Smartphone in car

The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that states ban the use of cell phones and other portable electronic devices by drivers of vehicles, except for in an emergency. That doesn't mean you have to immediately stop using your Android smartphone for navigation or music playback -- there's still some legislating that needs to be done for that to happen. But a recommendation from the NTSB certainly holds some water.

Here's the crux of the recommendation:

The safety recommendation specifically calls for the 50 states and the District of Columbia to ban the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices (other than those designed to support the driving task) for all drivers. The safety recommendation also urges use of the NHTSA model of high-visibility enforcement to support these bans and implementation of targeted communication campaigns to inform motorists of the new law and heightened enforcement.

The recommendation stems from a crash in Missouri in 2010 that involved a pickup truck, two school busses and a teenage driver who apparently had sent 11 text messages in as many minutes before the crash, which killed two and injured 38. 

It's tough to say that phones don't distract drivers -- they most certainly can. But is a blanket ban too much? And would it even be effective?

Source: NTSB; via Associated Press

 
There are 146 comments

jocrazi says:

There needs to be a stronger enforcement of the current laws, not a new one.

turbofan says:

I agree 100%. If a law isn't working, it seems people have the mindset that we need a new law. NO. That stupid kid was breaking an EXISTING law. Making a new law would only make things worse.

I will never stop using my phone for navigation. If they pass a blanket law and some cop tries to give me grief for using my phone as just a GPS, I will go to court. It's garbage.

And what existing law did he break?

bdfull3r says:

it is illegal to text and drive in most US states

onezerofive says:

Calls should only be allowed through a headset or Bluetooth device...

However, for funzies, I'll contradict myself...

A phone call only requires one hand to operate, and realistically there's no visual distraction (phone is against your head). Holding your phone in one hand (driving with the other) poses no added distraction than eating a burrito in the car, adjusting your rear view mirror, looking back to tell your kids to shut the hell up, checking your watch, putting on make-up (for gals or the funny guys who enjoy theater), or even jamming out to music...

Some might argue that talking on the phone pulls attention away from driving.. but really, isn't food falling on your lap from that burrito worse? Your eyes leave the street and move to your lap, where your flailing hand (the one that has the burrito) is trying to scrap off the food, which only causes more food to fall on you... thus your eyes are off the road even longer, now frustrating you enough to take your driving hand off the wheel to pick up that piece of chicken, cause we all know that grilled chicken ain't going out the window... maybe the piece of rice, but not that chicken... are the burrito distracted your eyes, the phone call (not talking about txt, emails, or web surfing) did not... so do they make burrito eating illegal? maybe they should...

Or how bouts that rear view mirror.. sure, it's off a hair. Can be considered dangerous not to have it just perfect.. so you take one hand off the wheel to adjust, focusing your full eye contact off the road to the mirror to make perfect... didn't realize that the car your tailgating just ran over someone's burrito wrapper, which picked up a nail... that guy slammed on his breaks.. you? you ran into his car butt because you had to move that mirror... The mirror was a visual distraction, again the phone call was not.. do you make mirror adjusting illegal? maybe you should...

Kids won't shut the hell up; got that new Barney DVD with the songs about baseball on it... you find this ridiculous cause dinosaurs can't even play baseball... their arms aren't long enough.. Plus a purple dinosaur is much more likely to be into arts & crafts, so you don't believe it... makes sense. but to no prevail, the kids love the baseball Barney song.. Katie doesn't like how Bobby is harmonizing; Bobby's upset that culture club broke up before he was born.. and all hell brakes loose... you reach back to slap a hoe, and what? Eddie Murphy sticks a banana in your tail pipe and you all explode... The kids caused your eyes & attention to move off the road, causing Eddie's shenanigans... Are kids illegal? Maybe they should be...

okay... tired of typing now....

: )

Kmcferrin says:

Nailed it.

I think that using portable electronic devices that are not hands-free while driving should definitely be outlawed. But as you pointed out, literally EVERYTHING that someone does while driving that isn't actually driving will distract them from driving. Talking on my car's hands-free phone system is just as distracting as talking to someone sitting in the passenger seat, but you can't outlaw that, can you?

There really just needs to be a blanket law covering distracted driving with clear provisions for reckless behavior. Talking on the phone using hands-free headset or in-car system: reasonable behavior to mitigate the impact of distraction. Talking to the passenger: reasonable behavior with minimal distraction. Texting someone or watching videos: reckless endangerment. Putting on makeup while driving: reckless endangerment. Reading a newspaper while driving (I've seen it!): reckless endangerment. Then you throw in vehicular homicide for cases where the reckless endangerment causes a death and nail those bastards to the wall. Problem solved.

Make the laws flexible enough that a judge has reasonable discretion and let it go at that.

icebike says:

I agree, as I've pointed out below in other postings.

Forcing people off of the voice call pushed them onto the "clandestine texting" from their lap, with eyes off the road.

The cure was worse than the disease.

crzycrkr says:

It's only illegal to text while driving if you are under 21 in Missouri

Correct, but that didn't go into effect until August 28th, 2011.

