NTSB cell-use ban proposal an overreaction, and a waste of time

posted at 11:00 am on December 16, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Earlier this week, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) urged all states to ban cell-phone use while driving, including the use of “hands free” cell phone systems, even those that operate through the dashboard of the car itself.  They based this recommendation — unanimously agreed by the NTSB’s board members — on one fatal accident in Missouri a year ago:

The recommendation, unanimously agreed to by the five-member board, applies to both hands-free and hand-held phones and significantly exceeds any existing state laws restricting texting and cellphone use behind the wheel.

The board made the recommendation in connection with a deadly highway pileup in Missouri last year. The board said the initial collision in the accident near Gray Summit, Mo., was caused by the inattention of a 19 year-old-pickup driver who sent or received 11 texts in the 11 minutes immediately before the crash.

The pickup, traveling at 55 mph, collided into the back of a tractor truck that had slowed for highway construction. The pickup was rear-ended by a school bus that overrode the smaller vehicle. A second school bus rammed into the back of the first bus.

The pickup driver and a 15-year-old student on one of the school buses were killed. Thirty-eight other people were injured in the Aug. 5, 2010, accident near Gray Summit, Mo.

Their conclusion?

It’s not possible to know from cell phone records if the driver was typing, reaching for the phone or reading a text at the time of the crash, but it’s clear he was manually, cognitively and visually distracted, she said.

So even though no one could tell whether the driver was even looking at his phone before the accident, the NTSB is insisting that all cell phone use, including hands-free calling, get banned, even though phone calls had nothing to do with the accident at all.  Why ban phone calls if the NTSB blames texting for the accident?  Well, as it turns out, texting while driving was already illegal in these circumstances:

Missouri had a law banning drivers under 21 years old from texting while driving at the time of the crash, but wasn’t aggressively enforcing the ban, board member Robert Sumwalt said.

“Without the enforcement, the laws don’t mean a whole lot,” he said.

Er, okay.  In other words, since the law banned the specific act in question didn’t prevent the accident, we should ban even more activities in the hope that will prevent this from happening again?  What’s the logic in play here — that an unenforced ban needs another ban to activate Wonder Twin Powers and actually be effective, even if it doesn’t actually relate to the cause of the crash that prompts the recommendation?

Besides, as Glenn Reynolds writes at Popular Mechanics, there were more factors in play than just the texting:

First, the Missouri crash was largely caused by more mundane safety issues that the NTSB seems to have deliberately downplayed. For all the discussion of the dangers of texting and driving, the NTSB report contains this rather significant finding: “Had the driver of the following school bus maintained the recommended minimum distance from the lead school bus, she would have been able to avoid the accident.”

That’s right: Don’t follow too closely, just like they teach you in driver’s ed. And why did the first school bus rear-end the pickup? According to the NTSB, that was “the result of the bus driver’s inattention to the forward roadway, due to excessive focus on a motorcoach parked on the shoulder of the road.”

So, despite the focus on texting as a cause of this particular accident, and on this accident as purported evidence that drivers should be banned from using portable devices, NTSB’s own report shows that the drivers involved in this scary wreck were involved because of driver inattention having nothing to do with cellphones, texting, or any other personal electronic devices. It was just the old-fashioned kind of driver inattention that has caused most accidents since the beginning of the automobile age, and that could have been prevented by a little attention to proper following distance and the road ahead.

Look at the sequence of the accident again.  Most school buses have the driver riding much higher than other drivers on the road for the purpose of giving them a longer look at the dangers ahead.  The first bus driver, at least, should have been following at a distance where a sudden crash ahead could be avoided, and if the driver ahead of the bus was following the next vehicle too closely, then the bus driver should have slowed down and let more distance separate between the pickup and the bus.  That’s apart from the issue between the two school buses.

The NTSB sounds as if they’re just recommending the bans on activity not connected to this accident as a means of banning all “distractions” in vehicles.  Well, good luck with that.  Responsible driving is all about managing distractions — other cars, road work, bad weather being significantly among them.  While they’re at it, the NTSB might want to take a look at banning some other distractions to driving, too:

  • Screaming children
  • Back-seat drivers
  • Car radios
  • High-beam headlights
  • Pedestrians
  • Subwoofers
  • (Actually, I’ll put subwoofers twice, since I hate those things)
  • Make-up
  • Food
  • Newspapers
  • Necking … and worse

Some of this falls under laws against careless or reckless driving already, of course, which are reasonable rules that actually penalize drivers who don’t properly manage or reduce their distractions.  Calling for bans of hands-free cell phone use (to which several states restrict cell use by drivers already) based on one accident that had nothing to do with making or taking calls on a cell phone are not just unsupportable, they make the situation worse by forcing police to attempt to enforce nearly impossible laws.  How can a cop tell the difference between a hands-free phone call and someone singing along with the radio, or perhaps just talking to himself?

Besides, as one state discovered after passing the ban, they don’t help much anyway.  A study of California’s hand-operated cell phone driving ban showed that it didn’t impact safety records at all:

We present evidence from observed accidents in California over a period in which the state implemented a law to ban hand-held cell phone use while driving a motor vehicle. In contrast to much of the previous research in this area, we treat the implementation of the policy as a quasi-natural experiment and draw on empirical data to determine whether mean daily accidents fell after California implemented the ban. To control for unobserved time-varying effects that could be correlated with the policy, we employ three regression discontinuity strategies: narrowing the time window of analysis, using a highly flexible global polynomial, and using a local linear regression design. The RD approach has advantages over previous empirical work on this topic, namely that we avoid using cross-sectional panel data that are likely susceptible to significant unobserved heterogeneity and omitted factors. We find no evidence of a state-wide decrease in accidents as a result of the ban. While our results are specific to California, cell phone bans in other jurisdictions that have similar enforcement and penalty parameters could be expected to have similar effects.

