If they do get caught, the fines are staggering - but the one in ten thousand chance of getting caught is not a deterrent.

    • by ground.zero.612 (1563557) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:31PM (#30415842)

      It's the enforcement. We have really, really high fines here for all sorts of traffic violations, but enforcement is so lacking that it almost seems random. Your chances of getting caught are miniscule, so people learn to ignore the law. If they do get caught, the fines are staggering - but the one in ten thousand chance of getting caught is not a deterrent.

      Actually it's not the fines or enforcement. It's training. Every police vehicle I've seen has a laptop mounted on the center console. Every time I see a cop driving around they have one hand on the keyboard and constantly glance back and forth between the road and the computer.

      Cell phones and cars aren't going away anytime soon. Instead of punishing the citizens for doing something police are trained to do, train the citizens too. There is no reason that drivers ed. classes shouldn't discuss this and deal with it.

      I think the best way to "think of the children" is to teach the children. If you don't want little Lisa to text and drive into a horrible wreck, teach her how to text and drive responsibly. Otherwise take your blanket statements and have every computer removed from police vehicles because otherwise we have an effective working double standard which provides revenue to the police force. Fuck that shit.

      • by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:38PM (#30415882)

        I think the best way to "think of the children" is to teach the children.

        The problem is, everybody has their own ideas about what to teach the children, and the vast majority of those ideas will turn little Lisa into an imbecile, a sociopath, or a robot.

        On the other hand, at least the robot can be programmed to drive safely.

      • by ground.zero.612 (1563557) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:44PM (#30415930)

        One more thing... In the USA (I live in Minnesota), we have classes of drivers licenses. Lowest class being I think a D (my D license allows me to drive standard cars and trucks up to a certain size). There is a separate class for motorcycles, and tractor-trailers (semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, etc). This "problem" can easily be handled through education, hands-on training, and licensing.

        Now I'm on a roll... We have these special license plates for vehicles whose owners like to drink alcohol and drive drunk. In my state we call them "whiskey plates" because the license number always starts with a W. These special license plates are a signifier for law enforcement that the person driving has been convicted multiple times of driving while intoxicated, and as such, may now be pulled over and checked at any time to verify they are not repeating the offense. I may be off on the rules, but that is the gist of it.

        So, maybe we can create another class of license plates as well as license. You text and cause accidents or speed too much, and you have to go to court and tell a judge. Then your car gets "texty plates" and everyone around now knows you like to text and drive and cause problems, and the cops can pull you over and check your cellphone to ensure you haven't been repeating the offense.

        I dunno. These ideas seem more American to me than making government bigger, and interfering with previously held freedoms.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jimicus (737525)

          Convicted multiple times of driving while intoxicated?!

          Here in the UK you'd be very lucky to still have a driving licence after that. I believe the typical punishment for being caught once is a year's ban.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dasunt (249686)

          So, maybe we can create another class of license plates as well as license. You text and cause accidents or speed too much, and you have to go to court and tell a judge. Then your car gets "texty plates" and everyone around now knows you like to text and drive and cause problems, and the cops can pull you over and check your cellphone to ensure you haven't been repeating the offense.

          I dunno. These ideas seem more American to me than making government bigger, and interfering with previously held freedoms.

      • by kheldan (1460303) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @02:02PM (#30416048) Journal
        I don't believe that the vast majority of people can be taught to do this safely and responsibly. What I see every day is that at least half the people on the roads are just barely competent to be driving, and you add a cellphone to the equation and they become downright dangerous to themselves and everyone around them. Police are specifically trained for the skills they must have to do their jobs, but in addition to that they are held to much more rigorous standards before they're even accepted for that training. If the average person was held to the standards potential police or highway patrol are held to, there would be many fewer people on the roads to begin with.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Theodore (13524)

          This ignores 2 things:

          1) People learn, usually by doing.
          2) Police are not special, they are the same as anyone else.

          If cops can learn to use a radio with complex codes to remember, or a laptop connected to a specialized system, so can anyone else.
          If the 'anti-cell phone in cars' people had their way, we wouldn't even have radios in our cars.
          The majority of people ALREADY know how to talk on the cell phone and drive safely, through experience.
          The occasional event you hear about involving a crash caused by ta

          • by couchslug (175151)

            "If cops can learn to use a radio with complex codes to remember, or a laptop connected to a specialized system, so can anyone else."

