Ineffective Driving While Yakking Regulation Proving Popular Among States

from the that's-what-politicians-do dept

Despite a mixed verdict on the efficacy of driving-while-yakking laws, more states are jumping on the legislative bandwagon. Since 2003, 23 states have passed laws regulating the use of cell phones in cars, with most requiring the use hands-free kits. Of course, talking with an earpiece is distracting too, as are any number of things that one can do in a car. Why not ban talking to other passengers, or drinking coffee? A better approach is to promote safe driving in general, not to legislate away stupid, distracting behavior. Of course, politicians don’t need to show results, they just need to get re-elected by scaring people and pointing to politically popular measures that they supported. Before long, there won’t be many states that don’t have tough regulations in place.

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Comments on “Ineffective Driving While Yakking Regulation Proving Popular Among States”

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oisin says:

Banning distractions while driving

Talking with an earpiece is equally distracting as having the phone in your hand, unless you are driving a stick shift, in which case using an earpiece will make the call possible in the first place. These are on the ban list in some other countries that have similar laws. Talking to other passengers is safe, because they are sharing your context in the car, and can detect when your concentration increases as you approach a possible hazard. Then they shut up to reduce the possibility of a horrible death if they distract you. Drinking coffee while driving is a periodic activity – you pick up the mug now and then, and usually you have forgotten about it when you are in a danger zone. Unless you spill it over your crotch just before said danger zone; at that point your trouble is only just starting.

matt0ne says:

Phone or Conversation

Not entirely sure about how much more distracting it would be to speak on a cell phone than to speak to other passengers. I don’t really see how that different context would make a real difference.

There are always those times where you zone out and find yourself 5 mins down the road, not remembering the road you just drove down. How do you legistlate for that?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Phone or Conversation

The difference is that a person in the car can see what’s going on and stop talking if it looks like you need to concentrate. Furthermore, they will understand if you wait a moment before answering them when you’re navigating a dangerous intersection or looking for a street.

When we are on the phone we feel a social obligation to maintain the conversation at a normal pace regardless of what’s going on around us because the other person has no way to know what’s happening.

Kilroy (user link) says:

Re: Re: Phone or Conversation

“The difference is that a person in the car can see what’s going on and stop talking if it looks like you need to concentrate. ”

What about the 5 year old in the backseat that won’t shut up even if you tell her to? Will there be a ban on transporting children without first duct-taping their mouths shut first?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Phone or Conversation

“When we are on the phone we feel a social obligation to maintain the conversation at a normal pace regardless of what’s going on around us because the other person has no way to know what’s happening.”

Um, No, we dont…. At least not those of us that are treating driving as the primary acticvity & talking as incidental.

If the person I’m talking to even notices, I just say, “I’m driving” No one has ever had a problem with that.

TriZz says:


Having a passenger in the car can be a different kind of distraction. I know that when I have a passenger in the car who is talking, I tend to take glances at them while they are talking so that they know that I’m listening…

…the ear piece is useful (since I drive a stick shift) but I’ve certainly gotten lost in conversations and forgetten to take my exit before.

I think they should ban the following:

– applying cosmetics.

– fixing hair

– shaving

– reading (I’ve seen this)

– drinking (any beverage)

– smoking (after I quit)

– changing CDs

– searching for lost objects

I’ve been most distracted when I’m adjusting the radio (changing CDs) and lighting cigarettes.

Everything is a distraction really. Attractive women wearing a whore’s costume walking down the street distract the shit out of me too. So does hotties in the car next to me.

…are they going to ban beauty next?

Charlie says:

Evil cell phone puts drivers to sleep!

The article says “the 20-year-old driver fell asleep while talking on the phone, crossed three lanes of traffic and hit a car” and then goes on to say how this would be the first time cell phone related charges would be filed.

It sounds like the problem was driving while tired, or medical. It doesn’t sound like the phone at all!

Kilroy says:

States put more stupid logic into legislation...

Say what you want, but I dont feel it is the government’s job to pass legislation restricting what I do in my car.

What is the logic behind having in an ear piece over holding the phone in your hand anyway? There is no law stating that I must have both hands on the wheel. I am free to play with the radio, drink from a mug, hold my wife’s hand, etc but not hold a phone? I’d understand the logic (but not agree with it) if the law forbid the driver from talking on a phone, headset or not.