While this non-result may seem surprising to people accustomed to seeing drivers using cell phones doing careless or dangerous things on the highway, drivers were doing careless and dangerous things on highways long before the invention of the cell phone.

Indeed.  The real danger on the highway is the careless driver, not the distractions that most drivers handle responsibly.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2 3

Necking… and worse, or, necking … and better…?

Akzed on December 16, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Just leave the car at home and take the train.
Problem solved. Of course you’ll be late!

LeftCoastRight on December 16, 2011 at 11:04 AM

When you sneeze, it is physically impossible to keep your eyes open.

Having your eyes closed while driving is a distraction.

Thus, we must ban sneezing while driving.

Red Cloud on December 16, 2011 at 11:04 AM

Do it. I’m tired of dodging people who are engrossed in cell phone usage while driving.

MassVictim on December 16, 2011 at 11:04 AM

Ed -

Did you need to criminalize necking???

Odie1941 on December 16, 2011 at 11:06 AM

This is from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but what do they know?

Texting bans don’t reduce crashes; effects are slight crash increases

ARLINGTON, VA — It’s illegal to text while driving in most US states. Yet a new study by researchers at the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) finds no reductions in crashes after laws take effect that ban texting by all drivers. In fact, such bans are associated with a slight increase in the frequency of insurance claims filed under collision coverage for damage to vehicles in crashes. This finding is based on comparisons of claims in 4 states before and after texting ban, compared with patterns of claims in nearby states.

The new findings, released today at the annual meeting of the Governors Highway Safety Association, are consistent with those of a previous HLDI study, which found that banning hand-held phone use while driving doesn’t cut crashes. HLDI is an affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

HLDI researchers calculated rates of collision claims for vehicles up to 9 years old during the months immediately before and after driver texting was banned in California (January 2009), Louisiana (July 2008), Minnesota (August 2008), and Washington (January 2008). Comparable data were collected in nearby states where texting laws weren’t substantially changed during the time span of the study. This controlled for possible changes in collision claim rates unrelated to the bans — changes in the number of miles driven due to the economy, seasonal changes in driving patterns, etc.

“Texting bans haven’t reduced crashes at all. In a perverse twist, crashes increased in 3 of the 4 states we studied after bans were enacted. It’s an indication that texting bans might even increase the risk of texting for drivers who continue to do so despite the laws,” says Adrian Lund, president of both HLDI and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

HLDI’s new findings about texting, together with the organization’s previous finding that hand-held phone bans didn’t reduce crashes, “call into question the way policymakers are trying to address the problem of distracted driving crashes,” Lund adds.

“The point of texting bans is to reduce crashes, and by this essential measure the laws are ineffective,” Lund points out. He cautions that “finding no reduction in crashes, or even a small increase, doesn’t mean it’s safe to text and drive, though. There’s a crash risk associated with doing this. It’s just that bans aren’t reducing this crash risk.”

An Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study that relied on driver phone records found a 4-fold increase in the risk of injury crashes associated with phoning. A study in Canada found a 4-fold increase in the risk of crashes involving property damage. The crash risk associated with texting hasn’t been quantified as precisely, but it may be comparable, if not greater, than the risk associated with phoning.

“Neither texting bans nor bans on hand-held phone use have reduced crash risk,” Lund says.

Noncompliance is a likely reason texting bans aren’t reducing crashes. Survey results indicate that many drivers, especially younger ones, shrug off these bans. Among 18-24 year-olds, the group most likely to text, 45 percent reported doing so anyway in states that bar all drivers from texting. This is just shy of the 48 percent of drivers who reported texting in states without bans. Many respondents who knew it was illegal to text said they didn’t think police were strongly enforcing the bans.

“But this doesn’t explain why crashes increased after texting bans,” Lund points out. “If drivers were disregarding the bans, then the crash patterns should have remained steady. So clearly drivers did respond to the bans somehow, and what they might have been doing was moving their phones down and out of sight when they texted, in recognition that what they were doing was illegal. This could exacerbate the risk of texting by taking drivers’ eyes further from the road and for a longer time.”

Using a driving simulator, researchers at the University of Glasgow found a sharp decrease in crash likelihood when participants switched from head-down to head-up displays. This suggests that it might be more hazardous for a driver to text from a device that’s hidden from view on the lap or vehicle seat.

Texting in general is on the increase. Wireless phone subscriptions numbered 286 million as of December 2009, up 47 percent from 194 million in June 2005. Text messaging is increasing, too. It went up by about 60 percent in 1 year alone, from 1 trillion messages in 2008 to 1.6 trillion in 2009.

The District of Columbia was the first US jurisdiction to ban all motorists from texting. This was in 2004, and since then 30 states have followed suit. Nearly half of these bans have been enacted in 2010.

Akzed on December 16, 2011 at 11:06 AM

…say, here’s an idea. Is is the LAW that children MUST wear a seatbelt while in a vehicle, including car seats for young children…yet School Buses HAVE NO SEAT BELTS!!! Why are School Buses exempt from the child safety belt requirement when they are PACKED FULL OF KIDS!?!?!?

EasyEight on December 16, 2011 at 11:07 AM

Big Government to the rescue!

Didn’t they learn anything from Final Destination 1-8? If it’s your time, it’s your time. Ask Devon Sawa.

DHChron on December 16, 2011 at 11:07 AM

But, but, butt…the government is right, and looks out for our interests…right?

KOOLAID2 on December 16, 2011 at 11:08 AM

There’s a problem with this ban. It is unenforceable in reality. Other countries have such ‘bans’ in place. Nothing changed.

The NTSB can join the EPA, the Department of Energy, Department of Education, and the Department of Obama’s Vacations on the list of federal bodies that need to be dismantled.

CorporatePiggy on December 16, 2011 at 11:08 AM

Yea, go ahead and make it a federal law. Who’s gonna enforce it? They sure don’t want state police enforcing federal law.

Okay, make it a state law that the feds demand states make. Who’s gonna enforce it? States are stretched already dealing with the myriad federal dictates.

