A powerful US lobbying group wants to ban the use of cell phones while driving - all cell phone use, including hands-free operation. The National Safety Council (NSC) - a 94-year-old, congressionally chartered non-profit organization with 55,000 member companies - released a statement today that calls upon private citizens to …
It gets my vote
see above (the life of human beings is far more important)
Ban Coming Here in the UK Too!
The recent proposals on a new careless driving law include penalising drivers for using hands-free phones (though how a policeman will know...), so beware!
How long will it be before
passengers are banned? They can be several times more distracting than a phone call.
Nanny state? Are you serious?
The "nanny state" comment totally misses the point.
I don't care if someone does something stupid and gets hurt. I do care if someone does something stupid and hurts other people. As someone who bicycles on city streets and frequently has to slam on the brakes to avoid getting crushed under the vehicles of morons talking on the phone, I applaud this development.
works for me
Driving is a privilege, not a right. Let the assholes hurt themselves, no skin off my nose. However, if said idiots want to make my life more risky, then I say cut them off at the knees before they do so. The case for the dangers of mobile phone use increasing driving risk - especially risk to others - has been made. It's time to take action and reduce that risk. Mobile use in the car should be treated the same as a DUI.
Any driver found to have been on the phone when they've been in a prang should be treated the same as if they were driving drunk and have their license withdrawn. Instead of not even being charged, as was the case with the dozy bint who wrecked my leg because she was too busy waving at her phone to pay attention to the fucking road ahead of her.
A "nanny state" is about the state protecting people from themselves. This is about the state doing its job for once, and protecting me from self-important assholes who put their phone calls ahead of my life. I note that the author is from a state where people regularly shoot each other on the highway, and they seem to find this to be "normal". I guess this tends to skew your perspective somewhat.
So people will do what, then?
Blathering away on a mobile when driving is unnecessary- but surely making a short hands-free call whilst driving (e.g "I'm stuck in traffic, home in an hour" or "What's the name of your street again?") can be safer than pulling in, parking and then pulling out again. It's certainly more fuel efficient! Was a risk assement on the alternatives to taking a call (including the resulting preoccupation with any untaken call) even a part of this study?
And that is before we consider RAC men, policemen, delivery drivers and others who have need telecommunications.
Who here hasn't had some numpty pull out on them from a parked position? I'm sure you have, Mr Reed. Though sympathetic to your two-wheeled situation, I don't think banning all calls is the answer to all your woes - in fact, it could result in much hurried witless parking in bike lanes, bus stops and the like, with cars crossing cyclists' routes twice in the process.
Passengers aren't as distracting
Actually, there has been more than one study done that shows that passengers are less distracting than a mobile call. Firstly, there are more pauses in a conversation when someone is right there with you compared to when you're talking on a phone. Second, if the driving conditions become more hazardous, normally the passengers will shut up - or tell you to pay attention to the road! They have a vested interest in your not crashing, unlike the person you're chatting to on the phone. Also, dealing with the device, even hands-free, is another (slighter)distraction. There are any number of accidents caused by people adjusting their radios, even.
That being said, no-one seemed to have these concerns about CB radios. Is there an intrinsic difference there?
Isn't sticking a coffee cup in your face dangerous
What about drinking and eating.
I am sure that putting a massive coffee cup up to your face and drinking makes it real hard to see what you are doing and feeding your face or doing makeup or ....
What about listening to the radio or looking out the windows of the car - all that distraction.
These are just retarded old farts that don't know their arse from their elbow's.
What they need to do is police the traffic better and get some of these backwards old idiots off the road.
I watched one old fool turn his car in front of on coming traffic and no police were around.
What about these women that are busy screaming at their horrible little children. Ban those nasty little urchin's from cars, keep them in a cupboard or tie them to a bed.
What about the women that think that they can do multiple tasks and drive 30 miles over the speed limit while trying to do them or think that it's okay to do 100mph in a 55 mph zone because they want to get past everyone before it returns to single lane traffic and take the side of a vehicle off in the process and then blame the other driver for not seeing them.
