back to article US may disable all in-car mobile phones

The US government may require cars to include scrambling tech that would disable mobile-phone use by drivers, and perhaps passengers. "I think it will be done," US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said on Wednesday morning, according to The Daily Caller. "I think the technology is there and I think you're going to see …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

    Stopping in car distractions

    So are they going to come up with a device that disables kids in the car too?

    1. TheRealRoland
      Happy

      And what about...

      putting on lipstick (not seeing that red light, with the motorcyclist patiently waiting to be hit from behind), playing the trumpet (true story!), shaving yourself (leaving suitable replies for others to make about this one)

      And dogs? What about dogs! And slitherin' things?

      And Owls!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Exactly !

        This happened to me just the other day !

        I was driving to work on the motorway, easy does it, like I always do, when a woman in a brand new BMW overtakes me doing at least 80, her face pressed to the mirror in the sunvisor, while she's applying make up !

        So I see this, and deciding she's actually good looking an scantily dressed, I decide to take another peak.

        So I pull up next to her, doing 80 or 90 and believe it or not, she's still at it, applying yet another coat of plaster, and she almost swerves into me !

        That scared me so much I dropped my razor, and that crashed right into the sandwich I was holding in my other hand.

        Now, because I had both my hands full I had the steering wheel jammed between my knees. And because I had to avoid being crashed into, my knee hit my phone-holder, knocking it out of said holder, slap bang into the cup of coffey that was sitting between my thighs.

        You can imagine what happened next : hot coffey burns my crotch, my phones drowned and to add insult to injury the call I was making gets interrupted !!!

        Wimmin drivers should be banned too !!!

        1. Ted Treen
          Pint

          Dammit!

          You owe me a keyboard...

        2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Thumb Up

          @ Peter R. 1

          In hindsight it seems you had a lucky escape.

          A woman who takes *that* much work to look presentable is likely to be a bit of shock when it comes off.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Coat

        Awww come on ....

        if you shave at home instead of during the drive to work you'd need to get up 5 minutes earlier FFS

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Joke

          Shave?

          What's that?

          Mind you, pouring the milk on the cornflakes can be a bit dicey

    2. JaitcH
      Terminator

      Disabling kids? No problem ...

      just place one of those super strong garbage bags with tie strings over the moggies head. Takes about 10 minutes to become effective.

    3. MrCheese
      Troll

      they already have

      It's called 'parenting', maybe you've heard of it?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Paris Hilton

        Umm...

        I think I vaguely remember it from decades ago. It died out, I think. Bit unfashionable.

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Happy

        @Mr Cheese

        "It's called 'parenting', maybe you've heard of it?"

        You sire are a *proper* troll.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You can not practice "Parenting"

        While driving the vehicle. When the kids are screaming "stop touching me" or just misbehaving in general while at speed on the motorway, "parenting" is not an option, driving is job #1.

    4. Anton Ivanov
      Flame

      Sure, what's the problem

      2003 vintage Compaq - 25 quid after being written off by company who owned it

      160G Samsung Spinpoint disk replacement - 30 quid

      MSFT MCE XP remote kit - 17 quid (used to be)

      Two sets of el-cheapo Maplin headphones and a splitter - 15 quid

      Maplin Car laptop power supply - 30 quid (used to be when I bought it)

      2h of sewing a bag with straps for fixing to a car seat out of an old kiddicare seat protector while the laptop is getting its Debian install.

      Grand Total - around a 130 quid.

      Voila - here is your "disable kids" device: http://foswiki.sigsegv.cx/bin/view/Net/DebianEvo110 (second pic).

      Tested on a trip across whole of Europe (2 days to Buglaria, 3 days back) and multiple trips around the UK. Test subjects - an extremely unruly 8 year old and his 2 and a half year old sister. "Disables" them alright. You do not hear a squeak except when they are fighting for what to watch next.

      There are also similar devices for shorter trips which can be used as a supplement or replacement to this one. They are called books. You can get them from Amazon ya know...

      1. Rob

        Nice...

        ... I'll remember that when my £75 portable DVD player with USB slot dies.

      2. Campbeltonian
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: Sure, what's the problem

        If you have a kid that suffers from travel sickness, a book is the worst thing you can possibly give them. I know, because I was once that kid.

        1. Anton Ivanov
          Flame

          Both of my kids suffer from travel sickness, so what

          There is only one answer to that - bring them to chose the car. You should see the car salesman face when he asks you what does it take for him to sell the car and you point to a 2 and half year old and say "If she likes it". Especially if you tell them that she vomits in 10 minutes in 95% of all vehicles on the market.

          Once you have cracked that, rest like the "disable button" is technicalities.

    5. adnim Silver badge
      Joke

      Mmm device that disables kids...

      Doesn't one require a licence to posses a shotgun?

      I best include a disclaimer lest someone think of the children;

      Please never, ever use a shotgun to remove the distraction of disruptive kids in your vehicle. The poster of this message in no way condones the use of violence or firearms as a method of child control.

      Thinking about it, I completely withdraw my joke statement above for fear it maybe interpreted as "kill children with shotguns".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Joke

        it's highly effective against stupid drivers

        one shotgun + some double-aught and you're good to go.

    6. yeehaw.... Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      pretty girls too

      Just yesterday I politely stopped at a crosswalk at a local college, mostly to watch this pretty little thing walk by, and was rear-ended by another pickup.

      Ah, distracted by the pretty little thing crossing the road, eh?

      Nope.

      Distracted by his pretty little girlfriend sitting close beside him in his truck. Go figure how to ban that. (wait.... burkas. Rather take the accident)

      Anyway, it was a 20-30mph hit - my F150 didn't even scratch the bumper, however my hitch destroyed his. Fair exchange.

      Paris is a distraction.

  2. theJML
    FAIL

    But what about all the other Tech?

    What about all the other tech that goes out of it's way to talk over normal cellular frequencies to pull down everything from music to gps updates? What if all I want to do is stream pandora while I'm driving somewhere, that'd get blocked too, and I hate to point out that music can actually keep people awake and focused. Also, what about all the "Call Bob" MS Sync systems and built in hands free phone setups that are supposed to save lives and be indispensable? This seems like an entire industry is going to be fighting this one back.

    Not that I care about voice communications while driving, I'd much rather the wife and kids just shut-up and let me drive, let alone the 20 min of talk time I use per month on my cell phone. Still, it's nice to have those 3G downloaded maps and songs.

    1. Anton Ivanov
      Flame

      Exactly

      Most in-phone GPSes are useful only for motorway driving if they cannot get extra info from the cell network. Add to that the like of Google maps which need an always on network connection. Add to that traffic updates and major traffic incident alerts. Add to that the probability that the damn jammer does not turn off itself in an accident so I cannot dial 112/911/999 or whatever it is in the country I am in.

      Forget that... I am not paying 600£ for an in-car GPS and 600£ for a special in-car phone/network device when I have a perfectly working GPS and a phone sitting in a cradle and mated to the car stereo via Bluetooth. It may not be as good as a properly integrated GPS unit, but it is good enough for most stuff. I drove across 9 countries this summer using a Nokia E71 as a navigation device and while I swore at it quite a few times I have to admit - it was good enough for most of the time.

      They should stop that nonsense and enforce the handsfree legislation instead.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Flame

      Music....

      May keep you awake but..... it is just another potentially distracting input.

      I am no expert in the psychology of driving concentration but I know from personal experience that the unexpected always takes you by surprise and more often distracts you - and that is just the way life is.

      If I'm controlling in upwards of a tonne of potential mobile death I want minimum distraction and I want the same for other controllers. Fitting the driver with ear defenders with built in head position, noise and 'chemical' detectors and linking them to a speed sensitive throttle cut out might be a way of supporting good driving.

      Eliminating access to mobile phones is only one small, and possibly irrelevant, part. If a controller is prepared to use a mobile phone then they're probably prepared to do something else just - or more - as stupid.

  3. Owen Milton

    Hummm.... possible problem.

    Last time I checked, disabling cell phones with jamming equipment was illegal in the US.

    Add to that the fact that car companies are busy snuggling up to the "emergency assistance" companies (Such as OnStar) to put cell-based technology in vehicles.

    Finally, as it's been pointed out elsewhere on here and around the world, people are still bad drivers with or without cell phones. Cell phones just make it easier.

    All around I'd say it's more likely we'll see mandatory self-driving cars before we see mandatory cell jammers in cars.

    1. Charles Manning

      Cell phones are a red herring

      Sure, cell phones do distract drivers and have led to collisions/deaths but the number is trivial when compared with other issues.

      By making such a huge issue out of cell phones the authorities are ignoring far more important factors that need to be addressed. Worse still, they're clouding the issue so that the real issues are being hidden and not getting the attention they need.

      1. RegisterThis
        Unhappy

        You may disagree if ...

        ... you had just been rammed from behind at a red light and gotten out the car to see the (clearly totally unrepentant) driver getting out of his car still on the phone saying 'Got to go now ... just had an accident ...'!!!

        Yeah there are other things that distract, but this is such an obvious one ... and with phone penetration at over 100%, it beats kids in cars, tuning radios, animals, smoking etc. in terms of scale.

        HOWEVER ... what about coming legislation in the EU to have cars call emergency services automatically in the event of an accident? I assume that will be 'unscrambled'? The problem is real, but the solution may not be quite to simple.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Coat

          You may disagree if ...

          "and with phone penetration at over 100%"

          Now that WOULDbe a distraction. Painful to be seated at all I should think, never mind driving a car....

        2. Anonymous Coward
          WTF?

          WTF

          You might want to buy yourself an atlas mate. The US and the EU are not the same place....

      2. Tim Parker

        @Charles Manning (Re : trivial)

        Interesting you have all the figures to hand, I didn't. My first attempt at Googling for more information used this phrase

        'proportion of distracted driving accidents caused by cell phone use'

        The top hit on from that search was a Washington Post article from January this year that started..

        "Twenty-eight percent of traffic accidents occur when people talk on cellphones or send text messages while driving, according to a study released [Tuesday Jan 12th 2010] by the National Safety Council."

        Further articles from that search show similar results.

        Now this is the internet i'm looking on, granted, but pray tell - what authoritative figures do you have that leads you to pronounce the number 'trivial' ? I'm not denying there are other issues, far from it, but this vague denial seems to be more opinion - and poorly sourced opinion at that - than fact.

    2. jonathanb Silver badge

      Not really

      The US government can change laws so that isn't going to be a problem. I'm pretty sure I've seen research that talking on a phone impairs your driving ability even more than being drunk. Certainly I know that I am unable to talk and drive at the same time, though talking while stuck in a very slow moving traffic jam or stuck at traffic lights I think is OK.

      I'm against these proposals though because technically I think it will be very difficult to jam a signal inside the car without affecting the signal outside, and the measures could do more harm than good. There is certainly no reason why a passenger shouldn't be able to make phone calls.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        Reply to post: Not really

        "There is certainly no reason why a passenger shouldn't be able to make phone calls."

        Passengers making calls are actually more distracting for the driver than if the driver was the one making the call. The study involved didn't look any closer at that part of their results, but presumed that it was because the driver attempts to infer the missing half of the conversation.

      2. CaptainHook
        Stop

        Agreed

        "I think it will be very difficult to jam a signal inside the car without affecting the signal outside, and the measures could do more harm than good"

        Imagine arriving at a car accident, the first thing you would do upon reaching the scene of an accident is to ring for help, but if any cars which are running nearby can block the signal then you are stuffed.

        And its not just a case of turning off all the cars involved in accident and your own car. If you are next to a main road with a constant stream of traffic going past you may never be able to get a connection to the cell tower, in fact if this this technology became mandated and you couldn't be absolutely sure that the jammer didn't effect phones outside of the vehicle then entire communities near to roads could loose mobile phone connectivity.

        And bear in mind it's not just about ensure the jammer only affect phones in the vehicle at the point of sale for the entire life of the vehicle and in all conditions - e.g. a car with the windows rolled down or even worse a convertible.

    3. K. Adams
      Big Brother

      "... disabling cell phones with jamming equipment was illegal in the US."

      It's only illegal until it isn't.

      Of course, this depends on what the definition of "isn't" is...

      1. JaitcH
        Unhappy

        @ "... disabling cell phones with jamming equipment was illegal in the US."

        UNLESS you get permission from the FCC.

        Whenever Obama goes mobile, one of those black SUV's - the one that looks like a slightly bald porcupine - has wide band radio jammers which only skip Federal and local Plod communications, as well as 700MHz LTE First Responders WiFi.

        The system was used in Toronto this year, only the RCMP has to publicly file for authorisation. The effective range, dependent on frequency, is about 700 metres.

        I guess they have never considered potential UID trigger men might think of co-opting local Plod frequencies to do their thing?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Black Helicopters

          Or ...

