Group Wants A National Ban On Yakking While Driving

from the no,-there's-nothing-else-going-on dept

As the nation gears up for the inauguration of a new President and Congress and state and local governments laying out their legislative priorities for the coming year, one group says that in addition to pressing issues like the economy, legislators should take up a nationwide ban on cell phone use while driving. They've trotted out the usual rhetoric, equating yakking while driving to drunk driving in an attempt to evoke an emotional response, but ignoring some salient facts. First, while it's hard to argue that driving while talking is completely safe, it may not be as big a risk as some of these groups would lead us to believe. Second, the laws are very hard to enforce and don't automatically decrease the number of accidents. Instead of adding another law narrowly focused on one particular behavior, why not more stringently enforce existing traffic laws dealing with dangerous driving? Laws already exist covering all manner of unsafe driving; perhaps a good way to make the roads safer would be to increase enforcement of them and work to clamp down on all types of unsafe driving, rather than single out particular ones.


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  1.  
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    :Lobo Santo, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 9:43am

    New Laws...

    It's easier to make new litigation that it is to actually do one's job... (Ya know, making sure people are safe or whatever). I think it's the political equivalent of "pretending to work." To the layman, it looks as though something's being done...

     

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    Hulser, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 9:59am

    Re: New Laws...

    It's easier to make new litigation that it is to actually do one's job

    I think that's only part of the story. I'm sure there are people out there who actually think that talking on the cell phone is a new or unique problem. But to give the benefit of the doubt, I think there are probably many people on the side of this legistlation who take a much more pragmatic approach.

    For example, say you became concerned about the issue of people talking on their cell phones while driving and after thinking about the issue for, oh about a minute and a half, you realized that the problem was more about inattentive or bad drivers than the specific issue of cell phones. What are you to do? However much the idea of better enforcement seems to be the simplest, best approach, how to you force better enforcement? You can't exactly pass a law that says "hey, cops, why don't you actually do your job for a change?"

    But what you can do is pass a law that will increase enforcement of the problem that is on many people's minds. I'm not defending this approach. It results in bad laws that are way too targeted at specific acts instead of really dealing with the underlying problem. But I can see where someone, even a reasonable someone who has considered the issue, would think that supporting this kind of legistaltion was a viable approach.

     

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    Alan, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 10:03am

    Then by extention...

    Great! Finally I won't have to worry about the pilot flying into a mountain while giving me a weather report.

     

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    John, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 10:18am

    What next?

    A ban on GPS use, radios or 911 calls as you follow that drunk driver ? Or perhaps all small children will need to be caged and placed in the trunk to avoid any disastrous actions by their parent? Wait a second, can you imagine the peace and quite of that last idea?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 10:23am

    I can't even fit my Yak into my car.

     

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    Cecil, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 10:30am

    I'm amazed...

    I'm really amazed that people around where I live can even drive at all -- they're so dim -- let alone while holding a phone to their ears. Seems like at least one out of three people on the road I see are talking without a headset. I also see Bush/Cheney '04 stickers occasionally.

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 10:40am

    I read about this yesterday

    They not only want to ban talking on a hand set, they want to ban talking on a cell at all. In the article I read they even admitted that it would be an unenforceable law. They would need software that stopped a call while it's moving faster than 10MPH but that isn't going to work ether.

    We have a law that covers this crap. It's called reckless driving. If the cops around here would actually enforce that one we wouldn't need a damn anti-cellphone bill (or speed traps to get extra money).

    I have honestly never had a near miss from someone on their cellphone. They just like to drive slow in front of me. Every near miss I have had has been by a solo driver (no one else in the car) not on a cell. People in Pennsylvania just can't drive.

     

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    asdf, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 10:42am

    As with everything else its not black and white. Some people can drive and talk no problem. Other people are speeding idiots when they drive, and even worse when they drive and talk on the phone. Maybe they should add a driving and talking part to the drivers education.

    I honestly wouldn't care if they banned driving and talking everywhere unless you use a bluetooth or headset. I like the law in DC

    I think another part of the problem is there aren't enough officers in general, and the ones they do have arent working traffic violations, they are working murders and thefts, which is reasonable.

     

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    Virginwool, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 10:42am

    I don't care how they do it.

    I want the idiots that insist on driving one-handed removed. There is no way you can convince me they are just as safe as those who use hands free - or (shockingly enough) choose to not yak on a cell phone while driving.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 10:46am

    Re: I read about this yesterday

    Couldn't help but think of this quote from the late, great George Carlin...

    "When two planes almost collide, they call it a near miss. It's a near hit. A collision is a near miss."

     

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    Nob, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 10:48am

    Re: Re: New Laws...

     

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    BK, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 10:52am

    It is another just doing something look..

     

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    Nobody, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 10:54am

    Re: Re: Re: New Laws...

    ...stupid cat walking across my keyboard...

    Anyway, what I was trying to say:

    "You can't exactly pass a law that says "hey, cops, why don't you actually do your job for a change?""

