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 …
But you ought to be able to do a Google search
where you will find that the Supreme Court has ruled precisely that it IS an individual right, not a collective one, which has been the meme of the unthinking left for too many years. The phrase "The People" was clearly a legal term of art at the time the US Constitution was written which we today would right as "rights of the individual."
But then you also got the bit on telephony devices wrong too. That would be covered by the much vaunted First Amendment which guarantees your right to free speech. There are limited provision against libel/slander, and some restrictions for public safety. The catch being that any restrictions for public safety must show an overwhelming need to enact such a protection, and even then it must be done in the least restrictive manner possible.
That would be about 650 in the US for 2010
And no, homicides don't count because those are intentional, not accidental as is the case with the current report.
More to the point...
States are independent entities and the power of the central government is intended to be limited.
So it's not really their call to begin with. (The Feds)
Guns versus Mobiles
...also the chances are very good that a large proportion of those gun deaths occur in locations that have already tried to heavily restrict gun ownership or outright ban it. The local drug gang is not going to pay attention to anti-gun laws when it is flaunting anti-drug laws.
Yes and no, but interesting point. There is no specific constitutional bar against the federal govt passing legislation on this (neither is there a clear mandate for it), just like how they did for a speed limit. However, actually getting it adopted is another matter, like with the speed limit they can tie it to federal funding and effectively buy support.
If people weren't feckless, selfish idiots we wouldn't need half the laws we have.
I did do one...
... which is how I found out about the exact date that the Amendment was approved by Congress. And the various versions of the language that the Amendment went through before it was approved, especially the ones that, in my eyes, are much clearer about a well-armed militia composed of the people, rather than a well-armed people deciding to form a militia. I believe that, in America, the *INTENT* of the writers of the Constitution is something you hold quite dear. Given that they're all dead, the only way to get to that intent is by interpretation, and that is *MY* interpretation.
You'll also notice that throughout, I said I'm not an expert nor a constitutional scholar, and that, as above, I said everything was my own opinion. Just like I have done in THIS post.
And, again, to my eyes, looking at the First Amendment, yes it guarantees your right to free speech and thus you are free to talk about religion, politics, gives you freedom of the press etc. etc. It doesn't provide freedom to make libelous or slanderous claims however, as an example. It is not a catch-all bit of legislation enabling you to say anything you want, about anyone, to anyone, at any time, without fear of recrimination.
The use of 'free speech zones' is a backup to my thoughts on this - you're free to say what you want, but sometimes you might be asked to only do it in certain locations, or to not do it in others. The Supreme Court doesn't seem to have a problem with this, and to my eye, saying "don't use a phone while you're driving as it is very likely to cause a distraction, but feel free to use it elsewhere." is analogous to saying "you can say what you want about the President and his policies, and have as many signs as you want, but you've got to do it over there 300 yards away and not right in front of where he's walking."
Some will say "Yeah, but that's a safety issue to keep whack-jobs away so they can't stab him." They'd be right. But that's only the same as me saying I don't want people driving around on the roads while being distracted by talking on the phone. It's still a safety issue.
Anyway, I'm English, we do have this law, and while it's only intermittently enforced I'm still happier to have it rather than not. We also don't have a 'right to bear arms', which is probably why we have less gun murders annually in most of Europe combined that you do in the States.
Horses for courses I suppose.
Concur with the NTSB.
When you're driving, drive. It's kind of important.
Don't believe me? Attend a track day at your local race-track. After appropriate training (if you need it), do five hot-laps sans phone. Then do five laps talking on your telephone, even hands-free. I guaran-fucking-tee that your second five laps will be a good deal slower. Prove me wrong, and I'll pay your track time.
How do I know? I've done it. And I've been racing for decades ... That slower lap time translates directly to lack of concentration on actually driving.
Which translates to putting other road users into jeopardy in RealLife[tm]. And remember, folks on the roads in RealLife[tm] are NOT trained on the race track, at least not for the most part. Defensive driving starts with the individual ...
Turn off your telephones when driving, people ... There is absolutely NOTHING that is so important that it won't wait until you park your car.
