back to article Banning handheld phone use by drivers had NO effect on accident rate - study

Recent legislation banning the use of handheld phones by drivers had basically no effect on the number of road accidents, according to a new study. “If it’s really that dangerous, and if even just a fraction of people stop using their phones, we would expect to find some decrease in accidents,” says professor Daniel Kaffine, …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I am not smart enough to find the original link, so I apolgise for the facebook link.

    This is the "logic" behind the ban.

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152524626537884&fref=nf

    I personally think texting while driving is the most bizarre and dangerous cell phone usage.

    The "logic" could be applied to any activity which distracts the driver. Radios (which if invented today would be illegal to operate), SatNavs, (which probably ought to be illegal to operate while moving), opstreperous knee-biters in the back seat and so on.

    1. Arctic fox
      Headmaster

      @AC 10.50 GMT 21/07 Re: "I personally think that texting while driving......."

      As far as texting while driving is concerned I entirely agree - utterly insane. It is simply not possible to both drive a car safely and at the same write text messages, an activity that also requires concentration. If one has to answer a text then pull over as soon as you can and then do it. As far as this study is concerned on the subject of talking on the phone I remain agnostic.

    2. Vicar

      Talking and Walking

      People can't even walk safely whilst talking on the phone. Try negotiating a double fire door at work with someone in the phone! It could be that maybe driving needs less attention than walking.

      I've found that if I'm taking to someone sitting next to me, then they can see the reasons why I sometimes don't respond immediately. Maybe I'm overtaking or there's a roadblock ahead.

    3. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      But you don't operate a radio while driving. You turn it on when you get into the car and turn if off when you get out.

      1. VinceH

        "But you don't operate a radio while driving. You turn it on when you get into the car and turn if off when you get out."

        Sadly, while that should be the way things are (and it certainly works for me), the reality is probably that people don't like this song, so tune to another radio station, or don't want to listen to this CD again, so fumble around ejecting that one and finding another - all while driving.

        (Yes, a CD player is not a radio, but Mr Average Joe may very well call that thing in his car a radio even if he doesn't use the radio function - although stereo is more likely).

      2. MrXavia

        "But you don't operate a radio while driving. You turn it on when you get into the car and turn if off when you get out."

        Actually I change stations sometimes.... That is why I have controls on my steering wheel....

        But usually I choose a playlist before I leave, then if I need to change it, I pull over...

    4. chivo243 Silver badge
      Pint

      Yes, excelent demonstration, saw the video last week, even forwarded the link to friends. I hope it saves lives!

      Have a pint, but not on the road!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Banning handheld phone use by drivers had NO effect on handheld phone use by drivers"

    There we go, fixed it for you.

    1. James 51 Silver badge

      I cycle a lot and the drivers who concern me most aren't always on the phone but there is a lot of dangerous driving done by drivers on the phone. Though maybe they are just careless in general. That's why these kind of studies are so difficult. But still, it's against the law but I still see a lot of people doing it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "But still, it's against the law but I still see a lot of people doing it."

        So report it then! I am so tired of people saying "I see it all the time" but they never report the drivers or attempt to collect evidence!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          WTF?

          Do tell...

          "So report it then! I am so tired of people saying "I see it all the time" but they never report the drivers or attempt to collect evidence!"

          So we report it and then what?

          Oh I see I'm supposed to whip out a camera, focus, get a photo of the driver, then one of the car along with the reg plate..all in about 5 seconds flat!

          Genius.

          1. Rocket_Rabbit

            Re: Do tell...

            I ride to work with a helmet cam for this reason. You can see the phone users a mile off as they shimmy about and border the lane. That and they don't see fit to get out of the outside lane despite dawdling along and nothing in the inside lane. I have quite a few reg plates and face on camera :)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Do tell...

              > I have quite a few reg plates and face on camera :)

              So you're operating a surveillance camera? Is that legal?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Do tell...

                So you're operating a surveillance camera? Is that legal?

                For private use, yes - that's equivalent to taking pictures on the public road. It gets different if its use is commercial, so if he seeks to make money of what he has filmed he might find himself in trouble soon (use to shore up insurance claims after an accident is not deemed commercial, so that's quite OK).

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Do tell...

                  > For private use, yes - that's equivalent to taking pictures on the public road.

                  Not the same thing at all. Photography in a public place is OK if used for private and domestic purposes. You are pre-emptively monitoring individuals and collecting personal information about them to be used in the event of a road traffic incident. This is surveillance and is subject to a different set of rules.

                  1. Naughtyhorse

                    Re: Do tell...

                    Just like PRISM

                    but instead of the might of the US government you just have a cunt on a bike.

                  2. Adrian Midgley 1

                    And for other

                    purposes.

              2. Rocket_Rabbit

                Re: Do tell...

                Yes it's legal because those people are needlessly endangering my life. When there is an incident, the first thing the guilty party does is blame you. So next time you see a cyclist/motorcyclist there is a good chance you're being filmed because the majority of car drivers are too busy mucking about and not paying attention whether it's texting or zoned out because they have't had their morning coffee :)

            2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

              Re: Do tell...

              "I ride to work with a helmet cam for this reason."

              Car drivers can get dashboard cameras, too. I think this will become increasingly common. A relative was involved in an accident recently and pleasantly surprised to discover that one of the cars coming the other way was a driving instructor with a dash-cam and so there was HD video footage of the whole thing. Made the insurance paperwork *much* easier.

              I can see a time coming when you get a reduction in your premium if you have cameras on your car. This is not because it lets your insurance company screw you when it was your fault, but rather because it makes it so much harder for the other guy's insurance company to argue when it was his fault.

          2. Christopher E. Stith
            Joke

            Re: Do tell...

            Yes, because holding a phone or other camera steady long enough to get a clear picture of one moving car from another moving while driving is much safer than holding the phone to one's ear.

        2. LucreLout Silver badge

          "So report it then! I am so tired of people saying "I see it all the time" but they never report the drivers or attempt to collect evidence!"

          Yeah, don't do this.

          AC - Try reporting everyone you see using a phone behind the wheel. I'll bet you don't make it to August 1st before your local police send someone round for a chat about police time/resources etc.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Reply Icon

          "But still, it's against the law but I still see a lot of people doing it."

          So report it then! I am so tired of people saying "I see it all the time" but they never report the drivers or attempt to collect evidence!

          And exactly how are *you* reporting them? By phone?

          :)

        4. James 51 Silver badge

          I don't have a camera on my helmet (whiich I suppose I could rectify) and licence plates can be dirty (little more difficult). I have enough problems with the ocassional ejit trying to spook me by blasting a horn and shouting at me or waving their arm out of the window as they speed past without putting a big target on my back. Plus I've had things like oil being stolen from the tank in my garden and the police didn't even call out when I reported it. Just because you hand the police a conviction on a plate doesn't mean they'll do anything about it.

        5. Rob Gr

          Yeah, nothing could go wrong...

          As a cyclist, who regularly sees this behaviour in the UK (similar laws apply), I canniot recommend attempting to photograph the driver - many drivers get irate when you do such things, and you're pretty vulnerable on a bike.

          Personally, I've had drivers swerve to try and hit, or at least scare me, while cycling for such small things as giving them the finger (after they'd nearly killed me), so attempting to photograph them could lead to a drastically decreased life expectancy for the cyclist.

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      2. Irongut

        re : James 51

        Cycling through a red traffic light is against the law but I see a majority of cyclists doing it. For some reason they think the highway code does not apply to them.

        1. James 51 Silver badge

          Re: re : James 51

          As do I occasionally but the police don't seem to be doing much about that either. I doubt it is the majority of cyclists doing it though, only the majority of cyclists you notice (or at least you don't notice them till they are going through a red light). I see far more car drivers do it but then there are far few cyclists in the road, you can start on the percentage of the total who do such things etc etc. Lot of kilometrage in that argument.

          1. Down not across Silver badge

            Re: re : James 51

            As do I occasionally but the police don't seem to be doing much about that either.

            Ah, that makes alright then?

            It's still against the highway code.

            1. James 51 Silver badge

              Re: re : James 51

              Ah, that makes alright then?

              No, my point is that both cyclists and motorists jump red lights and it is wrong to condemn the entirety of either group for the actions of (hopefully) a few. The police have a duty to stop anyone from doing so but I have never seen that traffic rule enforced on either a cyclist or a motorist the spot.

        2. oddie

          Re: re : James 51

          "Cycling through a red traffic light is against the law but I see a majority of cyclists doing it. For some reason they think the highway code does not apply to them."

