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Cellphones Government Handhelds Transportation Technology

"Phone In One Hand, Ticket In the Other" 419

Posted by Soulskill
from the doesn't-that-leave-zero-hands-for-the-wheel dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that federal regulators plan a pilot project to test 'high visibility' crackdown efforts to curb cellphone use by drivers in two cities, Hartford and Syracuse, spending $200,000 in each city, while each state would contribute $100,000 more. The Transportation Department says it wants to send the message: 'Phone in One Hand. Ticket in the Other,' and plans on ramping up enforcement on state bans of hands-free phones by motorists, advertising the campaigns and undertaking studies to see if the efforts curb behavior and attitudes. Safety advocates say that curbing the behavior requires enforcement and education, which they say has been clearly evident in past efforts with seat belts with the 'Click It or Ticket Program' (PDF) that helped increase seat belt use to 83% nationally. 'It's time for drivers to act responsibly, put their hands on the wheel and focus on the road,' says Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who last year called distracted driving an 'epidemic.'"
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"Phone In One Hand, Ticket In the Other"

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  • by gilesjuk (604902) <giles.jones@nOspam.zen.co.uk> on Sunday April 11, 2010 @01:28PM (#31809152)

    We have passed a law about the same. But there's so few Police on patrol the law just isn't being enforced. I still see plenty of drivers hand holding a mobile, despite the fact you can get a bluetooth headset for £8 in the UK.

    In the UK we drive largely manual gearbox and holding a phone while driving means not changing gear or letting go of the steering wheel while changing gear!

  • by Leebert (1694) * on Sunday April 11, 2010 @01:30PM (#31809196)

    "Click it or Ticket", "Over the limit, Under arrest", and its ilk irritate me to no end. I *loathe* being talked down to like a child, with these cutesy slogans. I hate the TV commercials where they say: "If you drink and drive, you WILL get arrested!" Anyone with half a brain knows that such a certain assertion is clearly false. Doesn't really do much for their credibility.

    This anti-cellphone jihad really makes no sense to me. If we're going to waste money on "educating" people about the dangers of cell phones, why don't we educate them on the dangers of distracted driving in general? For example, I believe that I personally am probably 10 times more likely to kill someone out of my habit of driving without enough sleep than when I'm talking on the phone. I've seen statistics that falling asleep while driving causing upwards around 20% of fatal accidents.

    Come to think of it, it happened last week when I was driving down FL-528 back to Orlando from the shuttle launch - I had been up all night. You know what I did to keep myself awake and alert? Whipped out the phone and talked to someone.

  • by loufoque (1400831) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @01:41PM (#31809290)

    You use your hand when it isn't stable, while still using the elbow from that arm to steer.
    You obviously lack practice.

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @01:43PM (#31809308) Journal

    When I see somebody holding a phone instead of driving, I call the police.

    Why? Because about 5 years ago I was almost hit by somebody talking on a phone who drove straight through a red light, and just barely squeezed between my car and the car in front. She never even noticed because she was too busy punching the phone's keypad. I figure I'd rather be as "ass" in the eyes of a driver, then a corpse under their wheels, or have a mangled $25,000 car I have to fix.

    IMHO.

    Please don't mod me down just because you disagree.

  • Maps. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by FlyingBishop (1293238) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @01:44PM (#31809316)

    They can pry my Droid from my cold dead hands. I need to know where I'm going, and Google Maps does that much more safely and effectively than a paper map. Also, Pandora is much less of a hassle than a standard radio. Put it on, music I like comes out, and I don't have to fiddle with it at all.

    If they're going to ban cell phones, they also need to ban mp3 players, gps, and radio, which are equally distracting for the 30 seconds or so it takes to configure them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, 2010 @01:44PM (#31809318)

    You know what I did to keep myself awake and alert? Whipped out the phone and talked to someone.

