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US May Disable All Car Phones, Says Trans. Secretary 1065

Posted by timothy
from the oh-gee-big-brother-that'd-be-swell dept.
gambit3 writes "The US government may require cars to include scrambling tech that would disable mobile-phone use by drivers, and perhaps passengers. 'I think it will be done,' US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said on Wednesday morning. 'I think the technology is there and I think you're going to see the technology become adaptable in automobiles to disable these cell phones.' LaHood is on a self-described 'rampage' against distracted driving, and if making it impossible to use a mobile phone while in a car can save lives, he's all for it."
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US May Disable All Car Phones, Says Trans. Secretary

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  • Re:Total idiocy (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 18, 2010 @05:45PM (#34274330)

    Total Idiot,

    Live closer to work.

  • Re:But TVs are OK?! (Score:3, Informative)

    by b00m3rang (682108) * on Thursday November 18, 2010 @05:46PM (#34274354)
    Front seat displays are required to have a safety switch that only allows them to turn on when the parking brake is applied.
  • Re:Go for it (Score:3, Informative)

    by maiden_taiwan (516943) * on Thursday November 18, 2010 @05:46PM (#34274358)

    The data show that your risk of an accident increases while 4x when you're on the phone.

    http://www.psych.utah.edu/lab/appliedcognition/ [utah.edu]

    This has nothing to do with "misuse." It's a human limitation.

  • Re:Go for it (Score:3, Informative)

    by maiden_taiwan (516943) * on Thursday November 18, 2010 @05:53PM (#34274504)

    Talking on a cell phone while driving increases your risk of an accident by 400%.

    http://www.psych.utah.edu/lab/appliedcognition/ [utah.edu]

    This isn't about some individual reckless drivers talking on the cell phone. It's a limitation of our brains.

  • Hockey stick graph (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 18, 2010 @05:54PM (#34274538)

    I would like to see the hockey stick graph that correlates car accidents with cell phone usage?

    Oh wait -- it doesn't exist? You mean.. car accidents have actually decreased per mile driven in the last few years even has cell phone usage and texting continues to sky rocket..

    We've already done the cell phone in real life. And it turns out, its honestly not a big deal. It seems that if people aren't distracted on a cell phone they'll just distract themselves some how else.

  • by MarkGriz (520778) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @05:57PM (#34274590)

    Settle down all you knee-jerkers, that's not actually what he said [dot.gov]

  • Re:Go for it (Score:5, Informative)

    by maiden_taiwan (516943) * on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:30PM (#34275232)

    That's a fine opinion, but look at the research. The data don't agree with you. Driving while talking on a cell phone turns out worse than all the things you mention, when actually measured. There seems to be something special about the way the brain handles a phone conversation that impairs the ability to multitask more severely.

    Don't take my word for it. Read the research.

  • by D Ninja (825055) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:39PM (#34275380)

    I will be no more distracted than any other driver who is talking to his passengers.

    Actually, this is not true.

    The problem with talking and driving is NOT the hands free aspect. The real problem is with the way the human mind works. When you are talking to someone who is physically in your car, your brain does not need to do work to "see" that person. You don't have to imagine what they are doing or how they are looking because they are sitting right next to you. This is true EVEN IF YOU NEVER LOOK AT THEM. When you are on a call phone, part of your brain responsible for visual aspects (AKA looking at the road) is now occupied. That's why you get the "blind driver effect" in which people who have been talking on their phones don't remember driving from point A to point B (or they blackout on parts). So, bluetooth does not do anything to help you overcome this problem.

    The other aspect of talking on a cell phone is that the other person can't see what is going on around you. If someone is in a car with you, they can see that traffic has come to a screeching halt, or that someone has cut you off, or whatever the case may be and they can appropriately shut up or say something - fully understanding that you need to focus. The same doesn't happen on the cell phone.

    Now, don't get me wrong - I want the government to be hands off. I especially dislike it when they try to solve problems with technology that are better solved through other means. And, other /. posts have pointed out the various areas where there could be problems with having this type of system in place. But, it is very far from the truth to say that bluetooth is a "better alternative."

    As others have pointed out, the real solution is using common sense and actually following it.

  • Re:Go for it (Score:4, Informative)

    by Culture20 (968837) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:47PM (#34275574)
    GPS devices don't measure acceleration. They measure approximate location. It's not hard to get a reflected signal and have a GPS device jump around. Especially if you're using ghetto-GPS (cell tower triangulation).
  • Re:Go for it (Score:3, Informative)

    by Dyolf Knip (165446) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @07:28PM (#34276146) Homepage

    It's trivial to _infer_ acceleration from the only data GPS provides, which is location, yes. But you're forgetting one of the first rules of computer science. Garbage in, garbage out. If the location is wrong, then the velocity and acceleration will be wrong as well. I can't tell you how many times I've used my GPS-enabled phone to track my bicycling route and at the end it tells me my maximum speed was 40 (or in one memorable case, 400) mph.

  • by AusIV (950840) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @07:43PM (#34276366)

    Indeed. It WILL cost trillions, like the highway system does.

    [Citation Needed]

    According to wikipedia, the interstate highway system [wikipedia.org] cost $114 billion over 35 years, or $425 billion after adjusting for inflation. Admittedly, there are a lot of state highways that aren't a part of the interstate highway system, but it's a long way from $425 billion to multiple trillions.