Heck - Ban women drivers, old drivers, ban everyone and keep the roads clear. Get those horses and buggies out or everyone should drive in golf carts limited to 10mph. Better still get onto bicycles.
as for Bryan Reed - your are a moron for not looking and riding your cycle defensively. You are as much to blame as the drivers.
First time it was their fault - after that it is your fault for not watching for them.
So being stopped for not wearing a seatbelt when Im wearing one will now be replaced by talking on a handsfree kit when im yelling along with the radio.
Awesome. I can look forward to me and mine getting jacked for another impossible-to-dispute bullshit fine. Huzzah, what _wonderous_ news.
Fail. For a safety implementation its pointless: passengers, the radio, the ham sammich in your passenger seat now your footwell godddammit, the girl with the nice pair of legs you just Ohmygodwheredidthatassholecomefrom.
You cant ban dipshit women who apply makeup cruising at 50 with the other traffic. you cant ban parents who bring screaming children in the car with them and spend half their time looking at the road and the other half looking behind them, yelling at their kids. you cant ban loud radios and the people that tilt their head back and scream aerosmith lyrics and make turns at the same time, or travelling suits with one eye on the road and the other on the FT.
Bottom line is, some people think they can multitask anything into driving. if you take away phones, it wont make a lot of difference. you're just removing one of the hundred things they can do whilst driving/mounting the kerb unexpectedly/merging into oncoming traffic.
@ Bryan Reed : I used to cycle in london; Dipshit drivers didnt rise in frequency with cellphones, they were always there, being blind, useless Organ-harvester wagons.
Are these drivers SOOOO important that they have to have these damned things stuck to their ear holes while they're driving?
How the hell did we survive before mobile phones? Oh yes, we just did without. I just refuse to have one. I don't want to be contactable every minute of every day.
Also @Trix - spot on. Passengers are there with you and know when to shut up when the going gets tough. I've been in a car where the driver was trying to hold a conference call with a group of others on his handsfree kit. You can hear the awkwardness from the other end when he stopped talking to turn a dodgy corner or negotiate a junction. "Have we lost you? Are you still there?" "Yes of course I'm f**king still here, I just don't want to kill myself!!!!"
Sorry - I do get a bit carried away....
Turn them off
I work for a multinational, and one of the directors has recently said that he doesn't want us using the phone while driving, even after they paid to have hands-free kit fitted.
I've taken to turning mine off. If it could be set to 'text only' that would be fine, I could here it chime and then stop when convenient to read what they have to say. Perhaps we should campaign for all new phones to have a 'text only' mode
As the article mentions it is currently illegal in California to make a cell phone call in a car w/o a headset (has been since June). That certainly hasn't stopped anyone, so how exactly does passing yet another unenforceable law help remedy the situation?
I won't argue people using handsets or texting in the car are a danger, but I'm not convinced that there is the same level of risk when one uses a headset. Given the lack of enforcement of current regulations, the morons who are the most dangerous aren't likely to be deterred.
Pissed-off yank replies.
My take from this side of the pond is:
1) nanny-state rides again. Legislators are easily persuaded to protect King and country...or maybe Obama and yo mamma. It's easy vote-getting. Little opposition. Who wants to protect druggies, drunks, perverts, reckless/selfish drivers?
We forget how easy it is to find ourself on the wrong side of the US and THEM line. Do Rush Limbaugh's painkillers put him on the "druggie" side of that line? One drink too many is all it takes to join the "drunks." Unless you ID every date, one night with a teenager forever brands you a perv.
I think my 20+ years of driving without accident means I drive well. But I bet dimes to dollars that someone sharing the road with me thinks I'm an inconsiderate jerk. Probably every day I drive.
It's just too easy to let US vs. THEM lead to bad, useless, draconian legislation. The U.S. seems hell-bent on it.
2) money $ money $ money $ money $ money $ money $ money $ money $ money $ money $ money $ money $ money.
Just think of all the revenue that can be generated from cell-phone tickets! Look at this country's track record in other areas:
Seatbelt tickets started as add-on fees if the cop pulled you over for something else. (Something LEGITIMATE, in my opinion.) Now a seat-belt is reason enough to pull you over.