            The cop is getting PAID to do it, and most of them have some desire to appear professional to their peers.

            Joe Sixpack doesn't give a shit about much of anything.

            • by Gorobei (127755) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @02:43PM (#30416438)

              It's more training than anything else. E.g. pilots learn to "aviate, navigate, communicate" in that priority order, cops learn to drive, then talk. Both roles need the person on the other end of the conversation to also be trained to expect pauses in the conversation. That is not the case when J6P is driving and having to deal with his wife talking on the phone about random stuff that is important to her.

              Note that it's much safer when J6P's wife is talking to him while he's in the car: she can see him concentrating as the school bus pulls out while the fuel truck heads towards the closing railroad crossing. Then she stops talking. (That's why hands-free vs standard cell phones make virtually no difference in accident rates.)

        • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @02:44PM (#30416448)

          "I don't believe that the vast majority of people can be taught to do this safely and responsibly."

          Yes, because the average person is incapable of learning simple skills. I had a roommate who was training to be an EMT. Her ambulance driving course had approximately the same number of instructional hours as my (excellent) driving training course in high school.

          Now, how many quality instructional hours do you think the average driver has? How good is the test, and how often is it repeated? When I got my learners permit the ten question multiple choice test was easier than the test I'd done a week before in grade eight Home Ec. to use the sewing machine.

          It is not hard to teach people skills like normal driving, dealing with distractions while driving, etc. The problem is that almost nobody gets the training because they don't have to.

          • by omb (759389)
            In 1971, the Essex, UK Police ran a public 16 lesson (1 hour theory + 1 hour practice) Advanced Police-style, Driving course.

            At first, as a young academic, with 10 year's driving experience, it seemed pedestrian, until you had to drive at at least 40 MPH in a special police car with absolutely bald tyres, for an hour, on a skid pan, eg oil+soap+water, much slicker than ice. You learned abou front, rear and 4 wheel skids, how to get in, easy, out, and use them. Handbreak turns ... sound fun but it is very ha
      • by NoYob (1630681) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @02:08PM (#30416098)

        It's the enforcement. We have really, really high fines here for all sorts of traffic violations, but enforcement is so lacking that it almost seems random. Your chances of getting caught are miniscule, so people learn to ignore the law. If they do get caught, the fines are staggering - but the one in ten thousand chance of getting caught is not a deterrent.

        Actually it's not the fines or enforcement. It's training. Every police vehicle I've seen has a laptop mounted on the center console. Every time I see a cop driving around they have one hand on the keyboard and constantly glance back and forth between the road and the computer.

        Cell phones and cars aren't going away anytime soon. Instead of punishing the citizens for doing something police are trained to do, train the citizens too. There is no reason that drivers ed. classes shouldn't discuss this and deal with it.

        I think the best way to "think of the children" is to teach the children. If you don't want little Lisa to text and drive into a horrible wreck, teach her how to text and drive responsibly. Otherwise take your blanket statements and have every computer removed from police vehicles because otherwise we have an effective working double standard which provides revenue to the police force. Fuck that shit.

        First of all, you cannot train folks to multitask because humans are incapable of doing it [npr.org]. The cops can't do it either. What you call multitasking is actually them selecting attention rapidly between their laptops and driving - if they're even doing that.

        Two, even if it were possible to train folks how to do it, what makes you think that folks will follow their training? People are trained not to tailgate, speed, cut others off, etc...

        Everything you've proposed is impossible. The ONLY solution is to ban cell phones in cars. There is absolutely no reason to talk in a car anyway - no exceptions. Got to talk? Pull over.

      • by Mashiki (184564)

        Cell phones and cars aren't going away anytime soon. Instead of punishing the citizens for doing something police are trained to do, train the citizens too. There is no reason that drivers ed. classes shouldn't discuss this and deal with it.

        I know where you're going with this but the reality is, people won't want to drop the $9k for that driver training and that's how much it costs. People think it's cheap to train cops or something in Ontario it's $150k/per officer. On top of that, you tell me how many citizens are going to turn around and take 2 weeks for 4-5hrs a day(at the minimum) to learn how to do it? That's the average here in Ontario right now.

        Now I'm sure if you can get something passed by government giving certification it might

      • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @02:45PM (#30416452) Homepage

        Actually it's not the fines or enforcement. It's training. Every police vehicle I've seen has a laptop mounted on the center console. Every time I see a cop driving around they have one hand on the keyboard and constantly glance back and forth between the road and the computer.