Missouri had no such law in 2010, so my question remains.

icebike says:

Interestingly enough, just the other day there was a story about cell use in cars increasing, but cell related deaths are down.

And by cell use they meant by the driver, not the passengers.

This problem is blown way out of proportion if you ask me.

Traffic deaths are at an all time low in 2010 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Admin. Yet self reports of texting while driving are seemingly increasing.

Forcing people off of voice calls has made many revert to surreptitious texting below the level of windows. At least with a phone call they could keep an eye on traffic. With texting they can't even do that.

xemtra says:

seriously, calls should be allowed, but abviously texting and browsing and emails shouldnt be allowed.

They changed the law here in Illinois, so now texting while driving is illegal, as is using a cell phone in any capacity in a work zone. They need to differentiate between people sending text messages and those of us using it for navigation purposes. That should be exempt-what's next, outlaw standalone GPS devices?

icebike says:

Prohibiting Cell phones in a work zone is a hold over from the days when it was thought cell phones could trigger blasting caps.

onezerofive says:

changed locations, cause I'm all about realistate... which is why i'm broke...

backbeat says:

You're "broke" because you cannot even spell "realistate" [sic] correctly. Karma's a bitch.

Hands-free only though.

mputtr says:

ban idiot children and adults that drive distracted, not the use of cellphones in general.
It's not the device's fault if the operator is distracted and stupid enough to be using it when they're driving. That's like saying ban books while driving because it caused a car crash thanks to the idiot that's driving trying to sneak in passages as he/she was driving......

America needs to learn to be responsible for their idiots before they blame devices or other objects.

rohneas says:

Agreed. Distractions come in many forms. Before texting, there was reading the paper, books (as you mention), and I've even seen someone going through papers.

drathos says:

I saw a laptop mount for a steering wheel in a catalog a while back.

I've also seen women holding a cigarette in one hand looking in the mirror and putting makeup with the other and steering with their knees. (hate to generalize it, but I don't typically see men putting on makeup - in the car or otherwise).

Plenty of things stupid people do to distract themselves when they should be driving that don't involve phones in any way.

84guy says:

i saw a man doing makeup while driving. i lol'd

No one is blaming the device. This suggestion is to make a state law that would do exactly what you just suggested. Ban distracted driving, specifically caused by using your cell phone while driving.

Robbzilla says:

Ban teen drivers.

Lee_R3D says:

Ban generalizations. Or ban irresponsible drivers, in general.

backbeat says:

Ban "teen drivers" of ALL ages!

Jesse Potter says:

Middle ground = project Angry Birds onto my windshield.

bdfull3r says:

using a phone is dangerous and a distracting. We all know the studies and statistics on texting while driving. I am more then willing to bet they are similar to some one checking and email or update their status.

http://roundupdaily.com/news/article_9bf84fca-19e1-11e1-b189-0019bb30f31...

i don't think all smartphone use should be banned. Music playing and GPS should be acceptable uses but only when configured while a stand still powered down vehicle. While the vehicle is motion the smartphone should not be touched unless for a call. In my opinion anyways

davidr521 says:

You're missing the point.

They're recommending outlawing cell phone use *completely* while driving.

No they aren't. Re read it.

icebike says:

Music playing and GPS should be acceptable uses but only when configured while a stand still powered down vehicle.

Seriously?

So now your claiming that you not only have to pull over and park, but you have to SHUT OFF the engine to set your route on the GPS?

I'm fully capable of keeping my foot firmly planted on the brake and tap something into my phone. If you find this difficult, then perhaps you shouldn't be driving at all.

backbeat says:

Are you not aware that EXISTING law can convict you of driving recklessly or drunk if your keys are in the ignition without the vehicle running? Get your sh1t straight before reaching false conclusions.

Which is ridiculous stretch of circumstances. If someone is drunk and gets in their own car to sleep it off that doesn't equal "driving".

backbeat says:

Not a stretch of circumstances in the least. It is the law which allows you to be convicted under these circumstances. Been that way for over a generation. Suck it up, kid. Welcome to Adulthood-101.

ScottJ says:

So you are advocating taking a ridiculous standard applied to DUI and extending it to mobile devices? Brilliant.

backbeat says:

Lack of personal responsibility behind the wheel should be penalized. When that lack reaches critical mass, the ban-hammer gets thrown. No one to blame but those in the mirror.

ScottJ says:

You didn't address the question posed. Do you support defining the law such that people have to stop their cars, turn off the ignition and remove the keys before they can make changes to their GPS? That's the question at hand.

backbeat says:

It may be your question, but it is not what is being proposed. Another swing and a miss.

tronthedon says:

wraith404 says:

Yeah, that is BS. If they go this far, they best ban all windshield/dash mounted GPS and music devices or the distinction is illegitimate. If I can't use my Android then no one should be able to use a Garmin, TomTom, etc device either. Let these police state crack pots fight all that lobbying too.

pseudoelf says:

Another problem is that the time you spend waiting for that second traffic light is still technically driving.... They will not be making a provision for that.... I have trouble believing that I am endangering any one by checking my smart phone while at a stand still waiting on traffic.

