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Cellphones Handhelds Transportation

Could Anti-Texting Laws Make Roads More Dangerous? 709

Posted by samzenpus
from the be-careful-what-you-wish-for dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A new study has found that various state laws that ban texting while driving might actually make the roads more dangerous. If that seems counterintuitive, it's the laws of unintended consequences at work. The theory is that the laws don't do much to stop people from texting while driving — but instead, leads them to try to hide the activity more. That is, they end up trying to text with the phone held lower down to avoid it being detected. But, of course, that also takes their eyes even further off the road. The study itself looked at texting-related accidents both before and after 4 different states implemented such laws, and also compared them to neighboring states with no such laws. The results suggest the laws certainly don't help and in some cases appeared to make the situation worse. So if the laws don't work, what is a better solution to preventing texting while driving accidents?"
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Could Anti-Texting Laws Make Roads More Dangerous?

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  • by radtea (464814)

    Sense vehicular motion (including vibration) and shut down the texting function while in motion.

    • by j00r0m4nc3r (959816) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @12:34PM (#33736728)
      Why do people always immediately go to the restrictive solution? How about speech-to-text instead of forcing a feature disabled...
      • by Chirs (87576) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @12:37PM (#33736792)

        Studies have shown that it's not the act of holding the phone that is the problem, but rather the fact that you're concentrating on something other than the road.

        Granted, speech-to-text would be less of an issue than talking because you can pause while doing some tricky driving, but you're still going to be thinking about the message you're composing rather than on your driving.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by HungryHobo (1314109)

          Better ban talking to people in the car with you as well.
          and car radios.
          And thinking about things you plan to do that day.

          Which studdies?
          The only ones I've ever heard of have nothing to do with texting and are all about talking to people on the other end of a phone.
          When something unexpected comes up generally the other people in the car talking will shut the hell up since they want to live, someone at the other end of a phone line keeps talking(and distracting).
          Dictating a text messege would not have that p

          • by negRo_slim (636783) <mils_oRgen@hotmail.com> on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @01:07PM (#33737374)

            Better ban talking to people in the car with you as well. and car radios. And thinking about things you plan to do that day.

            How about we just ditch the cars period? Build our homes close to where we work and play, walk a bit more... man up some as a society. I dunno, just a thought!

          • by Wansu (846) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @01:15PM (#33737518)

              Better ban talking to people in the car with you as well.
            and car radios.
            And thinking about things you plan to do that day.

            Yes the bigger problem is distracted drivers. I've seen people reading paperback books, newspapers and stapled together papers at the wheel. I've seen people eating serious sandwiches, combing their hair, applying make-up and changing clothes. And of course there are people that daydream at the wheel. I saw one woman having a midlife crisis in a mid-sized Chrysler.

            It's not practical to try to legislate away all the possible distractions. Instead, how about we charge the people who cause accidents and if they were distracted, note that. If someone demonstrates a pattern of distracted driving, take their license. They are every bit as dangerous as a drunk driver.

            • by rainmouse (1784278) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @01:34PM (#33737856)

              And thinking about things you plan to do that day.

              Yes the bigger problem is distracted drivers. I've seen people reading paperback books, newspapers and stapled together papers at the wheel. I've seen people eating serious sandwiches, combing their hair, applying make-up and changing clothes. And of course there are people that daydream at the wheel. I saw one woman having a midlife crisis in a mid-sized Chrysler.

              Clearly driving is just too easy and minds wander too much. If we made roads more challenging like crazy golf courses we might fix the problem (and create new fun problems to solve).

            • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @02:16PM (#33738554) Journal

              That is the whole problem with trying to foolproof society, we just keep making bigger fools. I remember reading last year about cops in Florida (isn't it always Florida?) busted a woman for driving like a nut at 70+ while shaving her pubes and driving the car with her feet. I'll never forget what the arresting officer said "I thought I'd seen it all when I busted a guy trying to shoot up while driving down this stretch last year, but I gotta say, this tops it."

