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The National Highway Safety Administration has suggested that state and local governments ban all cell phone activities from the road, including the use of hands-free headsets.  (Source: Textually.org)
Hands free devices also too risky, administration says

California made headlines when it began enforcing legislation that enacted pricey fines for those caught talking without hands free headsets or texting on their cell phone while driving.  The provision and similar ones across the country seem reasonable, considering that some studies found cell phones to impair driving more than even commonly abused drugs like alcohol or marijuana.  Many drivers in California did the seemingly logical thing -- switch to hand-free headsets.  However, some research indicated that even conversations on hands-free headsets can still be distracting and dangerous.

Now an unprecedented suggestion by the U.S. Highway Safety Administration has been revealed -- ban all cell phones on U.S. streets.  The suggestion was actually first made in 2002, but has only now been revealed, thanks to The Center for Auto Safety and Public Citizen, which filed a lawsuit to obtain documents from the agency under the Freedom of Information Act.

The NHTSA draft on cell phone policy states, “We recommend that drivers not use these devices when driving, except in an emergency.  Moreover, we are convinced that legislation forbidding the use of handheld cell phones while driving may not be effective in improving highway safety since it will not address the problem. In fact, such legislation may erroneously imply that hands-free phones are safe to use while driving."

The agency's request was reportedly shared with state traffic departments and select lawmakers, but was kept from even the majority of national lawmakers.  The agency feared that both members of Congress and the public would be upset at the report.

At the time when the report was made, there were 170 million cell phone subscribers in America, "more than half of the U.S. population".  There are now 270 million subscribers -- 87 percent of the population -- according to CTIA-The Wireless Association, the cell phone industry trade group.  According to the NHTSA report, "Driver distraction contributes to about 25 percent of all police-reported traffic crashes. Though all distractions are a concern, we have seen the growth of a particular distraction, namely cell phone use while driving. While the precise impact cannot be quantified, we nevertheless have concluded that the use of cell phones while driving has contributed to an increasing number of crashes, injuries and fatalities."

The agency comments that in the research it has reviewed, hands free headsets were shown to provide "little, if any, difference between the use of hand-held and hands-free phones in contributing to the risk of a crash while driving distracted. Hands-free or hand-held, we have found that the cognitive distraction is significant enough to degrade a driver's performance."

The agency says that legislation against using cell phones while driving is a decision for states and local governments to make.  It urges them to consider bans and points out that "at least 42 countries restrict or prohibit use of cell phones and other wireless technology in motor vehicles, and several more are considering legislation."

Even if cell phones are not outright banned, many places across the country increase traffic fines if a violation is committed while the offender is on their cell phone.



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RE: Plastic Bubble
By FITCamaro on 7/23/2009 9:29:49 AM , Rating: 4
Exactly. You can't fix stupid. Personally I think even holding a cell phone while driving only makes an already bad driver worse. For a good driver, it does not affect them because they know they need to pay attention to the road first. At least that's how I act. Whether I'm using my bluetooth piece or not.


RE: Plastic Bubble
By bhieb on 7/23/2009 9:57:15 AM , Rating: 5
Although I agree with you that some drivers are better at it than others, it is undeniably a distraction no matter how you spin it. It may be a very small one for you, but it is there physiologically whether you'd like to admit it or not (and certainly there are others in a car but that is beside the point).

That debate aside, I certainly use mine all of the time. However I think this is a good idea. No one "needs" to be on their phone while driving. It is a HUGE convenience that I've come to enjoy, but we can live without it. Very few calls I get are even remotely an emergency, most are just mindless chatter because they can.

People complain about our "right" to have one, but in the end our rights only extend until they impeded on another's. In this case since it is a distraction, no matter how small, it does impede on my "right" to the safest drive home.

Also I agree 100% with your next comment regarding training, the system today is a joke.


