It ultimately boils down to the driver. Are some drivers more experienced, some more responsible, some healthier, some more skilled, some more able to focus on the task at hand and shut-out lower priority distractions? Yes, the answer will always be yes. In this country we try to minimize restrictions on freedom; however, where you draw the line when it puts others at greater risk always becomes a debate.
Nascar race drivers talk on the radio to their pit crews. Drivers without cell phones may talk to passenger, use a GPS, listen to the radio, change a CD, sip a cup of coffee, or switch MP3 songs. Ultimately, driving is the responsibility of the driver. I am not in favor or restricting conversation on cell phones. I am in favor of restricting looking down to read newspapers, look at magazines, read texts, type texts, read electronic tablets/ipads, read touch screen controls, or punch in GPS data while moving. Can that be regulated? Probably not, but if it is illegal and has a significant fine, blatant violations clearly leading to an accident can certainly be enforced.
Regulation may sort out the worst drivers, but distractions cannot be totally regulated away. That being said, I wish drivers would be supported by all cars having touch identifiable controls so that eyes would not have to go from the road to adjust ANYTHING. Many older cars did. Motorcycle controls have been much more standardized since the late 1970's. Most newer radios are much more difficult that way and less standardized. I wish cars/music players standardized the controls, and any control that required reading would not work when the car was moving.
Eventually, cars will have electronic chauffers (akin to the movie "Sleeper" and many others depicting the future since then). As that technology gets perfected, we will all be passengers in our own car and we can be as distracted as we want.
(For some reason my browser or the site would not let me Post a Comment, but I could Reply - this is not meant to be a specific reply to Lou's post.)
Here in California hand-held phoning while driving has been illegal for about three years, and texting about two, as I recall. My observation has been that law enforcement has made no specific commitment to developing enforcement methods. As a result, in my small hometown, I can stand on the main drag and it won't take more than five minutes to spot someone with the phone to their ear - usually their left ear (I guess to keep the right hand free to play with the iDrive knob in their BMW). Often the vehicle is a convertible with the top down! So there appears to be no conscious fear of being ticketed. All it would take would be a couple of officers, one on the sidewalk and one stationed in a spot where the offender could be waved over, to help drivers internalize the message that the law is real and the penalties are substantial.
Stand at the exit to a Home Depot or an elementary school, and see how many SUVs roll onto streets with the driver having just initiated a cell call. Again, a pair of officers on foot could have a great effect on reducing this offense. But I have never seen any such measures taken.
Likewise with texting on the road. I can't take a ten-mile trip on a freeway without seeing a neighboring driver's head bent down into their lap, with only an occasional quick glance up through the windshield before returning to the task of keying in a message. An unmarked van or pickup with an officer as observer riding shotgun could put the fear of God into people who indulge in this irresponsible practice. For that matter, given the oblivious state most of these offenders operate in, the vehicle could be in full CHP livery with little effect.
In order to clamp down on drunk driving, spot traffic stops (called DUI checkpoints here) have been successful in significantly reducing that hazard. In order to have a measurable impact on cellphone-related violations, similar modalities need to be developed.
While I understand the need to be totally aware of your surroundings while driving, Does the government really need to step in?
Lets face it, every drive is faced with numerous "distractions" while driving a car these days. Ther are the verly complicated radio systems, heater controls, head light systems, warning bells, indicators, guages. Look at the dash on a car today compared to one 20-30 years ago. Radios used to have two knobs and 5 memory presets. Now we have 20+ preset stations, knobs for volume, tuning, eqquilzer contol, AM, FM, Satillite, CD, MP3. Heater controls have gone from a lever to control air flow, a lever to control air temperature, and a 3 speed fan control, to complex "automatic" systems with digital readouts, multiple buttons to push to direct the air where I want it to, driver/passenger temperatures, touchscreens, GPS systems, DVD players... etc.. I can go on all day...
I remember when I could tune a radio station in with out looking at the controls, or adjust the hear/air conditioning the same way. Now I am constantly looking at the controls first.
How is talking on a cell phone either in the hand or via bluetooth worse than haveing a conversation with the person sitting next to you?? How is holding a phone in the hand worse that having to reach to shift a manual transmisstion??
Couple all of this with the increased speed driven today and what do you get, more accidents. Buy can one really pinpoint the cause?? Statistics can shead some light, but statistics can really show anything if you adjust the parameters to fit your desired outcome.
I think most folks here have agreed that there really isn't an effective way for the government bureaucracies to address this critical issue. How about a true "free-market" solution that could actually work? Insurance companies could offer an option: in return for a substantial premium reduction, there would be a clause added that would severely limit (5%? $10K?) or even eliminate the amount of liability payment coverage in the event that the insured is found guilty of "distracted driving" or equivalent in relation to an accident.
Unlike the original "modest proposal" (Google it) or my favorite alternartive (make attempted suicide a capital offense), this one is totally serious!
Yes, let's require an audio feed in all cars that let's the government know if the driver is talking to a passenger and a camera to watch the drivers pupils to tell the government whether they look at their HVAC settings or instrumentation too often. Then if the driver talks to a passenger, or looks too much at their dash or any other items, the government can send them an automatic citation. Oh, I forgot that passenger conversations are a distraction to the driver. We'd better cite any adult passenger that speaks at over 60dB. We'll need to require retinal scanners for passenger ID.
(Please do not take this seriously - this is intentionally ridiculous to demonstrate the direction we're headed.)
If we ban cell phones then why don't we ban CB radios, pagers, and maybe even FM/AM radios? All of them require a button to be pushed, things to be read to operate and talking... talking... talking... Let's just hope people don't become too engrossed in there favorite radio program or song and overlook road hazards. Ban cell phones and spend even more money enforcing it and then what's next? Why doesn't anyone ever talk about a campaign to make people more aware of when it is appropriate to open up that cell phone instead of having the government take it away.
If history is any guide, there will be more - not less - driver distraction in the future. Add to this demographics that point to more, ever ageing drivers. The solution cannot be - and will not be - regulatory.
The only way around this is electronics to assist the driver: obstacle warnig, collision avoidance, automated traffic control, etc.
Design news, please have your journalist visit the automotive labs and report on the amazing technologies which are surely being developed.
New versions of BASF's Ecovio line are both compostable and designed for either injection molding or thermoforming. These combinations are becoming more common for the single-use bioplastics used in food service and food packaging applications, but are still not widely available.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This radio show will show what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.