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NoPhone Zone

posted by Scot McKnight

NoPhoneZone.jpgWhat do you think? Texting while driving is dangerous; some States have “illegalized” texting while driving. But do you support the new applications for cell phones that shut down the phone’s capacity to “text” while driving (shutting the phone down when moving over 5 mph)? Or do you think we should entrust this to the citizens and ask the citizens to cease texting while driving?

Is the best alternative a bluetooth device?
Now the big one: What do you actually do?


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Joey

posted February 8, 2010 at 3:47 pm


The 5mph is a bad idea. It isn’t a catch all and, in fact, suppresses the texting of non-drivers in cars. Won’t fly.



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Brett G

posted February 8, 2010 at 3:52 pm


What about passengers? Shouldn’t they be able to text, etc. as necessary?



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Studies Show..

posted February 8, 2010 at 4:02 pm


Studies show that texting while driving, or talking on the phone while driving are no more of a hazard than talking to someone in the passenger seat while driving…
This whole thing is simply lawmakers trying to look like they are ‘accomplishing something.’



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Mark Baker-Wright

posted February 8, 2010 at 4:06 pm


I’d appreciate the chance to actually SEE some of these so-called “studies” that indicate that texting while driving isn’t so dangerous after all. Because it seems pretty absurdly obvious that it IS.
(Heck, you have to look back and forth to your phone to text! That’s GOTTA be more dangerous than just having a conversation! And that’s not to say that such conversations have no potential for danger….)
This sounds to me like a knee-jerk “keep the lawmakers away” response to me.



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Karl

posted February 8, 2010 at 4:16 pm


I thought studies had shown texting to be roughly as dangerous as driving while slightly over the legal alcohol limit; but that driving while talking on the cell phone was more akin to talking to someone in the passenger seat.
But I don’t have a link to any such studies – just repeating what I was told or read somewhere. “IF” it’s true that texting while driving is roughly equivalent to driving with a BAC slightly over the legal limit, then it makes sense that it should be prevented just as vigorously as drunk driving is.



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AEW

posted February 8, 2010 at 4:26 pm


I don’t know that the laws banning texting are worth while but it is a huge problem. So many of the teenagers I work with do it and I find it terrifying that they are paying so little attention to what is going on around them.
I don’t talk or text unless I am at a stoplight. After countless frustrated moments around slow, reckless and just plain bad drivers I realized that I am probably not immune from the same texting/calling behavior while driving. So I stopped.



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Trav

posted February 8, 2010 at 4:46 pm


Here in Australia, touching your mobile phone is illegal if your car is switched on.
I’m ashamed to admit that I do regularly break this law. Although, in my experience it’d have to take the cake as the “most broken law”, perhaps after jaywalking!



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Mich

posted February 8, 2010 at 4:55 pm


I think any idiot knows talking or texting on your cellphone while driving is NOT the best idea.
Make it illegal to do either.
I don’t text and avoid talking on my cell while driving.
The study results are here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/21/technology/21distracted.html
What the demonstrate is this:
The researchers also shelved a draft letter they had prepared for Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta to send, warning states that hands-free laws might not solve the problem.
That letter said that hands-free headsets did not eliminate the serious accident risk. The reason: a cellphone conversation itself, not just holding the phone, takes drivers? focus off the road, studies showed.
Naturally we needed to spend a boatload of money to determine this; our tax dollars at work!



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Troy

posted February 8, 2010 at 5:55 pm


I’m a big fan of “laize fare” myself. Stop spending the money to develop policing technologies, expect the authorities to intervene when appropriate, and hold the public accountable to the laws of the land.
I personally don’t like to text under any circumstance, and avoid talking on the phone while driving at all costs. But when I do have to place a call, I have a factory installed Bluetooth system integrated into my stereo with a 500 entry phonebook, and calls are always to a stored contact so I can speak the name I want to reach and have it dialed for me. I never have to touch my phone that way while driving.



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Pat

posted February 8, 2010 at 5:56 pm


I very seldom talk, much less text, while driving. As for a phone app to shut the phone down, I don’t think that’s a good idea. What if the person is making an emergency phone call or texting an emergency call for help? Maybe they’re not in a safe area to pull over or are being carjacked. I think we just keep reinforcing to people the need to be safe and not to talk (or text) and drive unless absolutely necessary.



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JohnF

posted February 8, 2010 at 6:52 pm


I’ve NEVER seen a study that says it isn’t dangerous to text or talk on the cell while driving. I’ve never seen a study that concludes it’s like talking to someone in the backseat, because there are definitely different cognitive processes.
In fact, it’s like driving while drunk, and anyone who engages in it is a threat to my safety.
If you want the government out of it, are you also in favor of the laize faire approach to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol?
I can drive perfectly fine after two or three beers, just as you can drive perfectly fine while talking on the phone.



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Darryl

posted February 8, 2010 at 8:28 pm


While I’m a closet libertarian, I think this is one I have to agree with. We have no problem with government penalizing behavior that is dangerous to others. We make driving while intoxicated illegal because it kills other people. I think it is pretty obvious texting while driving is nearly as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. It only takes a friend or close relative to be the victim of someone’s foolish behavior to bring this home.



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MatthewS

posted February 8, 2010 at 8:44 pm


Talking while using a bluetooth earpiece allows full range of head movement and full use of both hands. If you block someone from talking to anyone or listening to anything while driving, I think it is just as much a risk they will become mesmerized by the road and become just as dangerous as if listening to the radio or talking. Give the human brain some credit, I say.
Texting requires the use of at least one hand and visually inspecting the keypad and the screen. It seems necessary to me for one’s eyes to leave the road for several seconds at a time, in addition to considering the message being typed or read. I do not text while driving and don’t mind rules against it except such rules tend to multiply and become less sensible, in my estimation.



