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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:
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 9:31:13 AM , Rating: 5
Sorry. Let me also say that what actually needs to happen is better driver education programs. More restrictive licensing. Mandatory retesting every so often. Not just a blanket license from 17 until death.

Kids these days can get their license without ever having been on the road.

RE: Plastic Bubble
By Machinegear on 7/23/2009 9:53:00 AM , Rating: 2
You can't fix stupid.

Ok, Ok. Makes sense. Government can't fix stupid...

More restrictive licensing.

Huh? You can't have it both ways. The reality is that a license is a piece of paper (or plastic). Nothing more. The only thing a license does is validate one's willingness to follow the law and traffic regulations in the first place. Paper or plastic? Neither stops people from driving (or makes them better).

You know this dude!

- Yer Fellow Freedom Loving Patriot

RE: Plastic Bubble
By Motoman on 7/23/2009 10:21:43 AM , Rating: 5
In this country, your description of the license is pretty accurate.

I *think* what FIT was getting at was having more strenuous testing and qualification to actually get a driver's license. For example, in Japan, I have seen pictures of what applicants for motorcycle licenses have to go through...a skills test that honestly I think at least half of all US motorcyclists would probably fail.

Being able to *operate* a machine is not equivalent to being a *skilled operator* of said machine. The fact that you *can* drive a car doesn't make you a *good* driver, or imply that you're a *Safe* driver.

RE: Plastic Bubble
By Machinegear on 7/23/2009 11:02:35 AM , Rating: 1
Ah. Gotcha. That makes sense Moto.

So the question that follows (which we can ponder is); is it wise to have such restrictive qualifications to get a drivers license? Once I pass such hurdles and get my license, I can still use my phone while driving. Heck, I can also get plastered then drive too. I know both would hinder my ability to be a good driver, but don't we have personal freedoms any more; choices where we make the best decision for the moment?

It seems everyday the government is taking my responsibilities away from me. If a person is not allowed to make mistakes, how do they learn from them?

RE: Plastic Bubble
By FITCamaro on 7/23/2009 12:19:44 PM , Rating: 4
Glad someone has a clue. I can understand people not liking me call them stupid because they suck at driving. But rating me down for wanting more stringent drivers education and testing?

RE: Plastic Bubble
By Integral9 on 7/23/2009 1:30:41 PM , Rating: 4
I think it has to do with too many people in this country think they have a right to drive a car once they reach 16 or 18, depending on your state. Which in reality is just not true. Driving is a privilege.

The driver's ed currently available today is a joke. It's basically the equivalent of kindergarten, when what you really need is (at bare minimum) something closer to an 8th grade education. I don't mean you need to spend 8 years in school to get a license, but you should understand the basic physics of how your car operates so you can do things like negotiate turns correctly w/out running the guy in the turning lane next to you off the road.

Proper braking, acceleration, turning and being able to think beyond the car in front of you are all basic necessities of driving. None of which are taught in driver's ed. The only real thing you are taught are basic laws about which signs mean what and how far to park from a fire hydrant. All of which are also written in large font on the sign or on the curb.

RE: Plastic Bubble
By PitViper007 on 7/23/2009 3:55:54 PM , Rating: 2
You're assuming that Driver's Ed is even taught any more. In my state, they phased it out of the school systems about 10 years ago. Now if you want to learn how to drive, you need to use a private training course. Not that I think that's necessarily bad. If you have to pay for it, maybe you'll utilize what you learn more, kind of like when you have to pay for something, you tend to take care of it better than if it was just given to you for free. The problem I have though is that driving IS a public safety concern, and should be taught to ANYONE that is going to be on the road. FIT, I have to agree with you. Tougher training and standards are needed....badly.

RE: Plastic Bubble
By dark matter on 7/23/2009 4:05:31 PM , Rating: 2
No, FIT was saying he is a better driver than everyone else. And despite being proven that calls do affect your concentration on the road, they don't affect him, because he is so much better than everyone else on the road.

RE: Plastic Bubble
By TomZ on 7/23/2009 4:13:52 PM , Rating: 3
I would guess if you did a survey, most people would tell you they are above average drivers. In other words, they are a great driver and everyone else are idiots. At least that's how I feel (kidding).

