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

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

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    While we're at it

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

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Usual moronic response.

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

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

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

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

      1. BenR

        What's even more amusing...

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

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

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          @BenR

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

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

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

          1. Tom 13

            @I P: It may be a thin wedge,

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

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

          2. Stratman

            Intractable Potsherd

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

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

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

          3. Paul RND*1000

            @intractable postherd

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

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

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

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

          4. Twilight

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

      2. dotdavid
        FAIL

        Fail?

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

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

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          OP here

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

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

  2. Pete Spicer

    Does this include satnav type devices?

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Sir

      Are CB radios excluded?

      1. Tom 13

        Why restrict it to only CBs?

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

  3. Byron Langslow
    Devil

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

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

    1. Diogenes
      Thumb Up

      prior art...

      the Homermobile

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge
      Devil

      Calm down, it is just the vehicle manufacturer lobby speaking

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

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

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

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

      1. Edwin

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

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

    3. despairing citizen
      Big Brother

      Re:What about the rest of the idiots.

      Yes any fool can pass a driving test,

      ...and many have.

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

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

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

      1. Tom 13
        Devil

        @ DC: Can't have that!

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

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. Ammaross Danan
      Coat

      Other People

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

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

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

    6. dssf

      Dropped CD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  4. Corvax
    Go

    Don't worry chaps...

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

  5. Lance 3

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

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

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      3000 deaths

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

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

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

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

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

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

    2. despairing citizen
      Stop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Rest of report can be found at;

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

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

    3. MacGyver
      Big Brother

      I agree, sort of

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

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

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

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

  6. flying_walrus
    Holmes

    Not just mobiles

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

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

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

  7. Lars Silver badge
    Coat

    What about

    the seven missing states.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Sir

      "What about the seven missing states?"

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

  8. Figgus

    Ban...

    ... minivans.

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

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

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Sir

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

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

      1. CD001

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

    2. Armando 123
      Devil

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

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

  9. MnM
    Pint

    Good British ideas

    Great American vision

  10. Antti Roppola
    Facepalm

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

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

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

  11. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Happy

    Can't wait ...

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

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Coat

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

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

      Carry on. I'll be on my way.

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

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge
        Coat

        LOL

        It was late ...

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

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

        1. Andy80

          Pint please..

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is precisely why...

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

    1. Arctic fox
      Flame

      RE: "This is precisely why.."

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

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

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

    2. AndrueC Silver badge
      Joke

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

  13. Khaptain Silver badge
    FAIL

    And what about the other cause

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

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Joke

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

    2. Arctic fox
      Thumb Up

      @Khaptain A most apposite question.

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

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Joke

        Perhaps someone will start the NTA - National Text Association.

      2. BenR
        Mushroom

        More to the point:

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

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

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

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

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

        1. Tom 13

          But you ought to be able to do a Google search

          where you will find that the Supreme Court has ruled precisely that it IS an individual right, not a collective one, which has been the meme of the unthinking left for too many years. The phrase "The People" was clearly a legal term of art at the time the US Constitution was written which we today would right as "rights of the individual."

          But then you also got the bit on telephony devices wrong too. That would be covered by the much vaunted First Amendment which guarantees your right to free speech. There are limited provision against libel/slander, and some restrictions for public safety. The catch being that any restrictions for public safety must show an overwhelming need to enact such a protection, and even then it must be done in the least restrictive manner possible.

          1. BenR
            Mushroom

            I did do one...

            ... which is how I found out about the exact date that the Amendment was approved by Congress. And the various versions of the language that the Amendment went through before it was approved, especially the ones that, in my eyes, are much clearer about a well-armed militia composed of the people, rather than a well-armed people deciding to form a militia. I believe that, in America, the *INTENT* of the writers of the Constitution is something you hold quite dear. Given that they're all dead, the only way to get to that intent is by interpretation, and that is *MY* interpretation.

            You'll also notice that throughout, I said I'm not an expert nor a constitutional scholar, and that, as above, I said everything was my own opinion. Just like I have done in THIS post.

            And, again, to my eyes, looking at the First Amendment, yes it guarantees your right to free speech and thus you are free to talk about religion, politics, gives you freedom of the press etc. etc. It doesn't provide freedom to make libelous or slanderous claims however, as an example. It is not a catch-all bit of legislation enabling you to say anything you want, about anyone, to anyone, at any time, without fear of recrimination.

            The use of 'free speech zones' is a backup to my thoughts on this - you're free to say what you want, but sometimes you might be asked to only do it in certain locations, or to not do it in others. The Supreme Court doesn't seem to have a problem with this, and to my eye, saying "don't use a phone while you're driving as it is very likely to cause a distraction, but feel free to use it elsewhere." is analogous to saying "you can say what you want about the President and his policies, and have as many signs as you want, but you've got to do it over there 300 yards away and not right in front of where he's walking."

