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NTSB Recommends Cell Phone Ban For Drivers 938

ducomputergeek writes "According to this AP report, the National Transportation Safety Board says 'States should ban all driver use of cell phones and other portable electronic devices, except in emergencies.' '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.' So what about all the cars today that come with built-in computers, navigation, internet capabilities, and cell phones?"
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NTSB Recommends Cell Phone Ban For Drivers

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  • Great idea! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Superdarion ( 1286310 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @03:31PM (#38359108)

    Let's also ban talking to your passengers and thinking about food while you drive.

  • Re:Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TFoo ( 678732 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @03:32PM (#38359136)
    You're right, because no passengers should be allowed to talk on the phone either....
  • Docked Phones? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sanosuke001 ( 640243 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @03:34PM (#38359154)
    What about my docked phone that is playing music? Can I even have it running? Is pressing "next" equal to hitting your in-car stereo's next button?

    I completely agree with not allowing non-hands-free talking and especially with texting, but all electronic usage is a bit vague...
  • Re:Great idea! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by raydobbs ( 99133 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @03:35PM (#38359166) Homepage Journal

    ...or listening to the radio, needing to use the bathroom, or being an asshole in the near vicinity of a car. Of course, this -really- punishes those who have always used hands-free technologies, used their phones responsibly, and drive safely every day. They HAVE to be a problem - because the NTSB says so...

  • Needed to be done. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tufriast ( 824996 ) * on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @03:36PM (#38359198)
    I hate to break it to people, techies included, but talking on your phone and driving kills people. Its a pretty well known fact and insurance companies are even charging higher premiums to people who have had a cell phone related accident (more than a normal rate increase). Ultimately this is the states' call, but if it was your kid, significant other, or friend who got killed by someone texting/talking on their phone would you let it go?
  • First, please ban: (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @03:37PM (#38359220)

    Doing make-up
    Driving without seat-belts
    Dogs in the front seat. ... then maybe we can talk.

  • Re:Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @03:38PM (#38359244) Homepage Journal

    We're one step closer to a (very) short range cell phone jammer in cars that jam all cell phone signals inside the car whenever the car is moving at, say, more than 10mph.

    Tried to buy one of these, years ago. They're banned. Every time a site pops up selling them assembled or in kit, they vanish shortly afterward. Some funny old FCC thing baring them.

    Probably more likely to cause an accident anyway, as the driver on the phone looks at their phone which has lost connection and/or attempts to redial, when they should be watching the road ahead.

    I hear so many anecdotal stories about how drivers are perfectly functional and alert when driving and blathering (about what urgent matter, exactly?), but most accidents I see a driver was distracted. Even seen a three vehicle accident in bumper-to-bumper crawl, where the two following drivers were clearly not paying attention.

    Banned in California, but I still see a lot of drivers with that slab of plastic pressed to the side of their head as they go down the road. Fines not high enough? Insurance not high enough? Maybe when they put cameras on overpasses to photograph the offending drivers and mail them the tickets. (We already have cameras on intersections for red-light runners.)

  • Citation please (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Scareduck ( 177470 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @03:41PM (#38359310) Homepage Journal

    If it's so damned dangerous, why do the cops get a permanent exception?

    Spare me the "talking on your phone and driving kills people" sophistry. So does anything else that distracts from driving. Shall we next eliminate cupholders in cars because drinking and driving "kills people", too?

  • Re:Great idea! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mellon ( 7048 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @03:41PM (#38359314) Homepage

    Yes, but is it in fact, as you say, "good science?" I'm pretty skeptical.

  • by mapkinase ( 958129 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @03:42PM (#38359326) Homepage Journal

    Drivers should be only punished if there driving is dangerous. Drivers exhibiting signs of impaired driving (like slow reaction), excessively long cushions to the next car, speed lower than traffic.

    The amount of preventive punishment: seat belts, speed limits, etc is mind boggling. All in the name of safety.

    Punish drivers for the crime, actual accident which was there fault, actual impediment to the traffic, not for the achieving preconditions of what will actually happen. As long as I am concerned the driver could be sleeping on the back seat, if his robotic car manages to drive the car meanwhile.

