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Rob Spiegel
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Re: big danger
Rob Spiegel   6/22/2012 3:13:10 PM
I understand your point, Robin, about some laws that are not well thought through having unintended consequences. Yet when a driver loses control of a vehicle because of texting, that's nearly the same as losing control of a car through drinking. In both cases, the driver is endangering others. So it seems to be a justifiable restriction to ban texting while driving.

Robin Goodfellow
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Re: big danger
Robin Goodfellow   6/22/2012 12:42:15 PM
I'll allow that La Hood's intentions are probably honest, but he's barking up the wrong tree. 

From my perspective, the "big danger" is that so many folks seem to buy into this idea that it is OK to implement broad restrictions for everyone based on conjecture, and to do it without checking the facts or engaging in some critical thinking about consequences or alternatives.  And all to often, as is the case here, the words used to describe the restrictions will say too much or too little and, so, not actually implement what was intended.

La Hood has equated "handheld electronic devices in a vehicle" with "inattentive driving". That simply is not the case.  Such a ban would keep my passengers from using their phones, Gameboys, calculators, or glucose meters while I drive.  And this wouldn't solve or even significantly dent the problem.  Those who are currently distracted by conversations (NOT cell phones) would find another focus other than driving for their attention.

100% of fatal automobile accidents involve automobiles.  If we ban vehicles from the road we can cut this number to zero.  We could get the same result by banning drivers.  But that wouldn't really benefit us as a society, would it?

Robin Goodfellow
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Re: Distracted driving
Robin Goodfellow   6/22/2012 11:33:59 AM
Sir William,

I don't buy the simplex/duplex argument, except maybe the part about being a more courteous nation if we'd take turns talking and listening.

Police, Fire, cab drivers don't do better because they use simplex equipment; they do better because they are, in general, better trained and more strongly incentivized to practice responsible and defensive driving.  Accidents lead to loss of employment.  You can probably throw HAM radio operators into that group; they have definite protocols and expectations, and the HAM community tends to police its own. CB radios are simplex as well, but I wouldn't include CB operators with the previous group; the CB community is more diverse, less well trained, and very loosely policed by its own members.

When the rage hit in the late 70's, CBs were targeted as a cause for accidents.  And then, like now, it wasn't the CB radio that was at fault.  The CB was a new technology and most people had not yet figured out what the rules needed to be. I distinctly remember a drop in the "courtesy level" when the FCC decided it was no longer necessary to license and broadcast call signs.

Distracted driving is carbon based, not silicon based.  Its causes originate between the ears of the driver, not in the spec sheet of a piece of equipment.

William K.
User Rank
Distracted driving
William K.   6/22/2012 10:28:09 AM
Here are responses to various assertions: Ploice and cab drivers, and many other radio operators in cars are conversing in a simplex mode, which means that when the talk button is pressed you can't hear any response. So it is far less distracting. As for the 5 seconds being enough time for a disaster, why certainly, but I was pointing out that the hours spent conversing are a much greater portion of the time. So probably far more accidents happen in the 99% of the time when people are talking.

About the drunks having accidents, surely many of them are not able to pay attention to their driving. Most of the drunks that I have seen can't pay attention to anything for very long. Of course, drunks do also make a lot more driver e4rrors.

I don't think that it would be possible to prevent drivers from using the phone, but one option would be to change the mode to simplex, with push-to-talk and release-to-listen. That conversation mode would be far less distracting, which the record for police and taxi drivers verifies. In addition, it could reduce system power requirements on both ends of the call, although probably only the mobile end would benefit from it, since nondriving users could still have their full duplex conversations. And who knows, possibly having to take turns talking might make this a more courteous nation, at least on the phone.

Robin Goodfellow
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Education, Not Legislation.
Robin Goodfellow   6/22/2012 9:15:14 AM
If folks would take time to actually read and digest the studies so often quoted, they'd see that the level of distraction is substantially the same whether the other party is on the other end of a cell phone connection or sitting in the passenger seat. The proplem isn't the phone, any more than it was the cigarette lighter in my father's generation.  I note that cab drivers and police have been talking on two-way radios literally for generations, and they have some of the best driving records on the road.

The fundemental flaw with this, and with a lot of other well-intended legislation, is that it tries to attack with legislation a problem that is best addressed with education.  The proposed set of rules concerns a few of the props involved when those props are being unwisely used,without regard to the legitimate uses and users of those items.  At the same time, it does nothing to actually address the root causes of the problem.