Cracking down on dead-beat dads was never about the kids. It was about the state recovery services charging a percentage off the top of every wage garnishment and state-arranged support payment.
Can you really believe photo-cop is about increased safety rather than revenue? Statistics published in Car And Driver show that cameras installed at intersections did nothing to reduce accidents. Many cities showed INCREASED accidents at these intersections...traced to changed light timing after the new revenue stream was in place. (Install camera, shorten yellow light, encourage violation, and VIOLA lots more money for the city.)
Most important is to let your senator or representative know how you want him/her to vote.
I think Dave and Raving Loony are on the right track. The cellphone is no more sinister than alcohol or music or conversation. Some can multitask well enough, others can't. Drivers should be presumed innocent (capable) until they prove otherwise, just like a DUI.
How difficult is it to check usage logs on a phone at the accident/ticket scene? I have no problem with banning cellphone use for those whose driving record indicates a problem. Anything more is overreaction.
The sooner this law comes into the UK the better.
As the police can't be everywhere at once watching out for the people who think that their sales call or dinner date is more important than someone else's life, there should be some form of public reporting tool available. Car registration and the approximate location and time should do it. Even if the police followed up 1%, weeded out the hoaxes and malicious calls, requested the phone records, and prosecuted accordingly, the deterrent would make a difference.
And yes I do have a vested interest - seven years later I still have back and posture problems after a head-on with someone on my side of the road on a blind bend while they were talking on their phone. That sort of experience, quite frankly, tends to give you a fairly hardened attitude on this subject.
Why more legislation...
There is legislation for dangerous driving. Why not use that if someone is driving dangerously?
I have a phone built into my car (in the factory) I can make and answer calls from the steering wheel. If i need to make a call, or take a call I do (although not very often). If I need to concentrate I stop talking and stop listening - the same as if I have a passenger in the car with me. Those who don't are going to cause accidents whether on the phone or not as the don't appriciate the concentration needed to drive.
Making laws like this are a pointless waste of time, when we have other laws already in place to stop bad driving.
As people say, "drivers" are doing anything but concentrating on the road, so ban the driver's use of the phone in a moving vehicle. That way, they can focus on their makeup, changing diapers, shouting at passengers, daydreaming or masturbation, and will not be FURTHER distracted by the needs of a remote conversation. How to enforce sufficiently? Who cares, just make it really, really expensive to get caught.
Oh give over
Holding a phone up to your ear and talking is dangerous, yes, and I believe still legal in America? (Could be wrong, apologies if I am.) But I've got a wee Bluetooth headset. If I want to call someone, I tap it and say their name. HOLY SHIT, what a dangerous thing to do! That's far more dangerous than switching settings on my GPS system or songs on my DAP, or changing the radio, etc, etc. And once I'm connected to the call, I'm perfectly capable of talking and not smashing into people. If a situation arises that requires more concentration, I simply stop talking, and the person on the other end, not being a moron, waits for me to come back.
I can think of a gazillion things more dangerous on the roads than hands-free talking to someone.
Bryan Reed get a life
I've also cycled on the road and been knocked off by a car driver - before mobile phones were invented. He didn't check his mirror before he turned right. But then again, I was flying up from behind at about 30mph overtaking the traffic queue.
Cycling is extremely dangerous! Deal with it! Stop trying to blame everyone else. My father was knocked off his bike and broke both his arms... again, before mobile phones existed.
People like Bryan Reed hate everyone else on the road. Even as a pedestrian I am used to having to dodge out of the way of hysterical cyclists appearing out of nowhere, bowling along at twice the speed of everyone else unable to stop, waving their fist in the air and shouting abuse at any pedestrian who dares pop a foot over the kerb line. Who do these cyclists think they are? Speeding along the road full of hormones wearing tight spandex, a helmet, a mask and those terrible 'asshole' glasses? This ain't Tour de' France you know. Of all the road users (pedestrians included) cyclists certainly seem to rate themselves pretty highly. They appear to believe that they occupy some sort of higher moral platform and that they are therefore entitled to treat every other road user with utter contempt.