    This is all of course excludes DUI. Those need to be moved to the buses for life, period.

  • Re:Great idea! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @03:42PM (#38359330)

    Research has shown that, for most people, talking on cell phones is far more distracting than those other activities. Let's follow the science: if good science says it's dangerous, then let's take the appropriate action.

    Good science should be pretty easy. How much did accident rates drop when cellphone bans were imposed?

    Oddly, I hear a lot about the evils of cellphone use while driving, but I've never seen a story about how many fewer accidents there are now cellphone use has been banned.

    I don't have a problem with expecting drivers to concentrate on driving while... you know... driving, but I'd like to know whether these bans actually work before imposing yet more.

  • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @03:44PM (#38359364)

    Lesson would seem to be not to text while driving, and definitely don't text while driving in front of multiple school buses with bad brakes.

    Surely the lesson would seem to be: make sure school buses have working brakes?

  • Public Transit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TrumpetPower! ( 190615 ) <> on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @03:44PM (#38359372) Homepage

    I'm amazed that people are still so passionate about driving themselves to work and so vehemently opposed to public transit. Don't all y'all realize that you could spend your commute time texting and Tweeting and talking and what-not with reckless abandon if you let a professional handle the driving for you?

    On top of it, a transit system done right is faster, far cheaper, and much more efficient than one in which single-occupancy multi-passenger vehicles are the norm. Instead of sitting in stop-and-go traffic on the freeway for an hour, you could be in a train doing 100 mph down the median of that same freeway...if only such a train existed.

    Don't get me worng. Cars are awesome, and a vital part of any modern transportation system. But the balance of the American transportation system is skewed so far in favor of cars that it's become the most expensive, slowest, most dangerous, most inconvenient, most inefficient transportation system you could design.



  • Because (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AdamJS ( 2466928 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @03:46PM (#38359436)

    Cops are above the law, of course.

  • Re:Public Transit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @03:48PM (#38359494)

    I'm amazed that people are still so passionate about driving themselves to work and so vehemently opposed to public transit.

    That's because public transit sucks.

    If I take the bus to work I get to stand outside at -40 waiting for it, then it takes half an hour to get to the depot, then I stand in the cold for a few minutes waiting to change to another bus, then it takes an other half hour to get to work. Then I get to do the same on the way back, except for the days when it's really cold and snowy and the bus is half an hour late so I have to wait at the bus stop and hope that it's going to turn up before I get frostbite because if I go inside to warm up then I can be sure that the bus will arrive right then.

    Alternatively I can drive and it takes fifteen minutes.

  • Re:Great idea! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blueg3 ( 192743 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @03:48PM (#38359498)

    That's not good science at all. You don't even have a control group.

  • Re:Citation please (Score:5, Insightful)

    by superdave80 ( 1226592 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @03:48PM (#38359504)

    Because cops are automatically better than us.

    That's why they can constantly record you out in public, but the second you try recording them it, it's 'wiretapping' or 'interfering with police business'.

    That's why they can carry loaded guns, but the average citizen just can't be trusted to do the same.

    They can speed as much as they damn well please, because they are better drivers than you.

  • Re:Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @03:52PM (#38359572) Homepage Journal

    Giving the driver the opportunity to pull over and answer a call would also be unacceptable.

    Reminds me of the difference between Reasons and Excuse. Humans are, beyond the use of mere tools, distinguished from animals by their ability to rationalise.

    Reason: "I was unable to avoid hitting the car in front of me because they suddenly pulled into my lane and slammed on their brakes."

    Excuse: "I was unable to avoid hitting the car [I had been following for the past mile] because they suddenly hit their brakes [which I didn't see, because I was in a conversation on my phone] and stopped too fast for me to react."

    See the difference? One beyond means to avoid, one within means to avoid. People talk to LEOs, after accidents, like these two are interchangeable.