RE: Plastic Bubble
By tastyratz on 7/23/09, Rating: 0
RE: Plastic Bubble
By fezzik1620 on 7/23/2009 11:40:22 AM , Rating: 5
I completely disagree with your premise; that with rights/liberties you must have all or nothing and that there is little/no room for grey area. Hell, it's all grey area!

If you have no restrictions at all that would be anarchy. If you have no freedom at all, I don't know, the first thing that came to my mind was The Matrix. We even extend basic human rights to terrorist prisoners in Gitmo so I have difficulty of thinking of a real-world example with no rights. Nazi concentration camps maybe.

Everything else is grey area. We restrict certain activities to promote the general welfare; from rape and murder to restricting the speed at which someone is allowed to drive.


RE: Plastic Bubble
By omnicronx on 7/23/2009 11:51:08 AM , Rating: 5
I disagree, if there ever was a gray area in respect to rights and liberties, driving would be it, nor is it all or nothing. You have right to drink, but you don't have the right to drink and drive, there is no gray area here. None of your ammendments give you the right to put others in danger period, it could also be easily be tacked on to current dangerous driving laws. Here in Ontario Canada, they are part of 'distracted driving' laws.

I think you are also pushing it if you think changing the radio station, fixing your mirror or adjusting your seat compares to looking down at your cell phone for seconds at a time to write a text message, or even having a conversion on the phone. I don't know about you but I don't take my eyes off the road for any of those reasons you mentioned (I know the locations of my radio buttons, I don't need to look down to move my seat, and peripheral vision should take care of fixing mirrors), but even the best driver would be hard pressed to type a text message while driving while also keeping their eyes on the road.


RE: Plastic Bubble
By Kaldor on 7/23/2009 4:16:42 PM , Rating: 2
What will be done to avoid "impeding" on other peoples rights? Do we remove radios? lock mirrors in place while driving? Make non adjustable seats? How about banning cup holders?

Now your being dramatic. When did adjusting your seat, changing the radio station, etc, distract you as much as talking on a phone? Does it require a great deal of thought to do these things? Engaging in a conversation requires far more thought process.

Its been proven, over and over, that talking on a phone, regardless of what you may think your skill level is, is roughly the same as being intoxicated.

I hope they ban it. I get tired of all the accidents I see that caused by idiot on phone which cause me to be delayed or late. Ive talked to numerous county officers and they all say out right that cell phones are involved in in over 60% of accidents.

And FYI, I dumped my phone a year ago. Never been happier. I dont even have one while on call. I take a pager that I pay for, even though they want me to carry a BB which sits in my desk. People need to learn to unplug and step away from technology.


RE: Plastic Bubble
By Hare on 7/23/2009 4:58:46 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
And FYI, I dumped my phone a year ago. Never been happier. I dont even have one while on call. I take a pager that I pay for, even though they want me to carry a BB which sits in my desk. People need to learn to unplug and step away from technology.


That's just ridiculous. You don't have to be a slave to technology. Having your phone (emails, calls, chat, sms etc) around is a possibility, not a liability. It doesn't mean that you have to take every single call and respond to every single email in a second. The idea is that you do these things when the best moment arrives...


RE: Plastic Bubble
By Kaldor on 7/23/2009 5:26:31 PM , Rating: 3
I didnt say anything about being a slave. The vast majority of people dont know how to unplug. They are compelled to take that call, text, email regardless of where they are. Thats an addiction.


RE: Plastic Bubble
By Chaser on 7/24/2009 1:28:50 PM , Rating: 2
And some people can't drink in moderation. So good for you. But what's best for you doesn't make it for me or anyone else.

I love my cell and the accessibility it provides me. Especially for road emergencies and lighter things like last minute calls while I'm at the grocery, etc.

Like anything else it has to be used responsibly. Just because you're content to toss the phone allow me to make that choice like you did.