    Yeah, I suppose pulling off the road, or better yet, staying put is out of the question. I mean, if falling asleep at the wheel is so dangerous to you, why are you driving without adequate rest yourself? Pretty nasty habit you got there.. Too bad somebody will probably have to get hurt before you are taken off the road.. All of a sudden I hate you..

  • photo enforcement? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, 2010 @01:47PM (#31809346)

    Don't we have the technology to enforce mobile phone use by means of photo recognition software and overhead cameras on highways?

    If such an automated system was possible, it wouldn't tie up law enforcement in traffic stops over a 90 dollar ticket...which is nullified if you challenge the ticket in court and provide proof (a receipt) you purchased a handsfree device (at least in CT).

  • Automatic Drivers? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Dzonatas (984964) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @01:48PM (#31809358) Homepage

    > "'It's time for drivers to act responsibly, put their hands on the wheel and focus on the road,' says Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who last year called distracted driving an 'epidemic.'"

    What about cars that drive themselves?

    Maybe auto makers should be more responsible!

  • by gd2shoe (747932) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @01:52PM (#31809372) Journal
    Nope. Some people sing to the radio. For that matter, some people talk to the radio.
  • by Kral_Blbec (1201285) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @01:52PM (#31809380)
    So a near miss 5 years ago is important enough to dedicate limited resources to today?
  • Re:Use It, Lose It (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pushing-robot (1037830) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @01:54PM (#31809386)

    Should we allow airline pilots to text their friends while landing? I'm sure a few could do it without losing concentration, so why trample on their rights?

    I agree that the primary focus should be erratic driving, not any one particular gadget... But the rule of civilization is that some outlying people have to give up some minor liberties to ensure the safety of everyone.

  • Re:Use It, Lose It (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brian_tanner (1022773) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @01:59PM (#31809422)
    Except that, as has been posted here before, people are terrible at self-assessing their skill. I know, I know, you are different: you are not overestimating yourself, you are one of the 0.025% of people who can talk on the phone without being distracted http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-03/uou-fdw032610.php [eurekalert.org].

    I know for a fact that I cannot multitask. However, I believe myself to be particularly good at self-evaluation. I know about psychology, and I read slashdot: I can adapt my self-assessment. I'm a scientist and I don't have a large ego about my regular cognitive skills, I am the typical absent-minded professor type. However, I didn't really realize how poor I was at multitasking until my late 20s, and I am particularly bad at it. I had a couple of near accidents (nothing that would have been severe), but I understand probability and statistics. I know that if I continued to drive distracted, with overwhelming probability I would eventually cause an accident. So I stopped sampling.

    This does not describe most people. Many are overconfident and unable to recognize their own deficiencies. Even more don't understand that taking a small risk enough times basically ensures that the low-probability outcome will eventually happen.

    I don't want those people deciding what's safe, because you know what, they won't realize they have a problem until they get in an accident. And the first time, they will attribute it to bad luck. My mother in law rear-ended someone while changing the radio station and shrugged it off: bad luck, could happen to anyone.

    There are too many people on the road for them to be learning what's safe and what's not by trial and error. No thanks.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, 2010 @02:06PM (#31809488)

    I live in the "great" state of NJ, and while fist-pumping my way home from the bus stop (on foot), I saw not one but two of my town's police officers driving in (seperate) patrol cars while holding a cell phone to one ear. And no, their lights were not on, and there was no emergency. Shouldn't they be held to a higher standard, or at least the same one us serfs are?

  • Re:Maps. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cynyr (703126) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @02:07PM (#31809494)
    and so what did people do before google maps? ohh yea, pull off at the next exit, check paper map, continue on their way.
  • Re:Use It, Lose It (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DarthBart (640519) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @02:15PM (#31809540)

    The pilot is in constant communication with the tower through a very phone-like apparatus called a radio

    Yep, and strangely enough, he's got it via headset. He doesn't have one hand on the radio mike, one on the throttle quadrant, and one on the yoke.

  • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @02:15PM (#31809542) Homepage

    "Click it or Ticket", "Over the limit, Under arrest", and its ilk irritate me to no end. I *loathe* being talked down to like a child, with these cutesy slogans

    Well, if people didn't act like irresponsible children, it wouldn't be necessary to talk down to them, now would it?