Seriously ... What can you do about whatever so-called emergency is at the other end of the call that won't wait until you get to your destination? Do you REALLY think that answering a voice call or reading/sending a text message is worth a life, perhaps yours? Have you actually thought this through?
It's not the same as track racing...
... because when you are on a 'hot lap' you are, by definition, going all-out for speed, using 100% of your concentration. So when you try to do a hot lap whilst on the phone, you will obviously eat into that 100%.
In contrast when you are driving along in RealLife[tm] you should not be going at a speed that requires 100%. The speed limits are there partly to ensure you are going slow enough for that to be true.
So, in theory, you can take a certain level of distraction before it starts to impede your driving.
Why? because all sorts of distractions are inevitable (children, mother-in-laws etc) that can't be abolished by legislation, however much we might sometimes wish.
And, on average, half the drivers are below average in their competance, so we all go along slightly slowly to allow them to (mentally) keep up. (And yes, I could well be in that slow group)
Meanwhile, good luck with the racing, and yes, for that, do keep off the phone.
(Oh, and personally I don't recommend talking or texting on the phone whilst driving; I just think the logic of your comparison is flawed)
"There is absolutely NOTHING that is so important that it won't wait until you park your car"
Whilst I am inclined to agree, there was the time my wife called me (on my hands-free) about 10 minutes into a 5 hour journey oop-norf to tell me* she had just concussed herself and had just about enough co-ordination to hit re-dial on the phone before passing out.
I then called the ambulance which got to our house about 2 minutes after I did.
Having said that, even with the hands-free I always make sure I'm not maneuvering** and slow down a bit to give me more reaction time before I answer.
*it was very garbled speech but worked out something was wrong.
**Roundabouts/junctions and such
"That slower lap time translates directly to lack of concentration on actually driving."
That' there is where you make an unwarranted leap of logic. Running is not the same as driving, slowing down is not the same as "distraction". If you were talking to someone running with you, you'd slow down as well - should we then ban people from having conversations in a car or listening to the radio?
RE: The speed limits
"The speed limits are there partly to ensure you are going slow enough for that to be true."
No, the speed limits are their to indicate the maximum possible speed at which the road can be considered safe, given a perfect set of conditions.
The appropriate safe driving speed will normally be a number lower than this, for example a 30 MPH speed limit ln a narrow residential street with double parking, and children running around, safe driving speed is closer to 10 mph, using your full attention.
The kididiots that go screaming down country lanes at 60 mph, have a nasty habit of ending up as small meatal balls impaled on the back of the tractor they could not see around the 90 turn. (this is known as driving further than you can see)
The logic isn't that flawed ...
... since driving really should be taking up most of your attention. Maybe not 100% all the time, but certainly well in excess of 80% - that is a lot of high speed metal you are driving. If people stopped using their cars as extensions of their dining-room/kitchen/bathroom/lounge, traffic would move more smoothly, there would be fewer collisions, and a lot fewer deaths.
Disclosure: I don't drive with the radio on any more, and I have arranged with my wife that if she wants an argument, we don't do it in the car. I don't care if she is bored - driving is more important.
He said nothing about running.
"""I don't drive with the radio on any more"""
On long drives, it's generally recommended to keep the radio on to fight fatigue. Maybe you get more distracted by music than I do, but wind (white) noise tends to tire you (well, most people) rather quickly, so covering it with something intelligible helps a lot.
And driving really isn't so hard that it needs your full attention any where near 80% of the time - I spend far more than 20% of my driving time stopped at lights, and it doesn't require intense concentration to tell when the 8 people in front of me begin to roll forward.
If you've been driving for a while, and you're used to your car, picking a course and steering onto it should require minimal thought and effort, and most of the time conditions really don't require anything more than moderate alertness to notice and respond to unexpected events.
I'd say that occasionally, when there's low visibility, low traction, unpredictable drivers, unfamiliar or complex interchanges, or poor signage, a driver needs to pay attention 100%. If you can't drive safely in easier conditions with a few added distractions, then there's just no way you can reasonably be safe in difficult conditions with no distractions. Plus, maintaining a high alertness level also leads to fatigue.
