Many people can and do successfully multi-task while driving safely. The successful ones understand that driving is the top priority, but that doesn't prohibit them from changing the radio station or drinking a cup of coffee or a number of other behaviors that millions of drivers safely do every day.
The distracted behavior that should be targeted basically falls into two categories: (1) Averting your eyes from the road and (2) pushing buttons
Laws that target talking on the phone while driving or sending & receiving text messages while driving are missing the bigger picture. It's not so much what you're doing as it is how you're doing it with regard to behaviors (1) and (2) above.
With my iPhone 4s and the bluetooth-enabled stereo system in my vehicle, I can talk or send a text message hands-free without turning my head or removing my eyes from the road ahead, and with just a single button push. I can also change the radio station or CD track using buttons on the steering wheel. Why should any of those things be against the law?
Having said that, it's terrifying to see someone typing a text message on a cell phone -- eyes down for a number of seconds, fingers on one hand busy pushing lots of buttons -- while cruising down the road, oblivious to whether or not the brake lights of the car in front of him came on 3 seconds ago.
Enforcement would be difficult, but the law really should focus on setting limits on behaviors (1) and (2). For how long are you allowed to avert your eyes from the road (maybe 1 second?) and how many buttons are you allowed to push before your hand must go back to the steering wheel (maybe 2 or 3?)
I welcome all criticisms and counter-arguments, but I also ask you to consider how many perfectly legal behaviors are allowed, behaviors that millions of drivers engage in daily, that violate my suggestions for limits on (1) and (2).
Most of the time I commute by bicycle and have had plenty of close calls with people oblivious that there was a bike sharing the road. Having said that, I would never support yet another law governing what I can and can't do. Last time I checked this was a free country. It's not just phones. I've seen people distracted by the stereo, adjusting the air, or simply day dreaming. What's next, are we going to make it illigal to use the air or the radio in the car? Are we going to make it illigal to ponder or daydream while driving? How would we enforce that?
Car manufacturers are doing this too. My mother has a Prius and I can't believe you can't change your GPS while the car is moving... even by a passenger! For crying out loud, why do we insist and accept others telling us what we can and can't do? In gerneral we get offended or annoyed when people give us advice, but we seem to not care when it comes from the auto manufacturer or uncle Sam. We need to be more consistent.
In my opinion some people are able to multi task just fine, others shouldn't be driving in the first place! Its funny how when we turn 16 we somehow magically become mature enough to get our license. We are not all the same and we shouldn't apply the same expectations of everyone.
As others have stated here, drivers need to drive first and do other stuff second. Yes, there are a lot of distractions in a car now days but how many drivers really get the training they need? I know that where I live, I can renew my license by mail every 5 years. No test of any kind to test your current knowledge of driving laws or your current driving skills is required. Yes it would be inconvenient and expensive, but operating a 4000 lb object at speeds up to 80 mph requires a lot of skill and good decision making. And some of those decisions are when to focus on driving only and when conditions allow you to divert a portion of your attention to a secondary task. Unfortunately, today's auto designers have a problem with feature creep and intuitive control design forcing more attention on those secondary tasks.
Right on Bigfoot6! I am sick of the delays and deadly behavior of those people who think that "this one call or text is so important that I can act like a idiot". Besides the danger, there is the simple fact that their erratic driving causes congestion and slows the entire traffic pattern.
I do NOT want to live in my car. I want my commute to be as brief and as uneventful as possible.
Between the distracted drivers and those people in those Pruis slugs that are constant traffic holdups (apparently due to their terrible acceleration performance) and those ninnies who are functionally violating traffic law and courtesy as they hyper-mile to save a nickel on their daily commute, driving is becoming distinctly unfun in many congested areas.
For many people I think it is an attitude -- it's OK unless I get caught. Compare the safety of using hand held devices to vehicle speeds (10, 15, 20 MPH OVER the speed LIMIT). Enforcing no texting, etc. may happen as well as enforcing speed limits. Personally I don't think No Texting laws will make much difference.
Yes, Chuck, it's an incredible number. It's going down even as the population and driver miles increase, but it's still horrendous. It's good to see new technology coming out of the auto industry to circumvent some of these collisions.
Today, most cars have had decades worth of safety improvement features designed into them. Unfortunately many drivers use up most of those safety features with poor driving habits. The most important safety feature of a car is the driver!!!
Until nearly all cars can navigate public roads autonomously, the driver needs to DRIVE. I believe in freedom, but I also believe in responsibility. Until the convenience and freedom of driving is properly understood in the context of privilage and responsibility, we are consigned to tens of thousands of deaths by automobile every year.
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