          Using a trigger which monitors a given frequency and waits until that channel goes haywire before detonating.

        2. mmiied

          or

          given that that info is quite public set it up so a lack of singnal sets off the bomb

  4. Daniel B.
    Flame

    Emergency Services

    So this would actually be more of a safety hazard, as jamming the cellphones means that if you actually HAVE an accident, your cellphone won't be able to call 911. Other drivers noticing the accident will also be unable to report the accident. Genius!

    What they should do is increase the penalties for using the cellphone without hands-free solutions, and considering "texting-while-driving" as something equivalent to a DUI. "Crashing while texting" should land no-bail jail time; I'm pretty sure that those kinds of car accidents would drop drastically.

    1. Demosthenese

      911

      Is it not possible for the jammer to switch off if it detects a 911 call. Or more simply crash->engine off->jammer off.

      1. BristolBachelor Gold badge
        Boffin

        Half-baked

        To detect a 911 call, there needs to be a 911 call. For there to be a 911 call, the phone must be able to log-in with the base station. For the phone to communicate with the base station, the jammer must be off. GOTO 10. REM Repeat forever.

    2. stucs201
      WTF?

      Just switch the engine off before making the call!

      I'm assuming that the jammer would operate only with the ignition on. So anyone seeing your accident can pull over and switch their car off and then make a call. Even if you need to make an emergency call yourself I reckon the proportion of accidents in which you'd be able to operate a phone yet unable to switch off the engine in rather small.

    3. Fred Bauer

      Handsfree use

      There have been studies in states that have required "hands-free" devices for in-car cellphone use. The results are that using a hands-free device doesn't reduce accidents vs. handheld use. (In face, putting my own cellphone in hands-free mode is MORE distracting than just putting it up to my ear.)

      I hope that this will go nowhere... as I have often reported accidents while driving. But usually there is no place to safely stop, so if my cellphone was blocked, I'd be unable to report it.

      Having said that, if they could block the driver from texting, that would be great!

      1. Rick Giles
        FAIL

        It's called

        a headset.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Should it now?

    "Disabling mobile phones in cars should not be looked at as a way of protecting you from yourself, but instead as a way of protecting you from the stupid."

    If you make the transmitter powerful enough to block cell phones in their cars too, that might work.

  6. Arion

    Excellent idea ( for a brainstorming session )

    This is an excellent idea to come up in a brainstorming session. Unfortunatly ideas like this are supposed to evolve into something sane reasonable and rational, before you leave the brainstoriming session. They aren't meant to be taken outside of the brainstorming session.

    Such technology would render the phones useless not matter regardless; regardless of whether the phone was held to the persons ear, or used via a hands-free kit ( which is legal ), regardless of whether the driver or a passenger is using the phone, and regardless if it's in the case of an emergency or not.

    The only effect this will have is drivers being even more distracted while they watch out for cops, while they're talking on their phones.

  7. Tom 35 Silver badge

    Not a chance

    Between the phone companies, the car companies, and the cell phone addicts it will never fly.

    And even if it did I'm sure a lot of the jammers would have a little accident... kind of fall down the stairs and maybe blow a fuse.

    Yesterday I saw a cop making a left turn, no signals, just as the light turned red, with a cell phone stuck to his ear. Setting a great example for the rest of us there Mr. Cop.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      You seem to forget....

      The police are only there to ENFORCE the law, not abide by it, there were probably some extenuating circumstances which required him to take the turn quickly on the red light and you can rest assured he probably has special training to allow him to communicate via radio / telephone whilst driving.........

      See, that icon, yeh, I was joking!

  8. Dave 52
    Flame

    This tech will be redundant for iPhone 4 users...

    Considering mine already drops half the calls I make when I'm driving, through voice dial, on my headset, with the phone wrapped in a rubber full body case. That's right, no chance in hell I'm touching the corner that makes calls drop, and all while in a 4-5 bar area. AND IT STILL DROPS MY FUCKING CALLS!!!

    1. Dan 10

      Funny...

      ... you must get all of mine and my wife's share then, don't think we've had more than the occasional 'no service' drop...

  9. Ammaross Danan
    Coat

    Distracted

    People on cell phones get a lot of the brunt end of "distracted driving" talks, probably because they're very universal and obvious. However, there are many other forms of distracted driving: changing the radio station, shaving, make-up application (very bad!), eating, etc. Cutting out cell phone usage that prevents me from calling in when I see the vehicle mentioned in an "Amber Alert" (a missing child alert here in the states), or reporting a drunk driver or other road hazard, I see this as a step backward.

    It all really does come down to personal responsibility. Unfortunately, "responsible" people are sometimes few and far between.

    I do agree with the haunting prospect of the "average stupidity" comment. :(

  10. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    @Dazed and Confused

    Simple, instead of a rule making it illegal to carry kids in the back of a pickup - simply make it compulsory

  11. sage
    Pint

    Hello, police?

    The car in front of me is swerving uncontrollably and someone could get... um, hello? Hello?

  12. soaklord

    And...here's your title

    So explain how it is a good idea to disable my communications device again...

    I am in an accident, bleeding, car still running, and I can't call emergency services because my car is jamming my signal...

    I am on the road. Notice a drunk driver swerving across lanes of traffic, ah well, no way to report, just hope he doesn't hit me....

    Car gets stolen, I call the police, who then activate my lojack... oh wait. The car is running, so the signal is blocked.

    Hello onstar? Oh wait...

    Also, is it really only going to affect the people in the car or are we going to wreak havoc with all of the cellular networks by basically turning any busy street into a dead zone?

    And, of course, retrofitting all the cars currently on the road won't be expensive for the government at all, now will it?

    Finally, how do you block my cellular, but not my radio, GPS, etc.?

    1. mccp

      How?

      To block your cellular and not your GPS, FM, etc, you simply make the cell phone jammer from a femto cell. You phone registers with the femto which then refuses any calls. It would also be possible to make it relay emergency calls and to disable itself if the car decides it has crashed.

      Simples.

      1. Andy ORourke
        Joke

        Careful......

        You sound like you know something about which you speak AND have considered the possibilities, you sure you are at the right forum :-)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Up

          RE: Careful

          That's what I thought!

          I can't imagine what kind of non thinking moron would support an idea like this.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Stop

      @soaklord

      A collegue of mine told me this very morning that on her way home yesterday, she was stuck in traffic as there had been an accident and all three lanes of the mororway she was on had been closed, she was stuck there for two hours. She is a working single mother, she was on the way to pick up her child. She had to make quick arrangements for someone else to do the pickup (this is all true).

      If the motorway was one big jamming hotspot she would have to abandon her car and walk a distance from the motorway to make the call.

      This is such a stupid idea words fail me.

  13. Kevin 6
    Thumb Up

    I FULLY support this idea.

    I FULLY support this idea. For once a US politician has a good idea. I guess the apocalypse must be on its way.

    I also say they need to further the proposal, and idea.

    Add a device that must be worn by cell phone owners that prohibit them for texting, or talking while walking on a public sidewalk. I've seen quite a few almost get smeared on the pavement that walk out into on-coming traffic without looking at all or raiding an eye, best part is they usually also have a mp3 player playing so loud they can't even hear the horns honking while they stroll in the street causing traffic jams.

    Well or make it legal to mow people like that down I'm fine with either.

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Also

      They could cover up all the windows to stop drivers being distracted by those large bill boards that are put up next to roads, just to distract them to buy something. This will also stop people being distracted by attractive ladies/men.

      To prevent passengers from distracting the driver, all cars must have only 1 seat.

      To stop drunks getting into cars and driving, the doors must be welded shut. All drink-driving will stop overnight.

      All similarly good ideas (or are they?)

  14. Richard Porter
    Thumb Up

    Other tech?

    Music isn't the problem unless it's excessively loud. You don't concentrate on the music - you just hear it. The same applies to speech radio. I can have R4 on in the car but I won't remember much of the programme. It's not like a conversation where you have to concentrate on what the other person is saying and then make an intelligent response. If you're talking to a passenger it's probably that the passenger will be watching the road and will shut up when there's a tricky situation that requires your full attention. Of course that doesn't apply to disruptive kids in the back, or non-driving motormouth mother-in-law, but let's tackle the problems that we can reasonably do something about. Banning all use of mobile phones while driving woiuld be a good start. A maximum sound level for ICE wouldn't go amiss either.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      ffs

      Maximum sound level? Bite me - how about -I- get to decide what -I- do with -my- personal property? By your logic, cameras in cars watching drivers and sending the video to enforcers would be great. "Sir, that wasn't a scratch, it was a pick - you have been fined 10 dollars for driving while digging. 300 dollars in fees will be added to your account."

      if you ban music over a certain volume, obviously you should ban certain kinds specifically. Norah Jones late at night? No way! Metallica on your commute? Busted! A State Of Trance on the open road? Verboten!

      Government can get its hands out of my private affairs. I'd rather take some extra risk than let others make my decisions for me.

      1. Handel was a crank
        Thumb Down

        OK

        I'm certainly all for reduction of sound level in built up areas - fed up of car stereos that are so overloud that it shakes in the internal contents of my house, or wakes me in the middle of the night.

      2. DavCrav Silver badge

        Do you live in society?

        "Maximum sound level? Bite me - how about -I- get to decide what -I- do with -my- personal property?"

        Sure. I don't care what you do with *your* personal property. However, when your choices impact on other people, say me for example, then you don't get to decide completely. Your argument would also work for removing speed limits, but I don't think anyone thinks it's reasonable to allow people to drive at 100mph in a residential area. But it's *my* property, you appear to whine, I can do what *I* want with it.

        "Government can get its hands out of my private affairs. I'd rather take some extra risk than let others make my decisions for me."

        Yep, as long as you don't also kill a family coming the other way.

        It's obvious that there is a noise level in a car beyond which it is impossible for the driver inside to be driving safely. For example, if you tried driving with a car alarm on I think you might find it difficult.

        So in conclusion, you can do your "freedom, damn government taking my rights" dance, but realize that living in a society involves balancing your rights to be a muppet against other people's rights not to be affected by your muppetry.

      3. DaveyP

        The point....

        The point being made (and I'm not saying that I agree with it) is that you're not just taking some extra risk, you're exposing others to your extra risk. I ceed to no one your right to drive down a completely empty road doing whatever you want. Drinking, speeding, taking a call, cracking one out. Entirely your decision. However, that road doesn't exist, does it.

      4. Ian Yates

        Your risk

        "I'd rather take some extra risk than let others make my decisions for me."

        And I'm happy for you to do so, unfortunately a car is a machine more than capable of killing and drivers need to have respect for how easily than can be distracted.

        I'm not saying I agree with the OP's proposal, though I can understand the logic.

        I don't think monitoring drivers is the answer, I think more stringent punishments; along the lines of weeks/months suspension based on the severity of the disregard of others' safety.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @David W.

        "Bite me - how about -I- get to decide what -I- do with -my- personal property?"

        How about you stand in front of my car and I get to decide how fast I run you down with -my- personal property?

        Or how about letting me drink 10 pints of beer and then drive -my- personal property?

      6. Lexxy
        Big Brother

        Moral Statute Machine

        "Sir, that wasn't a scratch, it was a pick - you have been fined 10 dollars for driving while digging. 300 dollars in fees will be added to your account."

        John Spartan, you are fined five credits for repeated violations of the verbal morality statute.....

  15. Livinglegend

    Misleading figures

    He quotes the total number of distracted accidents, not the number that were distracted by mobile phones, which would be only a tiny minority. This is seriously misleading and to abuse such statistics shows the weakness of his case. In the UK, the figures for mobile phone distraction are well under 1% of all accidents. In some areas they are so low that they are quoted as 0%.

    How many people would die if motorists were not able to call for help on their mobiles if there was a major accident or serious injury? Disabled people whose cars breakdown, they would be unable to call for help and would be left to suffer for hours by the roadside due to this anti-tech nutter?

    He is just another anti-everything politician with no real experience of life. Shame on him.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This on the same day

      ...that Mothers Against Drunk Driving was talking about compulsory interlock devices (breath into the tube and unless you're below .08 BAC your car won't start) on all cars in the US.

      /insert standard rant about nanny states and the sadistic need for immasculated, inconsequential bureacrats and other "concerned" types to get their rocks off by controlling other people's behavior

    2. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

      tiny minority?

      "He quotes the total number of distracted accidents, not the number that were distracted by mobile phones, which would be only a tiny minority."

      Where I live, ~1 in 3 drivers are on the phone (rush hours). I was hit by a prick in a SUV just two days ago (hit not hurt, traffic was slow). He was apparently having quite a lively conversation. On the phone. Which prevented him from seeing me, even though the guy on the other lane had stopped to let me go.