Fewer people on the road need cyclists than they do mobile phones. Might as well just ban cyclists instead.
Weaving in and out of the traffic to get to the front of the queue. Then getting to the front and either ignoring the red traffic signals and carrying on regardless or putting themselves first and pulling in front of other people waiting in cars at the front of the queue. Jumping the queue is never acceptable anywhere else... i.e. using a pair of roller skates does not mean you can roll past other standing customers to the front of a ticket queue just because your using green energy? So why is it ok if you're a cyclist? I've started rolling my car right up to the line or even maybe a little over the line so cyclists can't weave up the side and then move over and stop in front of me. It's not only the rudeness either... when the lights turn green you actually want to move away from the line... not sit there staring up some spandex asshole as it pumps through the much too stiff gearing on the sports bike to try and get back up to speed. Nope, superior cyclists can bugger off.
Paris, because she agrees with spandex and she likes to ride but she is much more polite about it.
This'll stir it up!
I am of the opinion that if you don't have the brain capacity to talk and drive at the same time then perhaps you should do neither.
Take responsibility for your own safety
Just because the 'law' says its illegal to use the phone doesn't mean people wont use them.
Anecdotal i know, i was on a motorway when a car started to drive very close to me in crap drizzly weather, I noticed that the person was constantly glancing down as if she was texting, i got the hell out of the way. Within less than a mile she had ploughed into the back of a breaking car.
To be honest, I would whine and moan about this if it came to where I live.
But - let's be honest - it's a good idea.
It's clear Rik hasn't yet left the safety of mummy's house and only just avoided being broadsided by a git in a Cayenne with a phone glued to his ear, but to the rest of us in the real world, this would be pretty good.
Rik - you need to understand that, while nobody likes to have a privilege taken away, it sometimes needs to be taken away for the safety of society as a whole.
If/when you have children, you'll understand.
Correlation does not imply causation
Isn't it just as likely that there are simply a significant number of bad drivers on the road? Such drivers are likely to
(a) have most of the accidents, and
(b) be on the phone a lot.
So the statistics would show a large correlation between accidents and mobile-phone use, but stopping the phone use won't help because they will still be bad drivers.
One could use similar logic to show that most accidents involve use of a steering wheel, so we should ban steering wheels.
Re:Passengers aren't as distracting
Well, everyone likes to twist figures to their own devices (so I take most with a pinch of salt) but it has been shown that on average a passenger makes you less likely to crash than driving alone. With the exception of young (mostly) adult men trying to impress, most people drive more considerately and carefully when they have a passenger on board.
I don't quite buy into how they will enforce this though. Does this mean that I might potentially be stopped for talking to myself, singing to the radio or giving a running commentary on how shit other peoples driving is? How would they be able to prove I was on the phone without first arresting me, as my call logs are my own business so they couldn't demand to see them? In fact all I would have to do as they got out of their car is clear my recent call list on my phone and they would have to go to the phone company to get proof.
Just for information I never use my mobile in the car and refuse to answer when I'm driving, but I still think this is a stupid law which cannot be enforced, should they change it. Perhaps instead they should start looking at the people on the road who never should have been given a licence, because they plainly are incapable of controlling a car.
The sooner it's implemented here the better. Many many investigations over the past few years have shown talking on the phone to increase the likelyhood of accidents. Do a search at New Scientist and you'll find many articles including...
"Hands-free cellphones carry car crash risk too"
"Hands-free phones not risk-free for drivers"
"Hands-free kits do not reduce crash risk"
"Cellphones worse than drink-driving"
Not policeable? I don't think that's an issue.
Car's fitted with handsfree should fail MOT's.
Any car with a live phone in it could automatically detected by roadside or mobile detectors and be subject to an automated fine system. (yeah so passengers can't use them either - so what).
Assholes in cars on phones are not the only killers on wheels, but they can be legislated against, identified and removed from the roads.
Driving and talking
I don't tend to drive all that much now, but when I did I used a hands free device and used it to receive calls and then explain to the caller that I was driving. That is within the law where I am living.
