back to article Feds propose 50-state ban on mobile use while driving

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has called for a nationwide ban on driving while using what it calls "personal electronic devices" – PEDs – by which they mean mobile phones and, to a lesser extent, fondleslabs. And when the NTSB says mobile phones, they mean handheld or hands-free, unless the hands-free system …

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Anonymous Coward

While we're at it

Why don't we ban talking, unruly children, and driving over 15 miles per hour?

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FAIL

Usual moronic response.

Do you know the reason talking to a passenger is far less danger than a phone?

If you are approching a "dangerous" situation, such as a junction, sudden slow moving traffic, lane changing, the passenger will natually shut up. They can also scream at you if your just to make a deadly manouver.

The person on the phone has no concept of your situation, so will contiune talking.

Still, why let driving get in the way of a conversation about what you need to get from the shops on the way home.

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What's even more amusing...

... is that this is a recommendation coming from a country that hasn't even managed to make wearing a seat belt mandatory in every state / locale ...

Yes, New Hampshire, I'm looking at you.

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FAIL

Fail?

The unruly children the OP was talking about won't "naturally shut up" as they don't necessarily have any concept of the situation either.

I doubt the OP was condoning texting while driving, but banning use of a handsfree kit (although for some reason the ban seems to exclude extortionate "professionally installed" ones) is a bit silly IMHO.

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@BenR

There is a difference in the two things. Mandatory wearing of a seatbelt is an infraction of personal liberties with no effect on third parties.* Not wearing a seatbelt does not affect other road users, it only makes the results of any crash worse for the individual concerned. mandatory helmet laws are the same - basically, there is no real argument except "I think it is a good idea, so everyone must do it".

On the other hand, [some] PED use does affect other road users (and people in their houses, in shops, etc) because it is driving without due care and attention. I'm unhappy about how laws are used sometimes (definitions of "stationary" seem to be very malleable when fines can be extorted, for instance), but, overall, such law probably meets the "public good" test.

*I would wear a seatbelt regardless of the law, because it is just plain sensible. However, I do not believe that it should be mandatory. Such laws were the thin end the wedge with regard to government undermining personal responsibility.

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Anonymous Coward

OP here

...and FWIW the only thing I really have a problem with in the recommendation is the hands free. Texting, yeah that's stupid and dangerous. I don't like having to talk on my own phone without hands free, and don't like when my wife is driving and she does it (she thinks Bluetooth ear pieces are the most ugly/ridiculous pieces of kit ever).

Hands free though... that's bullshit. Sorry if you hate me for holding that opinion Mr. Lost All Faith - I average probably 5+ hours a day on the phone for work... not talking about my shopping. Those pesky Europeans love having conference calls about the time I'm heading into the office, and the Australians around the time I'm heading home. This legislation would directly impact how, when and where I am able to work... and there are plenty of things not banned that are more dangerous than hands free. There has to be a line somewhere.

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@I P: It may be a thin wedge,

but your claim that it only affects the person not wearing the seatbelt is dead wrong. The worse the crash, the more the insurance company pays, the more everyone else's insurance rates get jacked up. Also, you potentially have the emotional trauma for someone else involved in a fatal accident, particularly if that someone else was not at fault for the accident.

Granted, I'm in favor of not having the law, but that's one of the few issues where I am a Darwinist: the sooner we get the stupid people weeded out of the gene pool the better. Of course, most people object to that point of view.

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Intractable Potsherd

" Not wearing a seatbelt does not affect other road users, it only makes the results of any crash worse for the individual concerned."

Not only does it affect other road users, eg. road closed while the medics carefully extract you on a spinal board as opposed to you opening the door and getting out, it affects every taxpayer by making it more expensive to put you back together again.

Still, as long as you have the right to be a twunt, eh?

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@intractable postherd

"Mandatory wearing of a seatbelt is an infraction of personal liberties with no effect on third parties"

I do agree that, if someone is dumb enough to drive without a seatbelt while alone in their vehicle, that's their choice. In my car, it's mandatory.