      I wouldn't be surprised if the guy quoted in the article actually _underestimated_ the number of phone-related incidents, and by a jolly good margin (phone-driving being illegal in most areas, it tends not to be reported in the case of an accident. Insurance, etc...).

      Not saying that jamming is the solution, but the ban certainly needs to be enforced more (here the plods will fine you if you wear headphones while biking, but they let drivers on the phone alone entirely, despite it being equally forbidden).

  16. Kay Tie

    Goodbye to cellular data traffic management

    All those telematics projects, snuffed out. Marvellous.

  17. Richard Porter
    FAIL

    Re possible problem.

    "as it's been pointed out elsewhere on here and around the world, people are still bad drivers with or without cell phones. Cell phones just make it easier."

    That's a separate problem. We let muppets drive. The reading age for passing the driving test is 13. Politicians dumb down the roads instead of smartening up drivers - it's easier that way. There aren't any votes in making it harder for people to get a driving licence. Driver education is still based on hard and fast rules rather than thinking, despite the DfT's THINK! campaign. There have been improvements to the driving test in recent years but it's very slow progress.

    And once a driver has passed the test at 17 he never gets retested unless he commits a serious offence or has a medical problem. Since I passed my MoT driving test just about everything has changed - road signs and markings, laws, the Highway Code, driving techniques, automotive technology, traffic conditions - you name it!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      The rules are daft anway

      I have a UK licence, learned to drive on the right. Moved to France where, under EU rules, I simply swapped my licence despite never having driven on the left. No lessons, no test, no experience required.

      My US friends, who'd been driving on the left all their lives, had to pass the full French test (in French), despite the fact that they were probably much safer drivers than me for those first months!

      There are rules, damned rules, and then there are politicians.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        There's another problem.

        "I have a UK licence, learned to drive on the right. Moved to France where, under EU rules, I simply swapped my licence despite never having driven on the left. No lessons, no test, no experience required.

        My US friends, who'd been driving on the left all their lives, had to pass the full French test (in French), despite the fact that they were probably much safer drivers than me for those first months!"

        More worrying is that you don't know your left from your right!

      2. Matt 33
        Headmaster

        Run that by me again?

        What state of the US drives on the left…oh, wait, the 51st state, I get it now.

        But seriously, you sure you don’t mean left-hand drive cars? (for driving on the right side of the road)

        Speaking of which, if fruit-loop politicians in the US are bent on forcing unworkable ‘big-brother’ tech on the unwashed masses, the UK gubmint (whatever the colour) won’t be far behind…

      3. Bah Humbug

        The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

        How many crashes have you, and your friends had? You're all driving on the wrong side of the road....

      4. Handel was a crank

        Erm...

        Little bit worried that it appears from that message that you learned to drive on the right in the UK and are driving on the left in France....

  18. kain preacher Silver badge

    an idiot

    Will still be an idiot . These are the same folks that shave and put on make up while driving.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    brick

    any jammer in my car will find itself with a short life and an accident with a brick.

    or i might just have the fuse pulled.

  20. Sandra Greer
    Pint

    How about read-only or half-duplex or input-only cell?

    If a jammer could be set up to disallow talk and output texting while the car is moving, that would take care of it. Anyone needing a map or a conversation could be expected to pull over, request the download, text and talk as needed, then hang up and resume driving. It would not interfere with OnStar. 911-type calls could be permitted. Incoming voice could be permitted, if people could accept an automated reply that the person is busy driving but can hear your message and will call back when it is safe. Sort of halfway between voicemail and full duplex,

    Tell me nobody could hack something like that! (Of course, then someone would hack a work-around, but not everybody.)

    Most of us can handle hearing the radio or people in the car. Having to create a message of any sort uses much more of our limited CPU and attention.

    As for kids, how about a nice cage in the back seat?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      you mean

      almost as if the jammer were tied to the ignition!

      switch off ignition, phone works, start the car, and it cuts out.

  21. iffer

    kids? mothers in law supression?

    lol - Can't wait for the scrambler of back seat distractions!

    "Now kids, remember be quiet or the car will blend you!"

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Land of the Free, My Arse!

    What happened to you, America? I weep for your people.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Do we weep?

      These things only happen because too many people don't give a fuck about anyone or anything but themselves. That's a societal problem, not a legal or technical problem. And if society really, really cared everyone would already be blasting their car horn at any driver they see using their phone / doing their make up, etc.

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
        FAIL

        ... blasting their car horn ...

        ... then getting blasted in the face with a bullet from one of those guns that enforce "polite society"!

  23. Yeik
    FAIL

    Jammed- Raspberry

    This is all fine and good, except many times being on the phone has kept me awake (think driving 900 miles with only a few people on the road)

    Or if there is an accident. They ask you to stay in your car. Stay in your car, try and call the police to let them know there is an accident, fail.

    What about the radius of the jammer? Drive downtown and disconnect calls of people on the street.

    I have also called the cops on drunken looking drivers and plan on calling if i see someone that looks like they are driving dangerous. Unfortunately they usually ask where you are at, and to turn on your hazards so they can locate you and the car in question. Also, what about passengers? just because the driver shouldn't be talking on the phone doesn't mean that the person in the passenger seat can't call and ask for directions when they get lost.

    Fail, to quote Benjamin Franklin

    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety"

    1. Graham Marsden
      WTF?

      "many times being on the phone has kept me awake"

      Did you not consider, instead simply *PULLING OVER* and getting some *SLEEP* instead of driving in a state where you were not only distracted but tired as well making yourself *doubly* dangerous??

      And, please, trying to use that Franklin quote to claim that using a cellphone on the move is an "essential liberty" would be laughable if it wasn't so sad.

    2. Lee Dowling Silver badge
      WTF?

      You're an idiot.

      Had to use a mobile to keep you awake while driving?! You're an idiot, and precisely the person that these sort of measures are aimed at.

      Go be a pillock on some other country's roads. If you ever hit my car, I'll be restraining you until the police arrive, not just going through the usual insurance - that's grossly negligent and incredibly stupid and dangerous.

      Pull the hell over, have a nap. Nobody needs to drive 900 miles in one hit and certainly not on a tight schedule unless they're insane.

      (<-- Driver who just did 3500 miles through Europe but never once thought twice about stopping even for just a leg-stretch).

      1. Yeik

        idiot?

        I have never had an accident, driving through snowie and icy roads where I see cars off the side of the roads left and right. I have almost been hit several times by people not paying attention, either on the cell phone, distracted, or just being dumb drivers. The only reason I have never had an accident is because I do pay ATTENTION to EVERYTHING around me. It is rare for me to be on a busy interstate, or even a small interstate and not know where every car is around me. If I get passed and I didn't see the car it freaks me out because I always know where they are.

        I didn't say that i had to use the phone to keep me awake, but by the time I was driving for over 6 hours alone and on a straight road with limited cars it has helped keep me more alert. Stimulating conversations where the other person knows I am driving, and if I don't respond then I had to do something.

        I stopped all the time but to say that i was negligent because I feel that having some stimulation while driving can help keep me focused when you are driving thousands of miles over flat stretches of empty road is ignorant.

  24. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    they want to

    improve safety?

    Easy.

    Remove driver side seatbelts and airbags , and weld a big rusty iron spike to the center of the steering wheel of every car.

    As for the below average drivers, just remember that 1 in 20 drivers are so bad they'd fail their tests if they took it again

    1. TheRealRoland
      Happy

      It also says something about the examiners

      My examiner asked me while having me drive around the driver's license station, if the cars in mainland Europe drive on the same side as the US...

      And rules about parents acting for at least 50hrs being the co-driver with their kid behind the wheel... With only 6 hrs of instructor-led driving provided through school. No wonder roads are wider in the US ;-)

    2. Ken 16 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      sounds like my old A40

      don't forget drum brakes to encourage early braking

  25. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
    FAIL

    Still can't drive

    This is pure stupidity. Lawmakers are attempting to forbid all the things that might cause dangerous driving rather than enforcing existing laws related to safe driving. In my tiny 1.7 mile bike ride to work, I'll see about 5 cars drift from their lane, 8 cars illegally turn right across a bike lane, 5 cars speeding, 2 slow cars impeding traffic, and one car and 3 bicycles run red lights. I don't believe they're all on the phone.

  26. Stratman
    FAIL

    title

    Wait until the first case where someone couldn't call the emergency services from their car, and then step aside before you get killed in the stampede of lawyers.

  27. Chris Miller
    Headmaster

    Not quite true

    "nearly two-thirds of drivers think of themselves as safer and more skillful than average — a statistical impossibility, of course."

    That depends on how you interpret 'average' - 99.9% of humans have more than the average (mean) number of limbs.

    1. RobS
      Headmaster

      @Chris -not quite true

      Except that the text doesn't say average, it says median and that is defined to be the midpoint (ie 50% above median, 50% below).

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      But they said "median"

      I you used the median, practically no human would possess more than the average (median) number of limbs (because they'd possess exactly the median). It is, indeed, statistically impossible for 2/3r of drivers to actually be safer than the median number (which comes from the member in the middle of the statistic set--half the number are above it and half below); at least 1/6 of them would of necessity be below that median.

      1. irrelevant

        average

        Conversely, I just love the fact that most of the world's population possess *more* than the average(mean) number of limbs, thanks to there being people with missing limbs driving the figure down..

        "Lies, damned lies, and statistics "...

  28. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Happy

    Is driving without a seat belt still legal?

    Or do people still kill themselves with lemming like regularity on US roads.

    If that is still legal after about 5 *decades* I don't think this one is coming in anytime soon.

    "We're an idiot nation. We *demand* the right to be idiots."

    And boy do a lot of you exorcise your rights.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If only they would exorcise the stupid.

      But I think you ment "excercise" instead, and that they do. United Stupid of America, indeed.

      1. Oz
        FAIL

        Excercise!

        I love it when people criticise other's use of language and then screw up themselves. It's exercise not excercise!

        /pedant

        1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: Excercise!

          others'

          1. Oz
            Joke

            Re: Re: Excercise!

            Doh - epic fail on my part!

      2. Amazon Wageslave
        Headmaster

        third time's the charm

        I think you both meant *exercise*.

        protip: if you're going to be a smartarse, make sure you are actually smart. Otherwise, you're just an arse.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I know I really should shut up about it

        or write it off as the obligatory speeling error in a spleling flame, but there's a vaguely interesting tale here. Would I plead I'd plead the lateness of the hour -- I'm on the continent and before you ask, not a native speaker of English -- but none of all that is an excuse. No, I fscked up, plain and simple. The interesting bit is how I managed that: I did check "exorcise" for spelling, and I recall first misspelling it myself with xc, then double-checked exercise for spelling, also with xc, and then... blithely ignored the results.

        Call it an object lesson in how not to let yourself be fooled by your own preconceptions, or something. Even writing this I have to remind myself not follow xes with cees. <tinfoilhat> Did they put something in the water here or sumtin'? </tinfoilhat> Anyway, now for teaching myself not to forget to actually use the information dug up before dismissing, even when it's late.

    2. Flybert
      Thumb Down

      @John Smith .. is posting without simple fact check still legal troll ?

      of course it is .. just makes you look like an idiot troll

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seat_belt_legislation_in_the_United_States

      every state except New Hampshire .. New York state required driver wear belt first in 1984 ..

      UK started a year earlier in 1983 .. most other European counties in mid 1970s

      US started front seat belts required in US sold cars starting in 1963 .. shoulder+lap front and back lap belts in 1968 .. to this day several major European counties do not require their automobile manufacturers to fit safety belts, Britain among them ..

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seat_belt_legislation

      if you look at road fatalities, USA not bad at 8.5 deaths per 1 billion vehicle-km, several Eastern European counties run 20+ to almost 40 deaths per 1 billion vehicle-km .. most Northern / Western European counties do better .. 5-6 deaths per 1 billion vehicle-km .. but I suspect it's because of low testosterone levels ;-0

      while it is statistically impossible for 2/3 of people to be better than average, that does not preclude that 2/3rds or more drive fine while talking on a cell phone .. While I keep conversations short or call back when I'm stopped .. there is no good reason to ban my cell phone use .. I've not gotten a traffic violation ticket nor caused an accident in 20 years, through loud music, screaming children, eating, drinking (coffee), lighting cigarettes, smoking weed, girlfriend's non-stop blather and mobile phone use .. I can keep my primary focus on the driving .. for those that can't .. police need to witness distracted driving .. going too slow .. drifting in lanes .. etc. and ticket those people regardless of the distraction causing poor driving

      1. George of the Jungle
        Headmaster

        The Live Free or Die Compendium

        "Live Free or Die" is our state's motto. It is a bit of a quirky place.

        In New Hampshire, you do not have to wear a seatbelt if you are over 18 (under 18 requires seat belts, booster seats, baby seats, etc.) Motorcycle helmets are not required either. (NB: I personally don't care if there is a seat belt law; however I think you're stupid not to wear one.)