    This anti-cellphone jihad really makes no sense to me.

    Huh? I saw nothing about anyone being "anti-cellphone". Anti-don't-be-a-fucking-idiot-while-driving, sure, but not anti-cellphone. Where'd you get that stupid idea?

    If we're going to waste money on "educating" people about the dangers of cell phones, why don't we educate them on the dangers of distracted driving in general?

    Good idea! We probably should! On the other hand, cellphones seem to have caused a very drastic increase in the number of distracted drivers on the road, and so it makes sense to target that one issue specifically, due to how widespread it is.

    You know what I did to keep myself awake and alert? Whipped out the phone and talked to someone.

    Here's a better idea: Pull over to the side of the road and take a quick nap. As it is, you just ended up trading one irresponsible behaviour for another. Kinda like a child.

  • I say good. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @02:15PM (#31809544) Journal
    Every time I see some stupid fucking douchebag barking into his cellphone, or some giggle brained bleeth yammering into her iPhone, I curse the gods for not letting me be able to fire rockets or RPGs at those stupid fucks as they blunder their way down the highway and endangering the lives of the rest of us with their inattention and sense of entitlement.
  • by bersl2 (689221) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @02:19PM (#31809592) Journal

    I rarely dial out when driving. I hate doing it too. Most of the time if I receive a call, I'll let it go.

    So what I want is a separate voicemail greeting or some other way of communicating status which will let me say that I'm on my goddamn way, so stop calling me to ask where I am. Because as it is right now, I can't effectively communicate the difference between this and my usual "I don't feel like taking your call." (There is a difference.)

    So really, phone systems need to be designed better for this use case.

  • Re:Use It, Lose It (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, 2010 @02:35PM (#31809756)

    But if you talk to someone else in the vehicle, that other person is a second set of eyes which can pay attention to the road. That second person has a vested interest in making sure the driver doesn't crash.

    However, on the phone, there is a distraction, since it takes more effort to hold a conversation, let alone that other person isn't watching the road.

    Maybe the goal should be to change how motorists get their licenses.

  • by KahabutDieDrake (1515139) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @02:36PM (#31809762)
    Yeah, do that. Pull over on I-5 while everyone else goes by at 80, you can absolutely pull over and stop, have a chat and that's perfectly safe. So safe that I'll read about it in tomorrows OSP flash update. Meanwhile, why don't you fix your makeup, hair, and finish off that mocha. Oh, and your kids are crying in the back seat. The oldest one just threw his icecream against the front window. The dog is barking. The radio is too loud. Your passenger is trying to get your attention to point out the crazy guy on his cell phone in the next car.

    It's likely most people won't accept this, but the bottom line is that some of us are actually capable of handling our vehicles, AND a cell phone. If susie homemaker can put 7 children, a couple dogs and another house wife into her van, and drive around like that, then why is the enforcement centered on cell phones? They are hardly the only distracting item in the cab.

    This entire enforcement effort centers on cell phones, but the real threat is something else entirely.
  • by Scaba (183684) <joe@@@joefrancia...com> on Sunday April 11, 2010 @02:36PM (#31809764)

    When I see somebody holding a phone instead of driving, I call the police.

    While you're driving?

  • by cynyr (703126) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @02:44PM (#31809862)
    would require cooperation from the carriers (unless mandated), good luck. If they do it'll be a $5 option per month.
  • by smoothnorman (1670542) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @02:52PM (#31809960)
    don't get me wrong, i'm not fond of any of these technological constrictions on my free-will to "misbehave" -- but, if we've decided to crack down on cell-phone use while driving why not go all big brother tech and: "you have received this ticket (via the post) because a cell-phone number registered to you was recorded at passing through [3] cell towers in excess of [45 mph]" (the [x] as adjustable parameters depending on the strictness of the constabulary)" ??
  • Re:Use It, Lose It (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dpaton.net (199423) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @02:54PM (#31809988) Homepage Journal

    If you were a pilot, you'd know one simple three word phrase:

    Aviate, Navigate, Communicate.

