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

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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  • by pinkishpunk ( 1461107 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @05:40PM (#34274210)
    so what kind of range are we talking here, jamming phones on the sidewalks and further in from the street where there happen to be driving cars by ? Could be fun, on the otherhand not having to navivate around people talking away on their phone, and ignore people around might be concideret a bonus.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 18, 2010 @05:42PM (#34274250)

    If blowjobs cause someone to run off a road and slaughter a cyclist as texting did on a road south of denver, then yes, chastity belts. Or at least a state legislature with the eggs to stand up to the citizenry's ignorance and negligence. (I suspect the former is more likely).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 18, 2010 @05:45PM (#34274316)

    "Ray LaHood". One more example of a bureaucrat who believes that the government's job is to protect us from ourselves.


    Or, you know, from the dipshit on a cell phone barreling down the street in an out-of-control multi-ton hunk of metal on wheels because he/she isn't paying attention to the road. The driver's not the only one in danger. In fact, the driver's probably in the LEAST danger in that situation.

  • Re:Go for it (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 18, 2010 @05:46PM (#34274338)

    People have been driving for over 50 years without having cell phones. If you think this is too heinous, then you're far too addicted to your phone.

  • Re:Go for it (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 18, 2010 @05:48PM (#34274396)

    For those who don't have time to RTFA.
    "and if making it impossible to use a mobile phone while in a car can save lives, he's all for it — "

    Well then, please install ignition interlocks that detect alcohol on a person's breath. That device is available right now, and would save lives. Go ahead, make it mandatory on all cars. Luckily no one could possible develop a mod chip to defeat these devices.

    Seriously though, something to stop drunk drivers would be a good thing, and certainly more acceptable than blocking passengers from making phone calls.

  • German Autobahn (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Quila ( 201335 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @05:50PM (#34274430)

    You don't even see the gas prices of the Autobahn gas stations until you exit the Autobahn because advertising is strictly prohibited.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 18, 2010 @05:50PM (#34274436)

    Clearly OnStar and Sync will not only be given exception capability for the sake of calling 911, but they'll be mandatory in every car. Even foreign cars.

  • Use the phone's GPS? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by denbesten ( 63853 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @05:53PM (#34274520)
    What about the house next to the highway? Would the occupants lose their signal every time one of these mobile signal jammers came barreling down the road? Seems like it would be more flexible to require the phone to detect motion using the built in GPS and disable certain features based on speed. For example, texting only works at 4 MPH or less (walking), voice conversations at 65 MPH or less, keypad dialing at ????, emergency calls always permitted, etc.
  • No kidding (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @05:55PM (#34274564)

    About 6 years ago I crashed my car and the first thing I did after I was no longer dazed was fish out my cell phone and call 911. The faster that call was made, the faster first responders could get there. Thankfully nobody was all that seriously hurt, but I was glad I could summon help quickly, and without having to get out of the car. At first, I wasn't sure I could move under my own power (turned out I could just took a bit).

    I don't disagree that distracted drivers are a problem but you get to the whole baby/bathwater situation. Deal with distracted drivers, maybe by requireing more stringent testing, better enforcement, whatever. Just having shitloads of rolling cellphone jammers is a bad idea. The prevelence of cellphones is something that helps make us safer these days. People can quickly and accurately summon emergency responders. That is of value, let's not fuck it up.

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

    by Totenglocke ( 1291680 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:04PM (#34274756)

    Let Z = the number of accidents caused by driver stupidity that does not involve cell phones.

    I'll bet my house that Z > Y.

  • by SiaFhir ( 686401 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:05PM (#34274778)
    Only as long as the cell phone can be used while the car is stopped. I'm all for scrambling while the car is moving, but I don't feel it safe or necessary to have to exit the car to call 911, saying some guy is trying to carjack me, or my wife is having an allergic reaction...
  • Re:Go for it (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ADRA ( 37398 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:09PM (#34274844)

    When was the last time you brought a hand gun into a school? Why ban them? We should only punish the nut jobs that cause the rampages and not everyone else who has a god given right to bear arms anywhere they like. Totally nanny state if you ask me.

