Canadian Doctors: Let Us Drive While Talking On Mobile Phones!

from the it-saves-patients dept

Bans on using mobile phones while driving are pretty common these days, so there's not much to talk about in hearing about another such ban. However, up in Calgary, some folks are fighting back against such a ban. The Calgary Health Region has banned staff from driving while talking on a phone, but doctors are arguing against the ban, saying they rely on pagers and mobile phones to respond to emergencies -- and that banning the use of mobile devices while driving could put patients at risk. Of course, that leaves out the potential of putting other drivers on the road at risk -- but at least a doctor would be present following any such accident (for the sarcasm impaired, that's a joke). Still, given all the calls for banning driving-while-yakking for safety's sake, it's amusing to see doctors claim safety reasons for allowing the practice.


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    Jon, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 2:16pm

    Yet it's still perfectly legal to eat a burger and fries while driving. They just need to make a cell phone that's disguised as a burger and fries.

     

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    Jezsik, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 2:18pm

    If doctors, why not lawyers and brokers?

    If docs get a special dispensation for talking on the phone while driving, lawyers and brokers could easily make the same argument. While doctors MIGHT being trying to save a life on the phone, it's also possible they're dealing with non-life-threatening - but equally serious - emergencies. A lawyer, stuck in traffic, might be racing to court to defend an innocent from prosecution (and a lifetime behind bars). A broker, in the same situation, might be trying to liquidate a pensioner's stock holding before the market bottoms out (and forcing them to move to a homeless shelter). Yeah, a bit far fetched, but the argument can still be made that these folks are indeed trying to save a "life."

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 2:21pm

      Re: If doctors, why not lawyers and brokers?

      "While doctors MIGHT being trying to save a life on the phone, it's also possible they're dealing with non-life-threatening - but equally serious" - Just out of curiosity, what non-life-threatening situation might be equally as serious as a life threatening situation?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 2:19pm

    I see no problem with allowing docs to use the phone in an emergency, but then again, I see no problem with others using a cell phone in an emergency either.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 2:20pm

    "but at least a doctor would be present following any such accident"

    Very nice, original material? I am impressed, I think its good that you lighten up a bit.

     

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    JDigital, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 2:20pm

    No.

    "but the argument can still be made that these folks are indeed trying to save a "life.""

    Wrong. They can argue that they are trying to save a "lifestyle".

    life != lifestyle

     

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    sandy, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 2:29pm

    "While doctors MIGHT being trying to save a life on the phone, it's also possible they're dealing with non-life-threatening - but equally serious" - Just out of curiosity, what non-life-threatening situation might be equally as serious as a life threatening situation?

    The doctor having to call his lawyer to get him out of a malpractice charge, or call his broker to see how much money he made!!

     

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    SkippyTMut, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 2:46pm

    Uh...

    I think everyone is forgetting that these no cell phone while driving laws have absolutely nothing to do with keeping people safe. These laws were enacted for one simple purpose...to make money. Cities and towns everywhere are cashing in on this very easy money maker. There are already exceptions in place for police officers and other officials. If these laws had anything to do with safety they would be enforced across the board.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 3:44pm

      Re: Uh...

      I do agree with you on this one, however the MythBusters had an episode on this compared to Drinking and Driving, being "Over the Limit" was accaully safer then talking on the Cell Phone... So why wouldn't they make this a law???

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 4:27pm

        Re: Re: Uh...

        Yes, I've seen that episode. However, by performing the test by having the drivers answer challenging questions while driving a high-difficulty obstacle course, they really only proved that you can't carry on a conversation which requires 100% concentration while also driving under conditions which also require 100% concentration. The results would have been far more compelling had they at least attempted to test the results of a normal, casual conversation in conjunction with typical, low-stress traffic conditions. Giving the drivers the option (which we all have in real life, whether talking on a phone or talking to a passenger) of saying, "hold on a sec - I need to merge into traffic" instead of rules against setting the phone down and demanding that all answers be immediate would have also provided a much better approximation of reality outside of their test environment.