DanMan on December 16, 2011 at 11:08 AM

I guess big rig drivers will have to give up their CB radios as well.

CurtZHP on December 16, 2011 at 11:09 AM

Why do texting bans cause an increase in accidents? Because people text in their laps instead of at eye level so as not to be seen by the fuzz.

So they’re looking down at their phones and not at the traffic in front of them.

I’m not advocating distracted driving, but when a law has the opposite effect it was meant to have…

Akzed on December 16, 2011 at 11:09 AM

Banning hands-free cell phone use while driving would be an unprecedented overreach. The NTSB is nuts. It just shows when you have a federal agency, they will push their agenda to the max, to heck with the practical issues and real-life side-effects.

I will retch if this ever becomes law. It will be the beginning of the end of sensible government.

Paul-Cincy on December 16, 2011 at 11:09 AM

Necking… and worse, or, necking … and better…?

Akzed on December 16, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Doesn’t that depend on which car you’re in?

Ed Morrissey on December 16, 2011 at 11:09 AM

I caught some NTSB woman being interviewed yesterday, and she mentioned that they would also like to ban smoking while driving. Nudge, nudge.

I hate these people like poison.

Naturally Curly on December 16, 2011 at 11:10 AM

I have to deal with this “distraction” crap all the time in the sign business. Local gov’t. d*ckweeds want to ban or restrict LED message center signs because they “might distract drivers”. I guarantee I’m much more distracted by the girls of summer in their short shorts and bikini tops. Dear God, don’t ban those!!

Extrafishy on December 16, 2011 at 11:11 AM

‎”Imagine if cars hadn’t been around for a century, but instead were just invented today. Is there any way they’d be approved for individual use? It’s an era of bans on incandescent bulbs; if you suggested putting millions of internal-combustion engines out there, you’d get looks like you were Hitler proposing the Final Solution.”

-From an Opinion piece by Frank J at the NYPost today

Brad G on December 16, 2011 at 11:11 AM

Regularly see people on the road who immediately drop 10 or 15 mph as soon as they put a cell phone to their ear – or start weaviing across lanes. Had several different people try to change lanes and nearly sideswipe me because they couldn’t see past their arm holding the phone. BUT – this is not the federal government’s business.

dentarthurdent on December 16, 2011 at 11:11 AM

Doesn’t that depend on which car you’re in?
Ed Morrissey on December 16, 2011 at 11:09 AM

You have no sense of humor anymore…

Akzed on December 16, 2011 at 11:12 AM

Makes me wonder, how did we ever get by, before cell phones.

tru2tx on December 16, 2011 at 11:12 AM

Add to your list “Pens, pencils and all manner of writing materials in Police cars. Maybe even radios and radar should be included, too.

So even though no one could tell whether the driver was even looking at his phone before the accident, the NTSB is insisting that all cell phone use, including hands-free calling, get banned, even though phone calls had nothing to do with the accident at all.

Expect the NTSB to initiate a mass phone-walking scheme to plant smartphones on every accident victim to gin up the stats to justify their bans.

cartooner on December 16, 2011 at 11:15 AM

I guess big rig drivers will have to give up their CB radios as well.

CurtZHP on December 16, 2011 at 11:09 AM

..here in California, we have such a ban on cell phone use and texting while driving. These is an exception for use of amateur radios in cars (but not sure that in *specifically* includes citizen’s band gear). We have heard of stories of policemen ticketing hams who use their radios. The ham had to go to court and cite the statute to the judge to get the ticket dismissed.

The War Planner on December 16, 2011 at 11:15 AM

Everything which is not expressly allowed is forbidden.

Ain’t that the truth

FlatFoot on December 16, 2011 at 11:15 AM

Justification for their continued existence/funding, nothing more.

rogerb on December 16, 2011 at 11:16 AM

Maybe they should come up with a scheme to require cars to jam all wireless devices instead – unless it’s a Lightsquared device of course.

But in all seriousness, even one death is too many. We need to ban horseless carriages altogether. The statistics are incontrovertible.

forest on December 16, 2011 at 11:16 AM

Necking… and worse, or, necking … and better…?
Akzed on December 16, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Definitely better…. However, the movie “The World According to Garp” shows what can happen…

dentarthurdent on December 16, 2011 at 11:17 AM

I guess I’ll be getting pulled over for suspicion of cell phone use because I regularly sing in the car and occasionally talk to myself.

JennM111 on December 16, 2011 at 11:17 AM

A study of California’s hand-operated cell phone driving ban showed that it didn’t impact safety records at all:

Of course, there will be no repeal b/c it’s such a moneymaker, about $250 with fees per offense. Got to keep that revenue coming in to our broke state and pension systems!

I think the ban causes more accidents b/c people are sneaking a look at their phones on the passenger seat instead of just making a call (hey, I’ll be late) when they’re at a traffic stop.

PattyJ on December 16, 2011 at 11:18 AM

Makes me wonder, how did we ever get by, before cell phones.

tru2tx on December 16, 2011 at 11:12 AM

^this. People act like it would somehow cause a bloody national crisis if you were suddenly out of contact from any yahoo with a phone for a few minutes.

And Mr.Morrissey – equating cell phone distractions with things like whiny children and pedestrians is possibly the worst comparison I’ve seen you make. Were you listening to shout radio when you wrote that?

MelonCollie on December 16, 2011 at 11:18 AM

The NTSB … need to be dismantled.

CorporatePiggy on December 16, 2011 at 11:08 AM

That’s right. We don’t need to know why that plane crashed.

MassVictim on December 16, 2011 at 11:18 AM

Ed,

I think you’ve fallen into the trap of exactly how the NTSB wants this debate framed.

