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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] [at] [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 TechyImmigrant (175943) * on Sunday April 11, 2010 @01:29PM (#31809166) Journal

      >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!

      That's what your knees are for.

    • by loufoque (1400831)

      You can hold the phone with your shoulder, or if you need your hand to do so you can steer with your elbow. It should be stable enough for the second it takes to change gear with your other hand.

      • by sznupi (719324)

        ...and inevitably the phone will be sometimes dropped; in some of those cases the driver won't stop the impulse to look for it...and there you go.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by loufoque (1400831)

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

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by tomhudson (43916)

          ... plus you're blocking the signal, so it needs to boost the power to the antenna. You want fried brainz with that?

          If they *really* wanted to fix the problem, they'd increase the dollar amount of the fines. A $200 fine for cell phone use makes people think "gee, I'll save money bu getting an ear-piece."

          And an 83% "attach rate" for seatbelts is LOW. Make it $300 a pop and watch people buckle up.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        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 becau

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Kral_Blbec (1201285)
          So a near miss 5 years ago is important enough to dedicate limited resources to today?
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            I was listen to a NPR show the other day and this was the topic. Syracuse was planning on using off duty officers to look for phone violators.

            I can hear the crying now but personally I think it's a great idea. Allow our much underpaid officers a chance to earn extra income and since they will only be looking for driving/phone violators they won't be inconvenienced with having to respond to a real emergency call.

            and before I get flamed about my opinions...if you are breaking a law it doesn't matter what reso

          • by rtb61 (674572) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @09:12PM (#31812868) Homepage

            Well three weeks ago, mine wasn't a near miss and a distracted young driver who took off when they mistook the green light for going forward for that red arrow for turning across traffic. No car and three weeks left to go in a six week neck brace stint (fractured vertebrae, damaged anterior longitudinal ligament, nerve damage to root nerves of both arms) with a possible operation to follow, I would ere on the side of ensuring drivers place the maximum possible attention to what they are doing and the risks involved with operating a motor vehicle. Deadly business operating a motor vehicle and, whilst a lot of people do it a lot of the time, it does not diminish the significant risk it represents. It Australia there a laws that restrict billboards and roadside signs as they can also distract drivers and it only takes that one distraction at the wrong time to put another road user into hospital.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by mabhatter654 (561290)

              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

        • by Scaba (183684) <.joe. .at. .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?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by X0563511 (793323)

          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.

    • by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki@gmai l . c om> on Sunday April 11, 2010 @01:40PM (#31809282) Homepage

      [quote] But there's so few Police on patrol the law just isn't being enforced. [/quote]
      That shouldn't be a surprise, despite what people think about police being everywhere. The average cop has a service per person of somewhere between 400:1 to 2200:1, you don't get solid enforcement like that. But anytime there's economic problems the first areas to get cuts are Fire/EMS/Police.

      • by negRo_slim (636783) <mils_oRgen@hotmail.com> on Sunday April 11, 2010 @01:56PM (#31809404)

        But anytime there's economic problems the first areas to get cuts are Fire/EMS/Police.

        I think you mean teachers and the parks service.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Wilson_6500 (896824)
        That shouldn't be a surprise, despite what people think about police being everywhere. The average cop has a service per person of somewhere between 400:1 to 2200:1, you don't get solid enforcement like that. But anytime there's economic problems the first areas to get cuts are Fire/EMS/Police.

        From my experience, the last thing that gets cut is rescue services, right after schools. The first thing that gets cut is the local library, citizen's programs, parks & recreation, etc. Perhaps this is differ
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by julesh (229690)

      despite the fact you can get a bluetooth headset for £8 in the UK.

      Have you ever tried an £8 bluetooth headset? They tend to work fine while you're sitting around at home or in the office, but take them out into a noisy environment (like, say, a car) and nobody'll be able to hear a word you say.