RE: Plastic Bubble
By Spuke on 7/23/2009 6:55:53 PM , Rating: 2
I would guess if you did a survey, most people would tell you they are above average drivers.
I think there was a survey done here in CA and found that to be the case. I'll try to find it.

RE: Plastic Bubble
By hyvonen on 7/24/2009 7:40:09 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sure that's true.
But I'm sure you agree that the majority of those who claim to be above average in fact ARE above average, right?

I think it's likely that FIT is an above average driver.

RE: Plastic Bubble
By FITCamaro on 7/24/2009 8:21:52 AM , Rating: 2
When you get over your feelings of inadequacy, feel free to actually read my comment and realize I didn't say that.

RE: Plastic Bubble
By hyvonen on 7/24/2009 7:29:48 PM , Rating: 2
Um... I believe he was saying that he's better than an average driver.

RE: Plastic Bubble
By 91TTZ on 7/23/2009 5:25:21 PM , Rating: 2
*Why* are there all these *asterisks* in your *post*?

RE: Plastic Bubble
By jawqn8 on 7/23/2009 10:57:10 AM , Rating: 3
I agree with FIT that the US needs to change its drivers license policy. I know that once you get to a certain age they start making you retake part of the drivers test. However, you don't have to be old to be a bad driver. People should have to retake the entire test at least every decade, that would keep you abreast of all of the new laws and other changes. It would at least force a recognition of safe driving practices but regardless people are going to drive how they want to. The other safer drivers will just have to learn to be defensive drivers, that is about all that we can do.

RE: Plastic Bubble
By omnicronx on 7/23/2009 12:07:17 PM , Rating: 2
Do you guys have graduated license systems? I.e more than one tier of license? We have 3 tiers with different restrictions.

First(G1) is a written test and you can only drive with someone who has their full license and 5 years driving experiance during the daytime only and can't drive on highways.

The second(G2) which can be had a year later (or 8 months with drivers ED) you can drive by yourself, but your blood alcohol must be zero, you can only have as many people in the car as their are seatbelts. This is an on the road test, but not on the highway. They also cannot use cell phones.

The third (G) is the full license, which can be taken a year later, is around a 20-30 test and requires highway driving. They also grade a lot harder on this test, I have some friends who have failed it 3-4 times. If you don't get your full license within 5 years of your G1, you have to start over.(although the waiting periods no longer apply, you can take your G1 and G2 over again two days in a row if you really wanted)

That seems to work pretty well here, and has seriously cut down on young driver caused accidents as the earliest you can get your full license is 18 without drivers education.

As for retesting, that would be very hard to implement. I don't think you can really retest a driver once they have their license. (just think if you had a job that required a car, and you had a bad day on your test day and suddenly you can't get to work, it would cause far too many problems to a system that is already underfunded). What I do agree with is mandatory eye testing after the age of 60 or 65, half the time the problem with older people is that they cannot see 10 feet in front of them.

RE: Plastic Bubble
By FITCamaro on 7/23/2009 12:24:34 PM , Rating: 4
Yes. You get your permit at 15-16 (depending on state. can drive with a parent or someone over 21 in the car) and can get your full license at 17-18. Some areas have very good testing practices requiring an actual test on the road. Where I got my license you went around a 3 minute course. It was pathetic.

Last year here in Charleston a mother took her twin girls to get their licenses on their 16th birthday. She let one drive home from the DMV right down the road from my work. The girl cut off a dump truck on the highway resulting in that truck and another dump truck crushing the car. Killing mother and the other daughter.

RE: Plastic Bubble
By omnicronx on 7/23/2009 2:06:32 PM , Rating: 3
Ya that does sound pathetic, I swear here in Ontario they try to fail you on your final test (especially guys). They ding you for every little thing you do wrong, and will even ask you do to some thing they know are illegal, just to see if you know the rules of the road. Not really fair under all circumstances, but it definitely seems to keep bad drivers off the road until they improve.