            Some will say "Yeah, but that's a safety issue to keep whack-jobs away so they can't stab him." They'd be right. But that's only the same as me saying I don't want people driving around on the roads while being distracted by talking on the phone. It's still a safety issue.

            Anyway, I'm English, we do have this law, and while it's only intermittently enforced I'm still happier to have it rather than not. We also don't have a 'right to bear arms', which is probably why we have less gun murders annually in most of Europe combined that you do in the States.

            http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_mur_wit_fir-crime-murders-with-firearms

            Horses for courses I suppose.

        2. JEDIDIAH
          Linux

          More to the point...

          States are independent entities and the power of the central government is intended to be limited.

          So it's not really their call to begin with. (The Feds)

          1. Rampant Spaniel

            Yes and no, but interesting point. There is no specific constitutional bar against the federal govt passing legislation on this (neither is there a clear mandate for it), just like how they did for a speed limit. However, actually getting it adopted is another matter, like with the speed limit they can tie it to federal funding and effectively buy support.

            If people weren't feckless, selfish idiots we wouldn't need half the laws we have.

      3. JEDIDIAH
        Linux

        Guns versus Mobiles

        ...also the chances are very good that a large proportion of those gun deaths occur in locations that have already tried to heavily restrict gun ownership or outright ban it. The local drug gang is not going to pay attention to anti-gun laws when it is flaunting anti-drug laws.

    3. Armando 123
      Black Helicopters

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

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

    4. Tom 13

      That would be about 650 in the US for 2010

      http://extranosalley.com/?p=9288

      And no, homicides don't count because those are intentional, not accidental as is the case with the current report.

  14. jake Silver badge

    Concur with the NTSB.

    When you're driving, drive. It's kind of important.

    Don't believe me? Attend a track day at your local race-track. After appropriate training (if you need it), do five hot-laps sans phone. Then do five laps talking on your telephone, even hands-free. I guaran-fucking-tee that your second five laps will be a good deal slower. Prove me wrong, and I'll pay your track time.

    How do I know? I've done it. And I've been racing for decades ... That slower lap time translates directly to lack of concentration on actually driving.

    Which translates to putting other road users into jeopardy in RealLife[tm]. And remember, folks on the roads in RealLife[tm] are NOT trained on the race track, at least not for the most part. Defensive driving starts with the individual ...

    Turn off your telephones when driving, people ... There is absolutely NOTHING that is so important that it won't wait until you park your car.

    Seriously ... What can you do about whatever so-called emergency is at the other end of the call that won't wait until you get to your destination? Do you REALLY think that answering a voice call or reading/sending a text message is worth a life, perhaps yours? Have you actually thought this through?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's not the same as track racing...

      ... because when you are on a 'hot lap' you are, by definition, going all-out for speed, using 100% of your concentration. So when you try to do a hot lap whilst on the phone, you will obviously eat into that 100%.

      In contrast when you are driving along in RealLife[tm] you should not be going at a speed that requires 100%. The speed limits are there partly to ensure you are going slow enough for that to be true.

      So, in theory, you can take a certain level of distraction before it starts to impede your driving.

      Why? because all sorts of distractions are inevitable (children, mother-in-laws etc) that can't be abolished by legislation, however much we might sometimes wish.

      And, on average, half the drivers are below average in their competance, so we all go along slightly slowly to allow them to (mentally) keep up. (And yes, I could well be in that slow group)

      Meanwhile, good luck with the racing, and yes, for that, do keep off the phone.

      (Oh, and personally I don't recommend talking or texting on the phone whilst driving; I just think the logic of your comparison is flawed)

      1. despairing citizen
        Stop

        RE: The speed limits

        "The speed limits are there partly to ensure you are going slow enough for that to be true."

        No, the speed limits are their to indicate the maximum possible speed at which the road can be considered safe, given a perfect set of conditions.

        The appropriate safe driving speed will normally be a number lower than this, for example a 30 MPH speed limit ln a narrow residential street with double parking, and children running around, safe driving speed is closer to 10 mph, using your full attention.

        The kididiots that go screaming down country lanes at 60 mph, have a nasty habit of ending up as small meatal balls impaled on the back of the tractor they could not see around the 90 turn. (this is known as driving further than you can see)

        1. JEDIDIAH
          Linux

          What a hoot!

          > No, the speed limits are their to indicate the maximum possible speed at which the road can be considered safe, given a perfect set of conditions.

          No, not really.

          The speed limit is not the engineering limit of the road by any stretch of the imagination. It's not even the engineering limit for the worst vehicle you can find.