    • by DrVxD (184537)

      We have passed a law about the same. But there's so few Police on patrol the law just isn't being enforced

      Not to mention the fact that most senior police officers thought such a law was a bad idea - not because being on the phone while driving is safe (it isn't), but because it was already covered by the existing offence of driving without due care and attention.

    • Our local police had 18 single vehicle low speed accidents last year, all caused by the officer being distracted by looking at his mobile data terminal while driving. As of last month it is now illegal to text or talk on a phone (except for hands free) while driving. The police have not yet said whether they feel this law applies to their on board terminals or not.
    • Here is an idea. Why not just take licenses away from bad drivers, and not worry about the reason? Why are people that have had several major accidents still on the road?
    • by Smauler (915644) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @08:45PM (#31812678)

      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.

      The trouble with this is that using a hands free phone while driving is just as dangerous as using a normal phone. _All_ studies (not sponsored by headset manufacturors) have shown this, again and again. See here [apa.org] here [apa.org] here [sagepub.com] and most obviously here [nih.gov] for a few examples. From that last : "Conclusions - When drivers use a mobile phone there is an increased likelihood of a crash resulting in injury. Using a hands-free phone is not any safer.". From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] : "Driving while using a handsfree cellular device is not safer than using a hand held cell phone, as concluded by case-crossover studies.[15][16] epidemiological,[1][2] simulation,[4] and meta-analysis[6][7]. The increased "cognitive workload" involved in holding a conversation, not the use of hands, causes the increased risk.[17][18][19] One notable exception to that conclusion is a study by headset manufacturer Plantronics.

      I can't believe this is not common knowledge yet. The law in the UK differentiates between hands free and normal phoning for _no_ reason whatsoever. Many of these studies were released prior to the introduction of the law in the UK. The cynic in me wonders whether the differentiation is due to the fact that police use hands free, and radios all the time, and making them illegal would make them sad :(. Just to conclude, the people who are tutting at mobile users while talking on their hands free are _just_ as dangerous as those they are frowning upon.

  • Use It, Lose It (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DesertNomad (885798) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @01:29PM (#31809168)
    a good slogan - the driver can reclaim their phone, sealed in the same bag the officer had the driver put it in, down at the station 2 hours later. worse than any ticket.
  • ...if a driver is using a hands-free phone? Watch for lip motion?

    rj

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gd2shoe (747932)
      Nope. Some people sing to the radio. For that matter, some people talk to the radio.
      • by julesh (229690)

        Nope. Some people sing to the radio. For that matter, some people talk to the radio.

        That's the next thing they'll ban. Horribly distracting. Car radios & CD players cause serious accidents [car-accidents.com].

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      ...if a driver is using a hands-free phone? Watch for lip motion?

      Hey I take offence there. Now as a person with a split personality, I feel this is going to discriminate against me while I speak to my other personality. ;)

  • The Transportation Department says it ... plans on ramping up enforcement on state bans of hands-free phones by motorists...

    Why not target hand-held phones before going after hands-free phones?

    • The problem with phone conversation doesn't lie in whether or not you have to hold your phone, but in the mental resources you have to use to maintain the conversation on the phone.

      Hands-free headsets are simply not any safer to use because they don't address the actual cause of accidents: lack of mental focus on driving.

  • Or... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pushing-robot (1037830) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @01:42PM (#31809294)

    If you want to reduce distracted driving, just enforce fines on people doing it. Make it so people are likely enough to get caught that they'll think twice beforehand. Slap a huge fine (or worse) on anyone who crashes their car due to an obvious and avoidable distraction. Forget the fancy ad campaign; people don't care. Put the money toward a decent public transit system so people don't have to choose between keeping in touch and traveling.

    • by echucker (570962)
      The original hands-free law has been effect in NY since the end of 2001, if memory serves. In that time, I've heard of exactly four people I am aware of getting tickets. In a short 15 minute / 10 mile drive each way to work, I see roughly 4 people each day that ignore the law. No enforcement, no deterrent.
  • 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

    Wasn't the whole idea that people could use hands-free phones so that they could keep both hands on the wheel? I mean, come on, NY, what gives?