              So maybe instead of banning we should make those that want the "right" to text and drive take a test to prove they are capable? Because I've known those that can do multiple tasks and actually be good drivers, whereas I've known others that I still can't understand how they got a license in the first place. But you'd think we'd learn after our 80 year+ drug war than banning don't do squat except make people sneaky, just as in TFA.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by dgatwood (11270)

              Yes the bigger problem is distracted drivers.

              The bigger problem is human drivers. All these laws will become moot once cars can drive themselves, and we're already well on our way to that point. Within twenty years, these laws will be as quaint as laws regulating hanging up your boxer shorts on a clothesline on Sunday. Why bother passing laws to ban activity now when we're just going to have to fight to repeal those laws in single-digit years when they are no longer relevant?

            • by Homr Zodyssey (905161) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @03:11PM (#33739378) Journal

              Next thing you know, they'll illegalize getting road-head from a hitch-hiker. That's not the America I want to live in!

          • by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @01:34PM (#33737860)

            Better ban talking to people in the car with you as well.

            As it turns out, talking over a phone is more distracting than talking with someone sitting in the car.

            There are multiple reasons:
            1. Someone in the car with you can and will respond to the dynamically-changing environment as you do. If something unexpected happens, they will usually stop talking.
            2. In fact, someone in the car may notice something important, and notify the driver (either by shutting up or pointing it out), thereby partially mitigating the distraction they cause by talking.
            3. A phone conversation requires more of your attention because you have to make up for the deficiencies of the data channel (phones have lower audio quality than real life, you can't read their body language (even out of the corner of your eye, you can get a feel for a person's mood), etc.).
            4. Shared context makes communication more efficient, thus requiring less mental effort (this is why, even in this day and age, people generally want to meet face-to-face).
            5. Studies have shown that it takes humans more mental effort to think/interact with people/data they believe is remote as compared to people/things they think are local. In one study, they measured reaction times and errors in a driving simulator when people were either using an "in-car GPS" giving them instructions or a "satellite data-feed" giving them instructions. Even though both sets of instructions were identical (including latency, etc.), the mere perception that the "satellite data-feed" was non-local caused people to devote more mental effort to it, which increased driving accidents. A non-intuitive result, perhaps, but human mental machinery is finely tuned not for the tasks we currently expect it to perform.
            6. Initiating and finishing a phonecall requires much more attention than stopping/starting a conversation with someone sitting beside you. (Unlike fidgeting with a radio, answering a phonecall requires immediate action not at a moment of the driver's choosing.)

            People engage in a variety of activities while driving. All of these secondary activities induce distraction and thereby increasing driving risk. There is a valid debate to be had about where to draw the line with respect to distractions. But it is fairly well-established that talking on a phone while driving, and certainly texting while driving, are more dangerous than talking to a passenger while driving. So it may indeed be reasonable and consistent to ban reading books, texting and making phonecalls while driving... but not banning listening to the radio or having conversations with passengers.

        • by Anonymous Monkey (795756) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @12:56PM (#33737144)
          The only fix for this is if people started caring more about the lives of others and there own life. Love thy neighbor is the only long lasting fix that will work. Too bad most people don't do it.
          • by MartinSchou (1360093) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @02:14PM (#33738524)

            The only fix for this is if people started caring more about the lives of others and there own life

            I don't think so.

            It's about perceived risk. It seems much riskier to fly than to drive a car, because you have no way of preventing an accident yourself (you're just a passenger), whereas in the car you are the driver and could easily avoid an accident, because you're a great driver.

            Ever notice how, as a passenger, you're always a lot more worried about driving than you are as the driver? I'm almost willing to bet, that if you sent people out onto a seemingly dangerous test track, they'd be more nervous in general when they're passengers than they'd be when driving themselves.

            Even if you put them into a car driven by the best driver in the world.

        • Can you remember when the CB radio fad took off, and there were all these news reports talking about the danger of CB'ing and driving?

          Wait... that never happened...

          Did we not have an over-sensationalist media that tried to get us to tune in by scaring us so shitless that we began begging lawmakers to create laws based on knee-jerk reactions back then or something?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ColdWetDog (752185)
        I sense a business opportunity here folks. What about this line of reasoning: If $idiot_text_addled_driver did not have to actually control their vehicle, they could do whatever the hell they wanted to in the front seat. (No, I'm not going there).