          Otherwise the pervasive speeding that goes on would cause an awful lot more accidents.

        2. Tom 13
          Holmes

          That might be what the authorities tell you,

          and once upon a time it might even have been true, but at least here in The States, that falsehood was exposed when they lowered the national limit to 55 to save gas (petrol to you Brits).

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Mushroom

          @despairing citizen

          "No, the speed limits are their to indicate the maximum possible speed at which the road can be considered safe, given a perfect set of conditions."

          OK, now I'M despairing, citizen. Are you serious? Are you even remotely, possibly serious?

          Do you really propose that, on a brilliantly sunny, bone-dry day, on the road near here which is perfectly straight with the sides close-shorn fields, and more than a mile visibility in either way and no side roads, and no houses, with my extremely-well-handling car shod with sticky, wide tires, and with its ability to go stop from 60mph in about two seconds, and with no traffic, it isn't safe for me to drive 65mph?

          Do tell what will happen, due to the extra 10mph, that causes my impalation upon the hindquarters of a tractor I could see for more than a minute before I arrived?

          I've always wondered what kind of arrogant, pompous blowhard drives down 55mph roads at 40mph, accruing a chain of 15 to 20 pissed off drivers behind him - almost certainly creating a far more dangerous situation than if all those cars were separated by large gaps...

          Is that you, Mr. 10-in-a-30? And speaking of 10-in-a-30, have you ever been to a city? Or anywhere, really? If you ever went 10mph through a 30mph zone in a city, you'd probably be arrested for blocking traffic or driving in an unsafe manner.

          You see, driving much faster than other drivers expect is bad - they can't make judgments about pulling through intersections, they misjudge the speed of other cars, etc. It's quite unsafe.

          What you forget is that driving 30% under the limit means that drivers they can't make judgments about pulling through intersections, they misjudge the speed of other cars, etc.

          It's quite unsafe.

          Tell you what, Mr. Citizen - you quite clearly have issues with automobiles. How about this - you stop driving cars, and you'll feel much safer and less angry. And then you won't be on the road, which will make pretty much everybody but you feel much safer and less angry.

          And when -you- need to get somewhere, it's easy - just saddle up and take your high horse.

    2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Sir

      "There is absolutely NOTHING that is so important that it won't wait until you park your car"

      Whilst I am inclined to agree, there was the time my wife called me (on my hands-free) about 10 minutes into a 5 hour journey oop-norf to tell me* she had just concussed herself and had just about enough co-ordination to hit re-dial on the phone before passing out.

      I then called the ambulance which got to our house about 2 minutes after I did.

      Having said that, even with the hands-free I always make sure I'm not maneuvering** and slow down a bit to give me more reaction time before I answer.

      *it was very garbled speech but worked out something was wrong.

      **Roundabouts/junctions and such

    3. Graham Dawson

      "That slower lap time translates directly to lack of concentration on actually driving."

      That' there is where you make an unwarranted leap of logic. Running is not the same as driving, slowing down is not the same as "distraction". If you were talking to someone running with you, you'd slow down as well - should we then ban people from having conversations in a car or listening to the radio?

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        The logic isn't that flawed ...

        ... since driving really should be taking up most of your attention. Maybe not 100% all the time, but certainly well in excess of 80% - that is a lot of high speed metal you are driving. If people stopped using their cars as extensions of their dining-room/kitchen/bathroom/lounge, traffic would move more smoothly, there would be fewer collisions, and a lot fewer deaths.

        Disclosure: I don't drive with the radio on any more, and I have arranged with my wife that if she wants an argument, we don't do it in the car. I don't care if she is bored - driving is more important.

        1. Nexox Enigma

          Maybe Overkill

          """I don't drive with the radio on any more"""

          On long drives, it's generally recommended to keep the radio on to fight fatigue. Maybe you get more distracted by music than I do, but wind (white) noise tends to tire you (well, most people) rather quickly, so covering it with something intelligible helps a lot.

          And driving really isn't so hard that it needs your full attention any where near 80% of the time - I spend far more than 20% of my driving time stopped at lights, and it doesn't require intense concentration to tell when the 8 people in front of me begin to roll forward.

          If you've been driving for a while, and you're used to your car, picking a course and steering onto it should require minimal thought and effort, and most of the time conditions really don't require anything more than moderate alertness to notice and respond to unexpected events.

          I'd say that occasionally, when there's low visibility, low traction, unpredictable drivers, unfamiliar or complex interchanges, or poor signage, a driver needs to pay attention 100%. If you can't drive safely in easier conditions with a few added distractions, then there's just no way you can reasonably be safe in difficult conditions with no distractions. Plus, maintaining a high alertness level also leads to fatigue.

          Fatigue, by the way, is also quite deadly behind the wheel, and it can be sneaky, which is why I concentrate so much on avoiding it.