Such proposed and enacted bans have nothing to do with preventing accidents, as they well know. It might have something to do with good PR for a government agency advocating “doing the right thing”, and with who gets blamed after the fact, and how much more someone can sue an insurance company for one of their drivers violating the ban, in addition to any other arguable violations. The attorneys win, and the pols to whom they they contribute.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on December 16, 2011 at 11:18 AM

My thought when they started talking about banning texting and cellphone usage in a car was:

- What happens if you’re on the side of the road, with the engine still on and still inside of the car?
- What happens if it’s a passenger using the cellphone?

Nannyism gone berserk and stupid.

Logus on December 16, 2011 at 11:19 AM

Forgot to add that a national ban, however, is not a good solution.

MelonCollie on December 16, 2011 at 11:19 AM

While they’re at it, the NTSB might want to take a look at banning some other distractions to driving, too:
Screaming children
Back-seat drivers
Car radios
High-beam headlights
Pedestrians
Subwoofers
(Actually, I’ll put subwoofers twice, since I hate those things)
Make-up
Food
Newspapers
Necking … and worse

Ed, noticed you had the good sense not to include those side navigators known as spouses to be banned as well, because that would only get you banned to the couch.

ConservativePartyNow on December 16, 2011 at 11:20 AM

Texting and driving should be banned.

My town has become a crazy driving gauntlet, especially because it’s the youngest drivers who are the worst offenders. They already have limited driving skills, and now they are just flat-out menaces. The function of government is to draw boundaries, and I am so tired of nearly getting a wreck at least twice a week.

I worked so hard to restore a classic Toyota Supra. In October, one week after I finished, a 19-year-old kid came flying around a blind corner, not looking through his windshield, and totaled it.

The very next day, in my spare car, a 17-ish young girl, texting, pulled right in front of me and I had to slam on my brakes and come to a complete stop on a major road to avoid having no transportation at all.

If it is acceptable for the government to regulate drinking and driving, then hell yes, this insanity has to stop. It’s getting EXPONENTIALLY worse each year, as the iPhones suck everyone’s brains.

I think that after every accident it should be MANDATORY for the cell-phone/data records involved drivers tobe reviewed. If it were found that the at-fault driver was otherwise occupied, I want to see MANDATORY jail time. MANDATORY.

cane_loader on December 16, 2011 at 11:20 AM

Definitely better…. However, the movie “The World According to Garp” shows what can happen… dentarthurdent on December 16, 2011 at 11:17 AM

The book was better.

Akzed on December 16, 2011 at 11:21 AM

If the RNC had a combined IQ of 65+, they’d be crafting TV ads right now showing how Obama is over reaching yet again.

But it’s the RNC. They will probably endorse this idea so as to not offend Obama.

angryed on December 16, 2011 at 11:22 AM

The problem was that the 19 year old was a terrible driver. He has paid.

JeremiahJohnson on December 16, 2011 at 11:22 AM

“Texting bans haven’t reduced crashes at all. In a perverse twist, crashes increased in 3 of the 4 states we studied after bans were enacted. It’s an indication that texting bans might even increase the risk of texting for drivers who continue to do so despite the laws,” says Adrian Lund, president of both HLDI and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

No, sir. You have jumped to the wrong conclusion. What you are seeing is an exponential increase of Internet usage while driving. The bans have nothing to do with it. We are in the middle of a massive increase of Internet use – not just texting – while driving.

THIS IS THE PROBLEM.

cane_loader on December 16, 2011 at 11:23 AM

Earlier this week, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) urged all states to ban cell-phone use while driving, including the use of “hands free” cell phone systems, even those that operate through the dashboard of the car itself.

Ok and next we ban talking to other passengers in the car? CD/MP3 players? Can’t change the radio station without pulling over and stopping?

Years ago when the first front well drive cars showed they were a bit safer to operate for the average driver, the NTSB (I believe headed by Joan Payson at the time) wanted motorcycle manufacturers to start building front wheel drive motorcycles. The NTSB is not now and never has been grounded in practical reality.

oldernwiser on December 16, 2011 at 11:24 AM

I caught some NTSB woman being interviewed yesterday, and she mentioned that they would also like to ban smoking while driving. Nudge, nudge.

I hate these people like poison.

Naturally Curly on December 16, 2011 at 11:10 AM

It worked on airlines/airports/everywhere now. Camel’s nose under the tent, and it is one ginormous nose.

I hate em too.

tru2tx on December 16, 2011 at 11:24 AM

As a motorcycle rider, I would welcome anything that reduced the number of near-misses I’ve had that were caused by distracted drivers. But even if every assumption the NTSB made could be proven to be true, it’s still ridiculous to make national driving laws on the basis of a single event. We have 50 states to try out these kinds of laws for a reason: To find out if they work. Elitists sitting in Washington telling the country how to fix problems like they know more than the millions of local law enforcement, legislators, and citizens who live with the problem and the law’s results is symptomatic of the “progressive” mental rot that is dragging our country down.

Now, maybe if we could make an injury accident due to texting or dialing punished like drunk driving we might get somewhere. Nobody has to text while driving, and if you deliberately choose to distract yourself knowing it increases the likelihood of an accident, you can’t really say it was completely unavoidable when it results in someone being injured, can you? Let’s put responsibility where it belongs instead of turning our highway patrol into babysitters.

Socratease on December 16, 2011 at 11:24 AM

If talking with other people – either electronically or in person – is the problem then maybe we can finally make the streets safe by banning carpooling. One Car One Person.

I’m sure they would also LOVE to ban radios. Er, maybe just talk radio. er maybe just certain KINDS of talk radio.

kurtzz3 on December 16, 2011 at 11:25 AM

The book was better.
Akzed on December 16, 2011 at 11:21 AM

Usually the case. My tag comes from “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (if you didn’t already know. Great book, lousy movie.

dentarthurdent on December 16, 2011 at 11:25 AM

Oh well it should have read “wheel”

oldernwiser on December 16, 2011 at 11:25 AM

I’m always dealing with cell phone addicts on the road but I’m not naive enough to believe we can legislate it away. This is just politicians putting on their superhero costumes and pretending they can save people from themselves. Now any politician who is against such a law will be blamed and demonized by their opponent for every death caused by a stupid person who would still be stupid even with a law against it.