Also are they going to ban conversations with your passenger, yelling at the kids, listening to the radio, etc...

muggy says:

Wholeheartedly agree with stronger enforcement.

If texting while driving is as bad/worse than drunk driving, then the penalty needs to reflect that.

A blanket ban obviously kills a lot of the functionality of having a cell phone, as long as people aren't pecking on their phones while driving I can accept it.

Seeing all the accidents is horrible, even the guy going slow in the fast lane with a phone to his ear irritates me to hell.

CroMacster says:

Speeding in general is worse than drunk driving. It causes more accidents and more deaths.

What needs to happen is harsher penalties, let people do whatever the hell they want in a car.

Speeding: 1000$ minimum
Accident caused by speeding, distraction, cell phone, etc...:5000$ plus damages
Death in accident caused by causes above: 10,000$ fine, damages, possibly jail time.

Making more laws doesn't do anything. I see more people texting these days than I ever have and its illegal now. If I get a speeding ticket for 100-200$, it sucks but it doesn't ruin me, if its 1000+ that's a whole different story. The same should go with using a cell phone.

Harsher penalties, not more regulation.

coman says:

so rich people have more rights than the poor?

a loss of $200 could ruin some people and a loss of $50,000 wouldn't matter to others

wslytoy says:

How about we ban radios... and putting on make up... and drinking drinks... and anything else that can possibly distract you from looking straight ahead like a robot.

ScottJ says:

I recently had a fender bender because I looked down to get a handful of popcorn at the wrong moment. The traffic ahead of me suddenly stopped and I ended up skidding into the bumper of a Volvo. No damage was done really, just embarrassment. It really could happen to anyone who looks away for just a second at the wrong time.

wraith404 says:

Yep, we better ban eating in the car too.

ScottJ says:

However, if I put my hands at 10 and 2 and just stare straight ahead, I start to zone out. That can lead to accidents as well. There's no magic bullet, but surely texting we can all agree should be banned, because unless you are looking up after every letter you type, your attention will be pulled away for a considerable amount of time.

pseudoelf says:

woah.... You mean 9 and 3.. 10 and 2 is sooooo pre airbag. You might injure your wrists and get worse airbag burns.... The world will end, dogs will fly.......pigs will bark.....

hmmm says:

Good luck enforcing it. (I was inputting navigation voice commands Officer, really) I am sure counties would LOVE the increased revenue from the tickets given out though. Texting is already against the law where I am from and people still do it.

This would just lead to people hiding their GPS below dash level and and having to take their eyes off the road to look at it so they don't get caught.

Laxidasical says:

Under the current wording this would also ban GPS devices.

QUOTE: (other than those designed to support the driving task)

No it wouldn't.

VagrantRadio says:

"Investigators also found significant problems with the brakes of both school buses involved in the accident. A third school bus sent to a hospital after the accident to pick up students crashed in the hospital parking lot when that bus' brakes failed."

Ban faulty school bus brakes!

wraith404 says:

Even better, ban school buses. We all know those things are the leading cause of traffic congestion.

n0obpr0 says:

and fat kids in America

Cesar29 says:

Ban cars then no one will get hurt!

rohneas says:

Not quite. I've seen stupid people walk into signs and bridge support columns because they were texting while walking!

orlanka says:

Yet they are creating cars now that become mobile hot spots.
How many accidents have been caused by people messing with their radio?
How many accidents have been caused by a parent while they are assisting or disciplining a child in the backseat?

The NTSB has a difficult task, there's no doubt there, but until we have smarter people behind the wheel, we're no better off than before we had mobile phones.

davidr521 says:

My ex leaned down to light her cigarette in her car. When she looked up, traffic was stopped.

She caused a 5-car pile-up on the highway.

G.murph says:

I can't tell where the NTSB stands on hands-free operation. According to the AP the ban "applies to both hands-free and hand-held phones," but according to CNN, "It would not apply to hand-free devices or to passengers." So which is it? Can anyone point me to a definitive source?

dk21 says:

I support this as long as some things are taken into consideration. I do believe that it is acceptable to use turn-by-turn navigation and hands-free technology, but it irritates me to no end when I see a teenager staring at their phone texting while driving. The fact that adults don't know any better really bothers me.

If you want to put your own life at risk, fine, but think about everyone else's life you are jeopardizing.

deedemarco says:

Might as well ban GPS, eating while driving, small annoying kids. These are distracting to. Or people could learn some skill and learn how to drive and if you can't handle it, don't do it!

hmmm says:

I get really embarrassed when I eat(or drink from a huge fast food cup) in the car. I always hide the burger until no one is along side me.

davidr521 says:

Good.

Because the burgers will kill you.

romma says:

d) Ban government intrusion..

youareme7 says:

100 internets to you good sir or maam. I'm glad someone said it.