          Around here, almost nobody pays attention - while I wait at those lights I watch other drivers complete their left turns and then almost at the same point on the road most of them look straight down into their laps, where they're trying to hide their devices from the cops.

          And I think they should all have their licenses revoked.

          I'm OK with a hands free call (no, holding a phone on speaker phone 2" from your face isn't hands free,) but any activity that requires looking away from the road for more than ~2 seconds seems like it should already be illegal under various reckless driving laws.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Running?

        He said nothing about running.

    4. jake Silver badge

      My mind is absolutely boggled.

      There are people who actually think that distracted driving is a GOOD thing? Seriously? WHY? Where are we going wrong with society ...

  15. Gene Cash Silver badge
    FAIL

    It still won't be enforced

    Just like it isn't now, in the states that already have this law.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Unhappy

      I think what's needed is education not punishment. People are using the phone by habit and it's become almost unconscious. It doesn't help that for a lot of people driving is seen almost as a background task. I wouldn't mind betting that a lot of the offenders have just forgotten that they are behind the wheel.

      I'm the opposite. When I get into a car I become a driver. I plan my journey and until I get to my destination nothing else matters.

  16. Michael Dean

    Current Laws

    Why don't we just apply the current laws of driving without due care and attention. We don't need a law for every new tech distraction.

    1. Ian Stephenson Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      And while where at it...

      Get rid of causing death by dangerous driving and replace it with either murder or manslaughter

      Get rid of driving while under the influence and replace it with attempted murder.

    2. auburnman

      Re: Why don't we just apply the current laws of driving without due care and attention

      The police need to prove you are driving without due care and attention; in the past in the UK they would often follow drivers talking on the phone until they did something dumb like waver onto the pavement or have a near miss (or occasionally a crash.) They eventually built up enough video evidence to show that people on mobiles almost always had a significantly reduced command of their vehicle, and the ban on non-handsfree mobiles was introduced. Nowadays if a copper eyeballs you on the blower while driving, he can book you straight off the bat.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    School bus driver

    What exactly was he doing? He hit a truck that had crashed, which seems to indicate that some of the blame should lie with him, right? and the second bus which then also did the same.

    If there is one thing I have noticed about the roads of america, is that nobody appears remotely capable of seeing dangers ahead. (also the lorries drive too fast and a lot of them have no side or rear protection bars on the trailers).

    Still, phone use in a car is distracting, even hands free, so I broadly agree with the proposal. I suspect it will be largely ignored like over here in Blighty.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Two offences I saw a lot while driving over there:

      Tailgating

      Not yielding when joining from an on-ramp.

      Well to my eyes the lane discipline was also pretty crap but I understand that in some states 'any lane will do' so it might have been legal. But to balance the odds I will say that the US drivers seemed more patient(*) and would often happily wait for an overtaking lane on single carriageways. They also seemed a lot more relaxed driving around towns. Not like the acceleration mad speed merchants we have here.

      This driving around rural California and Minneapolis. No doubt it varies a lot around such a large country :)

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    NO POINT.....

    The law will be outdated in a few years. No one will go out because everything, socializing shopping etc will all be done on a screen in the home.

    Or

    Cars will all be automated.

    Or

    Huge asteroid with green aliens smashed into the earth.

  19. Andy 17
    Stop

    Best remove the 2 way radios from police cars, ambulances and fire engines too - oh and dont forget paramedics.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      You forget.

      Police and paramedics are specially TRAINED to handle pressure situations such as these. Patrol cops get plenty of time behind the wheel in the academy to learn how to multitask while in the patrol car. Plus many of the devices are designed to be handled easily by touch (note the car radio's microphone--just the talk button on the side), and protocol has been established to keep conversations short and concise (the famous 10 codes used in the US are like military phonetic language--designed to transmit specific messages in a way easily discernible even over the radio).

  20. DanceMan
    Stop

    No phoning while driving..............period

    They've done tests and drivers on hands free phones were just as impaired. It's the divided concentration. In this city when I began driving, a very long time ago, you might have managed it, but the traffic volume and speeds have increased since then. You can't afford to lose any concentration now. Fifteen years ago I had a few times when just answering questions from my young kids in the car prompted a "Dad!!!"

    In response to the comment above, I've found some of the rudest and worst drivers around here are in SUV's and large pickups. Not all of course, but some.

  21. Andy 17
    Facepalm

    Wait..

    Presumably it's still legal to drive along whilst reloading a shotgun though?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stupid is as stupid does!

    They introduced a ban on mobile phones in New Zealand about a year ago, they recently ran a crack down on people using their phone and got loads.

