Print 27 comment(s) - last by Zhukov.. on Mar 10 at 11:36 PM

MyFord Touch
At least not today...

Deaths from auto accidents related to distracted driving are nothing new and have been making headlines for years. The federal government is looking at ways to penalize drivers for using things like cell phones and texting while driving. So far, there is no federal ban for the masses against distracted driving, but several states have made their own laws that ban driving and using a cell phone or texting.

Whether or not the police in areas where bans are in effect can catch drivers using their phones is a point of debate. Some people claim that driving and talking on a mobile phone using hands free technology like OnStar from GM or Sync from Ford is just as distracting as holding a phone and talking while you drive.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has stated that the NHTSA will not at this time seek any ban on hands free technology while driving. However, LaHood notes that the NHTSA is investigating whether features like OnStar and Sync pose a "cognitive distraction" to users. If the research the NHTSA is performing proves that these hands free systems are a distraction more regulations could be imposed.

LaHood said, "We base our solutions on data, and before I or anyone else gets up and starts talking about 'hands-free this' or 'hands-free that,' or Sync or whatever, we want to have good data to back it up."

LaHood said that a study that the NHTSA conducted last year found that over 5,500 people died in 2009 in accidents that were a direct result of distracted driving. Ford and OnStar maintain that their hands free systems allow the driver to use their mobile phone in a safer manner with fewer distractions.

Ford's Alan Hall said, "Drivers are going to have conversations on the phone, read maps and directions, and listen to their MP3 player while they drive. Ford Sync helps them perform these tasks safer." 

GM has noted that it has no evidence that suggests crashes increase when drivers use OnStar hands free features. LaHood said, "Until we have some good data on some of these systems, which we're studying right now, we can't really say for certain." 

Consumer Reports would agree that MyFord Touch that works with Sync on some Ford vehicles is a confusing and distracting system. Ford is offering classes at some dealers to teach buyers how to work the MyFord Touch system and Sync.

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By FITCamaro on 3/8/2011 1:48:10 PM , Rating: 3
Are we supposed to thank them for not implementing something they have no real authority to?

RE: Ok
By Brandon Hill on 3/8/2011 1:49:54 PM , Rating: 3
Are seatbelt laws federal- or state-level?

RE: Ok
By smackababy on 3/8/2011 1:54:06 PM , Rating: 2
I believe state because some of them are considered secondary offenses (you can't be pulled over for it, but it can be added to the ticket of another offense).

RE: Ok
By tastyratz on 3/8/2011 2:19:27 PM , Rating: 3
State is correct,
I live in nh and they don't say "live free or die" for nothing. We get to wipe our own butts up here or choose not to if that's your flavor.

RE: Ok
By The Raven on 3/8/2011 3:52:12 PM , Rating: 4
Nice. I so want to move to the 'free state'.
MO is a nice change from my home state of CA but I would like to take it a step further and head on up there.

In CA, cigarette smoke was annoying and smelled like crap.
In MO, cigarette smoke is heartening and smells like freedom.

(Full Disclosure: I hate tobacco and hope to never smell it again, but I will defend to the death, your right to do it courteously.)

RE: Ok
By protosv on 3/8/2011 5:47:35 PM , Rating: 1
Sure it may smell like freedom now, but just remember that your tax dollars are likely going to pay for this person's medical care when they likely get lung cancer and COPD/Emphysema 20 years from now. If it were really about "freedom" then people who engage in high-risk behavior willingly such as smoking should have to accept the very likely consequences (both heath-wise and financially) of this activity, and should not be able to fall back on the safety net of having everyone else pay for their healthcare.

As of 2008, 25% of medicaid recipients accounted for 85% of all medicaid spending ( this 25% is comprised largely of people with chronic illnesses. I'm pretty sure this isn't changing anytime soon. While this fraction also includes people who have been diagnosed with other forms of spontaneous cancer or diabetes, people who smoke are engaging in a voluntary activity that has a clear correlation with both certain types of lung cancer and COPD/emphysema. So while you can't blame people for randomly getting cancer, you CAN blame people for bringing some types on themselves through smoking. While I probably went on a bit of a rant here, I guess what I'm trying to get at is that if you want to advocate for freedoms to engage in dangerous activities, you have to be completely consistent in applying that philosophy to the consequences as well.