        I find it amusing that you just assume that the cops are not, themselves, a danger on the roads when they're doing this.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          I find it amusing that you just assume that the cops are not, themselves, a danger on the roads when they're doing this.

          Exactly.

          From discussions with traffic police I know in the UK, it seems to be standard practice for traffic patrols to have two officers in the car, and the one who is not driving is the one who is on the radio, giving the commentary during a pursuit, etc. If there is any serious car chasing to be done, a traffic car with suitably trained officers and proper spec will take over as the lead car as soon as possible and get everyone else to back off. There are pretty strict limits on the extent to which other

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          99% of at-fault police car accidents go unreported, so it's perfectly safe.
      • by Timosch (1212482) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @02:45PM (#30416458)
        Police cars are also sometimes allowed to ignore red lights, use one-way streets in the wrong direction and ignore speed limits, in case of emergency. That, however, does not mean that we should teach every person to ignore red lights responsibly.
        While I believe that your argument is valid in some other, not traffic-related cases (e.g. I believe that teaching young people how to drink responsibly is better than deterring them from drinking, but that is a different thing), I believe it is not valid in this case. When driving, have one hand at the steering wheel and occasionally one at the gearshift. That's it.
      • Spot on. Training! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by syousef (465911)

        Actually it's not the fines or enforcement. It's training.

        Also look at pilots who must by law be on the radio while piloting a vehicle in 3 dimensions that falls out of the sky if you slow down too quickly or bank too sharply while going slow. They are taught aviate, navigate, communicate - in other words fly and know where you are before worrying about the communication part.

        Even if you remove mobile phones, radios and all other electronics, what about all the other distractions on the road? What about th

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by HiThere (15173)

        Training won't suffice. If the police are acting as you describe, then they are being unsafe drivers. Divided attention means MUCH less attention to each part. You need the attention to do each part, and you also need some attention to manage the coordination. (This isn't just theoretical, there's also experimental evidence.)

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Ash Vince (602485)

        Actually it's not the fines or enforcement. It's training. Every police vehicle I've seen has a laptop mounted on the center console. Every time I see a cop driving around they have one hand on the keyboard and constantly glance back and forth between the road and the computer.

        I am guessing you are from the states. Here in the UK we keep our police in pairs when on patrol in vehicles. This means the guy in the passenger seat can use his radio or whatever, the driver can concentrate on driving.

        The parent poster is spot on though, there are very high fines for driving while on a mobile but the police are reluctant to throw the book at motorists for it unless they happen to be behind you for half a mile without you noticing and hanging up.

    • A law requiring the use of a hands-free device when using a cell phone while driving went into effect last year. For the first few months, there was a noticeable drop in the number of people seen with a phone held up to their ear as the Highway Patrol was concentrating on writing tickets for people caught doing that. Now that the CHP is no longer making a concerted effort to ticket phone users, the numbers are right back up to their old levels and I'm still getting cut off on the freeway by people paying mo

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Omnifarious (11933) *

        Hands-free devices do little to reduce accidents. The big thing that causes accidents while using cell phones is the fact that most people devote most of their attention to the conversation.

        When someone is with you in the car they can see the road conditions just as well as you can. They will often shut up when you are in a tense situation that needs your focus. When someone is on a cell phone they will chatter away regardless and your attention will be divided.

        If you're going to use a cell phone in a ca

        • Hands-free devices do little to reduce accidents. The big thing that causes accidents while using cell phones is the fact that most people devote most of their attention to the conversation

          Yep, agreed. Which why I mentioned that exact same thing in my post.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by bwalling (195998)
          I actually prefer talking on a cell phone to having a passenger talking to me. I have no problem at all ignoring the person on the cell phone when something comes up and then asking them to repeat themselves. Passengers make hand motions, which often tempts me to look at them, aside from my natural tendency to look at the person I'm talking to. With someone on speakerphone, I have no inclination to look at them, and I can very easily ignore them.

          I'm just one person, and it's an anecdote, but I really do
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Comatose51 (687974)
      I would say it's the expected cost of violating the law that matters. In other words, it is probability of getting caught x the cost of the fine. If you raise the fine so high that it will bankrupt you ($1 million) then people probably won't risk it. People still park illegally even though the chances of getting caught is pretty high relative to other violations but since in most places the cost/fine is so low, the expected cost makes it worth the violation.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gutnor (872759)
        Of course people will still risk it.

