Blame The Mobile Phone For Your Slow Commute?

from the how-about-a-mobile-phone-lane? dept

Yet another study has come out on people driving while talking on their mobile phones, and I doubt many people will quibble with the results of this one. The study found that people who talk on their mobile phones while driving tend to drive slower, helping to back up traffic. Considering how often the "slow driver" you see is on a mobile phone, this certainly sounds accurate. Of course, while this will push more folks to call for additional bans on driving while yakking, an equally effective (and just as realistic) solution might be to just add a "mobile phone lane" on highways, where people are expected to be talking on their phones, and therefore driving slower. Those folks can just go at their own pace, while everyone else knows to avoid that lane and go at a more appropriate speed. No, this isn't exactly practical, but neither is banning every driver distraction known to man.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Richard M., Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 5:49pm

    License to Yak

    They should have an option to take your driving test while talking on the phone. If you can pass the test and prove you can drive safely while while yakking on the phone you should get a special endorsement on your license allowing you to do so and otherwise not. Same thing for drinking and driving.

     

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  2.  
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    Bao, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 5:52pm

    Ban the mobile in cars?

    Here in Australia, it's actually illegal to talk on a phone while driving a car. Is that not the case in the US?

     

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  3.  
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    Eadwacer, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 6:14pm

    Not necessarily

    Driving slower does not necessarily imply traffic backups, and the study just measured driving speed in a simulator, not impact on real traffic. The optimum speed depends on road width, congestion, intersections, and a number of other factors. Driving slower often means that everyone gets to their destination faster.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 6:20pm

    Cell Phone Lane!?

    That is the stupidest thing I've ever heard. I especially like how Mike acts like this would be a simple solution. Yes lets construct one additional lane that will cause the loss of two to three lanes while construction is underway. Places like Phoenix, AZ or Dallas and Houston, TX can't afford something like this, and I'm not talking about money. By the time this cell phone lane is completed they will need even more lanes to clear up the congestion from new residents that have arrived while the cell phone lane is being made.
    No mobile phone use is not banned while driving. Phoenix recently passed a law where you can get a ticket if the law catches you texting while driving. I know in England they have pull-offs so that people can you use their phones. I think all phone use should be banned while driving.

     

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  5.  
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    thick as a brick, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 6:27pm

    Re: Cell Phone Lane!?

    AC posted: "I especially like how Mike acts like this would be a simple solution."

    Umm... was the post by Mike intented to be sarcasm?
    ... could it be?

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 6:42pm

    Re: Not necessarily

    Driving slower often means that everyone gets to their destination faster.

    Yeah, the slower you go the faster you'll get there.

     

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  7.  
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    MrWizard, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 6:49pm

    It wouldn't bother me so much...

    If they would stay out of the friggin left lane!!!!

     

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  8.  
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    Mike (profile), Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 7:00pm

    Re: Cell Phone Lane!?

    I especially like how Mike acts like this would be a simple solution.

    Er... AC, my suggestion was a *joke*. I think you need to get a browser that recognizes sarcasm tags...

     

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  9.  
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    zcat, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 8:08pm

    Wow..

    I just discovered that _not_ driving like an asshole, racing up to stop lights and driving bumper-to-bumper frantically going from brake to gas pedal, wasting fuel has a special name.. 'hypermiling'. And apparently it's rare!

    I thought it was just good sensible driving. Oh, and the price of petrol has apparently just gone through the roof, again..

     

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  10.  
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    Matt, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 8:13pm

    Are you kidding me?

    "solution might be to just add a "mobile phone lane" on highways, where people are expected to be talking on their phones, and therefore driving slower. Those folks can just go at their own pace, while everyone else knows to avoid that lane and go at a more appropriate speed."

    I pray to God that you are joking. Talking and driving is dangerous. Simple as that. Why should you reward these drivers with their own lane?

    Is it April Fools already?

     

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  11.  
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    matt, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 8:25pm

    talk and drive fine, but...

    When you crash into me, I want to call your cell phone company and find out whether you were talking on the phone at the time of the accident so that you can pay for all the damages.

     

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  12.  
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    Neverhood, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 9:51pm

    Re: Ban the mobile in cars?

    It's illegal to use your phone in the car in Denmark as well.

    I think it works out ok. I mean, it's not like everybody respects it, but it's alot better than nothing. And since there is so much pressure on the infrastructure these days, and several people die each year as a direct cause of people not paying attention while driving, I think it's justifiable.