RE: Ok
By protosv on 3/8/2011 5:59:00 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry the link was broken here it is:

RE: Ok
By Solandri on 3/8/2011 8:08:18 PM , Rating: 2
That's circular reasoning though. You have to pay taxes for medical care because the government partially pays for retirees' medical care. Smoking drives up medical care costs, thus driving up your taxes. Ergo you say the government should be allowed to regulate smoking to lower your taxes. You're justifying more government influence on our lives (smoking bans) by citing a problem (increased taxes) caused by more government influence on our lives (medicaid/medicare). (For the record, let me state that I am only moderately libertarian, and I actually do support to an extent government sponsored medical care and bans on smoking.)

The Libertarian viewpoint (which I want to stress again that I don't fully subscribe to) would be that there should be no government-sponsored medical care. If you want to screw up your health by smoking, you should be free to; but you should also have to pay for all the resulting medical costs yourself. If you can't afford it, you die; end of story. Freedom to do what you want is also freedom to get yourself killed through your own bad decisions.

It's the same reason I'm philosophically opposed to helmet and seat belt laws. But as long as we have laws requiring everyone to buy vehicle insurance and requiring hospitals to treat emergency patients regardless of ability to pay (thus distributing those costs over everyone), I will support those laws.

RE: Ok
By FITCamaro on 3/8/2011 11:44:18 PM , Rating: 2
So get rid of federal government sponsored health care. Problem solved. As far a state plans, if we don't like the programs set up in a state, we can try to change them or move to another state.

RE: Ok
By SkullOne on 3/8/2011 2:15:51 PM , Rating: 2
State level. I know New Hampshire does not require you to wear a seatbelt. It's one of the reasons their license plates says "Live Free or Die".

RE: Ok
By Omega215D on 3/8/2011 3:43:19 PM , Rating: 2
same with motorcycle helmets in NH but in NY you can be stopped for lack of seatbelt or helmet.

RE: Ok
By tayb on 3/8/2011 2:25:24 PM , Rating: 2
State laws because the federal government has no authority to mandate such things.

RE: Ok
By ClownPuncher on 3/8/2011 2:28:31 PM , Rating: 1
And it should stay that way. Federal gov has been probing ways to get around the 10th amendment for too long.

RE: Ok
By mmatis on 3/8/2011 5:13:55 PM , Rating: 2
Except the Federal Pigs withhold highway funds from those states who do not dance to their tune. The stench is overwhelming.

RE: Ok
By sleepeeg3 on 3/9/2011 1:43:43 AM , Rating: 2
Isn't this, like, anti-news?

No conversing while driving
By tayb on 3/8/2011 2:24:38 PM , Rating: 2
Recent evidence suggests that conversing while driving is considered dangerous therefore the federal government is exerting power it was never supposed to have and banning all passengers from vehicles beginning immediately.

Also part of this ban is the use of radios, speedometers, and ac/heat controls as those have also been deemed too distracting.

RE: No conversing while driving
By hyvonen on 3/8/2011 2:56:40 PM , Rating: 2
Automatic climate control will be mandated for all cars starting 2014.

RE: No conversing while driving
By jharper12 on 3/8/2011 4:04:48 PM , Rating: 3
It's hard to tell if this is a joke these days... it is, but then, why on Earth are backup cameras slated to be mandatory? I'd rather have automatic climate control mandated than backup cameras mandated.

My next car will definitely have automatic climate control... makes remote start a very useful thing.

RE: No conversing while driving
By Adonlude on 3/9/2011 6:05:20 PM , Rating: 2
No, passengers won't be banned. Talking to passengers will be banned and Gov will mandate that microphones be installed in your car for law enforcement monitoring. Tickets will be written for those speaking to passengers while driving.

