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Cellphones Transportation

Will Your Car Tell You To Put Down the Phone? 349

crimeandpunishment writes with this story from the AP: "We know it's dangerous to text while driving, or talk on a cell phone without using a hands-free device. What if our car knew it as well, and warned us about it? Our cars buzz and beep at us when our seatbelts aren't buckled ... now there are new applications in the works that could lead to a warning if we're driving with a cell phone in our hand."
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Will Your Car Tell You To Put Down the Phone?

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  • Up next... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, 2010 @02:31AM (#31653928)

    Will Timothy post another article asking a vague, sensationalist question in the title? The answer may surprise you.

  • by irockash ( 1265506 ) on Monday March 29, 2010 @02:36AM (#31653948)
    I thought it was still up in the air. Isn't the distraction being on a call?
  • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Monday March 29, 2010 @02:40AM (#31653968)
    How about the headlights flash when the driver is using their cell phone so everyone else knows to dive out of the way?
  • by RobVB ( 1566105 ) on Monday March 29, 2010 @02:42AM (#31653978)

    The article only seems to mention smartphone apps, which doesn't seem optimal to me.

    What about pressure monitors in the steering wheel that sound an alarm when they don't feel anything for more than, say, 30 seconds? Sure it might annoy those who prefer driving with one hand, but I suspect driving with two hands might be inherently safer anyway. Pressure monitors would also prevent you from fiddling with the radio for too long, and would work for people without smartphones - or people you lend your car to.

  • Re:Up next... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Monday March 29, 2010 @02:51AM (#31654026)

    Pick your battles, man!

    I find a lot of Timothy's posts excruciatingly painful, too. But this one was unbiased, linked to a fairly interesting article, and by any stretch had a title that is completely typical of any print or online editorial "catch your eye" titles or leads. If anything commenters should be praising it as the kind of thing we want him to post on slashdot...

  • by mvdwege ( 243851 ) <mvdwege@mail.com> on Monday March 29, 2010 @02:52AM (#31654032) Homepage Journal

    It's a social problem. No amount of gadgets is going to stop idiots from wanting to yammer away instead of paying attention; witness the mechanic in this discussion mentioning how many of those warning systems he disconnected.

    The solution is brutally simple: three strikes, and you're out. Three tickets for driving while on the phone? Lose your license. Need your car for work? You should have thought of that and moved to the side of the road before dividing your attention between traffic and your important conversation.

    Otherwise it is time for some good old vigilantism and just shoot them in the head. It's not as if they have any brains to splatter the inside of the car, so that keeps its resale value.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, 2010 @03:23AM (#31654186)

    As a non-mechanic, I have disabled the seat belt warning on my own car. I'm mostly driving a few kilometers, I don't like to buckle up for a 1-minute drive. So i plugged the passengers belt in the drivers sensor. No reminders. :-)

    That's stupid. Most accidents occur at low speeds. You may not fly through the windshield but it still trivial to get permanently mangled.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, 2010 @03:36AM (#31654230)

    As a student who is required to take ergonomic/applied psychology papers, I can assure you that this is just false.
    Studies show, very clearly, that hands free devices have almost exactly the same magnitude of effect as just talking on a cell phone. The problem isn't only having one hand, the problem is that your attention is divided.
    Example source (there are actually hundreds of studies reproducing these results): http://pss.sagepub.com/content/12/6/462.abstract

  • by Mr. Freeman ( 933986 ) on Monday March 29, 2010 @04:17AM (#31654386)
    Three strikes is a poor solution. Look, all of these activities are going to happen regardless of how many restrictions we put on them. Make it illegal to talk on a phone? People use handsfree sets and speakerphone that cops can't see. Make it illegal to text? People hold the phone in their lap. The list goes on.

    These distractions aren't the issue. Even without cell phones people still manage to cause accidents and kill people. The solution isn't to wait until these idiots kill someone and then take their license away for a few years before they're allowed to kill someone else.