Ever seen an unsecured 200+lb adult take flight from a rear seat with a surprised look on their face, demolish the front seat and bounce off the inside of the windshield? I have, and that was merely a well-executed emergency stop from 30mph or so (some dumb kid ran into the road in front of me). If the third party I'd just dropped off 30 seconds earlier had been in that front seat, they'd have been properly effed up.

Since then, I don't move until everyone's belted up, law or no law. If they feel like they're having their liberties infringed, they can fuck off out of the car and ponder them while they walk home.

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Actually, not wearing a seatbelt (or a motorcycle helmet (another brilliantly inconsistent safety measure in the US)) can have a *massive* impact on other people. This is the US - the home of the stupid lawsuit. By not wearing a seatbelt or helmet, the driver/rider is much more likely to sustain a serious injury and sue you (assuming you were at fault) for them being stupid. I have absolutely no problem with not requiring seatbelts or helmets if and only if there is a law passed that says there is no liability to anyone else if you are not wearing them if doing such might have prevented the injury.

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Does this include satnav type devices?

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Sir

Are CB radios excluded?

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Why restrict it to only CBs?

The thinly veiled claim in the report is that ANY conversation is a distraction. In my book that includes passengers and AM and FM radio stations. You want to see somebody completely unaware of the road while driving? Watch a goofball jamming to his favorite radio song (or yelling at a talk show host) while alone in the car.

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Devil

Really? What about the rest of the idiots.. . . .

that put on makeup. Drink coffe. Smoke. drop a cigarette? swerve all over the road trying to find said cigarette? Person belting kids for making a ruccus? change radio stations? better yet, make every driver drive in a plastic bubble isolating them from all distractions?

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prior art...

the Homermobile

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Devil

Calm down, it is just the vehicle manufacturer lobby speaking

See, if it is installed by a vehicle manufacturer it is OK. If not you are at fault.

So now, vehicle manufacturer bundles LOUSY bluetooth integration with their own LOUSY SatNav with 6 spoke alloy wheels gold plated sign "I am an arsehole" and puts it only on the "Clarkson-Approved Invincible" model of the vehicle. They also price SatNav at 600+, Bluetooth at 400+. You should not forget the mandatory "Daemon" wheels for 1200 more too. They also have the Bluetooth deliberately crippled so it does not take announcements from the SatNav so you actually buy and use theirs instead of that on the phone.

You should not complain about big corps using politicos to mandate their source of income. That is how the world is supposed to run. You are a consumer. Consume and shut up. Capiche?

In any case, texting while driving is a pickup truck is a Darwin award. 2 tons of metal (unladden) require some respect when operating. I drive mine at 60 mph as a truck most of the time (despite it being perfectly capable of more and tested at 90mph on the Autobahn in cross-EU trips).

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Doesn't mean it's a bad idea though.

Just amend the law to allow anything that uses the car speakers and a fixed microphone.

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Big Brother

Re:What about the rest of the idiots.

Yes any fool can pass a driving test,

...and many have.

What we need is more traffic officers on the road in marked cars, pulling people over, and writing them up for dangerous driving and driving without due car and attention, failing to keep their car/bike/truck up to spec, etc.

However this is expensive by comparison to sticking up speed camera.

Active enforcement = deterence = compliance. It's simple, but not a vote winner.

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Pint

@Byron.

Ha ha, that reminds me of 'The Dude'!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjBBDJ5OiT0

"Hey, careful, man, there's a beverage here! "

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Devil

@ DC: Can't have that!

Traffic is snarled enough during rush hour without having police jamming up the lanes with stopped cars.

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Coat

Other People

"The pickup was then struck from behind by a school bus, which was plowed into by a second school bus. Two people were killed and 38 were injured.

...In addition, the driver of the first bus had been distracted by a motorcoach that had pulled to the side of the road, and the driver of the second bus was faulted for following the first bus too closely."

I'm glad the article continued to quote and included the excuses of the two bus drivers. However bad the texting lad (who died) was doing, the two bus drivers (who were not using PEDs per their statement) STILL ran into him. PEDs are killers for sure, but no worse than DUI, makeup, smoking, playing with the radio dials, etc, etc, etc. Unfortunately, texting while driving is about as enforceable as DUI, but instead of a breathalizer, they need a laptop with your cell records.