RE: Plastic Bubble
By Kaldor on 7/24/2009 1:56:31 PM , Rating: 3
I didnt ever say you couldnt carry a phone. Its a great thing for emergencies. Last minute calls in the grocery store, no problem. Both of those things can be done while your car isnt moving. Talking/texting in a car doing 70mph causing roughly the same distraction as being legally drunk, thats a problem.

Im all for responsible use. But nobody wants to have to give up anything for the greater good. Its just too bad that it needs to turn into legislation to really make it work.


RE: Plastic Bubble
By Chaser on 7/24/2009 2:02:18 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I hope they ban it.


I don't. You're happy you "tossed your phone.". Good on you. I don't need to nor do I support a total car ban.


RE: Plastic Bubble
By tastyratz on 7/23/09, Rating: -1
RE: Plastic Bubble
By hyvonen on 7/23/2009 2:45:21 PM , Rating: 1
I agree with FIT 100%. Unbelievable!

You know, if they ban cell phones, they should ban GPS receivers, radios/ipods, eating/drinking, makeup, talking, daydreaming...

Someone suggested increasing fines for traffic violations if a cell phone was used - I think this would be great. Those who good enough drivers to use phones while driving wouldn't be punished, but those who just can't but do it anyway will be.


RE: Plastic Bubble
By someguy123 on 7/23/2009 4:25:21 PM , Rating: 2
this is just poor "our freedoms" logic that everyone applies to this issue. GPS receivers, music, and eating are not even close to the consistent distraction of communicating with someone on a cellphone, although putting on make up WHILE driving seems like something that should be banned if it isn't already, since you need to not only take your hands off the wheel but also your eyes.

fact is you lose some of your "freedoms" when you drive if they put others as risk. implying people can be "good" cellphone drivers is like implying people can be "good" drunk drivers. I know people that seem 100% sober and steady while drunk, and i'm sure it's been proven that some people drive fine drunk, but does that mean I want them driving? every driver, before their one accident, has the same mentality: that they're better than all the other idiots getting into trouble. it's simply not true.


RE: Plastic Bubble
By BigPeen on 7/23/2009 5:16:23 PM , Rating: 2
Progamming my touchscreen GPS is WAYYYYY more invovled and distracting that talking on my phone. And I'm able to do BOTH without getting in accidents. I don't get all this "cell phones cause nearly all accidents" garbage. I've been in several accidents in the last 5 years (some mine and some the other person's fault) and none have involved cell phone use. None of the people I know who have been in accidents have been using cell phones either. I wonder who all these people who can't talk and drive are?


RE: Plastic Bubble
By Spuke on 7/23/2009 6:47:15 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I've been in several accidents in the last 5 years (some mine and some the other person's fault) and none have involved cell phone use.
Giving you a cell phone might improve your driving.


RE: Plastic Bubble
By chrnochime on 7/23/2009 10:42:44 PM , Rating: 2
A sample of one will surely convince those who believe otherwise...


RE: Plastic Bubble
By someguy123 on 7/24/2009 9:43:33 AM , Rating: 3
why would you program your touchscreen GPS while driving? that seems like a complete lack of common sense to me. i never said cell phones caused all accidents. Does drunk driving cause all accidents? no, but it simply increases the chances of an accident dramatically, just like driving while on the cell phone does.

like i said, plenty of people can drive fine drunk, and i bet everyone thinks they'd be fine driving a little buzzed, but i sure as hell don't want people driving drunk. being overconfident in your driving skills doesn't make it any less stupid to reduce your concentration by talking on your cellphone.