        Automobile insurance is not compulsory in NH either, though the State may require you to post a bond (convicted drunk drivers and the like must have insurance, if they still have the right to drive.) We don't have a state income tax or a general state sales tax (if you dine out or rent a hotel room, you are taxed though).

        In politics, we're one of the few states that does not have a Lt. Governor; the Executive Council (originally formed by commission of King Charles II in 1679) keeps the Governor on a short leash (goes back to post-Colonial times where the populace still didn't want to put the power in the hands of one person.) The Governor is only elected for 2 years (Vermont is the same; all other states have 4 year terms.) We have the third-largest legislature in the English speaking world. The 25 member Senate and 400-member House of Representatives cover a state with about 1.5m residents. Oh, and legislators are paid $200 for their two-year term.

        I've lived here a long time, and there is a libertarian streak. Personal responsibility is more prized, but there have been some attempts to make this more of a nanny state.

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Happy

          @George of the Jungle

          I worked with a gentleman from your state some time ago. A quiet fellow who sounded a bit like Bob Newhart. He was with the IBM subsidiary that did core development for Notes and had been fighting Microsoft most of his career.

          My impression was the locals would be pretty easy going *unless* you started to push them. Especially on personal freedom issues. Slow to boil but likely to stay mean for a long time afterward.

          I've always liked the motto. If they ever changed it they might consider "Evolution in action."

      2. chr0m4t1c
        Stop

        @Flybert

        The problem with getting your facts from Wikipedia is that they are often either wrong or incomplete.

        "US started front seat belts required in US sold cars starting in 1963 .. shoulder+lap front and back lap belts in 1968 .. to this day several major European counties do not require their automobile manufacturers to fit safety belts, Britain among them ..

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seat_belt_legislation"

        UK Law required the fitting of front seatbelts for new cars in 1967 and rear seatbelts in 1987, the 1983 law says "where fitted" because cars older than that often don't have any seatbelts or suitable places for them to be anchored - it's not much use fitting a seatbelt that can't restrain you in the event of an accident.

        There's a more useful potted history on the ROSPA site here:

        http://www.rospa.com/roadsafety/adviceandinformation/vehiclesafety/in-carsafetycrash-worthiness/seat-belt-history.aspx

        I thought that was worth clearing up.

      3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Happy

        @Flybert

        Well....

        Somebody got out of bed the wrong side this morning.

        This is turning into one of those post in haste, repent at leisure deals.

        I did indeed not bother to look it up but obviously you have. With 1 exception I accept that all US states have seat belt wearing laws.

        However from my slightly less brief study it appears that 68% of people in car accidents *were* wearing safety belts and the estimate is if that went up to 90% (IE increase by roughly a 1/3) that would save around 5500 lives a year.

        So after 27 *years* a little over 2/3's of US drivers actually *use* these things.

        BTW part of the reason I went with this was a report that US airbag system explode *much* faster than European designs because they *cannot* rely on the occupant being pre-restrained by a belt. The US law on the new gen air bags was also slacker in the range of people it needed to accommodate than that in the 70s. 200Lb of male US driver *no* problem. 90lb of US *female* was *not* in the spec. The case I saw had a women driving round a corner with IIRC her 7 YO son sitting (unrestrained) in passenger sit. Fairly slight knock trips bags. Women and child both thrown back. Child's neck snaps like a twig.

        US auto makers would *not* go that way if they did not think it would save more lives than would be lost by the odd "sub standard" human becoming collateral damage. The implication is they simply don't *trust* US car users to use the belts installed.

        "if you look at road fatalities, USA not bad at 8.5 deaths per 1 billion vehicle-km, several Eastern European counties run 20+ to almost 40 deaths per 1 billion vehicle-km .. most Northern / Western European counties do better .. 5-6 deaths per 1 billion vehicle-km .. but I suspect it's because of low testosterone levels ;-02"

        This is like a cost accounting exercise. I will suspect the average *length* of journey in the US is longer, so *fewer* journeys are made to cover the same distance. Factor in fewer multiple occupancy trips and the figures go down nicely.

        You might like to note that road accidents are the *biggest* cause of fatalities of US citizens abroad (according to the DoT). I'll suggest the lack of experience with a thing called a "Roundabout" may have something to do with this.

        So yes I was wrong. All states except 1 *do* have such laws. Nevertheless a substantial group of people do continue to exhibit lemming like behavior. They *know* that some behavior is *proven* to save lives and is actually legally mandated yet 1/3 don't do it.

        So I think there's *lots* of scope before installing this sort of complex, crazy ass tech.

        And yes relying on my spell check *not* red lining "exorcise" was slackness on my part. I guess I've always been fond of the poster for The Craft.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Eh?

    So if your disabled, or get injured they won't even be able to call 911, no doubt the police would still be able to use their phones in donught collection vehicles?

    Thankfully, I'm in the UK and I'd be bored sh!tless if my phone wasn't able to check my email or be able to access the net, while being a passenger in a car.

    Why not work on having road signs that can limit the speed of cars to whatever speed limit the sign says?

    I can just see the queues in America for the technology to be fixed to their cars (!)

  30. Donald Atkinson
    Thumb Down

    Seems a bit extreme

    I don't use the phone while driving but I do use the phone when I am a passenger. Even if I am just checking email or texting. Making it impossible for anyone to use a phone inside a car is just over the top.

    1. Robert Simpson
      WTF?

      exactly

      This is exactly what I was thinking while reading this article.

  31. Mike Moyle Silver badge

    "Worried about that car that's been following you for the last five miles...?"

    "...Dial 911."

    Oooops...

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      FAIL

      ......crash!

      oh dear...

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Protecting what from what exactly?

    So there was this plan to put mandatory speed speed limiters in cars everywhere. Which would be lots of fun when you're trying to overtake downhill and the thing "saving" you from speeding by cutting power might easily _cause_ you to run into something else at high speed. But the speed limiter was there _for your own safety_.

    This plan is similar: Even forgetting that the average car seats four or five, leaving the other three or four out in the cold for no reason, you're taking abilities away because by government fiat using them in that situation is deemed _always bad_. Which half a microsecond thought easily disproves.

    Because if half the populace is stupider than the other half, does that justify treating all of the populace as the stupidest person this politician guy managed to dig up?

    If this guy is serious about "personal responsibility", then go for it. Teach people to be responsible behind the wheel and if they're not they lose their licence right there and then. Poof, done, no excuses.

    But he's joking about that. How else could it be if he's advocating saving lives of persons deemed to be too stupid to live? He's really just pushing some silly technology that seeks to put you in a straitjacket. If he's blathering about "personal responsibility" at the same time while seeking to destroy it one little bit at a time, that's just so much government spin and outright lies. Did he suddenly acquire friends with interests in manufacturing those devices or something?

    That's the rub innit. Driving licences put an arguably pretty low lower bound on driving skill. And you could argue this could stand some improvement. But that doesn't justify enforcing an almost equally low upper bound on driving skill. And that is what those gadgets do.

    If I'm driving, if I'm in charge, it's up to me to not do stupid things behind the wheel. If you take that away from me as much as you can, then I don't want to be responsible for what happens while I drive, so you get to be responsible for me too please.

  33. Graham Marsden
    Stop

    Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic...

    The real problem is that most people on the road have *no* idea how to drive properly.

    They might know that the pedal on the right makes it go faster and there's another that makes it slow down, they might know that there's mirrors which let them look out for other road users and they may even know that there's flashing lights on each corner which tell other road users that they're going to turn or change lanes, but that's pretty much about it.

    Unfortunately once someone has passed a test which says "You can drive" that is it, there is no compulsory requirement for them to subsequently demonstrate that they still can do more than just operate a vehicle.

    Of course that's usually enough, until something unexpected happens and some poor sod is lying bleeding on the road, at which point the vehicle operator is thinking "OMG I didn't know that could happen, why didn't someone tell me?" which is, of course, too late.

    Until Governments start requiring compulsory re-tests and encouraging people to do more than the most basic training, things are not going to improve.

    Oh and insurance companies could help, I'm doing my IAM motorbike training, when I pass my insurers will give me a whole £15 off my insurance! (Pity that's less than the cost of a year's IAM membership...)

  34. Donn Bly
    FAIL

    Just another politition trying to self-justify his position

    Just another politician trying to self-justify his position, and in the process proving beyond any shadow of a doubt that he is incompetent.

    In the same time period when cellular phones, especially small, hand-held versions, have been increasing at an almost exponential level in the United States, and the number of miles driven has increased, the number of fatal accidents during the same time has actually DECREASED. As such, if there is a cause/effect relation to be obtained, it is that the cellular phones aren't a significant factor.

    At the same time, there have been numerous studies and anecdotal reports from emergency services how the extra phones in civilian hand have saved lives time and time again by people able to report accidents faster getting emergency services there faster, being able to provide emergency communications on-scene, etc.

    In short, Ray LaHood is an just another incompetent idiot trying to fatten himself on the public dole.

  35. AceyMan

    I'd be happy....

    .... if the bobbies would enforce the law that you cannot operate a car with headphones on.

    Nearly every asshat I see with an iPhone is wearing both earbuds. Illegal, and more importantly, dangerous.

    I commute by bike and I want the cagers to hear my screams before I kick them in their door....

    1. chr0m4t1c

      Which law is that?

      Citation required, as they say.

      If it's illegal to wear headphones while driving then surely it must also be illegal for deaf people to drive (which it isn't).

      I'm not saying it isn't a daft thing to do as it will reduce your driving skill and most people probably won't compensate, but I can't find any reference to it on any uk.gov website.

      The chaps in blue might charge you with one of the "without due care and attention" laws, though.

      1. Michael C

        and sound dampening too...

        Many higher end cars ore so quiet inside, you can honk a horn and they won;t hear it, even with the radio off. most others drive with the radio so loud they're not going to hear it anyway... headphones are a moot issue.

  36. Homer 1
    WTF?

    Carjacking

    So you're being bumped by a car-jacker, but you can't call the police, because your one and only means of doing so has been "jammed".

    Brilliant.

    What are you supposed to do: casually drive to the nearest phone box (are there any left?), find a nice parking spot, get out of the car, stroll up to the phone box, and cheerfully call the cops ... while you're being bashed on the head?

    American politicians are utterly retarded.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      A title is required...

      Ray Lahood is a former ReTHUGlican member of the US Senate... ReThugs are all for smaller government, but they want to be able to control your every thought and deed, according to their narrow-minded, Puritanical, beliefs...

      Paris, 'coz she has more brains and intelligence than most Replicans, and she uses hers

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Thumb Up

        AC@10:05

        "ReTHUGlican "

        Hmmm.

        Nice.

        It does seem to sum up a certain point of view.

        Perhaps it's time I made some enquirers

  37. Gene Cash Silver badge
    Go

    That would be AWESOME

    Pretty much all of the drivers that cut me off, drive slow in the left lane, sit there when the light turns green, go when the light is still red, pull out on me, blow through stopsigns, etc etc

    .... have a goddamned cellphone glued to their ear.

    I'd vote for Mr. LaHood for president.

  38. Tim Bates
    FAIL

    Very narrow minded.

    Sounds good at first...

    But what about incoming calls? You need the phone on the network to receive those, and who says I'm not pulling over to answer the call?

    As others have said, emergency calls become a fail - especially those where the driver/passengers can't stop to call, such as in cases of road rage or carjackings.

  39. JaitcH
    FAIL

    Think POSITIVELY - alternatives offer opportunity

    If allowed to continue:

    Fools will kill themselves (thinkpopulation control); undertakers - tow truck operators will enjoy continued employment; replacement vehicles generate jobs.

    If prohibited:

    The number of dead fools will decrease; added technician employment modding the cars; lawyers and courts will garner additional work; government will increase their income through fines.

    The genii is out of the bottle - it is too late.

    I live in a country where motorcyclists text whilst on the move, where anyone caught using a phone on the move is fined about 20% of a month's minimum pay AND the vehicle is confiscated for a month yet they STILL text and phone.

  40. David 141
    Terminator

    Bring on the robot cars

    And get rid of the idiot drivers once and for all.

  41. Orecomm
    Stop

    Disabling the wrong component

    OK, lets face it, the cell phone isn't the problem. Neither are eating, drinking, kids, dogs, reading, shaving, lipstick, or the million and one other things that get in the way of driving well. The problem is the driver. It always has been. So, if you are going to outlaw something, how about just getting rid of the driver ? The technology is very nearly there. The mindset may take a little working on. I'll tell you though, I have better things to do with an hour + commute than tally up my daily "idiot index" of less-than-optimal drivers. Imagine the national productivity gains if that time currently spent behind the wheel could be used to make phone calls, text, read, browse, shop, and all the other things we do when not driving. Let face it folks, the self-piloted vehicle just doesn't make much sense, particularly in congested areas. Computers are just more attentive, predictable, and react to situations faster and more accurately than "squishies". If you want to argue, then start a debate about what OS the car of the near future should use <duck>. Trying to solve all the reasons that humans can come up with to wreck a car one at a time just isn't going to work.