         

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          sickboy, Jan 17th, 2008 @ 4:16am

          Re: Re: Re: Uh...

          Any call that is required to save a life is probably one which demmmands near enough 100% concentration on the call. Pulling over is the safest option for all concerned (inlcuding the patients).

           

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    Danny, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 2:50pm

    hands free

    Doctors can use hands free calling devices just like everyone else. They don't need to touch their phones will driving.

     

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    Git, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 2:51pm

    For Doctors, an attending physician can take his place if he's offsite. All distractions need to be removed. People are challenged to drive as it is, let alone, some major distraction like eating or yapping on the phone. I just love going home at night and driving ten mph because the idiot in front of me is (one) Asian, (two) on the phone, and (three) is female.

     

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    Mike Diehn, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 2:53pm

    Rather they pull over.

    Seems that it wouldn't generally be too much trouble for them to pull over and stop. If they did, they could give their full attention to the conversation and root around in their notes, books, etc. for more information. If they did - they'd be safer and less stressed.

    I stipulate that situations will arise in which they really need to be moving towards the patient in crisis while talking with someone at the scene.

    Idea: Maybe they need a yellow roof light - if they're responding to a crisis, put on the light and carefully go, go, go - police could be authorized to escort them in those cases. The docs and EMTs, nurses, etc., could be authorized to carry on discussions while under escort.

    Perhaps what's needed here is simply that the doctors would like the legislature to recognize that they (the docs) sometimes legitimately need to be talking while driving - maybe just noting that in the bill would clear the air.

     

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      Frank, Jan 20th, 2008 @ 5:29am

      Re: Rather they pull over.

      Problem is, if you pull over to stop and answer the cell phone, you've just given the police probable cause.

       

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    Mike, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 2:54pm

    Uhm Pull Over

    What's preventing the DR from pulling over while he's on the phone or getting himself a handsfree device. I understand someone's life could be at stake but what about all everyone on the same road(s) the Doctor is driving on.

     

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      Robert, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 1:25pm

      Re: Uhm Pull Over

      Hands-free is meaningless. If you follow that logic, then yapping on the phone is no more dangerous that slurping on a pepsi.

      The problem is inattention to the task at hand, namely OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE. Not whether one is holding a phone. Too many people are already challenged enough by simply DRIVING AT ALL.

       

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    Nick, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 3:19pm

    If the call is that important

    If the call is that important then the doctor should just take the call and say screw the law. I'm sure that if a doctor gets pulled over, and tells the Cop "I am a doctor, I was taking a call critical to the life of a patient" the Cop would excuse the ticket.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 4:22pm

    headset or totally banned?

    What I want to know is if they are outlawing the use of phones while driving ENTIRELY, or are they just outlawing talking on the handset (i.e. headsets & earbuds make it okay)...

     

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    Scott, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 4:35pm

    Yaki-d-yak

    Humm
    So whats the matter with pulling over on the side of the road??

     

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    MrScott, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 7:24pm

    Here's the way, they'll get away with talking on the cellphone while driving. Just do like I do:

    I have a Bluetooth speakerphone car kit which plugs into the cigarette lighter. If I ever get caught, I'll just tell the officer I was singing to the tune on the radio.

    Problem solved!

     

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    SailorRipley, Jan 28th, 2008 @ 8:15am

    I think I've said this before:

    Having only one hand to drive while holding a turned off cell phone in the other, I can drive perfectly more than 99% of the time (especially with an automatic, although I used to drive a stick), the fraction that prevents 100% being situations where one would need both hands to make a really sharp turn that could not be executed (fast enough) with only one hand.

    The main cause of un-safety when it comes to cell phones is NOT the one hand aspect, but allotting a significant part of your concentration to the phone conversation, something you do equally when holding the phone as when using it hands free. So in short, yeah, the hands free thing is a ridiculous law that does very little for safety, but no doubt a lot for hands free set companies and local law enforcement. If their real goal was safety, they'd outlaw cell phone usage while driving period.

     

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