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ron

posted February 9, 2010 at 10:11 am


I can’t walk safely down the hall while texting. That prohibiting it while operating a potentially lethal vehicle is in any way a matter of contention simply blows my mind.



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Kraig

posted February 9, 2010 at 12:12 pm


I live in Cleveland, Ohio. We recently enacted a ban on texting while driving. Most people respect the law but I believe more can still be done. I personally do not text while driving and try to avoid talking on the phone while I drive as much as possible. I think it would be appropriate for cities to require the use of hands-free devices and I would support technology that blocks phones from texting while moving >5mph. Potential problem: the driver’s phone would be de-activated as well as any passengers in his car. The current research demonstrates a strong correlation between cell phone use and impaired driving ability. That being said I agree with JohnF… if you want to text and drive I will watch out for you on the road on my way home from the bar…



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Mike

posted February 9, 2010 at 2:53 pm


I’m in favor of the bans on texting. I had a incident recently where I realized that I’d driven more than a quarter-mile without looking in front of me. Yikes! I was so scared, I don’t want to repeat that.
Also, near my office, the school district is one of the few that has a ordinance enforced by the local police: no cell phone usage within a quarter mile (or so) of any campus while driving for any driver. Not even hands-free headsets! It’s a tough one for all of the mom’s picking up children! :) I believe it only applies for moving vehicles.



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Leigh Gilly

posted February 9, 2010 at 3:52 pm


Disclaimer – I am the Director of Business Development for cellcontrol
Our product does not use GPS. We determine movement at 1 mph and it only blocks when you are in your car. It is very accurate and ENFORCEABLE.
The beep and ring of the phone has become impossible to ignore.
Our solution give you the self control to break the habit.



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Gordon

posted February 9, 2010 at 4:09 pm


Texting while driving? Well talking on the phone is bad enough.
When communicating via phone a lot more concentration and distraction takes place. Like someone watching tv with a loud conversation going on in the background the block out everything in order to hear the TV even their spouse and kids. What if someone is driving and they block out too much.
The text block is interesting but how would it distinguish between driver and passengers?
Gordon.



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John Mark Harris

posted February 9, 2010 at 4:54 pm


All these laws are stupid. More effort should be made to educate people about the dangers of texting (or drinking, or not wearing a seatbelt, or changing the radio, or putting on makeup, or eating, or reading, etc…) rather than picking a few of these and making them illegal, because we will never get them all.
It’s also counterintuitive. Did you know that more kids are killed by cars while they are riding their bikes since “helmet laws” have been enacted? Do you know why? People feel kids are safer now, so they let their guard down. Did you know there’s more head injuries in the NFL than in professional rugby? You know why? The NFL have the most advanced helmets of any sport, and rugby has none. NFL players assume they are safe, rugby players realize they have their own responsibility to protect their head.
As long as it is clearly explained to people that texting while driving is extremely dangerous, they should be able to choose to do it or not. If they wreck their car, insurance companies should be able to deny them a claim as a result (but again, that’s up to the insurance company). “But they could hurt or even kill people” true, and true if they are texting or not. We allow people to make choices, and then punish those that put other in danger. If someone kills another person because they are distracted behind the wheel, that’s negligent homicide at the very least.
RESPONSIBILITY is the key. If we think it’s the government’s job to make us safer, we will never do it for ourselves and we will be less safe. If someone breaks into your house and kills your family, that is not the police department’s fault, it’s yours. You need to take care of yourself and your family. The government can do all that it can to help in all areas of our lives, but it should never function in areas where the INDIVIDUAL is responsible.
This kind of law does nothing to increase safety. If I text while I drive in a rural zone driving through the corn fields of IL you’re in far less danger than the woman who’s driving through a downtown area putting on makeup while she eats breakfast. Let us do what we want, then if we damage something, throw “the book” at us.
Educate on the front end, and punish on the back end, everything in-between is not the government’s business…
Just the way I see it. LEAVE US ALONE NANY STATE!



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#John1453

posted February 9, 2010 at 7:22 pm


The is has two aspects: (1) technology, and (2) free rider / scot free (I’m of Scottish descent, so I feel free to use a ethnicist phrase).
First, the problem is caused by technology, so it is appropriate that the solution is technological. Moreover, the technological issue is simple and cheap to implement and has no negative implications or costs on those who wouldn’t text anyway. Contrast that with speed limits. One could install governors on all cars, but not only are they easily sidestepped (unlike programming a phone), but the implications on non-speeders (meaning scofflaws) are significant. What if its a life or death matter to rush to a hospital? What if you need increased speed to pass on a highway or to avoid an accident?
Second, any law against texting is almost impossible to enforce, as has been discovered in jurisdictions that have laws against talking on cell phones. Such laws have an instructive or norm setting function rather than a crime deterrant function. They pronounce what we as a society are against, but no one really expects them to be enforced in anything close to the way in which thefts are investigated and sanctioned. There is a very mild deterrant effect because there is a slight chance that one might be sighted on a phone and pulled over. But this slight deterrant effect is not sufficient to have any noticeable effect on the frequency or total number of accidents, etc. One might compare this to seat belt laws, even after decades there is still a substantial level of non-compliance, and the lack of a seatbelt is much more visually apparent at distances than texting.
regards,
#John



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MIke M

posted February 9, 2010 at 8:16 pm


If we really want government to manage our lives to prevent accidents, then just ban cellphones. Better yet, ban cars and lower pollution, too, then we can keep our cellphones.



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