Actually driving while eating, or drinking could well be illegal. If the officer sees you and you appear to be affecting your driving you may well be stopped. I am sure that this could be arguably extended to singing along with the radio, arguing with a passenger, or picking your nose.
And as for the self righteous cyclists who believe they are nothing but victims. Well since giving up the car I cycle to and from the station every day and the idiots I see on bikes way outnumber the idiots I saw on the road. Cycling without lights, while using a phone, ignoring traffic lights, hell even ignoring road markings saying which direction to go in and who has priority. These people are a bigger danger to themselves (and other road users) than the average driver. Perhaps none of these "idiots" live in the UK but it would surprise me if that were the case.
There are laws in place already that state that you must drive with care and consideration for other road users. Using a hands free set does not exclude this possibility but it can, when used wrongly, diminish it. Clearly using communications while in charge of a vehicle is not always dangerous otherwise the emergency services, pilot's, and no doubt other groups I've overlooked would simply not be able to go about their business without crashing into each other.
....is see dipshits chatting away on the mobiles, handsfree, oblivious to their surroundings. Be they sales twats doing a 3 way conference call, women gossiping about the woman down the road or 17yr old lads, just, well being twats.
I can guarentee at least twice a week I will be cut up by said such moron, so ban them I say.
The recent proposals on a new careless driving law include penalising drivers for using hands-free
It's already law, as is doing your makeup, shaving, stuffing a buger down you fat lardy face and retuning your radio.
The Police and law line is pretty clear. if you are not concentrating on the road, you are breaking the law.
Still when your loved ones get plouged into by someone chatting on the phone, see if you views are the same, will you go, oops a daisy, never mind, sure the conversation was far more important than looking where you were going (No it hasn't happend to me).
@ Robert EAH
"Perhaps we should campaign for all new phones to have a 'text only' mode"
We have those. They are called "pagers"
As for the dangers of using a phone while driving, mythbusters did it. Using a phone while driving can be just as dangerous as driving drunk in terms of response to unexpected events, with and without hands-free. Of course, when it comes to expected events like lights changing you can put the phone down you can't stop being drunk. Same for people singing with the radio, you can stop that whenever you want and comparatively it sucks less brain power than holding a conversation. Now, as for the whole "applying makeup, talking on the phone and screaming at the kids while speeding" thats just flatout dangerous driving and is already illegal.
There will be a day when we look back...
and wonder how we ever let humans drive cars.
Typical lobby group spiel
Isn't the underlying problem a matter of driver attention and skill - both things that can be remedied to a degree by better and ongoing training?
It amazes me that much of the new capabilities afforded to us by advancements in technology are used for the purposes of telling people what they can or cannot do (and in turn, policing and enforcing such activities) instead of using technology to bypass the problem altogether.
If someone cannot hold a hands-free phone conversation whilst paying due care to the road then in my book they are just not able to multi-task to a level that most (well most people I know) can. Instead of penalising them, why not try offering them computerised training tools to assist them in managing tasks better?
Ultimately, improving driver ability will make drivers better equipped to respond safely to travel conditions whilst taking away the right to do certain specific activities has a dumbing-down effect on driver ability.
Regularly almost lost it with CB
I very frequently used to get that curly wire wrapped round the steering wheel when doing a turn... ah good times, good times. The funny thing is that although there is a phone handset ban in the UK the use of push-to-talk radios is still completely legal.
Dave has got a point about very short calls on a handsfree being a positive benefit. But we all know that what people really do is yak on all the time for ages. There are enough people driving around like knobs without giving them even more incentive. I mean basically you can't drive properly when you're trying to join in some complicated business situation can you, it's like trying to have sex while doing mental arithmetic.
At my company the management seem to be taking a serious view of the new corporate homicide laws and don't want to go to jail because some dopey pleb employee ran somebody over while driving on company business. We're not allowed to use handsfree anymore.
To those who say how will it be enforceable... I don't think they'll have cameras watching your lips in case they move. The idea is they have got something to do you for after you've been involved in a smash, they will check to see if you were using your phone.
But, one would imagine, somewhat difficult to enforce.