    Education of the driver is still the problem, just look at the way drink driving is almost socially acceptable in NZ, they had an app for iPhone that shows where "Booze Busses" are and people bragging they know all the back roads to get home (said to me by a woman in her 40's at a party I went to in NZ)

  23. FunkyEric
    Trollface

    Surely it is better......

    To have a law that is enforced some of the time, than no law and let the morons on their phones kill themselves and other people. We have the law here in the UK and it is partially enforced, though it seems that they need to increase the penalty to a driving ban if they want to get people to actually take any notice judging by the numbers of darwin candiates you will see on their mobes on a daily basis.

    Personally I take great joy in ignoring my phone if it rings whilst I am driving. Reminds me of who is in charge. Those electronic tethers control too much of our lives anyway.

    1. John Sturdy
      Black Helicopters

      Even better, switch it off

      If you switch your phone right off for the journey, you'll leave whoever analyzes the tracking data wondering where you've been (except in the UK, where ANPR will get you unless you stick to the small roads).

    2. Rampant Spaniel

      Yes it is better BUT do there is limited time for creating laws (due to insane amount of bickering and bargaining) so they should be prioratised in order of the benefit to society.

      Therefore the next law should make it legal to feed hedge fund managers to lions at wildlife parks, the second should ensure politicians are imprisoned as soon as they are elected (as per Pratchett, this just saves time).

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    lets face it everyone thinks that their call IS more important than the life of the twat in the car behind/beside/in-front of you!

    Well done people.

  25. micheal

    It's illegal in the UK already to drive whilst distracted (phones or cofee)

    but the police cant be arsed to do the paperwork and the young bee-emm drivers with the loud music still do it, even under the nose of passing police.

    Before cell phones you got to the end of your journey and rang home to check all is OK......why suddenly is it more urgent to check?

    possibly this will be just another rarely enforced legislation?

    as previously said, guns and knives kill more people, ban them in all states first

    1. Dana W

      No thanks, if I wanted to be defenseless chav fodder I'd move to the UK.

      1. CD001

        Except of course _most_ chavs aren't armed either - so if it all kicks off it's normally just fisticuffs all the way down (and if it's gonna kick off it'll normally be outside a nightclub when everyone is far too pissed to do any real damage; they'll just flail around like idiots).

        Now - if I get into a ruck with a bunch of chav muppets; the odds are I'm very unlikely to get stabbed and extremely unlikely to get shot. Still, if you want to be a pussy and pull a firearm on a bunch of chavs rather than have a good ol' fashioned thump-up...

        1. Graham Dawson

          Yes, I think I'd rather pull the gun. It creates enough time to mediate a more peaceful solution.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lots of ranting

    From the tone of the comments here, can I assume that a lot of El Reg readers think that people should be allowed to surf the internet, send texts and make calls while driving?

    Seriously?

    1. despairing citizen
      Big Brother

      Re: surf the internet, ....... while driving

      RCMP have alrady had at least one driver pulled over for doing this.

    2. MacGyver
      Devil

      No.

      Talking into the open air is a lot different than looking down and finding certain keys, looking at the display, all the time using one less hand to drive.

      Talking hands-free is just a notch above listening to the radio. Texting while driving is something idiots or people with a death wish do.

      We would all be a lot safer if we wore safety helmets and vests at all times, but it doesn't mean we are going to do that either.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Death

        "Texting while driving is something idiots or people with a death wish do."

        Sadly, its not their own deaths that seem the most common outcome.

        The problem with this "right" is that exercising it can seriously impinge on the rights of others.

    3. JEDIDIAH
      Linux

      Lots of people don't actually read the article.

      ...otherwise they might actually know what's the objections are about rather than making up stupid false strawman arguments.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On a deserted three lane road

    I was driving at less than 10mph trying to light my cigarette, it caught just as I went into the roadside ditch. an hour later a truck load of people turned up and pulled my car back on the road. A valuable lesson. No one hurt and the car fine. Lucky.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is always some group wanting to go over the top isn't there.

    So what if a caller doesn't know to stop talking, if a situation occurs; I stop listening, same as I would with a real passenger. And since the air 'turns blue', the caller soon cottons on.

    I reckon the testers who find mobiles more dangerous than passengers assume everyone is as incapable as themselves. By that reckoning no one should drive because some are incapable of doing so safely.

  29. Rampant Spaniel

    3000 deaths is a worry

    If you are one of them! Not sure I am in favor of a ban, simply because we have one here in HI and its largely ignored. The arguments about talking to a passenger / kid etc are valid, but less distractions is still an improvement.

    The number of times I have had to swerve on the bike to avoid idiots on there phones baffles me and they have the nerve to look shocked when I kick their car.

    It's simple, driving has the potential to be very dangerous. People should not make it more dangerous by taking needless risks.