    You can't blame cops for not pulling people over for unsafe driving because someone was using a cell phone.

    The simple act of using/doing something is not enough to call anything "unsafe". The person using/doing something while driving must actually show signs of being "unsafe" at that time...you know, like swerving, cutting across multiple lanes, driving on the shoulder, etc.

    If you want to ticket people for being "unsafe" while doing something specific, you have to have a specific law for that thing.

    A judge will require the police to have a reason explaining why it was unsafe or the case will be dismissed.

    Basically, they need just cause to pull you over for any general "unsafe driving" type of ticket. Which is why everyone wants to put these specific items into their own laws.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 10:54am

    Re:

    Come on, some people can drink and drive safely, nobody can talk on a cell phone and drive safely. Study after study shows that having a bluetooth headset doesn't help at all.

     

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    matt, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 10:57am

    I think a ban is a good idea

    It makes a heck of a lot more sense than seat belt laws.

    When a moron talking on the phone crashes into me, they are infrigning on my right to safe passage.

    When a moron who doesn't wear a seat belt crashes and they fly 1,000 feet through their windshield, well that's just their problem.

    I live in the Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas area, and it seems at least 75% of the people are on their cell phones. I catch more and more texting while driving. I cannot tell you how many times I had a "near miss" (ha, ha prior comment) because of some idiot on their phone.

    People need to realize that driving is by a large statistical margin the most dangerous thing that nearly all of us do in our lives. When you are behind the wheel of a vehicle weighing several thousand pounds and travelling at high rates of speed, GET OFF THE ******* PHONE.

    Bottom line is you are not that important and neither is your stupid phone call... so pay attention to the extremely dangerous thing you're doing!

    I think we should take it a step farther for truck drivers -- you get caught on the phone driving a heavy truck and you lose your license for at least 1-3 years. You are driving an 80,000 pound vehicle that is unstable, cannot make sudden adjustments to direction/speed, and has many blind spots. GET OFF THE PHONE.

     

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    BK, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 10:59am

    Re: It is another just doing something look..

    Tapped enter to soon..but it can be a revenue grabber (say $50 fine if caught) and it would give the police another reason to stopped someone for probable cause. I wonder if CB radios ever had this problem.

    @virgingwool I'm one of those idiots with a manual car so both of my hands are usually not on the wheel.

    My brother has (knock on wood) had 2 emergency landings as a pilot and he had to talk to the tower on a hand free set.
    But he is trained to do that BK?

    Exactly teach us how to drive, most people havent' had their driving skills tested to 20 years. Sad.

     

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    Stuart, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 11:02am

    Re: I don't care how they do it.

    Hmm. So facts will in no way sway your beliefs. That is so good to know at the beginning of a conversation about a topic. Now I know that conversing with you would be absolutely without purpose.

     

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    Stuart, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 11:03am

    Whew! I thought for a second there they were going to be banning "Yanking While Driving". I feel so much better now.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 11:03am

    So when are we going to ban eating in the car, tuning the radio, driving with children, talking to passengers, putting on makeup....?

    Do we ban people with only one hand from driving? They obviously represent more of a risk than someone with two hands. Might as well lump anyone over 50 in there too since their reaction times slower than someone who is 30.

    No one should be punished for not doing anything dangerous while driving. Are you a pre-cog? Can you see the future?

    Talking on the phone may be hard for some drivers. Guess what, some people can handle driving on a 5 lane highway, some people can't. Are we banning 5 lane highways because you don't feel comfortable with driving on one?

     

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    mslade, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 11:03am

    I would much much much prefer...

    ...that we take all of the funding and effort we put into anti-driving-while-doing-things-you-shouldn't-be-doing campaigning, and use it to pay traffic police extra money if that's what it actually takes to get them to enforce tailgating laws.

    Tailgating is a nationwide epidemic. Defensive driving doesn't even fix the problem because if you ease up on the vehicle in front of you, that's just an open invitation to somebody else to get in there. It would be fun to once in a while see that law enforced. Oh but who am I kidding, everyone does it so it must be okay and safe.

     

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    Daniel, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 11:04am

    Actually we have a law on phone use while in cars over here in the UK, its not so bad, in fact its a good excuse for not answering calls! You can use your phone on hands free (although strangely the reports I have seen indicate that its no safer on hands free, as your attention is still not on the road, which is what causes the accidents in the first place).

    Like many laws, there are those that flout it, cruising in their flashy company cars with the work phone glued to their ear, ask yourself - is it really necessary?

    How many times can you see the *need* to use the phone while driving? The only real one I can think of is getting directions to a location from someone (or similar variations), that chat with your wife on the way home? Letting someone know you'll be there in 5 mins (when it really makes no difference)? Are these really valid reasons?

     

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    snowburn14, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 11:04am

    No decrease in accidents...

    The link within the post you link to relating to the ban not automatically reducing the number of accidents winds up redirecting to the msnbc homepage. But unless a staggering number of other variables are properly taken into account - which someone with way too much time on their hands may have done, I can't say without reading the study - that statistic is meaningless. If there would otherwise have been an overall increase in accident rates (I'll assume the study was at least talking about proportional rates, not total numbers), then you wouldn't see any easily observable effect from the ban. But that wouldn't mean it had none.

    I myself would like to see something that allowed huge fines to be given to anyone caught texting while driving. Yes, I know some people can type on their phones without taking their eyes off the road, but you'll have a difficult time convincing me they're not doing so to read the response. And I have seen a scary number of people with both thumbs at work around their steering wheel.
    In short (too late), I'm in favor of any law that will increase the price of stupidity, particularly when it endangers the rest of us. For that matter, I'm in favor of sterilization and imprisonment of the dangerously stupid for the good of society, but I won't hold my breath on that one.
    The study that concluded no link between phone usage and crash rates is a joke (the "as big" link). Any controlled study [that I've seen] on the ability of a driver to adequately respond to situations on the road while on and off the phone shows a significant difference. And any statistical analysis relating overall phone usage and crash rates, fatal or otherwise, [usually] ignores too many other factors to be of any use (as Mike points out in the other post, at least as relates to that particular study).

     

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    Jeff (profile), Jan 13th, 2009 @ 11:04am

    It is illegal here (WA)

    It doesn't stop it.

    I think a better solution is to make the act of talking on a phone while driving a multiplier to the penalty for the reckless driving that you should be pulled over for.

    If you are able to drive safely while on the phone, so be it. However, if you are not driving safely and are talking on the phone then triple the fine. We have similar penalty multipliers for speeding in a school one or construction zone.

    The problem is the burden of proof. It adds a level of "deniability" for the offender. Conduits need to be established for record checking in a timely manner in the case of a challenge to the charge.

    Unfortunately laws of this nature, "for public safety" have to be written to the lowest common denominator, which is getting lower all the time.

     

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    Hulser, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 11:06am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: New Laws...

    If you want to ticket people for being "unsafe" while doing something specific, you have to have a specific law for that thing.

    I didn't say that I wanted to ticket people for being unsafe while doing something specific.

    Basically, they need just cause to pull you over for any general "unsafe driving" type of ticket. Which is why everyone wants to put these specific items into their own laws.

    I'm sorry, but this sentence doesn't make any sense to me. Are you sure your cat didn't type it? ;-) But seriously, the very act of unsafe driving is the just cause. If someone is swerving on the road, driving 15 miles an hour in a 40 MPH zone, or changing lanes without signaling, that is the just cause. While talking on the cell phone while driving leads to all three of these offenses, the cop doesn't need to know why you were doing them, just that you were.

    Yes, I can see why people would want to add the specific reasons for unsafe driving as a means to "force enforcement". But not because it's legally required, but instead it's probably the only means they see to the end.

     

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    Syn Ack, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 11:06am

    Trying Hard

    I really want to say I support the right to chat and drive. I'm all for freedom and rights and fully support other similar rights issues like wearing helmets for motorcycles. Though I always wear one, forcing everyone to wear one encroaches on an individual's right to choose and as it only affects the individual, they are the only ones to blame if they choose poorly. Government doesn't need to protect me from myself. My rights, however, end where another person's rights begin. Besides the one study that was linked too and criticized for inaccuracies in the same column, the majority of studies support a high correlation between crashes and cell phone activity. Since my talking on a cell phone could harm someone else I have a hard time not thinking a ban would be good.

     

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    usmcdvldg, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 11:22am

    Re: Re:

    Your dumb,

    anyone who can't operate a vehicle safety while talking on a cell phone should not be allowed to drive, as there driving skills are obviously WAY UNDER PAR!!

     

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    Anonymous Coward #42, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 11:24am

    Why don't they just ban stupidity and be done with it? I'd support that law.

     

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    Another PA driver, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 11:24am

    Re: I read about this yesterday

    They already have a ban on handheld phone use while driving, but they don't enforce that.. PLUS that ban really only applies to us mere muggles, as police are exempt form the law REGARDLESS of whether they're on the phone for official purposes or not.

    They need to make a law that all cars will drive themselves without the need for us imperfect humans... that would fix everything...

     

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    usmcdvldg, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 11:24am

    Re: I don't care how they do it.

    There's a word for you, I just can't remember it.........

    It was something along the lines of...........

    Someone who holds a belief even though they have no logical reason to do so...............


    Now what was it called?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 11:26am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Um, not necessarily. I consider myself a pretty safe driver (I know, don't we all?), but when I'm on the phone, even using hands-free, I find myself getting very distracted from my driving. It really has nothing at all to do with your driving skill level, but rather how well you can multitask. I find it very difficult to concentrate on more than one thing at a time, so it's a bad idea for me to be talking and driving at the same time, unless there's not much traffic around or something.

     

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    usmcdvldg, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 11:28am

    Re: I think a ban is a good idea

    How many accidents have you had??

    I've had none, I've avoided quite a few?

    What ever happened to personnel responsibility????

    I know there are many people who can't drive with one hand just as there are many people who can't ride a bike with one hand.

    How about people take responsibility for there actions and abilities and we stop legislating the lowest common denominator.

     

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    usmcdvldg, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 11:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    As I acknowledge further down, This is a large exaggeration on my part. Although I do not quite comprehend how someone can talk in a car but not talk on a phone in a car. My point is(or rather should have been) that that's great. You know your limits and operate within them. Guess what, I don't find it difficult at all. Why should I be legally harassed because others to concentrate on more than one thing at a time.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 11:32am

    Re: I don't care how they do it.

    lul what about manuals

     

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    KA, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 11:42am

    Re: I think a ban is a good idea

    Let me guess you can walk and chew gum either....... I have been using a cell phone and a car at the same time for many years now. I have never cause an accident but I have been hit by a person using a phone. In my line of work I dont have time nor do my clients to stop everytime I need to call someone. I do agree that handsfree is the way to go but the one thing people can't seem to get is you can put the phone down if needed during a call. As for the "GET OFF THE ******* PHONE" welcome to the future grandpa and no I wont get off your lawn.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 12:02pm

    Re: Re:

    then lets ban other people from being able to talk to the driver, oh and lets take away the radio from them, some drivers like to sing along with songs.

    oh wait we also need to ban CD, tape, and 8-track players from the driver too.

    then, so the driver doesn't get bored and inattentive lets jab needles into random areas of his butt and back ad random intervals so that are always fully alert.

    then we also need to develop special windows that only allow other cars, roadsigns, pedestrians, animals, and the road be seen so that they are distracted by any scenery they might normally see out the window.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 12:05pm

    Re: I read about this yesterday

    "It's called reckless driving. If the cops around here would actually enforce that one we wouldn't need a damn anti-cellphone bill (or speed traps to get extra money)."

    Yet, as soon as they do, people cry out that their ticket was undeserved and traffic laws are just revenue generators. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

     

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    hegemon13, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 12:13pm

    Re: It is illegal here (WA)

    The multiplier makes no sense in this case. Either you are driving recklessly, or you're not. If so, then what does it matter what the cause is? The penalty is already present, which is the established penalty for reckless driving. The multiplier for school zones and construction zones is because the chance of severe injury due to an accident is much higher in those areas.

     

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    Greg, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 12:22pm

    Then what?

    What will they do once we have phones implanted in our heads?

    The current law is fine, if you're reckless you get a ticket. I use the phone a lot while driving and have never had an issue with it being a problem.

    It honestly comes down to the person driving. Some people are more comfortable doing things while driving than others. Same goes for racing or any other auto sport. Some people can do it, and others can't.

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 12:32pm

    Re: Trying Hard

    But where douse it stop? Eating while driving is dangerous. Singing to the radio is also, hell listening to the radio distracts the driver. Kids in the back, passengers, pets, pedestrians, animals, bad roads, billboards, high beams, other drivers, a bad day, not knowing your way... I could go on forever. Sometimes we just need to start taking responsibility for our own actions.

    I personally can't drive on a 6 lane highway. I don't ask for a ban of 6 lanes, I just don't go into DC anymore.

     

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    Jim, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 1:10pm

    Re: I think a ban is a good idea

    You sure pay a lot of attention to what other people are doing in their cars. Maybe you should increase your distance and keep your eyes focused on what's in front of you. You may have fewer close calls if you pay attention to what you are doing.

    I talk on the phone all the time while I'm driving, but I have the wherewithal to hang up if there is a traffic or if conditions are bad.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 1:28pm

    Everyone now "agrees" that drunk driving is a bad idea. That only came about because of publicity campaigns and law enforcement.

    So, you've missed a point of what the legislation will do. Right now, it's still socially acceptable to talk on a cell phone while driving. The studies and the fear of law have not yet made their way into public consciousness.

    We need not enact a law against juggling baby geese while driving because nobody seems tempted to do it. Drive/yak, however, is highly prevalent. It makes sense to legislate against major modes of danger, if you're into that whole prevention thing.

    Following your own argument, we should simply ignore drunk driving -- it's just another form of reckless driving, after all. So, if you want to be consistent about your position, you should agitate for the removal of drunk driving laws.

    Personally, I would remove said laws, then, if you were in any accident and had been found to be drinking or talking on a cell phone (check cell logs), then you automatically assume responsibility for the accident and gets various reckless endangerment charges added.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 1:30pm

    Apparently the mere act of talking can divert a driver's attention away from the task at hand...driving. Frankly, I am surprised this group makes no mention of its desire to ban passengers and drivers talking.

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 1:30pm

    Re: Evidence?

    I've seen those tests. They do the test by asking the driver complex questions that involve directed intense thinking outside of their normal range of thinking. Ex: If Jill is taller than Fred and Fred is shorter than Frank, is Frank taller than Jill? Probably not something that is going to come up in every day conversation. They are also not allowed to stop talking at any point while they are driving a complex and unfamiliar track. Plus they never do the test with someone asking those same questions while sitting besides them in the car and not on the phone.

     

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    mike, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 1:41pm

    stupid

    the government makes to many rules. they should up the fines / jailtime for getting in to accident to deter stupid people from making stupid mistakes. . . that can cover speeding, drunk driving, talking on the phone, and whatever else. that way smart people can live their lives freely. i think its sweden that will send you to jail for a really long time if you drink and drive. . . . and guess what. . . . they have almost zero drunk driving accidents. don't tell me how to live my life.

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 1:41pm

    Re:

    Drinking and driving has been banned not because some people can't do it but because it's a mind altering drug. There are people who won't even think about drinking and driving but put a few in them, they are the first ones to yell when you won't give them their keys (I know people like this).

    With a cell phone your mind is not altered, you are of sound mind and if you get into a wreck because you can't drive and talk than it is your fault. Same with walking and chewing gum.

    I kinda half agree with you, though, on taking that law away. There isn't any direct law about driving under prescription drugs. The same affect can happen. The same affect can happen with NyQuil but there is no law forbidding it.

     

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    Lonnie E. Holder, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 1:50pm

    Re: Re: Evidence?

    Last week I was driving home and came upon a driver who was doing 10 mph below the speed limit. The speed limit went to 45, and the driver sped up from 30 to 35 mph. Cars piled up behind us on the two lane road. The car in front of her was a half mile down the road or more, and pulling away.

    I finally came to my turn, which had a red light. Good news for people at the light: there was no traffic in sight. However, after I came to a complete stop at the red light and before turning, I looked to my left at the driver of the slow car. She was yakking on a cell phone intently. I only wish a police car had been around. Driving 10 mph or more below the speed limit is illegal in my state.

    Unfortunately, I see this same thing virtually every day. People yakking on the cell phone do not signal lane changes or turns. They wander around their lane. The drive too fast or too slow. They run red lights or forget to go when the light turns green. Yes, these people are no more dangerous than those shaving in rush hour or putting on make-up, but it is more pervasive than those activities.

     

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  47.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 2:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Evidence?

    That's what I'm talking about. There is already a law there (and here) about driving 10 below the speed limit and blocking traffic. The cause doesn't matter only the fact that they did. The cause could have easily had been an 80 year old person.

    I saw the same kind of thing. A car in front of me driving 25 in a 35. It then ran the red light and almost caused a wreck. Turns out the person driving was just old. She wasn't talking on the phone and both her hands were on the wheel. I also wish there was a cop around for that.

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 2:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Evidence?

    that is anecdotal evidence. you don't pay attention to how many good drivers you see who use a cellphone (and wouldn't notice a hands-free one). you also don't mention any times you see someone taking their eyes off the road to talk to the passengers, or are focused on finding the radio station, or the list goes on.

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 2:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Evidence?

    I agree, outlaw and fine the dangerous behavior not something that is believed to cause the dangerous behavior.

    the more I think about it, the more I am fine with making driving drunk legal. if you were driving wrecklessly (for any reason) and the officer doesn't believe you'll be able to drive safely once he has pulled you over and fined you (say because you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol) then he makes a judgment call to take to you the station or home or whatever.

     

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  50.  
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    Xiera, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 2:30pm

    Hmm... I can't remember the last time I drove with two hands on the wheel. Never been in an accident (actually, a deer hit me once -- that was interesting, but I wasn't on my phone at the time) and talk on my phone frequently while driving. Am I an exception to the rule? Maybe, but why should I be punished because others can't walk and chew gum at the same time? Get my point?

    Ah well, guess I'll just have to move on to doing other things while driving. Maybe I'll try playing violent video games or downloading music for free while driving...

     

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  51.  
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    Xiera, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 2:47pm

    Re: Trying Hard

    "I really want to say I support the right to chat and drive. I'm all for freedom and rights and fully support other similar rights issues like wearing helmets for motorcycles. Though I always wear one, forcing everyone to wear one encroaches on an individual's right to choose and as it only affects the individual, they are the only ones to blame if they choose poorly. Government doesn't need to protect me from myself. My rights, however, end where another person's rights begin. Besides the one study that was linked too and criticized for inaccuracies in the same column, the majority of studies support a high correlation between crashes and cell phone activity. Since my talking on a cell phone could harm someone else I have a hard time not thinking a ban would be good."

    Though I agree with most of what you said, the problem is that there is not a direct correlation between cell phone use while driving and accidents. There IS a direct correlation between not paying attention to your surroundings while driving and accidents. So why punish those who are able to use a cell phone and still pay attention while driving?

    To be honest, I don't have a solution here. I agree that one's rights end where another's begin, but suggesting that everyone is equal in this is simply untrue. And that's before even considering that there are countless other distractions available to drivers.

     

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  52.  
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    nasch, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 3:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: New Laws...

    I think the problem he's pointing out is that the first unsafe thing that shows up could be swerving into oncoming traffic and killing someone (an extreme example I know). After that happens is not the best time to issue a ticket. If talking on cell phones is allowed, the police have to wait for unsafe behavior to act, at which time it could be too late. Ban cell phones, and they can act *before* the unsafe action.

    I don't know if a cell phone ban should be enacted, it depends on the data. Would it work? Are cell phones really dangerous (seems to me they are)? How much? Would just the ban be effective, or would additional enforcement resources be necessary? Depending on the answers to those questions (which I don't know), it could make perfect sense to ban talking on cell phones while driving.

     

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  53.  
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    nasch, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 3:26pm

    Re: Re: I read about this yesterday

    I know it's a joke, but I have to be pedantic anyway. It is not "nearly a miss", but "a near miss": a miss that was near. A miss that was near to a hit, or a miss where the two objects were near each other. Either meaning works. A near hit would be some type of hit (since near modifies hit). One where the objects just barely collided I suppose.

    /pedantry

     

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  54.  
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    nasch, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 4:28pm

    Re: I think a ban is a good idea

    When a moron who doesn't wear a seat belt crashes and they fly 1,000 feet through their windshield, well that's just their problem.

    Actually that's not (necessarily) true. If they're 1000 feet away from their car, they'll have a hard time keeping their hands on the wheel. Whereas if they're belted in, they may have a chance to maintain some control over the car after the primary impact and avoid more trouble (your car for example) afterward. Probably this is a minority case, but it does happen.

    Everyone else in the car should be belted for the same reason: it's harder to drive when your passengers are colliding with you.

     

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  55.  
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    nasch, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 4:33pm

    Re:

    Apparently? According to whom, you?

     

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  56.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 6:31pm

    Ban Driving

    Driving is dangerous, therefore it should be banned.

     

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  57.  
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    Dave Lane, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 11:07pm

    Re: I think a ban is a good idea

    Matt, you're oh so right. I live in Christchurch, NZ, and we're having the same debate about cellphone use - I agree that it needs to be made *explicitly* illegal, for the reason a previous poster pointed out - you can't charge someone for "reckless driving" unless they do something illegal. But cellphone talkers/txters are an accident waiting to happen. As a cycle commuter, I have close calls daily. It's diabolical.

     

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  58.  
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    porkster, Jan 14th, 2009 @ 12:35am

    Nothing wrong with singling out cellphones...

    In all the comments about singling out cellphones not one person has moaned about TVs.

    For many years a driver of a car has not been allowed to view a TV while driving, so yes you can single out a specific device in law.

    And before you point out that phones are more prolific, I ask you this, at what number would prolific over ride safety? If every car had a TV, would it then be legal to watch TV while driving?

     

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  59.  
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    MrGutts, Jan 14th, 2009 @ 5:16am

    Data not being tracked

    We also have a problem in the US that not all the traffic stops or acidents are being tracked on what really caused it. Most police officers are over worked and way freaking under paid, so when they are pulling someone over for running a stop sign/light they just write a ticket up for just that, the fastest way possible really. They don't write the ticket up for he or she ran the stop sign because they were on the Cell phone.

    We had few cases I know of in GA were people got hit and killed because someone was on a cell phone and the reason no one was really prosecuted fully was because there was no LAW saying that you can't use you cell phone and drive. So it was just unintentional that they hit someone. It's a completely different case if their was a LAW saying you can not use a cell phone and drive..


    and to go back, not all this data is being tracked by the front line of defense ( our officers ).

     

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  60.  
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    William, Jan 14th, 2009 @ 5:22am

    Re: I think a ban is a good idea

    IF a ban of yak'n on the phone is passed, while you are calling 911 to report an idiot ... you get pulled over. Use of a Children's Band (CB) Radio would get you pulled over. Then you have those out of the way rural towns trying to make a justification for having a police department pull you over for not only speeding in a 25 (no sign posted, everyone knows it is 25 through here) but you get an extra bill for having a cell phone, CB, and DVD Player in the car/van/18 Wheeler. That there Headset you have connected to a DVD player is connected to a Cell phone, I know a cell phone when I see a cell phone, boy ... here's a ticket.
    I love bans on things. Why stop at forcing people to wear seat belts becuase it "MIGHT" save their life. Let us ban Smoking, Using a Cell Phone which includes using anything else in the car would could be construed as a cell phone. Let us ban kids running around on Bicycles because someone driving a car might hit them. Let us ban talking bad about Politicians because that is slander upon a politician. Lets ban driving over 55 cause it will save gas.
    Nope. Banning stuff is about as useful as giving people 800 billion who can't manage their money any better than their checkbook. The Brilliance just astounds me. A Better give-a-way would have been to give 1 Million to all the tax paying citizens, 137 billion vs 800 billion. Banks would benefited faster, Economy would have got a kick in the pants, loans would have been paid off, and the Rich would have made out just as much as if they had been paid 9 trillion.
    Back to banning Cell Phone use, Ban CBs, Children's Band Radios first, they've been around longer, are far more dangerous, and make about as much sense as putting pads on a Child to ride a bike after banning bicycles use cause drivers might run over Children riding bicycles.
    Sorry, I could go on for hours about how Intelligent our Honorable Representatives are in the Different Congresses. Obviously, products of a public education system their previous Honorable Representatives created.

     

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  61.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2009 @ 5:25am

    Re: What next?

    Umm, there's already a law requiring you to tie up your children in the back.

     

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  62.  
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    William, Jan 14th, 2009 @ 5:27am

    Re: banning yanking

    Don't give the Politicians Ideas. They're full of it, as it is.

     

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  63.  
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    gene_cavanaugh, Jan 14th, 2009 @ 9:15am

    Yakking while driving

    1. Why does it have to be a digital function? Why "peg" on one solution to the exclusion of the other?
    2. Massive enforcement of difficult-to-enforce laws equals massive costs. IFF (if and only if) the people proposing a ban on talking on a mobile while driving that indicate that the costs of ensuring more safety on the road can be somewhat reduced, why not give it a shot?
    3. But Michael is right to the extent that merely blindly passing "agin" laws, with no data to support them (which, unfortunately, happens all too often) is wrong!

     

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  64.  
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    twowords, Jan 14th, 2009 @ 5:38pm

    Re: I think a ban is a good idea

    I am a truck driver and I can tell you that all people need to stop talking and driving.If you want to pass a law make it fit everything for the driver that causes distractions.I have seen drivers doing the following things at 60+ mph. reading magazines/books, doing crosswords/soduko, working on a computer, putting on makeup/tweezing/plucking, watching movies, playing games, and at times trying do more than just one of these things and talking on the phone. I have seen people using their knees/elbows/feet to drive. I see police officers running their mouth as they drive.They need to set the example if they are to enforce it.As for truck drivers they already have it bad, most of the companies that we drive for already tell not to be on the phone unless we are trying to get directions. If we have any type of accident they have the right to pull our cell phone records to see if we were on the phone.I think that if you are involved in an accident your cell phone records need to be pulled. I have had to avoid so many cell phone users because they all of a sudden realize they are going to miss the exit and pull in front of me.My truck does not stop as quickly as a car. If I hit them after this I am the one who gets a ticket and loses my job because I am called a professional. All distractions for a driver need to stop. You are driving a automobile and that is not the place to be trying your hand at some multi tasking. It is not a mobile office or anything else.

     

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  65.  
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    Peter Blaise Monahon (profile), Jan 15th, 2009 @ 3:31am

    In-car phone use will NEVER rise to be on the cop's RADAR! $$$

    .

    In-car phone use will NEVER rise to be on the cop's RADAR! $$$

    On the one hand, I remember the first advertisements for car radios, which were intended to use the car battery, but only while the car was stationary, so, for instance, you could listen to the ball game while having a picnic beside your parked car.

    Now we think of radios as normal in cars, even safety enhancements, especially with news and traffic reports helping us avoid traffic jams.

    Car phones were fist touted as safe because you could call in accidents and call for help. At first, there were scant few car phones, so people weren't generally chatting on them all the freakin' time!

    Then global positioning, where at first people actually got where they were going without stopping in the lane wondering if they should turn off or not, but now people turn right into a culvert or river without looking because their GPS told them to!

    Anyway, I pass in frustration and then look back in wonder at every driver wandering the road as if in a world unto themselves, and invariably they are on the phone, completely unaware of their presence in the way of the flow of traffic, one of them even cutting off an ambulance yesterday.

    Here's my logic. When driving, you can pay attention to only one of three things at a time, at the expense of the others:

    1 - what's going on outside the car, in the car's environment -- traffic -- this is pretty much the safest and most aware way to drive.

    2 - what's going on inside the car, the car's interior -- the speedometer, the screaming kids, a bumble bee -- this is starting to get dangerous, but on occasion it supports our safe participation in zone 1 above, especially if we check our speed when we see a speed limit sign now and then. However, since day one with cars, too much time ignoring zone 1 in preference for zone 2 has always killed -- fumbling for a cigarette, spilled coffee, unfolding a map while cruising, and so on.

    3 - what's going on elsewhere -- in our head, over the radio, over the phone -- this is where we become an impediment to the flow of traffic

    Explore this as you drive and see if you can find a pattern of safety. I think safety goes down and risk goes up as we pay attention down the list, that is, we're less safe when we pay attention to our car's interior, such as watching the speedometer, and even less safe when we pay attention to a universe totally disconnected from the flow of traffic, such as chatting with someone back home or back at the office.

    We supposedly have hand-free laws, but, like seatbelt laws, they don't show up on a radar gun in the cop's hand as they hide by the roadside, so it's highly unlikely the police will ever participate in enforcing this as a safety issue.

    Our challenge is to find a way to enforce safety, not just make more laws. People are addicted to their phones and their phone relationships with people not sharing their immediate space. Fine. What can we do about it -- other than blast the horn or get a PA public address system and scream at them as we pass?

    I', serious! What can we do that will be effective?

    .

     

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  66.  
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    Peter Blaise Monahon (profile), Jan 15th, 2009 @ 5:36am

    Private versus public:

    .

    Ahhh, I know what the problem is:

    Private versus public.

    When we're chatting on the phone, we're having a private experience, separate from the public experience around us.

    This is especially dangerous when the public venue in which we are having a private experience is the high speed, highly dangerous highway, full of traffic, full of other people.

    That is why I walk to another room when I'm on the phone at home. There's no way I can reconcile the private chat with the "public" in the rest of my house -- perhaps speaker phone?

    But at least my home is not rolling along the crowded highway supposedly under my concerted control with supposedly undivided attention.

    It's ridiculous to hear someone in the room at home who only hears my side of the conversation and tries to control the, to them, invisible dialog. And then the person on the other end gets confused, "Are you talking to me?"

    Hilarious.

    Ludicrous.

    On the highway, dangerous.

    But, as mentioned, there's no real avenue of enforcement.

    The police only act on radar because it's easy, profitable, and well documented for court -- an all around"no brainer".

    It's unreasonable to ask the "no brainer" police to actually asses safe driving, or conversely, unsafe driving, let alone ask them to document and present a bona fide prima facia case in court based on such an observation, let alone make additional revenues for their community with such arrests.

    Air horns and screaming public address systems blaring from passing cars at the poky people chatting on their cell phones seems the only way.

    .

     

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  67.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 6:59am

    Re: Re: I think a ban is a good idea

    so I assume that you, as a truck driver, are not allowed to use a CB radio either? truckers have been using them for years.

     

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  68.  
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    AnonCow, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 12:13pm

    Get rid of radios and GPS too. They both cause accidents. And ban drive-thru windows. Eating while driving causes accidents. And no passengers, specially children and bitchy wives. Conversations with passengers distract drivers. And make drivers wrap themselves in bubble wrap to protect themselves in case they do get in an accident.

    Makes perfect sense to me.

     

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  69.  
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    AnonCow, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 12:18pm

    Why not save 40,000+ lives annually by banning cars?

     

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  70.  
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    Ro, Jan 17th, 2009 @ 2:59am

    Re: Re:

    If people can't talk on a hands free phone whilst driving then it follows that people can't talk at all while driving. If people can't talk at all while driving then how can they have driving lessons as this involves driving while taking instruction and asking questions. Trying to stop talking in a car is a disproportionate measure and makes no sense whatsoever.

     

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  71.  
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    Ro, Jan 17th, 2009 @ 3:30am

    Re: Re: I think a ban is a good idea

    It seems to me that if people want to make ridiculous bans then the best ridiculous ban they can make is to ban privately owned cars all together. Think how much better it would be for the environment, how much cleaner, safer and more peaceful the streets would be. then it would be unnecessary to ban cell phones, CBs, music, smoking, children and any other things that might distract from driving.

     

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  72.  
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    Ro, Jan 17th, 2009 @ 3:48am

    Re:

    The reason drunk driving is not socially acceptable is because common sense tells you that it is dangerous. The reason that talking in a car is still socially acceptable is because common sense tells us that in the majority of cases it is not dangerous. The only ones that are dangerous whilst talking are the idiots that would find a way to be dangerous whatever they were doing in a car. It is impossible to legislate against all danger because the legislation would see us all under a permanent curfew, never allowed to leave our house in case something happens to us. But then seeing as most accidents happen in the home perhaps we would be banned from staying in the house in case something happened to us. Of course people would have different views on what is dangerous so perhaps in one state you will be banned from staying in your home and in the neighbouring state you will be banned from leaving the home. Or perhaps you could ban leaving the house on every other day to split the difference. The idea of making talking in a car illegal is no less ridiculous.

     

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  73.  
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    Ro, Jan 17th, 2009 @ 4:04am

    I seem to recall that on long journeys people take along a passenger to talk to them because it is safer than the risk of falling asleep or losing focus on the highway. So surely talking is a safety feature for a car driver. Oh I forgot all the studies are done by insisting that the drivers talk at length on complicated subjects whilst driving highly technical courses. Much more realistic than everyday life.

    It is obviously impossible for someone to say 'I am trying to negotiate a particularly tricky road in heavy traffic at the moment I really can't concentrate and talk at the same time'. So therefore it must be safer when you have 20 miles of empty road in a straight line ahead of you on a quiet night to just space out in silence staring ahead of you in a trance. I am so glad that we have such clever people doing absurdly unrealistic studies, no doubt at the expense of the taxpayer just so that they don't have to do something useful for a living.

     

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