        Human being is not a mathematical beast. People take risk that will kill them and/or cripple their family every single day. Think about tobacco, drinking while driving, ... or driving while talking on their phone. All that matters is the perceived risk. If the risk is limited enough they will do it regardless of the gravity of the consequences.

        To solve the problem, you need to increase the risk so that people think that the risk is real. After that you need to make
      • If you raise the fine so high that it will bankrupt you ($1 million) then people probably won't risk it

        Then can you explain why people continue to text/use their cell phone while driving knowing that it increases their risk of dying in a car accident? THe problem is that most people do not have a good grasp of the actual magnitude of risk * probability.

        • Then can you explain why people continue to text/use their cell phone while driving knowing that it increases their risk of dying in a car accident? THe problem is that most people do not have a good grasp of the actual magnitude of risk * probability.

          No, the problem is that people DO have a good grasp of the actual risk * probability.

          And it's simply not that high. Yeah, you have a higher chance of an accident if you're texting/talking while driving. But it's not like you raise your chances of an acciden

          • No. I can prove to you that peoples' risk calculations are fubared. People freak out over the swine flu and terrorism and yet heart disease which kills a thousand times more people doesn't seem to get that much attention; certainly not enough for people to consider changing their diets and exercising a little more.

            • No. I can prove to you that peoples' risk calculations are fubared.

              By all means, please do.

              People freak out over the swine flu and terrorism and yet heart disease which kills a thousand times more people doesn't seem to get that much attention; certainly not enough for people to consider changing their diets and exercising a little more.

              And if you think this is proof, you're mistaken. It is, at best, anecdotal evidence, and at worst, your opinion.

              Oddly enough, I don't know ANYONE who is especially worrie

          • by JimboFBX (1097277)
            A lot of people do this stuff where they perceive it is safe (i.e. where a low margin of error is not required). Unfortunately the perceptions of people aren't always accurate until they get into a close call or an accident.

            Personally, I've seen one person, a 16 year old girl, try to text and drive at the same time. She allowed her vehicle to drift into both the left and right lanes multiple times while texting/viewing a text message, full aware of her lack of vehicle control (i.e. she made 3 corrections
            • Personally, I've seen one person, a 16 year old girl, try to text and drive at the same time.

              Note that "one girl" is an anecdote, not evidence.

              And a 16 year old girl is, by definition, almost as stupid as a 16 year old boy.

              Which is to say that using one 16 year old as a guideline to planning the laws of the land is almost as stupid as the 16 year old....

      • by jimicus (737525)

        I would say it's the expected cost of violating the law that matters. In other words, it is probability of getting caught x the cost of the fine. If you raise the fine so high that it will bankrupt you ($1 million) then people probably won't risk it. People still park illegally even though the chances of getting caught is pretty high relative to other violations but since in most places the cost/fine is so low, the expected cost makes it worth the violation.

        What they don't mention is that the punishment is not just a fine - it's also three points on your driving licence.

        Accumulate 12 points, and it's an automatic ban. Though most people tend to be fairly blase about these things until they've clocked up at least a few points.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        Fines for using a cellphone recently came in in New Zealand as well. At least one commentator was saying that a much better approach would be for police to have a supply of prepaid envelopes. If you are caught using your cellphone while driving, your phone goes into an envelope, and goes into the post system at the end of the police officer's shift. Because regardless of a person's ability to shrug off a fine, having to do without their phone for a couple of days is going to be an effective learning experie
    • In the U.S. many municipalities pick some areas or time slot with which to hyper-enforce traffic laws as a means supplementing the municipal revenues.

      It is too bad they don't do that by targeting cell phone use.

    • Same in California. It's also hard to respect the law when the governor's wife is constantly getting caught with a phone in her hand.

  • At least the gov gets money out of it. Perhaps it can be used to improve hospitals or something for the people who will die from the lack of obedience (dyamn that sounded totalitarian).
  • It's hard to enforce, and you would have to get enforcement percentages way up there for people to decide the risk/reward ratio wasn't worth it. And your police officers have more important things to be doing with their time.

    No, the thing to do if you're a government and want to make people safer given this behavior is to do everything you possibly can to encourage the development and use of economical self-driving cars and/or really excellent public transportation.

