Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Driving and Cellphones

I think that the new mandatory hands free use for cellphones while driving law will probably be a good thing. Now, before I get attacked for being a anti-cellphone nutcase, I do own a cellphone, and I do talk on it while I'm driving. So, No I'm not a nutcase, I'm a hypocrite! I honestly think that this could be a good law.

In my travels on my motorcycle about 4000 miles, I was able to learn some very important lessons to keep myself alive.

1. Always expect the other drivers to not see you, and assume that they are trying to run you over.
2. Always look for the person on a cellphone; people on cellphones rarely turn their head to look before changing lanes. They do a really quick mirror check, and then the gun it into the other lane!
3. Know drivers blind spots.

There are a few more, but these are sufficient for this rant.

Sure, many devices take the focus of a driver off the road: phones, gps, radio, tv.. so on, but I would say that in my observation, more than 80% of the drivers that accidentally cut me off while I was riding my motorcycle, were on the phone.

I was cruising up I-25 in the left lane keeping up with the fast lane traffic. (the slow lane is usually more dangerous to a biker because of all the merging) Just after I passed I-70 I noticed a car in my left mirror that was making erratic maneuvers. I kept my eye on the car, and noticed that the driver was in a very animated conversation on a cellphone. She was flailing her arms, and pounding on the steering wheel... and getting closer.. She was in the lane next to me, and I kept myself out of her blind spots. Suddenly, seconds later, I see her blinker on, and she is changing lanes very slowly. AH! She was trying to change into my lane with me in the way! She had come almost even with me, and her front wheel was even with my rear wheel. I looked at her in horror, knowing that she was going to pin between the wall and her car very soon.. I quickly shifted into a lower gear and gunned the bike, while waving at her with my free hand, Finally our eyes locked and the look of shock and sheer surprise covered her face.

Saved. Whew.

I saw her hang up, and then while I was still on the highway, I saw her with both of her hands on the wheel.

My dad uses the phone all the time in his trips, but here are the differences; he very rarely changes lanes while he is on the phone, he almost always uses a hands free device, and if it is an important conversation where he will have to pay full attention to the caller, he will pull over.

I think that cellphones are a great tool, but once it distracts the driver from their first job (being safe on the road) then this law is warranted. I think that this law could save some lives. Giving up freedom for safety.. huh.. I'll have to think long and hard about this one.


Mr. Nerd said...

ATTACK OF MR. NERD!!!!!!!!!!
Ok, that is a very good idea. You should make a poll concerning this subject.

Farm Boy said...

I must respectfully disagree with you on this issue. A law governing a person's activities while driving a vehicle does little more than allow government to worm its rapacious claws into yet another assumed "private" area of the lives of individuals throughout the state. While this law might deter drivers from using their electronic devices while on the road, I would argue that the unintended consequences of such legislation would be far worse than any resulting positive effects.

While it might seem simple to spot an erratic driver and link the individual's abnormal driving to their use of a cell phone, how many other ways might you and I be detained or fined by law enforcement because we are seen fiddling with something inside of our vehicles, be it a cell phone or not?

I'm sorry, but I won't buy it. It sounds more to me like a trampling of the freedoms of the individual, all in the name of protecting an ambiguously-defined mass group called "the people."

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

jerrycaspar said...

I also respectfully disagree... for two reasons.
1) This law wont stop a careless driver from using a cell phone while driving. Do the congressmen actually think that a person will not use their cell phone when a cop is'nt watching? Right! and we also assume that everybody goes the speed limit too...
This law is restricting a small minority of drivers from bad behavior=thats good! But it also allows the government to put a step onto the "carpet" of private rights. I'm not saying that being irresponsible and causing an accident is a right, ;) but I am saying that give the government an inch- and they will take a mile....whats next? a law banning radios from cars, banning people from eating while in the car, or maybe banning talking to passengers while driving? All of these are distractions while driving...

2) I did some research and disovered that the housemember who is sponsering this bill is not only from Boulder (what a suprise) ;) but also based her bill off of a statistic... 300 people per year die because of people using cell phones while driving!!! You know, over 1,000 people (I'll check again) per year die because of accidents with handguns... should we ban those too??
The base of Socialism and Communism is "to make certain laws to limit the damage done to others...FOR THE BETTER GOOD OF EVERYBODY..." sounds familiar??

Anonymous said...


Steven said...

Well, before too many comments stack up disagreeing with me, I want to make sure that everyone knows that I said; I think it could be a good idea.. Not that it necessarily is. Now, that being said, I still wonder where the opposition really comes from. Everyone gives up freedom for the “greater good,” right? We all conform to the vehicle code in order to drive our cars on the street. We drive cars that aren’t falling apart because the law keeps us from doing so. The only reason everyone conforms to the afore stated facts, is because they are afraid of being cited or perhaps incarcerated! The laws that are put in place govern the people that aren’t willing to govern themselves. Although I do agree with “Farm Boy” and his point that the “unintended consequences [could] be far worse than positive effects”, I don’t believe in anarchy, nor do I think that we are able to govern ourselves or have total freedom. I honestly think that vehicle laws are necessary, and I totally agree with the laws that govern the roadways. (Look at Mexico for a good example of what happens). I don’t know the exact statistic, but I would venture a guess that over 80% of all drivers have and use cell phones while driving. This would not be a minority. Here’s the thing, I have seen too many cases of distracted drivers to ignore this problem. A majority of them have been on the phone. This is basically the same reason that they banned the use of alcohol while driving (distraction / impairment).. Cars were around before the laws about drinking and driving. When it became an issue a law was created. I think this is much the same case. You obey the speed limit because you know that you will get ticketed / arrested for breaking the law; though, at the same time the law keeps people from being injured / killed. For example; even though I’ve never seen a police officer in the school zone that I drive through every day, I go the posted speed, because I know that kids run across the street all the time. If there were no law that kept me from speeding, I probably would drive much faster. Using common sense is very important, but assuming that everyone has common sense is foolhardy.

Mr. Worm said...

Yeah, I agree with you, Steve. I kind of hate for it to become a law, just because there are times it's really hard to pull over and you need to talk, but because of people's irresponsible habits, the use of cell phones has become a danger to other people, and that's one of the reasons for the law: to protect people from people, not people from themselves.

Anyway... So, I kind of don't want to see it passed, but at the same time, I did do a bit of driving in California where it's illegal to talk on the phone while driving and windshield-mounted GPSs are outlawed. The drivers seemed to be a whole lot more alert than they are here. True, that could be due to numerous other factors, but it was something I noticed even before I knew about the cell phone laws.