@ Robert EA Harvey
"If it could be set to 'text only' that would be fine, I could here it chime and then stop when convenient to read what they have to say. Perhaps we should campaign for all new phones to have a 'text only' mode"
There is such a beast as "text only" - it's called "Divert All Calls to Voicemail".
I generally have mine set to a 5-second divert to voicemail, so I have the missed call on my screen, and I know who to call back if they haven't left a message. Or who's being a twat by calling over and over and over, and thus should be ignored in perpetuity.
5 sec divert, if you're not using a phone with the option to set delay on unanswered calls in the divert menu, can be set up by keying:
**61*(voicemail number)*11*5# <CALL>
Summarising all comments
ban driving altogether.
Life is to distracting for driving.
Alternatively, get Maschines to drive instead of distractable humans
Highways have exits. You are not single-handedly responsible for preventing nuclear war. Your call can wait.
I loved talking on my hands-free while driving between Baltimore and DC on perpetually-congested I-95. But after one hour-long gabfest, I realized I was back in Baltimore and couldn't remember anything that happened outside of my car. Sure, I was physically there, completely sober, hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, but my mind had been with my friend on the phone. If something had come up requiring a quick stop, I probably would not have been aware of it until too late.
I've seen other spaced-out looking drivers talking to thin air, so I'm probably not the only one who pays less attention than they think they are while talking to someone not in the car.
To those who think that they drive and talk on their mobiles just fine: there are also plenty of people who think that they drive as well on a beer or three as they do sober. I like my mobile and I love beer and wine, but those things just don't mix with safely operating a car.
Driving's the most dangerous thing most of us do on a regular basis. Why voluntarily handicap ourselves behind the wheel?
"When automotive cell-phone calls are outlawed, only outlaws will make automotive cell-phone calls."
That's a great mental image of Clint Eastwood, riding into a dusty old town whilst talking on his mobe!
Transcript of call
... and get someone to tell those Government busybodies that driving and using a hands free mobile phone does not impair you're <unintelligible shout followed by sound of collision>
Passengers & Police Have Advantages
Agree entirely with a ban.
I've seen far too many fools on the phone, as they drive in an obviously distracted manner. Sure, there are those that can use a phone in a sensible manner, but unfortunately, there are many more that can't or wont.
Passengers, distracting? Yes, but they have the advantage of sight and can see when you, the driver, are extra busy making sure you avoid the idiot on the phone in the other car that's too close for comfort.
The police, etc. are trained to use vehicle comm's better than we ever are and they also have that little advantage of looking like a vehicle that contains someone that can get you in trouble faster than a Paris can raise blood pressure.
Mind you, if government and police are that interested in road safety, why don't they start pulling over the most dangerous of drivers. The roads are full of them, right behind you. So close you can't see their number plate in your mirror, or, in the case of lorries, so close you couldn't squeeze Paris in between them.
BBC Have Your Say
Have I come to the wrong site, and actually ended up on a BBC Have Your Say page?
Sweet Jesus people, get a grip and think before you post. Talk about polarising opinion!
Ban the phone but.....
.... everyone can have a gun! Sometimes I think they get their priorities wrong.
Mine's the one that's lined with kevlar!
RE: works for me
Sorry but you are incorrect. In the UK at least driving is in fact A RIGHT and not a privilege from the state. Of course it is subject to a licence which has to be earned and can be revoked but it is nonetheless a right.
Ban the phone!
The problem as always will be people *Won't* get the reason for the ban. Im sure certain people will still continue to act like idiots as usual and wear their Idiot Driver Badge with pride.
They still consider their own little conversation more important than everyone elses personal safety, dont bother arguing the point into the ground, if you were a sensible driver you wouldnt be going "What about my radio or my sandwich?" because you wouldnt be allowing that to distract you either, you know you don't have to obey the gadget, it doesn't rule you.
My *wat of the day award goes to the guy I saw on the M6 this morning using an electric shaver while he was driving, yeah I was that guy on the motorbike shaking my head at you.
Last night - bizarre
As I was coming home, I turned into the street where I live and noticed a young lady waiting at the junction facing me in her car with no lights on.
I stopped, wound down my window and helpfully pointed out that she had no lights on (it was very dark).