    A pilot's duty is to act in that order. Fly the plane, know where you are, and tell people. That hierarchy saves lives. Drivers could learn a think or two from Pilots in that regard.

  • Re:dead zones (Score:2, Insightful)

    by thebagel (650109) <{thebagel} {at} {consolidated.net}> on Sunday April 11, 2010 @03:30PM (#31810262)
    I don't know about you, but I live very near a road, I work very near a road, and the vast majority of the places I want to go are very near a road.
  • by Rockoon (1252108) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @03:32PM (#31810290)
    So passengers can't use their cell phone?
  • Re:Ummmm. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aztektum (170569) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @03:37PM (#31810338)

    Three times in this last week I've tried to use a cross-walk with the light saying I had to right of way only to almost be hit by some twat blowing through while gabbing on their phone.

    Having a cellphone is a privilege, not a fucking right. The right, in this case, is for me to be able to go about my life and not get run over by some self-serving ass.

    10-15 years ago before everyone had one, society still worked pretty OK. What's changed? Only people's perception that they're that important they need to be reachable every second of the day.

  • Re:Ummmm. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Comatose51 (687974) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @03:42PM (#31810406) Homepage
    You say that as though somehow using a phone is an integral part of driving. Guess what. A couple of decades ago very few people had phones and they drove fine without them. What is so damn hard about not chatting away or doing something else while directing a multi-ton vehicle? If you really need to talk, pull over, stop the vehicle, and carry on with your conversation. You say it as though we can't easily pull over. People pull over all the time on the highway for emergencies such as flat tires. You don't need special flat tire changing areas to stop your vehicle. If the conversation is not important enough for you to do that, then wait and talk later.
  • Re:Ummmm. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Vellmont (569020) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @03:50PM (#31810512)


    Tell you what, Mr Regulator. Why don't you install "cell phone stops" every 1 mile on the roads, where we can safely pull over and make or receive calls before you tell us that we can't use them.

    Are you actually serious? You're really so addicted to making and receiving calls that you feel the need to build special stops "every mile" along the roadside for the express purpose of being able to make a call?

    Grow up, and realize you might be out of communication sometimes. If you're such a junkie you can't stand the thought of missing a call for the perhaps 10-15 minutes it might take to pull off to an exit and make your important call.. then you need treatment, not cell phone stops.

  • by X0563511 (793323) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @04:05PM (#31810666) Homepage Journal

    I hope you only call when they are being retards (like said woman).

    There are lots of people who know how to talk while they drive. The phone and the person on it are the lowest priority. Only a few seem to understand this... feel free to call out the rest.

  • Re:Use It, Lose It (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slimjim8094 (941042) <slashdot3.justconnected@net> on Sunday April 11, 2010 @05:12PM (#31811254)

    Exactly. I probably am one of these 'supertaskers'. I'm an EMT and often drive an ambulance. A 14,000 lb 20 ft long vehicle, at speeds in excess of the speed limit. On the wrong side of the road. While navigating, and running the siren and talking on the radio. And telling my crew what to do.

    And I've never even once come close to having an accident. Part of this is the training - I've received formal, rigorous training in conducting an emergency vehicle.

    So I probably am one of these supertaskers - hell, I basically need to be.

    But the key is: DON'T ACT LIKE IT! When you start acting like you're special, you'll screw it up. Even if you *can* manage many things at once, while driving, *DON'T ASSUME YOU CAN!* You still need to check your mirrors, look for pedestrians or other drivers, watch your widths, nt clip the curb, etc.

    My point is, it's not so much talking on the phone/doing something else while driving as *assuming* that you can do it safely, because then you won't. You'll take it for granted that the car ahead won't switch lanes, because you've come to the conclusion that you won't mess it up.