     

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  13.  
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    Neverhood, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 10:03pm

    Re: Wow..

    My god, you Americans are such cry-baby's :) (Or your gov' anyway)
    Here in Denmark petrol prices averages 7.5$/Gallon, Car prices are around 2-3 times as high as in the US (Actually the highest in the world), and we signed the Kyoto protocol. And no, our economy is not about to crash.
    Actually the unemployment rate is around 2%, which some would say is dangerously low.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 10:34pm

    Re: License to Yak

    Wouldn't work though.

    You would get pulled over only to show you had the license.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 11:33pm

    Re: Re: Wow..

    Let me admit that I've never been to Denmark ( though I'd really like to someday). However, I suspect that:

    1. A large part (most?) of that $7.50/gal is actually tax for which you receive govt services in return.

    2. Denmark is somewhat smaller than the US and perhaps has somewhat better public transportation making cars less important to daily life.

     

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  16.  
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    Tim Perry, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 11:50pm

    There was a study where they tested people driving sober, drunk, and on the cell phone. The cell phone scores were the same as the drunk scores. So it's not simply a distraction.

     

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  17.  
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    lou, Jan 3rd, 2008 @ 12:00am

    i wish it were okay to have a fat neon sign mounted on the back window that reads something along the lines of: "fuck you, get off the phone and learn how to drive asshole!" i have a lot of road rage because of these jerkoffs. anyways, i think it starts with the dmv. there should higher standards in order for people to get their license.

     

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  18.  
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    Julian Bond, Jan 3rd, 2008 @ 12:02am

    Nice to know that mobiles save gas.

    At what oil price does the USA lose it's infatuation with the SUV, bigger is better in cars and Car-centric city design? $10 per gallon? $20? $30?

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 3rd, 2008 @ 12:50am

    Re:

    Never; America fucking rocks.

     

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  20.  
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    Shaun, Jan 3rd, 2008 @ 1:04am

    Re: Ban the mobile in cars?

    Actually it's only completely illegal for P1 (red p-plates) licence or learners. Once you have your P2 or later full licence you can use a mobile as long as it's hands free - hand held is still illegal though.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 3rd, 2008 @ 3:29am

    Re: Re:

    True dat!!!!!

     

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  22.  
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    Twinrova, Jan 3rd, 2008 @ 3:53am

    A lane for cell users? Get real.

    The "simple" solution to create a lane for cell users isn't a viable solution at all. It's nice to see someone's still got a hangover to come up with this idea. ;)

    Even with laws, people are still going to talk on their cell phone. The REAL solution is to provide better education and offer people free (low cost) hands-free headsets (cheaper than creating a road) to use while driving.

    I also don't believe cell phone usage causes traffic backups. Sorry, but these have been around long before the introduction of the Razr.

    To go "1984", let's put in cell-phone signal scramblers in every car so they can't be used unless 911 is dialed.

    Yeah, that's the ticket! ;)

     

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  23.  
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    John Duncan Yoyo, Jan 3rd, 2008 @ 6:35am

    Re: Re:

    Never; America fucking rocks.

    Well that explains the population decline and all the illegal aliens needed to run the place now. It's the male and female doing it together that makes babies.

    It may not be expensive gas that does in the SUV but $10/pound hamburger. The ethanol from corn guys have upped the price on what used to be cheap animal feed. Of course corn isn't anywhere near the best source for ethanol.

     

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  24.  
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    James, Jan 3rd, 2008 @ 7:24am

    (sniff, sniff) smells like more bs

    People want to blame anything on bad driving except their own bad driving. In reality its often the fact some soccer mom in her SUV going 40 in the left lane waits until the last minute to get over 4 lanes on 285 because she's about to miss her exit.

    I live in Atlanta, GA, a city with a NOTORIOUS reputation for traffic problems. This city has had a reputation for traffic ills long, long before most even knew what a cellphone is, so lets really spare the bs and put the blame where it belongs.. poor driving habits, period, not someone yakking on a phone.

     

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  25.  
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    rt101, Jan 3rd, 2008 @ 8:02am

    Driving while Yakking

    Well, driving slowly isn't such a bad thing now is it. Since most of the known world speeds at least 10 miles over the speed limit. Those yakking while driving are actually doing closer to the speed limit. HMMMM not a bad thing now is it?