  42. Jacqui

    one foot spike

    in the center of the steering wheel was proposed by one safety engineer. This in his expert opinion would save more lives that it would risk.

    His logic - a *lot* of people drive to what they feel is a safe speed and airbags, crumple zones etc make them feel "Invunerable". Therefore instead of a minor shunt youendup with a major pileup with many deaths and a major cost to the govmint.

    A notional one foot long spike in the centre of the steering wheel would focus drivers attention to the fact that even a small bump is dangerous and makes them take appropriate care.

    If this attention seeking merkin twonk wants to get attention he shouldpropose a "spike" retrofit.

    This would certainly clear the roads of those unfit to drive - darwinism at its best!

    1. Sooty

      except

      What about the situation where you are driving perfectly safely, and some drunk/stoned/mobile phone using twonk hits you.

      If you stationary at some traffic lights and someone goes into the back of you at 50 because they weren't paying attention, you still get spiked!

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Stranded & Dying

    I see, so when you crash in the middle of nowhere and need medical attention you will not be able to use the only device that can save you (the cell phone), because so bozo in government has decided that their safety is more important than you having the ability to call for life saving measures. Gee thanks!

  44. Efros

    Don't ban the phone

    Ban the user, you get caught using it you lose your driving licence, simple quick and effective.

    1. Michael C
      Alert

      better still..

      here's the new law:

      You may have a cell phone in your car, but only if it is not in your hand, at all, period. ALL use of a mobile device must be via complete hands free, including dialing. (and carriers are banned from charging for dial by name from here forward to facilitate this). Phones with GPS must be used in approved car docks in approved locations on the dashboard. While docked so, they can only operate as GPS, music players, and in complete hands free mode unless stopped for at least 90 seconds (use of buttons/touchscreen must be disabled if the GPS is enabled) You can be pulled over on sight for failure to comply. We'll set up a hotline people can call to report drivers failing to comply, and make it top priority of all traffic cops to respond to those calls over issuing speeding or other violations, making it damned easy for you to get caught... We'll also provide a hotline for the cop to use for each carrier such that a cop can get a simple "yes/no" answer about a user device they call in about "was it in use in the last several minutes and how" but no information beyond that, a simple confirmation you were texting, etc).

      For your protection, the state strongly encourages you not to "lend" your cellphone to another passenger while the vehicle is in gear as this may lead to possible charges which will NOT be dropped, you are here warned! (your passenger using a device registered to you could get you in trouble, they should use their own device, or use yours hands free only).

      First offense (assuming non accident, just getting caught with phone in hand, or any other "distracting" device):

      Max state municipal vehicle fine, probably $250-500 and 4 or 6 points.

      Your carrier is called and your service plain is suspended for 90 days (but still incurs billing and can not be canceled during this time), and no other carrier can offer you a phone line during that time. If you have more than 1phone plan, they are all suspended equally. Also applies to mobile hotspots and WiMax services. This takes effect upon accepting the fine (paying it), or in court when a judge issues the penalty, as with any other misdemeanor traffic violation, not instantly (innocent until proven guilty)

      Second offense, also non-accident:

      You are banned from owning a mobile device capable of supporting calls, SMS, or other messaging for 1 year. You may own a laptop or tablet computer, but it must be in a trunk or other inaccessible location in your car. You may not own a mobile hot-spot either. $1,000 fine, 60 day license suspension, and 4 more points when you get your license back. This is a both a misdemeanor crime and a traffic violation, and goes on your CRIMINAL as well as driving record.

      third offense, or first offense resulting in an accident of any kind:

      90 days in prison; or 1 year and 1 day probation and a $5,000 fine; or probation and 500 hours community service. If personal injury resulted, criminal vehicular manslaughter or other charges apply as well, and this crime is a felony. Multiple penalty by enough such that the fine would exceed the personal injury costs by double and award this to the injured (max 100,000) and increase prison time accordingly. If prison time would be in excess of 9 months, prison time is mandatory and probation is not an option.

      Additional offense:

      License suspended for 5 years. Count offense as a felony automatically. 1 year and 1 day minimum prison sentence. Doubles each additional offense. You are banned for 10 years (after release) from having a device in your hand in a car while driving. The state takes permanent possession of your car (if it was not your car, add a $10K fine).

      Other fines/penalties:

      - using someone else's device while under a phone use suspension, driving or not: Add a $1,000 fine to any other charges. You MAY use a cellphone inside a private residential residence if that residence has no land line or VoIP service, but you may not own that device.

      - driving under suspension: as normal.

      - accident with root cause related to a device causing permanent disability or death of another: see vehicular manslaughter and add device use penalty as an additional charge.

      - allowing someone with a suspended license to drive your car, knowingly, $1,000 fine, doubling with each offense and becoming a felony on the 4th.

      Summary:

      A simple rule: don't have a device in your hand while driving.

      A rapidly escalating penalty: starts with the state's maximum vehicular penalty and ban on using a mobile device in a car, and quickly escalates to felony status and prison time on repeat offenses. The penalty for a second offense and higher should not be less than the state's penalty for drunk driving if it is higher. If this penalty is higher, use it. Give the court little to no leniency here, orther than to substitute higher fines, banishment, and penalties in place of prison time for those who could pay it. (goal, keep them out of jail until at least the 3rd offense, but punish them so severely we won;t see them doing this again). if there;s a hotline to call in the crime, and dispatch a cop easily to get you, maybe you won't do it in the first place. go one step further, and offer $50 rewards for turning people in (and $500 fines for calling in false alarms, just in case it's abused)

  45. Tempest
    WTF?

    Phones distracting? They're nothing, how about streaming TV

    Here in Cambodia, and most countries out this way we have streaming TV over the air using Wimax.

    In the West you have dash mounted radio's. Out here dash mounted radio's are replaced with TV with pop-out screens. Larger screens drop down from over the windshield.

    Now THEY are distracting!

  46. Bugs R Us
    Thumb Up

    Good. About time. Needs to happen in EU too.

    This should happen, simple as that. Sure you can't stop other "distractions" but this is one careless distraction that tech can prevent.

  47. Christopher Martin

    Opposite effect for directions

    When you're calling someone who's giving you directions, or you passenger is using a phone for GPS, I think the phone is more likely to increase safety. A driver who knows where he's going is less dangerous than one who is lost...

  48. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge
    FAIL

    jammer won't stay in the car

    "Is it not possible for the jammer to switch off if it detects a 911 call. Or more simply crash->engine off->jammer off."

    Well, no. If the phone has no service, it will not have service and won't try to make any calls to begin with. And.. well.. crash->engine off->jammer off->phone still jammed from the cars streaming by jamming your call.

    And THAT is what sinks this plan! This is a car, not a building or something, it's not possible to keep the jamming field just inside the car. If cars started all having jammers, people that live or work near busy roads may not be able to make calls at all. In addition, both UMTS and CDMA are *interference* limited, raising the noise floor results in a reduction in number of callers that can use a site, and reduction in data capacity. So an increase in the rate of dropped calls and slower data.

    Also -- passengers! I really don't know if passengers talking on the phone bother the driver or not. But I've seen plenty of passengers texting their asses off, which doesn't bother the driver one bit, as well as web surfing. If we're on a long trip, I have an air card and the passenger can stream music (instead of the crap on the radio in a lot of the country) and can web surf. Finally, one DEFINITE problem is the GPS apps that phones have -- I can't really get driving directions if my phone's being jammed!

    The solution is quite simple -- strict enforcement of distracted driving laws. Not "no texting while driving" laws, texting while driving is inherently distracted driving and having redundant laws to cover the same thing is, well, redundant. The cops around here look for absolutely nothing but speeding. They'll hassle someone for going a bit fast on a wide-open, straight, empty road. But the people that run red lights, do stuipd semi-truck-style turns (swing the car out to the left, usually without looking, to make a right turn, or swing the car right to make a left turn), tailgating, stopping short, drive in the fast lane while going slow and not passing anyone, failing to yield, and the ones that actually are distracted? Oh no, even if the cops are out, they aren't interested in any of that, only speeders.

    One thing I can tell you for damn sure -- if they did push this through there'll certainly be a healthy aftermarket in clipping that out!

  49. Rattus Rattus

    Better yet,

    stop thinking of driving as a right and more as a privilege. Make the test difficult to pass. Mandate regular re-tests. Make any kind of being a dumbass on the road grounds for immediate loss of license. There's no reason the vast majority of the adult population in any country should be allowed to drive and I see plenty of reasons every day that most people shouldn't.

    This would also have the pleasant side-effects of reducing congestion, reducing pollution, reducing the amount of land used up for parking spaces and stimulating efficient public transport systems.

  50. volsano

    TSA, TSA, TSA!

    Distracted driving kills 5500 people in the USA every year?

    Compare that to 3000 killed in the last decade by mainly Saudi terrorists.

    It's time for the TSA to get involved.

    Naked checks for all vehicle occupants, for every journey.

    It's the only way to be sure.

    1. JaitcH
      Alert

      How about a two-handed dexterity test?

      To circumvent a 'block' they could require the party trying to make the call to complete a keyboard-pushing task that requires two hands as well as the use of eyes.

      Similar in nature to those drunk locks fitted to some cars.

      1. ChrisC

        Nope

        Partly because it'd fall foul of disability discrimination laws, and partly because there'd be nothing to stop an idiot driver from attempting to complete such a test, during which time they'd be an even bigger danger to other road users than if you simply let them place the call as normal...

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Tell that to all the people...

      ...with no mass transit access to their job. For many people, their car (and THEIR car alone) is the only means to reach their livelihood (because no buses/trains run near either their home or their work, no coworkers live or drive anywhere near you, and a taxi would sap most of your daily take). Worse yet, if the car IS their livelihood (because they're an on-call or other roving worker), then you're essentially denying them the ability to contribute as a hard-working American should. I think there have been lawsuits over this, which is why there are restricted licenses.

      1. Michael C
        Thumb Down

        so.

        If you abuse your privileged, and loose access to your car because of it, then maybe being force to MOVE is also part of the penalty. I have no issue with this.

        Driving is NOT a right, it is an earned privilidge that should be much easier to take away.

        No one said your current job is the one you're stuck with. if you loose your car, and have to change jobs, or even move to get one, so be it. Maybe you should not have broken the law. If it IS your livelihood, maybe you'd be a bit more careful in the first place as well.

        the bank can come take your car if you get in over your head on credit and make this situation equally applicable. Should we pass a law so that banks can't repossess the cars of people who depend on them?

  51. Tech Hippy
    Stop

    No thanks

    As someone who was permanently damaged at the age of 26 by a lorry drive using his mobile phone I'm against this idea for many of the reasons already listed above (accident reporting, personal safety, etc). The first person to die because they are unable to contact emergency services whilst trapped in their car after an accident would put an end to jammers in vehicles.

    There are laws on both sides of the Atlantic already in place to cover driving when not fully controlling the vehicle (for whatever reason).

    Just enforce the damn things!

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Integrated hands-free

    It's surprising that in a technical forum nobody mentions the one thing that might be the accepted solution for both sides: bluetooth integration of the phone in the car's hifi. That thing is working damn well and I personally use it since 3 years now. Just make it mandatory. Or use a normal bluetooth hands-free.

    I find since distracting the fact that I have to check my speed behind the steering wheel, since I have to bend my head to see it. Will be solved when heads-up available for mid-sedans I guess.

    It should be illegal to disable the phone just like that, maybe they should think about other things first, like perhaps removing the speed limits where it doesn't make sense.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      The big distraction of the cell phone...

      ...as noted by multiple studies, is the talking, not the handling. Engaging in a phone conversation, or even sometimes in an in-car conversation, tends to zone you out, and you tend to lose touch with the outside. Hands-free kits in this case would provide no benefit and could in fact make things worse by encouraging the one thing that's truly dangerous about talking-and-driving. On top of that, how's a cop who happens to see you tell you're holding a distracting conversation when you're hands-free (I think that's one of the big problem of using "driving while distracted" laws--telling that the driver is indeed distracted before it's too late; the other is that it's probably not a "primary" offense worthy of a traffic stop in and of itself)?

    2. Michael C

      because

      in several states,hands free is already the law. Problem is, there's no laws covering OTHER uses of those devices, specifically the ones related to looking at it for extended periods (texting).

      In-dash systems only help the vehicle owner, and a few phones. they're difficult to manage with rental cars, loaned vehicles, and fleet vehicles. Blue tooth in general (aka hands free) in fine enough for calling.