    So do I talk on the phone while driving? Yes. In the last two years, I think I've spent a grand total of 15 minutes on the phone. Have I ever come close to driving unsafely? No, because I focused on driving. I usually ignore the phone completely while making a turn or shifting lanes, or really doing anything other than going straight with plenty of room in front of me.

    I don't think phone use while driving should be illegal, but you should lose your license the first time you're caught driving like a jackass. Though I'm full of crazy ideas, like "the test for driving a 3000lb weapon shouldn't be a mere formality".

  • by TheABomb (180342) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @05:20PM (#31811320)
    "if you are breaking a law it doesn't matter what resources they use to catch you. Take responsibility for your actions."

    It's people who hold to views like these who are the first in line to buy HD Telescreens.

  • by TheABomb (180342) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @05:32PM (#31811430)
    Actually, in every conceivable metric*, we are becoming more and more capable of driving safely [dot.gov], especially when plotted against cellular phone proliferation [ctia.org]. Now, I don't mean to suggest that correlation implies causation, but I do mean to suggest that lack of correlation implies lack of causation.

    Of course, the numbers will just be ignored by folks who swear that that one woman who they saw run a redlight four years ago are the rule, because it's the eleventy thousand perfectly normal, not in any way out-of-the-ordinary things we see happen every day that we remember perfectly.

    * Total fatalities, fatalities per X drivers, fatalities per X miles driven ...

  • Re:Maps. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cederic (9623) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @05:52PM (#31811596) Journal

    You must be too young to remember the days of people driving with a paper map covering the steering wheel, the dashboard and (occasionally) the passenger.

  • by Cederic (9623) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @06:00PM (#31811644) Journal

    If I have to answer a quick call while I'm driving, it is MUCH safer for me to

    ..stop the fucking car before you answer.

    Which part of "Ignore the ringing phone" is so difficult?

  • by timmarhy (659436) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @06:15PM (#31811734)
    no, you can't hold the phone in one hand talk to someone on it and drive at 80mph. you just can't ok, so stop trying to prove your more awesome then everyone else, because your not. if you had a brain you'd realise that if you can't pull over safely and answer the phone, DON'T DO IT. that call isn't more important then the lives of the kids in the car and the lives of all the people driving on the road with you.

    and why isn't law enforcement doing anything about screaming kids in the car? i'd have thought that's obvious - because kids scream, it's what they do and there's nothing that can be don about it (by police anyway). douche bags driving around talking on their cell on the other hand, IS something they can fix. it's about controlling the risks you can control.

  • by cts5678 (1383735) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @07:23PM (#31812180)
    That's why you put it in your ear and connect it to your phone while you're stopped. OMGWAFI
  • Re:Use It, Lose It (Score:3, Insightful)

    by frosty_tsm (933163) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @07:32PM (#31812242)

    The pilot is in constant communication with the tower through a very phone-like apparatus called a radio

    Yep, and strangely enough, he's got it via headset. He doesn't have one hand on the radio mike, one on the throttle quadrant, and one on the yoke.

    I'll add to this. There are also two people driving.. er flying.

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @10:11PM (#31813162) Homepage Journal

    but because it was already covered by the existing offence of driving without due care and attention.

    Which is also never enforced.

  • by mabhatter654 (561290) on Monday April 12, 2010 @12:01AM (#31813706)

    OF course we SHOULD be pushing to operate FEWER motor vehicles. The fact that a person today spends considerably more time from 20 years ago on the road daily should really be fixed. More mass transit is the way to go... then you have that 30-60 minute commute to read news, a book, music... all markets that are suffering because all people (in the US) is work and drive turning an "8 hour" work day into 11 or more... before they have to do home duties like run kids, etc.

    The whole US needs to be slowed down a bit anyway. We're running around faster doing less. I thought the $4 gas was a great thing. People started driving less and companies started considering other options for workers like more VPN access and adjusted work schedules (4x10 instead of 5x8). This whole "work just a little longer" problem in our US business ethic was finally starting to crack a little...When people have to carpool or catch a train, they actually work to get their jobs done "on time" more consistently. Work on work time, home on home time... what a concept! then the crisis went away and it was back to normal.