Qharisma says:

Yep .... I'm on board with this ........ Unfortunately everyone isn't nearly as responsible as some of the people that have responded here ...... I mean every car has seatbelts ... Yet not 100% of folks use them ....... And its the law...... Same concept if you ask me ....... Sure some if not many will break the new law .... But I'm willing to bet a large majority will not .... Thus saving lives and insurance premiums ......... Personally I've seen too many near misses to want to be around for the real thing........ We should really be banning cigarettes and legalizing marijuana anyway ......

ehiggins says:

The ntsb has been telling the faa to change rest rules since the 70s...they just report causes and provide recommendations the ntsb, unfortunately has no power.

rohneas says:

I think the problem needs to be dealt with by looking at the driver's actions on the road and not the device. I've seen people that can handle talking on a cell phone while driving. I've seen people that can't stay in their own lane while texting, eating, drinking, talking on the phone, adjusting the radio, etc.

The banning all cellphone idea is a slippery slope. Next it will be two-way radios (ham radios, CBs, business radios). I've seen many drivers use those safely. I know from ham radio experience that, like my droid, there are things I shouldn't and don't mess with while driving.

Drivers need to be responsible for their actions and know when to put down the phone (or mic, food, etc.) and concentrate on driving; drivers also need to understand that certain things need to wait for a stop (perhaps in a parking lot) to be messed with. Drivers that can't show that level of responsibility should be dealt with appropriately.

And these things are sensitive to context - driving in a central business district when there are pedestrians around is different than driving on a freeway in a rural area (etc.).

As much as I hate to say this, I agree. I think completely banning it would simplify the issue, or at least to differentiate. Sucks but umm... suck it up?

It only takes one douchebag to screw things up...

How can this be enforced short of a 100% ban? How can a police officer tell the difference between someone texting, someone changing the song on their music app, or someone using their Navigation map? All the Officer will see is someone looking at their phone and playing around with it.

I think we about to see who has the biggest and well paid lobbyist.

yellowmac says:

that's not going to happen then the police shouldn't beable to use there laptops either

jeffmoline says:

Someone needs to fill up that gas tank!

drsyn2666 says:

If we are going to do this, then we should outlaw eating food in the car, any talking in the car, and my biggest distraction no Kids in the car. people do research on what they want to highlight. How about all the accidents caused by people eating their big mac with one hand and driving with their knee. Tragic as it was, the crash was not the fault of the cell phones. "cell phones don't drive cars, people do!" :-)

mcaveli says:

Maybe the NTSB should get all of the states to ban driving while intoxicated, oh wait that has already been done. I guess the high ranking official there at the NTSB didn't get the memo.

sgt50 says:

Hey why we are at it, lets ban makeup, shavers, mirrors, radios, dropping crap in the floor board, kids eating in cars, kids in cars and people eating while driving. Point is they are all distractions, but our illustrious federal government, you know the ones who brought you mandantory health care, thinks they know what is best, of course these are the same people that run, AmTrack, U.S. Post Office, General Motors, Fannie and Freddie Mac, so I think they know what they are doin when they are looking out for the citizen. NOT............

ScottJ says:

In the 50's, 40,000 - 50,000 people a year were killed in cars. Now it's something like 15,000, with a bigger population. Why? It's because government forced the car manufacturers to make safer cars.

You can bitch about government all you want. It seems to be in vogue these days. The fact is that the NTSB has saved countless lives over the last several decades. I was in a massive car accident as a teen. My life was saved by a seat belt that I was only wearing due to a recently passed law. I didn't like the law at the time. I railed against it, spouting the libertarian profundities you hear ideologues drag out from time to time, but the law saved my life. There's no getting around that fact.

wraith404 says:

That doesn't invalidate the fact that eating, shaving, applying make up, reading the morning newspaper, or drinking your coffee are MORE distracting than having a phone mounted to the dashboard acting as a GPS. They need to ban those things first.

ScottJ says:

"That doesn't invalidate the fact that eating, shaving, applying make up, reading the morning newspaper, or drinking your coffee are MORE distracting than having a phone mounted to the dashboard acting as a GPS."

Yes, but they aren't banning use of a phone as a GPS. Read the article.

youareme7 says:

Distracted driving is distracted driving. These laws ALREADY EXIST. More redundant laws aren't going to improve things. People that only do safety related things because it's the law are the people that figure out new and inventive ways to get themselves killed.

ScottJ says:

"More redundant laws aren't going to improve things."

I never said they would. Why do people always try to argue against things you never said? It's the strawman fallacy. It's rampant on discussion boards.

"People that only do safety related things because it's the law are the people that figure out new and inventive ways to get themselves killed."

I don't care if they get themselves killed. I care if they kill me.

Even though I vigorously oppose the NTSB on this issue I definitely agree with you on the good the NTSB has done in the past. Sometimes I wonder what kind of world some of these uber-libertarians what to live in?

ScottJ says:

I too voted 'No' in the ban poll. I think they should enforce the existing laws. Blanket laws are just legislative laziness.

These neo-libertarians who somehow think their anti-government ideology would solve all of our problems are getting seriously annoying. They haven't thought things through. Beliefs based on ideology, in general, are unworkable whether it be communism or it's opposite.