  • by RingDev ( 879105 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @03:57PM (#38359666) Homepage Journal

    Seeing how 2010 had the lowest number of fatalities, and most of the data I've seen has shown a droping trendline of reduced accidents per vehicle mile driven (your link only shows total fatalities, not fatalities per miles driven), wouldn't that be an indicator that current advances are working and what should be done is minor incremental improvement as needed as opposed to sweeping huge changes?

    I mean, if we saw a huge spike coming out of the 90's and a trendline pointing north through the 2000's, I'd be fully behind the efforts to ban all cell phone usage in cars.

    But what we see is that the vast majority of people using electronics while driving are doing so in a responsible and safe manner. Sure, we should continue to hammer down on people who are not doing so, but I don't see the need for sweeping changes when things are already going in the right direction.


  • CB Radios (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cogneato ( 600584 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @03:59PM (#38359704) Homepage

    When I was a kid in the 70s, nearly everyone I knew had a CB radio in their cars and trucks (I grew up in a family of truckers in the country). So how are hands-free phones different than CB radios? Actually, CBs aren't even hands free. Is there something different behind the mentality of using a CB radio vs a cellphone? Or was using a CB always dangerous and just not used by as many people? I can't remember any conversations ever about the possible dangers of using a CB radio.

    Suppose I put my phone on speaker and then pugged in a mic that had a curly wire and button I pressed to talk, making it basically function like a CB radio. Would the danger level of using it decrease (when compared to using it entirely hands free)?

  • Re:Basic Speed Law (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@nerdfl[ ]com ['at.' in gap]> on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @04:02PM (#38359780) Journal

    They get their driving privileges back because, in the USA, driving is considered essential.

    And if they didn't get their driving privileges back, there'd just be a lot more people driving without a valid driver's license.

  • by mungtor ( 306258 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @04:04PM (#38359812)

    This is all of course excludes DUI. Those need to be moved to the buses for life, period.

    Why should it exclude DUI? Unless you're driving dangerously, it's just as safe as talking on the phone. Probably more so, since if you're a little drunk you're concentrating on driving and looking out for cops, rather than fucking around with your phone and being generally oblivious to your surroundings.

  • Re:Citation please (Score:5, Insightful)

    by clodney ( 778910 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @04:18PM (#38360136)

    They can speed as much as they damn well please, because they are better drivers than you.

    Given that cops actually get additional driver training for the situations they are in, they are in fact better drivers than most people on the road.

  • Re:Citation please (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ThinkingGuy ( 551764 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @04:18PM (#38360146) Homepage
    I actually asked a police officer about this subject once. Specifically, I asked if they received any special training on how to drive and talk on the radio/phone at the same time. His response was, in effect: No, there's no special training, but witnessing on a daily basis the deaths, injuries, and carnage caused by careless driving serves as a strong motivation to exercise caution while driving.
  • Re:Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lpp ( 115405 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @04:23PM (#38360264) Homepage Journal

    I actually remember an ad that would air AGES ago about not driving while distracted. That's right, just opposed to allowing yourself to be distracted. It was a radio ad and in it, it described a young woman who ended up rear ending someone because they were too busy fiddling with the radio knob. Another one where someone dropped their cassette in the floorboard and reached down to fish it up again.

    I see no practical difference between having a conversation with someone sitting next to me in the passenger seat vs having an earpiece in and having a conversation over my phone or even through one of those cab-audible bluetooth arrangements. And there may be some who oppose having any conversation in the car whatsoever but then that brings up parent's point about bored drivers. Bored drivers are dangerous drivers too. The fact is, driving is dangerous. Quit nannying me and let's just teach the concept of personal responsibility.

  • Re:Great idea! (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @04:29PM (#38360390)

    So your hand waving bullshit with dubious assumptions is better than all the actual studies. So you find the one study that matches your anecdotal evidence, and that's the go to result. Wow. I hope to Jeebus you aren't actually employed as a scientist anywhere. Seriously, you are clean off the friggen rails here and burning in the corn field.