      We however can not provide a similar system for use of the keypad... If people can touch they screen, and feel they can get away with it, they often will. There's no simply technology to detect what position a phone is in within the confines of a vehicle and automatically disable this functionality. I could conceive of GPS docks and fhone chargers that tell a device to enable hands-free-only when docked (and for up to 90 seconds after the vehicle has come to a complete stop, even if removed from the dock), but what makes a person put one in the dock to begin with?

      We ALL agree, jamming = bad move. But what's the solution?

      here's a simple one: A hotline. You see someone texting while driving, or a phone in their hands AT ALL? You call (using YOUR hands free) and report it. The closest cop is dispatched no differently than for any other criminal offense to pull over that vehicle. Cops don;t have to patrol for this, they get called to it. At that time, the cop takes the phone, calls the carrier, and gets a response as simple as "yes, textile did happen about the time you claim." (or some other non-hands-free use was detected), and the perp gets busted. Make the fine big to start with, escalating quickly as do multiple DUI offenses, and lets give people encouragement to use the service by offering them a $50 stipend when the person in question is formally convicted by the judge when they show up to traffic (or criminal) court.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Troll

    Keep the phone out of the car

    I can see desperately phone addicted motorists, hanging out of their windows so they can drive and still use the phone. May be there's a market for a phone trailer or a roof box

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    I'm for this idea...

    Now when I decide I want to kidnap someone , I don't have to piss around checking to see if they have a phone on them.

    Thanks!

    Your's sincerly

    Mr Drug dealer / Rapist / Child Abducter

  55. SpikeDouglas

    Jammin' ??

    I assumed the easy way was to have a gps in the phone that switched it off over (say) 10 mph. That coupled with legislation would get most people off their phones while driving.

    If it was mandatory for all new phones to be fitted thus you'd cover a good percentage in a year, big fine if caught driving with un-nobbled phone.

    The other simple way would be to ban phones in the driving compartment of a car. Much like many states do with alcohol.

    Too bad I couldn't sue the bastard who drove into me while chatting to his boss, wasn't illegal then.

  56. Is it me?

    Luckily

    I don't think I'm a good drive, and daily I see thousands that are worse on the M25.

    Interesting how many people keep making the same points over and over, rather than anyone actually get the point, or think how you might do it.

    A vehicle is a Faraday cage, so it isn't too difficult to jam signal devices inside the car, whilst allowing those that are part of the car, On-Star, Sat Nav and Integral Mobile Phones. Some train coaches and theatres in the UK used to jam mobiles, some might still do so, without any effect outside the area being jammed.

    It is not beyond the wit of motor manufacturers to provide a mobile phone compartment and a standard connector for all phones so that you mobile can be embedded in the car, nor the phone manufacturers to make the phones. Whilst on the move the phone would be attached to the car and subject only to voice or steering wheel control, you wouldn't be able to text, or fiddle with the phone, but so what. Yes your phone options are limited, but how much do you really need to talk on the phone when driving.

    And passengers not being able to phone, so what, talk to the driver, watch the world go by and enjoy the scenery, what do you think we used to do before mobile phones.

    I ignore my mobile when driving, because it is a distraction, not long after the introduction of mobiles, I was nearly killed by an executive chatting on his brand new mobile doing in excess of 70mph and completely missing the fact he was approaching a longabout, (very long and narrow roundabout). I've also seen someone textin whilst driving through the Blackwall tunnel in London, steering with his knees, my though was thank god I'm in a Land Rover and you're in a Nova (think Geo). We all do stupid things when driving, but we could do with out any more, and we should take opportunities to limit the ones we have already.

    1. Graham Dawson

      Wrong!

      A vehicle is not a Faraday cage. Or, more accurately, a vehicle is a faraday cage that will, nevertheless, not be able to block electromagnetic radiation at the wavelengths used by mobile phones. your idea that the car will prevent a jamming signal having an effect outside the car is very easy to disprove using this simple test.

      1) Get inside your car.

      2) Make a phone call.

      If you can make a call then your car isn't an effective faraday cage at the wavelengths in question.

      Any signal capable of blocking or intercepting your mobile phone from within the car will be powerful enough to affect phones outside the car. If it's not strong enough to transmit outside the car then it won't actually be strong enough to have any effect within the car either.

      You make the mistake of assuming that limiting by law the "distractions" a driver will face will somehow reduce them. This is a false assumption. If you remove one distraction a driver will simply come up with another one. This is because the *driver* is allowing himself to be distracted. He is a bad driver. Banning his phone won't magically make him a better driver; he will still be a bad driver who will simply express that lack of ability in some other way.

    2. ChrisC

      Umm???

      If vehicles truly were Faraday cages, there'd be no need for mobile jammers of any kind, because any phone within the car would never see a signal from the base stations outside the car... And I'm not aware of any train carriages in the UK which used active jamming (which, remember, is slightly illegal), however for several years now there have been carriages with metallic coatings on their windows - the combination of this plus the metal carriage bodies DOES then behave as a fairly effective Faraday cage for mobile and broadcast radio frequencies.

    3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Happy

      @Is it me?

      "I was nearly killed by an executive chatting on his brand new mobile doing in excess of 70mph and completely missing the fact he was approaching a longabout, "

      It's amazing how educational the threat of sudden violent death or serious injury can be

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a prick

    This guy is a complete twat. In some states in the US it's illegal to have any alcohol inside your car, it has to be in the 'trunk', how pathetic is that.

    They treat adults like children over there, not to be trusted !

  58. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    FAIL

    Stupid idea

    So will they compensate all the makers of handsfree kit in cars?

    And will they be blocking the signals completely?

    This is a badly thought out idea, if i can't even use my phone's GPS in one of their cars i'd return it or try and sue.

    And if your passengers cant use their phones either do you think anyone's going to buy the cars that implement this tech?

    How do you phone someone if you break down?

    What if your wife goes into labour and they can't contact you?

    What if you need the police?

    This is a stupid idea, there's no way they'll get anyone to agree with it

  59. teacake

    LaHood?

    When reading the quotes from LaHood, I can't help imagining him as the evil businessman from Pale Rider.

    If he doesn't get his way, will he call in the Pinkertons?

    1. Sandra Greer
      Pirate

      Treat adults like children?

      Been following our elections over here? There are a lot of "adults" who are just children in disguise, and they vote,

  60. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Hmmmm

    Won't it just mean it's also going to be impossible to make or recieve a call from a pavement (OK Sidewalk for our US collegues) when every passing care will be trying to jam the signal you have?

    At the very least the constant jamming /de jamming will trash battery life in phones as they contsantly seach for the network after a passing car kicks them off.

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Very well demonstrated

    "Just think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are even stupider!"

    Well done everyone!

  62. Cynical Observer

    Opening Gambit

    With the number of people who will scream every variation of "No!" and "prise it from my cold dead fingers" it's easy to see that this proposal will stumble before it ever gets anywhere near implementation.

    At which point, it opens the door to the more reasonable - "well every car manufacturer must fit bluetooth hands free as standard." It's hard to see how people can disagree with such a proposal - after all it's safer than hand held (separate argument for another day) and if a default part of the cost, people won't be tempted to cut corners and not spec it when choosing a new car. (Why is it that I regularly see drivers of expensive luxury marques holding phones - spend £50k plus on a car and too tight arsed to add £500 for bluetooth.... where's the sense in that?)

  63. JMB

    US may disable all in-car mobile phones

    I have no problem with a complete ban on use of mobile phones by drivers but this seems a crazy way to go about it. I can't imagine high powered businessmen and politicians in their chauffeur driven limos not being able to talk on their phones all the time. Many vehicles have systems using mobile phone networks for relaying data to equipment in the vehicle, anti-theft tracking devices using mobile phone networks and even the police use them for tracking criminals' vehicles. Emergency services use mobile phones both for speech and for data (partly because of the very expensive Airwave network they have been forced to use in the UK) but I suspect the same in the US.

    All would be jammed as would a pedestrian if a jammer equipped car passed.

    Presumably the police will still be allowed to use their mobile phone style "radios"?

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Passengers?

    So no making calls from the back of a taxi as well then?

    Also can they really jam accurately enough that pedestrians won't be being cut off as cars pass?

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Surely a more effective way to reduce car crashes...

    ...is to ban the CARS!

    1. A J Stiles
      Alert

      Many a true word spoken in jest

      Well, that's pretty much going to happen sooner or later anyway.

      I have a book which says "there are about 30 years' worth of crude oil left in the ground". It was printed in 1972. And although they've found more oil since then, one fact remains: When it's gone, it's gone forever, and invading more countries will not make any difference.

  66. The Nameless Mist
    FAIL

    Car Crash

    Car goes over the edge of the roadway into a ditch.

    Driver is trapped upside-down in jammed seatbelt.

    Oh dear .. you can't call 911 .. your mobile is disabled.

    FAIL!

  67. trydk
    Stop

    Non-Phone-Related Experiences

    For a four year period I did some serious commuting and in my experience, the phone is not the worst culprit.

    What did I experience? Lessee:

    Lorries with drivers that had been driving for ages, apparently without sleep. One managed to drive at full pelt inside a protective railing and crash into a bridge. The cabin part was compressed to half size! He could as easily have massacered a queue of cars, but he left that to some of his colleagues. Another lorry driver was taking advantage of the full width of the motorway, swerving back and forth through all three lanes AND the hard shoulder. And what about the poor guys that realise too late that they are almost missing the exit and turn so sharply that the lorry overturns. These are creating quite a bit more accidents than people on the mobile phone, especially if it is hands free.

    Other people have mentioned make-up and shaving as distractions; I can add to that reading and watching movies. I have seen people driving with books (and maps, of course) on the steering wheel, that cannot be good. And I have seen at least two cases (OK, that is probably not quite as ubiquitous as the phone :-) I remember of people with some sort of media player/DVD player on top of the dashborad showing a movie. Distracting? I'd think so!

    Let us quickly put this suggestion to rest. This is obviously made by some politician who has not had his monthly/weekly/daily shot of "fame" and need something that gets a reaction ... and, Hey Presto, he got it!

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Is It Me

    Problem is that all you would need to bypass the cage effect is an external aerial of some type - average techy could probably cook one up from a peice of tinfoil and a lengrth of electrical wire. And duct tape of course, you can't make anything without duct tape.

    1. Shades
      FAIL

      Genius...

      ...now all you need to do is tin-foil me up an actual aerial connector for my PHONE and the millions of other like it that no longer come with an external aerial connector.

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where does it end then?

    and next....

    - All in car entertainment including radio, CD etc should be banned - it distracting and therefore dangerous.

    - It should be illegal to transport children and animals - they distract and are therefore dangerous.

    - All road side advertising should be banned - it's distracting and therefore dangerous.

    - All cars should be standard with no distracting paintwork or logos - thats is distracting and therefore dangerous.

    - Driver and passengers should all be gagged - talking is distracting and therefore dangerous.

    - Seatbealt should be extended to lock legs and arms in place - moving about can distract and is therefore dangerous.

    - All modes of transport should be banned as they are just dangerous.

    - Everybody should be sealed and strapped into the houses - life is just dangerous.

    How far do we have to go here, it's plainly ridiculous.

    Driving is far far far safer than it has ever been and technology is playing a key role in making that even safer - very soon it will be very hard to crash a car even if your on the phone looking behind you and eating a sandwich!

  70. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    Sense of Proportion

    No indication is given of what proportion of accidents are caused by cell phone distraction, or how many could be eliminated by cell phone jamming. A politician simply floats an idea, and there follows a storm of discussion about whether it's a Good Thing or a Bad Thing. All road safety measures are a balance of benefits and costs (both financial and human). Without information about these it's impossible to decide on such a proposal.

    This looks like another case of politicians' inability to distinguish big things from small things. It reminds me of the way we were going to stop global warming by not leaving the TV on standby.

  71. system11
    Flame

    Need more focus on phone users in cars

    Stop focusing on speeding and go after people using phones - simple. I saw a woman career into the oncoming lane while trying to take a left a few days ago, phone wedged between her shoulder and ear.. I'm just happy there was a traffic island between where she was and I was, shame she managed to avoid hitting it though.

    Oh - what was that, it's not lucrative enough?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Well...

      #3 and #4 I wouldn't mind. Save the ads for foot traffic and the bling for your person.

      #6 might not be a bad idea, either. Could help deal with submarining instances (crash and you end up escaping the belt by sliding UNDER it).

      "Driving is far far far safer than it has ever been and technology is playing a key role in making that even safe" Then how come driving is still a whole lot more dangerous than, say, flying in an airplane?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Charles 9

        "Then how come driving is still a whole lot more dangerous than, say, flying in an airplane?"