MechanicalBill on December 16, 2011 at 11:26 AM

The problem was that the 19 year old was a terrible driver. He has paid.

JeremiahJohnson on December 16, 2011 at 11:22 AM

No, he hasn’t paid. Due to the blind nature of the intersection, and the fact that yes, I was in his way, and the fact that his insurance company is trying to pin 100% of the blame on me, though I watched him make an illegal lane change, then continue to drive staright at me for 100 feet without looking at traffic in his way because he was distracted, and I can’t prove this to anyone – and the fact that through a stupid oversight I did not have collision on my vehicle, I am being forced to repair his vehicle, while mine sits in the yard totaled.

He got off scot-free, without even a ticket.

But he was NOT watching the road, and I couldn’t get out of his way, and he accelerated straight into the accident because he was distracted.

I am screwed, because this kid was texting and driving.

cane_loader on December 16, 2011 at 11:27 AM

Everything in the movies “Minority Report” and “Demolition Man” is coming true.

wildcat72 on December 16, 2011 at 11:27 AM

Same law was passed in Montgomery, AL recently. Absolutely nothing has changed. I see everything from cars to semi trucks flying down the road texting. Hate it, but it isn’t the government’s job to enforce personal responsibility, accountability, and common sense.

This is what happens when “we” invite the government to “solve” all of our “problems.” “Lawmakers” pass laws like this just to make themselves feel better about not doing what they are elected to do, or what they are lawfully bound to do by the Constitution. Like, say, passing a budget.

That said – the only way to truly make this work is to shut down the cell towers. I suggest permanently. What most see as an improvement in communications is nothing but a distraction in pretty much all facets of life. Phones belong hooked to the wall, with a short cord attached. But as the commercials would make you believe, you can’t be successful, fun, (or even normal) if you don’t have a phone to manage every portion of your life. Marketing professionals have done well with this one – manufacturing a product, THEN manufacturing “need.”

Hueydriver on December 16, 2011 at 11:27 AM

When they outlaw texting while driving, only outlaws will be texting while driving.

Save me from myself BIG GOVERNMENT! You’re my only hope.

Flyboy on December 16, 2011 at 11:27 AM

Lipstick is sure to be next.

search4truth on December 16, 2011 at 11:28 AM

If the driver had managed to send 11 texts in the 11 minutes prior to the crash, it’s a fair assumption that the primary cause of the accident was the easily avoidable distraction of his own text messaging.

Yes, we should all be better drivers. We should pay more attention, we should follow the rules to a tee…you know, the same rules the libertarians claim are a big government conspiracy to control our lives…/rolleyes.

However, texting while driving driving is the distraction-of-choice for our most inexperienced drivers, and while it’s unlikely they’ll change their habits any time soon (since they’re also the demographic who are convinced nothing bad will ever happen to them), we more experienced drivers would be remiss if we failed to point out the dangers of texting while driving.

It’s all bad — changing CDs, applying makeup, eating, driving too fast, too close, without seatbelts, etc.

Trying to downplay the dangers of texting while driving by pointing out another type of distraction is just stupid and selfish. When it’s your family member who’s killed by a distracted driver, I’m sure your first inclination isn’t going to be to excuse the person who plowed into them while texting by saying it was really the truck behind him’s fault for driving too close.

For all that the right likes to fling around the phrase “your minds are so open your brains fell out” when it comes to liberals, this kind of nonsense doesn’t make the right look much better.

Carolina21 on December 16, 2011 at 11:29 AM

I get as annoyed as anyone by texting/gabbing people doing everything but driving – they’re dangerous.

But the States can handle this – why must the Feds get their grubby mitts into everything? They are incapable of crafting an overarching law that isn’t overly restrictive and inappropriate and that doesn’t have dozens of unintended consequences.

We can handle it Washington, butt out!

Mr Galt on December 16, 2011 at 11:29 AM

I worked so hard to restore a classic Toyota Supra. In October, one week after I finished, a 19-year-old kid came flying around a blind corner, not looking through his windshield, and totaled it.

The very next day, in my spare car, a 17-ish young girl, texting, pulled right in front of me and I had to slam on my brakes and come to a complete stop on a major road to avoid having no transportation at all.

cane_loader on December 16, 2011 at 11:20 AM

Point made. Ban teenagers from driving

kurtzz3 on December 16, 2011 at 11:29 AM

Holy cow, when my kids were little there were countless times I considered exiting from my moving vehicle.

Cindy Munford on December 16, 2011 at 11:29 AM

Though I am not in favor of texting and driving, this would be an overreach by the politicians.

However, think of the irony: if the legislative feds passed this as a law, they would expect states and local authorities to enforce it! Think about it and you will know exactly were I am going.

mwbri on December 16, 2011 at 11:30 AM

Government is simply trying to make your everyday existence unlawful and then choose to selectively enforce the laws. Some reports I’ve read say that the average person breaks 1 law per day. I’d venture to say it’s more like 5 or 6 with cell bans, emissions regulations, light bulb bans, thousands of pages of tax regulations and shower flow requirements.

Think about it … They can now pick you up or fine you or shut down your business on some obscure violation whenever you get to be too much of an annoyance.

Now where did I leave that tinfoil hat?

Lost in Jersey on December 16, 2011 at 11:30 AM

Another distraction the NTSB might want to suggest banning…passengers. As long as they are in the car they may try talk to the driver breaking his/her laser-like focus on driving. But what would this do to all the car-pool lanes?

morbius on December 16, 2011 at 11:31 AM

Well since a state and possible federal ban won’t do it. Time to call out the big guns, double secret probation!!

Dr. Dog on December 16, 2011 at 11:31 AM

I’m sorry, I confused the 19 y.o. in the post, from the 19 y.o. that hit me.

But seriously folks, haven’t you all seen the driving get worse and worse, especially since the iPhone popularized Internet usage while driving?