Fatigue, by the way, is also quite deadly behind the wheel, and it can be sneaky, which is why I concentrate so much on avoiding it.
Around here, almost nobody pays attention - while I wait at those lights I watch other drivers complete their left turns and then almost at the same point on the road most of them look straight down into their laps, where they're trying to hide their devices from the cops.
And I think they should all have their licenses revoked.
I'm OK with a hands free call (no, holding a phone on speaker phone 2" from your face isn't hands free,) but any activity that requires looking away from the road for more than ~2 seconds seems like it should already be illegal under various reckless driving laws.
What a hoot!
> No, the speed limits are their to indicate the maximum possible speed at which the road can be considered safe, given a perfect set of conditions.
No, not really.
The speed limit is not the engineering limit of the road by any stretch of the imagination. It's not even the engineering limit for the worst vehicle you can find.
Otherwise the pervasive speeding that goes on would cause an awful lot more accidents.
That might be what the authorities tell you,
and once upon a time it might even have been true, but at least here in The States, that falsehood was exposed when they lowered the national limit to 55 to save gas (petrol to you Brits).
My mind is absolutely boggled.
There are people who actually think that distracted driving is a GOOD thing? Seriously? WHY? Where are we going wrong with society ...
"No, the speed limits are their to indicate the maximum possible speed at which the road can be considered safe, given a perfect set of conditions."
OK, now I'M despairing, citizen. Are you serious? Are you even remotely, possibly serious?
Do you really propose that, on a brilliantly sunny, bone-dry day, on the road near here which is perfectly straight with the sides close-shorn fields, and more than a mile visibility in either way and no side roads, and no houses, with my extremely-well-handling car shod with sticky, wide tires, and with its ability to go stop from 60mph in about two seconds, and with no traffic, it isn't safe for me to drive 65mph?
Do tell what will happen, due to the extra 10mph, that causes my impalation upon the hindquarters of a tractor I could see for more than a minute before I arrived?
I've always wondered what kind of arrogant, pompous blowhard drives down 55mph roads at 40mph, accruing a chain of 15 to 20 pissed off drivers behind him - almost certainly creating a far more dangerous situation than if all those cars were separated by large gaps...
Is that you, Mr. 10-in-a-30? And speaking of 10-in-a-30, have you ever been to a city? Or anywhere, really? If you ever went 10mph through a 30mph zone in a city, you'd probably be arrested for blocking traffic or driving in an unsafe manner.
You see, driving much faster than other drivers expect is bad - they can't make judgments about pulling through intersections, they misjudge the speed of other cars, etc. It's quite unsafe.
What you forget is that driving 30% under the limit means that drivers they can't make judgments about pulling through intersections, they misjudge the speed of other cars, etc.
It's quite unsafe.
Tell you what, Mr. Citizen - you quite clearly have issues with automobiles. How about this - you stop driving cars, and you'll feel much safer and less angry. And then you won't be on the road, which will make pretty much everybody but you feel much safer and less angry.
And when -you- need to get somewhere, it's easy - just saddle up and take your high horse.
It still won't be enforced
Just like it isn't now, in the states that already have this law.
I think what's needed is education not punishment. People are using the phone by habit and it's become almost unconscious. It doesn't help that for a lot of people driving is seen almost as a background task. I wouldn't mind betting that a lot of the offenders have just forgotten that they are behind the wheel.
I'm the opposite. When I get into a car I become a driver. I plan my journey and until I get to my destination nothing else matters.
Why don't we just apply the current laws of driving without due care and attention. We don't need a law for every new tech distraction.
And while where at it...
Get rid of causing death by dangerous driving and replace it with either murder or manslaughter
Get rid of driving while under the influence and replace it with attempted murder.
Re: Why don't we just apply the current laws of driving without due care and attention
The police need to prove you are driving without due care and attention; in the past in the UK they would often follow drivers talking on the phone until they did something dumb like waver onto the pavement or have a near miss (or occasionally a crash.) They eventually built up enough video evidence to show that people on mobiles almost always had a significantly reduced command of their vehicle, and the ban on non-handsfree mobiles was introduced. Nowadays if a copper eyeballs you on the blower while driving, he can book you straight off the bat.
