Transportation Secretary Expects To Use Technology To Block All Mobile Phone Usage In Cars [Updated]

from the unintended-consequences... dept

We've noted in the past that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has long been an advocate of wider bans on various technologies in cars. Just last month he said he hoped to have a complete ban on talking to any kind of device in your car, including mobile phones, telematics systems like OnStar, and GPS systems. His latest argument (as sent in by quite a few of you) is to suggest that perhaps the US government will mandate technology that blocks a mobile phone from working while the car is moving. We've talked about this technology before (though I'm having trouble finding earlier posts on it). It would simply recognize if the phone is moving at a certain rate of speed and then block the phone from being used. LaHood seems to like the idea:
"There's a lot of technology out there now that can disable phones and we're looking at that," said LaHood on MSNBC.... "I think it will be done," said LaHood. "I think the technology is there and I think you're going to see the technology become adaptable in automobiles to disable these cell phones. We need to do a lot more if were going to save lives."
Of course, it's unclear why passengers shouldn't be able to use mobile phones while in a car (or bus or train) as well. There are also different ways that this can work, whether with scramblers or with software installed on the phone but, in either case, you could see it banning phone calls in perfectly safe situations (on a train or a bus?). Once again, this seems like overkill. Furthermore, it will almost certainly have unintended consequences. We've already pointed to some recent research that showed that driving-while-texting bans increased accidents, as drivers kept on texting, but hid their phones lower, taking their eyes even further off the road.

No one denies that distracted driving is quite dangerous. But we shouldn't be rushing into simply banning stuff or mandating blocks without thinking through the actual implications of that.

Update: LaHood is now claiming that his remarks were misrepresented. However, it's not clear that's the case. He restates the first part of what he said on MSNBC and doesn't say anything about the second part -- when he was pushed on whether or not the tech would become mandated, and he said "I think it will be done." In his response, he seems to ignore that part of what he said...


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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 12:22pm

    Transprotation Secretary Expects To Use Technology To Block All Mobile Phone Usage In Cars

    I think you mean Transportation.

    Feel free to delete this when you correct it.

     

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    Simon, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 12:25pm

    Long overdue

    To be honest, this is long overdue. Why only this morning some idiot on a cellphone almost made me drop my coffee and cigarette when I had to swerve to avoid him.

     

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      PRMan, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 1:07pm

      Re: Long overdue

      "almost made me drop my coffee and cigarette when I had to swerve to avoid him."

      Whew. You almost spilled your coffee on your map. That would have made you cut yourself shaving...

       

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    NSILMike (profile), Nov 18th, 2010 @ 12:28pm

    the flaw in a velocity sensing mechanism is it cannot tell the difference between being in a car vs. something else like a train, nor can it tell if you are the driver or a passenger.

     

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      Steven (profile), Nov 18th, 2010 @ 1:07pm

      Re:

      You couldn't even reliably test velocity. If I turn on my phone while driving it has no idea I'm traveling at 60mph. Might figure it out eventually from the GPS. Does that mean if I turn my phone on in my car and then stop it will think I'm traveling and won't work?

       

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      Blatant Coward (profile), Nov 18th, 2010 @ 2:31pm

      Re:

      Even GPS technology is not a reliable judge, signal bounce between two or more large buildings can cause GPS's to show a moving speed of hundreds of miles per hour at times even sitting still.

       

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      Derek Kerton (profile), Nov 19th, 2010 @ 9:47am

      Re:

      Actually, some technologies actually CAN tell the difference between a passenger and a driver. And certainly can tell the difference between buses, trains, and cars.

      If you write good algorithms that can work in the network servers to differentiate the motion of a car from the motion of a train or bus, that can solve that problem. The passenger/driver problem is more difficult.

      This can be achieved through manual over-ride. Yep, simply clicking a button that says either "I am 12 and don't drive", or " I don't have a license and don't drive" or "I am not driving right now". Now, I know that may sound like a pain, but it works.

      And don't forget, I'm not LaHood. I don't think this should be forced on the general public as a law. However, I do think that employers with fleets or parents should be able to push a rule like this out to their organizations.