          As both a cyclist and a motorist I mostly agree with you.. (I don't know if its the majority that jump red lights)... when cyclists jump red lights (even if it is 'safe' to do so) it creates the idea that they don't follow traffic rules and are somehow different to the other parts of the traffic. As a cyclist I disslike it when they do as it just re-inforces the idea that if you are on a bike you don't really follow the traffic rules and it generates animosity between cyclists and other members of traffic. When I'm driving I disslike it as I don't know what they are going to do next.. sverve into another lane without indicating? I'm afraid I could hit and hurt someone :(

          I don't jump red lights on my bike (or in my car), and usually if I am standing at a junction (with my bike) other cyclicts won't jump either if I get there first.. but every so often I will see someone standing at the front, waiting; not for the lights to change, but for the road to empty so they can pedal across while it is still red. I don't think its the majority, BUT.. I cycle on a fairly busy road, so less chance of 'safe' jumps and I probably don't see as many as I would if I was on 'empty' roads.. but it certainly is enough to be a 'thing'.

          Long way of saying that there are cyclists that don't like cyclists that jump red lights either :(

          The solution is very simple: red means stop, yellow means get ready (at least on driving tests), green means go :)

          edit: forgot to quote post.

          1. Smig

            Re: re : James 51

            Green means you may go if the way forward is clear.

            Just saying.

          2. David 18

            Re: re : James 51

            "The solution is very simple: red means stop, yellow means get ready (at least on driving tests), green means go :)"

            Er, no. Amber means stop, along with red and red/amber, especially on your driving test!

            1. Identity
              Go

              Re: re : James 51

              Really? In Massachusetts, green means go and red means go...

            2. Naughtyhorse

              Amber means stop, along with red and red/amber, especially on your driving test

              explains him being a cyclist then dont it

        3. Rob Gr

          Re: re : James 51

          A majority? Really. Empirical evidence please, or is it just that they're the only one's you notice.

        4. Boring Bob

          Re: re : James 51

          Virtually all pedestrians will cross the road if the red man is showing and it is safe to do so. For some reason they (i.e. everybody) think the highway code does not apply to them. What is the difference between a cyclist passing through a red light when it is safe and a pedestrian (i.e. you) doing the same?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: re : James 51

            One is illegal, the other isn't. Pedestrians have priority on any road, other than a motorway and are not controlled by traffic (key is in the word) lights or signs.

            1. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

              Re: Pedestrians ... are not controlled by traffic (key is in the word) lights or signs.

              That's correct in the UK. I understand it's not correct in the USA and so might not be elsewhere too.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: re : James 51

              The key is in what word ? Pedestrian ?

              If you think the key word is "traffic" then I can only presume that you have never heard the phrase "pedestrian traffic", to refer to... pedestrians.

              The lights facing the pedestrians on a PELICAN crossing control the pedestrians just as much as the lights facing the vehicular traffic control those (apart from cyclists, who apparently consider themselves neither pedestrian nor vehicular, or to alternate as suits).

              Similarly the lights at a level crossing... or, what... ? You think that trains will give way to pedestrian traffic because the stop lights don't apply to them ?

              I think perhaps you should check your Highway Code.

              You appear to have confused the need for vehicular traffic when turning to give way to pedestrians WHO HAVE ALREADY STARTED TO CROSS THE ROAD they are turning into. There is otherwise no overriding priority for pedestrians on the road. They are road users like any other and are expected and required to abide to rules that apply to them.

              1. Tom 38 Silver badge

                Re: re : James 51

                You appear to have confused the need for vehicular traffic when turning to give way to pedestrians WHO HAVE ALREADY STARTED TO CROSS THE ROAD they are turning into. There is otherwise no overriding priority for pedestrians on the road. They are road users like any other and are expected and required to abide to rules that apply to them.

                You need to actually read the highway code as it relates to pedestrians, Mr AC.

                The number of things which pedestrians have to obey are marked with the word MUST bolded and in capitals - hey, its just like an RFC. There are only 4 rules which pedestrians must obey, the others are simply advice on how best to use the road:

                Motorways. Pedestrians MUST NOT be on motorways or slip roads except in an emergency

                Moving vehicles. You MUST NOT get onto or hold onto a moving vehicle.

                You MUST NOT loiter on any type of crossing.

                Railway level crossings. You MUST NOT cross or pass a stop line when the red lights show,

              2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: re : James 51

                "Similarly the lights at a level crossing..."

                I think you'll find that the road crosses the railway line, not the other way around so you are on railway property under railway rules and laws.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: re : James 51

            What is the difference between a cyclist passing through a red light when it is safe and a pedestrian (i.e. you) doing the same?

            Agility. Pedestrians have a much greater range of senses to detect if they are about to get themselves killed, and can change direction pretty much at will. Cyclists move at higher speeds, look generally only ahead (their range of vision is in the 150° range forward) and need to brake/swerve to change their position.

          3. Whiskers

            Re: re : James 51

            In the UK 'Highway Code', only those rules expressed as MUST or MUST NOT actually have the force of law; all the others are advisory (although they may be taken into account if an accident leads to legal action).

            Pedestrians:

            18

            At all crossings. When using any type of crossing you should

            always check that the traffic has stopped before you start to cross or push a pram onto a crossing

            always cross between the studs or over the zebra markings. Do not cross at the side of the crossing or on the zig-zag lines, as it can be dangerous.

            You MUST NOT loiter on any type of crossing.

            Laws ZPPPCRGD reg 19 & RTRA sect 25(5)

            Cyclists:

            64

            You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement.

            Laws HA 1835 sect 72 & R(S)A 1984, sect 129

            69

            You MUST obey all traffic signs and traffic light signals.

            Laws RTA 1988 sect 36 & TSRGD reg 10(1)

            <https://www.gov.uk/browse/driving/highway-code>

            So the little green and red men are advisory only for pedestrians crossing the road, but the big red amber and green traffic lights at road junctions are obligatory for cyclists just as they are for motor vehicles.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: re : James 51

              "So the little green and red men are advisory only for pedestrians crossing the road, but the big red amber and green traffic lights at road junctions are obligatory for cyclists just as they are for motor vehicles."

              Spot on. And by definition, a zebra crossing is just a courtesy where politeness is expected to be at a maximum by all concerned, A vehicle only has to stop if someone is on the crossing. If someone is standing at a crossing waiting, a driver does not HAVE to stop. So, in effect, a zebra crossing has no real effect other than to remind a driver that a pedestrian in the road has more right of way than an oncoming vehilce sin ce the same zebra crossing "rules" apply at all times even when there is no crossing.

          4. James 51 Silver badge

            Re: re : James 51

            It is legal for them to use their judgement and cross when the light is red for them. It is illegal for any road user to do the same (not sure how that would work out if you had a problem with a horse, particular if something spooked it).

            I know is the US they'd be charged with jaywalking. I was going to make a flippant comment about crazy laws but I am sure we have a few of those too.

          5. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: re : James 51

            ... here (in an un-named european country) relative to a motorist, the cyclist and pedestrian are the same. They are both "weak" (as opposed to strong) and as such the "strong" actors (cars and trucks) have an absolute responsibility not to run over them. This is a sub-optimal way of looking at things, as it promotes an "I am always in the right" attitude from the cyclists and pedestrians.

            The most egregious act I see regularly, and which was responsible for 2 accidents in which I was present, involved cyclists riding the wrong way around roundabouts causing all sorts of havoc as the motorists are all looking the other way. It is pretty horrible watch a car flatten a cyclist and have to make evasive maneuvers, afterwards to call ambulance, cops etc. and then explain to the plod that it was the cyclist's fault.

            The number of cyclists with a very apparent death wish is astonishing.

          6. Naughtyhorse

            Re: re : James 51

            so you are the type of cyclist that ignores red lights then....

            and when you are killed doing it, it will be the drivers fault.

            and not 'all' people cross against a red. In fact this very weekend me and 10 or so of my mates were out on the piss, and traversing town from pub to pub on 2 occasions we waited at red lights even though there was no traffic coming. (and to be fair taking the piss out of ourselves as we did it!)

            apparently it's more common in germany

          7. paulc

            Re: re : James 51

            because it is not illegal to cross the crossing with a red man showing, merely extremely unadvisable?

            Just gone through the rules for pedestrians and there's a distinct lack of the phrase "MUST NOT" for any crossings so therefore it isn't illegal.

            The only thing about pedestrian crossings that isa actually against the law is that you MUST NOT loiter on them...

            http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/1-35-rules-for-pedestrians

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "maybe they are just careless in general"

        I suspect this is it. People I know of who make handheld phone calls in the car also are involved in other risky behaviour. My guess is that the unsafe drivers are just as unsafe whatever laws you pass. The people who stopped making phone calls in the car were the ones who were careful about doing it anyway.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @James

        You shouldn't point fingers, he who drives while zipped up in a sleeping bag.