Her reply - "I know, I'm on the phone".
Phew, I felt like such an idiot. I should have thought of that. Obviously the safest thing to do when you get a call at night is stop in the middle of the road at a "Give Way" sign and switch everything off.
'text only mode' ??
Yee gods have some control - just don't answer it!
I'm not comfortable on the phone driving - hands free doesn't make any difference. I was following another car to a camp site in wales once and the honest truth is I have no idea how I got there, I was in mid wales on minute and at the campsite the next - all due to an involved phone call from work, the driving was on autopilot.
I just don't answer it now - I'll pull in somewhere in the next few minutes and call them back. If it's a with held number I probably didn't want to speak to them anyway.
If I'm on a motorway they have to wait a bit longer until I find a services - gives me a chance to get a drink anyway :)
Already the law where I work
The telco I work for will fire anyone immediately if they are found to use their mobile whilst driving including bluetoothing it or wired to an earpiece. Considering we promote people to use mobile phones makes it kind of ironic that they'll fire their own staff for using what we sell !!!!!
Paris - cos she's dumb, 'nuf said
Re: Already the law where I work
Doesn't sound ironic to me, it sounds perfectly consistent. Company doesn't want its employees giving its products a bad name, innit.
I was stationary at a pedestrian crossing when someone drove into the back of me. The BMW-driving wanker who hit me was on the phone of course, "oh, sorry mate" as he shrugged sheepishly. It was a big impact - ironically my own hands-free kit flew out of the tray under the dash.
It could have been a lot worse, if I hadn't been there to arrest his progress he would probably have killed the teenage girl who was crossing the road - she was exactly in front of me when he rammed me.
So I'm all in favour of "the nanny state" banning mobile use while driving. I would support mandatory bans and re-tests.
Re: Passengers aren't as distracting
I suggest you take your typical "know all" father in law for a ride. Shut up? Forget it...
As far as talking on the phone being severely distracting - I agree. However, there are technical means of dealing with that. As anyone who have left his blackberry forgotten on one times too many flying in Europe knows, mobile networks already blacklist devices that move too fast while being active.
All that is needed here is to blacklist any phone that is making a non-emergency call while moving at above 20mph (95%+ of all journeys are made with only one person in the car so the question of passengers talking is rather moot or should be handled by dedicated in-car devices available _ONLY_ to passengers).
However if you want to walk into a mobile operator boardroom with this suggestion you should probably wear a flak jacket and an asbestos suit on top. Though even that may not be sufficient. It is a key part of mobile revenue and they will skin you alive for this one.
Compared to alcohol...
I read the report that the Transport and Road Research Lab did before the UK partial ban was introduced. They measured driving ability in a "car simulator" with various distractions and calibrated it against the level of impairment resulting from alcohol. The conclusion was that using a hands-free phone caused more impairment than being at the legal alcohol limit, and using a hand-held phone was about twice as bad. On this basis, if we think that the alcohol limit is right, they should have banned all use. I don't recall whether they also measured texting; this is the difficult one IMO. Before the ban people who were texting would hold the phone up so that they could at least see some of the road. Now they hold it down in their lap where they have no chance of seeing anything that's going on outside.
Coffee cups etc
As it stands, under current UK legislation you can get done for simply changing your radio station whilst driving (seriously). If a police officer sees you and determines that it is causing you to lose control or otherwise not pay attention - that is an offence. In England, this can just be on the officer's say-so (not the case in Scotland as the court does not recognise a police officer's word carrying any more wieght).
Also included in the offence are any forms of drinking, eating, smoking, map-reading (including GPS); in fact, any activity that does not involve both hands being involved in the act of driving.
It is high-time there was a total ban in place, with harsh penalties for any offender (six month ban, no "undue hardship" defence, for the first offence would seem to be about right). YOU know the rick, YOU put the phone to your ear; YOU made that choice; face the consequences.
While we're at it, can we bring in mandatory re-testing (every 10 years says), eye tests (every 2 years) and medicals (every 5 years) for all drivers? Yes this will cost, but I bet the benefits will more than outweigh that.
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