RE: Plastic Bubble
By hyvonen on 7/24/2009 3:20:45 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
GPS receivers, music, and eating are not even close to the consistent distraction of communicating with someone on a cellphone


Says who? Eating requires you to take at least one hand off the wheel; at least to me, that's the main reason why using a cell phone would complicate your driving skill. With an automatic transmission and good power steering, it's more than doable, though, as long as you keep in mind that you are REQUIRED to signal when changing lanes/turning.

quote:
implying people can be "good" cellphone drivers is like implying people can be "good" drunk drivers. I know people that seem 100% sober and steady while drunk, and i'm sure it's been proven that some people drive fine drunk


Funny... it seems that with our second sentence YOU are implying people can be "good" drunk drivers. And I think this is true: good drivers can still drive well enough even if distracted or impaired (intoxicated/sick/tired). Bad drivers cannot. And I'm sure even you agree that there are "good" drivers and "bad" drivers out there.


RE: Plastic Bubble
By TomZ on 7/24/2009 4:13:54 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
And I think this is true: good drivers can still drive well enough even if distracted or impaired (intoxicated/sick/tired).
Sorry, but that's kind of stupid. I agree that there are varying levels of skill - both sober and drunk. But to suggest that certain people are somehow not affected and that their skills and responses are not affected when they are drunk is just nonsense.

Sure, if I'm drunk and have a short and unchallenging drive home, I might get away with it. But suppose someone steps out in front of my car requiring me to notice and react quickly. Being drunk could be the difference between life and death (and jail) in that case.


RE: Plastic Bubble
By hyvonen on 7/24/2009 7:03:52 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
But to suggest that certain people are somehow not affected and that their skills and responses are not affected when they are drunk is just nonsense.


Before calling my post stupid, you probably should read it more carefully, so you reply doesn't sound stupid.

I didn't suggest drinking doesn't affect some people at all. I did suggest, though, that some people are good enough drivers that even when slightly intoxicated, they are still capable of driving well enough to be less dangerous than some bad drivers who are not intoxicated.

Sure, alcohol increases your reaction time. But some people have better reflexes than others, so they can still react quickly enough, even when slightly intoxicated.

Note that reaction time alone doesn't make a safe driver; observing the traffic and being aware of dangerous situations also matter. An example: bad drivers can be so unfocused that they have no idea there is a car in their blind spot - a good driver would know the car is there even if he doesn't see it.


RE: Plastic Bubble
By someguy123 on 7/24/2009 8:18:04 PM , Rating: 3
first off, i was using the alcohol as an example of something that reduces concentration/increases reaction time, and that is currently illegal and by most people's standards has a right to be illegal.

anyway, the issue is not that you believe you can drive fine with a cellphone, the issue is that using a cellphone, regardless of how superior you are in driving, takes away some concentration. the issue with a cellphone isn't taking the hand off the wheel, the issue is that it affects concentration and reaction time almost as much as being drunk. i really don't care if you personally find yourself better than everyone else at driving, because making this legal would give ALL people the right to drive with a cellphone, even the people you deem to have worse reflexes and motor skills.


RE: Plastic Bubble
By hyvonen on 7/24/2009 9:00:09 PM , Rating: 2
The suggested solution somewhere towards the end of this discussion thread was to have significantly higher fines for traffic violations committed while using a cell phone. E.g., if you were running a red light AND were talking on the phone, the fine would be 3x higher.

I think that would act as a good deterrent against using a cell phone while driving if you can't handle it, without punishing those who can.

On another note: I think drivers who don't signal when turning/changing lanes should be fined. They are a menace to everyone's safety.


RE: Plastic Bubble
By hyvonen on 7/24/2009 9:09:16 PM , Rating: 3
Oh, and one more quick nitpick:

quote:
making this legal would give ALL people the right to drive with a cellphone, even the people you deem to have worse reflexes and motor skills.


Actually, it IS legal in many places; the question is, should it be made illegal everywhere. I'd say no, it should not be illegal.

I'm as annoyed as much as everyone by those who are on the phone and obviously distracted too much to drive safely (e.g., a Honda Odyssey driving 20mph below the speed limit, between two lanes). But instead of making it illegal to use a cell phone while driving, I'd say enforce the current traffic laws and fine these people (heavily) for driving between two lanes.