    Frankly, driving is a waste of valuable t

  • by VinylRecords (1292374) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:38PM (#30415880)

    I'm using my I-Phone right now to ma

  • by crdotson (224356) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @01:41PM (#30415906)

    I think they're going about it all wrong. Children are much more distracting to drivers in my experience. I can't count the number of times I have almost wrecked trying to pick up a pacifier, etc.

              London should prohibit driving with children in the car. It's an inconvenience for parents, but it's a safety issue. Likewise car radios should be banned.

    • by wellingj (1030460)
      What a modest proposal...
      • by Gorobei (127755)

        Banning is a touch extreme. We taught our kids at a very young age that cars have special rules: the main one is that "quiet" means "immediately stop talking for one minute."

        They thought the rule was stupid until they got to watch a near accident at 50 mph in realtime :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nethead (1563)

      Tie a short string between the pacifier and rug-rat.

  • by xwizbt (513040)

    Have they tried educating rather than penalising? Strange as it may see, most of us respond positively to scientific fact rather than an impersonal fine. Who can say why this takes place?

    • by cptdondo (59460)

      Oh Come On! You will never be elected by being soft on crime! We must INCREASE THE PENALTIES!

      Take money out of education, social programs, health care, rehab, and PUNISH THE CRIMINALS!

    • by gyrogeerloose (849181) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @02:06PM (#30416088) Journal

      Have they tried educating rather than penalising? Strange as it may see, most of us respond positively to scientific fact rather than an impersonal fine. Who can say why this takes place?

      Man, what alternate universe do you live in? Whichever it is, I want to go there--a large percentage of the people in my universe don't seem to respond to any sort of fact, scientific or otherwise. Only a cold, hard dose of reality (such as running their car into a fire hydrant at the end of their driveway) ever gets through to them.

    • by Stanislav_J (947290) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @02:08PM (#30416102)

      Have they tried educating rather than penalising? Strange as it may see, most of us respond positively to scientific fact rather than an impersonal fine.

      What planet do you live on? Facts don't dissuade people from doing what they want to do. A lot of it in this case is self-overestimation: people will continue to cell/text/IM while they drive because in spite of the evidence, they are all convinced that they are an exception to the rule and can do these things and still drive safely. In their minds, those studies and laws apply to all those other people, not me. It's very reminiscent of "well, most people probably shouldn't drive after drinking, but I can do it just fine."

      I think the best way to "think of the children" is to teach the children. If you don't want little Lisa to text and drive into a horrible wreck, teach her how to text and drive responsibly.

      How about teaching little Lisa to keep both hands on the wheel, both eyes on the road, and her mind focused on driving? How about teaching her that that phone call or text can wait until she gets where she's going? How about teaching her that the world won't come to an end if she's not constantly in touch with her little friends 24/7?

    • by Shatrat (855151)
      People convince themselves that they can drive just fine drunk, talking on a cell phone, and doing their makeup because they WANT to believe it.
      There are none so blind as those who refuse to see.
  • It's bad, but it's not that bad.

    It would be interesting to see a productivity study to go along with the accident study. I'm not claiming to know what it might say, but it would be interesting to understand if any tangible benefit could be defined.

  • In this case you are driving under the influence of an electronic device.
  • by Sollord (888521) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @02:03PM (#30416062)
    I was almost hit by some asshat teenager in a SUV two weeks ago because he was texting on his fucking phone in the middle of the night while doing 70mph down a freeway I ended up in the ditch avoiding the lil fuck. Police should fine them and confiscate the phone and have it destroyed. Talking and driving is one thing but to be so stupid as to fucking text and drive is an entirely different thing. Hell throw in a 6month license suspension if they get pulled over for texting and driving. I hope anyone who texts and drive hits a bridge at 80mph and dies in a painful and messy manner. If you didn't notice I really hate people who text and drive.
    • by KiloByte (825081)

      Texting while driving is not merely using a cellphone. Try to drive and use a fiddly little keypad at the same time. It's not merely distraction, it's attempted murder.

      Here in Poland, there's large popular support for a lifetime driving ban for anyone who causes an accident while DUI. I'd support the same for idiots texting behind the wheel.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Stiletto (12066)

      I call shenanigans!

      How do you know he was texting if he was going 70mph, it was the middle of the night, and you ended up in a ditch (presumably not able to follow and identify the person or his activities). How do you even know it was a teenager, or that it was a "he"?

