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Wednesday, December 14, 2011
If you're going to ban cell phones....
I read with interest this morning the National Transportation and Safety Board's recommendation that cell phone use be banned while driving.

And while texting while driving or talking on your phone can be major distractions, I somehow feel like these two are just the whipping boys when it comes to the issue of distracted drivers.  If we're going to ban these two practices, then we also need the laws that address people who put on make-up while driving, those who read a book, newspaper or other such reading material while behind the wheel (only a few weeks ago, I witnessed a driver reading a thick paperback while in the middle of morning rush hour!), changing the radio station or song on your .mp3 player while operating a car, listening to a talk show that gets you passionate in one way or another (in fact, they may have to eliminate radios entirely while driving).  And I haven't even begun to cover having pets, children or other people in the car who could possibly distract you while driving.

The proposed ban doesn't even begin to consider how you possibly go about enforcing such laws.  Since Tennessee passed the ban on texting while driving, I've seen numerous media reports about how the law hasn't really been enforced and how it really isn't all that easy or a high priority for law enforcement.   And in the day and age with budget cuts looming for many law enforcement departments, do we really need our law enforcement officials out there looking for those using a cell phone while driving or might those resources be better used for investigating and/or preventing other crimes?

So, while the ban may sound really good and generate a few headlines today and in the days to come, in reality it's just another attempt by the nanny state to regulate our lives from womb to tomb.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/14/2011 07:02:00 AM | |
Comments:
I think all of those things already illegal to do while driving?

I think the problem is that we wait for the government to tell us what the right thing to do is, the people should have the common sense to do that, but must of us don't I guess.
 
I'm not sure if there is a specific law that says you can't drive and put on make-up, etc. But it wouldn't surprise me if there is.

Honestly, it's a bit silly to try and legislate out all bad behavior.
 
A couple things here...and this is from a law enforcement perspective. Let me qualify myself first. I have been an Officer with the State Patrol for just shy of 14 years. I have worked major metropolitan areas to large widespread rural areas as well. For the past two years I have been an instructor at our Academy. I am certified to the Advanced Level of Collision Investigation, I have made over several hundred DUI (DWI) Arrests, investigated close to a thousand collisions, hundreds involving fatalities. I am currently the Collision Investigation instructor at our academy.

The term "Distracted Driver" is, in my onion, is a misnomer. Distracted Driver is a broad term that can refer to all the things you covered. There are specific laws for those types of distractions. But what is really meant by the "Texting While Driving" issue is what is referred to as "Divided Attention Impairment." You see, this is the term that is symbiotic with DUI (DWI). When a person is driving, there are so many motor skills that a person is using, but he/she does not realize it because driving has become habit. You have to watch for traffic, watch for other vehicles coming in and out of your lane, traffic slowing ahead of you, constantly scanning your mirrors, checking your blind spot, modulating the throttle, and maintaining a space cushion. If you are real good, you can do all this and listen to the radio while singing along as well.

Think back to when you first began to drive. It was both exciting but nerve-racking at the same time. You were slow and cautious, no radio because you didn’t want that “distraction,” hands at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel, and then when you got on the freeway…OMG. But as time went on, it became more comfortable.

Alcohol is a depressant and interferes with your ability to coordinate and multi task at the same time. It creates Divided Attention Impairment. The alcohol slows or delays your reaction, impairs your perception, judgment, and reasoning. It also causes you to focus on only a few things, like maybe maintaining your roadway position, but compromising your ability to maintain the speed of the normal flow of traffic. That’s just a small example.

But when you add a mobile phone to a perfectly normal, sober, coherent, person who is operating a motor vehicle, and that person now focus their attention to the mobile phone…you essentially have the same issue as the DUI, but is some cases its worse! Now you remove your attention from the roadway, (wherever your head goes, your body goes) and are focused on the reading or manipulating the small keys on the phone. It truly does impair the ability to drive. I have seen it.
 
