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Drivers of large vehicles are the latest to feel the wrath of the anti-texting movement

Driving is a privilege that most Americans take for granted. We drive to work, we drive to see family, and we run errands on the weekend to Home Depot or fend off soccer moms in their minivans at Target. However, technology continues to invade not only our lives, but also our vehicles, which is making the normally mundane act of driving more challenging.

From GPS units to cell phones to SYNC in-car infotainment systems, U.S. drivers have found new ways to distract themselves while driving thanks to technology (not to mention other favorites such as applying makeup, eating, reading the newspaper, etc.). Texting while driving is the latest craze to infect drivers and states around the country are swiftly implementing laws to make such activities illegal. Texting is already banned in 19 states, and 23 states are currently prepping their own laws to tackle the problem.

"Legislators are looking to see if it (texting) is enough of a safety issue that they need to intervene," said Anne Teigen told the USA Today. Teigen is a transportation specialist for the National Conference of State Legislatures. "They often get involved because there's a high-profile accident that had to do with texting. Also, because everybody has a cellphone now."

While states are currently going it alone in drafting "no texting while driving" laws, there are a few nationwide texting bans that drivers should heed. President Obama issued an executive order at the close of 2009 banning all federal workers -- rather, those on the job -- from texting while driving. The ban affects roughly four million federal workers.

Now a new, federal ban is coming down from the U.S. government. The latest nationwide texting ban applies to drivers of big rigs and buses. "We want the drivers of big rigs and buses and those who share the roads with them to be safe," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "This is an important safety step and we will be taking more to eliminate the threat of distracted driving."

Drivers that choose not to abide by the new law face a fine of $2,750.

The bans from both the states and the U.S. government come on the heels of numerous studies which point out the dangerous consequences of texting and driving. A study by the University of Utah showed that drivers that text behind the wheels are six times more likely to be involved in a collision. The National Security Council notes that roughly 200,000 accidents are caused each drivers who text behind the wheel.

However, it's wishful thinking to believe that nationwide texting bans are going to stop people from partaking in America's favorite electronic pastime. Reuters has previously reported that teens aren't persuaded to stop their texting addictions just because there are laws on the books to prohibit the act.

"What I would say is that texting and cell phone devices have become such a component of life for teens and for young people that it's hard for them to differentiate between doing something normal and doing something wrong," remarked Steven Bloch, a senior research associate for the Automobile Club.

Considering that texting while driving isn't a habit that only affect teenagers, it's more than likely that drivers in a more "advanced state of age" are reluctant to stop the practice as well.

While the current nationwide texting bans affect a relatively small portion of the entire U.S. driver pool, Senator Chuck Schumer (Democrat, NY) is looking to change that. Senator Schumer has introduced legislation that would call for a federal ban on texting while driving. States that don't comply with the legislation would be see a 25 percent cut in the federal highway funds they receive.



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It's a good start
By HighWing on 1/26/2010 2:51:48 PM , Rating: 5
This is at least a good start as a larger fine will make people think twice about doing it, especially if they get caught.

However, this is only effective if people are caught. I've been saying this many times before and it's already been reported here on DT that catching people in the act is easier said then done. But this is at least a good start to deter some people.

If you don't already know about Heather's Law, please take a moment to read the two links I posted here. Heather Hurd was a friend of mine who was killed by a truck driver who was txt'ing and not paying attention to the road.

http://www.wtsp.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=...

http://www.theledger.com/article/20080804/NEWS/808...




RE: It's a good start
By AEvangel on 1/26/10, Rating: 0
RE: It's a good start
By Sazabi19 on 1/26/10, Rating: 0
RE: It's a good start
By porkpie on 1/26/2010 3:42:29 PM , Rating: 3
Um, the guy actually has a valid point. While I don't agree with the idea that we can't have DUI laws at all, the fact that people are getting charged with DUI while asleep in a car that doesn't even run, or in the back of a car being TOWED for Christ's sake, is about as silly as it gets.

What kind of judge makes an idiot ruling like that?


RE: It's a good start
By TheEinstein on 1/27/2010 8:16:08 AM , Rating: 2
I drive a semi-truck, specifically a Volvo 780.

In my truck I have a tom-tom, a Qualcomm (Message system via satelite for next load info, fuel stops, routing, etc), cell phone, my laptop, and Sirius Radio.