        While we could, in theory, make completely autonomous vehicles, it's not likely to happen for a very long time. Even the military UAVs are actually flown by a human somewhere in Nevada. OK, we're winding down the war in Afghanistan (right?) and we need to kee
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by archmcd (1789532)
          Yes, then we can outsource it to China, where 9 year olds will be tasked with driving 4 cars at a time for 18 hours per day. This would be a business, right?
        • by mlts (1038732) * on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @01:04PM (#33737290)

          How about we have some expressways that are completely computer controlled? Punch in a destination, hand control to the computer, let it merge the vehicle, handle the distances between cars, slowing cars down a tad to get people in, etc. I'm sure a central computer can handle moving vehicles on a freeway a lot better than a thousand drivers with their individual reaction times can.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by DragonWriter (970822)

        Why do people always immediately go to the restrictive solution? How about speech-to-text instead of forcing a feature disabled...

        Because more of the danger is from distraction than the use of a hand on the device, so speech-to-text solves something that isn't the problem.

      • by netsavior (627338) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @01:51PM (#33738148)
        They should invent some like speech to text then text to speech interface, one fast enough to work in real time then people would be able "talk text" one another in real time as if they were having a conversation with spoken words instead of text characters. Man, if someone invented that, it would revolutionize communication. SOMEONE TEXT ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL STAT!
    • by Spectre (1685)

      Sense vehicular motion (including vibration) and shut down the texting function while in motion.

      There is no reason passengers should be prohibited from talking on phones nor texting, though.

    • by 1729 (581437)

      Sense vehicular motion (including vibration) and shut down the texting function while in motion.

      What about the passengers? Or people riding mass transit?

    • by martas (1439879)
      need to also discriminate driver from passengers. no way a solution would be accepted if anyone in a car was unable to text, ever.
    • by gparent (1242548)
      I take it you've never used a vehicle, ever. They tend to accelerate. Buses do it too.
    • by Tumbleweed (3706) * on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @12:38PM (#33736802)

      Sense vehicular motion (including vibration) and shut down the texting function while in motion.

      This would screw over the passengers. And when the passengers are kids that you're trying to keep quiet while you're driving, this also screws the driver.

      Plus, people will just hack their phones to get around that. Outlaw texting in cars, and only outlaws will text in cars.

    • by zero_out (1705074)

      I was thinking of putting something in the cars that would do the same thing. Maybe some sort of material could be put under the car's body panels that would block cell signals when the car is moving. Perhaps there is a material that when given the faintest of charges, acts like a faraday cage. That wouldn't cause jamming interference, which would have a huge spillover effect. However, I'm sure that cell phone antennae would become common after market add-ons, which would be tethered to a repeater withi

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Homr Zodyssey (905161)

        Along with the other hypothetical situations that have been mentioned, what if you need to report a dangerous situation?

        One time, my wife and I were travelling down the interstate at night when we saw an obviously drunk driver, swerving across 5 lanes, back and forth and back and forth. I was driving, so my wife called the state police to report the guy.

        In another incident, my wife and her friend were travelling through a rural area when a truckload of rednecks started harassing them -- fol

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Pacifist weakling.

      The correct solution is pressure sensors on the wheel and IR eye tracking. If the driver shows inadequate attention given the speed, level of swerving, and measured conditions, if available, a small explosive charge propels their body into the steering wheel/windshield at a velocity directly proportional to the one that a bystander would experience if hit by them...

      Poetic justice through superior technology!
  • A Speech-to-text system in your car -- or built into your phone, that's the better solution...
    Now someone just needs to make one that's affordable and make it easily obtainable (such as with a radio/sound system upgrade on a new car, or other cheap solution)
    • by blixel (158224) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @12:43PM (#33736912)

      A Speech-to-text system in your car -- or built into your phone, that's the better solution...

      Person says "lol, omfg. u r so right"

      Speech-to-text system says "I'm sorry. I didn't understand that. Please say again."

      Person says "L - O - L. O - M - F - G. You - are - so - right."

      Speech-to-text system says "I think you said "Laura oh my friendly good."

      Person interrupts saying "NO YOU STUPID FUCKING TEXT TO SPEECH FUCKER. I SAID LOL AS IN LAUGH OUT LOUD GOD DAMN YOU. OMFG STANDS FOR OH MY FUCKING GOD YOU FUCKING RETARDED PIECE OF MOTHER FUCKING SHIT!"

      Speech-to-text says "You want to call your mother. Is that correct?"

  • I wonder how hard it would be to make a device that blocks or otherwise interferes with all cellphones in a small (say, one-two meter) area? Make people who are caught texting pay a fine and have a device like this installed in their car. Or, force those caught texting while driving to have warning signs plastered all over their car with a "If you see me texting, call 1-800-555-5555 and report me for a reward" (sort of the modern equivalent of the pillory; speaking of which, bringing back the pillory might

    • by Aladrin (926209)

      It's still legal to text while riding in a car. You just can't do it while driving.

  • Dont hate, educate (Score:3, Interesting)

    by thechemic (1329333) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @12:35PM (#33736734)
    It is better to change people thru inspiration and education rather than by force and control. Always has been, always will be. However, if the states launched an education campaign about texting & driving dangers, that would be an expensive, not an income from citations. Also, our precious insurance companies wouldnt be able to jack your rates up nearly as high.
    • by jridley (9305)

      Also, nobody cares. Most people really don't give a crap if they're driving dangerously, they just want their entitlements. And they're entitled to do whatever the hell they want to. Just ask them.

      • by idontgno (624372) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @12:51PM (#33737058) Journal

        And when the unthinkable happens, it's someone else's fault.

        "Dammit, it's not my fault! What was that old lady doing in the street, anyways!"
        "She was crossing the street. At a crosswalk. With an active "Walk" signal. And you ran the red."
        "It's a street. Pedestrians NEVER BELONG IN THE STREET. It's not my fault, and she had it coming!"
        "And the young mother with the baby in the stroller, on the sidewalk beyond the intersection, that you ran over too?"
        "That's not my fault either! It's the old lady's fault for making me go up on the sidewalk!"

        I think I'm exaggerating. But I can't really be sure.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I think I'm exaggerating. But I can't really be sure.

          Okay, then I'll not exaggerate. I had a friend who tailgated horribly. She drove less than half a car length behind the car in front of her no matter what. Any lane, any speed, any condition. Eventually she totaled her car, in the rain. Why? "Because the car in front of her stopped too fast." In her mind, it wasn't her fault. Last time I rode with her, she was still tailgating everyone. Twice the car in front of her drove off in the shoulder when there were puddles, splashing her car with mud. The

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by publiclurker (952615)
            I see you know my wife. she used to do this all the time until she managed to total my car. fortunately, no one was hurt (it doesn't take much for the insurance company to total a 15 year old car), but she finally learned to keep the correct distance between her car and others on the road.
    • by hedwards (940851)
      The only problem with that is that texting while driving is a completely obvious risk. People do it anyways. Speeding is also an obvious risk. People do it anyways.

      I guess I don't share your optimism for people recognizing that they're doing something dangerous. Hell, even safety belts have a compliance rate which is well below what it should be.
      • by russotto (537200)

        The only problem with that is that texting while driving is a completely obvious risk. People do it anyways. Speeding is also an obvious risk. People do it anyways.

        People take risks. Not always because they don't recognize them, but because they find the risks acceptable. You can't "educate" this out of people, but in this case "education" is usually a euphemism for "indoctrination" anyway.

    • by wjousts (1529427) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @12:52PM (#33737070)

      The problem with education is that I think 95% of people (a completely made up statistic) would agree that texting while driving is dangerous and a bad idea.....except when they do it. They are exceptional drivers and can effectively multitask three or four things at a time while operating a couple of tons of steel traveling at 65 mph. Other people though? They're the real danger on the road.

      People have an exaggerated confidence in their own abilities.