      5. Primus Secundus Tertius

        The real contribution to road safety would be to ban cyclists.

        1. Caesarius
          Joke

          Re: The real contribution to road safety would be to ban cyclists.

          Keep death off the roads: drive on the pavement.

    2. Neil B

      @Chris Wareham -- "Banning handheld phone use by drivers had NO effect on handheld phone use by drivers"

      This this this SO MUCH THIS. The problem is enforceability. There is a massively decreased police presence on the roads, and an actual traffic stop is the only way to catch someone doing this.

      1. Tom 260

        @Neil B "There is a massively decreased police presence on the roads, and an actual traffic stop is the only way to catch someone doing this."

        Some areas there aren't any traffic officers even before the cutbacks, Devon & Cornwall Police for instance have just 7 traffic cars across the entire region, the biggest single police force area in England, and the regular patrol cars couldn't care less about motoring offences. I've seen police cars going round without headlights well into dusk, and they ignore drivers who have a brake light or headlight out - this being a rural area the roads are unlit as soon as you get outside the towns.

        1. Tom 260

          Bit of a followup to my last post on Devon & Cornwall Police (regular police driving without headlights & ignoring motoring offences), today I see this article on the beeb: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-28437914 (£30,000 spent on repairs after they failed to apply the handbrake on multiple occasions... in the last 6 months)

      2. Jim 59

        ...and an actual traffic stop is the only way to catch someone doing this.

        I dunno. Don't forget, every aspect of our lives is now committed to MPEG. Including your commute, your stop at the petrol station, your buying sweets,... basically any urban road or motorway, you are a film star. They probably even see which number you dialed.

    3. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      "Banning handheld phone use by drivers had NO effect on handheld phone use by drivers"

      Exactly right. Maybe I'm an exception, but I did actually stop using a phone other than with a headset, and even then I sometimes just kill the call if I'm in a dangerous spot. I had the aha moment a lot earlier than when the ban came in, mainly because I have been using mobiles for a *long* time (my first phone was a NEC P3 :) ).

      So, from simply personal experience, the outcome of the study only makes sense with your re-interpretation :)

    4. Naughtyhorse

      I was wondering...

      The article didn't mention it, and in the UK we have had 'hands free only' legislation for a while, yet people with shit cars with no bluetooth continue to call... and by extension continue to crash and die too.

  3. Martin hepworth

    flouting the law

    Thats because everyone who did before is still doing it..... taking pictures of stuff at the side of road etc.. do basicallu no drop off in actual handheld use despite the law, ergo no drop in accidents

    1. AceRimmer
      Alert

      Re: flouting the law

      "do basicallu no drop "

      Were you driving whilst you typed that post?

  4. Paddy Fagan

    One study over a short period may not tell us a whole lot anyway, but

    My own experience over the last ten years owning both cars and phones is that yes, using a hand held phone will driving isn't a safe thing to do - did it once or twice and stopped. I have a hands-free kit for the last 6 or so years, and I think it really depends on the call - happy to chat to someone (mainly my wife) low involvement conversation - how was your day, how where the kids, do I need to pick up something from the shop, etc. And happy to take work calls where I'm a passive listener - but anything where I need to think and engage is lethal - tried it once, I'm told that in the middle of a passage of technical advice I just unconsciously started talking about road conditions and other cars - bad, but better than the alternative where I suspect I would have crashed - didn't try that again.

    So I guess to me the problem here is that the behavior we want (drivers to focus on driving) and the action taken (banning hand-held mobiles) are loosely aligned, but the action may well not be having the effect we want.

    Of course, one other possible reason - lots of drivers didn't use handheld mobiles when driving without the band being in place - I wonder if this group overlaps heavily with the group who would automatically obey the ban?

    1. fandom

      Re: One study over a short period may not tell us a whole lot anyway, but

      I once told someone how to restart all servers in the company plus server apps using a hands-free kit.

      Seriously, I sometimes wonder how come I am still alive.

      1. Soruk
        Joke

        Re: One study over a short period may not tell us a whole lot anyway, but

        Restarting servers and apps using a handsfree kit - okay, I'm impressed.

  5. Khaptain Silver badge
    FAIL

    If I understood the article in the link correctly this study was made during "2008".

    I have a very poor memory but I believe that 6 years ago SmartPhone usage was no-where near what it is today. Today people use their smartphones for a plethora of Social Media applications which were not prevalent at the time.

    Please, redo this study today and publish the result.

    The article also does not state how the managed to ensure that no-one used their phones....

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      It also only looked at the bottom line on numbers. The cars are safer, the drivers, not. The more idiocy on the road, the more safe we make the cars. I believe the study was flawed.

  6. David Knapman

    Danger

    The most dangerous object to be making use of whilst driving is the car itself.

    So they ought to ban the use of cars whilst driving, and the problem will be solved.

    1. Frankee Llonnygog

      Re: Danger

      For those who still wish to indulge their driving habit, small coin-operated driving simulators in the shape of popular cartoon characters could be installed outside supermarkets

    2. Neil B

      Re: Danger

      The most dangerous object in a car is the idiot behind the wheel. I don't recall the last time a car rolled itself out of someone's garage and mowed a bunch of pedestrians down.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Danger

        I don't recall the last time a car rolled itself out of someone's garage and mowed a bunch of pedestrians down.

        Having said that, even that eventuality is engineered in: that's why you have automatic screen wipers. But fear not, this may soon happen.

        1. John Tserkezis

          Re: Danger

          "Having said that, even that eventuality is engineered in: that's why you have automatic screen wipers. But fear not, this may soon happen."

          I don't see it happening. It doesn't navigate through boom gates with tickets that need a button press, and retreival of your parking ticket. Nor does it deal with rouge shopping trolleys, nor fucktard parents and their errant brants running right behind you as you're reversing (is Audi going to pay the brat's hospital bills?), even worse the the precision robotic arm that needs to plug in your ticet again, or the vending machine that is not web-integrated to pay your parking time, worst of all the manual payment boxes where you have to deal with someone who's first three languages are anything but english, you get the idea.

          We have a LONG way to go.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Danger

      > they ought to ban the use of cars whilst driving ...

      That's a bit harsh. All they really need to do is ban accidents.

      1. John Tserkezis

        Re: Danger

        "That's a bit harsh. All they really need to do is ban accidents."

        Believe it or not, that's not quite as ludicrous as it sounds.

        "Banning" something doesn't make anyone stop doing it, it just gives you legal recourse to penalise those who are *caught* doing it. The *intention* is to modify behaviour through the threat of being penalised. Nice in theory, but as many have said before, it only works on those who were honest to start with. The criminals, or the ones using their phones, or the ones running red lights are going to do it anyway.

        So just "making" a law will change behaivour, but not in the way you want. In case of phone useage, it does not stop people from using their phones, it only means they better obscure the fact they're doing it.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Danger

      Google is working on it. Of the three things, moving car, driving, doing other things, if only two out of three are safe at any given time I'd get rid of the driving first.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Danger

        Google is working on it

        That's what is worrying me: what is Google getting out of this? Until I know (and only if I agree with that, f*ck any handoff of driving data or being harassed by ads) I will not go near anything done by Google.

        1. Christopher E. Stith
          Terminator

          Re: Danger

          For one thing, Google gets employees who can work during their commute without getting shouted down by San Francisco renters for putting them all on a shuttle bus. For another, they'll probably license the technology to any and all car manufacturers on a per-unit basis.

          Third, and most important to this article, if you're not driving then it is safe to use the phone. You can talk on it, read from it, edit things on it, and otherwise use Google's software on it.

          Fourth, you can spend more time that you're not using the phone or laptop to read targeted Google ads on video billboards.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's funny how the same police who are quick to blame accidents on the use of mobile phones, think nothing of using their radios whilst driving and modern police 'radios' are very similar to mobile phones.

    1. Purple-Stater

      No, it's not "funny" at all. Generally speaking, police tend to be better drivers, and they are trained at using their radios while driving. They also spend very brief periods actually using their radios, not a 30-minute drive chit-chatting the entire way.

      1. Graham Dawson Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Police tend to be better drivers?

        In what universe?

        1. Vic

          Police tend to be better drivers?

          In what universe?

          Ever driven with a P1?

          It's enlightening...

          Vic.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Police tend to be better drivers?

          In what universe?

          In quite a few of them. By way of illustration, in Belgium you can see motorway police train on racing circuits every single week. I have had quite a few eclectic bits of driving training (including anti-kidnap), but I would not presume to drive away from police drivers.

        3. David 18

          @ Graham Dawson

          In the UK.

          Certainly not the US if those Police, Camera, Action type shows are anything to go by!