School bus driver
What exactly was he doing? He hit a truck that had crashed, which seems to indicate that some of the blame should lie with him, right? and the second bus which then also did the same.
If there is one thing I have noticed about the roads of america, is that nobody appears remotely capable of seeing dangers ahead. (also the lorries drive too fast and a lot of them have no side or rear protection bars on the trailers).
Still, phone use in a car is distracting, even hands free, so I broadly agree with the proposal. I suspect it will be largely ignored like over here in Blighty.
Two offences I saw a lot while driving over there:
Not yielding when joining from an on-ramp.
Well to my eyes the lane discipline was also pretty crap but I understand that in some states 'any lane will do' so it might have been legal. But to balance the odds I will say that the US drivers seemed more patient(*) and would often happily wait for an overtaking lane on single carriageways. They also seemed a lot more relaxed driving around towns. Not like the acceleration mad speed merchants we have here.
This driving around rural California and Minneapolis. No doubt it varies a lot around such a large country :)
The law will be outdated in a few years. No one will go out because everything, socializing shopping etc will all be done on a screen in the home.
Cars will all be automated.
Huge asteroid with green aliens smashed into the earth.
Best remove the 2 way radios from police cars, ambulances and fire engines too - oh and dont forget paramedics.
Police and paramedics are specially TRAINED to handle pressure situations such as these. Patrol cops get plenty of time behind the wheel in the academy to learn how to multitask while in the patrol car. Plus many of the devices are designed to be handled easily by touch (note the car radio's microphone--just the talk button on the side), and protocol has been established to keep conversations short and concise (the famous 10 codes used in the US are like military phonetic language--designed to transmit specific messages in a way easily discernible even over the radio).
No phoning while driving..............period
They've done tests and drivers on hands free phones were just as impaired. It's the divided concentration. In this city when I began driving, a very long time ago, you might have managed it, but the traffic volume and speeds have increased since then. You can't afford to lose any concentration now. Fifteen years ago I had a few times when just answering questions from my young kids in the car prompted a "Dad!!!"
In response to the comment above, I've found some of the rudest and worst drivers around here are in SUV's and large pickups. Not all of course, but some.
Presumably it's still legal to drive along whilst reloading a shotgun though?
Stupid is as stupid does!
They introduced a ban on mobile phones in New Zealand about a year ago, they recently ran a crack down on people using their phone and got loads.
Education of the driver is still the problem, just look at the way drink driving is almost socially acceptable in NZ, they had an app for iPhone that shows where "Booze Busses" are and people bragging they know all the back roads to get home (said to me by a woman in her 40's at a party I went to in NZ)
Surely it is better......
To have a law that is enforced some of the time, than no law and let the morons on their phones kill themselves and other people. We have the law here in the UK and it is partially enforced, though it seems that they need to increase the penalty to a driving ban if they want to get people to actually take any notice judging by the numbers of darwin candiates you will see on their mobes on a daily basis.
Personally I take great joy in ignoring my phone if it rings whilst I am driving. Reminds me of who is in charge. Those electronic tethers control too much of our lives anyway.
Even better, switch it off
If you switch your phone right off for the journey, you'll leave whoever analyzes the tracking data wondering where you've been (except in the UK, where ANPR will get you unless you stick to the small roads).
Yes it is better BUT do there is limited time for creating laws (due to insane amount of bickering and bargaining) so they should be prioratised in order of the benefit to society.
Therefore the next law should make it legal to feed hedge fund managers to lions at wildlife parks, the second should ensure politicians are imprisoned as soon as they are elected (as per Pratchett, this just saves time).
lets face it everyone thinks that their call IS more important than the life of the twat in the car behind/beside/in-front of you!
Well done people.
It's illegal in the UK already to drive whilst distracted (phones or cofee)
but the police cant be arsed to do the paperwork and the young bee-emm drivers with the loud music still do it, even under the nose of passing police.
Before cell phones you got to the end of your journey and rang home to check all is OK......why suddenly is it more urgent to check?
possibly this will be just another rarely enforced legislation?
as previously said, guns and knives kill more people, ban them in all states first
No thanks, if I wanted to be defenseless chav fodder I'd move to the UK.