  • by religious freak (1005821) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @12:35PM (#33736746)
    And why does "texting" need to be explicitly mentioned in the laws. How hard would it be to prove someone was "texting"? No, I wasn't texting, I was shopping, playing a game, whatever.

    Call it what it is... bad driving / reckless endangerment.
    • by hedwards (940851)
      Because it allows them to pullover the drivers they see texting, without having to wait until they do something overtly dangerous. Which means that if they catch you doing it at a stop light, they don't have to wait until you've gone a ways down the road to pull you over.
    • Exactly (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tooyoung (853621)
      I was on a walk at night several months ago and a woman drove by with the dome light on in her car. With the inside of her car being perfectly illuminated against the darkness, I could clearly see that she was reading a book. This was especially scary, as she was driving through a school zone in a neighborhood with many children and few lights (reduced light pollution, I think is the goal). I would expect that if she had driven by a cop, she would have been pulled over and sited for reckless endangerment
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GeckoAddict (1154537)
      Exactly. Enforce the reckless endangerment and distracted driving laws already on the books. No need to come up with a specific version of a law that is already in effect but not enforced well. The solution isn't new laws, it's better enforcement.
  • by captaindomon (870655) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @12:36PM (#33736764)
    Write people an extremely hefty fine if they are involved in an accident while texting. Make it easier to convict them on involuntary manslaughter charges if they were texting at the time they hit a pedestrian. If people can safely text, great. If not, punish them when they cause problems. This is the same as any other distraction while driving - you can think about other things than the road while driving legally (work problems, family problems, etc). If you can still safely drive, great. If not, you pay the piper when you hurt someone else.
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by dr2chase (653338)
      That will be quite a comfort to the relatives of the deceased.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by corbettw (214229)

      Couple that with mandatory clauses in all auto-insurance policies that render the policy null and void if an accident is related to texting-while-driving. I'm sure the insurance companies would love that, and maybe after a few high-profile bankruptcies and ruined lives people will start to take this seriously.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by idontgno (624372)

        I'm sure the insurance companies would love that, and maybe after a few high-profile bankruptcies and ruined lives people will start to take this seriously.

        Well, if the ruined lives include innocent victims who don't receive an insurance settlement and who will receive virtually nothing after bankrupting the perpetrator, I'm not so much in favor of it.

        About the only mitigation I can see is if the perp is parted out and his organs are auctioned to the highest bidder, all proceeds to the victim.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The problem with purely after-the-fact punishment is that humans are very poor judges of risk, especially as it applies to long-term activities and/or rare events. Stiff penalties for causing accidents while driving will do little to persuade most people. The deterrent seems remote and unlikely, whereas the benefit of texting-while-driving is immediate and obvious. They will continue to text while driving, and each time they successfully get home without killing anyone, their behavior is reinforced.

      And o
    • by hellfire (86129) <(deviladv) (at) (gmail.com)> on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @01:06PM (#33737354) Homepage

      ... Is the person who is on the other side of the accident, obeying traffic rules and minding their own business when some idiot blows a red light because they were too busy texting and then is killed. Traffic accidents are incredibly traumatic, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I know a friend who had an accident that wasn't her fault, but is still making payments on her newly purchased car because the insurance company paid her for the value of the car, not the value of the loan. And death is forever, so punishment after the fact is little solace to the teenager last month who plowed into a family SUV last month in my home town and killed the passenger all because he was too impatient to wait behind a car driving in front of him around a curve on a backroad.

      Your same logic could be applied to people who speed or run redlights. Sure don't ticket them until they have an accident after running a redlight. The problem with your idea is that people already think they are fantastic drivers and could not possibly get into accidents. Then they get into an accident and the damage is done. Sure don't ticket that guy driving drunk until he kills a nice happy family of four or something that looks equally gruesome and heartwrenching on the 11:00 PM news.