  • Re:Good! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by AJH16 ( 940784 ) <aj&gccafe,com> on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @04:54PM (#38360822) Homepage

    While I would disagree with texting since it requires you to look away from the road. I see no possible argument for eliminating cell phone usage all together. Are we also going to make it illegal for a driver to talk to anyone in the car? Perhaps we should put them in their own sound proof partition that doesn't allow them to see or hear anyone else in the vehicle. Similar to the previous poster, I have over 11 years of driving experience and probably several hundred thousand miles driven, drive an average of 10 miles an hour over the limit if the speed limit is 55 or higher and 5mph over if it is 20 or more. I have never had anyone impact my car and I have never been the cause of an accident. I have had several times when people tried very hard to hit my car, but I was able to avoid it because I am an attentive driver and maintain awareness of what is around me and drive safely. I have even spun out before at speed due to bad weather and unavoidable conditions (I've had cars that handle very poorly in the snow) and even then have managed to maintain sufficient control to avoid either traffic or obstacles. It takes two people not paying attention to cause an accident unless one person isn't moving and then it takes one really oblivious person or a mechanical failure.

  • Re:Great idea! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @04:54PM (#38360836) Homepage

    Should we give everyone a CB radio like long haul truckers use? Because apparently that's never been as dangerous as talking on a cell phone.

  • Re:Great idea! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by swalve ( 1980968 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @05:04PM (#38361012)
    It could also be that driving drunk isn't as dangerous as it is made out to be.
  • Re:Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @05:18PM (#38361336) Journal

    It's funny you should mention buses because by the sounds of things in TFA it was shared negligence on the part of bus drivers that caused the accident used to justify this recommendation:

    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.

    Sounds to me like the bus drivers were following too closely, not paying attention or the school districts failed to properly maintain the braking systems on the buses. Perhaps a combination of all three. The initial accident may well have been the fault of texting but the subsequent involvement of the school buses could easily have been avoided. Properly attentive drivers maintain sufficient following distance to avoid becoming involved in an accident that happens ahead of them.

    The three second rule [] would likely have prevented the buses from becoming involved in this accident. Why are there not any suggestions for improved school bus driver training attached to this recommendation?

  • Re:Great idea! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @05:20PM (#38361382) Homepage Journal

    The "one hand on the wheel" isn't what makes phones dangerous. The danger is when you're talking on the phone, all you're thinking about is the telephone conversation. It's how the brain is wired.

    Do you really think you need two hands on the wheel of a car with power steering? Hell, back when I was a kid 75% of drivers only had one hand on the (non-power steering) wheel, because a cigarette was in the other hand.

  • Re:Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @05:26PM (#38361506) Homepage Journal
    What about when you're using it quickly to:

    1. Update Trapster about a cop and radar you just passed (not illegal to do)

    2. Changing the station on Pandora or switching to a new album to play

    Hmm...will it now be illegal for me to use my CB radio? I have a unit that is not handheld, but it isn't mounted so as to be easier to take from car to car as, is it now a 'portable' electronic device?

    Look, we already have perfectly good laws on the books....if you're driving in an impared or reckless manner, they have the ability to pull you over for that.

    If you're driving badly, it shouldn't matter what you're doing...and if you're driving ok...leave me the fuck alone.

  • by Dcnjoe60 ( 682885 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @07:34PM (#38363602)

    A lot of liberals will say that thougher sentences don't stop repeat offenders, it shows all liberals are liars or just not very good at logic. No person put to death has ever offended again.

    Anyway, why make murder illegal then? It doesn't stop people so might as well legalize it.

    Actually, life in prison and those put to death have the same recidivism rate as to repeat offenders. If your goal is to stop repeat offenders, then life in prison is definitely more cost effective compared to the appeal process involved with executing people. In addition, at the outside chance that the wrong person is convicted, one of those methods is easier to reverse than the other. So, even though I am a conservative, the liberal logic seems spot on.

  • Re:Great idea! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Capt.DrumkenBum ( 1173011 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @08:08PM (#38363964)
    I hate government interference in our lives, but since some idiot on his phone can kill me, I am willing to accept it in this case.
    Mostly I was writing to the people who always come out of the woodwork saying "I am a good driver, and I can handle being on the phone." No you aren't, and no you can't. If you were a good driver you would know better than to talk on the phone.

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