So, I guess my question is, can I get a ticket for holding my coffee mug up to my ear while talking to a fellow passenger?

Axe says:

Just for the record

I recently read an article that concluded that driving-and-yakking is as dangerous as driving drunk (I don’t remember where, so Google it your damn self. That’s what you’ve got fingers for)

As a constant victim of doofus’ in oversized SUV’s obliviously cutting me off in rush hour traffic, I can attest that I personally believe this statement to be true.

Furthermore Joe… Weren’t you the half-wit that ran over my foot the other day while you were blabbing incoherently into your Smart-Ass Phone?

Botch (user link) says:

Strange that I'm the only one who agrees

Sorry, but just because most people drive like idiots and are easily distracted by tons of things and in general don’t practice good safety habits while speeding down the highway, it doesn’t mean that it’s not a good idea to ban this particularly distracting behavior.

It *is* more distracting to hold a phone to ear, maintain that disembodied conversation while trying to drive completely one-handed. People should *not* do it. As such, I have absolutely no problem having it banned. Now, if only the police would enforce it…

wolff000 says:

Hate Cell Phone Drivers

I have a cell phone and the only way I answer it while driving is with a handsfree set. I have been almost taken out too many times to see the peron in the other car fumbling with a damn phone. It is a proven fact that talking on a phone and driving is dangerous so don’t do it. If states have to put these laws into effect to make people wake up then so be it. Of course if drivers just paid more attention and remained alert than these laws wouldn’t be necessary but that is not the case. as they say one bad apple ruins the bunch.

Liz says:

Talking while Yaking

Why not just drive? Anytime you are engaged in another activity in the car you are disctracted from what you are doing. I stopped using the cell phone and started to pay more attention to just driving and being in the moment when I got a $120 ticket for doing 50 in a 30. I was disctracted, talking on the phone drinking a coffee and did not see the cop until he had followed me 3 miles up the road. I only saw him when he hit the siren, apparently his lights had been on the whole time….. Figured for me, the best thing is to just drive. Eating, drinking and talking – I just wait till I get to where I am going. My dry cleaning bill is lower too. 🙂

qyiet says:

Handsfree Sets

Personally I have used a bunch of “solutions” from full on car kits, to BT headsets.

All were more fiddley than just answering the phone, and in my opinion, more distracting.

The worst was the full car kit, I kept finding myself turning to focus on the effective location of the person, and to talk driectly at the mic. It scared me, and I stopped using it.


Bob says:

Personally I like it. I think they should go one step further though. I think they should ban cell phones in ALL PUBLIC PLACES. I cant remember the last time I went out to eat and didnt have some jackass talkin on the phone, and those damn Nextel phones are the worst. Gotta hear that ridiculous beep everytime someone says something and the assholes that use them always have the volume maxxed on them.They either need to ban them or make no cell phone sections like they have no smoking sections. While they are at it lets have no Kids sections too since people dont discipline their kids anymore. Whatever happened to dont speak unless spoken to!!!

Bob says:

Re: Re: Re:

If restaurants are private then why can the government ban smoking in them. If they make me feel like an outcast because my smoking bothers other people then why cant people with kids who annoy me (Because noone believes in respecting the ones around them and let them scream the whole time when they should be getting a spanking but never do because people dont believe in discipline anymore) be sent to their own little room where they can annoy themselves and leave me the hell alone so I can concentrate on reading my paper while I eat.

Agonizing Fury says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The reason the government can ban smoking is for the same reason they can require ramps for wheelchairs and Parking spots for the physically disabled. People with severe asthma, which is considered a disability by the federal government, cannot go into a restaurant that allows smoking. Separate sections do not help. My Father’s asthma is so severe that when I am home visiting and smoke a cigarette, I have to shower and change clothes before I can go to their house, or he will end up in the hospital. As a smoker I have no problem with stepping outside to indulge my habit to allow people with a valid disability to enjoy eating out.

Robert says:

Re: what?

This isn’t about the usefulness of cell phones. If you don’t want to use a cell phone you don’t need to. I like having a cell phone.

About 20 years ago we didn’t have the internet, either. We did just fine wihtout it. Why use it? Why use anything our parents or grandparents didn’t have? Obviously THEY got by fine without TV or cars or …

Your logic circuit that determines usefulness is broken. This is not to say you are an idiot, but it does suggest you need a brain upgrade. Maybe Service Pack 1? Service Pack 2 is newer and you probably haven’t figured out that it’s useful or important yet; so SP1 would work better for you.