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Dropped CD

That's how I got rear-ended in my new car, in 1988, just about 2 weeks after I had it. I decel'd at a light, and left about 10 feet between me and the bobtail truck ahead. The light seemed red forever. I looked left, looked right, couldn't see ahead, as there were vehicles ahead and to my right. A median, with cement at least 8" high was to my left. Next, I looked in the rear-view mirror. INT WTF??? A minivan with NO VISIBLE DRIVER was coming down the overpass, right behind me. IIRC, a kid was in the front passenger seat.

I couldn't go right, couldn't go left, couldn't go forward. Angered, I began pounding the steering wheel since I'd lost my prior car only a month or so prior ***. For whatever reason, I began pumping the brakes, girding up to be rear-ended, but not wanting to rear-end the truck ahead and having my ass dragged into a rear-ending lawsuit or insurance claim against me. Luckly, THAT allowed me to be hit, roll forward a few feet, then stop JUST before scraping my hood (bonnet for you in the UK, hehehe) under the lift gate.

Turned out that that driver admitted (or her kid told the police) that she was trying to pick up a fallen music cassette. InF*CKINGcredible. WTF runs through people's minds when they get a car? Why don't they do what *I* did? I practiced picking up up stuff, simulating moving while testing my safest reach radius allowed without my eyes diverting from the view ahead. I practiced sliding the seat forward and backward and increasing slack on the belt to allow me to reposition without losing seat and foot positioning to an *immediately* dangerous stretch.

Maybe I had had too much navy and worst-case-scenario stuff in mind, driving me to rehearse things that might imperil me or other drivers. I even practiced sneezing with my eyes OPEN (when real sneezes came, I kept my eyes open, whether driving or not), partly to validate that my eyeballs were not going to leave my skull. That practice ultimately paid off when about 4 years (~ 1992) later I was driving through Lost Dangerles near Anaheim, and got a whiff of the pollutants, sonething which was tendril-like, prompting incessant sneezing. I was in the elft lane, doing maybe 60MPH with the traffic, and could NOT F*CKING STOP SNEEZING. It began to hurt like hell, and I almost swiped thr center divider. Between the air and the water (TWO TIMES i got the Drhha attack from drinking restaurant water), I avoided LA as much as possible after that. Then, years later, no problems.

Dropping cigs, cassettes, CDs, food... NONE of that matters, even if it means missing a job interview, NOT ONE LIFE or car swipe is less valuable than some idiot driving recklessly.

If cars had liability telemetry (not for movements monitoring but) for motions and behavior monitoring, LOTS of SOBs and DOBs (sons of Bs and daughters of bastards) would more quickly lose their permission to operate a vehicle on a maintained public roadway BEFORE they have a chance to kill someone or destroy property.

***(I hit the right/rear quarter panel of a car whose driver departed a private lot (of a grocery store) and cut across a bisected roadway to cross over to a shopping mall, on a poorly-lit, rain-slicked roadway, crossing over where the State or city should have installed non-crossable cement blocks due to rampant crashes (no, not accidents, but cRAshES and InciDENTs), leving me only time to decel lest I hit the median and flip over if unlucky. Bent the front of my car like a baseball-bat-struck-dog, totalling my car, but only doing some $500 in damage to the other car.)

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Go

Don't worry chaps...

10 years from now we won't be responsible for driving our personal transportation - probably the same length of time it will take to enact this legislation.

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"No call, no text, no update, is worth a human life," said NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman in a statement, noting that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has said that over 3,000 people were killed last year in accidents caused by what has become known as "distracted driving".

You have a better chance of being killed by the flu than being killed by texting. You have a better chance of being killed walking across the street than by texting. 3000 deaths is not all that many when you look at the population.

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Anonymous Coward

3000 deaths

I agree - I really do. However is saying "there are other things that kill more people" really an argument to justify allowing people to do things that not only kill themselves but kill others?

Maybe we should allow people to drink and drive because they will kill less people than cancer. Sucks if you die but at least it allows the driver the right to be drunk behind the wheel.

"You have a better chance of being killed walking across the street than by texting."

Yes, I agree again - but frequently this is because the idiot driver is texting / calling / drunk etc.

Should we say it is the victims fault for not noticing the driver was distracted? Cars have the potential to be deadly and, as such, there has to be some level of obligation placed on the driver. We already demand things like passing a test and prohibit driving when drunk, why is banning texting on the move such an infringement of liberties that people are up in arms over it?

As an aside - ~3000 deaths was enough to trigger the invasion of two countries and 10 years of war so maybe it is actually "that many" in some contexts.

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Stop

Re: You have a better chance of being killed by the flu than being killed by texting

Please supply statistical basis or academic research to support this wild assertion.

However the NTSB report is in line with earlier reasearch, for example the 2009 EU Report says 4 times as likely to be involved in an accident (so basically the same risk group as drunk driving)

"Methodologically sound epidemiological research shows that using car phones while driving

increases the likelihood of being involved in a crash resulting in property damage or injury

resulting in hospital attendance by a factor of four. Crash involvement increases with an

increasing amount of in-car telephone use. Heavy users are twice as likely to be involved in a

crash as those making minimal use of mobile phones. Hands-free phones offer no safety

advantage over hand-held units. Gender or age group does not affect the increased

likelihood of a crash while using a mobile phone and driving."

Rest of report can be found at;

http://ec.europa.eu/transport/road_safety/pdf/car_telephone_use_and_road_safety.pdf

Some of us already drive with the phone switched off, and only power it up when at service areas. Whilst I have no problems with risk my life with my stupity, I don't believe I should endanger others just for some minor comviance in contactability.

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Big Brother

I agree, sort of

One life lost is bad, however........subjecting 300,000,000 people to a law to save 3,000 doesn't make sense. You can save twice that by making all forms of swimming illegal, doesn't mean we should. All that number tells me, is that 3,000 people weren't able to do those two tasks at the same time as well as the other millions of drivers.

I have driven in lots of places around the globe, and one thing is clear; some people just shouldn't be allowed to drive. Give those people a cell phone, a cute pedestrian, a another car wreck, or pretty scenery, and guess what happens.

Make my cell phone turn off in the car, and I'll buy one from China that won't. My guess is the phone carriers are dreaming this law up as a way to cut their usage by a third, and they won't have to move the your call between cells as much. Or it will be just another law that we all will break, and can be used to punish us at any time.

"No officer, I wasn't talking on my hands-free, I'm schizophrenic."

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Holmes

Not just mobiles

Im not sure the problem is confined to mobile devices... Have you ever tried to adjust the AC in a Prius?

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Anonymous Coward

But... if we got all the Priuses off the road, I'm sure that would cause a **lot** less accidents. Have you seen how they all drive near Berkley? Apparently they _do_ own the road (or so they think).

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Coat

What about

the seven missing states.

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Sir

"What about the seven missing states?"

they just called, they're on their way but have been held up by some kind of accident involving a truck driver and a couple of school buses.

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Ban...

... minivans.

Minivan drivers are more dangerous than nearly everyone on the road, except perhaps a minivan driver who is on their phone.

Also, ban drivers who have nascar stickers, Jesus fish, and pretty much anyone from Michigan. The roads would be safer, and my morning commute would be a lot less stressful.

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Sir

Can't say I've ever noticed Jesus fish drivers being particularly poor.

However, I've been tempted to create a little fishing rod to stick to the back of their car to see what they would do when it was noticed :)

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Devil

Minivan drivers aren't good, I'll grant you, and the Jesus fish people sometimes act like they don't need to pay attention because God will help them. However, James May hit it on this one: bad drivers tend to buy bad cars. It makes sense. If you aren't interested in something, you aren't interested in getting good at it or doing it the right way with good tools. So if you aren't into food, you won't be good at making a dinner for eight.

So he concluded that the worst drivers tend to drive the worst cars, mostly Pacific rim cheapos. Can't say I disagree with him.

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TipEx little legs on the fish and write "Darwin" underneath...

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MnM
Pint

Good British ideas

Great American vision

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Facepalm

Radio, cigarette lighters, street atlases, beverage holders, mirror ornaments

May as well veto other automotive distractions like car radios while you are at it.

Truth be told, the GPS on my phone has entirely eliminated the need for me to lean over and find my place in a dead tree edition street atlas while driving.