    In any case, I believe that CB radios are legal everywhere, and I don't see much of a difference between operating one of those and operating a cell phone, I'm just saying....

    • by julesh (229690)

      In any case, I believe that CB radios are legal everywhere, and I don't see much of a difference between operating one of those and operating a cell phone, I'm just saying....

      CB radios are most often used by professional drivers who usually have had a better standard of training than the average motorist and are less likely to allow themselves to become dangerously distracted.

      I.e. mobile phones are only an issue because every idiot uses them.

  • by dmomo (256005) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @02:01PM (#31809444) Homepage

    One thing in all this that frightens me is the fact that by letting law enforcement pull someone over based on something that is not a clear moving violation, but something the can claim to witness happening inside a vehicle,
    we are effectively giving them a tool for racial profiling. This power seems ripe for abuse.

    1) See someone who "looks" like they might be carrying something illegal
    2) Pull them over, obtain cause to search vehicle
    3) If successful, book them
    4) If failure, cite them for cell phone use.

    How easy is it for a customer to obtain proof that they were or were not texting at a given time?
    How easy is it for Law Enforcement?
    Is this proof permissible?

  • 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?

  • 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.
  • Unless you're talking about an actual curb, driving-related stories should not use 'curb' as a verb.

    In addition, the headline says 'combat' while the article includes 'curb' 3 times and no 'combat'.

    Please, speak clearly and skip the puns, hyperbole, and 'vivid metaphors'. News first.

    Signed,
    -The Internet

    • by khallow (566160)
      I think we're going to have to "curb" your expectations. Or at least insult you gratuitously for having shown weakness.
  • 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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by cynyr (703126)
      would require cooperation from the carriers (unless mandated), good luck. If they do it'll be a $5 option per month.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by SpaceCadets (1428823)
      On my phone (Samsung), it has differnt profiles (Normal, Silent, Driving, Meeting...), so if I set it to Driving, it has the voice mail "You've called SpaceCadet, I'm driving...", or if it is Meeting it is "You've called SpaceCadet, I'm in a meeting...". Same for texts, if someone texts me it sends an automatic preprogrammed reply. Maybe on your next upgrade see if you can get a phone that does the same - or even if your current phone does it. It took me a while to find the option and work out how to set
  • 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)" ??
  • by LostMyBeaver (1226054) on Monday April 12, 2010 @02:30AM (#31814314)
    In our current police state (not just the U.S., but most of the western world now) where the police departments have cameras all over the cities and traffic systems, can't they just have 2-3 people sitting at a console, taking snap shots of drivers with their phones to their ears and clicking a mouse button to send them a ticket in the mail?

    Seriously, it seems to me, a single person with a 30" screen should be able to monitor 16 locations simultaneously without even trying. Using simple motion detection on each camera, it would be possible to make sure each of the 16 windows on their screen could be guaranteed to have traffic on them. As a result, they could probably be sending out 2-3 tickets every minute. At $200 a ticket, that would yield about $500 a minute for $30,000 an hour, $180,000 a day for at least a while.

    So they're willing to chip in a whole $200,000 to make this happen? Are you serious? I mean, this could be the biggest cash cow in the history of traffic duty. Forget the policemans' ball, a single full time employee could raise more money for the police department than all the traffic cops in a state combined. Eventually when people start getting better at hiding their phones from the cameras (you don't think they'll stop doing it do you?) people will be cautious most of the time and simply expect they're being watched.

    I just can't figure out if the article also talks about banning hands free use of phones as well. Are they seriously saying they want to simply ban cell phone use while driving altogether? It won't happen. It's a waste of time. If they want get people to stop holding phones up to their ears, they have to agree to the hands free or people will just prefer to pay the tickets.

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