      I'm also a little disappointed that the Techdirt comment crowd hasn't been able to "independently invent" these simple workarounds that can make such technology much more tolerable.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2010 @ 2:51pm

        Re: Re:

        Yep, simply clicking a button that says either "I am 12 and don't drive", or " I don't have a license and don't drive" or "I am not driving right now". Now, I know that may sound like a pain, but it works.

        How do you keep someone who *is* driving from clicking the "I am not driving right now" button?

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 2:55pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          How do you keep someone who *is* driving from clicking the "I am not driving right now" button?


          No answer? Of course not, considering how idiotic the suggestion was.

           

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          Derek Kerton (profile), Dec 7th, 2010 @ 10:26am

          Re: Re: Re:

          You don't. They also can click it.

          But the result of triggering this over-ride is that either a message (SMS, e-mail) or a report (weekly, monthly) is sent to the employer or parent paying the bill.

          Thus done, the decision to over-ride is not taken lightly. People will use it when truly appropriate, and when they can provide a good reason/excuse to the employer or parent.

           

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    TheStupidOne, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 12:29pm

    Method

    They would almost certainly have to make it a software 'feature' that blocks voice signals while moving. However that would require every phone to have location sensing technology that has a reasonable measurement of speed. It would also undoubtedly be illegal to tamper with that software, further reducing the amount that you 'own' whatever you buy.

    Of course there will be a very active (and I'd guess large) group that will go and remove the software or any other technological block because they'd recognize that it is a ridiculous block.

     

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      NSILMike (profile), Nov 18th, 2010 @ 12:43pm

      Re: Method

      that would be a cell phone jammer, which would be illegal, and still would be unable to distinguish between driver and passengers.

       

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      Derek Kerton (profile), Nov 19th, 2010 @ 9:32am

      Re: Method

      Since 2005, and the FCC E911 Mandate, telcos have been required to know your phone's location to a fairly accurate level. With that, they can get a decent estimate of speed. This is done using network tools such as tri-lateration based on signal timing. GPS is useful, but not required.

       

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    Bill Silverstein (profile), Nov 18th, 2010 @ 12:30pm

    Yes, we should ban dangerous things while driving

    We should ban passengers in cars because passengers can distract drivers. We should ban putting items on the car seat because if you stop sharply, the items can move and that would distract the driver. We should ban car horns because someone blowing a horn can distract other drivers. We should ban sirens on emergency vehicles because the sirens would distract drivers from the road in front of them. We should ban dihydrogenmonoxide because it can distract drivers when it spills inside the car, when it gets splashed on cars, etc. (I'm ignoring that it is a major component of acid raid and that it is found in a high percentage of cancer cells.)

     

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    Free Capitalist (profile), Nov 18th, 2010 @ 12:30pm

    Hallelujah!

    Please pass this now, and make sure a locked phone gives any caller the message "the person you are trying to reach is forbidden by law to discuss your paltry concerns". I know a lot of on-call professionals who will spend their entire evening driving around just to get some sleep. Now if I can just teach my dog to toss the damned phone around fast enough, I can have a peaceful dinner...

     

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      Killer_Tofu (profile), Nov 18th, 2010 @ 12:54pm

      Re: Hallelujah!

      I know a lot of on-call professionals who will spend their entire evening driving around just to get some sleep.

      There is something rather funny about this sentence. Perhaps they should get somebody else to drive them around. Or there is the alternative of just turning off the device meant to contact them. =)

       

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        Free Capitalist (profile), Nov 18th, 2010 @ 12:59pm

        Re: Re: Hallelujah!

        I was hoping for 'evoking images of Homer Simpson' kind of funny.. but well... hehe

        If I turned off the device they would know I'm trying to prevent them from reaching me... which is bad, cause we have to "care". I'm hoping for an alibi in Uncle Sam....

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 12:57pm

      Re: Hallelujah!

      Can't Google Voice and YouMail do this now?

       

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    DogBreath, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 12:34pm

    Another politician overstepping his authority

    Why am I not surprised. It's nipped in the bud by a pesky FCC rule... for now.