    Getting the babylon to enforce the law is a whole different problem. Personally I think focussing more on drink driving would be a better application of resorces. The whole 'it's ok to drive home from the bar after 12 beers' mentality is more dangerous. Drunk is drunk, no matter how you got there or how short the drive.

    Perhaps instead of airbags there should be a huge sharp spike on the wheel? Just to keep people alert?

    1. Rampant Spaniel

      One thumbs down from a drunk texting audi owner.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Unsure

      It seems fairly likely that a ban is difficult to enforce but does that mean it is a bad idea?

      You quite rightly point out that distracted drivers are dangerous - fatal in a lot of instances - so what do you suggest other than making it illegal to text/surf/call while driving?

      It is hard to enforce running a stop sign unless the police officer is present, but it is still a law. Surely it is the same with phones / PEDs?

      "Personally I think focussing more on drink driving would be a better application of resorces."

      Yep - it would be.

      But to find out if a driver is drunk, you have to stop the vehicle and check the driver. It is as difficult to enforce prior accident as laws against the use of mobile devices would be.

      Most drinking arrests are linked to the driver performing some other road traffic offence. Why cant the same be done for phone use?

      Saying we have to target either drunk drivers or selfish negligent assholes who JUST NEED TO CHECK TWITTER at 65mph is creating a false dichotomy.

      We need to target both of them.

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        I agree. I'm not happy with the fact the ban isn't really practical, rather the opposite (the ban here has had virtually no effect) as the roads are quite dangerous with tired locals and drunk tourists and the normal smattering of stupids.

  30. streeeeetch
    FAIL

    Try playing this game

    It's been illegal in the UK for some time with a £1000 fine but...

    When I'm a passenger in a car and get a bit bored I play a little game. I watch the opposite carriageway and count how many vehicles go by until I see someone on the phone. The maximum I've ever got is 24. Mostly its in the region of about 10.

    I'm a driver, cyclist and pedestrian. I've seen some things on the road. Last week a woman in a big Merc nearly took the front of my car. Her hand was up against the window with the phone jammed against her ear - she didn't even look in my direction at the junction and a while back I was walking to work. As I walked across a side road a car suddenly turned in at speed (driver on the phone) to do a 3 point turn. I nearly became a bonnet mascot. Those and people I've seen on motorways drifting out of their lane make banning it a worthy cause but obviously from the UK's point of view - it's un-enforceable.

    1. Eponymous Cowherd
      Unhappy

      Enforceability

      Agree with the enforcement bit. There is a stretch of road near my home where there are frequent accidents, many serious, and a couple of deaths.

      It was a national speed limit zone (60mph, for those outside the UK), the local council dropped that to 40mph, in light of one fatality. The accidents continued. They now want to reduce it to 30mph. Will is make any difference? Not a chance.

      All the speed limit does is inconvenience law-abiding drivers, who will feel compelled to toodle along at 30mph, while the boy-racers will ignore the 30mph limit (just as they ignored the 40mph limit) and blast along at 70mph+ (the wazzock in the last crash was estimated to be doing 75mph).

      In all the time I have used this road (at least twice a day for the last 20 years), I have *never* seen a speed trap or police car. There is no point introducing a law if Plod is unwilling or unable to enforce it.

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        Watch out for that, our local plod (when I lived in th uk) used to love turning 40's into 30's, remove the 40 signs and not put up 30 signs then catch everyone for speeding. Apparently it was entirely legal?

        Again, a large spike on every steering wheel would promote hypervigilance and better road safety :-)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Unenforceable

      Ok, we can agree it is hard if not completely unenforceable to ban the use of mobiles while driving.

      What is the alternative?

      Say we wont punish you for doing something that makes you dangerous behind the wheel, we wont expect police officers to take action if they see you driving with a phone in your hands - or your iPad - but we think its a really bad idea and you are a rotter for doing it?

      That is nice and libertarian but it didnt even come close to working with regards to drink driving.

      History has shown that banning something is difficult but it is part of the overall solution. It has to be combined with adding social stigma against it.

      Making it illegal gives the courts something that can be used post-accident to punish an offender for doing something that led to an accident. Minimal help for the dead, obviously, but fatal accidents are a minority.

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        Ok so there's 3 groups here, the audi driving republicans who hate any law (other than anti-union or anti-class action ones) because they get in the way of them doing whatever the hell they want to do.

        Then there's the group in the middle who agree its needed but pointless.

        Then there's the people for the law.

        We can safely ignore group 1, they should be used as railway ballast.

        The key is enforceability, so how about this

        1- make it law and hope officers police it AND

        2- make it law that when an accident occurs any drivers have their cell phone records obtained, any driver talking without a hands free or texting is automatically to blame for the accident and suffers twice the normal penalty.