    Oh, wait, your argument is retarded, so thanks for playing. I think its proven that making calls (at least hands-on calls) while driving dramatically increases the chance of being in an accident. Why mandate seat belts? They only serve to increase your chances of living through an accident. I should be able to choose to die gloriously because I don't want to buckle up.

    All that rhetoric aside, a blanket ban on cell phone transmissions from/in cars is a silly overbearing solution to a real problem. A fee/charge for using hands-on cell phones while driving is appropriate, and possibly hands-off if it really distracts people so much (statistically speaking).

    Last night I saw an individual driving very poorly and of course when I passed them they had a pen and paper in hand writing notes while driving... distracted drivers cause accidents.

  • by n5yat ( 987446 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:09PM (#34274848)
    Some people can drive AND use a cell phone safely. Some people cannot. In fact, some people cannot drive without being distracted by a story on the news radio station, or because they are fiddling with the radio controls, or turning around to yell at their kids in the back seat. I know a person who drove into a telephone pole while doing so. I once saw a guy driving a car (with a famous insurance company's name prominent on the side) who had a laptop in the passenger seat, and kept turning to type on the computer while driving!!! This kind of legislation will never fix the problem. Some people will always find something to fiddle with, become distracted, and kill themselves and/or someone else. Unless we ban cars and go 100% mass transportation :-)
  • Re:Go for it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:11PM (#34274876)

    FCC will not allow this.

    There are already clear laws on the books prohibiting cell phones in prisons, yet the FCC will not allow cell jamming in prisons.

    What I don't understand is why people want to jam cell phones in prisons. All you need to do is surround the prison with cell towers that *you* control and then whitelist any cell #'s that you authorize. Any other cell # gets cut off at the tower and you have a wonderful record of how many illegal cell phones there are in the prison. No jamming required at all!

  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:13PM (#34274916)

    Just disable all cars...

    LaHood is working on it:

    On February 3, 2010, LaHood was criticized for advice he was asked to give while testifying before a congressional committee regarding Toyota's recall of 2.3 million vehicles due to sudden acceleration, wherein he suggested Toyota owners stop driving their cars.

    Actually, he should have said, "People who don't know how to drive their cars, should not drive their cars." Putting the accelerator pedal so close to the brake pedal is obviously a design error for the intellectually challenged, who will confuse the two and blame the car manufacturer. The accelerator pedal should be on the driver's side; the brake pedal on the passenger's side.

    Dumb-ass Toyota driver: "I've got my foot pushed down to the floor, but the car is not stopping!"

    Police: "No! You're doing it wrong! Put your foot down on the passenger's side!"

    Ray LaHood is an idiot, BTW.

    I think UK folks would label him as a "right cunt, who acts like a twat."

  • by PPalmgren ( 1009823 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:18PM (#34275008)

    I honestly can't tell if this is flamebait or if you lead a rediculously sheltered life in a big city. I live in a fairly big city (Charlotte), and your idea is so rediculously financially infeasable even for the population density of the 20th biggest city in the US. It would cost literally TRILLIONS to implement something like that for the eastern seaboard alone, and you haven't even taken into account the 10 pp/sq mile that exists over a large portion of middle US.

    I'm all for ideas, but some sense of realism and rational thought must go into them. The world isn't black and white and isn't one-size-fits-all.

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

    by im_thatoneguy ( 819432 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:20PM (#34275040)

    So far I've gotten 4 drunk drivers off the road, reported 2 extremely dangerous incidencts where debris fell onto a freeway (railroad tie and blown into traffic sign on its side pointed forward so as to be on edge to a driver)... and had 0 related phone related accidents.

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

    by machxor ( 1226486 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:27PM (#34275172)

    I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that radio jammers can't distinguish 911 calls.