    After raising the idea, Department of Transportation says it’s not interested in cell phone jamming technology in cars

    In early 2009, the Washington D.C. Department of Corrections petitioned the FCC to experiment with phone jamming technology. Prison officials had contended that they need the technology to prevent inmates from using contraband cell phones to plan breakouts. After first permitting the jamming technology, the FCC backed away. Later that year, legislation introduced by Texas Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison to allow phone jamming in prisons was referred to a subcommittee.

    The FCC stepped back because while it recognized the issues prison officials faced, tech blog Ars Technica noted that “rules are rules, and Section 333 of the Communications Act specifically forbids any ‘willful or malicious interference’ with licensed radio signal.”

     

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      Free Capitalist (profile), Nov 18th, 2010 @ 12:37pm

      Re: Another politician overstepping his authority

      Actually I think cell phone jamming has to do with emitting inverse radio signals in the car, as opposed to putting a motion sensor locking mechanism in the phone itself. Same as a radar jammer and similar to noise cancellation.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 12:40pm

        Re: Re: Another politician overstepping his authority

        Which means it would be "'willful or malicious interference' with licensed radio signal"

        Jamming a signal is still interference.

         

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          Free Capitalist (profile), Nov 18th, 2010 @ 1:02pm

          Re: Re: Re: Another politician overstepping his authority

          I think you meant "locking a phone is still interference"... and in my idealistic mind that makes sense. I'm doubting idealism has anything to do with FCC regulations, though.

           

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        DogBreath, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 1:24pm

        Re: Re: Another politician overstepping his authority

        The motion sensing approach would might be able to get around the ‘willful or malicious interference’ with licensed radio signal.” part of this proposed fix since it would not interfere directly with the radio signal by jamming it, only disable the phone calling feature. Like "Airplane Mode" on an iPhone, only you would not be in control of the switch.

        To make it work the government would have to make sure every current cell phone has the capability to be GPS tracked in real-time which can be done (roughly) by many if not all cell phones in use today whether or not they have a GPS feature on it (E911).

         

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        sntatchmo, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 1:48pm

        Re: Re: Another politician overstepping his authority

        Oh, and I'm going to run out and buy the car with that technology installed! The auto industry is sure to join the wireless telcos and the handset vendors to squelch this legislation.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 12:41pm

    A good example of intellegence: Ray LaHood edition

    I know exactly what Ray LaHood means. I have a GPS app on my phone that changes screens when you are above X miles-per hour. It assumes that because you're going fast your on either highways or interstates. It does this so

    Not to be a killjoy, but how the hell would this technology know if you're a passenger or in the driver's seat, because it seems Ray LaHood's is going to assume your always driving if you're moving..?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 12:43pm

    A good example of intellegence: Ray LaHood edition

    I know exactly what Ray LaHood means. I have a GPS app on my phone that changes screens when you are above X miles-per hour. It assumes that because you're going fast your on either highways or interstates. It does this automatically so it doesn't re-fresh the screen as often, saving battery life.

    So maybe Ray LaHood saw the same thing and you know, not to be a killjoy, but how the hell would this technology know if you're a passenger or in the driver's seat, because it seems Ray LaHood's is going to assume your always driving if you're moving..? What fancy gadgets will have to be installed either by the customer or network operator and which defense contractor (now that we're unwinding the wars) will be in charge of it's implementation?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 12:44pm

    Once this is in place....

    .... they can pass a law outlawing sneezing while driving (have you ever tried to concentrate on the road while sneezing?). Anyone caught driving with a cold will be fined and have their car confiscated.

     

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    Josh Taylor, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 12:56pm

    What if they use that technology to block all phone usage in houses, shops, and malls, not just cell phones? You'll never know they'll do that prevent you from calling your friends and family with your own home phone, even in a national emergency and martial law.

    Wife: Honey, the phone is dead. I can't call my mom.

    Dad: Our phone is not dead, it's been blocked by the government.

    They will block you from calling to implement the NWO. Get your bible and your family, leave your house and head to the wilderness.

     

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    Porkster, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 12:57pm

    Better yet !

    As you say, this would limit passengers in buses and trains using cellphones.

    I suggest passing a law that all cell phones must have a cord and be tethered to a walk in box (on the side of the road or in a bus or train etc) this way only passengers can use them.

    Pedestrians will not be distracted walking across the road while texting and loud people won't be herd inside the "Cell phone-box".

    Brilliant!

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 1:31pm

      Re: Better yet !

      Brilliant, but you must make the box similar to the old style telephone boxes. What if a hot woman, wearing a short skirt is talking on the cell phone? She could distract drivers in the cars.

      Hold on, we should require all women to wear birkas since they can distract drivers when they are walking on the street. Actually, we should require all men to wear birkas since they can distract drivers when they are walking on the street too.

       

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      DogBreath, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 2:04pm

      Re: Better yet !

      That's fine and dandy, but someone has already invented a portable "Cell phone-box". Even with a corded cellphone law, I bet it wouldn't be hard to add a wireless add-on to the box alone, thereby skirting the intention the law.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 12:58pm

    50 years of radio are also responsible for deaths too.

    The best thing that Ray LaHood can do is outlaw car radios.

    They kill people too.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 1:07pm

      Re: 50 years of radio are also responsible for deaths too.

      Funny, when I took my driving test, the examiner pointed out that a radio is actually a safety device (helps keep you awake on long highway drives).

       

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    Rick, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 1:09pm

    Couldnt work

    I see alot more accidents with all the cars pulling over all the time to make or receive calls. They will have to make specific cell phone lots along the highways.

     

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    sehlat (profile), Nov 18th, 2010 @ 1:09pm

    And if you have an emergency to report and *can't* stop?

    You're fleeing a fire, and it's advancing rapidly. You want to report the fire and its location, but can't. There have been cases in recent history where five minutes delay in reporting a fire cost both lives and massive property destruction.

    You're wife has just had a stroke and you're calling the emergency room, since even a few seconds delay in treatment can make all the difference.

    You witness a carjacking and the 'jackers come after you.

    All of the above are plausible scenarios where the ban is very likely to get someone or someones dead.

     

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    wallow-T, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 1:10pm

    It's like the Secretary of Transportation is trying to reinforce the most negative stereotypes of liberals... Dude, you do realize your boss has to win an election, right?

    *sigh*

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 1:27pm

      Re:

      Without starting a flame-war here, I was thinking how far from "liberal" this sounded, and I wondered where all this blatant conservative "save the CHILDREN!" fear-mongering was coming from with anyone in this administration.

      We all see things from our own perspectives, I guess.

      I patently reject this idea, and I am demonstrably a liberal. This is a bad idea, applying bad science to questionable conclusions based on grotesque and off-handed rhetoric in order to pretend to attain a morally indignant and undeserved smugness. Should we ban all rocks from dirt because we know that's where creepy crawlies are born from?

       

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    Pickle Monger (profile), Nov 18th, 2010 @ 1:19pm

    Could this be any stupider?

    Next up on the technology list: car stereos that recognise when the person in the driver's seat is singing along with the music or yelling at the idiots on a talk show.

     

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    Dan, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 1:27pm

    Ban Cars

    I have another great idea (I think it is great, but some of you may object)

    MAKE CARS ILLEGAL...

    No more accidents :)

     

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    Berenerd (profile), Nov 18th, 2010 @ 1:28pm

    I am curious....

    So lets say you break down on the side of a busy highway...

    All these cars with jammers flying by you...airways getting jammed....and you can't call for help...Good old Bob, the 14 time convicted mass murderer stops by to "help" you...yeah I see bad things...

     

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    J, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 1:34pm

    Makes life a lot easier for...

    kidnappers, black market phone sellers, (come on everybody join in)....

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 1:40pm

     

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    Eugene (profile), Nov 18th, 2010 @ 1:45pm

    See this is why self-driving cars need to be perfected. It would solve all these problems without dumb ideas like phones that turn off somehow when you're moving.

     

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    Kris B, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 1:47pm

    Ever try to eat a greasy cheezburger while driving

    How about a big mac. I have yet to understand why cell phones have been singled out among all the distracting things that go on in a car. The following should be labelled contraband in moving vehicles to equalize the non-sense.

    Shiny things (CDs) hanging from the rear view mirror.
    Radios, CD players and 8-Tracks (non of which are really in use)
    Eating, drinking, smoking
    screaming children, car seats, pets
    Angry girlfriends, mother-in-laws, grandpas
    Seat belts (i find them distracting and dangerous)
    Nose trimmers, shavers, makeup kits, eyeliner, powder kits
    Changing clothes (passengers and drivers)
    Open windows/sunroof (inbound debris is dangerous)

    What are the studies that show cellphone usage is dangerous? Has anyone considered the reason for vehicle occupants at the scene of a fatal accident having a phone is that they were calling for help with their last bit of energy. To quote the NFL commentators "COME ON MAN!"

     

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      Jose_X, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 3:07pm

      Re: Ever try to eat a greasy cheezburger while driving

      All of these items will have to come with an electronic shut-off or closing device (eg, a lock jaw device or an auto lock from your shirt to your pants to your socks) that would activate when going over 20 mph.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 1:51pm

    Two way radio?

     

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      Jose_X, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 3:04pm

      Re: Two way radio?

      So maybe we would require one to pass a safety course on distractions and phone usage, etc. Maybe even require 1 full year of driving before allowed to use phones. In any case, messing with the phones electronically will likely violate more rights and lead to more dangerous situations.

       

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    Richard (profile), Nov 18th, 2010 @ 1:52pm

    Why not

    If the phone is smart enough to know when you shouldn't be talking - why not just let it drive the car for you.

    Problem solved...

     

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    snatchmo, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 1:54pm

    Two way radio?

    I wonder if Mr. LaHood is going to outlaw the use of those standard issue 2 way radios by transit bus drivers and police? I got rear ended by a transit bus last month. I wonder if he was using his radio when he didn't see me stop?

     

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    Jazz, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 2:09pm

    We already do this, and I don't hear complaints...

    Lots of ranting about "nothing wrong with passengers phoning/texting, just not drivers."

    We already have laws against passengers drinking in a moving vehicle (or at least having an open container) on the grounds that its impossible to distinguish who was doing the activity, and its so dangerous that we need to prevent the driver from having the opportunity to do it.

    Studies have suggested that, over a large sample size, cell use is just as dangerous as DUI. I'm just sayin'...

     

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      Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Nov 18th, 2010 @ 3:01pm

      Re: We already do this, and I don't hear complaints...

      Have you ever looked at those studies? They're ridiculously lopsided. The drunk driving control is strait forward, you drive drunk (less then .08).

      The cell phone test is all based off of higher thinking than anyone does in real life (who here does long division in their heads?). The driving course is a police stile course with random twists and turns with even crash avoidance (and parallel parking). During all that the drivers are focusing more on the conversation then they would be in reality (it's a test, that can't be avoided).

      I'm not saying that cell phones can't be a problem, I'm saying the tests are invalid.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 10:34pm

        Re: Re: We already do this, and I don't hear complaints...

        Have you ever looked at those studies? They're ridiculously lopsided.

        No more so than the drinking and driving studies. And it turns out that people were actually more impaired by the cell phone than by drinking.

         

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      Jose_X, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 3:17pm

      Re: We already do this, and I don't hear complaints...

      The main difference I see there is that drunk is drunk and you generally are first caught because you are already driving badly. It's a little similar to being near asleep. It's being in a continual state of cloudy mind.

      But using a phone can be very safe if the person exercises judgment such as when to use it, for how long, and to put it down if necessary. In any case, the duration can be very short, at least the more dangerous parts which is when manually dialing or trying to read.

      OK, people talk in the car, listen to radio, read signs, and do many things that are just as dangerous or more so than the few moments they are using the phone.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 10:32pm

        Re: Re: We already do this, and I don't hear complaints...

        But using a phone can be very safe if the person exercises judgment such as when to use it,

        Same thing for drinking and driving. If I actually drive better after a few drinks, then why not?

         

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      btr1701 (profile), Nov 18th, 2010 @ 7:23pm

      Re: We already do this, and I don't hear complaints...

      > on the grounds that its impossible to distinguish who was doing
      > the activity

      Ah, yes. The kindergarten approach to government:

      "It's too hard for us to single out the bad behavior, so we'll just punish everyone."