        4. Agincourt and Crecy!

          I was trained to drive to P1 level in the Ambulance Service. I am fully aware of my shortcomings as a driver and try to avoid mistakes. I don't claim to be perfect, but am aware of of hazards and drive in a way that is defensive. I do drive quickly when it is safe, but when it is not, then I do not. I try not to break speed limits, even on a quiet motorway at night; it may be within your capabilities when everything is OK, but when something goes wrong at speed, it goes wrong very quickly and while you may escape a blowout at 70, your chances decrease significantly at 90 and when you do hit something, the results are more serious by a large margin.

          The difference with someone not trained to this standard is that you often find, they claim to be better drivers than they actually are, those who are trained to this standard accept they are still developing their skills and are regularly sent for refresher training.

      2. a53

        No, it's not "funny" at all.

        Your argument presumes ordinary drivers aren't trained to drive while talking on handheld or handsfree devices. I was trained to be able to do this by a retired police driving instructor and also to train our fleet in order to reduce the frequency of avoidable mishaps.

        Perhaps the answer, if police are safe to use them, is to train everyone to be safe using them. Make it part of driver training, tests.

        1. Purple-Stater

          Re: No, it's not "funny" at all.

          @a53 My argument was "generally speaking". Percentage-wise, a greater percentage of police have (at least a bit of) proper driving training than do civilians.

      3. MrDamage

        CB Radios

        Truckies have been using CB radios for decades before the invention of mobile phone.

        CB's require one hand to be away from the steering wheel, so logically that is just as dangerous as using a mobile phone.

        Then there are the cabbies who play with their booking systems whilst driving.

        Cops play with their radios, and phones, and speed cameras, and computer systems while driving.

        If they were truly serious about road safety, then there would be a blanket ban on all of them.

        Of course, with cops "being better drivers" and "receiving training", then there should be no reason why the same training in use of mobiles whilst driving should not be made available to the general public. But they won't do it, as the training would only give them a on off payment, whereas a ban will be a continuous revenue stream for the greedy twunts.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: CB Radios

          there should be no reason why the same training in use of mobiles whilst driving should not be made available to the general public.

          Having ridden hundreds of thousands of miles on motorcycles, over decades, I long ago concluded that everybody should have to do advanced driving courses to get a license. But one of the biggest priorities of our civilization is to get as many people and as many cars on the road - out of the showrooms and onto the road - and into the petrol stations buying as many petrochemicals as they can afford. Quite apart from the motoring industry being one of if not the major influences on Government from a lobbying pov, there is also a lot of lost tax revenue from decreasing alcohol and tobacco sales to make up! But the experience I've gained by virtue of being so much more exposed to danger than car drivers, which is like advanced driving training (plus the experience of time and repetition) is what every motorist should aspire to. Trouble is our world is steered by bean counters.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: CB Radios

            I long ago concluded that everybody should have to do advanced driving courses to get a license

            Fully agree - but I would add something. I would like it if people have at least 2 or 3 sessions in ALL categories of vehicles that use the road. Drivers knowing the needs and driving characteristics of other road users are infinitely more able to work out a safe approach to their driving. Making an emergency stop in a HGV without ABS will make you think twice of using that empty gap in front of it on a congested motorway..

      4. Nasty Nick

        From what I see driing a lot in the UK, your bog standard plod seems to drive just like the average numbnut car driver - I think they used to be much better years ago, but they've got significantly worse over the couple of decades. But maybe that's because they are getting younger!

        Seriiously though, dedicated traffic cops seem to have remained very good - I haven't ever noticed them driving like eejits (though there are always going to be exceptions).

    2. John Tserkezis

      "think nothing of using their radios whilst driving and modern police 'radios' are very similar to mobile phones."

      They're exempt from those laws. That magically changes the statistics.

      1. Agincourt and Crecy!

        The Police, like all other emergency service drivers are not exempt from the law. In the event of an accident, they are subject to much higher levels of scrutiny than the public, I can attest to this having been at the receiving end of a Notice of Intended Prosecution following an RTC while driving an Ambulance.

        If you watch any of the "in car documentaries" where the police are in pursuit of a vehicle, you are more likely to see the passenger providing the commentary, you will see the Ambulance attendant using the radio and you will see the fire service supervisor on a fire tender use the radio, not the driver. If a Police traffic car is single manned then they often have a PTT switch allowing messages to be sent, personal radios are never hand held and many have in the ear headsets. Drivers do not engage in long conversations, messages are short and to the point.

        If any of these drivers are in an accident, they face a real chance of prosecution. The view taken by the CPS is that as we all received a higher standard of driver training and that a higher standard is therefore expected on the road; if an accident happens, then this higher standard is used as the yardstick for prosecution. What would be seen as a case of careless driving and potentially a caution for any other road user, would be prosecuted as the higher offence of dangerous driving for an emergency services driver.

        I will pose you a question. If your house is being burgled and the offender is still there and has a knife, or if you are trapped upstairs with your house on fire or you are in your living room and your child has choked on a peanut, do you want the emergency service driver to be worrying at every stage about whether their next move will have them ending up in court facing the loss of their job or do you trust them to drive to the best of their ability making the maximum progression to come and help you ?

    3. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Coppers!

      Police use their mobile phones for a higher percentage of their time than their radios.

      They have an exemption (at least here, YMMV).

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In police cars, the driver drives, and the one riding shotgun does comms and all the other non-driving related stuff. The driver is thus freed to focus 100% on following you. If you were to hand off your phone to a passenger you would have that benefit too.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        I can't remember the last time I saw 2 cops in one car. Usually, it's one cop per car and often, one is following the other.

  8. Kevin Johnston

    Only Lab-based tests?

    Not when Mythbusters went about it. They have compared Drunk driving, Mobile use (with and without hands-free) and tired driving. None of them compared well with the 'normal' state of the drivers.

    You may not feel that they used a sufficiently large sample size but the differences they recorded were big enough for each driver to be relevant and possibly a lot more relevant than stats which start by removing lots data to eliminate 'other' factors. You say that even if most ignore a ban at least some will observe it but could those be the same people that were careful before the ban and did not have accidents whilst on the phone?

    Gets us into the territory where they list the cause of an accident as 'Speed'...this is simplification of cause for ease of collation. Speed is the cause of every automotive accident as without it no two object can come into contact with each other (although technically 0 is also a speed). The critical word missing is 'inappropriate'. Go at 60 round a bend marked at 30 and the likelihood is you will have an unintended occurence, travel at 90 on an empty dry well-lit motorway way and your are much less likely. Use your mobile phone in the midst of rush-hour traffic to get directions when you are lost and it is when, not if, you will hit something. Do the same on that aforementioned motorway and the reduction of attention on your actual driving is not so relevant.

    1. Frood42
      Happy

      Re: Only Lab-based tests?

      Upvote for Mythbusters.

      If in doubt, C4, ha ha

    2. johnB

      Re: Only Lab-based tests?

      But it's the safe 90 mph which will get you a speeding ticket in Blighty.

      1. Stacy

        Re: Only Lab-based tests?

        But the Mythbusters experiment had the wrong title.

        It should have been 'Is it safe to do complex mathematics whilst driving'. There was no 'chat' on the phone with the person driving being able to day 'I can't answer that right now' or 'This is getting complex I'll call you back. As such it was a biased experiment.

        If I am on my hands free and I can't talk because of the traffic, I don't. The experiment was set up in such a way that there was only outcome. If you had the person sitting in the car with you asking the same complex questions and demanding the answers without exception then you would have had the same result.

  9. John Lilburne

    And yet ...

    ... the car that was straddling two lanes of the dual carriage way on Thursday, whose speed was alternating between 40 mph to 60 mph. When it eventually pulled into the lefthand lane had a driver with phone in one hand held to his ear and glancing at paper work on passenger seat.

    1. WraithCadmus
      Trollface

      Re: And yet ...

      Amateur, he should also be shaving and steering with his knees. These days of satnavs though have ruined the art of plastering a road atlas or OS Landranger across the windscreen.

  10. patrick_bateman

    put the place name in tht title if its not in the UK

    theregister.co.uk.......

    .co.uk being the point...

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: put the place name in tht title if its not in the UK

      I respectfully disagree, good sir. We have plenty of splendid contributors from the colonies and I'd be sad if they felt any less at home here than we do.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Vested interest

    Surely you should have noticed that this is from Prof Kaffine, who obviously has a vested interest in his family's products being used, along with Prof Guanine. ;-)

  12. Conrad Longmore
    Facepalm

    Ban? What ban?

    I still regularly see erratically driven vehicles being driven by someone with a phone clamped to their ears. Unless you have a policeman on every street corner then it is hard to get these morons to stop.

    However, it might help if people refused to talk to drivers without a handsfree kit, in the same way they you'd hope your friends wouldn't let you drive home pissed..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ban? What ban?

