Posting in Technology
Fleet managers deploying new hands-free efficiency technologies, as well as automotive company focus on smart vehicle systems should watch developments closely.
Sounds like the feds are getting more serious about the issue of using your mobile phone to text or talk while driving. Although 38 states have already passed laws that regulate the use of cell phones while behind the wheel -- part of their efforts to cut back on distracted driving -- U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has renewed his calls for a federal law to ban the practice.
According to several articles covering a speech made by LaHood at a distracted driving summit in Texas, the transportation secretary believes a separate law is necessary for mobile phones because of the explosion in usage and the because it believes there were at least 3,000 fatal traffic accidents in 2011 directly related to mobile phones.
A Reuters article covering LaHood's speech quoted his rationale: "Everyone has a cell phone and too many of us think it is OK to talk on our phones while we are driving."
I don't think any one of us would argue against the need for people to apply more common sense while they are driving. Chances are, you have almost been sideswiped on the highway by someone glancing down at a text while they should be watching the road. And admit it, you've probably sneaked a peek yourself while stopped at a traffic light. Smack yourself, would you?
But the federal push against this practice could have broader implications for in-vehicle technologies that are being installed by fleets in order to improve efficiency and for voice-activated in-vehicle systems being installed by automakers. If the laws are written too broadly, many of these smart systems could fall under the mobile phone and gadget ban.
During his speech LaHood commented that the transportation department is studying the impact of hands-free devices quite closely, according to the Reuters article. Apparently, LaHood has personally called major automotive CEOs to urge them to "think twice" before putting too many Internet-connected devices into cars, the article reported.
This is nowhere near a law, yet, but it's another example of how innovation often outpaces the ability of society and human behavior to manage it.
(Image courtesy of Stock.xchng)
Apr 29, 2012
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This problem is not about how many lives can be saved, this has to with the division of powers between the state and the federal goverment. We have not given the federal goverment our right to regulate us in this area. The state can legistrate laws in this area. If they pass laws to ban phone use in cars, that's fine. If they don't pass laws to ban phone use in cars, that's also fine.
What is wrong with these people who post here? Eating while driving is certainly not distracting !. I used to do this in the seventies on my way from job to attend evening college. It was a mechanical function that your body executed with out requiring any use of conscious mind. Talking can be distracting, especially when one can't do so without moving their head to look at the person addressed. I used to put on some 20,000 miles annually with only weekend and long trips. I was never comfortable holding a conversation while going 75 / 80 mph on a busy highway. Talking on the mobile phone is an altogether different beast. In a study in UK they have found that 60 % of all road accidents could be attributed to the driver talking on a cell phone while driving. They also found that when a person talks on the phone he / she develops tunnel vision and loses ALL peripheral vision which is so critical for safe driving, Texting takes the cake. You literally have to take your eyes off the road to see what you are typing. I have yet to see a single TOUCH TYPIST so far as cell phones are concerned. In my opinion talking on the cell phone or texting should be banned and be treated at par with any other moving violation with heavy fines and losing one's license for repeat offenders. BTW there is something else that does not make sense to me. If I do not use seat belts I am NOT increasing the risk of an accident nor am I becoming a danger to others on the road. I am doing so only to myself and only in the event of an accident. Texting while driving drastically increases the risk of an accident and it also endangers others on the road. There is no opposition to the first but stupidly enough against the latter. Or perhaps this only happens in America !!!
This is already law in Australia backed up by research on the risk of talking on the phone while driving. Talking with someone else in the car while driving can also be distracting but, at least in theory, passengers can tell when drivers need to concentrate.
Given a car can kill both the occupant and other road users (sometimes even those off the road) I think it is more than reasonable for the authorities to ban the use of distacting technologies while cars are being driven. How happy would you be if people with guns were having a chat to their mate while waving a loaded weapon around? Given the 3000 fatalities directly attributable to technology use while in control of a vehicle, I think there is sufficient justification for the ban. I would be interested to see if there were that many firearm fatalities in the US for an entire year. If there were the anti-gun lobby would be banging down the doors of Congress. If people can't behave responsibly while in control of a vehicle then the legislators need to protect the public and even the idiots. Remember, a key in the ignition is like putting a round in the chamber ready for discharge. If you want to kill someone, maybe yourself, then go ahead but don't involve me in your fatality!
I have a blue tooth headset and a voice recognition app on my phone that works pretty darn good. I make calls and am still looking ahead with both hands on my wheel. There are no problems. I even have a magic jack if I want to talk and receive over my radio. We don't need to legislate everything under the sun. We have enough regulations already. We have enough abuses of our contstitution. The states will decide this but frankly you arrest the person texting and it is already against the law. There is nothing wrong with talking on the phone. I need to be productive and sitting in a car and doing nothing is not productive. The totatly irresponsible person is texting while driving. We should not all have to pay for the sins of the many. More regulations does not mean that the issue will get resolved. Regulations don't solve all our problems !