Personally I almost failed my final road test when my instructor asked me to change lines right before a light. (nobody was around coming from either side) It would have been very tight, so I decided not too and waited until after the light. When I finished my instructor said that I would not believe how many people went and changed lanes anyways without hesitation just because he asked them too, sometimes half way through the intersection.

While I can understand that this may make some people angry, you have no business driving if you do not know simple rules such as when you can and cannot change lanes.

RE: Plastic Bubble
By FITCamaro on 7/23/2009 2:38:13 PM , Rating: 4
As another said. People here in the US think driving is a right. That is the problem.

RE: Plastic Bubble
By TomZ on 7/23/2009 3:18:13 PM , Rating: 3
I always laugh when I hear people say that. Suppose you got a letter in the mail tomorrow stating that you lost the "priviledge" of driving, for no reason at all. After all, if it is not a right, then it can be taken away from you at any time for any reason by the government. Are you okay with that?

I like to think that being able to drive is a right so long as I drive responsibly and obey the law. Being somewhat of a libertarian yourself (I perceive) I would think you would agree with that, no?

One other question for you - do you think a person has a right to talk on the phone while driving, despite the research that is all around us that it increases the danger/risk? Or is talking on the phone a priviledge that can be removed if it is shown statistically to be unsafe?

RE: Plastic Bubble
By lightfoot on 7/23/2009 6:50:12 PM , Rating: 2
I suspect that you would continue driving without a license if you received such a letter? After all you think it is a right that should never be infringed.

Not having the ability to drive clearly being elevated to the same level as right to free speech, freedom of religion, protection against false imprisonment or life its self.

If I received such a letter, I'd be pissed and would dispute it, but I would walk or ride a bike - I'm not so deluded as to think that I should get to do whatever I want whenever I want just because its a sacred right.

Any time you operate a car you are threatening other people's lives. Those people have a RIGHT to LIFE. If you are deemed an unsafe driver you should LOSE that PRIVELIDGE because it in NO WAY should EVER supersede someone else's right to their life.

Owning property is a right, using said property is not. You may have the right to own and carry a gun, but you do not have a right to shoot somebody.

RE: Plastic Bubble
By FITCamaro on 7/24/2009 8:25:37 AM , Rating: 3
You may have the right to own and carry a gun, but you do not have a right to shoot somebody.

Where I live I have both. Assuming certain events are taking place.

RE: Plastic Bubble
By lightfoot on 7/24/2009 11:46:45 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry, you have the right to defend yourself and your property - you do NOT have the right to shoot somebody unless it is for defense.

Don't confuse the right to life and the right to bear arms with the right to shoot people for no reason.

RE: Plastic Bubble
By FITCamaro on 7/24/2009 8:33:02 AM , Rating: 2
If I got a letter saying my license was revoked I would appeal the decision and go to court if necessary to get it reinstated assuming I had done nothing wrong. However assuming I lost, yes I wouldn't drive because it would be illegal. However you are speaking of a situation that does not happen. One does not just receive a letter saying their license is revoked for no reason. If it is revoked it is for a reason. And one you are aware of.

Nowhere in any law does it say that we have a right to drive. Man is not born with the right to drive. I do not like people who view driving as a right because then I view those people as thinking they should be allowed to drive no matter how poorly they are at it. Or what the condition of their vehicle is.

RE: Plastic Bubble
By TomZ on 7/24/2009 4:09:06 PM , Rating: 2
I'm glad you acknowledged that the government doesn't have the ability to arbitrarily eliminate one's ability to drive without cause. This clearly classifies it as a "right," even if the Constitution doesn't state it. Here's the definition from M-W for "right":

Right: something to which one has a just claim: as a: the power or privilege to which one is justly entitled <voting rights> <his right to decide>

Continue to call it a "privilege" if you want, but that distinction exists mainly just in your mind.

RE: Plastic Bubble
By hyvonen on 7/23/2009 2:50:24 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry. Let me also say that what actually needs to happen is better driver education programs. More restrictive licensing. Mandatory retesting every so often. Not just a blanket license from 17 until death.

Absolutely true.

Why is everyone rating FIT down for this? I don't get it.

"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il

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