Except of course _most_ chavs aren't armed either - so if it all kicks off it's normally just fisticuffs all the way down (and if it's gonna kick off it'll normally be outside a nightclub when everyone is far too pissed to do any real damage; they'll just flail around like idiots).
Now - if I get into a ruck with a bunch of chav muppets; the odds are I'm very unlikely to get stabbed and extremely unlikely to get shot. Still, if you want to be a pussy and pull a firearm on a bunch of chavs rather than have a good ol' fashioned thump-up...
Yes, I think I'd rather pull the gun. It creates enough time to mediate a more peaceful solution.
Lots of ranting
From the tone of the comments here, can I assume that a lot of El Reg readers think that people should be allowed to surf the internet, send texts and make calls while driving?
Re: surf the internet, ....... while driving
RCMP have alrady had at least one driver pulled over for doing this.
Talking into the open air is a lot different than looking down and finding certain keys, looking at the display, all the time using one less hand to drive.
Talking hands-free is just a notch above listening to the radio. Texting while driving is something idiots or people with a death wish do.
We would all be a lot safer if we wore safety helmets and vests at all times, but it doesn't mean we are going to do that either.
Lots of people don't actually read the article.
...otherwise they might actually know what's the objections are about rather than making up stupid false strawman arguments.
"Texting while driving is something idiots or people with a death wish do."
Sadly, its not their own deaths that seem the most common outcome.
The problem with this "right" is that exercising it can seriously impinge on the rights of others.
On a deserted three lane road
I was driving at less than 10mph trying to light my cigarette, it caught just as I went into the roadside ditch. an hour later a truck load of people turned up and pulled my car back on the road. A valuable lesson. No one hurt and the car fine. Lucky.
There is always some group wanting to go over the top isn't there.
So what if a caller doesn't know to stop talking, if a situation occurs; I stop listening, same as I would with a real passenger. And since the air 'turns blue', the caller soon cottons on.
I reckon the testers who find mobiles more dangerous than passengers assume everyone is as incapable as themselves. By that reckoning no one should drive because some are incapable of doing so safely.
3000 deaths is a worry
If you are one of them! Not sure I am in favor of a ban, simply because we have one here in HI and its largely ignored. The arguments about talking to a passenger / kid etc are valid, but less distractions is still an improvement.
The number of times I have had to swerve on the bike to avoid idiots on there phones baffles me and they have the nerve to look shocked when I kick their car.
It's simple, driving has the potential to be very dangerous. People should not make it more dangerous by taking needless risks.
Getting the babylon to enforce the law is a whole different problem. Personally I think focussing more on drink driving would be a better application of resorces. The whole 'it's ok to drive home from the bar after 12 beers' mentality is more dangerous. Drunk is drunk, no matter how you got there or how short the drive.
Perhaps instead of airbags there should be a huge sharp spike on the wheel? Just to keep people alert?
One thumbs down from a drunk texting audi owner.
It seems fairly likely that a ban is difficult to enforce but does that mean it is a bad idea?
You quite rightly point out that distracted drivers are dangerous - fatal in a lot of instances - so what do you suggest other than making it illegal to text/surf/call while driving?
It is hard to enforce running a stop sign unless the police officer is present, but it is still a law. Surely it is the same with phones / PEDs?
"Personally I think focussing more on drink driving would be a better application of resorces."
Yep - it would be.
But to find out if a driver is drunk, you have to stop the vehicle and check the driver. It is as difficult to enforce prior accident as laws against the use of mobile devices would be.
Most drinking arrests are linked to the driver performing some other road traffic offence. Why cant the same be done for phone use?
Saying we have to target either drunk drivers or selfish negligent assholes who JUST NEED TO CHECK TWITTER at 65mph is creating a false dichotomy.
We need to target both of them.
I agree. I'm not happy with the fact the ban isn't really practical, rather the opposite (the ban here has had virtually no effect) as the roads are quite dangerous with tired locals and drunk tourists and the normal smattering of stupids.
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