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This Topic Must be Expanded to Include Other Distractions
JamesPDX   1/10/2012 3:34:04 PM
I do not think that we have gone off target because these distractions are real and causing serious concerns for us all.  The principal topic here is a question as to whether or not the government should ban cell phones, which is cause for further discussion under the topic "which government should take on the responsibility for banning cell phones?"  The implication of including only the cell phones in this discussion is short sighted, and as such the topic of this thread should be expanded to include exactly what we have, to date, included by us all, below.  We are not off topic in my opinion.

I did mention emergency service use of cell phones without an in-depth discussion.  That should be a part of a discussion towards another concern for the legislators (law makers) to debate over.  Legislators need to listen to these discussions before swinging their pendulum too far in a wrong direction, and then again before needing to recant their laws with a swing too far in another direction.  After all, laws alone are a trial-and-error process in an effort to understand how things work (on their end and from their point of view).  Lawyers typically do not have the technical background of experience for making such decisions without relying on those individuals who do possess that knowledge.  We have a rather in depth knowledge set of educated engineers and technicians within this community who can and are offering their points of view on this greater topic.

Hopefully, it will be a long time before the casual consumer will be allowed to utilize an auto pilot system without proper licensing (thinking of the rigid FAA regulations).  I'm sure that the automotive industry will lobby very hard to get their neat features past the point of requiring any licensing from the government(s) (my "greed factor" topic for the past ~30 years).

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Don't take mine until you give up yours
Rob Spiegel   1/10/2012 1:24:12 PM
I've seen similar sights on the freeways, Watashi. You can always tell by the slow driving -- and not holding the lane. It is getting dangerous out there. Texting seems to have taken distraction to a new and scary level.

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Re: New Innovation in Electronics to Solve the Problem - NOT YET
Lou_C1357   1/10/2012 11:07:05 AM
Do we really need to have automobiles do the driving for us?  Have we as a society reached the point were taking ownership of the task of drive is beneath us?  In all honesty, driving is not the only area where we suffer from lack of attention, and have become too dependent on machine to do our bidding.  Gone are the days of the skilled craftsman, just look at the home building industry.  Everything is becoming more automated.  While sure it improve efficiency, I think we are suffering from the lack of creativity, and appreciation for the things we have.  In today's disposable society that technological advancements have brought about, where has the innovation gone. Is a faster computer/cellphone, or different UI innovative?

I have gone off topic, but in all actuality, do we really need yet more government regulation telling us how to behave, when all we need to do is use common sense. 


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Automation Perils
Watashi   1/10/2012 10:17:50 AM
I, like many others, take driving seriously and know my limitations when it comes to distractions. Whether it is mechanical aptitude, good understanding of physics, or experience pushing vehicles to their limits; I have a little higher tolerance to distractions than others. But I would not attempt half of what I see other drivers doing every day with or without cell phones. 

I can only image what these morons will be doing if driver automation is pushed into the market.  We can engineer automated aids to driving, but giving them to the masses that don't understand the system limits is asking for disaster.  I can picture some idiot putting on the adaptive cruise control, activating the lane steering assist, and setting an alarm so he can take a nap on a highway drive, thinking he only needs to be awake when he gets close to his destination.

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Don't take mine until you give up yours
Watashi   1/10/2012 10:16:09 AM
Last year I was run out of my lane by a VA state trooper on I-95.  He was playing on his computer, driving 5-10 mph UNDER the speed limit in the fast lane, and weaving everywhere. My horn was all that averted an accident (or perhaps it was my special hand gesture).  If the "authorities" would like to start removing electronics from cars, let them start with their own. 

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New Innovation in Electronics to Solve the Problem - NOT YET
JamesPDX   1/10/2012 2:29:24 AM
1 saves
I agree that distractions will continue to munt with time until we deploy the automated driver assist methodologies that have been mentioned and then some.  Freightliner (now Daimler Trucks, Portland, Oregon) has been working on these technologies for the past 12 years that I am personally aware of.  Those technologies have been out there among many of the transportation vehicle designers for quite some time, and are being tested constantly.  Universities have been testing their concept auto-driver modules for decades.  They have their own numerous issues.  I do not believe that this issue is moot as you say, because of the advances in EE designs and technology.  We have a very long way to go before we are stepping into a "Fifth Element" vehicle with Bruce Willis.  This topic/issue is current and it will be a long time before all vehicles are of that futuristic type.