In a cop car they have stereo, radio, cell phone, computer, and in some a gps system. Cops drive less distance, and less hours than I do, BY FAR. Yet they are expected to do all instruments and a highspeed chase at the same time.

Do not give me some drivel about them being 'more trained' either, they are simply not trained half as much in driving as a semi-truck driver is.

Texting on a phone is idiocy, I admit. But existing laws will cover 100% of what a driver can do. If you wont throw the book at 100% of criminals (yes criminal if you have an accident cause you were distracted, it's called wreckless driving) and if you wont prosecute under certain laws because the standards are hard to meet, then it's your fault prosecutors.

New and endless laws are STUPID. In theory now I cannot read my Qualcomm due to this law, or even hit the next button to shut the thing up when it gets a message. The endless beeping is more a hazard than my hitting the next.

Keep your laws to yourself. I drive safe. In fact I have yet to have ANY accidents while driving (yard accidents only, different story there) even with website reading, typing (slowly) in text boxes, and talking on a phone.

Most drivers you meet wont have accidents due to phone usage.

We are called PROFESSIONAL DRIVERS for a reason.

Do not mistake, bus drivers never should use it anyways, but their standards are half my standards.


RE: It's a good start
By Fracture on 1/27/2010 9:26:45 AM , Rating: 2
The problem is sometimes just that: its their profession. A cop does not have to drive to make a living (necessarily.. or can spend a lot of time parked in one spot).

A small percentage of professional drivers make the choice to sacrifice rest for more miles/hauls, often with disasterous consequences. While your average recreational driver can drink, drive, and cause some pretty serious damage, a sleepy semi driver will turn anything it hits into a crushed soda can.

My point is, its not always the external distractions that cause crashes, but that doesn't really relate to this article. Internal factors such as fatigue will however multiply their consequences, and it is much more an issue with vehicles weighing many times your average SUV.

You are right about experience leading to less accidents under normal circumstances though.


RE: It's a good start
By TheEinstein on 1/27/2010 7:52:48 PM , Rating: 2
Where did I mention fatigue and rest issues?

You reacted like a talking point.

I spoke of instruments and devices, not of fatigue.

Now as I said before, we have a lot of instruments, but we do need certain amounts.

Texting while driving is a skill set for professional drivers. Our next load, directions, fuel routing, HR issues, etc, all via a text device (in my case a Qualcomm)

I cannot wait for the government to regulate sex and porn on the scale they are regulating other freedoms. I can see the laws now "no sex on tuesdays, unless in full body latex" and "premature ejaculation is punishable by a $5000 fine" and "at any time a government regulator may study your sexual habits to determine if they are safe"


RE: It's a good start
By ClownPuncher on 1/26/2010 4:13:34 PM , Rating: 2
You're advocating redundant and specialized laws for things we already have laws for. I suggest you read his post again, because I find it to be very much correct.

Seriously read that DUI for Inoperable vehicles link and tell me it makes sense.

Our legal system needs to get LESS convoluted with arbitrary laws and we should focus on the ones that actually make sense.


RE: It's a good start
By ZHENZHEN on 1/27/10, Rating: -1
RE: It's a good start
By mindless1 on 1/28/2010 12:30:36 AM , Rating: 2
Perversion of existing laws is not a reason to do without law nor do without creating new laws that cover the technological advances made.

If the existing laws really cover the topic then what would be the problem with a specialized law for it? No, I think your argument is nonsense and you just want to text while driving.

I do not support excessively broad application, for example I find the DUI for Inoperable Vehicles conviction ludicrous, but we will not have a solution to excessive interpretation of existing laws until we have laws more fine tuned to specific circumstances.

For example, if they wanted it to be illegal to sleep drunk in an inoperable car, "IF" the people felt it should be illegal, they should have made such a law distinct and separate from DUI. Doing this takes away the reasonable latitude Judges have to pervert the law, by clearing defining what the punishment is for specific things.


RE: It's a good start
By rbsguy on 1/26/2010 3:52:15 PM , Rating: 1
You are absolutely correct.

We don't need anymore laws, just enforce the ones we already have. If someone is guilty of causing a wreck because they were distracted it doesn't matter what distracted them.