Bob says:

Re: Re: what?

First of all somone using the internet doesn’t annoy other people like cell phones and unless you have an EVDO card you cant use it anywhere, there has to be a wireless network available of which most restaurants, bowling alleys, bars, movie theatres etc… do NOT have. Pay phones are fine because they are uaually either outside or in the lobby of an establishment and not right next to my table. Also they dont make that god awful ear piercing beep every time someone says something. I cant wait for the day Nextel goes out of business!!!

Robert says:

Anything while Driving

I’ve seen both men and women drive around using a hands free phone setup while USING BOTH HANDS to make GESTURES to the invisible people at the other end. It looks similar to people who rock out and play air drums while singing along with the stereo.

I folowed a woman putting on all kinds of makeup using the mirror on the driver’s side sun visor. She used her peripheral vision to drive and her normal vision to make herself pretty for the car she rear-ended in the turn lane not long after.

Anyone who’s seen The Big Lebowski knows you don’t need a cell phone to get distracted and crash.

We don’t need to ban certain activities while driving. We simply need to up the ante for traffic violations involving those activities.

As it stands, you CAN be cited for inattentive driving. Driving while reading will get you a ticket, not because reading while driving is illegal, but because not paying close enough attention to driving is illegal. So we should all be written up for doing whatever it is that puts others at risk. Why require authorities to ban each individual nuisance activity? Why not let them enforce the rules already in place?

shawn says:


Bans – Fine do it, some people are not going to stop. I like the “ban cell phones in ALL PUBLIC PLACES” speech. They still have pay phones w/o boothes. You want to ban them also. I can hear people talk at public phones.. Get in the century folks, I’m sure the horse and buggy people wanted to ban those “darn motor vehicles” the first time someone got in an accident. Just hope and pray, just like anything else, you are not injured in an accident, whether the person was on a phone or not.

smokebreak says:

Another Law In Our "Free" Country

I agree talking on the cell while driving is a distraction, but does it cause everyone to become a “danger”……no. Do I feel safer now that I am forced to wear a seatbelt… When Im on my motorcycle do I feel better about myself because a law forces me to put on my helmet……no. Im an avid snowmobiler and atv’er……. I accept the risks from the actions I take, and If im responsible for injuring myself or someone else I take the blame. Writing laws to dictate my action in the name of MY saftey is completly hypocritical. This is supposed to be a free country, and every day there seems to be another law trying to manage my actions when they don’t affect others in any way. You want this country to be a safer place…….euthinize the morons. that includes thoes in power in washington……I love my country, but this isn’t what i call “free”. if you don’t believe me, see how many laws we have that deal with individuals not connected to hindering other citizens, compared to most other nations.

Michael Dixon says:

Re: Another Law In Our "Free" Country

Yours is the SMARTEST comment thus far!

These laws are just another way for the government to “control” & “determine” the actions we take. As you said, “I love my country, but this isn’t what i call “free”.

Stupid people do stupid things and make stupid decisions whether there is a law in place or not! That is there decision to take those risks and pay the consequences.

Thank you for speaking the simple thruth. It’s refreshing to know that there are others who feel the same way!

Kind Regards,


Dan says:

its science

Cell phones don’t kill people, mongrels kill people.

Anyway. The handsfree set would reduce accidents by very little it seems. Most people can drive a stick safely with one arm once they learn how (shift before the turn, use the knees). Its the wandering mind that takes your concentration out of the car, to whatever and wherever people are talking about. Thats why passenger conversations are not banned, because the focus easily stays in the car (passengers are trusting you with their life). What other distraction can completely transport your mind with a two-way conversation requiring input and output, along with thought? “Handsfree” is BS fed to you by the cellphone accessory reps trying to get you to buy some high-margin item in the name of your own safety. I can use one hand to drive just fine, unless I’m trying to do something else in addition to talking.