        There are a couple of reasons I can think of, Millions of cars versus thousands of Planes, Pilots are highly trained and experienced, versus the average dumbo driving a car. Plus flying an aircraft is easy once takeoff or landing has been accomplished with little opportunity for collision in mid air. Against constant danger of collision at all times in a car.

        (OK that's three).

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Joke

      AC@11:15

      "How far do we have to go here, it's plainly ridiculous."

      Boy. Do I know a British political party you're going to love.

  72. Atonnis
    Go

    Why not...

    Maybe rather than outright blocking, and thus inconveniencing anyone else in the car, stopping services, etc, why not just make it illegal to not have a big green light on the top of the car that lights up intensely when there is a phone in use and not through a car-based handsfree system.

    Let's face it, in the main those who seem to be a danger, those prattling away on their phones whilst racing along, are usually alone in the car. It would be a pretty visible situation if you have one person in the car and the big green light is saying 'hey, I'm on the phone!'.

    The other idea is you have an in-car camera affixed on every driver that only activates when a phone is in use. The camera then broadcasts to everyone nearby a live feed of what the driver is doing. Evidence galore.

    At that point you make it a mandatory minimum that when caught the driver loses their car, on the spot, and they're left on the side of the road until they can make it to the nearest impound centre and pay the minimum £5000 fee.

    I also think that cars should lose all key slots and have them replaced with drivers license slots, so that drivers can only start cars with a valid license and insurance.

  73. fishman

    Ban front seat passengers?

    How about banning front seat passengers? I see drivers talking to the front seat passengers, turning their heads towards the person and their eyes away from the road.

    I doubt if the cell phone jamming will happen - It's the sort of issue that will get the current administration voted out.

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    (untitled)

    How long before 'how to break the jammer' instructions appear on the Net?

    And if it interfers with hands free kits, doesn't that ensure more folk holding the phone to their ear, and trying to hide the fact from the outside world? Doesn't sound very safety first.

    1. A J Stiles
      FAIL

      No, because

      Front seat passengers can see the same road as the driver, and usually interrupt the flow of conversation on seeing a hazard.

  75. Rossco_P
    Alert

    Seatbelts anyone?

    Just a thought, but if our American cousins wanted to cut down on road traffic deaths/injuries, wouldn't it be an idea to enforce the wearing of seatbelts?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Already tried that.

      Thing is, distracted-driving accidents have a higher chance of being non-surviveable...even with seatbelts on (think rollovers, off-center impacts, and broadsides--especially at speed).

  76. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about passengers

    Surley this will block their signal too? What's wrong with a passenger checking FB on their iPhone while someone else is driving? While I agree mobile phones shouldn't be used by the driver, disabling it completely will cause problems for those who have the right to use their phone when sat in the passenger seat.

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      Worse than that

      the bored passenger will chat endlessly and distract the driver more than if they'd been texting!

  77. Doug Glass
    Go

    So? What's Your Point?

    For $100 +S&H you can buy a device to jam all signals within a given diameter bubble. Problem is that's a prison offense. The Hooter may want it but the FCC has to make it legal. So far they never have. The funny part is any device like that is hackable with a screw driver and $2 soldering pen. Idiots will be idiots and just as soon as they make an idiot-proof device they come up with better idiots.

  78. R J Tysoe

    @flybert

    "this day several major European counties do not require their automobile manufacturers to fit safety belts, Britain among them ..

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seat_belt_legislation"

    Unfortunately, you can't believe everything you read on Wikipedia. All new UK cars must be fitted with a seatbelt for each passenger.

    It is correct in saying they must be worn at all times if they are fitted. In fact, it shows that the law is stricter than in the US, where it is not mandatory to wear seatbelts in the rear passenger seats.

  79. ben 29

    nick nick

    >>And once a driver has passed the test at 17 he never gets retested unless he commits a serious offence or has a medical problem.

    OR joins the police and wants to drive ANY sort of police car.

  80. Little Brother
    Grenade

    Protecting me from the stupid

    Surely the best way to protect me from stupid drivers is for the phone-jamming tech to be working OUTSIDE my car. Let's say it wipes out everything within a 100m radius - that's giving me a lot of protection.

    It's not just loony car drives I'd be protected from. Absent-minded teenagers about to step out into the road in front of me without looking because they're discussing COD Black Ops with their mate would be a thing of the past. And Al Quaeda terrorists wouldn't be able to remotely detonate roadside bombs while I'm driving past.

  81. Steve 6

    MEDIAN FAIL

    "Just think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are even stupider!"

    The average need not be the halfway/midpoint - that point is actually the 'median'.

    There can be considerably more (or less) than half of a population above or below an average.

    Most people earn less than the average wage.

    Perhaps George Carlin was being cleverly ironic and no-one noticed .....

  82. Tagware
    Happy

    Your making this hard!

    Guys,

    It's reasonably easy for the system to work without any blockers etc. Most phones have a device that senses movement. Hence, if moving more that 10 mph then the phone part (DSP) of the mobile is dis-engaged. If you are in public vehicle then a node sends out a counter command via base station. So, thing like trains and Planes, etc. can counter demand the switch off. The GPS info generally doesn't use the DSP so this would still function.

    You can still ring the emergency services, as at that time you would have 0 MPH. DSP would be switch on by this time. If, you were travelling faster than 10 Mph, then you shouldn't be on the Phone.

    If you happen to have a chauffeur (Luck person) then the device would link to a handset in the back of the vehicle.

    There, not that hard really.

    1. ChrisC
      FAIL

      *We're* making it hard?

      First off, whilst many current and fairly recent phone models do have some form of motion sensor onboard, that doesn't mean that most of the phones currently in use have such sensors - think of the millions of regular Nokia, Ericcson, Motorola etc. handsets still in daily use, none of which offer anything more than basic phone functionality.

      Secondly, the typical motion sensor is an accelerometer, which as the name suggests senses acceleration, and therefore the phone would need to sense some acceleration in order to know that it's started moving. If you were to turn your phone on once your vehicle had reached a steady velocity, there'd be no acceleration to sense... There's always GPS for those phones that have it, but preventing the user from disabling the GPS receiver (as would have to be the case if you were relying on GPS-provided motion data to enforce the no-call rule) would murder the battery life and thus sales of the phone. You could try using cell tower triangulation to attempt to deduce whether the phone was moving or not, but that's not always reliable.

      Thirdly, you're adding complexity by requiring a redesign of all phones to incorporate both this >10MPH kill switch and to continually scan for the re-enable signal from the picocell on the bus/plane/etc, AND requiring operators of public transport vehicles (or at least, those who want to allow their passengers to continue using their phones) to install picocells which support the re-enable signal.

      Fourthly, this still penalises passengers in ordinary cars.

      Fifthly, there are times when being able to call the emergency services whilst on the move is A Very Good Thing - assuming emergency calls only need to be placed whilst stationary is wrong.

      Sixthly, no. Just no.

    2. Michael C

      not really

      They sense acceleration, not movement. it requires GPS to sense movement over a distance. Still, that could be a passenger as easily as a driver, there;s no way to pinpoint the phone to the front left sear (or right in other countries).

      the enforcement here is simple:

      1) you can be pulled over simply for having something (ANYTHING) in your hand while driving a car.

      2) ALL voice use of cellphones by the driver must be through integrated systems starting with all new cars, and through aftermarket systems or blue tooth single-ear headsets for older models, NO exceptions.

      3) All phones must support voice dial at no extra charge from this point forward.

      4)If you are pulled over, and a cell phone is visible anywhere near a driver, the cop will take the phone number, call the provider on a hotline, and confirm is SMS or e-mail have or have not been sent from the device during the current trip (easily validated by noting the length of time it was traveling by tower hopping or GPS log, but that can be done without revealing WHERE they dove to/from without a further court order, aka, i can tell you were driving on a freeway for 2 hours without a stop, but i don;t have to tell the cop where to or from), then they check the log in the phone. If SMS were sent during that time, but do not appear in the log, it's not only that you're charged of texting while driving (which a court will latter disseminate from more detailed records), but of destruction of evidence too. If SMS were received, but were deleted, clearly they had to be read to do so, and you're also guilty.

      5) make the penalty for using a cell phone while driving equal to the penalties for drunk driving.

      6) apple vehicular manslaughter laws equally to accidents caused by distracted driving.

      We don't need to block phones, we don't need to mandate additional equipment (other than OPTION equipment to use a hands free device while driving, that's your choice if you want to, with the exception that all cars should have this built in so the car itself can dial 911 in even of a wreck in order to save lives). We just need to make sure people don;t do this. Putting blocks on cell use while driving through Jammers is exactly the same as if they required a breathalyzer ignition test on all cars. They'll never pass either, so we go the easy route: very strict enforcement.

      It may be a privacy concern for cops to have access to detailed call records and GPS logs in the effort to prosecute drivers texting but it is NOT a privacy concern for them to have access to a "was it used or not" report. We can easily accommodate that.

      1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

        #4 wouldnt work

        All you have to do is put the cellphone in your pocket if you are pulled over. What's the cop going to do to you, bust you for having your own personal private property in your pocket? Besides, in the U.S. the cop can't search you personally (ask you to turn out your pockets included) unless he has probably cause to believe you have materials on you that might be illegal.

  83. David_H
    Stop

    Biggest distraction

    The biggest distraction in the UK is the speed cameras! If you see one, you spend more time concentrating on your speedometer than the road in front of you.

    Now, if those speed cameras could be converted to catch all the motorists with a mobile to their ear, then I would definately support that.

    Talking of bad driving, didn't BMW once recall one of their executive cars so that they could remove the indicator stick that had proved to be superflous?

  84. Steven Guenther
    Grenade

    passengers too?

    When I call my wife, my daughter answers the phone and acts as receptionist when they are on the road. Will this be disabled? Small towns use cell phones for emergency vehicles. Will this be disabled too? How about no cell phone in the automobile after an accident? Treat them like drunk drivers because they are also people with no self control. Drunks get breathilizers in their cars, put a cell scrambler in distracted driver's car. (not mine)

  85. Tom 13

    Saw a post on this yesterday.

    First two post (within 2 minutes of each other) both noted it would never pass Constitutional muster. SCOTUS has been pretty consistent that infringement on 1st Amendment rights need to be narrowly tailored. Even presuming you can solve the technical problems with not extending the jamming beyond the range of the car, providing GPS navigation, and alerting emergency services in the event of an accident, you are still necessarily interfering with the 1st amendment rights of other passengers in the vehicle, which is NOT permissible.

  86. Bill Gould
    FAIL

    Oh well then why not...

    ...use their tech to put fucking phone functionality INTO every damn car so I don't have to hack their scrambler to disable it.

  87. red floyd
    Thumb Down

    "Personal Responsibility"

    So to promote personal responsibility, LaHood is going to make our decisions for us. And War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and Ignorance is Strength.

  88. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    More Stupidity From an American Democratic Administration

    'nuff Said.

  89. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge
    Coat

    Hem not quite, Mr Carlin

    "Just think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are even stupider!"

    Shirley he meant the _median_ person, not the _average_ one?

    Mine is the one with the 3rd edition of "statistics for dummies" in the pocket.

  90. Michael C
    WTF?

    Maybe he should have talked to the FCC before speaking

    This is NEVER going to happen....

    Scrambling? Seriously, does he know the first thing about signal technology? To scramble a phone in a car means they'll need a powerful enough signal that would blank out ever phone for a hundred yards from the car. People would not be able to dial 911 in emergencies from the side of a freeway, and phones would almost entirely stop working in cities and parking lots and dense areas where people are around moving cars.

    Even a system for the car to identify a particular device inside the car and tell it to turn its radio off is extremely complex, and will have repercussions in unintended consequences. The DoT has NO power here, only the FCC. They already ruled that schools, churches, and jails can't use this technology due to the risks there, and you want to allow it in CARS??? hahahahhahaha.

    Make this simple: It is against the law to have a cell phone in your hand in a car you are driving, period. Make the fine VERY large (say, $5,000), and open up civil suits to anyone guilty of using a mobile device that results in an accident causing personal or property damage. All operation must be hands free via a headset work in one ear, or via integrated car system. Passengers are not effected by this law. In the event of a wreck, an officer can request you display your SMS, email, and other app logs to him proving you were not using the device in any mode other than hands free. make it very easy to get a "it was in use" statement and log from a phone company (not including who messages were sent/received from, but just they were sent or read (received could happen in the back ground, so we need a flag knowing it was VIEWED). Make it very easy for law enforcement to bust you on this, make the fine VERY high, and make it something they can pull you over for all by itself. Mount cameras on cop cars they can aim at your car and record you with the phone in your hand. Simple to enforce. make the punishment for killing or maiming someone while using a hand held device in a car the exact same punishment as vehicular manslaughter (in the first degree).