This is like hate crime laws. If you kill someone its bad. If you kill someone and it is proved that you did it because you hate them or what they represent, uh-oh this is double bad. This is nuts. The person is dead either way. Just throw the book at murderers in general. Same with distracted drivers. Throw the book at all of them and don't worry about legislating the different classes of distractions.


RE: It's a good start
By Bateluer on 1/26/2010 3:54:09 PM , Rating: 2
No, we need more laws, and more bureaucrats to support them. This is the only way government actually creates jobs.


RE: It's a good start
By msomeoneelsez on 1/26/2010 4:28:17 PM , Rating: 2
While I absolutely do see the sarcasm in your comment (quite well done btw, props) I just want to make a quick economic point.

Government jobs creates nothing. There is no value add at all. Government jobs are all regulation, no production. Government jobs, while some are necessary, i.e. police, fire, military, etc. are bad in excess.

So to anyone thinking that government jobs are good... I truly pity you.


RE: It's a good start
By xmichaelx on 1/26/10, Rating: -1
RE: It's a good start
By porkpie on 1/26/2010 8:16:43 PM , Rating: 3
Why not actually read his post before replying to it? He clearly said police protection was a necessary government role.


RE: It's a good start
By msomeoneelsez on 1/27/2010 1:37:38 AM , Rating: 2
Thanks porkpie :D


RE: It's a good start
By xmichaelx on 1/26/10, Rating: -1
RE: It's a good start
By sinful on 1/26/2010 11:21:15 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Government jobs creates nothing. There is no value add at all. Government jobs are all regulation, no production. Government jobs, while some are necessary, i.e. police, fire, military, etc. are bad in excess.

So to anyone thinking that government jobs are good... I truly pity you.


You fail, because service jobs don't "produce" anything either; your waiter doesn't "produce" anything, nor does an IT dept, etc.
Yet, they add considerable value, as do many governemnt services (USPS, etc).

Second, you magically ignore things like roads & bridges, which are "produced" and DO add value.

Finally, most of those services provided would be required anyway; the only difference is that those services on the free market would command considerably more money than what the government "charges".
i.e. do you REALLY believe that water service would be cheaper if on the free market? Or that you'd get a better deal on "road maintenance costs" if the government got out?

So, I pity you, because you're just another one of those "Teh evil gubberment ruinz our econome!!!" types that can't see the forest from the trees.


RE: It's a good start
By msomeoneelsez on 1/27/2010 2:19:29 AM , Rating: 2
Excuse me for not being entirely clear; I do believe that some government jobs are necessary. My point was that...
quote:
while some are necessary, i.e. police, fire, military, etc. [they] are bad in excess.


Is that more plain to you?

quote:
Yet, they add considerable value, as do many governemnt services (USPS, etc).

Horrible example. Before UPS and FedEx (i.e. competition) USPS was quite horrible. Maybe the DMV would suite better? Oh... wait... maybe they need some competition?? (sorry, low blow, I know haha)

quote:
Second, you magically ignore things like roads & bridges, which are "produced" and DO add value.


produced by private companies who are contracted by the government for the work... yeah... Where did I forget them?

quote:
Finally, most of those services provided would be required anyway; the only difference is that those services on the free market would command considerably more money than what the government "charges".


Oh, you mean the tax dollars which are terribly hard to track, and are perverted by the 16,000+ pages of tax code? Yeah, thats a great argument to take...

quote:
So, I pity you, because you're just another one of those "Teh evil gubberment ruinz our econome!!!" types that can't see the forest from the trees.


I am not against a body of government, I am against a body of over government. I know you may be used to people taking extremes to win arguments, but I am not here to debate, I am here to educate. I understand economics and can explain it using rational thought and discourse, while it appears that many others cannot.

Back to the point which I originally made...
the government has no resources of its own, and does not produce any goods (wait, I lied, the GM acquisition changed that...) In fact, all it does is provide "services" such as the military, emergency forces, and education. Unfortunately, the government also provides the "service" of "protection" from things and people such as "wall street fatcats" (who, by the way, are now allowed to give all the money they want to politicians...) and "big business", which has lately only shown to allow the businesses with lobbyists to write laws vicariously through politicians in a way that harms competition, and ultimately allows the big businesses to continue monopolizing. Then there is the "service" of warrantless wire-tapping which STILL has yet to be repealed, and was in fact passed by two separate congresses, one Dem, one Repub, and is an absolute violation of our civil liberties.

