EDITORIAL: Time and a place for cell phone use
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#1 Jun 13, 2011
All those years ago, when I started driving, we all made light of driving after drinking. Then, through the efforts of many groups, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving, we were all educated about how incredibly selfish and stupid it is to drink and drive.
Cell phones are the same. Literally.
There are numerous studies online showing that driving while texting or talking on a cell phone is as challenging to a driver as driving drunk. Yet everyday on the road, I see people talking on their phones and driving. I know before I even see that they are on the phone, because they over brake, under accelerate, weave from side to side, don't use signals etc.
I hear the same stuff said about driving while on a phone as I heard all those years ago about drinking and driving. "Oh I know its wrong, but..."
I guess it is just like drinking and driving in another way...more people will have to be injured, or even killed, before people wise up.
#2 Jun 14, 2011
This is ridiculous legislation. Statistics show that the majority of accidents are not caused by cellular phone use; and most people who talk on their cellular phone while driving are not involved in accidents. The American people are being duped because of a minority of people who are probably poor drivers to begin with.
Studies have been conducted in states where cellular phone use while driving has been banned; and the results are that the laws have not had any favorable impact on vehicle accidents. Of course, politics rules the day and these stories are rapidly buried. Those who pushed and pestered, and those who passed these kind of laws do not want to look like fools for being wrong. So, these results will be explained away, or swept under the rug in hopes that they will be forgotten.
Furthermore, if we are at the risk that the lawmaker think we are when talking on a handheld phone while driving, then they must be consistent and ban the use of laptop computers by police and emergency response personnel while their vehicles are in motion. What do you think is worse? Talking on a phone while I am driving? Or, typing on a keyboard and averting my gaze away from the road so I can read information that flashes up on a computer screen while I am driving? Take your pick.
For years, the 911 police dispatchers did a fine job of broadcasting license, registration, and warrant information over the air. The officer could radio the information and receive it just as fast and keep his or eyes on the road. The information does not arrive any faster to the laptop it did to the dispatcher's terminal. Even if it does - is it worth your life? While these folks do an exceptional job, nevertheless, they are still humans who a are subject to the same flaws like everyone else. If cell phones are such a distraction that we need laws to ban their use while driving, then laptops are riskier yet. At least I can watch the road while I drive. Simply wearing uniform does not transform them into someone who is suddenly impervious to the shortcomings that beset everyone else!
The story that is out about the accident on I-83 a few weeks ago, when a young police officer drove into the back of a tractor trailer and then was rear-ended by another tractor trailer, is that this occurred because the Officer was distracted by his laptop computer while driving. So, we have one young officer who will never be the same again. In addition, the suspect who was handcuffed in the back of the police car lost his leg. Regardless of the fact that he was under suspicion for committing an offense, he was still helplesa and a victim to someone else's negligence that did not need to occur.
Also, new 911 dispatch systems have discussed dispatching ambulances and fire dept. by via pager instead of voice announcement. So, your local ambulance or fire dept. will get dispatch information sent to a pager to be read off of a display screen. Rather than using their ears to listen, they will now have to get their dispatch information by averting the gaze to another gadget - take your eyes off the road to read the pager display.
Will our lawmakers have the guts to take on law enforcement and the emergency services and pass laws that forbid them to use this technology while they are in motion in a vehicle - just like they have no problem shoving cell phone bans down our throats?
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