  • Risk (Score:2, Insightful)

    by valkraider (611225)
    "there's a much higher risk of being involved in an accident if you're" in a car. In the USA 40,000 people a year are killed by the automobile directly, and thousands more are killed by the side effects of an automobile centric society. That is more than ten 9/11s. every. single. year.
  • We actually have to rely on people to fine and tax Londoners? That sounds like work.
  • Rule to survive:

    If you see somebody driving erratic, keep extra distance behind, then try to pass quickly and check cellphone-use. If positive, take note.

    Keeping a tab on positive will quickly convince you that

    a - It's a dangerous world out there
    b - Darwin's law of survival... holds true
    c - Politicians are stupid (CO no-phone-use-in cars was watered down to no-messaging-while-driving)

    http://www.livescience.com/technology/050201_cell_danger.html [livescience.com]

  • Solution: Blue tooth keyboard that mounts to steering wheel so that half the keys are on left side of wheel and half on right side of wheel. It is blue tooth enabled to your phone. Either mount phone on steering whell or even better have a HUD on your windshield. I would have to say it would be more likely for me to crash during texting then during reading a text. I can type without looking so get me that keyboard!!!
  • My own casual observation (and one that my friends seem to agree with) is that since Los Angeles introduced a similar law last year, it has in fact curbed such behavior. Prior to that it seemed to be a much bigger problem (as it was in previous cities I lived in). This isn't to say you don't still see it most of the times that you drive, but more frequently it's that one idiot on the cell phone during your trip rather than a whole road full of idiots on their cell phones.

    Everyone I know has also made it a

  • Why is it every time I see a cop they're on the cell phone?

    The best thing I did to improve my driving cellphone-wise was set my Blackberry to no alert on email when holstered.

  • It's undeniable that cell phone usage distracts most drivers and increases danger. But so do myriad other things (eating a Whopper, smoking, smacking the kids around, having just one drink, etc.) and those are not singled out for prosecution.

    So the inevitable conclusion is that it's not about safety, it's about taking advantage of the fear of new technology to generate revenue. And nobody respects that.

    It turns out that encasing yourself in a 2 ton hunk of steel and plastic and hurtling it down the highwa

    • by Gorobei (127755)


      It's undeniable that cell phone usage distracts most drivers and increases danger. But so do myriad other things (eating a Whopper, smoking, smacking the kids around, having just one drink, etc.) and those are not singled out for prosecution.

      So the inevitable conclusion is that it's not about safety, it's about taking advantage of the fear of new technology to generate revenue. And nobody respects that.

      That conclusion is not inevitable at all.

      Eating a whopper and smoking have a relatively small increase in

  • ...has prohibition *ever* worked?

    If cell phones were as dangerous as people like to make them out to be, accident rates would have skyrocketed over the last decade.

  • Funny that most of this conversation is about creating more laws and not much about ideas for ways that technology can solve the problem.

    Mobile communications are here to stay, there is no going back and there is no way you are going to stop people from answering their phone.
    Why do cars not yet come with bluetooth?
    This would be simple and inexpensive. A mic in the steering wheel and the sound comes through the speakers.

    I stopped texting and driving once I got an iphone because I can not send a m
  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Saturday December 12, 2009 @04:06PM (#30417236)

    Anybody remember the days before call-waiting? Y'know the days when you called someone and if they were on it you'd get this thing called a busy signal? We live in an age where we expect people to be able to be in instant contact. I sent you a text message, you get it instantly. We IM people on the computer. Creating mobile phones allows us to call someone (or be called by someone) almost anywhere we go. Nolonger do we have, "Sorry I was at the grocery store for the past hour.." You get called while you are in front of the apples. Conversely, you can call home and find out from your wife what type of apple to get for the pie.

    People have grown accustomed to this... this leash. There was a time when people didn't have cell phones or pagers for that matter. When you went to the movies, you went to the movies, and when you were in the car driving to grandmas house, she couldn't call you. Now she can call you, and I would bet that most people would answer the phone rather than wait until you could a) safely pull over or b) arrive at your destination before you answered the phone or checked to see who called and call them back.

    Do I think that we'll ever change our behavior to where we don't have this desire to have instant contact? Nope, and with the young kids of today growing up with email being the slowest form of communication, they won't think twice about driving while on the phone, texting or whatever comes out next (video-conferencing via the center console mounted computer?).

Maybe Computer Science should be in the College of Theology. -- R. S. Barton

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