[FoRK] Laws that ban texting while driving couldbecounter productive

Aaron Burt aaron at bavariati.org
Mon Sep 19 14:51:45 PDT 2011

On Mon, Sep 19, 2011 at 01:41:25PM -0700, Stephen Williams wrote:
> On 9/19/11 12:39 PM, Aaron Burt wrote:
> >On Mon, Sep 19, 2011 at 10:05:22AM -0700, Stephen Williams wrote:
> >>On 9/19/11 5:57 AM, Eugen Leitl wrote:
> >>>This page lists those countries that have banned the use of a cell phone
> >>>when driving unless used with some form of hands-free kit.
> >>That's no ban,
> >Ooohhhh...kaaayyyy...
> No real ban on phone use, just a mode of use which is annoying
> anyway.  That so many people resist headsets (including my kids) is
> strange to me.

Strange to you, but works for me.  And I think it accomplishes something
you would like, which is to ensure that inexperienced drivers and dumbasses
are banned from doing something stupid and dangerous, while folks who are
experienced or smart enough to use hands-free are OK to do so.

I'd prefer a ban on handsfree, too, but like I said before, it's impractical.

> And recent reports are that at least 25% of young people (or everyone
> perhaps) ignore the handheld ban altogether.

Yeah, it's too bad folks have realized that cops aren't enforcing it.

> >>It doesn't seem like there is strong evidence of a drastic increase
> >>of risk overall except for anecdotal evidence about particularly
> >>clueless drivers who are likely the ones causing stupid accidents in
> >>other ways anyway.
> >Where have you been hiding?  There's been studies for over a decade, many
> >of which got mainstream news coverage.  STFW "cell phone impairment study".
> >Most are driving-simulator studies, but crash statistics bear it out:
> >http://www.bmj.com/content/331/7514/428.abstract
> A cell phone impairment study, usually at universities and usually
> with inexperience student drivers, doesn't impress me

Cool.  I don't care what impresses you.  I care what the evidence of
multiple well-designed peer-reviewed studies say.  Studies compare relative
impairment between older and younger drivers.  Studies analyze accidents.
Studies investigate impairment mechanisms.  Like Global Warming, we've gone
from "does it exist?" to "how does it work?" and "how do we mitigate it?"

> since I know from personal vast experience that with training it is not a
> significant problem.  Plus, I don't see it.

First you're saying, "there's not enough evidence, it's just anecdotal",
now you're saying, "my anecdotes are better than the evidence."

> If this were so dangerous, and with the fact that most drivers use their
> phones a lot, accident rates should have shot up with mobile phone use,

Right, because cellphone use is the sole determinant of accident rates.

> >University of Utah has been doing a lot of interesting work on inattention
> Red flag.  I don't trust their lack of bias.

How nice for you.  It must be wonderful to simply dismiss anyone who
disagrees with what you want to believe.  There's a term for that, ya know...

> >blindness and cellphones.  A recent study (negatively) correlated IB with
> >working memory capacity.
> The only working memory needed for driving is navigation, which is nearly
> always safely recoverable.

You should read the study.  It's interesting how broadly useful working
memory is.  (It's also something that can be developed, to some extent.)

> >So, yes, there are people who can handle it (just like there are people who
> >can drive safely at>0.10% BAC) but good laws don't usually favor the
> >exceptional cases.
> Lowest common denominator laws suck.  Full Stop.

I agree.  Too f'in bad, that's how laws work.  Invent something better.

> I think they only barely pass constitutionality for traffic laws
> when there is no less invasive way to achieve significant goals.

Traffic laws restrict behavor during voluntary use of public roads.  Don't
like 'em?  Don't drive.  Thanks to taxpayers like me who support public
transit, you don't have to even suffer (much) for it.

Until the bus driver throws you off for being too loud, :)

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