Our town has become nothing short of ridiculous. I have been a wreck-free driver my whole life, and now I find myself having to exert all my driving skill just to get to the store without a wreck.

cane_loader on December 16, 2011 at 11:32 AM

Well, I can see that no one on this thread is honestly addressing the terrible threat and the threat to life brought on by the evolution of our cars into a WiFi hotspot. Just a lot of snarky remarks. Probably some of you are the ones driving hazardously with you’re on Facebook.

We have a major, growing problem here, and something must be done. There has to be a coordinated effort to honestly address this. The probalem is REAL.

cane_loader on December 16, 2011 at 11:34 AM

All moving vehicle violations should be felonies, and using a cell phone whilst driving should be a capital crime.

Karmi on December 16, 2011 at 11:34 AM

Perhaps a ban on bus drivers who think they own the road.

dmn1972 on December 16, 2011 at 11:34 AM

Maryland banned this and yet I see a lot of drivers still talking on their cell phone.

eforhan on December 16, 2011 at 11:35 AM

High-beam headlights

I hate those new “blue” headlights. They blind me even if they’re on low-beam.

And Ed, here’s another thing to add to your list:

Portable DVD players.

I followed someone not long ago that had one on the passenger’s side visor and the driver kept glancing up at it every few minutes. When I finally got the chance to pass him after about 50 miles, my husband noticed the guy was alone in the car.

Something I’ve noticed more of around here, are the vehicles with neon lights of different colors underneath the car or truck. I’m not suggesting they should be banned. They are distracting, but no more than any other outside the vehicle distraction.

Flora Duh on December 16, 2011 at 11:36 AM

Necking… and worse, or, necking … and better…?

Akzed on December 16, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Doesn’t that depend on which car you’re in?

Ed Morrissey on December 16, 2011 at 11:09 AM

Akzed… I like the way you think.

Ed… The adventurer in me says, “I want to be in THAT car.” However, my inner-voyeur (and lack of flexibility in confined spaces) has me reaching for the cruise-control button and some popcorn.

Moo the Dog on December 16, 2011 at 11:36 AM

Texas Governor Rick Perry vetoed legislation last session that would have banned texting while driving because he views it as “a government effort to micromanage the behavior of adults.” State law already prohibits drivers under age 18 from texting or using a cell phone while driving.

Texas lawmakers already went down this road and it was stopped by Perry.

He has his moments.

tru2tx on December 16, 2011 at 11:36 AM

Lipstick is sure to be next.

search4truth on December 16, 2011 at 11:28 AM

..only when they pry it from my cold, dead hands.

The War Planner on December 16, 2011 at 11:36 AM

What I am seeing in every discussion on this issue, is that people all say that there’s nothing to be done, and that their right to text and web-surf while driving is inviolable.

I don’t think it would matter if the death toll were to double. People are insisting that their right to chatter while driving trumps public safety. This is the bottom-line issue.

cane_loader on December 16, 2011 at 11:37 AM

Hey now –

Subwoofers
(Actually, I’ll put subwoofers twice, since I hate those things)

Leave my subwoofer alone… not everyone with a subwoofer in their nice sound system cranks the bass and opens the windows… some of us enjoy the goodness of good music while traveling for long stretches…. stay out of my car – government and any one else – it’s none of your business and unless I am shaking your car/home as I drive by… which I will not because I am not an inconsiderate fool… leave me alone =)

The problem is inattentive driving – and to make the case that texting while at a long stoplight is worse than turning your head to look at your beautiful wife/girlfriend etc… is foolish and ill advised.

Make driving training far more in depth and challenging and show folks well made videos/actual accidents of people choosing their cellphone/passengers, sneezing over watching where one is going and getting crushed as a result… In Florida… you mark down your time driving with another driver on a sheet of paper and then you go out once for approval with the DMV… that’s it.. it’s shameful, ill advised and ridiculous.

glidingone on December 16, 2011 at 11:40 AM

So next we will be limited to one passenger cars, because talking to passengers while driving is a distraction…… It’s why I always miss my turn -_-

dmn1972 on December 16, 2011 at 11:41 AM

It’s not just people under 18. How many of you have noticed that, the majority of the time when a car is cruising in the left lane, 10 mph below the speed limit, you look over and it’s a middle-age woman or man yakking away. And how often now are we having to blow our horn at a driver sitting at a green light, blocking our way. Traffic is slowing down and becoming more and more chaotic, due to distracted driving. This slows everything down by making us sit in traffic a lot longer. This costs money.

When I began driving, with no electronic devices, we actually DROVE. We took off on the green, watched traffic around us, and got where we were going as fast as we legally could.

Nowadays, I feel that these electronically addicted drivers don’t CARE how fast they get where they’re going, because they’re doing all their business in the car. For those of us actually trying to get somewhere, these slow/oblivious drivers are slowing us down and taking our time away from us. It’s called being a “road hog.”

cane_loader on December 16, 2011 at 11:42 AM

I have to ‘fess up that several years ago, while texting and driving, I nearly ran a motorcyclist off the road. The look of hate in that mans eyes woke me up to the stupidity of the risks I had been taking. I won’t even look at my phone while driving now.

That being said, I think education is the key to this issue. And a Federal ban would not be Constitutional IMO.

BierManVA on December 16, 2011 at 11:43 AM

Once had a guy almost sideswipe me, next to me making a left turn (double turn lane) – had a cigarette AND cell phone in one hand, coffee cup in the other, and a stick shift car. Mostly sterring through the turn with his knee.

dentarthurdent on December 16, 2011 at 11:43 AM

Things I found myself doign while driving recently”

-picked lint off sweater
-turned on radio
-changed stations on radio
-looked at billboard flashing from red to black
-looked at guy swinging ‘look here’ sign arond his neck
-looked at hot gal driving the lexus…grrrrr
-looked at my cig as i lit it.

everyone of these things distracted me to some extent and made me take my eyes off of the road of an instant.

should these activities all be illegal too?