Want me to go on?

You see, I have reasons for why I am against the expansion of government. I am glad that government exists, I just see the reasons why it should be limited. In that regard, I am quite like the Founding Fathers who, by the way, created a nation with only necessary and proper regulation of the private sector which skyrocketed this nation from creation to world power in a span of 150 years, a feat which has never been done before, and has yet to be approached again (although, not much time has been allowed for that yet.)

Freedom is a much better way in every regard than more government control, so long as there are governmental restrictions on people so that the people do not violate the rights of others.


RE: It's a good start
By sinful on 1/28/2010 2:32:27 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Horrible example. Before UPS and FedEx (i.e. competition) USPS was quite horrible.

LOL, Compared to WHO?
You might as well add "They were the worst, and the best, because nobody else was even around!".

quote:
Maybe the DMV would suite better? Oh... wait... maybe they need some competition?? (sorry, low blow, I know haha)

Yeah, maybe they should put the folks from ENRON in charge.
Oh, low blow right back at you!

quote:
Oh, you mean the tax dollars which are terribly hard to track, and are perverted by the 16,000+ pages of tax code? Yeah, thats a great argument to take...

Funny you should say that, since the government is often forced to disclose FAR more than what a company does -- and they can be voted out / kept out of office.
Don't like how your state is being run? Vote your leaders out. Don't like how Toyota is run? TOUGH LUCK, BUDDY.

quote:
and "big business", which has lately only shown to allow the businesses with lobbyists to write laws vicariously through politicians in a way that harms competition, and ultimately allows the big businesses to continue monopolizing.


The fault with that logic is that this happens BECAUSE of government, paradoxically ignoring the fact that big businesses try to monopolize and harm competition ANWYAY -- and only government regulation actually stops them.
What, you don't think Intel wouldn't pull every dirty trick in the book against AMD if they didn't have to worry about the Feds?

quote:
Then there is the "service" of warrantless wire-tapping which STILL has yet to be repealed, and was in fact passed by two separate congresses, one Dem, one Repub, and is an absolute violation of our civil liberties.

Want me to go on?

No, because its just a rant irrelevant to the topic at hand.

quote:
You see, I have reasons for why I am against the expansion of government. I am glad that government exists, I just see the reasons why it should be limited. In that regard, I am quite like the Founding Fathers who, by the way, created a nation with only necessary and proper regulation of the private sector which skyrocketed this nation from creation to world power in a span of 150 years, a feat which has never been done before, and has yet to be approached again (although, not much time has been allowed for that yet.)

Freedom is a much better way in every regard than more government control, so long as there are governmental restrictions on people so that the people do not violate the rights of others.


Funny you should say that -- "The USPS is one of the few government agencies explicitly authorized by the United States Constitution... the USPS's first incarnation was established by Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia in 1775 by decree of the Second Continental Congress. "

Looks like you don't know what you're talking about when it comes to the founding fathers.
Oh, but let me guess, Ben Franklin is an ignoramus on the constitution compared to you.


RE: It's a good start
By csrdt on 1/26/2010 5:37:04 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
We don't need anymore laws, just enforce the ones we already have. If someone is guilty of causing a wreck because they were distracted it doesn't matter what distracted them.


I want people fined for texting and driving before they cause an accident, not just after they cause an accident.


RE: It's a good start
By AEvangel on 1/27/2010 1:02:02 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I want people fined for texting and driving before they cause an accident, not just after they cause an accident.


This is as well is already covered by a current law called reckless driving.


RE: It's a good start
By mindless1 on 1/28/2010 12:24:04 AM , Rating: 2
Fine, so long as we ammend the definition of reckless driving to include operating the new CE devices which can text.

It would be pointless then to try and discriminate between that law, and a law specifically for texting.

The point is simple, we fine people before they are weaving out of control. I totally support that, there is no such thing as a responsible driver that feels they can text while driving. No matter how great a driver they think they are, they'd be even better at it without texting.

I also support legislation against many other things people do while driving. No shaving, no lipstick, no eating, etc. Why? Because I don't want some a-hole running into me or my family, it'd be different if the only risk they posed was to themselves.


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