U need gas...

aggie says:

This ban is likely proposed by the same idiots that want to ban gun ownership because they think that guns kill people. The government has as much of a responsibility to properly enforce the current laws as they are currently intended as we the consumers have to use the devices in a responsible manner. Guns nor smartphones kill people. People kill people. I strongly agree with rules governing the use of smartphones while driving. Texting, browsing, and emailing being outlawed while driving is a no brainer. Not allowing use for media playback or hands free calling when most modern stereos allow bluetooth audio playback/calling is ridiculous. I never have to pick up my phone to make a call or change a song in my truck as it is all initiated by steering wheel controls or voice commands. Now how is an officer going to write me a citation for that?

jaykingofgay says:

the problem is that as humans, we like to think that if we can get away with doing something, it's perfectly fine. Driving is a complicated and potentially dangerous activity. It's on record that humans just plain can't multitask. Our brains aren't set up for it. We, to a degree, can switch tasks quickly, as long as they are simple tasks that do not require a lot of attention, but true multitasking? Not possible. And driving should have your complete attention at all times.
But we live in a world that tells us that boredom is bad, and that we must constantly be entertained. Thus, driving the same path becomes routine, boring, and we yearn for a distraction, entertainment, something ---which is exactly what we DON'T need while driving. The phone call can wait. The text can wait. It can ALL wait until you either pull over, or get wherever it is that you're going. It's not worth your life, it's not worth anyone else's either. Get yourself OUT of the habit of checking your gizmos whenever they beep at you, and hell, when you're driving turn them off. There are apps that will auto-reply for you, use 'em "I'm sorry, I'm currently driving, I will respond later"

Dinehtah says:

Pretty sure the problem here was an idiot teenager not the cell phone. Most of us are smart enough not to text and drive...and definitely not 11 texts in 11 minutes, that's just stupid.

Synycalwon says:

You can't fix stupid! I see people on the road every single day who simply can't drive properly period! Forget about any potential distractions. Even law enforcement isn't immune per this article:

Distracted Miami Cop Drives Cruiser Up Utility Pole...
http://miami.cbslocal.com/2011/12/13/up-a-pole-miami-cop-ok/

I saw that today, too. If he'd been an average citizen he would have been arrested, breathalyzed on the scene, charged with reckless driving, and billed for the cost of all the repairs - not just let free to "walk away laughing".

Read this news article...
http://www.semissourian.com/story/1793856.html

Pay particular attention to the third paragraph..
"The chain of rear end collisions began when the pickup truck rammed the back of the tractor truck, the board said. The pickup was then rear-ended by a school bus, which was in turn struck by the second bus."

So probably the pick-up driven by the texting driver was a texting related accident. But the TWO SCHOOL BUSES who crashed into his rear end? How are they any less culpable in this accident? Were they both so distracted that they couldn't see past what was happening one car in front of them? How is this pick-up driving person responsible for being rear-ended by TWO SCHOOL BUSES? What were the drives of those buses doing?

meh. they prob were telling kids to shut up

wraith404 says:

That is called following to closely, which aught to carry a more severe punishment than texting, dui, and speeding combined.

Exactly my point - especially since they were carrying kids on schoolbuses, but that's somehow completely obscured by the OMG TEXTING CAUSED THIS ACCIDENT panic headlines all over the place.

dougxd45 says:

Just the other day, I saw some nitwit lady reading a novel and eating breakfast while she was driving.....she was drifting back and forth in the lane too. The NTSB can go suck it. They might as well try to ban all vehicles, because no matter what happens, the world is full of brainless idiots that will NEVER pay attention to what they should be paying attention to while driving.

larrygeary says:

In cases like that the best strategy is to move far away and let nature take its course. Evolution in action.

rengek says:

You can pass any laws you want but it won't change people's habits. They will still text and chat. Its even harder to impress the consequences on teenagers who believe they are indestructible.

I like to say parents should educate their kids but I don't think these kids will listen either. This is one of those times when you have to rely on technology. Not sure what the solution is though. Some have suggested the phone being disabled when in motion. My car doors lock when the car goes over 12 mph and some functions of the dash is disabled until the car comes to a stop. That kind of thing I guess.

Its one thing if the person hurt themselves. But I have seen so many on the road doing stupid things with their phone or hiding the phone but you know exactly what they are looking at and its not the road.

moosc says:

Ban truck drivers! ! They cause it all

Yah you go ahead and do that. My job requires me to use mine and that one time I pulled over to the side of the road a cop pulled over and told me to move on....fine I will continue to use my phone in my car.

Gekko says:

a strict ban should be enforced for all housewives in obnoxiously large SUVs as well as anyone under the age of 25. these two categories of drivers are the most dangerous offenders. 1st offense large fine. 2nd offense larger fine. 3rd offense even larger fine.

10001110101 says:

As long as we allow our government to keep passing these regulations, all we are doing is building a better idiot. No matter what gets taken away, stupid people will find ways to do stupid things.