    The solution is to completely change the entire way things are done in this country with respect to licensing. Have you seen the driver's test for most states in the USA? It generally consists of 10 multiple choice questions that you can answer without having any knowledge of how to drive safely and a practical test where the DMV employee rides along with you over a route of less than half a mile. Driver's education classes are not mandatory and there are no driving schools that teach REAL driving that are run by the government.

    The solution to all this is to REQUIRE everyone who wants a license to take an extremely in-depth class related to driving. Both book work and practical work. These classes need to cover things like recovering from slides, how to drive on ice (if you live in a state in which it snows), how to avoid an accident, how to drive in extreme conditions. I don't mean that you should be able to execute a flawless drift around a track, but you need to be able to quickly bring the car to a dead stop in the rain if a kid runs out in front of you.

    Just the other day I was talking with someone who said that he was angry his car didn't have anti-lock brakes because it was snowing. I asked him why on earth he wanted anti-lock brakes in the snow. I told him that it's much better to simply use "threshold braking" (where you brake as hard as possible without locking the brakes). (BTW you aren't supposed to pump the brakes because you can't possibly do it more than 3 times a second and it provides much less braking force than threshold braking). ABS generally works but even if you have it you still just brake as hard as you can without locking the brakes up. He got all pompous and told me that "well, you generally aren't thinking that well in an emergency situation so you just floor the brakes". I informed him that he was a fucking idiot and shouldn't be driving if he didn't know how to handle emergency situations.

    This is a common attitude among the US population. Everyone thinks it's their god-given right to throw a 2 ton block of steel and aluminum all over the place at speeds often in excess of 50 miles an hour with no more training than "here's the gas, there's the brake". Without REQUIRING proper training to operate a car we can't possibly hope to stop the huge number of deaths caused by so-called "accidents". "accident" is usually a term for "ignorant driver(s) caused death and property damage but no one is being charged with anything". Even in situations without ANY distractions (no cell phone, no radio) the amount of damage and death caused is still way higher than it should be. There will always be true accidents where no action could have prevented a situation, but we need to try to eliminate these bullshit "accidents" where it's really just idiots not being able to operate a vehicle properly.
  • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Monday March 29, 2010 @04:21AM (#31654394)

    "Sure it might annoy those who prefer driving with one hand, but I suspect driving with two hands might be inherently safer anyway."

    Maybe if you drive automatic I guess, but whilst it used to be true with all vehicles, I don't think that's really the case anymore if you drive manual. I find a lot of circumstances where being able to change gear quickly is much more important than two hands on the wheel. Why do I think that's the case now and didn't before? Power steering. Sure without it it is kinda important to use two hands on the wheel, but I do drive with my hand on the stick for more than 30 seconds quite a lot- bad weather, dodgy roads, mad drivers on the road (Friday afternoons!). Certainly I'll admit sometimes I keep my hand on the stick just because it's comfier, but with power steering I'd struggle to see how it's inherently less safe, unless power steering failed.

    Particularly in the UK over the last few months we've had phenomenally bad weather, I know for sure it was more important being able to shift gears on snowy/icey hills because a lower gears can help you keep traction, but when you have grip you need to be in a lower gears to get some speed up so you make it up the hill. Having a vehicle shouting at me because I wasn't doing what it wanted in conditions like that? No thank you.

    But then, I'm not someone whose ever used a phone whilst driving, or who smokes whilst driving (well, at all actually) either, I take it out my pocket and put it in the side pocket and only deal with missed calls/messages when I reach my destinaton. In other words, something like this could only ever be an added hindrance, a distraction, a danger.

  • Yes. Studies that said being distracted by phone call is a lot like being distracted by any of 100 other things that commonly distract drivers.

    But hey, maybe if we pretend that distracted driving is related only to phones we can solve the problem in one swoop. That seems totally plausible.