Driving under the influence of conversation!

It's amazing...
By Beenthere on 3/8/2011 5:12:14 PM , Rating: 2
...that we need to legislate good judgment in the U.S.

We actually need to pass laws to tell people not to dump hot coffee on their crotch because they might get burned. We need to pass laws to tell people not to text while driving. We need to pass laws to force people to wear seat belts. Yet state government hands out driver's licenses to one and all even if they are blind, deaf and dumb. Maybe the citizens should sue their state and federal government for negligence?

America... the land of stupidity and we all know that you can't fix STUPID!

RE: It's amazing...
By kilkennycat on 3/8/2011 5:45:10 PM , Rating: 2
My son's car was rear-ended and totalled by an idiot yakking into a cell-phone. Some whiplash, but he had a decent headrest to cushion most of the head movement. When people realize that they are driving a truly lethal weapon, then maybe they will care enough not to be "distracted". However, many of those who have realized this fact are either dead, in jail for "manslaughter" or crippled for life. Laws to regulate truly-stupid people are not the answer, but they can make the consequences more painful for the perps.

As for issuing driving licenses to all and sundry, maybe the US should take a leaf out of the UK driving book. There they have a proper driving test to fully check the skills of the driver, including several precision maneuvers. (In a crowded country with narrow roads and streets and lots of bicycles such precision driving tests are absolutely essential.) I have a relative who has attempted the UK driving test many times and has never passed; he can still drive between tests but must have a passenger that is a qualified driver at all times. Not many people pass the UK driving test the very first time. The UK also has draconian laws regarding the use of cell-phones while driving.

RE: It's amazing...
By Beenthere on 3/8/2011 10:31:35 PM , Rating: 2
It would be un-American to actually require driving skills to have a driver's license and operate a motorized vehicle. In America it's a God given right.

There is no chance of most people here ever accepting personal responsibility for their actions. We are the "entitled" country... The siren chasers are lined up to prove that you can be irresponsible and become a millionaire via jackpot justice. Our judicial system is corrupt and for sale to the highest bidder or slickest talking paid liar.

By schrodog on 3/8/2011 2:18:57 PM , Rating: 2
Hands-free cell phone calls are essentially you talking to someone who is not in the vehicle with you. If it is dangerous to talk with someone on a hands-free device while driving, then is it dangerous to talk to yourself while driving, let alone talking to someone who is actually in the car with you?

By gixser on 3/8/2011 2:37:37 PM , Rating: 2
Seems many folks spend at least some time thinking about these concepts.

Plenty of data in the external refences should you care to peruse:

By jharper12 on 3/8/2011 3:48:54 PM , Rating: 2
Ray LaHood, "We have no real data at the moment to prove these systems aren't causing crashes"

OnStar, "We have constant data on 1.8 million connected vehicles, you're wrong, we save lives."

That's how the conversation really should be going.

I travel constantly, and when I'm in a rental car, I'm always using my phone as a GPS unit... it's distracting. Talking to a live person for GPS directions is FAR FAR safer. Ray LaHood is an idiot.

And how would they enforce it?
By trisct on 3/9/2011 9:14:25 AM , Rating: 2
Even if they did decide to make a rule against hands-free tech, what would that mean? Talking out loud in your car would become a minor crime? If it is dangerous to talk to a hands-free phone in your car, what about talking to another person? They would have to make talking to your kid in the back seat while you drive a crime as well.

Driving one-handed while trying to fumble with a telephone is undoubtedly dangerous, but people ARE able to carry on a conversation while driving, that is definitely on the right side of the line.

Holding while driving
By Zhukov on 3/10/2011 11:36:56 PM , Rating: 2
Holding something in one hand while driving with the other is not a significant risk. Therefore, the phone conversation is the real problem. This has been demonstrated many times anyway. The NHTSA doesn't need more evidence.

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