     

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  26.  
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    Fushta, Jan 3rd, 2008 @ 8:45am

    Re: Driving while Yakking

    It is a problem when everyone around them is driving 20 mph faster. Driving too slow is just as dangerous as driving too fast. Everyone needs to drive with the flow of traffic, and not "drive the speed limite" based on principle. Speed limits are a suggestion, not an absolute. That's why when I pass a cop using radar and I'm going 5-7 mph over the limit, they don't stop me.

     

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  27.  
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    Misspaula, Jan 3rd, 2008 @ 9:38am

    Isn't it already illegal

    I could be way off, but isn't it already a requirement to drive with BOTH HANDS on the steering wheel? So wouldn't that make chatting, texting, eating/drinking, doing your hair/makeup, and so much more already illegal?

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 3rd, 2008 @ 9:50am

    See for yourself if phone use is pervasive enough

    Sorry for all the "it's any distraction" folks... but... There is an old quote that says "Sufficient quantitative difference yields a qualitative difference". Very true in this case.

    Conduct a little experiment. Look for cars causing a traffic issue. Wandering lanes, driving slower than the general pace, whatever; they are easy to find. Keep a paper log in your car, and mark "Phone" or "Not Phone" every time you see one. You will soon be convinced that the quantity of issues being generated by this one single phenomena is quite sufficient to be affecting the overall quality of traffic flow.

    Don't believe me, try it for yourself.

    After doing this experiment, my conclusion: Ban driving while yakking. Enforce it.

     

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  29.  
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    syN-acK, Jan 3rd, 2008 @ 10:14am

    You can talk and drive

    I think a total ban on phones in cars is unnecessary. Most laws in the US don't ban the use of cell phones when driving. They ban the use of hand held cell phones when driving. Hands-free are still allowed. I agree with that.

    Most the problems I see with drivers and phones are because they have one hand on the phone and their head is tilted to keep the phone from falling, not from talking in general.

    Talking on a hands free is no more distracting than talking to a passenger and arguably less distracting if that passenger is your mother in law.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 3rd, 2008 @ 10:36am

    Re: (sniff, sniff) smells like more bs

    lets really spare the bs and put the blame where it belongs.. poor driving habits, period, not someone yakking on a phone.

    Read the article. It didn't say cell phones were the sole cause of traffic congestion, but that they contributed.

     

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  31.  
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    Driving Instructor, Jan 3rd, 2008 @ 10:42am

    Re: Re: Driving while Yakking

    It is a problem when everyone around them is driving 20 mph faster. Driving too slow is just as dangerous as driving too fast. Everyone needs to drive with the flow of traffic, and not "drive the speed limite" based on principle

    You're right about that. It's called "speed variance" and has been shown to be more dangerous than moderate speeding.

    Speed limits are a suggestion, not an absolute.

    In the US they are usually absolute.

    That's why when I pass a cop using radar and I'm going 5-7 mph over the limit, they don't stop me.

    In the US they could but might not because they would simply rather wait for a bigger fish.

     

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  32.  
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    Driving Instructor, Jan 3rd, 2008 @ 10:49am

    Re: You can talk and drive

    Talking on a hands free is no more distracting than talking to a passenger and arguably less distracting if that passenger is your mother in law.

    Studies have shown otherwise. Talking on a phone while driving is dangerous whether it is hands-free or not and impairs one's driving ability considerably more than a normal conversation with a passenger.

     

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  33.  
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    Pro, Jan 3rd, 2008 @ 10:57am

    Comments and a question

    Comment #1: The speed limit being ludicrously low compared to the average speed on the highway is a different problem all together - and could be analyzed and discussed (How about an article titled, "If Everyone is Speeding, Can't I Pull Over Whoever I Want Without a Reason"?)

    Comment #2: Most people seem to be too stupid to realize that they are no longer paying attention to the lines of people waiting behind them while no one is in front of them. This is what I can't understand - how can some people be so blatantly lost in their own world?

    Question: For Australia and Denmark... Seriously, what prevents the local cell phone companies from legally paying off (we call it lobbying) the government to prevent them from making laws banning talking while driving?

     

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  34.  
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    Driving Instructor, Jan 3rd, 2008 @ 1:03pm

    Re: Comments and a question

    Comment #1: The speed limit being ludicrously low compared to the average speed on the highway is a different problem all together - and could be analyzed and discussed (How about an article titled, "If Everyone is Speeding, Can't I Pull Over Whoever I Want Without a Reason"?)