Here’s my suggestion: Automated climate controls that adapt according to outside conditions = no climate control to distract you. No more radios in vehicles, including 2-way or CB = no noise to interrupt your concentration. Duct tape for all passengers, don't want that distraction either.

Accountability and Enforcement are the answers. But god forbid that anyone be held accountable for what they do. It’s the American way…

ScottJ says:

"Accountability and Enforcement are the answers. But god forbid that anyone be held accountable for what they do. It’s the American way…"

That's what laws do, create accountability and a means of enforcement.

dacp283 says:

There are laws for all of those interestingly enough. It is illegal to distract the operator of a motorvehicle. It is also illegal to have your music at a volume which would be deemed disorderly or impair your ability to hear horns or police sirens. OK not the climate control but 2/3 ain't bad.

As usual these morons decide the only course of action involves punishing everyone for the actions of a few stupid or careless individuals. Sadly there is never a lack of convenient idiots clamoring to jump on the band wagon in the name of limiting freedoms and nerfing the world we live in.

So, what's so special about the DPS (Department of Public Safety) officer sitting next to me in traffic perusing WHATEVER on his laptop? Is he specially trained to split his attention between driving and reading?

I'm smart enough to know not to text and drive. I have a hands-free for talking. And, most importantly, I know, by feel, where the skip button is in Last.FM.

There are already laws on the books for driving recklessly. Adding these ridiculous laws just makes lawmakers feel good and look stoopid.

dacp283 says:

And deeter, we are definitely in fact trained to do this, just so you know. Our EVAC course consists of high speed driving, evasive maneuvers, and tactical driving all of which we are required to do while communicating via radio and the MDT. and yes I know officers have and will wreck cars but statistically based on miles driven daily we have far fewer wrecks than the average American.

ScottJ says:

That explains why cops think they are special and don't have to obey the traffic laws they enforce, even while not in an emergency situation. I've seen cops doing doughnuts in a parking lot just for fun. It's common to see cops seriously speeding without their lights on, presumably to get where they are going faster. There's definitely a double-standard, and you've confirmed it.

dacp283 says:

Oh do tell, how have I confirmed a double standard? Because I said I'm trained and you're not?

ScottJ says:

You can't train a human brain to be able to drive effectively and look at a laptop at the same time. It can't be done.

dacp283 says:

The statistics beg to differ but feel free to look up the research that's been done man. I'm not going to debate facts. I ;), you just gotta be motivated enough to do your research before making conclusions. Good luck. It's really interesting info.

ScottJ says:

Please show the study that says that cops are superhuman and can somehow multi-task. I'll be waiting.

The studies all show that the brain is ill-equipped to concentrate on more than one thing at a time. You should read them sometime. It's really interesting info.

dacp283 says:

Oh you're one of those.. OK well more power to your cause... Whatever that may be.. You have lacked any definitive point and we have gotten off topic.

ScottJ says:

The point is that cops are hypocrites when it comes to mobile device consumption while operating vehicles. You've done nothing to dispel this hypocrisy. They are not superhuman.

dacp283 says:

Ten dollar words don't validate your point. Sure dosn't validate your over generalized view of police officer abilities lol. I never said we were superhuman I did not however, say I was trained to a greater extent. And to further invalidate your theory, talk to any swat, special forces, or VIP security driving instructor about the brains ability to divide attention and multi task. I'm sure they would love to take you to a shoot house or road course and prove just what extensive training can develop. Accidents happen no matter the level of training but laws are not written with YOUR individual capacity in mind.

dacp283 says:

Oh and yea sometimes I do speed with no lights and no siren... It's because I'm close to a call and don't want the bad guy with the gun to know I'm coming or already there... Makes sense doesn't it. I clear my intersections and give the utmost care to my driving because I don't want to kill myself or anyone else. But we do make calculated risks.

ScottJ says:

Yeah. I bet all of the speeding cops I've seen were rushing to a call. Uh huh. I also bet the guy doing doughnuts in the parking lot was trying to distract a perp.

dacp283 says:

I can't speak for them just like you can't speak for the general population. I loathe stupid cops they are the ones who killed our image. But where they can be fired, suspended without pay and cited you just get cited. Keep in mind not one cop is impervious to liability look how people love to sue us. I run a huge risk every single time I hit those lights. What do you gain from your cell phone conversation? Oh lastly my department has a very strict policy on the use of phones in a Police vehicle in motion. Big no no.

dacp283 says:

Most of you complaining about people doing makeup, hair etc need to know your traffic law. Those things are illegal when they lead to an accident. The offense, at least here in Texas is called driver distraction. I am pro no talking or texting but on the same token the driver distraction laws need to update across the board to be enforceable BEFORE an accident occurs as opposed to after. But you can thank all the hippie crying asshole that find any and every loophole in an easy law. Can't call it a distraction if you in fact cannot prove it is a distraction. You can't do that unless there is a incident resulting from it thus showing they were in fact distracted. Bottom line anything that takes attention from the roadway should be an offense. I've worked enough fatality accidents to support this.

wraith404 says:

Well, as long as they lump me having my phone docked in it's car mount as a GPS into that same group and no more, I'm ok with it then.