The enforcement of the specific law herein is not possible in today's environments where there are far more pressing concerns for the PDs of whatever city you're in, and "check points" fall into this area.  It is obvious as any of us can bear witness to that many drivers are in violation of the cell phone laws.  Yester year, that was not the case and you might see several patrol cars while traveling.  They were mostly seen as a reminder of the laws, but did in fact give tickets.  Today, you might never see an officer of the law for several days or weeks while traveling.

The vehicle controls do not necessarily need our undivided attention to operate.  They are mostly used in a second nature application.  It is the not specific vehicle controls that are distracting the drivers.  We have been trained to yield all of our attention to the person that we are in conversation with.  That includes the person or persons in the vehicle with the driver. 

Going back to the idea that drivers of automobiles need or should be licensed more rigorously, public transportation drivers must be licensed for the vehicles that they are to operating.  They are disallowed from taking part in any conversation while the vehicle that they are operating in moving.  There are notices near those drivers that state the passengers are not allowed to talk with the driver when the vehicle is in motion.  Governing the licensing would be a horrendous task to take on and please everyone.  And who would monitor drivers for violations?  As was pointed out, it is not a legal issue but an enforcement issue.

Reference was made to the older generation or geriatric (ever-aging) drivers as being a cause of the problem.  I do not agree with that assessment.  It is the lesser experienced driver, young, old, or in their mid-life crises, who are in the cell phone user boat.  Most anyone with enough experience or training will reframe from the use of cell phones while driving, whether they are in traffic or on a winding country road.  They will either ignore the call or find a way to pull over safely to have a conversation.  They might answer the call, but only to inform the caller that they are driving and will return the call shortly or continue when the have safely stopped the vehicle.

Yes, and if we ban communications devices al together, then when would the various emergency groups have permission to use them?

I remember my Human Factors class with Dr. William Farrell at U of AZ some years back, where we tested our reflexes with a Telex Model-33 for responses under various distracting conditions.  The results were similar to Semipro's (below).  This topic is one of concern to all of us who wish to be safe on the roads and streets.

User Rank
Banning Electronics? It will become a moot point
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   1/10/2012 12:07:11 AM

Wow 35 posts and counting – Obviously a Hot topic.  Yes, consumers want more and more electronics and responsible mature drivers will be able to handle them all.

But I think there is a bigger issue looming that will make all of this moot.   I believe we are in a transitional time in the electronics and automotive industries where, over the next few years, the autonomy of the vehicle will overcome the risk of distracted driving, and smart cars will intelligently behave more like trains, allowing the passengers – and drivers – the luxury of electronic distractions without the risk of accidental collisions. 

Refer back to a recent article that covered this topic well:  "Ready to Be Chauffeured by Your Car?"  Nov 21, 2011 (also by Charles Murray) which also had a whopping 37 comments, one of which was: 'Autonomy of the Auto; has a nice ring to it." Describing the hopeful future of smooth sensory operation of the autonomous auto and the related safety aspects.

Charles Murray
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Re: Really??
Charles Murray   1/9/2012 10:22:50 PM
It certainly is not necessary for the government to step in. The Secretary of Transportation has rejected the idea.

William K.
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Cellphones and driving safety?
William K.   1/9/2012 6:04:28 PM
There are a few errors and several differences relative to who is using what while driving. For firemen, it is not the driver looking at the computer, for the police, they mostly use the computer while stopped, either before chasing or after stopping somebody. And for HAMs and CB operators, those radios are push-to-talk, release to listen, instead of full-duplex like a cell phone or a real phone. THat makes a HUGE difference in the degree of concentration required.

Of course there will never be a valid law against talking on the cell phone while driving, or even just against using the cell phone while driving, because the celular industry has way more money to spend than the tobacco industry ever had, and look at how long it took to determine that smoking might be hazardous. So the money will make the laws and there is probably not much that anyone can do about it, no matter how many hundreds are killed. REally big money does get it's way.

User Rank
Don't eve consider a ban...
Harpo-54   1/9/2012 5:41:36 PM
See a post by Walter Williams...


I cannot write it better myself...

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