    I have friends who are police officers and have ridden out with them on traffic patrols. When everyone is speeding, then the cop can indeed pull over whoever he wants. Since they are all speeding, he has reason to pull any of them over and it becomes something like shooting fish in a barrel. It that situation the cop usually looks for vehicles that he can pull over for more than one thing (like speeding AND windows too dark) or that his intuition tells him may lead to a DUI or drug arrest also. They naturally like to make each stop count for as much as it can.

    Comment #2: Most people seem to be too stupid to realize that they are no longer paying attention to the lines of people waiting behind them while no one is in front of them. This is what I can't understand - how can some people be so blatantly lost in their own world?

    I have observed (and had for students) a lot people that are just plain lazy drivers. They don't want to use proper steering technique. They don't want to use signals. They don't want to check their mirrors. In fact, they don't even want to have to pay attention to what's going on in right front of them. So to avoid that, they just get over in the fast lane and drive slow. That way all the other cars in their lane wind up way ahead of them and they can kind of pretend that they have the road all to themselves in their own little world (I've failed many on their driving test for that). Maintaining situational awareness (SA) in traffic requires work and many drivers are opposed to that. It is even more difficult to maintain SA when talking on a phone (almost impossible) and so yakking drivers pull the same stunt.

    Question: For Australia and Denmark... Seriously, what prevents the local cell phone companies from legally paying off (we call it lobbying) the government to prevent them from making laws banning talking while driving?

    I don't know about those places, but in the US (Texas specifically) there was some concern by the phone companies many years ago when cell phones were first being introduced that legislation might be passed limiting their use while driving. In Texas, the state traffic laws are basically written by the state police (Department of Public Safety), and then rubber stamped by the legislature and governor. So the first thing the phone companies did was to give free phones with virtually unlimited service (very, very expensive back then) to DPS officers to use in their cars for free as a "public service". You think those officers would then want driving while yakking outlawed? No way! So that is indeed how the phone companies in Texas paid off the government.

     

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  35.  
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    another mike, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 9:20am

    BFH Big Frikkin' Horn

    install a big horn on the hood, aim it at the offending yakker, and let loose. more legal than rockets and just as fun.

     

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  36.  
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    Steve Hansen, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 10:06am

    They don't just dive slow! They are dangerous!

    The new result that phone-users drive slowly is only one of many similar results. Cell phone users also weave across lanes, run red lights, miss turns, fail to yield, and have crashes at far higher rates than non phone-users. There is no difference between hands-free and hand-held cell phones. And overall, driving while cell-phoning is more dangerous than driving while drunk.


    The author of the recent study, Dr. David Strayer, has a long list of other publications on this topic, and the papers are available online at: http://www.psych.utah.edu/AppliedCognitionLab/

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2008 @ 3:19pm

    Re: Re: License to Yak

    Wouldn't work though.
    You would get pulled over only to show you had the license.


    Works for a lot of other things. Like insurance, for example.

     

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  38.  
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    SailorRipley, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 10:36am

    Re: You can talk and drive

    I think a total ban on phones in cars is unnecessary. Most laws in the US don't ban the use of cell phones when driving. They ban the use of hand held cell phones when driving. Hands-free are still allowed. I agree with that.

    right, explain to me please how having only one hand on the steering wheel (instead of both), especially when driving an automatic, would cause me to drive slower? or would make me swerve or wander into another lane? All these things (unless you're in some dead man's curve) can be prevented with just one hand on the steering wheel...let's be honest, it's not being caused by holding the cell phone, but by the conversation itself.

    I'll take a driver holding a (turned off) cell phone in one hand the entire ride over a hands-free yacker ANY DAY. Being engaged in a conversation distracts you much more and makes you much more a bad driver than having one hand on the wheel. If they were truly concerned with safety (and not just the appearance of safety), they would ban cell phone usage (by drivers) in cars period.

     

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  39.  
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    Dean, Apr 30th, 2008 @ 4:19pm

    Re: Ban the mobile in cars?

    Are you kidding? In the US actually driving a car is secondary to such important things as: Eating, listening to the radio, drinking, talking on the phone, reading, driving through red lights, and putting on make-up (the last one is reserved for the ladies)

     

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