    1. Rick Giles
      FAIL

      May not work either

      "an officer can request you display your SMS, email, and other app logs to him proving you were not using the device"

      I'm thinking that that would violate some privacy laws where work issued devices must comply to HIPPA standards concerning PII.

  91. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    go away you tosser

    US Supreme court has ruled that receiving radio signals is protected under the first admendment so this idea will never see the real light of day.

    Nor does it need to almost all states have as a traffic law "falure to pay full time and attention" In Maryland unless its changed since I lived there it was as many points as drunk driving.

  92. Twilight

    completely the wrong priority - what I'd expect from US gov

    What a ludicrous thing for the Dept of Transportation to focus on. 5500 deaths caused by distracted driving - and how many of those were actually cell-phone specific distracted driving (as opposed to makeup, reading, kids, dogs, etc)?

    Drunk Driving killed 11,773 people in 2008 (probably far more - that was the number legally countable). That's about 1/3 of all traffic fatalities (and was about 50% of fatalities on around holidays).

    I can understand banning talking on handsets but talking on a headset is less distracting than just about anything else (stereo controls, climate controls, drinking something, eating something, etc, etc). If we follow this logic, it should be illegal to do all of those things - we have the technology to lock controls while moving after all...

  93. Robin 1
    Alert

    To hell with cellphone use in the car...

    what about blowjobs? The Mrs. always indulges me on those long car trips with a highway hummer. I suppose that's considered "too distracting" now as well!

    Bloody politicians...

  94. Fred 4
    Grenade

    As Ive said before

    to stop cell phone usage while driving :

    (in the US ALL call phones have GPS or similar - required for emergency call location)

    Since this is ALREADY THERE - take advantage of it.

    If the phone is moving at move then 10 mph (16kph) it shuts itself downNo incoming no out going calls/text etc. With the exception of emergency calls.

    NO new tech, no jammer, just a firmware/software update. - Done

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      OK then Einstein...

      What if you're on a train and want to text someone?

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Not so fast.

      1. The GPS must be switched ON first. Since GPS on a phone is a battery hog, this is normally a user decision (make it forced and the user will probably see it in shorter battery life--ergo, he gets a different phone).

      2. To anyone thinking handsfree kits are the answer, has anyone given thought to the studies that point out that it's not just the HANDLING but the TALKING also that distracts you? Handsfree kits would only encourage talking, thus potentially making you more dangerous (not to mention less discernible by cops looking to see if you're driving distracted).

      1. Alexander Vollmer

        Glue the mouth?

        You mean a mandatory no talk'n drive rule like the no drink'n drive. If talking to the handsfree kit is distracting, every talking is distracting.

  95. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      And if you're not driving?

      How can the providers tell that the phone's moving at speed because you're riding along in the passenger seat or perhaps even on a bus or train? Plus what if you need to make an emergency call but can't stop due to incidents of drunk driving, road rage, or other incidents where stopping is ill-advised?

  96. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As an ambulance driver...

    I don't think this is a good idea. I'm not claiming a higher skill in driving, merely more training. There's plenty of competent drivers out there using handsfree sets without incident.

    More importantly, how else will we receive "jobs" (I was going to say calls but know that some wag would twist that one) when the airwave/vhf/mobile data terminals go down? (Again).

  97. Martin Usher
    Stop

    Its not just the phones.....

    This isn't going to work, of course. The "US" doesn't have the power to directly enact laws like this and the mere hint that someone might be thinking about it will be enough to set the right-wing blogosphere aflame with scare stories of a socialist takeover.

    There are lots of reasons why drivers are distracted but you have to drive defensively, to assume that everyone else is completely out of it unless proven otherwise. To many people drive assuming that the rules will be obeyed -- they see a green signal, they assume that its obviously safe to barrel across an intersection and are very surprised with they're t-boned. If you ride motorcycles then you very quickly learn that you don't take anything for granted; you need to drive like you ride.

  98. Stiggy

    A better approach?

    1. Mandate that new cars be fitted with three ultra low-power radio emitters, one in each 'A' pillar, plus one at the top-center of the rear screen. These broadcast a timing signal, emitter ID, and a device ID (the latter to allow any leakage from neighbouring cars to be filtered). The emitters are active whenever the engine is running.

    2. Mandate that new phones are able to detect the above signals. Upon detection, the phone must use them to triangulate its position within the cabin. If in the driver zone, the phone must completely deactivate all keypad operations and switch to a strict handsfree mode only.

    Is it a complete solution? No. Obvious limitations are that it would only affect new cars \ phones, and there is nothing to stop the most determined of douchebags out there from operating the phone at arms length, within a different zone.

    As others have noted, it would be much better to just enforce existing laws more rigourously. But if the politcos are determined to bring tech to the party, this strikes me as a better way.

    Sidenote: It has been suggested, here and elsewhere, that handsfree kit does not lessen the danger. Could someone please explain to me why a conversation held over handsfree is any more dangerous than one held with a passenger? In both cases, the driver is (or certainly should be) processing auditory cues only, so what gives?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Why is it dangerous?

      "It has been suggested, here and elsewhere, that handsfree kit does not lessen the danger. Could someone please explain to me why a conversation held over handsfree is any more dangerous than one held with a passenger? In both cases, the driver is (or certainly should be) processing auditory cues only, so what gives?"

      Some would say chatting with a passenger IS as dangerous as talking on a cell phone: handsfree or not. Others point to imagination or priority: imagination because we may need to focus on a point at which to aim our words (unlike a live passenger) or because we want to make the conversation necessarily brief, we focus on succintness and distract ourselves from the road. A live passenger conversation can be spaced out, limiting the distraction factor.

      As for the radio, many people use radios and in-car music as backdrop to relieve monotony and thus reduce the chance of highway hypnosis.

      Check some of these studies out. Most of my reasons come from them.

      http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/news/top_three/article_dcab06b6-6614-11df-9e65-001cc4c03286.html

      http://www.breitbart.com/news/2006/08/15/060815161706.0xbugxlr.html

      http://www.examiner.com/consumer-news-in-national/connectile-dysfunction-rampant-drivers-ignore-hands-free-cell-phone-laws

      http://bicycleuniverse.info/cars/cellphones.html (collection of links; the bottom group contains the pertinent ones)

  99. Paul Wells
    Unhappy

    using median for the average...

    ...always makes me want to see the data.

    Almost always when "average" is mentioned they're talking about the mean (add all the values and divide by how many), so when median (sort the values and find the one in the middle ) or mode (which value occurs the most) is used it suggest all three have been tried and that one that suits the bias is used.

  100. vincent himpe
    Alert

    let's also ban

    car passengers , radio , video , tv , rain ,snow , fog , and while we are at it , other cars on the same road. that'll reduce it tremendously.

    now , if we also gid rid of the curbs , traffic lights , light poles, trees along the road then there is no chanc e of hitting those either..

    All these things are pure symptomatic solutions. Just take away the root cause of all these accidents : Car's ! if there are no car's i guarantee you there will be no car accidents . At all ! Zero , none , zilch !

  101. reitton

    Jammed?

    There's only one man who would dare give me the raspberry.

  102. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Stop

    A significant hit on workplace productivity

    If this happens. Where I live in Silicon Valley, people use their cars as meeting rooms for work or to take care of non-work phone calls during their commute. Salespeople and sales engineers in particular would suffer.

    I have to say no to this idea. Guess I need to write my Congressman and Senators to tell Secretary LaHood to go get a life.....

  103. kellerr13

    Another major distraction

    Another bigger distraction are police cars on the side of the road pulling people over. Their flashing lights are a distraction, and it often causes wrecks.

  104. kellerr13

    Incomplete Idea

    This was not well thought out, and those are only some of the statistics that should be considdered. Here are some more.

    How many people were obducted or in serious danger in their car, and were saved because they had their cell phones with them and were able to call for help?

    How many people were in serious car wrecks and able to call for help?

    How many parents or other adults were driving in thier car and received a call from their kids that were in serious danger or life threatening situations, and were safe because they managed to call their parents that were in cars and on the road?

    It SHOULD be illegal to use a cell phone while driving, but taking the ability away is just as bad as taking away the drivers ability to steer, or use breaks, or accelerate in cases of emergency. Anytime something like this has been tried, it has been disasterous.

    Anybody proposing the idea needs slapped upside th head, for not thinking it out better.

  105. Stevie Silver badge

    Hah!

    That should put paid to all those affluent gits with their factory-installed "onstar".

    Although, I would have thought a better place to start on a crusade might have been the built-in, Detroit-approved center console touch-sensitive display used for everything from the stereo controls to GPS in SUVs these days. Nothing says "distracted driver" like some kid doing 50 mph in a 30 mph zone with both eyes and one hand on the center-console GUI of his new graduation toy.

    I recently had to have a mercedesectomy done on my front lawn as a result of this bit of thoughtless "design" meeting a clueless new driver with parents who had more money than sense. One lawn, 70 ft of chain link fence, a telephone pole not to mention the car, all written off spectacularly, and two children narrowly escaped death.

    When the tow-truck driver attempted to turn the one remaining front wheel in order to try and free it from the remains of my fence he had to turn on the ignition to release the steering lock. The neighborhood rang to the thunder of a top-of-the-line in-car stereo set to #11 and the console GUI showed clearly that it was being adjusted when the car went off-road-through-pole-along-fence-and-on-lawn.

  106. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    there's only one way to make motoring safe

    Get the other distracted driver a ticket to a tractor pull and have them fill it before they go out and about.

  107. DJ Particle

    How about....

    ...we just stop making laws that punish the masses for the idiocy of the few?

  108. abhibeckert
    Thumb Down

    Re: statistical impossibility

    "Nearly two-thirds of drivers think of themselves as safer and more skillful than a driver of median safety or skills — a statistical impossibility, of course."

    Bullshit. It's entirely possible two-thirds that people who think they are better than average drivers actually are better drivers.

    I'm not saying two thirds of drink drivers re good drivers, I'm just saying that it's anything but a "statistical impossibility".

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      But when the word used is "median"...

      ...it DOES become impossible. By definition, the median has exactly half of the members higher than it and exactly half the numbers lower than it (BTW, to get the median for an even head count, you mean the two in the middle, so the definition is universally valid).

  109. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    How about if you take one hand (or both hands) off the wheel for more than a few seconds while the car is in motion you get shot in the face from a dash-mounted blunderbuss loaded with gravel, broken glass and brass doorknobs in best Beano fashion?

  110. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    wow - so many comments

    i wasn't going to read them all, up voted the ones about jamming others and their kids -- then figured if i was still on the clock, might as well add this stupid and totally worthless comment.

  111. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    @abhibeckert

    Think you might be missing a point or two on the meaning of the word "average", mate ;-)

  112. Wyld Weezle
    FAIL

    Stupid

    This has to be one of the most idiotic ideas I've heard in a good long time. Guess that would put an end to me calling in drunk drivers and staying on them giving turn by turn directions to the cops until they catch up, huh? (Taken 4 off the road so far) Calling in road hazards to the State Highway Patrol? Sorry, my cell's been jammed and the I-15 through Vegas isn't really a safe place for me to pull over. I'm sure you'll get a call once somebody hits that box-spring set just past the Flamingo Road exit.

    Good luck with that.

  113. b166er

    Tit le

    If they're prepared to go to all this trouble to stop people using their phones whilst driving (which I'm in favour of), then why the hell aren't they going to the effort of installing technology that prevents speeding in residential ares?

  114. jai

    Darwinism

    this is just a phase of evolution that the human race is going through

    eventually, after all the people who are stupid enough to use a mobile while driving are removed from the gene-pool, we, as a species, will be better off, and safer on the roads too.

    it's all about the eggs and the omlettes

  115. The MODO

    Priorities ...

    Here in California where they "have hands free" laws they could start enforcing the "hands free" laws. Put a cop on any busy intersection and he/she could be handing out tickets all day long for people using their cell phone (cell phone in hand). The problem is that it's not about safety as much as it about raising revenue and the tickets for such an offense are quite low (first offense is $20) that it's not "worth it".

    This proposed new rule is just the usual knee-jerk, not well thought out, reaction by politicians. Instead of forcing manufactures to build in a scrambling device, why not just have them install a Bluetooth device? The answer is probably something along the lines of that the politicians at hand have an "interest" in a scrambling device manufacturer.

  116. CypherDragon
    Pint

    Easy way to do it

    Simple, just have the phone turn off voice and text functions if the accelerometer picks up more than 5 MPH/KPH, and the altimeter is less than a preset value which can be modified by the subscribed base stations (since you would need different values in the mountains than you would in the lowlands). Put a priority escape for emergency calls (911/999/etc) and call it job done. Still can make calls on airplanes (when the captain allows it), GPS and data functions will still work, and shouldn't affect crash situations since you're already stopped.

    Hold on...what's the USPTO's address again?

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019