Re: [“Is It a Safer Call?” June 30], you cite scientists who claim that drivers' attention and processing capacities are "often stretched beyond safe limits when someone juggles the complex tasks of negotiating traffic and conversing with another remotely."
The remoteness of the person one is talking to has nothing to do with the distraction factor. How is talking to my wife via cellphone while driving any more distracting than talking to her as she sits in the car with me? How is it more distracting to talk to my wife remotely than to listen to the radio or a CD while driving?
If we honor the spirit of these scientists' findings, then we must drive alone or in silence, not play the radio or music while driving, take a mandatory cooling-off period of at least one hour before leaving the house to drive after a fight with one's spouse.
Does this sound as absurd to you as it does to me? I sure hope so.
In light of the scientific evidence set forth in the article that cellphone-using drivers (both hand-held and hands-free) have an 18% slower reaction time than drivers over the legal intoxication limit, and that they compensate for this by slowing down, exacerbating traffic congestion in the process, I propose formation of a new version of MADD to be called Motorists Against Distracted Drivers.
Any such cellphone-chatting drivers who get busted (whether or not an accident is involved) should be subjected to penalties equivalent to those imposed on drunk drivers, such as 48 hours in jail, community service (roadside trash pickup in orange vests, with no cellphones while doing so), huge fines, huge insurance rate increases, and weekly meetings for a year on the dangers of driving while cellphoning. They need to be stigmatized every bit as much as busted drunk drivers.
It's very simple folks: When you get in the car, turn off the phone. And when you get to your destination, you can check your voicemail for any calls that may have come in while you were driving. Please keep your hands on the wheel and keep your eyes and your mind on the road.
The new ban on hand-held phoning while driving is a political and commercial fraud. The governor and legislature claim to have improved safety while they have not done so, claiming to be responsible for the public safety while really satisfying "phone-y" drivers and cellphone manufacturers who will make more money selling new hands-free devices.
Surely the politicians knew that hands-free phones are no safer than hand-held ones and that they will still make drivers four times more likely to have an accident. But, hey, banning all phoning when driving (the obvious safety measure) would inconvenience voters and cut down on cellphone sales.
Politicians are in business to get reelected and to please business contributors, not to pass sensible and effective laws.
This is something I have agreed with for years -- that talking takes far more attention than listening (which you can tune out when you need to pay attention to something else). When I'm preparing food, and am in the middle of having something on the stove, I can listen and cook, but every time I try to talk and cook, I burn the food.
How to deal with drivers on cellphones
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