      I expect better than that.

       

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    Johnny, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 2:12pm

    Two separate issues

    We've already pointed to some recent research that showed that driving-while-texting bans increased accidents, as drivers kept on texting, but hid their phones lower, taking their eyes even further off the road.


    Obviously it shouldn't be texting only that should be illegal, it should be illegal not to have your eyes on the road for any unreasonable amount of time. Whether this is to text, to read a map or study your co-passenger's body features.

    Unfortunately Ray LaHood is just trying to appear to be doing something. He's ignoring the obvious overkill in his proposal - what's wrong with a passenger using a phone or using a phone in a bus or train, and why wouldn't it be OK to make an emergency call or use a handsfree set?

    Emergency calls can save lives so technology blocking such calls could potentially costs lives too.

     

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      Jose_X, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 3:25pm

      Re: Two separate issues

      Driving a car is dangerous in many ways, especially when you have little experience or try something out of the ordinary, but it leads to many efficiencies so we have tolerated it.

      Using the phone in the car does lead to some efficiencies (eg, getting directions when you are lost), and you can gain that skill like any other skill or ability to handle distractions.

       

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    btrussell (profile), Nov 18th, 2010 @ 2:13pm

    Meanwhile...

    ...they want to broadcast emergency messages to phones.

    So they won't be able to tell you that you are driving directly towards a washed out road after a dam bursts.

     

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    Matthew Krum, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 2:27pm

    I'm okay with this

    I'm okay with this under two conditions :
    I want a credit from my wireless company each month equal to anytime I was unable to use my phone.

    I also want permission to start a fire in my car and send smoke signals in the event I need to report a drunk driver or other crime.

     

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    seamonkey420, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 3:07pm

    slippery slopes indeed

    i am so sick of uneducated/uninformed politicians trying to make tech related legislation!!

    arggg!!! yes, i see the idea behind this and agree it could be very helpful and good for most drivers. but what we need is not a way to block phones, but integrate them into the car itself. why aren't the car makers being pressured to finally redo their electronic consoles and require all to have handsfree systems? seems like a more logical decision than to pull the old, lets just block cop-out.

    just this geeks .02....

    plus, not like we can't find a jammer and remove it from our cars.

     

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      PlagueSD, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 3:42pm

      Re: slippery slopes indeed

      I just purchased a new car with built in bluetooth capability. I can make and receive calls without even taking my hands off the steering wheel. All caller ID info is displayed on my radio so I don't even need to look at my phone to see who's calling me.

      I actually think talking to a passenger is more dangerous than making a hands-free call. When you're talking to someone, there's a natural tendency to make eye contact with them, thereby taking your eyes off the road.

      The technology is already here. I'm sure the automobile industry will fight against this. I also agree, there's no way to distinguish if your a driver or a passenger in a bus, train, boat, or car.

       

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    joe, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 4:12pm

    blue tooth and text to speach

    On the eve of at&t claiming abilities beyond necessity why wouldn't we take the money it would cost to in force this and apply it to more realisticly. the iphone probably has a $5.95 app to beat it with a bluetooth and tts problem solved. Or is big Obama gvmt. going to ban talking to a passenger in the car next? Crying babies should be in the trunk??? how is that less distracting?

     

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    RandomGuy (profile), Nov 18th, 2010 @ 4:45pm

    Just wondering... when was the last piece of legislation passed which increased civil liberties and freedoms?

    Now, it could just be that all the coverage goes to rights restrictions (especially in my particular blend of information sources), and there's a heap of good legislation being passed in the background, but I don't think that's the case.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 4:50pm

    give me 5 minutes in any room and i can show you plenty of dangers; the world is full of them, its amazing any of us are still alive so i can sure see the logic in trying to stop people from using cellphones in cars.....wait a minute; there are more then 30,000 deaths per year due to cars and millions of wrecks, clearly the problem is the cars. What should be done is to forget the phone and go straight to the problem, no car can go over 5 MPH; horses are safer and will be faster; AND you can still text (horses don't tend to run into each other)

    not to mention the clean environment (may stink a little)no more auto car bail outs (got to love that) traffic jams are a thing of the past, wow, this idea is almost genius; im so great.