      "I still regularly see erratically driven vehicles being driven by someone with a phone clamped to their ears. Unless you have a policeman on every street corner then it is hard to get these morons to stop."

      If you regularly see it, then you need to get a dash cam fitted to the rear window, capture them with their plate talking on the phone and report them to the police. Just your footage is enough to get them "convicted".

      It is physically impossible for the police to have an officer around all the time (unless you want to pay a lot more tax) so people need to stop moaning that there aren't enough police around to enforce the more minor laws (i.e. the ones that don't involve direct confrontation of the person committing the offence) and start to do something about it themselves.

      1. JimmyPage Silver badge
        Stop

        Just your footage is enough to get them "convicted"

        Can you back this up, please ?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ban? What ban?

        No, your footage on its own is not enough to convict anyone. You will also need to prove who the operator of the vehicle is, and if you cannot show that it is the registered owner the court will not be interested.

        You are correct though in saying get a dash cam. Well worth it, if only to prove your stories of fresh idiocy from your fellow road users.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ban? What ban?

          "No, your footage on its own is not enough to convict anyone. You will also need to prove who the operator of the vehicle is, and if you cannot show that it is the registered owner the court will not be interested."

          You are Incorrect.

          I specifically stated the camera was to be fitted to the rear of your car, which would record both the drivers face and the number plate.

          This was confirmed to me by a Dorset Policeman when I inquired about what cameras I could have on my car and what offences would be worth reporting! (main enquiry was about tailgaiting, which is not something you can report by this method)

          1. Tom 38 Silver badge

            Re: Ban? What ban?

            Ah well, you should have mentioned this was in advice from a Dorset Policeman, they never get things wrong or give misleading legal advice.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Fink-Nottle

            Re: Ban? What ban?

            > I specifically stated the camera was to be fitted to the rear of your car, which would record both the drivers face and the number plate.

            If you are going to operate a surveillance camera system from the back of your car, you'd need to be in compliance with the Surveillance Camera Code Of Practice. The code contains twelve guiding principles and, as far as I can tell, you'd be hard pressed to conform with any of them.

            Apart from anything else, operating a vehicle fitted with surveillance equipment with the expressed intent of capturing traffic offences (even a fully automated system) is likely to be just as unsafe as using a mobile phone while driving. I'd report YOU in an instant ...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Ban? What ban?

              If you are going to operate a surveillance camera system from the back of your car, you'd need to be in compliance with the Surveillance Camera Code Of Practice. The code contains twelve guiding principles and, as far as I can tell, you'd be hard pressed to conform with any of them.

              Well, there's also all the fun DPA stuff to deal with as you are effectively setting up CCTV surveillance of a public area.

              I also suspect that the mandatory signs will seriously mess up your ability to look through the rear window, so it become doubtful that you will *improve* road safety by acting as an ad hoc community support officer. Oh, and before I forget - will you record family members or will you "leave them out"?

              Leave police work to the police. Some of them are actually good at what they do, and are better equipped to deal with the consequences of road users being upset by you filming them..

              1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: Ban? What ban?

      "However, it might help if people refused to talk to drivers without a handsfree kit, in the same way they you'd hope your friends wouldn't let you drive home pissed.."

      When I encounter someone whose phone us IS affecting their driving adversely, I always make a point of hitting the horn. It's not for thier benefit as such, more to warn the other end of the line that the driver is falling way below standard due to their conversation.

      If everyone did the same, the driver would start to be pilloried by their mates "You know Jimmy, every where you go people beep at you. I hear it all the time when you call me from the car", which is about all that'll actually make them stop.

  13. Lionel Baden

    I use my phone

    As a media player.

    as a phone (via bluetooth)

    Always in a cradle.

    I am more than happy to ask who ever im talking to, to shut up whilst i navigate a roundabout or junction (same goes for passengers (doubly so for the kids)). Its not so much the use of phones, its the irresponsible use of them.

  14. Mike Bell

    Typing texts at the wheel is incredibly dangerous

    OK, I admit I've done it on a few occasions in the past. And I'm not proud of it. It's just plain reckless behaviour at the end of the day.

    But I do get somewhat annoyed when I see trumped up traffic officers on TV lambasting the odd driver who just picks up his phone to see the status of the screen. There's no danger in that, in my opinion, any more than there is picking up a sandwich and taking a bite (which I gather is now also a punishable offence in the UK).

    If this is to be taken to its extreme, every driver would be required to have both hands on the wheel, like you did when you had your driving lessons - as opposed to how you actually drive.

    On a motorway, my left hand is pretty redundant most of the time, and whilst I can't multi-task like a girl, I'm quite capable of lifting a phone to my ear and talking, just like I'm able to scratch my ear and talk to someone in the passenger seat.

    Fiddling with the phone's screen controls is entirely another matter. But the law is a hammer.

    1. Rhiakath Flanders

      Re: Typing texts at the wheel is incredibly dangerous

      The law basically wants you to keep both your hands free to drive. It doesn't say you need to have both on the wheel.

      Holding your phone IS illegal. Eating or drinking while driving IS illegal. Tapping on your laptop, reading the newspaper or a book, or even watching a movie on your laptop or cellphone while driving IS illegal. ( Yes, i've seen all of these happen, unfortunately ).

      Talking to someone on the passenger seat, of course, takes almost no need to focus on the driver's part, but it is known that talking on the phone takes a whole lot more focus/attention than talking to someone else personally, even if it's just because of the background noise, the call volume, etc... Texting will take even more. You DO have to take your eyes off the road, and that split second is all it takes, sometimes. I've seen it happen all the time. Of course, when they smash their cars, nobody says "yes, officer, i was texting/talking on the phone". Of course not! That's the same as saying "I'm guilty, let me pay for everything".

      And i have to say, i agree with this. I agree that everyone should just focus on driving, instead of multi-tasking. Even if it's just eating a sandwich, or drinking that cup of coffee.

      Even though i have a hands-free + bluetooth connection in my car, so i can answer any call without

      taking my hands off the wheel, i still tend to just answer with "sorry, i'm driving, so unless you're dying, or is an emergency, call me later."

      We lived years and years without the freaking cell phones, and now for some reason, we're all addicted to them. It seems we just can't live without a cell phone. I just can't understand what's so urgent about that call that can't wait a few minutes.. I went out with my friends on my teenage years, and i had no cell phone. I had to wait till we met, and then we talked. How did i survive, and had dates, and a social life, i ask..

      I saw a story ( I think it was here on the reg ) some time ago, where one driver got a ticket because he sneezed while driving, and used one hand to hold a tissue.

      Yes, it is illegal. Yes, it is stupid the officer fined him for holding a tissue while sneezing, instead of just letting it all go to your windshield ( yes, much better, now ). Yes, it was excessive. But it is the law. And if it's there, it's because someone was already pushing it too far.

      Unfortunately, there has to be a hard line, and this guy was caught on the wrong side.

      Now, the article says the statistics show no improvement. I don't see that as a "cell-phone has nothing to do with it". I see it as "nobody gave a damn, and everybody still uses their cell-phone while driving". I see that everywhere. The law only works if someone is enforcing it, and actively checking it.

      Because right here in Portugal, right now, that's exactly what's happening. It's forbidden. And nobody cared. And i see guys driving at 150km/h while holding their cell phone. And as someone who got his car smashed because a freaking truck driver just couldn't wait 1 hour before making that stupid call, i have to say, yes, cellphones DO take concentration from your part.

      There's no amount of "sorry, i got distracted with a call" that made up the fact that he smashed thru my car with me in it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Typing texts at the wheel is incredibly dangerous

        Holding your phone IS illegal. Eating or drinking while driving IS illegal. Tapping on your laptop, reading the newspaper or a book, or even watching a movie on your laptop or cellphone while driving IS illegal. ( Yes, i've seen all of these happen, unfortunately ).

        What I find interesting is that you can be fined for eating an apple, but smoking a cigarette (which involves picking one out of a pack, and fiddling with lighter and ashtray) is perfectly OK. That, to me, is really BS.

        1. Tom 38 Silver badge

          Re: Typing texts at the wheel is incredibly dangerous

          What I find interesting is that you can be fined for eating an apple, but smoking a cigarette (which involves picking one out of a pack, and fiddling with lighter and ashtray) is perfectly OK.

          Cigarettes are fine, its rollies that are tricky, especially if you use filter tips.

          1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

            Re: Typing texts at the wheel is incredibly dangerous @ Tom 38

            "Cigarettes are fine, its rollies that are tricky, especially if you use filter tips."

            I don't know if that was meant as a joke, but I used to go out on events with a friend who did that very thing whilst driving! There isn't much that makes me nervous as a passenger (hell, I navigate on rallies!), but that always made me feel uncomfortable!