DrW on December 16, 2011 at 11:43 AM

What I am seeing in every discussion on this issue, is that people all say that there’s nothing to be done, and that their right to text and web-surf while driving is inviolable.

I don’t think it would matter if the death toll were to double. People are insisting that their right to chatter while driving trumps public safety. This is the bottom-line issue.

cane_loader on December 16, 2011 at 11:37 AM

No… what people are saying is that you cannot prevent stupid with laws (and hard to enforce laws at that)

It’s the same reason why gun bans don’t work to prevent School shootings, bad people from murdering others etc… and only leave the responsible folks to suffer as a result of the stupid’s actions.

You have to explain to folks WHY texting why driving is less important than their life/car/insurance cost etc…

As personal responsibility and proper priorities (hmm… does Abigail really need to know that I thought Karl was cute while I am driving down the road or could that possibly wait until I am done driving… etc…) FAIL to be taught by parents, by the education systems etc… we see the results every single day… symptom of a larger huge issue.

glidingone on December 16, 2011 at 11:44 AM

I don’t think it would matter if the death toll were to double. People are insisting that their right to chatter while driving trumps public safety. This is the bottom-line issue.

cane_loader on December 16, 2011 at 11:37 AM

Or in other words “I wanna do what I wanna do, to heck with the risk, and if someone else gets hurt that’s just their tough cookies.”

The root problem is not the stupid phones; it’s utter contempt for the safety of others.

MelonCollie on December 16, 2011 at 11:46 AM

The root problem is not the stupid phones; it’s utter contempt for the safety of others.

MelonCollie on December 16, 2011 at 11:46 AM

Thank you. You made my point with a lot fewer words :-)

cane_loader on December 16, 2011 at 11:50 AM

I have a company car and had to go through “driver training” before I got it which I assume is mainly to cover the company’s rear end. During driver training we were told absolutely no cell phone use. I raised my hand and asked if we could talk on the phone if we had an earpiece in. The instructor said, “no, the conversation can still be distracting.” I politely followed up by asking her if we should also avoid conversations with those who may be riding with us to avoid that apparently dangerous distraction. She didn’t appreciate that question ;).

dookphan on December 16, 2011 at 11:51 AM

The gub’mint should also ban attractive women from being within sight of moving vehicles as well. I once popped a tire after running up onto a curb whilst admiring one of God’s creations in the rear view mirror.

And by popped a tire I mean… the tire was completely ripped open and the wheel was bent.

wvba1981 on December 16, 2011 at 11:52 AM

What I am seeing in every discussion on this issue, is that people all say that there’s nothing to be done, and that their right to text and web-surf while driving is inviolable.
I don’t think it would matter if the death toll were to double. People are insisting that their right to chatter while driving trumps public safety. This is the bottom-line issue.
cane_loader on December 16, 2011 at 11:37 AM

Have to disagree to some extent. A lot of us are just saying the FEDERAL government should not be doing this – Constitutional issue. If states want to do something, it’s a different story. But still a matter of how far will the nanny state keep going, and do the laws actually solve the problem?

dentarthurdent on December 16, 2011 at 11:53 AM

I politely followed up by asking her if we should also avoid conversations with those who may be riding with us to avoid that apparently dangerous distraction. She didn’t appreciate that question ;).

dookphan on December 16, 2011 at 11:51 AM

And of course you NEVER turn to look at the person you’re talking to.
Right?

oldernwiser on December 16, 2011 at 11:56 AM

I politely followed up by asking her if we should also avoid conversations with those who may be riding with us to avoid that apparently dangerous distraction. She didn’t appreciate that question ;).

dookphan on December 16, 2011 at 11:51 AM

Talking on a cell phone, you cannot see the other party. No non-verbal gestures, etc, that help the message get through better. you must concentrate very hard with 100% of your hearing. It is more distracting.

Talking with someone in your car is not as distracting because you can use peripheral vision and non-verbal gestures to converse.

When you talk on the phone, your eyes involuntarily go toward the phone. Your vision turns inward. Have you ever listened to the radio and watched it? I have. People tend to watch a radio more than they realize. You vision goes where the sound is. I don’t have the link, but a couple years ago a safety study showed exactly that.

I hear this argument again and again, and am always surprised when people try to compare a phone conversation with an in-person one.

Apples and oranges.

cane_loader on December 16, 2011 at 11:56 AM

I politely followed up by asking her if we should also avoid conversations with those who may be riding with us to avoid that apparently dangerous distraction. She didn’t appreciate that question ;).

dookphan on December 16, 2011 at 11:51 AM

Talking on a cell phone, you cannot see the other party. No non-verbal gestures, etc, that help the message get through better. you must concentrate very hard with 100% of your hearing. It is more distracting.

Talking with someone in your car is not as distracting because you can use peripheral vision and non-verbal gestures to converse.

When you talk on the phone, your eyes involuntarily go toward the phone. Your vision turns inward. Have you ever listened to the radio and watched it? I have. People tend to watch a radio more than they realize. You vision goes where the sound is. I don’t have the link, but a couple years ago a safety study showed exactly that.

I hear this argument again and again, and am always surprised when people try to compare a phone conversation with an in-person one.

Apples and oranges.

cane_loader on December 16, 2011 at 11:56 AM

I use my hands even when talking on the phone.

dmn1972 on December 16, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Right – what it comes down to is whether _____ activity within the car is more important than the potential to collide the large object that is moving forward at a generally high speed into something/someone else… again… priorities. Our entire culture is messed up priority-wise and fails to even consider potential consequences for their choices.

Giving the government/police one more reason to pull you over and collect more money from you by force is not the answer.

glidingone on December 16, 2011 at 12:01 PM

But still a matter of how far will the nanny state keep going, and do the laws actually solve the problem?

dentarthurdent on December 16, 2011 at 11:53 AM

Well, I don’t know exactly what the answer is, but would agree that we have to do something?