This can easily be done by the phone manufactures. If the phone senses motion (say more than 10 miles/hour), then texting would be impossible..Law makers should lookat this solution.
I remember the first ticket against Illinois' no texting law January 2011. Middle of the night a cop pulled over a driver first for improper lane use. Then the cop saw he was texting. It didn't take long for the cop to notice the driver was hammered. And then no license because it was revoked for multiple previous DUIs. And then no insurance (required in IL) because his license was revoked. Was the no texting law necessary for that arrest? I've evaded crashes from drivers not paying attention to the road while carrying on animated conversations with front seat passengers, and worse, mothers ignoring the road while yelling at and looking at their kids in the back seat. Should there be a no talking law? A no looking back law? How can you tell if a driver is looking at her kids in the back seat or looking out a rear window to see what's in the next lane or behind her? I once had a near miss from a guy eating soup with a spoon while driving. And I've lost count of the number of people I've seen using the rear view mirror to do makeup with the right hand and smoking a cigarette held in the left. On the other hand, yakking on the phone while cruising light traffic roads helps keep me more alert than just staring out the windshield and being hypnotized by the same scenery and passively listening to the radio or iPod. It's impossible to list all possible stupid things drivers do, and a no cell phone law is a good example of unenforceable overkill letting most violators go unhindered while the few stops for cell phone use would most likely nail drivers doing nothing unsafe. The states probably already have distracted driving laws. Do we need a law explicitly prohibiting smoking a cigarette while working on makeup in the rear view mirror, or should we trust police to stop and judges to convict for dangerous behavior in a moving vehicle? Why should stupid phone or iPod use be any different?
I use my cell in the car, have a handsfree installation, and when needed, I do pull over to talk. I realize how easy it is to get into accident. But some users are totally irresponsible--case in point--a woman talking on the phone and driving a big SUV ran a traffic light and could have plowed right into me if I did not, for some reason (maybe God's protection/guardian angel), paused before making the turn--when she drove by, I looked at her, and it seemed that she was totally oblivious to having ran the red light--and was still gesturing and seemingly very involved in her phone call. Such should not happen.
It appears that common sense is both uncommon and in short supply. No amount of legislation will change that. Personally, I consider that texting while driving is irresponsible and downright dangerous. The offender should have their driver's license pulled on the spot and the car towed away. Harsh? Yes, but nowhere near as harsh as two police officers advising a victim's family that their loss was a result of this type of behaviour.
Using cell phones when you should be focusing on the road is just wrong and unsafe. When you're having a conversation with someone, you're paying attentipon to what they say and not what the driver in the next lane is doing. If the conversation is realy yhay important, pull over for two minutes and work it out. Don't endanger the lives of the rest of us on the road around you. Or of those crossing the street in front of you.
If it is banned they must be required to ban all usage. No exceptions for Gov, Police, Fire, Politician, multi-million executives, etc. Every (almost) police force in the country has laptops, cell phones in use in the front seat with only one officer in the vehicle and the officer is driving. One more case of nanny state!
We have at least decades of history regarding what happens when the Federal Government prohibits something. Anyone wishing for an end to the war on drugs can hang it up for now. The Farm Bill continues to offer hefty subsidies for Cotton, a crop that hemp would replace. What are the odds of that happening, when so many Federal dollars are at stake? Prohibitions turn into fiscally escalating conundrums. Let's grow up and try driving like our life depended on iy...oh, yeah-IT DOES!
How many accidents are caused by people smoking, eating, or drinking while driving? How about fiddling with the radio? Those are far more dangerous activities than merely talking. And it's not a "federal" issue either, except perhaps for the instant that someone is crossing a state line. It's up to the states to decide.
Where is the next federal intrusion? Anyone with a brain should realize that texting is dangerous just as looking for a street address on a map while driving. Can we expect banning eating while driving or how about listening to music or maybe talking to the person next to us? All of these are distractions that may contribute to an accident. The problem is two fold - lack of critical thinking skills and no common sense. One cannot regulate either of these nor can one regulate stupid behavior. Leanne Hoagland-Smith
If I'm talking to another person in the car or listening to the radio, I still have my eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel. When talking on the phone or texting, you have one hand on the phone and (maybe) one hand on the wheel and are likely focused more on the conversation in your ear not the other cars sharing the road. If you want to wreck your car and put yourself in the hospital (or worse) in order to chat with your sister about her day, that's fine with me, but leave me out of it. Unfortunately, it's the innocent drivers, bike riders, or pedestrians that get hurt for other's lack of common sense.
