Congratulations! Best of luck and strength and inspiration, in all your efforts and collaborations
Just a quick note regarding two current legislative initiatives.
“3 Strikes”- I can’t tell you how glad I am that you’re resisting this effort. It’s a blunt weapon that often disregards any sense of respective circumstances of individuals, and doesn’t allow judges to judge!
Cell phone use: From what I’ve read, handsfree or not, cell phones increase the risk of accidents. Dialing, retriving messages, entering passwords, etc., and various keyboard tasks are the big fatal distractions. But does the legislation address this? I can’t image so. Can I put on a headset, then punch in numbers on my phone with impunity? The dialing tasks are those of very high risk, I would say much more so than talking, though both are “distracted driving”. In short, its your mind and eyes, not your one hand (off the wheel) that causes accidents. Of course, dropping and searching for your phone are also terribly risky- but these are not resolved by the “headset only” legislation approach. My issue is the following, depending on if it becomes a “primary offence” or not, this can easily encourage selective enforcement, I dare say encouraging some form of discretionary enforcement.
At the risk of sounding not in line with common thinking on this matter, alternatives could be: if you are in any accident involving medical injury or some defined threshold of severity, you would have to submit your cellphone / smart device to identify talking times. If you were using the device just prior to the accident, you would face some form of significant sanction or penalty. I realize that this is not a directly preventive measure, but short of the significant issues of enforcement this is the most fair. Over time, I believe this approach would work. If for example, you receive significant insurance penalty points, or more severely are fined regardless of driver fault (in the traditional sense) this would discourage this practice. If it is thought of in the same way as being found to be intoxicated while operating (which statistically it is similar to) you would be significantly penalized.
For highway driving, you would have to be in a non-passing lane or right-most lane and at some relatively low or moderate speed (55mph on divided highways?) when using a phone.
I think there are sufficient studies that should be the rational basis for taking some form of action on this issue. Not an emotional one. There is a strong emotional component to this that says, what you SEE is what matters. But that is not the case. One could make the case that talking hands-free encourages longer conversations as its less awkward etc. compared to using a handheld. These long conversations are the mental distraction that no one can see or enforce. And again, the dialing of a hand held device is probably the larger critical error moment.
I have concerns with law enforcement issues related to this. In addition, there are many people with newer, more luxurious automobiles that have very elaborate handsfree features, that those of lesser means will not have access too. This would certainly be a bigger penalty to those without those “higher end features” in their cars.
You make good points.
Although I cycle more than I drive, when I am driving, I do talk on the cell phone from time to time. So, I understand how addictively convenient it is. Having confessed that, I would be willing to vote for a complete ban — prohibiting even hands-free talking — because my own experience convinces me that cell phone use really does reduce attention to the road. I agree that it is wrong to favor those who can afford a hands-free device — it’s the conversation that is dangerous, not the hand off the wheel.
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