        3- ban no fault auto insurance.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    *slaps forehead*

    Oh well. *deep sigh*

  32. johnB

    Distracted driver

    My favourite distracted driver was spotted in Florida. The car was weaving about the Interstate & we decided to put some distance between him and us. As we went by, we noticed the driver was steering with his knees, both hands being needed to eat his bowl of cornflakes.

  33. Stig2k

    How . . .

    . . . is the severity of the first accident anything to do with mobile phone useage? The truck driver was texting but that doesn't explain why 2 school buses were also involved.

  34. RW
    Facepalm

    The right hand and the left hand

    Here in British Columbia, we have a rather toothless law against cell phone use while driving.

    But guess what? On the outskirts of Victoria, there are signs erected by the authorities on the freeway heading north, pointing drivers to a website, drivebc.ca, and to a toll-free telephone number for information on road conditions ahead.

    These are clearly invitations to the driver to use his cellphone. The geniuses devoted to highway safety don't seem to realize that they are encouraging dangerous behavior.

    In addition, though billboards are forbidden along BC highways (except on Indian reserves), the Dear Government has polluted the roadside with endless dorky little signs pointing to "tourist attractions" and similar detritus that doesn't offer drivers any real information to help them. No one seems to think about the distractions these may cause, entirely aside from the ugly blight they are on the scene. I blame it on quasi-marketers in the tourism ministry who have quite childish ideas about what actually enhances the tourists' experience.

    Meanwhile, many roadside rest stops have been closed, along with the toilets at them, leaving weak-bladdered drivers no option but to piss by the side of the road. Some tourist experience! "I visited BC and I couldn't pee"

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    (title)

    It's definitely more of a problem with some drivers than others. For example, the NSF says 40 percent of drivers under the age of 30 have admitted to texting while driving. 40 percent. Admitted. But when you have different laws for young people (so the "adults" won't be "inconvenienced"), that makes it much harder to enforce.

  36. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    A suggestion

    I know it goes against the principles of liberty and the frontier spirit but I really do think that there needs to be some sort of mandatory training for operators of vehicles on the road, and perhaps some sort of licencing to prove that they have been trained.

  37. Gil Grissum

    The state of Georgia, USA where I live, already has a law banning texting and a law requiring a headset or the speakers (hands free) be used in the car. So that NTSB suggestion doesn't offer anything that will help in this State and they can't institute it themselves anyway. Senators have tried to pass such a bill here in Georgia numerous times and it has always been defeated.

  38. John A Blackley

    Another danger

    'The report also noted that the pickup truck driver – one of the fatalities – "was fatigued at the time of the accident due to cumulative sleep debt and acute sleep loss,....."'

    So the NTSB also recommended that automobiles be fitted with a device that will prevent starting the car unless presented with a note from your mummy saying you had a good night's sleep last night.

  39. JeffyPooh Silver badge
    FAIL

    "...then struck from behind by a school bus..."

    "...which was plowed into by a second school bus."

    It seems to me that only one-third of the distracted drivers in this case (the hiccup truck driver) were (perhaps) distracted by using a mobile phone. The two idiot school bus drivers presumably were not and they both crashed into an existing accident anyway.

    NTSB: "Facts? We're heard of 'em. We just ignore 'em."

  40. Mark C 2
    Boffin

    I know..

    Why not use the car's BluTooth to tell the phone to go into silent mode or even better, block all incoming calls while the car is moving?

    For hospitals, trains, cinemas, aircraft etc. your phone is turned to silent / flight mode mode when you walk through the door / entrance / portal and all devices in close proximity relay this signal on a regular basis just in case you try to override.

    How hard is it?

  41. DougS Silver badge
    Megaphone

    Unintended consequences

    I hope they consider this further. Assuming newer cars and phones had software that would disable the driver from using his phone based on his location in the car but not passengers, look for drivers holding their phones with the right (or left, in the UK) arm fully extended over the passenger seat so they can continue texting anyway. I'm sure that'll be safer! Not that this will affect a majority of the people until after 2020 given how long it'd take to make it mandatory on cars and phones, and half the people to be driving cars that did it. By then everyone will be using a Siri-like system to dictate text messages and won't be distracted trying to hit tiny Blackberry keys or get autocorrect to do the right thing on an iPhone at 75 mph.

    The idea that somehow using a factory installed hands free system is safe, while an aftermarket system isn't is pretty ridiculous. Using one hand to hold a phone is no different than using one hand to work the shifter or turn signal (unless you're trying to do that as well as hold the phone) Its already been shown in multiple studies that there's no difference between talking on handsfree and talking on it without handsfree, it is the concentration required for the conversation itself that dimishes attention to driving.