RE: Plastic Bubble
By someguy123 on 7/24/2009 10:55:39 PM , Rating: 2
yeah, that's true, i worded it incorrectly. i guess what i meant was that keeping it legal would mean that even poor drivers get the luxury.

the only problem i see with just increasing fines is that most people won't see this as a threat. honestly, everyone believes they are one of the few good drivers, including myself, and i really don't think increasing fines will deter anyone from driving while on the phone. knowing that just being on the phone, however, will deter people, especially during "citation week".

now i have confidence in my ability to drive with a cellphone, but realistically i know that it is taking away my concentration, so I just don't do it while I'm driving. unless it's some sort of emergency, I just don't see the need to decrease my concentration and increase my chance of getting into an accident for the luxury of having a chat on my phone while driving.


RE: Plastic Bubble
By TomZ on 7/23/2009 3:11:58 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Exactly. You can't fix stupid. Personally I think even holding a cell phone while driving only makes an already bad driver worse. For a good driver, it does not affect them because they know they need to pay attention to the road first. At least that's how I act.
You're fooling yourself. People only have a certain amount of mental capacity, and if you divide your attention across a number of different activities, of course they will all suffer relative to just doing one at a time. It's just common sense.

Here's something also to think about. Suppose talking on the phone delays your reaction by just 1 second. How many feet will a car go in 1 second? And do you think that is enough to either cause or avoid an accident?

Or another way to think about it...imagine your braking distance was for whatever reason extended by around 90 feet (1 sec @ 60MPH). Would you find that acceptable?

Obviously you know where I stand on the issue. For me, safety is #1 priority when driving. I'm a father, have children, and my first priority is getting there safe and sound. Talking on the phone while driving, especially habitually and for no important purpose, is stupid.


RE: Plastic Bubble
By hyvonen on 7/24/2009 7:12:44 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Here's something also to think about. Suppose talking on the phone delays your reaction by just 1 second. How many feet will a car go in 1 second? And do you think that is enough to either cause or avoid an accident?


IF talking on the phone would delay someone's reaction time by 1 second, then yes - maybe they should not be talking and driving (and they should know this. But it doesn't delay mine by one second.

And even if it did, I can do a lot of preventive measures that give me more margin on reaction time: not driving next to another car, following the traffic three cars ahead (instead of just one), only driving behind cars you can see through, keeping distance to the next car, matching your speed to traffic...

quote:
Talking on the phone while driving, especially habitually and for no important purpose, is stupid.


You're very critical of other people, and use the s-word a bit too easily. You're entitled to your own opinion, but calling other people's opinions stupid is just plain immature, especially if these opinions are based on reasonable arguments (you not being able to understand them is not an excuse).


RE: Plastic Bubble
By BadCat351w on 7/23/2009 3:43:20 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
For a good driver, it does not affect them because they know they need to pay attention to the road first.

Problem is this has been proven wrong many times over, and has not been proven otherwise, while I may agree some are better than others, any distraction is dangerous, as for laws, there is already a law or ordinance in most cities where driving while distracted can get you a ticket, quit making new laws and enforce existing ones, no more legislation,


RE: Plastic Bubble
By dark matter on 7/23/2009 4:03:25 PM , Rating: 3
How did I know you were someone better than everyone else.

Everyone thinks they are a better driver than everyone else.

Put it this way.

If the call is not that important that it isn't affecting your driving, then why are you having it. Let it wait.

If the call is important that it requires you to actually think, ie a call from work, then that requires your concentration. In which case it is affecting your driving.

Either way, there is no NEED to drive and talk at the same time. Yet there is an increased risk if you do. Work it out will you.


RE: Plastic Bubble
By FITCamaro on 7/24/2009 8:18:35 AM , Rating: 1
There is no NEED to drive period. We could walk or ride a bike. Driving is a convenience and a privilege.