    2. Roo
      Windows

      Re: Typing texts at the wheel is incredibly dangerous

      "But I do get somewhat annoyed when I see trumped up traffic officers on TV lambasting the odd driver who just picks up his phone to see the status of the screen. There's no danger in that, in my opinion, any more than there is picking up a sandwich and taking a bite (which I gather is now also a punishable offence in the UK)."

      I get the irritation, but those traffic officers attend accident scenes so they have a very different perspective on it because they see the grizzly aftermath of a driver not paying attention or making an error of judgement while they were distracted. At the end of the day a driver *can* cause a massive amount of damage to themselves and innocent bystanders, even at a low speed, therefore a driver *should* be giving driving the maximum amount of attention that they can at all times.

      In my view by trying to do driving + something else the driver has decided that saving a few seconds time is more important that driving as safely as they can.

      1. Fink-Nottle

        Re: Typing texts at the wheel is incredibly dangerous

        > a driver *can* cause a massive amount of damage to themselves and innocent bystanders, even at a low speed

        That's why instances of unlawful mobile use should be punished with a weekend of community service in an A&E department.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Typing texts at the wheel is incredibly dangerous

          That's why instances of unlawful mobile use should be punished with a weekend of community service in an A&E department.

          Absolute upvote, although I suspect you'd need an extra member of staff to keep them out of harm's way. Which means less people on the job, and I would not want to do that to A&E staff who have enough to deal with as it is (not to belittle other medical staff, but A&E as well as onsite emergency services are in my book heros). But I do agree that making people aware of the real tragic consequences is probably the only education that will actually *work*.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Typing texts at the wheel is incredibly dangerous

        "(which I gather is now also a punishable offence in the UK)"

        is it really? Anywhere else? Inquiring minds need to know

        1. Alfred 2
          Meh

          Re: Typing texts at the wheel is incredibly dangerous

          It's also banned in South Africa. There they just take your car away. I beleive you have to pay a fine to get it back. Oh and you can't phone a taxi to get home, becuase guess what else they take away.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Typing texts at the wheel is incredibly dangerous

      "There's no danger in that, in my opinion, any more than there is picking up a sandwich and taking a bite (which I gather is now also a punishable offence in the UK)."

      Whether it is a phone, a sandwich or a child in the backseat....taking your eyes off the road for any reason is a distraction and *could* be a contributing factor in an accident (if you take you eyes off the road to grab your sarnie for 2 seconds and a car suddenly stops in front of you at that same moment that is 2 seconds less you have to notice and then react ). The offence is driving without due care and attention and it covers mobile phones (which also have a specific law), sandwiches, rubber ducks and anything else you can fiddle with whilst driving.

      "On a motorway, my left hand is pretty redundant most of the time"

      Do us all a favor, get a big red cross sticker and place it on your front and rear bumber so the rest of us can spot you and avoid you at all costs. The moment you relax on the motorway is the moment your brain switches off and that's when the huge pile ups happen. Driving (even on the motorway) SHOULD be tiring because you should be concentrating hard.

      1. Mike Bell

        Re: Typing texts at the wheel is incredibly dangerous

        "Whether it is a phone, a sandwich or a child in the backseat....taking your eyes off the road for any reason is a distraction and *could* be a contributing factor in an accident"

        Yes. We have dashboards as well. Guess what? You look at them. I'll bet that even *you* have looked at your dashboard from time to time. You want to get rid of them? Spare me the sanctimonious lecture, please.

        "Do us all a favor, get a big red cross sticker and place it on your front and rear bumber so the rest of us can spot you and avoid you at all costs. The moment you relax on the motorway is the moment your brain switches off and that's when the huge pile ups happen. Driving (even on the motorway) SHOULD be tiring because you should be concentrating hard."

        There would be an awful lot of big red cross stickers on the motorway crying wolf in your happy little world. Because many people know how to drive safely without sitting rigid in front of the wheel saying 'shut up, shut up, I need both hands right here'.

        NB, I've been driving for more than 30 years and I've never had an accident. I've avoided plenty, though, by being aware of my surroundings.

        1. 's water music Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Typing texts at the wheel is incredibly dangerous

          I've been driving for more than 30 years and I've never had an accident.

          Me neither. Seen a few in the rear view mirror though.

    4. Rob Gr

      Re: Typing texts at the wheel is incredibly dangerous

      I'm waiting for the report from traffic police that Mike Bell had an accident while checking their phone now. Please, for your sake, just shell out on a cradle.

    5. sisk Silver badge

      Re: Typing texts at the wheel is incredibly dangerous

      If this is to be taken to its extreme, every driver would be required to have both hands on the wheel

      Then I would argue that the extreme is appropriate. There's a reason we were all taught to use both hands to drive. Just try to make a quick correction to avoid a deer that ran out onto the highway with one hand and you'll understand.

      Here the law is that you must have both hands on the wheel any time the car is in motion. The only exception is when you're shifting gears on a standard transmission. Any other time you take one hand off the wheel you can be fined. It's a law I completely agree with, having been on the receiving end of someone's inattention while they tried to eat and drive.

  15. Purple-Stater

    Smart Phones vs Smart Drivers

    The problem with banning phone use while driving, is that the good/smart drivers who follow the law, were mostly the ones that were good/smart enough to not use their phones whilst driving in the first place. This study needs to be paired up with surveys to monitor if phone usage has actually decreased or not.

    1. Nuke
      Thumb Up

      Re: Smart Phones vs Smart Drivers

      Wrote :- "good/smart drivers who follow the law, were mostly the ones that were good/smart enough to not use their phones whilst driving in the first place"

      Agreed. I don't know about California, but around here (SE Wales) plenty of people ignore the ban. In particular, delivery men make no bones about using their phones while driving to find where I live (I'm in the sticks) and they expect me to navigate them in. OTOH I didn't use the phone while driving before the ban anyway (tried it once and realised how dodgy it was); so little change to either group there.

      As for the survey's comparison between before and after the ban, there are so many other things that could have skewed the data in the elapsed time, like the advent of smart phones adding a further dimension to distraction. Just compare driving my own car (1994 design) with driving my wife's car (2012 design). In the older car, I can see all that my instruments have to say at a glance. However the newer car has a digital display with nested menus for stuff like the fuel consumption, remaining range, average speed etc. I have stop find myself looking at this stuff which is really just an entertaining distraction.

  16. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Also sat nav

    Along with the cognitive load of using and of these things there are simple mechanical considerations such as the effect on your steering as you lean over to touch or adjust anything.

    The main problem, however, is enforcing much of this. Having a noisy family in the car is probably just as distracting and dangerous.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Also sat nav

      Along with the cognitive load of using and of these things there are simple mechanical considerations such as the effect on your steering as you lean over to touch or adjust anything.

      That's why I set my sat nav to use a women's voice - easier to ignore :).

  17. Eradicate all BB entrants

    I stick by a simple rule .....

    ..... If they are driving a BMW Mini, they are using a mobile. Has kept me from being side-swiped numerous times when passing/overtaking.

    Can we have double points/ ban length for those who talk on theirs phones like they are about to eat a cracker?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      BMW

      or Audi. The liberal middle class part of my brain says it's so wrong to generalise. However the instinctive keep-myself-alive part of my brain has decided that seeing either badge on a car is a sign that something dumb is much more likely to happen now.

  18. Velv Silver badge
    Boffin

    Statistics are brilliant. Until recently that's how the insurance industry priced premiums. Male, 17, more likely to have an accident than a Female, 17, or a Male, 45.

    There are types of people who are more likely to have accidents. It's largely down to attitude. It's a generalisation but it's been the foundation of the actuarial industry for centuries. So the people who adhere to the ban are typically those less likely to have accidents in the first place. Those who "know better" tend to be paying less attention irrespective of it being a phone, cigarette, CD, satnav, short skirt or any other distraction. That doesn't mean the ban is invalid. It simply means those who have chosen to ignore it continue to have accidents.

  19. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Flame

    In 2006 ...

    I bought a new phone, and they threw in a "free" bluetooth headset.

    Free.

    Since then, it never ceases to get my gander up to see people in £40,000 cars, on £600 phones, yakking away with no bluetooth.

    I'm not a big fan of Draco, but I would happily see offenders cars seized and auctioned. If you can't obey the law, you shouldn't be allowed a car.

    Only this Saturday, MrsP and I were shopping, and noticed a car (ironically it was BMW Mini - see above ;) ) which seemed to have a lot of problems parking ... in, out, in out. As we walked past we saw the reasonl The dozey woman driving it was yakking on her phone, so had to take her other hand off the wheel to change from first to reverse. Then she clamped the phone between shoulder so she could use 2 hands to steer, but then she couldn't turn her head properly, so couldn't see when she was lined up into the space.