  • by davmoo ( 63521 ) on Monday March 29, 2010 @04:24AM (#31654406)

    You of course have the right to determine whether or not you wear a seat belt in your own car or in another car you are riding in. But you have no right to determine whether or not I wear a seat belt in my own car (and I don't and won't). If you would like to start making my car payments and insurance payments, I'll be more than happy to let you make seat belt decisions for me.

  • by Liambp ( 1565081 ) on Monday March 29, 2010 @04:38AM (#31654456)

    you could probably fit a hands free phone into the car for the same price?

  • by vadim_t ( 324782 ) on Monday March 29, 2010 @05:07AM (#31654594) Homepage

    That sounds fine to me, so long you pay your own medical expenses, as well the expenses of whoever/whatever you happen to hit if you fly out of the windshield. After all, according to your own logic, other people shouldn't be paying for you either.

  • by maxwell demon ( 590494 ) on Monday March 29, 2010 @05:23AM (#31654648) Journal

    What about talking with passengers? I think we should disallow passengers as well.

  • by syousef ( 465911 ) on Monday March 29, 2010 @05:53AM (#31654766) Journal

    I'm still a big proponent of the USD—the "universal safety device,"

    It's a railroad spike sticking straight out of the steering wheel.

    The way some people drive, they'd probably use it to hold their doughnuts and completely ignore the danger.

  • by demonlapin ( 527802 ) on Monday March 29, 2010 @06:38AM (#31654966) Homepage Journal
    Let me guess: you've never driven 1000 miles in a day, have you?
  • Re:as it is (Score:5, Insightful)

    by beuges ( 613130 ) on Monday March 29, 2010 @08:06AM (#31655398)

    No need for crazy car-stuck-on-crossing scenarios...

    - I'm driving, my passenger is on the phone, relaying landmarks to the person on the other side, and giving me directions as I drive. ("Ok, let me call you back after the next two turns and we've come to a safe stop because driver Runaway1956 doesn't want me to talk on the phone while he drives")
    - I'm driving, we pass a big traffic jam, my passenger calls others that we know will be taking the same route, advising them to take another route ("Yeah sorry dude, we saw the traffic jam you got stuck in 15 mins before you left the office, but I had to wait until Runaway1956 stopped the car in order to call and let you know about it and of course by then you were already stuck")

    Those are both completely legitimate scenarios of a passenger using the phone while the car is moving. You must be a bundle of joy, demanding that your passengers hand over their cellphones to be locked up until the car is at a safe stop.

  • by groslyunderpaid ( 950152 ) on Monday March 29, 2010 @08:07AM (#31655408)

    driving while talking on cell phone != drunk driving. That is silly and ridiculous. How many times do you hear of someone running a red light at 80 and smashing into another vehicle because they were on the phone? etc etc I could extrapolate that out a looong way. I won't argue that it isn't distracting, but on par with drunk driving? Give me a break.

  • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Monday March 29, 2010 @08:57AM (#31655782) Homepage Journal

    It wouldn't work in this case. You can't drive until you're sixteen, and by then the idiots that would even get in a car like that would already have three kids.

  • by AndersOSU ( 873247 ) on Monday March 29, 2010 @09:55AM (#31656444)

    because only rednecks are bad drivers?

    I'm just as likely to see a guy with a suit in a beemer fooling with his blackberry on I95 as I am to see a teeny-boper txting her bff.

  • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Monday March 29, 2010 @11:24AM (#31657734)

    Because the speed limit has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with revenue generation. They WANT you to speed. Thats why the speed limits are set so stupidly low. Many cities would be financially screwed without the income from speeding fines.
    Autobahns in Germany are a great example that humans are quite capable of driving fast, safely.
    If they REALLY wanted to increase road-safety in the US, they should make the driving test a lot tougher. Like at least as tough as it is in Europe.

Can anyone remember when the times were not hard, and money not scarce?