@daco283, thanks for the information, truly.

Still, it looks...unfair...somehow ;^).

Waiting for the NTSB to try and ban Fast Food Drive Thru's.McD's , Burger King,and Taco Bell would have their teams of lawyers and lobbyists in "pit bull" mode. (I do believe in texting while driving bans,however.)I still want to know why motorcycle drivers get a pass on wearing helmets while adult auto drivers seem to have every regulation passed against them.

ScottJ says:

"I still want to know why motorcycle drivers get a pass on wearing helmets"

Because they don't. Most states have helmet laws. Plus, for this to be germane to the topic, you would have to assert that not wearing a helmet would increase the chance of getting in an accident. I don't think that assertion could be backed up.

Florida allows motorcycle drivers to ride w/o helmets while auto drivers and passengers are required to use seat belts.

ScottJ says:

Florida sucks in many ways. I was there last April and drove from Orlando to Miami. The tolls were horrendous. I doubt I'll come back. The governor down there is also crazy.

dacp283 says:

You're welcome man. And although I truly believe in the effectiveness of laws its how they are enforced that makes or breaks them.

Qharisma says:

......I doubt anyone who has been affected by a talking/texting driver opposes this ......... And to those who need it for their job ...... It's called a handsfree device ..... Get Over it ......... Save the dinner and just hit the movie ...... And now you have one .... It's not 1990 ..... And to those that have yet to be affected .... Would you rather wait til it does??? The Smartphone population is growing ..... Which can only mean more of these so-called "idiots" will have one ..... Only meaning more possible distracted drivers ....... Maybe the problem is change ... People don't like that .....

john_v says:

The problem here is not cellphones. I mean really, does the ntsb really believe.that before the invention of the cellphone, we were a society of people who were polite, well-mannered, and always followed traffic laws?
No, the problem is that we live in a society that is me-first, I have my rights, with a side helping of over inflated sense of self importance ("im important, I have to take this call! Im important, its ok if I run this red light!")
Last night a 10 year old boy was killed in a horrific crash right near my house, caused by a driver running a red light. At this same intersection two years ago, a motorcyclist was killed when, while sitting at the red light, she was rear ended by a woman who was, get this, painting her nails. The nail painter got a mere 18 months.
My point is, current laws need to be enforced, and the consequences need to have teeth and need to stick. You cause a crash because you are texting, maybeyou should have to pay the costs out of pocket.

dacp283 says:

Amen to that. My best friend and fellow cop was run over last November. He was off duty helping a man change a tire on his trailer on the interstate. Teen female hit the trailer.

Want to hear a different theory? Sure you do. OK here it goes...

Increase the fine for not using your turn signal significantly - AND - make it Reckless Driving if you are on a road where the speed limit is 50 MPH or above.

Why?

Most people talking on the phone without a hands-free device don't signal. Texters certainly don't. Not to mention most of these knuckleheads are seriously distracted (weaving, drifting, decelerating, blowing thru stop signs, crosswalks and pedestrian right-of-ways in parking lots).

As an added bonus the increasing number of people who simply don't use their turn signals at all (this is becoming an epidemic in my opinion) will get whacked in the process.

Not signalling at highway speeds is not only extremely dangerous, it is also one of the leading causes of road rage behind people who don't move out of the fast/passing/left lane when another car approaches from behind.

I believe this would be a much more effective way to curtail distracted driving as well as improve general road rule compliance.

ScottJ says:

Not signaling is annoying, for sure. However, I doubt it causes many accidents.

Hmm...since we are substituting strict enforcement of driving pet peeves for further restriction of mobile use I'd like to suggest that people who tailgate should get life in prison. If they tailgate someone who is going the speed limit of faster, they should get the death penalty.

dacp283 says:

Let's just do it Judge Dredd style.

Clemsonpablo says:

The only middle ground here is to test and ban the people that can't handle multi-tasking from using them.

swallman says:

I think they need to more strongly enforce the laws on the books regarding reckless driving...if you are texting while driving, that is definitely reckless and you should be held accountable!

I live in a very rural area (nearest community of 50,000+ people is an hour away) and there are many times I'm on the road with nobody around. So are they saying I can't use my phone in this type of situation ??

ulnek says:

i use my phone for music and navigation so no. yes, there should be a middle ground. not being able to use a smartphone to do smart things is stupid. i don't want to have to get a nav device and dust off my ipod to use in my car.

FrasierCrane says:

Hands-free devices don't significantly improve the situation, unfortunately; multiple studies agree on this. The main issue isn't trying to drive with one hand, it's attention resources. People simply don't have the ability to carefully listen to one thing and carefully observe another at the same time .

In-car phone conversations are much more serious as a potential distraction than conversations with passengers for a few reasons:

1) Passengers, unlike people on the phone, can tell when to shut up and let the driver concentrate.

2) Phone conversations are inherently more cognitively taxing than in-person conversations, since voices are less clear and there aren't nonverbal cues to help with understanding.