      To me, the obvious answer to car accidents is public transportation, and I'm sure that these rules are not helping very much because it's very hard to enforce before an accident anyway. However, if we continue to insist on cars as the way we get around in the US, then we all have a vested interest in making them safe by insisting on enforcement of rules that protect every driver as best we can. I'm not saying the anti-texting laws are effective, I'm just saying punish only on results is not as effective as you think.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tooyoung (853621)
      This is a good point, although it strikes me as odd that it would need actual legislation. If I hit you while driving because I am by distracted by eating a lobster dinner, assembling a model airplane, or text messaging, I would expect to be charged with negligent operation of a vehicle. I would assume this would be a 12 point violation even if I am in a minor accident. If I actually killed you, I would assume I would be charged with manslaughter due to gross negligence.

      I can see this carrying over to
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mea37 (1201159)

      If your actions put someone's property at risk, a "no harm no foul" civil resolution makes sense.

      If your actions put someone's life at risk, or otherwise impose on others risks for which you cannot actually make things right if you "lose" the bet, criminal punishment associated with the act of creating the risk (regardless of outcome) are far more appropriate.

  • to think before implementing worthless laws.
  • Don't outlaw texting (though I think it's dumb), but make it an extra fine if you get in an accident, are speeding, etc. due to texting. The way the law is now, I'm concerned about even monkeying with my iPhone to switch playlists, because I hook it up to my car stereo. It really isn't any different than switching radio stations--I would still have to divert my eyes momentarily to see what I'm doing--but now I have to worry about getting pulled over for texting even when I haven't been.
    • Don't outlaw texting (though I think it's dumb), but make it an extra fine if you get in an accident, are speeding, etc. due to texting.

      Great, so if I'm in a fender bender, the first thing the police will do is pull down my messages. You know, just in case he was texting.

    • I love having steering wheel radio controls because I always swerved when I fucked with the radio. A lot. Like I'd swing clean into the next lane. I could text message while watching the road though on a standard phone pad, since I could feel the numbers and track what I typed in my head (3 taps on 3 == f ...). I always used an iPod hooked to an Aux port so I could retrieve it and operate it more safely than playing with radio controls.
  • The people who believe they are superior to everyone else and can concentrate on texting and driving at the same time will pay the price in higher insurance rates from all the accidents they cause. They also get to pay for the medical bills of those they injure. They may even go to jail if they kill someone, thus preventing them from doing any more damage (other than to the taxpayer's wallet).

    As to the answer to this question:

    So if the laws don't work, what is a better solution to preventing tex
  • Too bad there's other drivers on the road, otherwise I'd say "let them text while driving until they're dead".

    Driving a car is not a right, it's a privilege. You're supposed to know how to drive safely. I know it would cost a lot but the roads would be safer if everyone was forced to pass a driving test every year or so. Even once a decade would be better than the "pass the test once, drive until you're dead" formula that we have now.

  • So if the laws don't work, what is a better solution to preventing texting while driving accidents?

    Natural selection.

  • by copponex (13876)

    If you text/web and drive, you are a fucking idiot and no better than the idiots who drive under the influence.

    I don't care what you do in your home or on your property. I don't care what you do with any other consenting adult or adults. But when you're on the road, you are putting more people than yourself at risk with stupid behavior.

    The fine should be $1,500 - no exceptions - and 150 hours of community service. Then we'll see how important it is to update your Facebook status.

    • by ikarous (1230832)

      If you text/web and drive, you are a fucking idiot and no better than the idiots who drive under the influence.

      I don't care what you do in your home or on your property. I don't care what you do with any other consenting adult or adults. But when you're on the road, you are putting more people than yourself at risk with stupid behavior.

      The fine should be $1,500 - no exceptions - and 150 hours of community service. Then we'll see how important it is to update your Facebook status.

      I saw a guy reading a book while driving down the highway. I seriously wanted to chop off his nutsack to prevent him from spawning offspring.

    • Re:FYI (Score:5, Funny)

      by boneclinkz (1284458) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @01:05PM (#33737332)
      I don't usually text and drive, unless I've been drinking.
  • I never really understood why a whole new law had to be introduced for cell phones/GPS's. most jurisdictions that I know of have some sort of punishment for "driving without due care and attention". they tend to have heavier consequences than the newer you-can't-touch-a-phone laws...but a car smashing into a biker has the same results whether that driver was napping, or texting..