Almost daily, I see lone police officers driving down the road, while keying license plates numbers into a laptop, to see if any of the cars around them are behind on their vehicle emmissions testing. I guess that isn't distracted driving. I can make calls, ( and text ) without having to touch my android phone while driving utilizing a few apps. I see people eating, changing clothes, nursing a child, reading newspapers and magazine, and doing things better left to the bedroom regularly. Map readers and GPS staring people are very dangerous. What distracts me the most though are those people with obnoxious audio systems that are so loud my vehicle resonates to their "music" and requires that I would have to shout to those in the car with me for them to hear me. And they are worried about short hands free bluetooth phone calls.
To enfoce a ban on not eating while driving does that mean a ban on drive thrus? If drive thrus remain will the containers be tamper proof so they can only be opened in a safe location? Would open container laws be extended to all drinks? Will being arrested on a DWI stand for driving while ingesting?
You agree that texting whilst driving is stupid so I suppose you're not doing it anyway. Then what's the problem? If you prohibit it, aren't you in fact regulating stupid behavior? Isn't that the whole purpose? So that "people with common sense" shouldn't be agitated by those "who lack critical thinking skills"? Or do you want to solve the problem by calling them stupid every time you pass them. I don't want to be rude but I'm not following you. You are against the problem but also against regulating the problem?
...we should mandate that all cars be like those old-time limos where the drivers were outside and totally separated from the passengers. Other than basic controls for the function of the vehicle, there would be no distractions for the driver.
I can both respond to texts and phone calls and never, ever take my hands off the wheel with my phone and car audio system. The phone interacts with the audio system to allow me to initiate and answer calls without the need to even look at the phone screen. Everything is through audio prompts and my vocal response. Text replies are handled by dictating into the audio system, and phone translates my words into text (Windows Phone Mango). So, now, am I in the same category as the others to whom you are referring? Most of the data that is always quoted about highway statistics makes no distinction as to whether the person using the cell phone was using a hands-free device or not, or whether they were texting or answering a phone call. So, much like the debate over drugs in this country, we don't seem to want to talk about behaviors, but rather to simply set universal policies that deal with everything in that category in exactly the same way. (There is a limited set of data that deals with the concept of hands-free driving safety that does conclude that it does distract the driver more than an in-car discussion, but the data is limited, and there is no connection to whether the difference is meaningful in actual on-road driving). So, the real question should be, do we ban ALL distractions (and yes, I believe that includes in-car stereos, the DVD systems that are so very popular with the mini-van set (have you ever seen the driver performing advanced gymnastics moves trying to retrieve or change the DVD the toddlers are watching while hurtling down the road at 70 MPH?), GPS devices with screens or keyboards, eating at the wheel, etc.), or do we really investigate which technologies result in strong reductions to distraction and promote them with the manufacturers? Additionally, suppose that 10,000 people died last year while the driver was leaning over, adjusting the radio dial or the volume or changing the CD. Could an accident investigator tell? We have absolutely no data on what risk for accident fatalities any activity represents in driving today, except for alcohol and drug use, and speeding. Again, the scant research that has been done is not real-world testing, uses a very distinct subset of drivers, and has not been validated against accident statistics (because there aren't any). Personnally, I am all for safety. I actually like the speed limit restrictions that we have been promoting and then repealing repeatedly in the last thirty or forty years. But banning cell phones on the road is silly. It is a draconian measure that doesn't actually address the problem. The problem isn't the technology, it is in how we use it, and how we accomodate the changes in our own interactions. Some of that we can design around and come up with products that circumvent a lot of the problems that arise. But a lot of it is behavioral. It is in HOW we use the technology. We don't even do drivers' education in any meaningful way any longer. We need to get back to better behavior behind the wheel, and I mean that in more ways than just technology use. Until we get serious about educating people on driving and what things constitute focussed driving, we will have this problem with ALL technology.
I use a Bluetooth hands free device. I have no desire to carry on an extended conversation while driving. Emergencies and short question and answer messages to seek or confirm a detail are all that are necessary for me. I believe that anyone with more than a short message should pull over and stop. It's already the law in NYS to use a hands free device but I still see people yaking on the cell phone, up to their ear, totally oblivious to me and other drivers. Quite honestly it scares me. In this day and age, driving requires 100% attention to the road especially on high speed and high traffic roads. All of this being said, I disagree totally with the proposed law as contemplated. In fact my inclination is to leave it to the states to take care of this although I have some reservation because NY is a terrible nanny state.