    That's probably true which is why this solution would have to be something more than a simple radio jammer. Turn the car into a faraday cage and then the only "tower" your phone sees is the repeater broadcasting in your car. Then the repeater allows/disallows calls based on vehicle state and destination number. I'm over simplifying things and talking out my ass here but there are solutions to do it right :-)

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

    by smellsofbikes ( 890263 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:42PM (#34275436) Journal
    >The number of cell phone induced accidents is GROSSLY inflated in another act of security theater.

    I freely admit this is anecdotal evidence, but in the last four years I've had four people run into the back end of my car when I was stopped at a stoplight. Every time I've seen it coming, and I've seen the person talking on a cellphone right up to the moment of impact.

    I'm having some bumperstickers made that say "is that call worth $2500?/that's how much bumper replacements will cost you" if I can trim the second line down to something legible on a bumper sticker. Though they'll be too busy talking on their phones to read it.

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

    by s13g3 ( 110658 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:43PM (#34275482) Journal
    I have a friend who is alive today only because of a cellphone: after being involved in a motorcycle crash late at night that broke his back (leaving him paralyzed form the chest down), he managed to find his phone (that had survived the crash due to the aluminum case it was in) laying on the ground next to him and call 911, who located him with the E911 service. Had there been a jammer on his motorcycle, he might not have been able to make the call and only would have been found due to the smell weeks later. This is a Bad Idea(TM)
  • Re:Neat! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sleepy ( 4551 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @07:05PM (#34275854) Homepage

    You can legally block signals on your own property, but you have to do it passively so as to not affect the property of others.

    Courts have ruled against jamming. Fine.

    But the wording of the court decisions and FCC regulations do not prohibit you from building structures which degrade or -passively- block cell signals.
    Thick walls containing lots of rebar will block signals, but are not always practical on a train car. :-)

    There's nothing illegal about painting walls using paint with a high concentration of metallic particulates mixed into the paint. There was some company who has patented this idea, but you could mix paint containing a fair amount of copper dust, and that -will- cause reception problems inside the room.

  • He's an idiot? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wiredog ( 43288 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @08:09PM (#34276658) Journal

    Because he said [] "you have to have people take personal responsibility " and " there will never be a technological device that imparts common sense when it comes to safe driving" ? That's idiotic?

  • by ncgnu08 ( 1307339 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @08:37PM (#34276924)

    Amen to that. Maybe we shouldn't have a huge push against those "educated elitist" when it comes to picking our leaders. I remember when being educated and attending Harvard, etc, was not a bad thing like it is now. Whether you have a "D" or "R" after your name, having them both "Dr" should not be a bad thing....

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

    by iamhassi ( 659463 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @08:51PM (#34277042) Journal
    I've reported drunk drivers before. One was a semi. Few minutes after I called I saw the cop quietly pull up behind the semi. The next time that semi swerved into the other lane the cop pulled him over.

    I really feel like I saved someone's life that day.
  • Re:Go for it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @09:10PM (#34277228)

    That's not something that only the right wing wants. Remember, Obama has been in office for 2 years now, and the TSA, as part of the Dept. of Homeland Security, is under his direct control (and Janet Napolitano, a Democrat), as it is part of the Executive Branch. If Obama wanted to do something about TSA's groping behaviors, he would have done so by now.

    Since this stuff was started under Bush, and continues under Obama, the most reasonable conclusion is that the left and right wings both want a nanny state with sanctioned groping of 3 year old girls and elderly people.

  • Re:Go for it (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 18, 2010 @11:51PM (#34278288)

    My mother was severely injured and had her car totaled some years ago due to a careless woman who ran a red light because she was on her phone.

    I had a friend (who I've since disassociated with) who borrowed my car and ended up popping both tires on one side, destroying the rims and causing the steering to become misaligned because he ran up a curb while he was on his phone.

    I have almost been run over on a number of occasions while crossing the street because of idiotic, self-righteous fools blabbing away on their phones and not paying attention.

    So yeah, if I see someone on the phone while driving, I have and will photograph and report them.

"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault