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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 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*?

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson

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