    On most non-trivial (longer than 20 minutes) journey, it's rare not to see at least one person yakking away.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bear in mind this is a US study. US cars are mostly automatic and therefore easier to drive.

    1. Julian Bond

      USA

      Bear in mind this is California, where the most common accident is drivers driving into stationary objects.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: USA

        Other cars in queue or gridlock?

    2. John H Woods

      >>Bear in mind this is a US study. US cars are mostly automatic and therefore easier to drive.

      ... and a lot of their lanes are two cars wide! Should have seen the face of a US colleague when I was driving him down a country lane and a car came the other way. "What?" he shouted, "this is a one way road!" I assured him it wasn't but he really couldn't understand how a road only wide enough for one vehicle could have two-way traffic.

  21. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    Handheld vs hands-free

    Besides the obvious "banning didn't affect the use" comment, IIRC there were already studies which showed that whether using a mobile handheld or hands-free didn't really make a difference and both distracted the driver equally.

  22. Howard 1

    Having read the title...

    ...it wasn't hard to guess the name on the byline.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  23. Wyrdness

    Bans don't work unless they're enforced, and I don't see a lot of that happening in London.

    I was riding over the Brent Cross flyover this morning and passed a woman in a car who was holding her phone in front of her face and texting. When I hooted her, she put the phone down and gave me the finger. I was tempted to wait until the traffic stopped and then conduct a little experiment on whether a car wing mirror could stand up to the impact of a fist in a motorbike glove. Decided against it as there was another biker behind me and I didn't want to hold him up.

    1. bigtimehustler

      Yes, because taking the law into your own hands is a far safer and better solution. The most likely effect is you would have broken your hand, fell off your bike and caused a bigger accident than she ever would have. It's idiots like you that should be banned, those that get annoyed by things that are not actually affecting them, had she hit you, then get annoyed seeing as she didn't and probably wouldn't have, you have no reason to be angry at all.

      1. Lionel Baden

        @bigtimehustler

        No, i fully disagree with that comment. It is beyond stupid. Just to put it into another context.

        I suggest you would feel differently if somebody was beating the shit out of you and everybody walked past thinking it wasn't their problem.

        A better solution would be a pack of stickers you can slap on the window with "Get off your f*cking phone"

        Preferably with a highly acidic glue to etch itself onto the glass.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @bigtimehustler

          >No, i fully disagree with that comment.

          I suggest you would feel differently if somebody was beating the shit out of you - either physically or in court - because you used highly acidic glue to damage their car window.

          1. James 51 Silver badge

            Re: @bigtimehustler

            To make a dent on glass that would need to be a powerful acid. Probably HF and that is stuff you don't want to mess with.

      2. JDM

        Ironic you call him an idiot

        "It's idiots like you that should be banned, those that get annoyed by things that are not actually affecting them, had she hit you, then get annoyed seeing as she didn't and probably wouldn't have, you have no reason to be angry at all."

        This has to be the biggest load of sh*t I have read in a long time and it makes me angry that you feel this sh*t spewing out of you is justifiable. If someone points a gun at you and misses its ok because it didn't hit you and you should only get annoyed when you get shot?

        I do agree that taking off their wing mirror isn't a solution but he has every right to be annoyed about this. Even if they didn't knock him down I'm sure if they knocked down a friend/family member of yours you would be singing a different song.

        I got "knocked down" by a lady putting on her make up in the mirror and by "knocked down" I mean 3 broken ribs, 2 fractured, shattered pelvis, ruptured spleen, broken left arm and left leg and spent a year in hospital being completely bed ridden for three of those months. For what? So some lady could prep herself up for work and save herself ten minutes? Did I mention I was on the footpath? Car pulled out infront of the lady and she panicked, tried to hit the breaks and hit the accelerator instead, jamming me between 2 tons of steel and a concrete wall. Maybe if someone had taken off her wing mirror I wouldn't have my bones pinned together by steel rods and pins and be able to walk properly.

  24. Chad H.

    Not really a surprise. The problem never was, and still isn't, the handheld bit, its the distracted from your phone conversation bit.

  25. bigtimehustler

    I didn't really expect it to make a difference, it is no more distracting that talking to the passengers who are in the car with you. When it comes down to it, it's simply not possible to ban every possible distraction. The only thing that could cause accidents more with handheld talking is the actual physical holding of the phone, as the process of talking will always happen in some form. So if one handed driving is not significantly more dangerous, then the ban will always have been pointless. It has always been about a perception of it must be dangerous, rather than whether its actually more dangerous than anything else.

    1. Paul Shirley

      Even if we accepted the 'no more distracting' (presumably you have some wonder phone and carrier with perfect voice reproduction and no extra cognitive load just trying to decipher randomly garbled speech) *talking to a passenger is also a dangerous distraction*.

      The only reason it's not barred is because there's no possible way that could be enforced.

    2. Evil Auditor Silver badge

      "... it is no more distracting that talking to the passengers who are in the car with you"

      No.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WP8 "driving mode"

    (other phones and OSs are available).

    A neat inbuilt feature to my Lumia 620, is "Driving Mode", which is activated by pairing with a designated bluetooth device (in this case my cars BT radio). On pairing, you can set it to "Ignore Calls" and/or "Ignore texts" and to auto-text a reply along the lines of "I'm driving now, I will get back to you when I can". Doesn't stop you *making* calls, but certainly (IMHO) ups the safety factor.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WP8 "driving mode"

      also - if you have the headphone socket in use, such as when plugged into the car radio -if you receive a text on the 620, it offers to read the text out to you and listens for voice response. And you do have the option of telling it "ignore".

      This means it's easier for me to resist picking it up from the seat next to me next time the traffic flow is stationary. I also try and make sure whatever I'm listening to off my phone has a longer runtime than the time it takes for me to drive to (or back from) work.

    2. Dave Lawton

      Re: WP8 "driving mode"

      For everyone else there is DriveSafe.ly

  27. Marco Alfarrobinha
    Alert

    Solving the problem.

    I believe that I have solved the problem of talking and driving at the same time.

    Very simple, really. When I passed my test in 1995, I did not have a mobile, neither needed one, and I was able to drive from A to B without one.

    Nowadays I stick my "all bells and whistles" smartphone in my jeans pocket, and I drive away. No bluetooth, no hands-free kit, nothing. I pretend I don't have a phone while I am in control of car.

    I someone calls me, I can call them back later. Simple, really.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Solving the problem.

      Nowadays I stick my "all bells and whistles" smartphone in my jeans pocket, and I drive away. No bluetooth, no hands-free kit, nothing. I pretend I don't have a phone while I am in control of car.

      That may still get you arrested for driving without pants, though :)

    2. Slrman
      Thumb Up

      Re: Solving the problem.

      That's because you are a considerate, rational person. That also makes you in the minority. Good on ya, mate. Thanks for setting a good example.

  28. Agincourt and Crecy!

    Don't use it.

    I have a slightly different perspective. I was a paramedic for some time before moving into IT.

    I had the awful task of removing the body of a dead teenager killed by a distracted driver. It is over 20 years ago but I still remember the journey to A&E with him and then having to take him to the mortuary and place him in a body bag in a fridge.

    I don't care if you use your phone and kill yourself. Just do it on a road where there is nobody else around. Don't involve other innocent road users

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It does make a difference

    As a cop in Scotland, I can safely say that having followed a vehicle having identified the driver as using a mobile phone, the vehicle moved erratically and moved across the entire breadth of the lane which it occupied. The offside tires at one point crossed over onto the oncoming traffic. The driver when stopped admitted to using his phone both for a voicecall and then to text. In the days of touchscreen phones, you now have to look at the phone instead of using the physical buttons to text. Even glancing back at the road, how many times do you have to look at your screen?

    This is one example from dozens of cars I've stopped for using a phone and I'm not even a traffic cop.

    Now I'm sorry, but you can give me all your academical studies in existence. Using ANY form of device which distracts you from the road is dangerous.

    Realistically, if your eyes come off the road for a second regardless whether it's to check your phone, your Satnav, your radio, shout at the kids, then you are covering a large area of ground at speed without awareness of what's going on in front of you.

    Also, here's an interesting bit of info:

    Legal definitions in Scotland: A person is held to be driving a vehicle when he or she has control of the direction and speed of the vehicle.

    Stated cases support this, but even if you are pulled in at the side of the road, as long as you are sat in the drivers seat, you have that control and are held to be driving and are thus eligible for a Fixed Penalty Notice (£100 and 3 points) for using a phone.

    Not that it would ever be enforced mind you, but in the eyes of the law it can be. Same as the guy who was charged with being drunk in charge of a vehicle for being asleep on the back seat even though he'd put his keys on top of his back offside tire. :|

    1. Evil Auditor Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: It does make a difference

      Couldn't agree more (well, the case with the drunk in the backseat sounds rather silly though).