3) Driver-passenger interactions are generally more relaxed and superficial than an average phone conversation.

It's inconvenient to give up talking and driving. But coupled with the general finding that a cell-phone conversation impairs driving as much as a BAC at the lower end of illegality, the NTSC is probably correct here. I'm all for people being able to take their own risks, but there isn't a right to force others to accept the consequences of those risks.

zelendel says:

I really hate to say it but it is about time. I am all for a full ban on cell phone use. need GPS, pull over, music, use the radio or cds that your not messing with to unlock, change the song. These people that complain about it have not even thought about how they would feel if it was their kid that was killed by someone using the phone while driving and the worst they get is negligent homicide and do 3 years for taking someones life cause they couldnt out the damn phone done while trying to control over 3,000 lbs of moving steel. Or just do what I did and get a black box lol see someone on the phone while driving hit the button and dead cell phone signal for 60 feet lmao. Moral of the story. Stay off the phone while driving or you have no right to bitch when someone you know is killed by someone driving while on the phone.

RETG says:

Knee jerk reaction due to a bad accident, from a government that believes they are the nanny and you are the child.

This same administration that runs the NHTSA has sued to prevent DRUNK TRUCK DRIVERS FROM BEING FIRED. And I mean 18 wheelers, not pickup trucks.

So, what is worse, a person on a cell phone in a Chevy, or a drunk driving a 40K pound rig?

http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2011/09/obama-administration-sues-trucki...

And what's next. No texting or cell phone use while walking? There have been incidents where people have walking into traffic while texting and while on an intense conversation.

And cell phones aren't the only GPS device. Heck, they are sold by the manufacturers built into the I/P.

backbeat says:

Only a scum-of-the-earth pompous ass would make this political. Thank you for that.

What specific problem do you have with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) being enforced? There was no requirement that the Arkansas driver be given the keys while getting treatment for alcoholism. Only that he be given a fair opportunity to retain employment. From the EXTREMELY bigoted article you cite: "“While the EEOC agrees that an employer’s concern regarding safety on our highways is a legitimate issue, an employer can both ensure safety and comply with the ADA.” Your extreme bias is on clear display for all to see.

Have you no shame?

snager says:

State of Hawaii has a law banning all phones while driving unless using headsets. Meaning caught with a phone in your hand while driving will get you a ~$130 driving ticket. Ever since the law went into effect, I've notice less people with phones next to their ears.
The law prevents idiots who try to text message while driving. Talking is one thing but text message while driving requires you to look at the phone and use your hand(s). I think the law will be fine as they specify what can and cant be used while driving, instead of a blanket law banning all phone usage in a car.

larrygeary says:

How convenient that, at a time when most states are hurting for money, along comes ole Uncle Sam suggesting they criminalize some more daily driving conduct and station lots of cops on the road to collect revenue, er, "fines".

I want freedom coupled with personal responsibility, not even more laws.

And as was pointed out early in the comments, almost anything can be distracting while driving. Will we be forbidden to eat next? Drink some coffee? Stop the galloping tyranny NOW.

skyboxer says:

I was blessed to be born in a time where both of my birth parents were present in my house throughout my childhood. Therefore I have never needed, and do not now need a nanny.
I'm sick of society picking out whipping boys. Anyone who is serious about getting rid of distractions should look at drive thru windows, which are often used to grab food on the go to be consumed while driving. Also, children should be banned in cars. As soon as those little bastarss think you won't thump them on the head they act up, and suddenly those nuns crossing the road isn't near as important as stopping the screaming in the back seat RIGHT NOW.

turg says:

Cars are lame anyway. Anything that annoys people who drive cars all the time is awesome in my opinion.

According to the NHTSA traffic deaths are at historic lows.

http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/2011/U.S.+Transportation...

32,885 people died on America's roads in 2010.
Roughly 1/3 (10,228) were drunk.
Less than 10% (3,092) were "distracted" (this would include make-up, burritos & technology).

backbeat says:

For how many years has "distracted driving" been a monitored category?

backbeat says:

Those whining about not needing another law versus enforcing existing law are overlooking what should be obvious.

Laws only have meaning by their legal definitions. As circumstances and technologies change, law has to be rewritten or redeveloped in order to be enforced.

Get with the program, kiddies.

jddunkley says:

I agree that the laws should be better enforced and even be adjusted, but I'm not sure about completely banning them no matter what. I'm not sure if "(other than those designed to support the driving task)" is meaning that GPS related functions are ok, because I travel for work, and my EVO 3D is just as good as any GPS and I use it constantly. I guess we'll see what happens.

tronthedon says:

The middle ground would be Google finally releasing their self-driven cars (the ones they have been testing).

DC Damien says:

The NTSB made several recommendations as a result of the Missouri accident. Most of them were focused on the school buses and one bus driver. The second bus driver was following too close and that driver caused the death of the second person. There were other safety issues related to the buses. Tragedies like this sometimes do lead to new or better laws. Unfortunately this accident was only one of their investigations to similar accidents that lead to multiple deaths and injuries.