     

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    MG (profile), Nov 18th, 2010 @ 7:13pm

    This would be absurd.

    People who seem unable to operate a moving vehicle safely while talking on a cell phone are certainly unsafe. The rest of us, however, are safe.

    In other words, when we look at the amount of times someone looks at something not directly in front of them (such as a billboard on the side of the road, for example) and then swerves left of center or worse, crashes into someone else or something else, we don't consider making it illegal to look at billboards, etc. or anything not directly in front of us. Instead, we make it illegal to swerve left of center, crash, etc, regardless the reason... i.e, if you can't operate a vehicle safely with all the distractions around you, then your driving behavior reflects it and you get ticketed.

    I will be the first to admit that when I first got a cell phone YEARS ago, I noticed that I was driving extremely slow (I was subconsciously wrapped up in the conversation and trying to maintain safety while driving, resulting in an excessive reduction in speed). I immediately recognized this is ridiculous, because it shouldn't be any different than talking to a passenger beside me.

    That's when I figured out that my use of a land line all my life put my brain into a 'mode' when I talked on a phone where I did not necessarily have to pay attention to what's around me. Talking to a passenger in a car, I was willing to bet, if studied would yield results that showed less comprehension of the conversation than when on a phone conversation due to the 'mode' your brain goes into from significant past experience talking to passengers in your car.

    That being said, I was able to very quickly adjust my 'mode' of thinking when I spoke on a cell phone that is the same mode I am in when I am talking to a passenger. My attention is on the road, the conversation is secondary. The phone often is pulled away from my ear if I must look any direction other than in front of me, it's muscle memory by now, regardless if I or the person on the other end of the line is in mid-sentence. I simply switch lanes (for example), pull the phone back up to my ear and say "Repeat that please?" I have no worry in the world of 'offending' anyone I am talking to, as they can go fly a kite if they don't like it. I am sure there are many people who have learned how to use their phones while driving in the same attention focus as when they have a passenger in the car and are talking to them. After all, try can count how many times you see someone who is driving and talking on a phone who does NOT swerve, or otherwise drive erratically. I do this on a regular basis, and they far out number those who drive erratically or unsafe. We only hear from the anti-cell crowd who vents about all the drivers they see on cell phones and perhaps at times LOOK for any sign of illegal driving, otherwise known as confirmation bias.

    The point here being that just as we learn to deal with distractions on the road in driver's ed. class and have since learned to navigate quite efficiently even taking a slight gander at one of those distractions here and there. We don't criminalize 'taking ganders' because some people haven't figured out how to drive with billboards, etc. on the side of the road.

    As well, we shouldn't ban cell phones just because some people can't navigate while talking on one.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 11:00pm

      Re: This would be absurd.

      People who seem unable to operate a moving vehicle safely while drinking are certainly unsafe. The rest of us, however, are safe.

      In other words, when we look at the amount of times someone looks at something not directly in front of them (such as a billboard on the side of the road, for example) and then swerves left of center or worse, crashes into someone else or something else, we don't consider making it illegal to look at billboards, etc. or anything not directly in front of us. Instead, we make it illegal to swerve left of center, crash, etc, regardless the reason... i.e, if you can't operate a vehicle safely with all the distractions around you, then your driving behavior reflects it and you get ticketed.

      I will be the first to admit that when I first started drinking YEARS ago, I noticed that I was driving extremely slow (I was subconsciously wrapped up in the drinking and trying to maintain safety while driving, resulting in an excessive reduction in speed). I immediately recognized this is ridiculous, because it shouldn't be any different than drinking as a passenger.

      That's when I figured out that my drinking in a bar all my life put my brain into a 'mode' when I drank where I did not necessarily have to pay attention to what's around me. Drinking in a bar, I was willing to bet, if studied would yield results that showed less comprehension of the conversation than when drinking in a car due to the 'mode' your brain goes into from significant past experience drinking in a bar.