      Now for something completely off topic but as you being a Scottish cop, by any chance do you happen to be in Aberdeenshire? You know, your indeed very friendly colleagues in Fraserburgh still have a 35mm film roll or two of mine, which they were supposed to send me back about ten years ago... Guess I have to write them off, don't I? ;-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It does make a difference

        > your indeed very friendly colleagues in Fraserburgh still have a 35mm film roll or two of mine

        Oh aye ... the yins with the talcum powder, the ironing board and the herring?

  30. Jim 59

    Personally, I never use the phone at all in the car, despite having blue tooth. Not really sure why anyone would. Being lazy is much better.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Same here. I'm a lifelong geek, so naturally I've got no mates to talk to.

  31. Nifty

    Munich taxicab experiment

    The way the stats come out, this sounds a bit like the The Munich taxicab experiment (around the 1980s) where it was discovered that once cars had ABS fitted, the accident rate tended back to where it was to begin with, without the ABS

    http://www.chapmancentral.co.uk/wiki/road_safetyrisk_compensation

    The analogy being, you tighten up on the regulations/technology and the accident stats end up where they started.

    However I still don't want to return to a pre-ABS world.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trucks!

    ...what terrifies me on London streets is when I occasionally spot truck drivers who rather than watching where they are driving are instead looking down in their lap while they are busy texting...

    In London, I've come to learn, its not "Pedestrians", "Cyclists", "Car Drivers", "Cabbies", etc ... its just a big bunch of people who generally only give a sh*t about themselves.

  33. Bob Camp

    The human mind is weird

    I think that having a conversation with somebody in your car isn't too taxing for your brain. But if you have that same conversation with somebody over the phone, your brain suddenly zones out and forgets to pay attention to the road instead of the conversation. I think your brain is busy visualizing the person on the other end of the phone instead of the road in front of you (at least I and several others I've talked to have said the same thing). If that person were right in front of you, your brain wouldn't have to do that and could stay focused on the road.

    Yes, there are other distractions in your car that can cause accidents, but they are brief in nature. Adjusting the radio, fiddling with climate controls, and yelling at your kids only take a second or two. Phone conversations last minutes. The longer the distraction, the more likely it is to cause an accident.

    With texting, the brain isn't zoned out, but that distraction lasts a a few minutes because it's extremely difficult to type on a phone while looking at the road at the same time. After a few seconds of frustrating typing, you're tempted to look down at the phone for several seconds at a time just to get the text finished. And while your looking down, you're obviously not looking at the road.

    The handsfree kits are worthless. They don't address any of the concerns listed above. Phones are much more distracting than anybody realizes. That's why people ignore the ban, and that's why people who use handsfree kits still get into just as many accidents.

  34. Identity
    Boffin

    For any number of reasons

    I find this study suspect. It's plain that many people use phones in the car without having accidents. Also plain that people have accidents without using phones. Likewise, attention to driving, skill, conditions of all sorts [including not only road, but inebriation, traffic, light and so forth], amount of enforcement, etc. are all highly variable. The smaller the sample, the less likely it is to be accurate. Add to this, the caveats mentioned herein, and you've got one useless study — which even scientifically cannot be counted on unless replicated.

    I wonder who paid for this mess?

  35. RobHib
    Flame

    Hard to believe.

    If these figures are correct (which I find hard to believe) then the only explanation that makes sense is that those who are silly enough to text whilst driving haven't had the sense to stop when the rules came in--only those who know texting whilst driving is extremely dangerous and never did it at any time actually obeyed the rules.

    Personally, I find that even using a hands-free two-way transceiver in the car is distracting (as one concentrates on what's being said). As two-way transceiver conversations are generally shorter than mobile phone calls, it only increases my incredulity.

    BTW, I've nearly run over several people in the last year or so when they walked out into a busy four-lane road whilst texting on their smartphones completely oblivious of the traffic around them. Are you really expecting me to believe that people become much more aware of their surroundings whilst driving and simultaneously texting? Utter B.S. methinks!

  36. sisk Silver badge

    Personally I've always doubted the studies saying hands-free was as dangerous as holding a phone to your ear. After all talking hands-free should logically be not much different than carrying on a conversation with a passenger, and perhaps even a little safer because you nullify your instinct to look at the person you're talking to when they're not there. On the other hand it's pretty stinking obvious that you have less control over a vehicle when you're only using one hand on the steering wheel.

    Now texting and driving....That's the act of the stupid and the insane. Ditto for using whatever social media app is currently popular.

    Personally when I'm driving my phone stays either in my pocket, in the console storage cubby (if I have it plugged in to charge), or in the mount on my dash (if I'm using GPS, in which case I make my wife fiddle with any settings that need fiddled while I'm driving).

    1. Vic

      After all talking hands-free should logically be not much different than carrying on a conversation with a passenger

      It is.

      Compressed audio necessarily involves a delay. If this is <50ms, you won't notice.

      But when the delay is ~150ms, the conversation is significantly distracting.

      Next time you make a GSM call, think about the delay you're experiencing. It's not 50ms...

      Vic.

  37. PaulR79

    Ban driving

    The only way to stop all accidents with vehicles is to ban driving completely. Yes it will take a lot longer for everything and prices will likely fly through the roof but won't somebody think of the children? Except pedos who do that too much already.

  38. boece

    The ban would be far more credible...

    ... if the police were forced to abide by it. The police here in California are allowed - by the same law, no less - to hold their phones up to their ears, which they do quite often. The exemption is supposed to be for "emergency situations" but 99.9% of all cops I've seen using their mobiles are smiling and clearly chatting away happily scoffing at the law they have to enforce.

    Imagine how silly it appears for the same cop riding around chatting on their phone pulling you over FOR CHATTING ON YOUR PHONE. Howdy Officer Double-Standard!

    And they DO enforce the law. I was pulled over once not too long after the law passed and was given a warning but my wife got a ticket for the same thing.

    The point in any case isn't the endless debate over whether we should or should not be allowed to use our phones while driving but rather assuming IF we are being allowed to use them why have yet more nanny-state impositions on how we are to speak into our cell phones and that it makes a verifiable material difference in being able to hold the phone to your ear vs. fumbling around for your wired headset (I hate the godawful Bluetooth set douchebaggery and most people do). Given we're barreling down the road in a two-ton metallic death machine I think ultimately we should always have two hands on the wheel but if the law permits it, the law permits it.

  39. WereWoof
    Joke

    Starman: Red means Stop, Green means Go, Yellow means GO LIKE HELL!!

  40. Catweazle666

    No surprise there

    That's because nobody takes a blind bit of notice of it.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ABU DHABI // A dramatic fall in traffic accidents this week has been directly linked to the three-day disruption in BlackBerry services.

    In Dubai, traffic accidents fell 20 per cent from average rates on the days BlackBerry users were unable to use its messaging service. In Abu Dhabi, the number of accidents this week fell 40 per cent and there were no fatal accidents.

    Sauce: http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/blackberry-cuts-made-roads-safer-police-say

  42. david 12 Silver badge

    non comparable statistics

    One of the studies I read 20 years ago found that mobile phone use was comparable to drunk-driving: but ignored the fact that drunk drivers are drunk for the entire journey, mobile phone users are effectively 'drunk' only while making a call.

    Another study derived usage figures by observations in [a location that higher than normal mobile phone users] at a time of day that had [higher than than normal mobile phone usage].

    I think that both those studies gave false figures for the total expected benefit of banning phone use while driving, But they also implied a false figure for how much pain the enforcement would cause.

    If the number of accidents caused by mobile phone users is small only because sensible people don't use their phone much while driving, then this relatively harmless law is doing good while not causing much inconvenience to many people.

  43. Dave Howe

    Problem is...

    Observance of the ban seems near non-existent - I have seen people breeze past me at all speeds - from the 20mph zone around Manchester residential areas, to the motorway - with phone firmly clamped to one side of their head and frequent looks down into the passenger seat.

    Before we can measure impact, we have to see at least SOME attempt at compliance.

  44. Slrman

    Could it be?

    Banning talking and texting on phones has no effect because people are doing it anyway? Maybe people that are most likely to do it are the ones that may be careless drivers anyway?

    Here in Brazil, the same ban exists but I see people driving and using their phones every day. Only yesterday, I observed someone stopped in the middle of a narrow street, blocking traffic.

    With three cars behind him he would glance into his rear view mirror when anyone blew their horn but kept talking and blocking the street anyway. He knew we were there but didn't care.

    In a way, it was good that he at least stopped. Obviously, he was an arrogant person that didn't care about anyone else and might have been a bad driver without the phone.

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