The problem is not the appliances, it is that as a society, we have built an attitude that let's us be cavalier as we pilot over a ton of automobile with a thousand time more kinetic energy than a bullet. And we don't call each other on it.

Cell phones and electronic devices are not the culprits, they are just the "new kid on the block" so they get blamed for a problem that we bring with us when we get in the car.  Let's not blame the new kids; let's clean up the block.

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Re: There's worse things than distracted driver
etmax   6/22/2012 6:48:18 AM
@T J McDermott are you in fact saying that (assuming drink driving and phones are the only cause of accidents) after trying for years to prevent 66% of road deaths they should do nothing to prevent the cause of the other 33%?? It sounds to me like a serious lack of empathy road victims.

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Re: Distracted drivers dialing?
etmax   6/22/2012 6:44:22 AM
@William K. I tend to disagree with you about the converstaion being the problem, that sort of thinking would ban passengers (including babies) from a vehicle. The worst things are typing & navigating menus closely followed my dialing. I have held many conversations while driving, some talking on a hands free and some to a passenger and find that as I look ahead while conversing I tend to stop talking as soon as something starts changing on the road ahead. If someone were do the opposite, i.e. stop concentrating on the road it would obviously create issues, but I have only known 1 person so far that did that and needless to say I never got back in the car with them. While I don't have any data to support the view, I don't believe holding a phone to your ear to talk while driving is worse than holding a cigarette, so both should be banned.

On a different note, putting the severity of distraction into perspective, someone here said that using speed dial only makes you lose concentration for around 5 seconds, but that is 83 metres when travelling at the rather modest speed of 60kph which is local traffic speeds, and is than enough distance to wipe out 83 kids standing in a line holding hands, not even considering the time to brake after that. Of course in reality after the first few fly through your wind screen you will probably realise something was up. This tells me that phones should use the GPS signal to register movement above say 5kph and lock out dialing and texting. It would be intrusive to be sure because it would prevent a passenger from making a call, but you could always pull over to do the dialling :-)

Robin Goodfellow
User Rank
Re: Distracted drivers dialing?
Robin Goodfellow   6/22/2012 1:25:02 AM
It is this sort of "logic" that gets us saddled with restricive legislation that does nothing to address "the problem".  Let's presume for the sake of argument that your facts are correct: A) 80% of accidents are caused by driver inattention, and B) participating in a cell phone call demands listening that requires attention.  That does not imply a causal relationship between cell phones an auto accidents.  Neither is there any implication that attenion paid to cell phone use (or conversation) would necessarily be returned to the "driving pool".  And, in fact, it won't.

I bicycle, a lot, so I have a signifcant interest in distracted drivers' behavior, and I see the things that distract them.  Cell phone use is just one of many sources: smoking, juggling coffe and a McMuffin, shouting at the sports announcer, singing with eyes closed, disciplining the kids, picking their noses; you name it.  Are we to outlaw it all?  If we did, do we think that because there was a law against a behavior it would stop?

We don't need legislation that will cripple our devices so that my passenger can't get directions either. We need to build a culture that expects attentive driving.  So put away your cell phone, ask co-workers to do the same, maybe honk a friendly reminder to they guy trying to text and drive, and remember to smile.

Oh, and give a bike 3 feet.  ;^)

TJ McDermott
User Rank
There's worse things than distracted driver
TJ McDermott   6/22/2012 12:31:07 AM
The statistic in this article quote 3000 deaths attributed to distracted drivers in 2010.  I didn't find statistics for that year, so went to the Census Bureau and got numbers for 2009:


It shows 4898 fatalities from distracted drivers.

The data also shows between 10000 and 12000 alcohol related fatalities.

Has the government given up on cutting this much larger number?

How exactly does the NTSB propose to ban hand-held electronic devices from vehicles?  Does the NTSB plan to mandate a special lockable compartment into which these devices must be placed and which cannot be unlocked while the vehicle is powered?

I suppose the glove box will need to be renamed, and require a new solenoid-controlled interlock.

PLEASE.  Most of the time, I respect the work of the NTSB and their recommendations.  In this case, they're not even in the same ballpark as the rest of the country.




User Rank
Re: Some people can
ricardo   6/21/2012 10:38:15 PM
> We can't all use wheelchairs because some people can't walk.

That's true.  But there's a MUCH stronger argument that none of us should drive cos some (?) of us can't drive properly.  How would that affect our quality of life?

As none of us should carry guns cos some of us kill people for fun or personal gain .... Oops!  Forgot most of you are from the US of A.

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