ONTD Political

Government trying to block cell phones in cars

4:23 pm - 11/29/2010
Not content with laws banning talking or texting while driving, the U.S. Department of Transportation is considering adding technology to automobiles that would disable cell phones. The move is a response to the growing number of deaths and injuries related to distracted driving.

"I think the technology is there," said Raymond LaHood, the Secretary of Transportation. "And I think you're going to see the technology become adaptable in automobiles to disable these cell phones."

In addition to his comments on disabled cell phones, LaHood also announced a new video campaign, "Faces of Distracted Driving." The series of online videos tells the stories of several victims of distracted driving. The DoT plans to add a new video every few weeks.

During his talk last week LaHood said that nearly 5,500 people died from distracted driving last year, and that about half a million were injured. That's a low estimate, according to Paul Atchley, a scientist at the University of Kansas who studies distracted driving.

LaHood's figures only account for known deaths or injuries — suspected deaths or injuries aren't included. The real numbers, said Atchley, are likely far higher, and will only get higher.

While there is no federal law against using a cell phone while driving a vehicle, dozens of states prohibit texting while driving in an effort to reduce the number of deaths or injuries. Several other states forbid drivers from using hand-held cell phones.

According to LaHood, laws aren't enough. Instead he plans to fight technology with technology. Hardware, such as cell phone jammers, are illegal, and the FCC isn't likely to approve any kind of jamming equipment. That leaves software from companies like Zoomsafter, tXtBlocker and iZup.

While the specifics differ, the general idea is the same. When a cell phone or a vehicle exceeds a certain speed, determined by the car and transmitted via Bluetooth or by the speed of the cell phone itself as measured by cell phone towers, the phone is automatically disabled.

That won't work, said Atchley. Most of these services are voluntary. It is not difficult for users to either not activate them, or to work around them.

The real answer to the problem is a change in people's attitudes. The research on drunk driving and distracted driving is quite similar, but the reactions of people to both are far different.

"When we ask young drivers about drunk driving, they say that judges should throw the book at drunk drivers, but not the person texting while driving," said Atchley.

"The bottom line is that people want to use these devices," said Atchley. "And things are going to get worse before they get better."


I agree that distracted driving is an issue, but WTF, overreact much? It's not like everyone in the car is driving; why shouldn't passengers be allowed to use their cell phones?
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celtic_thistle 30th-Nov-2010 03:29 am (UTC)
Let's just ban everything while driving! Drinking coffee, eating, putting on makeup, smoking, talking to your passenger...I agree distracted driving is bad, obviously, but ffs, this is ridiculous.
worldmage 30th-Nov-2010 03:56 am (UTC)
I would support a ban on noisy children in the car, personally.

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thepikey 30th-Nov-2010 03:36 am (UTC)
Also, how many people use their phone as a GPS?
fofomazuzu 30th-Nov-2010 03:35 am (UTC)
And what about passenger drivers and in emergency situations?

These people do not think this shit through.
skittish_derby 30th-Nov-2010 05:11 am (UTC)
that was my first thought-- what about emergency situations while driving? the passenger can't make the call or whatever? bogus

honeymane 30th-Nov-2010 03:38 am (UTC)
Just ban driving.

celtic_thistle 30th-Nov-2010 03:41 am (UTC)
gretchystretchy 30th-Nov-2010 03:43 am (UTC)
This is so far beyond the realm of stupid.
gretchystretchy 30th-Nov-2010 03:43 am (UTC)
That's a low estimate, according to Paul Atchley, a scientist at the University of Kansas who studies distracted driving.

Oh hey there, someone from my uni.
a_leprechaun 30th-Nov-2010 03:45 am (UTC)
Wow, this is idiotic and incredibly impractical. Within two seconds I'd already thought, "But what if someone else in the car, i.e. someone not driving, has to make/take a call?"

How do those kinds of questions not occur to the people behind these plans?
merig00 30th-Nov-2010 03:48 am (UTC)
Start with banning talkative passenger in the car. Instead of seatbelt/airbag warnings they'll have ones like in a bus "Do not talk to a driver while in motion" :D
luvlorn 30th-Nov-2010 04:09 pm (UTC)
Sometimes the talkative passenger helps keep the driver awake and alert though.
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notgarystu 30th-Nov-2010 04:32 am (UTC)
You don't call the cops while getting chased by a T-Rex, you MUST GO FASTER.
worldmage 30th-Nov-2010 03:53 am (UTC)
I'm sure this will be a great help when you have to call emergency services after a car accident.
worldmage 30th-Nov-2010 03:54 am (UTC)
N/M. Reading fail.
jiaren_shadow 30th-Nov-2010 03:54 am (UTC)
why shouldn't passengers be allowed to use their cell phones?

IKR? Around my neck of the woods, one of the duties of riding Shotgun is answering the driver's phone, making any necessary phone calls (on the driver's phone or Shotgun's phone), and sending text messages dictated by the driver.
whatisurdamage 30th-Nov-2010 04:03 am (UTC)
that's what i was thinking - i'd be pissed if it blocked use of my phone while in the passenger seat.
doitninetimes 30th-Nov-2010 03:59 am (UTC)
PROTIP: invest in public transportation. Then people can be as distracted as they want and not endanger anyone. /o\
jugglingeggs 30th-Nov-2010 04:11 am (UTC)
Don't know why governments always think of ways to make life more difficult instead of easier for their citizens. Investing this public transport, making it more efficient would be so much better than investing in technology to ban phone usage!
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othellia html fail30th-Nov-2010 04:32 am (UTC)
It's not like everyone in the car is driving; why shouldn't passengers be allowed to use their cell phones?

My first thought exactly. When multiple people are in multiple cars trying to coordinate things, if you don't want chaos to ensue they start becoming a necessity.

Edited at 2010-11-30 04:33 am (UTC)
brewsternorth Re: html fail30th-Nov-2010 04:45 am (UTC)
F'rinstance: certain kinds of cabdrivers.
erunamiryene 30th-Nov-2010 04:59 am (UTC)
I fail to see how talking on the phone, using a goddamn Bluetooth (which costs all of $20 now, FUCKING DRIVERS WHO CAN'T BE BOTHERED TO BUY ONE) is any different than talking to a passenger.

This is stupid.
maladaptive 30th-Nov-2010 02:57 pm (UTC)
Studies (from way back when those bluetooth sets were newish) have shown that handsfree sets can actually be more dangerous, because it's just as distracting as talking on a cellphone, but when you have one in your hand you tend to be more aware of the fact that you're distracted. Talking to a passenger is just as dangerous.

Dunno if there's new research, but it made sense to me.
rhonan 30th-Nov-2010 05:04 am (UTC)
I will agree to this only when cars are required to have child containment systems that completely isolate the driver from any children in the vehicle, and all drive-through windows are banned.
keeperofthekeys 30th-Nov-2010 05:06 am (UTC)
I have a hands-free set. I drive 4+ hours to DC and then back on the weekends to visit my bf pretty regularly; sometimes a light conversation with a friend or my mom is what I need to stay awake and focused on the empty interstate.
fizzy_pepsi 30th-Nov-2010 05:46 am (UTC)
I was thinking about that too. Talking on my cell phone has helped KEEP me from getting into accidents.
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