  • Original data (Score:5, Informative)

    by goodmanj (234846) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @12:42PM (#33736890)

    Ugh. A slashdot article linking to some dude's blog post linking to the Christian Science Monitor's discussion. Can't *someone* link to the original study by the Highway Loss Data Institute?

    Here's the HLDI's summary, with graphs:

    http://www.iihs.org/news/rss/pr092810.html [iihs.org]

    Links to more details on that page. It's actually a pretty interesting analysis, if you go beyond the lede.

  • Keep It Illegal (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Guppy06 (410832) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @12:43PM (#33736904)

    If nothing else, keeping it illegal keeps accidents caused by it from being declared "no fault."

  • by Cro Magnon (467622) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @12:49PM (#33737024) Homepage Journal

    Then after the texters have killed each other off, re-open their roads to the non-texters.

  • Recidivism? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by goodmanj (234846) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @12:50PM (#33737042)

    One thing about this study: the laws are only a year or so old in most states. In my experience, people tend to ignore minor laws until they get caught, then change their behavior to avoid repeat offense penalties. There hasn't been enough time for the average texting addict to get busted and possibly break the habit.

    Let's look back on this in a year or two before we make a final verdict.

  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @12:51PM (#33737052)

    I sometimes wrestle with th question of whether or not dangerous behaviors should be punishable at whatever level it takes to make people stop doing them.

    For example, we know texting while driving is dangerous, based on stastics. It significantly risks other people's lives. Also, any sane person should know it's just a dumb idea.

    So would it be just, or a good idea, to simply have a thre strikes rule for this? First strike - no driver's license for 6 months. Second strike - a public caning. Third strike - execution or banishment to Wasilla, AK (offender's choice).

    Similarly for dealing dangerous drugs, or drunk driving.

    Why is it that when the repeat offenders play a game of chicken with the law, it's always the non-offenders that blink and let the offender get off with light punishment? (I'm thinking of drunk drivers with many, many offenses.) Why can't these repeat offenders be given threats of penalties so serious that it actually curbs their behaviors that endanger others?

  • by aegl (1041528) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @01:05PM (#33737330)

    Catch someone texting while driving - impound their car and tow it away. We already do this for people who are too drunk to drive. This just does the same for people who are too stupid to be allowed to drive.

    Take the phone away too.

  • And in other news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HereIAmJH (1319621) <HereIAmJH@hd t r v s . org> on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @01:06PM (#33737342)

    Studies have found that laws prohibiting bank robberies have failed to reduce the number of thefts while making them more dangerous for innocent bystanders. Police officer's attempts to enforce those laws have only encouraged criminals to carry weapons.

    While I think it is ridiculous to write a law to make prosecuting every little driving distraction easier, the fact is the law is there. If people are attempting to be more discreet while still violating the law, the problem isn't that this makes them more dangerous. The problem is that the penalties are not severe enough to stop the behavior.

    Example: I'll drive 5 over on the interstate because I know the chance of getting a ticket is slim. I won't drive 5 over in a school zone. The risks are higher and the penalties are nasty.

  • by natoochtoniket (763630) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @01:10PM (#33737430)

    We know that texting-while-driving is far more dangerous than driving while drunk.

    We have decided, as a society, that driving while drunk is so dangerous that we have made it illegal, and impose stiff penalties. It isn't just illegal to drive while drunk. It is illegal to have an open container in the car. This is based on the reasonable assumption that, if there is an open container, the driver may take a drink and become impaired.

    I think it would be reasonable to decide, as a society, that texting-while-=driving is so dangerous that we should impose stiff penalties. And, it shouldn't just be illegal to drive while texting. It should be illegal to have an open texting device in the car. If there is an open texting device, the driver may look at it and become impaired. Many times, I have seen a teenager say "look at this", and hold his/her phone out so that another person can read it. If that other person happens to be a driver, the drivers attention is taken away from the driving.

    I really don't have any problem with drivers who decide to kill themselves, other than perhaps that I get stuck paying part of the cost of the emergency services. I have a really big issue with drivers who try to kill me, by swerving their vehicles toward mine while driving at a high rate of speed. Recently, that has happened several times each day.