  • by Omestes (471991) <omestes AT gmail DOT com> on Monday April 12, 2010 @03:44AM (#31814586) Homepage Journal

    Points are psychologically abstract, while the threat of loss of money is more real feeling.

    Weigh these two phrases; A) "You will loose 3 points, which, if enough are accrued, will lead to the loss of your license, and possible higher insurance rates."; or, B) "You will be fined $400.". Which is more likely to make you, the common slob, shape up?

    I support all measures to curb cell-phone use while driving (all use, but mostly non-handsfree and texting), but all laws are only as good as their enforcement. And enforcement is only as good as police presence, and in many states this is almost non-existent. Here in AZ, I haven't actually seen cop on the road in weeks, which pretty much means I can do what I wish with very slim chances of getting caught. Meaning there is almost no consequences for my own actions.

  • Re:Use It, Lose It (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, 2010 @04:05AM (#31814650)

    "I probably am one of these 'supertaskers'."

    That's not really a given, since when you're driving an ambulance you have sirens blaring telling other drivers to watch out. Other people don't have "I'm on the phone" sirens or flashing lights that read "Caution: Driver is Changing Radio Stations."

    "But the key is: DON'T ACT LIKE IT!"

    Exactly right. Even the gifted screw up.

  • Re:But, who cares? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kramerd (1227006) on Monday April 12, 2010 @06:41AM (#31815162)

    I am tired of pet causes like this that demonize slightly risky behavior like driving buzzed and bringing a knife to school, you know, behaviors that make life exciting and worth living. So you might get killed by some dumbass on his phone, if you were a decent driver you should be able to avoid it. I know I avoid getting killed by some prick in an SUV at least twice a week.

    So...

    You think avoiding drunk SUV drivers is the meaning of life. Haven't you ever had sex or gone fishing or eaten a great meal at a fine restaurant or gone to see a live broadway production or entered a live televised poker tournament in vegas or read a really good book or sat in front of fireplace on a cold winter's night with someone you love and just talked or gone to the beach and made a new friend? There are so many, many things to do that make life worth living that either don't involve huge amounts of (slightly) risky behaviour or much importantly don't create that risk for others. This is the issue and why drunk driving is demonized (if a police officer can tell that you are buzzed driving, its drunk driving. No two ways about it, you should go to jail for it). The point of school isn't to get a bunch of youngerish people in one place so someone can bring a gun or a knife and maybe hurt or kill a bunch of people. It sure as hell isn't why I went to school, and if I thought for a second it was a remote possibility I would have left (which I eventually did, and not because of graduation).

    1 in 20 crashes involves a cell phone, 41000 people died in car crashes last year, so maybe 2050 deaths a year are caused by cell phones.

    Logical failure; in order to assume that death rate in car crashes where cell phone use is involved is approximately equal to the death rate in the population of all car crashes would in fact have to assume that cell phones do not cause crashes and that cell phone use is not related to the severity of those crashes. The number of crashes due to cell phone use is not related to the number of deaths involved in those crashes. That 41k deaths is within 30 days, by the way (and is for 2007, not last year). Meanwhile, there were over 10 million vehicle accidents. Each year, how many people on cell phones are hitting parked cars and driving off, not even recognizing they have hit someone? I bet its more than 41000. Each year, how many people on their cell phones are sitting at green lights for 5, 10, 20 seconds, until the light turns yellow again because they aren't paying attention? I bet its more than 10 million. Meanwhile, what about the 15-16-17 year old learning how to drive on their learner's permit? The British expat learning to drive on the right (correct) side of the road? Should they die because some dumbass is talking on their cellphone? Should they get rear ended while stopped at a red light by some dumbass on their cell phone? Should they have to swerve to avoid some dumbass on their cell phone? As a good driver, I shouldn't have to, but I do, all the damn time.

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