A couple things here...and this is from a law enforcement perspective. Let me qualify myself first. I have been an Officer with the State Patrol for just shy of 14 years. I have worked major metropolitan areas to large widespread rural areas as well. For the past two years I have been an instructor at our Academy. I am certified to the Advanced Level of Collision Investigation, I have made over several hundred DUI (DWI) Arrests, investigated close to a thousand collisions, hundreds involving fatalities. I am currently the Collision Investigation instructor at our academy.

The term "Distracted Driver" is, in my onion, is a misnomer. Distracted Driver is a broad term that can refer to all the things you covered. There are specific laws for those types of distractions. But what is really meant by the "Texting While Driving" issue is what is referred to as "Divided Attention Impairment." You see, this is the term that is symbiotic with DUI (DWI). When a person is driving, there are so many motor skills that a person is using, but he/she does not realize it because driving has become habit. You have to watch for traffic, watch for other vehicles coming in and out of your lane, traffic slowing ahead of you, constantly scanning your mirrors, checking your blind spot, modulating the throttle, and maintaining a space cushion. If you are real good, you can do all this and listen to the radio while singing along as well.

Think back to when you first began to drive. It was both exciting but nerve-racking at the same time. You were slow and cautious, no radio because you didn’t want that “distraction,” hands at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel, and then when you got on the freeway…OMG. But as time went on, it became more comfortable.

Alcohol is a depressant and interferes with your ability to coordinate and multi task at the same time. It creates Divided Attention Impairment. The alcohol slows or delays your reaction, impairs your perception, judgment, and reasoning. It also causes you to focus on only a few things, like maybe maintaining your roadway position, but compromising your ability to maintain the speed of the normal flow of traffic. That’s just a small example.

But when you add a mobile phone to a perfectly normal, sober, coherent, person who is operating a motor vehicle, and that person now focus their attention to the mobile phone…you essentially have the same issue as the DUI, but is some cases its worse! Now you remove your attention from the roadway, (wherever your head goes, your body goes) and are focused on the reading or manipulating the small keys on the phone. It truly does impair the ability to drive. I have seen it.
 
In fact, just 2 weeks ago, I was in Nashville, and I was coming from the Grand Ole Opry merging onto the freeway. I was behind my sister in law. We were in a left turn lane onto the freeway from a street, and there were two left turn lanes, we were in the right lane. There was a white pickup in the lane to the left of my sister in law. As the light phased to green, both the white truck and my sister began to make their turn onto the freeway. I was directly behind my sister in-law. I had a clear and unobstructed view of the entire scene, and I could see through the rear window of the truck and observe the driver. The truck veered to the right almost completely into my sister in law’s lane. I could see the driver looking down, left hand on the wheel, and his right hand held a phone. The light from the screen was illuminating his face. When he looked up, he realized how close he was to my sister in law and over reacted by turning his steering wheel sharply to the left, and unfortunately he turned to sharp. He drove off the roadway, down the embankment, and overturned onto the freeway below. Divided Attention Impairment.

The NTSB is making a suggestion, and I believe it is a good one, especially if it saves lives. There was uproar when the seatbelt law came into effect…and I see what not wearing a seatbelt does to people.

General reaction time is 1.5 second. .75 seconds to perceive, and .75 seconds to react to the perception. That’s in perfect conditions. Additionally, a vehicle travels at 1.5 ft second for every Mph. So if a person is say, 20ft behind the vehicle in front of them, that means they are traveling at 30 ft per second. If the vehicle in front breaks or comes to a sudden stop…the person behind has no time to react. Add a person looking at a mobile phone…BOOM.

Now, that all being said…I am not opposed to a hands free device. We have out law and reads like this:
 
23123. (a) A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a
wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and
configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, and is used in
that manner while driving.

23123.5. (a) A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using
an electronic wireless communications device to write, send, or read
a text-based communication.
(b) As used in this section "write, send, or read a text-based
communication" means using an electronic wireless communications
device to manually communicate with any person using a text-based
communication, including, but not limited to, communications referred
to as a text message, instant message, or electronic mail.

I believe in States rights, and freedom of choice, but this law is designed for prevent others from being injured or killed by the person who has attention focused on his phone while operating a vehicle.

I hate seeing people die, kids die, from things that could easily have been prevented.

I do respect your opinion Mike. I just wanted to give a Enforcement perspective.
 
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