  • Re:Go for it (Score:3, Informative)

    by kurt555gs (309278) <kurt555gsNO@SPAMovi.com> on Thursday November 18, 2010 @09:15PM (#34277268) Homepage

    Nokia's N series cell phones do not need a cell signal to use the GPS.

  • Re:Go for it (Score:3, Informative)

    by robathome (34756) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @09:31PM (#34277388)

    I'm going to go all terminology-pedant on you, because I've been hearing the wingnut teabaggers misuse "communist", "socialist", and "fascist" for a while now as fear words.

    Communism is a *socioeconomic* philosophy, where property is held in common, particularly means of production, with common access to means of consumption. It has nothing to do with quantity or quality of government regulation.

    Totalitarianism is a *political* philosophy where the state recognizes no bounds to its power to control the actions and lives of its citizens/subjects.

    Many Communist countries also had Totalitarian governments, because unless you have a very small, commonly-aligned populace, everyone must be forced to participate in a communist system for it to function as intended. However, you can have one without the other.

    You say "communist", you mean "totalitarian."

  • by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Friday November 19, 2010 @12:07AM (#34278400) Homepage Journal
    Why would mass transit have to be self sufficient??? Its duty is to get cars off of the road and to get people to work so that the econonomy works. Nobody insists that your car support itself, you pay for it from your salary just as if it were a tax. Nobody insists that the roads turn a profit. Why can automobiles run at a constant deficit 100 times greater than mass transit, and that's no problem?

    It's just right-wing bullshit.

  • by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Friday November 19, 2010 @12:37AM (#34278534) Homepage Journal

    No, sorry. Right-wingers just don't THINK about what things really cost. You pay perhaps a fifth of the cost of driving your car. You don't pay the cost of all of the roads and infrastructure, the cost of the wars our country goes to so that you can have cheap gasoline, the cost of the environmental damage and the cost to our quality of life because cities and suburbs are both covered with automotive infrastructure and its fallout. You whine up a storm when asked to pay for it though! No Kyoto treaty! Yes to another war!

    We're getting SICK of supporting the right-wing lifestyle!

  • Re:Go for it (Score:2, Informative)

    by pslytely psycho (1699190) on Friday November 19, 2010 @01:46AM (#34278782) Journal
    Yes, I have to agree with that statement. I train semi truck drivers for a living. And it sounds to me like he was overly tired and possible falling asleep. It is irresponsible to drive under those conditions when operating any vehicle, especially one that can weigh up to 80,000 lbs!

    Yes, he did need to be taken off the road. But DUI's are actually fairly rare, a semi driver is DUI with a BAC of only .04 instead of the normal .08. Even in a private vehicle. A class A license changes the BAC level for all situations.
  • Re:Go for it (Score:3, Informative)

    by Concerned Onlooker (473481) on Friday November 19, 2010 @02:42AM (#34278968) Homepage Journal
    There's probably not enough data yet. However, this site has some very interesting reading: http://www.edgarsnyder.com/car-accident/cell-phone/statistics.html [edgarsnyder.com]

    From that site:

    - Despite the risks, the majority of teen drivers ignore cell phone driving restrictions.

    - Talking on a cell phone while driving can make a young driver's reaction time as slow as that of a 70-year-old.

    - 56% of teenagers admit to talking on their cell phones behind the wheel, while 13% admit to texting while driving. (Note: Because this information was given voluntarily by teens, actual cell phone use numbers may be much higher.)

    - 48% of young Americans from 12-17 say they've been in a car while the driver was texting.

    - 52% of 16- and 17-year-old teen drivers confess to making and answering cell phone calls on the road. 34% admit to text messaging while driving.

    - In 2007, driver distractions, such as using a cell phone or text messaging, contributed to nearly 1,000 crashes involving 16- and 17-year-old drivers.

    - Over 60% of American teens admit to risky driving, and nearly half of those that admit to risky driving also admit to text messaging behind the wheel.

    - Each year, 21% of fatal car crashes involving teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 were the result of cell phone usage. This result has been expected to grow as much as 4% every year.

    - Almost 50% of all drivers between the ages of 18 and 24 are texting while driving.

    - Over one-third of all young drivers, ages 24 and under, are texting on the road.

    - Teens say that texting is their number one driver distraction.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2010 @02:50AM (#34278998)

    Why don't you complete the quote:

    “There’s a lot of technology out there now that can disable phones and we’re looking at that. A number of [cell technology innovators] came to our Distracted Driving Summit here in Washington and presented their technology, and that’s one way. But you have to have good laws, you have to have good enforcement, and you have to have people take personal responsibility. That’s the bottom line.”

  • by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Friday November 19, 2010 @12:54PM (#34282822) Homepage Journal

    Roads and infrastructure are built with taxes, which I do pay.

    Me too. They'd be lower if we had more mass transit and fewer automobiles.

    How do you think that food made it's way to your table?

    Mostly via freight rail, at 500+ ton-miles per gallon of less-refined diesel fuel.

  • by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Friday November 19, 2010 @02:53PM (#34284080) Homepage Journal

    You can have my automobile when you pry it from my cold dead hands.

    THAT WILL BE ACCEPTABLE!

    Actually, the folks who harvested your food don't own automobiles. Or much of anything, including citizenship.

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