Seriously, distracted drivers are getting SO BAD. I just had my car totaled by one.

cane_loader on December 16, 2011 at 12:01 PM

Wait for the warning sign in every new auto that reads It Is Illegal To Talk To The Driver. How are they going to enforce this rule since it can’t be a law.

Kissmygrits on December 16, 2011 at 12:03 PM

Just had this debate yesterday with coworkers. My point was why not ban passengers in cars? In my mind, talking is talking. Whether it’s a flesh and blood human in the passenger seat or hands-free conversation on a phone, the brain processes information the same, would it not? Millions of Americans spend extra cash, including me, to have Bluetooth technology in our cars (my Jeep even READS text messages coming in) allowing us to talk on phone without fumbling for a phone. I would bet in a given year more accidents occur due to road work than cell phone activity…so let’s stop maintenace of our roads while we are at it. Are these fools any different from the Inquisition that debated how many angels dance on the head of a pin?

stop2think on December 16, 2011 at 12:03 PM

Our entire culture is messed up priority-wise and fails to even consider potential consequences for their choices.

Giving the government/police one more reason to pull you over and collect more money from you by force is not the answer.

glidingone on December 16, 2011 at 12:01 PM

Then what is? Seriously, what do you suggest? The status quo is totally unacceptable to me.

Next time I get in a wreck with a texter/cell-phoner, I will be seriously tempted to beat the living sh$$ out of them. Enough is enough.

cane_loader on December 16, 2011 at 12:03 PM

When I began driving, with no electronic devices, we actually DROVE. We took off on the green, watched traffic around us, and got where we were going as fast as we legally could.

cane_loader on December 16, 2011 at 11:42 AM

So you’re not actually worried about traffic accidents…you just hate slow drivers. I’d gamble and say those “getting there” as fast as possible cause a few pile ups. I therefore advocate my government officials to ban cars in favor of horse and buggy.

DHChron on December 16, 2011 at 12:03 PM

Oh, and the laws against driving drunk are working out so well.

Kissmygrits on December 16, 2011 at 12:04 PM

It’s called inattentive driving. This law covers reading while driving, applying makeup while driving, and yes the more modern problem of talking on the phone, or any other activity that distracts you while driving. If this law were enforced, driving the coastal highways would become illegal due to individuals in skimpy beach attire distracting the average male, and yes even female drivers!.

chicken thief on December 16, 2011 at 12:04 PM

There’s no law that will fix this. Sometimes, I think that cell phones are the crack of the New Millenium. People just can’t stand to not get their fix.

Don’t get me wrong. Speaking as a former cop, I would want to have a law that would allow me to nail somebody for acting in such a reckless manner…if I can catch them. In many states, there are such laws already on the books. In my jurisdiction, it’s called “Inattention to Driving.” I would write up cell phone users, folks putting their makeup on, reading maps, reading books, etc, etc, ad infinitum, all day long.

Having said that, for every person I caught, there were ten that I didn’t. So, what can we do to stop at least cell phone usage? I say we need a technical solution: develop a gadget for the car that would disable the cell phone or jam it in some way to make it unusable. If you want to use the phone, you have to pull off to the side of the road and turn the car off.

I’m sure there would be challenges in implementing this and “exceptions to the rule” for when this might prevent cell phones from being used when they must be used, but I believe those things can be worked out. I don’t like the alternative: people getting killed because some f**king idiot can’t wait to ask their buddy, “whazzup!”

The only way you are going to stop people from texting while driving is by making it technically impossible for them to do it, not by legislating it.

NavyMustang on December 16, 2011 at 12:05 PM

Whether it’s a flesh and blood human in the passenger seat or hands-free conversation on a phone, the brain processes information the same, would it not?

NO.

You are using other senses in an in-person conversation, which lighten the processing load by reducing the total focus needed on the auditory end.

Before I realized the extent of the problem, I ran a couple red lights within a month on my cell phone.

Before that, I think I had run maybe two red lights in 25 years of driving.

cane_loader on December 16, 2011 at 12:06 PM

We had two old ladies killed here on Black Friday because a 31-year-old just ran the red at 55, never seeing it. He drove right through it and ended two lives, in broad daylight, in clear weather.

The right to overcommunicate with one’s chosen device does not trump killing people.

cane_loader on December 16, 2011 at 12:07 PM

So you’re not actually worried about traffic accidents…you just hate slow drivers.

DHChron on December 16, 2011 at 12:03 PM

You obviously didn’t read any of my other posts upthread.

cane_loader on December 16, 2011 at 12:09 PM

Bottom line you are not responsible for other peoples actions you can only take the necessary steps to make yourself and your passengers safe. Life is risk. Besides, am I going to be pulled over every time I glance down? How are cops supposed to determine if you are using your cellphone?

dmn1972 on December 16, 2011 at 12:09 PM

Our entire culture is messed up priority-wise and fails to even consider potential consequences for their choices.

Giving the government/police one more reason to pull you over and collect more money from you by force is not the answer.

glidingone on December 16, 2011 at 12:01 PM

Then what is? Seriously, what do you suggest? The status quo is totally unacceptable to me.

Next time I get in a wreck with a texter/cell-phoner, I will be seriously tempted to beat the living sh$$ out of them. Enough is enough.

cane_loader on December 16, 2011 at 12:03 PM

Well that’s one way to address it! Just get it done before the cops show up.

It’s called returning to individual responsibility and taking time to think about the responsibility placed in our hands as operators of a vehicle.

Stupidity cannot and will not be eliminated – it is rampant and supported throughout society. There is little striving to better oneself… Sign of our culture’s values / lack thereof.

Move elsewhere? Buy an armored truck? Not sure what to tell you but I know that just like every instance that I can think of – more laws are a failure nearly every single time – let’s not fall prey to the liberal instalaw/instaspend thinking…

glidingone on December 16, 2011 at 12:09 PM

Comment pages: 1 2 3