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Happy

Can't wait ...

to hear what reasons the politicians come up with to ignore this ... I really can't see that Government has any business regulating how we kill one another - this is Amerika Damn it!

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Coat

You spelled 'America' with a K! Oh, you -rebel- boy! You sly dog, slipping it in under the radar like that?? Makes me ex-cited-! Oooh! Now, whatsay you an' I mosey on over to the caff-ay ah-lah-TAyy an' talk about gettin' a bit more serious... Ya know... Maybe next time... You can try for THREE Ks! Like for the Klan! And they're bad an' jackboots are bad, oh my word especially this time of year, really, and they're both bad so it's stickin' em -right- in the rear where they don't want it trust me and that's fighting back! Yeah, honey, we gots ta fight BACK!

...Ok, I have no f---ing idea where that came from. It's late, I'm tired, and an exaggerated combination of the gay guy on that wedding dress show my wife watches, and the guy on WBLI's morning show, seemed like the appropriate means to slate a nonsense generic-reactionary post.

Carry on. I'll be on my way.

PS: Is an iPhone verboten but an ipod touch ok? Hmmm...

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Coat

LOL

It was late ...

What I really want here is an <I don't give a rat's ass></> tag - these cell phone bad/gps good/babies bad arguments are predictable and eventually futile. To couple that with the "we can save 3000 lives" or even 30,000 lives is inane given that we happily ignore a great many other sources of accidental fatalities - like 100,000 "accidental" hospital deaths every year for example.

I'll meet you in the pub - what are you drinking? The first round is on me.

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Pint please..

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Anonymous Coward

This is precisely why...

Only people who can prove they are responsible adults should be allowed to operate a motorized vehicle. The rest can take the train.

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Flame

RE: "This is precisely why.."

That is indeed precisely why. When one reads..........

"driver of the pickup truck had sent and received 11 text messages in the 11 minutes before the accident, and that the final message was received right before the pickup ran into the truck-tractor."

...........it is almost necessary to read it a couple more times to get ones head round how lethally stupid the driver was. If we do not want the state to "take responsibility for" (=control) even more of our everyday actions then we better bloody well take responsibility ourselves. That kind of idiocy simply gives the lobbyists and the politicians more to work with. It makes it even harder to fight off the desire of some politicos to wave their legislative dicks around when so called adults behave the way that lad did.

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Joke

..and killing off the automobile will reduce pollution. Result!

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FAIL

And what about the other cause

Remind us how many firearm deaths there were last year............

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Joke

Ah but does discharging a firearm become more or less dangerous if you do it while texting?

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@Khaptain A most apposite question.

The answer for the US was about 30,000 or so total gun related deaths in 2010 of which a little over 50% were suicides. Thus approximately 12,000 or so due to deliberate action or accident. If we exclude self-harm it still means that about 4 times as many people die as result of a gun being discharged by another party than as a result of "distracted driving". It is instructive that politicians rush to legislate in the latter area (and others like it) but will not touch anything which can be characterised by the NRA as anti-gun legislation with the thin end of a very long bargepole. As far as guns are concerned they are flag waving libertarians, anything else (except of course BigCorp's sacred right to make as much money as possible unimpeded) and suddenly the joys of social authoritarianism overwhelm them.

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Joke

Perhaps someone will start the NTA - National Text Association.

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Black Helicopters

"Remind us how many firearm deaths there were last year............"

I could tell you ... but I'd have to kill you.

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Mushroom

More to the point:

My understanding, as a non-American, is that the Constitution (Second Amendment) guarantees a 'right to bear arms'. Hence any attempt to legislate against guns is seen as either a limitation on or an outright ban of something that is a Constitutional right. Hence, much shouty-shouty.

The fact that the ENTIRE sentence isn't quoted, which actually reads:

"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

This speaks volumes. The first bit is the qualifier in my eyes, but then I'm not a Constitutional Scholar, nor, even, an American. The fact they refer to 'the People' rather than the 'rights of the individual' would also seem to be a clue, but again, IANACS.

Anyway, the point is that nowhere in the Constitution does it refer to the "right of the People to keep and bear mobile telephony devices while driving 3 tons of internal combustion vehicle at high speeds shall not be infringed."

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