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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 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
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
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
"Vista runs on Atom ... It's just no one uses it". -- Intel CEO Paul Otellini

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