    I guess the NTSB feels we'll be safer if we buy the manufacturer's overpriced system, which in addition to the handsfree bluetooth setup will include a half dozen options you don't want as part of a package that costs $2500. I'd also like to know how this law is going to be enforced, are the cops going to be trained to tell a factory installed handsfree system from aftermarket? Or after a crash will the dealer be subpeoned in court to produce the original dealer invoice showing whether the factory handsfree was included?

  42. Old Handle
    Pirate

    So on top of recommending another stupid nanny state law they want my phone loaded with malware to enforce it for them. No way I'm I ever buying a device crippled in that way. Now I'm not in the habit of doing this, but on the occasions when I have to, it will only be more dangerous because I have to hide the device below window level. I certainly hope I don't crash into anyone because of that, but if I do, may it be one of the idiots who drafted this recommendation.

  43. Fred 4
    Mushroom

    This will get lost.... but....

    F- it all

    ALL phones have GPS (or similar) in them - you may not be able to get access to it, but it is there.

    If the phone/fondleslab is move more then - I chose 10mph/16kph, pick a slow speed number - the device no longer communicates - EXCEPT FOR EMERGENCY calls.

    There - done.

    For those that complain - what about......

    what the F did they do before cell phones - do the same thing now... wait!!!

    icon - for the firestorm that is sure to follow - if this is read..

    1. Rampant Spaniel

      Great, but what about passengers? How does the phone know if its owner is the driver or a passenger or can nobody use their phone in a car / train / bus?

      I'm for the principal, its just not practical.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Trollface

      I'm sorry, did you say something?

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        No, due to continental drift I am currently travelling too fast and my phone has locked me out! If you are seeing things try less acid.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @rampant

          I was referring to the OP; I neglected to refer to him directly, and was caught out by the vagaries of moderation delay.

          The acid has nothing to do with it.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    While they're at it

    They should ban the application of make-up while driving. It happens.

  45. Flashy Red

    It's easy...

    Force the MNOs to disable hand-over on their macrocell networks. Job done.

  46. zen1
    Flame

    Legislating COMMON sense

    This will not end well for "freedom" as we know it. While the roots of this action are based in good intentions, the sad fact that due to the overt stupidity of a few. Given the fact that the majority of all new phones have some type of GPS device built into it, here's a free idea to anybody who's willing to develop it: Design an applet that simply disables SMS (or even email for all I care) if a device registers a ground speed greater than 5 MPH. Sure, it will screw the commuters who are PASSENGERS (i.e. not in control of the vehicle) in buses, trains and cars, but at least it will a protect a significant number of would be victims from people who don't have enough sense to keep their fingers out of their rectums before eating.

    It saddens me to hear of some innocent soul, whose life is snuffed out prematurely because some idiot simply wasn't paying attention. However, the fools who were the cause of said tragedy, I write them off as proof that Natural Selection is doing its job. Harsh, I know, but no matter what, you can't force people to comply with a law that regulates common sense, nor can you completely cure stupidity.

    1. Rampant Spaniel

      That's the reverse of natural selection, ranging some innocent (probably quite sensible), soul gets terminated by some mullet who always seems to survive. You are left with stupid which seems to breed faster than sensible (due to sensible people being sensible enough to consider if they can support 19 kids whilst holding down a steady 6 hours a week burger flipping job).

      We most definitely need much less stupid in the world.

      Make cars less safe for the driver, and problem solved.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Nah.

        You'd just end up with tougher but stupider drivers. As even intelligent drivers can get T-boned through no fault of their own.

        Tough prison sentences aren't going to work, either, because we'll just end up with more overcrowded prisons. And execution? Wanna bet a future DUI will come from the inventor of a "better mouse trap" or "the next iFad" or something like that?

  47. JeffyPooh Silver badge

    Using GPS in mobile phones...

    Great idea - assuming that two-hour battery life is acceptable.

    (Feel free to argue if it's two-hour or four-hour or six-hour... Point is that GPS chip-sets suck power.)

  48. Twilight

    worst distracted driver seen

    The worst I saw was someone talking on the cell phone braced between their ear and shoulder while holding a notepad in one hand and writing in it with the other. I wonder if they ever thought of pulling over off the road?

  49. Twilight

    so many reasons this is a terrible idea...

    I would love to see texting banned but that is harder to enforce than DUI. Some states have banned non-hands-free talking (IL at least) as it is statistically worse than hands-free and it seems to be mostly followed (not sure about enforcement). I don't see any reason for making a distinction between hands-free earpiece and installed-by-manufacturer system - I can't imagine there is any statistical difference in distraction.

    Also, there are plenty of other distractions far worse than even texting. You can't ban them all and trying to is just foolish. Although, I'd personally love to see a ban on unruly children in cars. ;)

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