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Cellphones Government Handhelds Transportation Technology

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

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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  • 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, 2010 @01:38PM (#31809264)

    Considering how most Americans are sleep deprived, adding the cell phone on top of it causes many problems. The best thing to do is just keep cell phones out of driver's hands. No exceptions.

    I don't care who you are or what you do, there is no reason to be using a cell phone and driving at the same time. And if you are so important that you absolutely need to be able to talk at a moments notice, you'd have a driver - such as the President.

    If you're gonna drive - drive. Don't talk.

  • 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.

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

    by Volante3192 ( 953645 ) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @01:49PM (#31809364)

    however, it does seem unfair to punish those who can drive while talking without a loss in attention or skill. []

    The authors also took the time to remind their readers that the supertasking population really is small, so you shouldn't assume you're one of them. Unfortunately, it looks like most people tend to believe they're the exception to this rule, as the authors note, "our studies over the last decade have found that a great many people have the belief that the laws of attention do not apply to them (e.g., they have seen other drivers who are impaired while multi-tasking, but they are the exception to the rule). In fact, some readers may also be wondering if they too are supertaskers; however, we suggest that the odds of this are against them."

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

    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 tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara.hudson@[ ... m ['bar' in gap]> on Sunday April 11, 2010 @02:14PM (#31809534) Journal

    ... 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 11, 2010 @02:44PM (#31809868)

    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 resources they use to catch you. Take responsibility for your actions.

  • by timmarhy ( 659436 ) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @06:22PM (#31811776)
    "Actually, in every conceivable metric"

    except by the metric, where we actually measure people's ability to drive while talking on the phone? []

  • by runlevelfour ( 1329235 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @01:05AM (#31813978)

    THIS. I ride a motorcycle and over time have learned to become highly aware of what everyone else is doing around me. I cannot tell you how many times I have almost been merged into by someone refusing to even turn their head to the side to see if someone is next to them. Cagers also love to pull out in front of us, ride our arses, and in general be effing dangerous to everyone around them. Would love to place it all at the feet of cell phone usage but most of the time it is simple lack of attention, putting on makeup, drinking their coffee, watching their GPS screen. The list goes on and on. Anymore I navigate in traffic with the main goal of trying to make sure as few of the bastards are around me at any given time. I wear full gear all the time but I have no illusions about my fate in a collision so a little paranoia has gone a long way.

    The problem is people's attitude and lifestyle choices which includes cell phone usage. The major offenders seem to drive large vehicles such as minivans and SUV's but interestingly enough not large pickups or heavy haulers such as semi's and the like. My personal guess is that the same people who choose a vehicle based on how "safe" it is then stops caring about anyone else's safety. I hate saying it but Susie Homemaker seems to be the worst offender.

  • by michaelhood ( 667393 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @03:14AM (#31814492)

    I hardly see how they could be considered off-duty when they're out and about looking for violators.

    Not sure about other states but in California, state law does not differentiate between an on-duty and off-duty peace officers when it comes to their responsibilities/duties/powers.

    /lay interpretation, not a lawyer

  • Re:Use It, Lose It (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Jedi Alec ( 258881 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @05:48AM (#31814984)

    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.

    So because you're far more highly trained and you have a bigass siren on the roof of your highly visible vehicle, you reckon you have some innate ability?

    Why not just take credit for the skills you have acquired through lots of training and practice?

    These articles refer to the average dickhead on the road, not a professional driver such as yourself who is, I assume, constantly aware that lives are on the line the moment you get behind the wheel.

    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".

    As someone who is fortunate enough to live close enough to work to go there by bicycle, I beg to differ on this point. There's a good chance that losing said license will coincide with me or someone like me getting badly hurt. Considering the amount of emergency stops I have to make on a daily basis because jackasses simply aren't paying attention...

  • by IndustrialComplex ( 975015 ) on Monday April 12, 2010 @08:55AM (#31815810)

    Good luck here, in AZ where I live, it has been at least 2 years since I saw a police officer driving without a cellphone to the ear. I would like them to pass a law against just to see how the officers react.

    The officers will react in the same way that they react to all other restrictions which are placed on the 'civilians'. They will claim to have special training which makes them perfect examples of whatever activity is prohibited to civilians. This training, which probably consists of less than 2 days per year (if it is even repeated) is enough to ensure that they are perfectly safe and justified in the action while any 'civilian' who tries a similar act is risking the life of hundreds of thousands of people and should be subjected to such extreme punishments so as to never even consider attempting the same maneuver.

    They don't have to follow that law, because their training makes them better than you.

They are called computers simply because computation is the only significant job that has so far been given to them.