    • by Chowderbags (847952) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @02:20PM (#33738598)

      I think it would be reasonable to decide, as a society, that texting-while-=driving is so dangerous that we should impose stiff penalties. And, it shouldn't just be illegal to drive while texting. It should be illegal to have an open texting device in the car. If there is an open texting device, the driver may look at it and become impaired. Many times, I have seen a teenager say "look at this", and hold his/her phone out so that another person can read it. If that other person happens to be a driver, the drivers attention is taken away from the driving.

      The same logic could apply to books. Can't let little Johnny have his picture book open in the car, the driver might look at it! Heck, just think what would happen if the driver took his eyes off the road and looked at their speedometer. Clearly we should ban speedometers. For that matter, drivers might look at scenery around them. We should either ban scenery or put all our roads in tunnels. (WON'T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN?(except while driving))

      The better solution is to just enforce current reckless or careless driving laws. We don't need to play whack-a-mole with every new technology.

  • Better solution? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mea37 (1201159) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @01:10PM (#33737440)

    Easy. Instead of writing new laws targeting the specific act (texting while driving), enforce the existing laws that address the underlying reason it's a problem (distracted driving). That way the presence or absence of a phone isn't a factor, so concealing the phone has nothing to do with anything. If someone isn't paying attention to the road, ticket them.

  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @01:18PM (#33737560)

    The gov't can flaunt all the studies/stats out there even show videos of what happens when you get into an accident, but that won't help. People will still think to themselves, "Shit, I need to tell XYZ that I'm going to be home late, or to let out the cat...."

    Last week I was walking in the mall and saw a woman about 75ft in front of me looking at her phone while she was texting and walking. I stopped walking and just stood there. A few seconds later she walked right into me. In the 75ft that she walked, she never looked up once. She proceeded to blame me for not getting out of the way and I calmly told her that I was standing there looking at the display, I can't be responsible if you were not paying attention to where you were walking.

    I can only imagine what this woman is like when she's driving a 3000lb car going 45mph.

    I agree with the other posters, if you're texting while in an accident, hefty fine, removal of driving privileges, suspension of license, put it on your record (like a DUI), increase your auto insurance rates, public flogging etc...

    Btw, in California they are trying to lower the fine for making a 'rolling stop' at a stop sign from $450 to $219. The fine is supposed to be painful.

  • by fred fleenblat (463628) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @01:28PM (#33737760) Homepage

    1. Telephone companies can and do routinely trangulate from towers or use GPS-enabled smartphones to establish the position of a cellular phone. It's not rocket science to integrate those measurements over time and obtain the velocity of a cellular phone.

    2. Add some code to phone company messaging servers that disables sending and receiving of text messages while the mobile phone is in motion.

    3. New phones should have some code that notices the situation and disables reading old messages and typing new messages in advance. Perhaps they won't allow you to dial anything but 911 or even receive calls unless you have bluetooth.

    Yes, this means that we take away some convenience to be safer. Yes, the phone companies won't make as much money. I'm sorry. People are behaving like children and we need to take their toy away.

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @01:37PM (#33737934) Homepage Journal
    It always seems like the texting person survives and someone else dies. Pity the situation can't just be reversed.

    They'll be more easily caught though, because they'll be swerving all over the road.

    Some drunk driver the other day was convicted of murder instead of manslaughter because he'd already had a DUI conviction, knew that driving under the influence could lead to someone else's death, chose to drive while drunk anyway and killed someone. Just run a "Don't drive while texting" PSA campaign and then punish infractions severely and punish deaths caused by people who were texting VERY severely and people should get the idea pretty quickly. It's a pity about all those innocent bystanders who are going to die before people realize that the consequences of doing this will too severe for them to risk doing it, though.

  • by Frankie70 (803801) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @06:38PM (#33741730)

    When a criminal murders someone & there are witnesses, he typically kills the witnesses also.
    If there weren't anti-murder laws, he wouldn't have to kill the witnesses.

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