I did not claim to be better than everyone else. I did claim that there are a lot of stupid people out there. And that any good driver should be able to have a conversation while staying aware of the situation around them. To me talking on the phone is no different than having a passenger in the car and talking to them. Should that be outlawed too?


RE: Plastic Bubble
By hyvonen on 7/24/2009 3:11:14 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
If the call is not that important that it isn't affecting your driving, then why are you having it. Let it wait.


If the call isn't affecting your driving, why not have it? Yes, there is no NEED to drive and talk at the same time, but it might be useful for you to talk while driving (e.g., ask for directions).

The increase in risk depends on the person (good drivers vs. bad drivers). How about if you let me evaluate my risk myself, and set the penalties to punish me appropriately if my evaluation was off and I committed a traffic violation.

I haven't been in an accident or even had a ticket for 15 years, and I've used a cell phone while driving all that time. I've had only two accidents before that, and they were caused by 1) using the car stereos, and 2) looking at a pretty girl in a mini-skirt. I know I can handle a cell phone while driving.


RE: Plastic Bubble
By TomZ on 7/24/2009 4:16:37 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
If the call isn't affecting your driving, why not have it?
Because it is negatively affecting your safety and the safety of those around you. And for what? To chat with your buddy about some nonsense? That kind of tradeoff is not too smart if you ask me.

It's perfectly obvious to me that you're overconfident in your abilities and in denial about the research and statistics that are emerging.


RE: Plastic Bubble
By hyvonen on 7/24/2009 7:21:31 PM , Rating: 1
Again misinterpreting my words. I clearly said "IF the call isn't affecting your driving..."

How do you know that I would be chatting with my buddy about some nonsense? (FYI, I usually keep my phone conversations short, and to the point.) How do you know that I'm overconfident? Maybe I'm being truthful; you don't have any way of knowing.

Also, it seems you don't understand statistics. There are people whose driving ability is affected by cell phones only a little bit, while an average person would be affected significantly more.

In my opinion, even if talking on the phone, I'm still safer to those around me than someone who changes lanes without signaling. Do you signal every time you change the lanes? Do you signal when turning BEFORE breaking?


RE: Plastic Bubble
By chrnochime on 7/23/2009 10:41:00 PM , Rating: 3
The good drivers *know* they are good and don't go around claiming that fact, whereas some ok drivers *think* they're good and do claim they're good.

With that said...
No matter how one thinks the phone is not distracting, once said person start talking, the brain NEEDS to divert a certain percentage of attention/processing to have a meaningful conversation. Of course that means less attention paid toward driving, so whatever claim about "does not affect" is just BS.

Simple test. Try counting the number of cars you passed while you're driving AND talking and remember the colors of those cars, while noting the movements of the cars immediately around you. Unless your brain is far more developed(meaning more than the often quoted 10% actually ever used) than the majority of drivers out there, you won't be able to do one of the above successfully.

And it's actually better for those who keep getting called during driving. Perfectly legal reason to not answer the call.


RE: Plastic Bubble
By hyvonen on 7/24/2009 7:36:23 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The good drivers *know* they are good and don't go around claiming that fact, whereas some ok drivers *think* they're good and do claim they're good.


You know, I'm sure there are good drivers who know they are good AND don't hide it.

quote:
No matter how one thinks the phone is not distracting, once said person start talking, the brain NEEDS to divert a certain percentage of attention/processing to have a meaningful conversation. Of course that means less attention paid toward driving, so whatever claim about "does not affect" is just BS.


I fully agree. However, I'm claiming that some people are good enough that the distraction doesn't affect them enough to make them drive them worse than an average driver.


RE: Plastic Bubble
By jconan on 7/24/2009 7:32:51 PM , Rating: 2
At least the DMV can mandate that drivers ed teach that cell phones and texting cause accidents. Also they should make a mock test of cell phone use while driving during a driving test and fail students if cell phone is used while driving or if students don't pull over to a safe location to park and answer...


"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook














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