      That being said, I was able to very quickly adjust my 'mode' of thinking when I drank that is the same mode I am in when I am drinking as a passenger. My attention is on the road, the drinking is secondary. The bottle often is pulled away from my mouth if I must look any direction other than in front of me, it's muscle memory by now, regardless if I am in mid-swallow. I simply switch lanes (for example), pull the bottle up to my mouth and take another swig. I have no worry in the world of 'offending' anyone I am drinking with, as they can go fly a kite if they don't like it. I am sure there are many people who have learned how to drink while driving in the same attention focus as when they have a passenger in the car and are drinking with them. After all, try can count how many times you see someone who is driving and drinking who does NOT swerve, or otherwise drive erratically. I do this on a regular basis, and they far out number those who drive erratically or unsafe. We only hear from the anti-drinking crowd who vents about all the drivers they see drinking and perhaps at times LOOK for any sign of illegal driving, otherwise known as confirmation bias.

      The point here being that just as we learn to deal with distractions on the road in driver's ed. class and have since learned to navigate quite efficiently even taking a slight gander at one of those distractions here and there. We don't criminalize 'taking ganders' because some people haven't figured out how to drive with billboards, etc. on the side of the road.

      As well, we shouldn't ban drink-driving just because some people can't navigate while drinking.

       

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    Ian (profile), Nov 18th, 2010 @ 8:51pm

    911

    Twice I've been on the phone while driving... to call 911 to report drunk drivers. On both instances the police asked me to follow the car in question if I could do so safely, in order to provide them with details as to where it was going so that they could catch the car in question.

    I'm sure blocking that signal would have made all drivers on the road much safer.

     

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    claygarden, Nov 19th, 2010 @ 5:43am

    911 calls

    1. What if .....
    I were having a problem and NEEDED to call someone from inside my car. What if it were not safe to turn off the car or leave the car? There is also the large issue of cell phone service being technologically available EVERYWHERE, but DENIED in certain geographical areas for various reasons.

    2. Should CD players be allowed to be used inside a car? Should CD players be disabled while the car is running to the extent that CD's could not be changed?

     

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    Jeremy Raglin (profile), Nov 25th, 2010 @ 8:49pm

    Another bad example of to much government control

    It's stupid that they want to ban talking to any type of device in vehicles but then again this is the government that we're talking about and it's easier for the government to ban the technology rather than addressing the problem in a more realistic way.

    Drinking and driving is still a major problem in the United States and yet I don't see the government trying to ban alcohol.

     

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    Kevin, Dec 25th, 2010 @ 7:22am

    Obviously VERY FEW comments are fm parents.

    My 15 yr old daughter IS very attached to her phone (as are her friends/passengers). If her friends are rec'ing texts/photos, they will add more distraction sharing the info w/ my daughter. The vehicle/device should jam signals while the vehicle is in motion (GPS based/gyro based). Jamming would stop w/ vehicle stopping (parking, accident, etc). A moving vehicle could ONLY contact E911 (allowing driver to rep diabetic shock, heart attack, etc).

    I am VERY liberal! My only concern is that my daughter returns home SAFELY!!

    I have NO desire to bury my 15 yr old daughter because she crashed (cell phone usage while driving) or someone else's 15 yr old daughter crashed INTO my daughter (cell phone usage while driving).

     

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    btrussell (profile), Dec 26th, 2010 @ 4:12am

    Your 15 year old daughter shouldn't be driving. Nor should her 15 year old friend.

    Sounds like you should be talking to her about her limitations, not forcing her limitations on everyone else.

     

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    Silver Fang (profile), Dec 30th, 2010 @ 9:07am

    I'm against this because I think it's unfair to ban passengers from using their phones. Target the driver, but leave the passengers alone.

     

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    Martin Lee, Apr 10th, 2011 @ 7:17am

    Technology already exists to block cell phone use

    Key2Safedriving is a technology invented by the University of Utah to effectively set different restrictions on driver or passenger mode when a person is in the vehicle with the Key2SafeDriving device installed. The software on the phone can be configured to tell the difference and allow a passenger to use their phone, but the driver is not able to. You can visit Key2SafeDriving dot com and see how it works, how easy it is to install, and how effective it can be to eliminate distracted driving.

     

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