Print 112 comment(s) - last by Cr0nJ0b.. on Jul 28 at 6:24 PM

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.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

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.

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki