Driving While Yakking Laws Looking More And More Like 'Help The Gov't Make Money' Laws

from the funny-how-that-works dept

As mentioned, while I don’t think it’s safe for most people to drive while on a mobile phone, I’m a bit skeptical of laws that explicitly forbid driving while yakking. Very few of them seem actually focused on improving safety on the roads — but they do appear to be a way for state governments to make some extra cash. In California, where the fines were not that big originally, it looks like it’s about to get a lot more expensive to drive while talking with you mobile phone held up to your ear (you can still drive while yakking hands free — despite some studies showing that can be just as dangerous). The politicians involved even admitted that this was more or less the plan all along. Get the law passed by keeping the fines really low, wait a few years, and then jack up the fees. I’m all for making the roads safer, but it’s not clear that this law actually does that.

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Comments on “Driving While Yakking Laws Looking More And More Like 'Help The Gov't Make Money' Laws”

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mike list (profile) says:

driving while yakking...

…that’s absurd. a recent study shows that about 1 in 40 drivers isn’t adversely affected by talking on a cell phone. about the same number are able to drive well while under the effects of alcohol.

some of the distraction comes from the conversation, but i’ve gotta believe that the forced position necessary to use the phone, is a bigger factor. people who can be shown to have sent text messages while driving should probably be summarily executed.

most cells i’m familiar with support a level of hands free operation, voice dial, speaker phone or bluetooth, if those were used, im sure that the change would be a positive one. of course the rest of the motoring public will see a person talking to their self, bad for your image, assuming you are important enough for them to care.

of course there should be laws limiting the use of any communications equipment that requires the user to take a hand off the wheel, are you kidding?

DS says:

Re: driving while yakking...

Unfortunatally, there’s two problems with these laws.

A: they are almost impossible to prove…

B: we already have laws on the books that prevent reckless driving.

and a bonus point..

Hands-Free cell phones are no safer then Hand-Held. Any conversation that takes you outside of your car is a distraction.

Technopolitical (profile) says:

Truckers and Cops and taxis use CB radios while driving

No one said CB radios caused truckers to drive unsafe ,, as a matter of fact , CB use was encouraged as a safety plus by highway patrols.

Then of course Police use radios all the time.

I fail to see the difference between CB radios and talking on a cell.

Texting while driving is and should be criminal

The roads are safer than ever nowadays , with better cars and safer roads,, and cellphones save more lives than they cost on the roads

John Doe says:

As a motorcycle rider...

One of the two biggest causes of motorcycle accidents is inattentive drivers pulling in front of motorcyclists. Often with very bad results. I am not sure a law or two is going to change that though. I do wish there was some effort to get people to pay more attention to what they are doing while driving as it can lead to getting someone killed. I know I pay a lot more attention since I started riding a motorcycle.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: As a motorcycle rider...

Don’t think that just because you’re on a motorcycle you’re a better driver. I’ve seen just about the same ratio of bad drivers to good drivers on two wheels as four. I’ve even seen Harley riders talking on cell phones and texting, and I’m not sure how that’s possible. Now crotch rockets, those drivers can get bad.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: As a motorcycle rider...

Disagree. I think motorcycle riders ARE much better, with the following qualifier: experienced bike riders.

You see, over 50% of motorcycle accidents occur to riders in their first year of riding. A statistically staggering result. Many of those newbie crashers learn their lessons the hard way and get careful for the next time, and many more stop riding forever after they wreck their first bike.

Of those riders with over a year experience, a very ruthless Darwin effect has already thinned out the herd. Experienced and still living motorcycle riders ARE better than the average driver. We see things further down the road, watch for more cues, evaluate the road surface, and escape routes at a much higher level than the average four-wheeler.

As an individual, I am a far better driver when on two wheels than on four. I just pay more attention because I am harder to see, and any contact would be a losing battle for me.

There’s a lot of fools riding bikes, but they won’t be next year. When you think you’re invincible, reality’s a bitch.

Xanius says:

Re: As a motorcycle rider...

The other cause which is just as bad is the motorcycle driver acting like an asshat and weaving in an out of traffic without checking that they aren’t in a cars blind spot.

Everyone has the potential to be a bad driver. It doesn’t matter what they are driving, whether it be on land, water or in the air.

But it’s not cell phones that cause the distraction most of the time. Just having people in the car talking to you causes distractions, a couple years back my fiancée rear-ended a car because she was talking to her friend sitting in her car and didn’t react fast enough, why don’t we just ban having passengers(including babies) from being in the car while you’re moving.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: As a motorcycle rider...

I alwaysd dread the warm months in New England because that means that I not only have to contend with soccer moms in SUVs who are texting and driving, but idiots buzzing around on egg-beaters at 90 during rush hour.

(The old, gruffy guys on bikes are all right. They’re usually the ones who the “check twice” stickers are for.)

Michial Thompson (user link) says:

Re: Re: As a motorcycle rider...

I’ll tell you what, I will think of this thread the next time I open my car door, or close the gap betweem me and the car in the next lane over for a motorcyclist that decides that he has the right to slow my commute by riding the white line between cars.

Oh I will even think of this thread the next time I run the dumbass in a hurry off into the ditch as he tries to slwo my commute by passing me on the shoulder of the road.

Used to want to keep a cup full of roofing nails in my console so that I could help these types of idiots out with learning to be patient…

I am so sick of motorcyclists crying that noone looks out for them on the roads when 9 out of 10 times it’s their own fault that they were doing something stupid in the first place like speeding, running down the white line, weeving in and out of traffic and the list goes on

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: As a motorcycle rider...

Careful. Lane sharing is legal in CA. My lane sharing isn’t slowing you down. By using the road more productively, the bike riders actually speed your commute up. We also pollute less, and require less space for parking.

I could make similar egocentrical arguments by saying that in dense traffic times, why should you get to “slow me down” by occupying 90 square feet of asphalt while I only occupy 10.

Did you pay 9x the taxes I paid?

That’s not to say some bikers aren’t idiots, but they’d be idiots if they were in a car, too…but in a car they’d pose more of a physical threat to you, and they’d take up more space on the road, and actually slow you down more.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 As a motorcycle rider...

Careful. Lane sharing is legal in CA.

My state allows as many vehicles (of any type) to share a lane as can do so safely. And that’s the catch: if you’re passing another vehicle within the same lane and an accident occurs, that will probably be taken as prima facie evidence that it wasn’t safe to do so and you will likely be judged at fault. So while it may be legal, it also carries a large risk, legal and otherwise. In other words, “not a smart thing to do”.

In addition, if you’re riding the line between lanes and crossing back and forth, remember that each crossing is considered a lane change and you are legally required to signal 100 feet in advance of each crossing.

Did you pay 9x the taxes I paid?

Road taxes here are based on maximum loaded vehicle weight. So, most car drivers probably pay more than 9x what motorcycle riders pay. Not that that should really make any difference, but you brought it up.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 As a motorcycle rider...

“So, most car drivers probably pay more than 9x what motorcycle riders pay.”

Most motorcycle drivers also have a car parked in their garage on the days they ride. But they use fewer of the scarce resource (road space) when they ride. But you’re right. The amount paid is a complicated discussion. Better just for me to argue that one person uses 9x the resource of the other. Why get angry at the 1/9 guy?

RE: lane splitting
I would guess that the legal risks of lane sharing pale in comparison to the physical risks to life and limb – which I accept in measured amounts.

Vidiot (profile) says:

Less about talking, more about goofy laws

I think Mike’s point is less about phones, and more about the incredibly intrusive laws drivers are getting hit with.

Here in NJ, we just added a doozy… “Kyleigh’s Law”, which seeks to protect teens from themselves. For starters, attaching the name of an expired young girl to a law very nearly guarantees passage… who could vote against that? But the law does two primary things: adds a “scarlet letter” for teen drivers — stickers which must be applied to license plates when first-year drivers are at the wheel; and severely restricts young drivers’ hours, now down to 11PM from 12.

Let’s leave out the number of kids who won’t be able to keep their waitress jobs or perform in school plays. And never mind that the red warning stickers have to be peeled off when I’m driving instead of my kids, or that we must drive to one of only a few state agency locations to purchase “official” stickers. The best part is that poor Kyleigh wasn’t out too late… it was the middle of the afternoon; she wasn’t an inexperienced driver — she was a 16-year-old passenger, too young to be licensed in NJ; and she was one of 4 kids packed into a two-seater Audi TT. Plenty of causes, and none addressed by this law.

And then there’s the expensive part: the law increases the requirement for 6 hours of training with a paid, commercial instructor – TO 60 HOURS. Amazing… the FAA will issue a pilot’s license after only 20 hours of instruction.

Putting aside revenue generated by increased summonses, I can’t imagine the police are thrilled with this additional enforcement burden. And I know that the rest of us are near to revolt.

chris (profile) says:

Re: Less about talking, more about goofy laws

Putting aside revenue generated by increased summonses, I can’t imagine the police are thrilled with this additional enforcement burden. And I know that the rest of us are near to revolt.

i’m not so sure about that.

in most states, cops can’t pull you over for not wearing a seat belt, and whenever measures like that come up, the privacy types pop up fast to say it’s a power grab by law enforcement. the concern is that cops will use the seat belt as an excuse to pull people over and get probable cause to search the car.

if cops can pull you over for talking on the phone, which i would imagine happens *WAY* more than not wearing a seat belt, i would imagine that would be considered a bonus for the police.

P3T3R5ON (profile) says:

Band-aids for a broken system

So what I’d like to know is when will the government stop putting band-aids on the broken leg?

Yes, being a distracted driver is a bad thing… but a cellphone isn’t the only distraction. What about iPod/mp3 player? Eating while driving? Make-up application while driving?

Why are cell phones being singled out?

The root issue is not the accessories or objects that distract us, it’s the drivers who choose to allow themselves to be distracted with anything other then driving.

Stop allowing just about anybody to get a drivers license!

Fix the driver population and you’ll make the roads safer!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Band-aids for a broken system

I am amazed at some of the comments here. Don’t any of you people actually drive? Every day when I commute to work I encounter dozens of drivers on cell phones. The reason cell phones are getting singled out is the scale of the problem. I don’t see that many drivers distracted while reading the paper or putting on makeup, but each day I see many, many distracted cell phone users.

P3T3R5ON (profile) says:

Re: Re: Band-aids for a broken system

Is the driver still choosing to use a distraction, cellphone or otherwise?

It’s the driver who chooses to focus part of their attention on something other then driving. That is the problem… period.

Cleaning up the licensing system; more effective testing & effective regulation would keep the distractable/inept drivers from even being behind the wheel. People will cry unfair but… it’s a privilage NOT a right!

In fact according to science some people are just born a bad driver:

Anonymous Coward says:

Like what P3T3R5ON said, one big issue is that like a college degree, a driver’s license in America is seen as a natural right rather than a privelage.

The problem is, any kid can turn 16.5 (or whatever the age is where you are) and walk in to the DMV expecting to get their license without hassle. Most of the time, they are right. This leads to a large driving population with a very low amoutn of skill and poor understanding of the rules of the road.

Take that broken situation and add to it any distraction (including cell phones) and you are asking for trouble.

Adam (profile) says:

That's OK

Here in MN, they passed a law that says it’s illegal to go slow in the left lane. What’s slow? I don’t know. What about when there’s a left exit? No word. This only leads to tailgating and speeding. Personally, instead of outlawing each distraction singularly, I think they should just outlaw driving, and we can all walk to work, or go back to riding horses. Though then we’d have to pass “No talking while riding” laws too…

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: That's OK

> Here in MN, they passed a law that says it’s
> illegal to go slow in the left lane. What’s slow?
> I don’t know.

Most state traffic codes say pretty much the same thing, except it’s usually a lot less vague: something along the lines of “slower traffic in the left-most lane is required to yield to faster traffic.”

That way there’s no subjective definition of “slow” that varies from person to person. If you’re driving slower than the car approaching you from behind and you’re in the left lane, then you have to move over.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

Less about talking, more about goofy laws---Flying Licenses Versus Driving Licenses.

To: Vidiot. ( Less about talking, more about goofy laws, Apr 9th, 2010 @ 5:46am)

Your comment about flying licenses is comprehensively misinformed. I don’t drive myself, but I’ve got a jet pilot in the family, and I know a little bit about the subject at second hand. Riding with the pilot in an automobile, I have noticed that flying made her driving style incredibly precise– like a ballet dancer’s footwork. That’s about as near as I can describe it. It’s just a whole different order of skill. By comparison, the taxi drivers mostly come across as clumsy klutzes. Then too, I notice that the taxi drivers tend to have low boiling points for getting visibly angry in traffic, because it works out in practice to a pay deduction.

A flying license with privileges equivalent to an ordinary automobile drivers’ license would be a Commercial Pilot License. Even a pizza deliveryman would probably be technically across the line for a Commercial Pilot License to be required (certainly the FAA would take that view if there were an accident), and a taxicab driver would surely be so. That said, a Commercial Pilot License, when obtained through a duly licensed flying school, requires 200 flying hours, includes training for an Instrument Rating, and costs at least $20,000. Including time spent in ground school, it might take six months to a year to earn a Commercial Pilot License. Colleges with flight programs usually spread it out over two years. The equivalent of a Commercial Drivers’ License, which you need to drive a bus or large truck, would probably be an Airline Transport Pilot License, requiring 1500 hours of flying time. The airlines are a small club, and they haven’t been obliged to define the relevant laws very strictly. There is no law requiring the airlines to put someone like Captain Sullenberger at the controls of a large airliner, but customs and traditions operate. Practically people rack up the additional flying time for an ATP by paying tens of thousands of dollars for flying jobs on puddle-jumper commuter airlines, or else they come up through the military.

The only kind of pilot license you can get with only twenty flying hours is a Sport Pilot License, which forbids carrying more than one passenger, or flying at night, or in instrument conditions, or in airspace which requires radio communication. An equivalent kind of drivers’ license would probably forbid you to drive on an Interstate Highway, or a U.S. Route, or to drive within an incorporated city or town, or anywhere you might encounter a stop light, etc. It would of course be practically useless for such purposes as driving to work or school, or going shopping. That is entirely intentional. The Sport Pilot license is designed by experts to be that way, for people who fly for fun, the way they might ride a horse, not for people who are using airplanes for even remotely work-related purposes. If a teenager simply wants to drive for the sake of driving, there are places where he can go and drive a go-kart around in circles on private property. Pilots talk about “get-there-itis,” the syndrome of pilots proceeding into increasingly dangerous conditions because they have to arrive at the destination. The Sport Pilot License has been structured to exclude people who would be in that category.

For the new New Jersey teenage driver’s license, you cite a figure of sixty hours training. I was not able to locate any such figure in extended Google searching. I did find a suggested minimum of thirty hours classroom instruction, followed by six hours driving instruction. Classroom instruction is of course much less expensive than behind-the-wheel instruction.

Vidiot (profile) says:

Re: Less about talking, more about goofy laws---Flying Licenses Versus Driving Licenses.

Kyleigh’s Law takes effect on May 1, which is probably why searches don’t show the 60 hour figure yet, but it’s true; and along with 30 hours of (usually free) classroom training, that entitles a 16-year old to receive a learner’s permit. It’s complex — the classroom portion is only required for the young-driver track; a 17-year-old can simply take a written test and receive a learner’s permit. The flowchart of requirements, tracks and ages would make your head spin.
And I know exactly which ticket 20 hours of flight training earns you. If you’re suggesting that learning the theory, laws and motor coordination skills required for driving a car is remotely equivalent to learning the physics, meteorology, navigation, volumes of FAR’s and all the motor coordination of stick and rudder, whether Commercial or Sport, well, I’d have to disagree.

BearGriz72 (profile) says:

My $0.02

I have seen many drivers reading the paper (or a book or a magazine) or putting on makeup (or shaving) in the rearview mirror & I only have a 10 minute commute! I would have to think those are far worse than talking on the phone for the amount of attention it distracts from the responsibility of driving. I do agree using hands free is better than taking your hands off the wheel. I make calls on my way home frequently (I use a Bluetooth headset and voice dial) but I always remember that my primary focus needs to be on the road, my driving and what is going on around me. I have to agree that singling out cell phone use when there are so many distractions to driving is counterproductive. I also have to agree that the careless/reckless driving laws already on the books should be sufficient to deal with this issue. There is no need to stuff more needles legislation into the mix.

teka (profile) says:

Re: Less chances of accidents...

well, even if you were not some kind of search engine link spammer “enrolled agent blah blah link”, i would have to call you out on this one.

“It’s been a proven fact that using cellphones and car phones are does cause accidents, with a lot of fatal statistics,”


and more important, lets see some “proven fact” that these laws do anything to change them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Less chances of accidents...

“It’s been a proven fact that using cellphones and car phones are does cause accidents, with a lot of fatal statistics,”


Yeah, and I don’t believe the Earth is round either.

There have been a LOT of studies that have shown it. A lot of them have bee listed on this very site before (use the search function) and Google will turn up a bunch more. If you’re too lazy to go look, that’s your problem.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

Less about talking, more about goofy laws---Flying Licenses Versus Driving Licenses.

The impression I got from the New Jersey DMV website was that they aren’t overly enthusiastic about driving schools per se. Rather, it seemed something like: “Your child’s education isn’t something you can buy– it’s something you’ve got to do. Go for a long drive in the country with your teenager every Saturday afternoon, with the teenager driving; make that your ‘quality time,’ when you talk about everything and nothing. Play instructor pilot, and keep a logbook. If you do that for a year, you will easily log up fifty or a hundred hours, as a minor byproduct of getting to know each other.” As a classic university brat, that sort of thing seems so obvious to me, that it’s almost embarrassing to hear someone say it out loud. The DMV doesn’t quite come out and say it in plain words, because, at root, it’s clergyman-talk, not bureaucrat-talk. I think you may be confusing this moral homily, as it were, with a prescription for driving school instruction.

Juan Valdez says:

simple solution

Since Law enforcment tends to shy away from protecting and serving They choose to favor the easy money maker method. If your stopped smile and tell THE MAN how much you love getting tickets for the fact that you have tons of money. Since tickets are contracts you have a 3 day right to cancel. Mail it back to the station where it the Contract writer works and The orignal to sacramento Express or feelings that this contract promise to perform was given under deress and your exercxising your 3 day right to cancel and it is void. Then send a dozen of the oldest donuts to the contractors

Juan Valdez says:

Im wondering if these devices harm people so much! Why do they keep building bigger and more time consuming ones.Oh wait! I remember corprification del regulado. One more issue that no one has touched on was a simular type issue that could distract you from that pleasent drive down the coast . You rarley hear this spoken about,, Its LGWD
letting one go while driving. Here is the senario Say you have the 5000watt system blastin out say WHAM wake me up before you go go And you start to tear up from the vocals or! your remembering the poster of G mikel in a pink speedo that above your bed at home anyway your eyes are wattering and the thanks to the authentic Tko bill thing you ate you proceed to bust and move that out and now with the mix of tears of love and toxic tears your driving blind. How can you prove that bring your car seat to testify by way of scratch and sniff. My point I guess Is dont make true the things that are false especilally talking perciseley.Lets blog about real issues and real solutions. Not our consent by the $minute for mr big.Make the law do their job

Anonymous Coward says:

Same Old Song and Dance

Driving While Yakking Laws Looking More And More Like ‘Help The Gov’t Make Money’ Laws

They did the same thing with drinking and driving laws. They aren’t so much about public safety as they are about turning common citizens into common criminals in order to enrich the criminal justice system.

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