Also, when you “wake up” out of a daze when driving, studies have shown that its actually not as dangerous as you think. Inevitably, your subconcious mind freaks out when something dangerous happens and alerts you immediately, its almost a reflex. Ever stopped at a green light before? Your subconscious tells you to stop at the intersection out of habit, but your conscious brain is too tripped-out to notice that the light is green.

eb says:

Cell Phone Safety

Cross my heart, this is a true story. I was trying to make a right-hand turn into a side street from a main road but was blocked by a car stopped in the lane of traffic. I waited a few seconds, honked my horn, waited and honked again. Finally the car moved about 10 feet, and I was forced to pull out over the the center line to get around. As I passed the car, I realized that the driver was talking on the phone. Obviously, having heard that you should not drive while talking on the phone, the driver elected to simply stop without even pulling over to the curb so that she would be safe.

Spartacus says:

Bob I don't know if you're serious or not but what

Hello Bob.

I couldn’t help but post after reading your consistently ignorant and simply ridiculous posts. I understand if you’ve had some bad experiences regarding cell phones in restaurants near your table and with screaming children annoying you but that is no excuse to come here and post your meaningless drivel about how we should ban all kinds of things simply because you don’t like them. You need to understand that not EVERYTHING and EVERYONE is going to go out of their way just to make you a little more comfortable at dinner. Cell phones offer an incredible benefit to society especially while out of a persons own home (ie Public Places), but with those benefits we are going to have to accept a few detriments. If you truly can’t stand the company of others so much you should just stay in your own home and read your paper and smoke your death sticks because the rest of us sure don’t like the smell you bring into the restaurant after you’ve smoked your fifth pack of the day. I try not to blab all over the place how we should BAN CIGARETTES and MAKE PEOPLE TAKE 5 SHOWERS IF THEY REAK AS MUCH AS BOB DOES but some times posts like yours just make it so that I can’t resist it. Don’t go around complaining about “all this new hubatechnocrap” that other people find useful but you don’t know how to use. Just because your VCR still blinks 12:00 doesn’t mean the rest of us have to live at your pathetic level of existence.

Bob says:

Re: Bob I don't know if you're serious or not but

Well here we have another case of some young kid not respecting his elders. First off I do not have a VCR I have a Tivo that is hooked up through my wireless network which I set up myself. I use a DVR and just today I bought the new HD DVD player so IM not afraid of using technology. The point is people who dont respect those around them. I own a cell phone but it never goes with me to a place where anyone but myself can hear it ring. Its used only if my car breaks down or I need 911 which is all a cell phone should be used for!. The problem with the screaming kids is that the parents dont discipline them anymore. Spare the rod and Spoil the child. When I was a kid if I even made a squeak it was out to the car for me. Kids were to be seen and not heard and you didnt speak unless spoken too. Just like it should be!!

Barry says:

Cell phone talking while driving

driving a motorcycle is even more of a danger around people that drive cars and talk on their cell phont. We are not as big as a car and the other drivers need to pay a lot more attention to notice a motorcycle. I’ve been driving for 30+ years and 99% of the close calls recently have been with people on the phone.

Joe T says:

New York, the first State to ban cell phones in cars without hands-free systems, already had a provision in the Motor Vehicle Law that made illegal ANY activity that caused the driver to become distracted. This was a much smarter approach, as it covered drinks, eating, makeup application, and all of the other cited behaviors — IF they distracted you. For those who can actually perform such actions without being distracted, you are (were) in the clear.

gh says:

Re: Re: Solved my phone problem

Great, now you can decide how important everyone elses life is too!

Way to go. Maybe they need to talk for a phone interview to get a job, but screw them. Maybe theyre finding out about a sick relative, screw em.

Your piece of mind is much more important that anything anyone else could need at the moment, which of course you know better than them anyway!

andras says:

How about the dogs?

Seriously – I’m far safer driving while talking on my mobile than the idiots that drive around with their little rodent dogs on their lap.

How about laws requiring animals in vehicles to be restrained?

And I won’t even get into laws about the top 9 causes of accidents while driving (talking on cell phones was #10).

Timbo (user link) says:

Cellphone Driving

The problem is not yakking, the problem is driving with only one hand and looking at the keyboard or display when you should be looking at the road ahead.

Personally I have witnessed enough drivers who are not in control when they aren’t on the phone to believe that anyone should drive with a phone clamped to their head.

However, maybe we don’t need special laws to enforce this, civil damages could be awarded against against those who cause accidents, and criminal pernalties against those who kill. The insurance companies could choose whether or not to insure against accidents which happen while a driver is using his phone. They any driver who thinks his driving is safe when he is on the phone will be quite at liberty to continue as they do now. Get it wrong and you stop driving forever.

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