By on December 14, 2011

This is a guest article by our reader levaris. We wanted to see what the Best & Brightest think.

According to an Associated Press article today, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is recommending that States “should ban all driver use of cell phones and other portable electronic devices, except in emergencies”. How using a phone during an emergency is safer for the driver than when they aren’t calling about an emergency isn’t made clear, but that is not the biggest problem with this latest public safety cry.

The article mentions that this recommendation is made because of a crash in Missouri involving a semi cab (no trailer), a pickup truck, and two school buses. The driver of the pickup was killed, as was a student on one of the buses; a further thirty-eight people were injured.

The short story is that the driver of the pickup, a nineteen year old with no previous accidents or traffic violations, slammed into the back of the semi after it had slowed for construction. The pickup was then crushed by the first school bus, which was impacted by the second school bus. The first bus ended up sitting on top of the semi, both axels completely off the ground, with the remains of the pickup crushed below it. While it is impossible to know if the driver of the pickup was texting at the moment of the impact, according to the NTSB they had “sent or received 11 texts in the 11 minutes immediately before the crash”.

The problem with this article, and the attempt by the NTSB to use it to gain public momentum in their quest against distracted driving, is that much of the fault lies with the driver of the first school bus. No mention is made regarding the bus driver’s responsibility to follow a safe distance, nor to pay attention to road conditions farther than the bumper of the vehicle directly ahead. An article from the Huntington Post, posted just after the accident happened in August of 2010, makes no specific mention of the time of day or if there were any low-visibility conditions. However the photos show the accident scene during daylight hours and there are no obvious reasons why the bus driver would have been unable to clearly see what was happening ahead.

The emphasis on cell phones and texting dangers become even less significant when, towards the end of the article, they admit “Investigators also found significant problems with the brakes of both school buses involved in the accident. A third school bus sent to a hospital after the accident to pick up students crashed in the hospital parking lot when that bus’ brakes failed.” Yet of course “the brake problems didn’t cause or contribute to the severity of the accident, investigators said”.

Any responsible driver will admit that texting while driving is certainly not a safe activity, and while we can debate if it is more or less dangerous than eating, shaving, dealing with the kids, or any of the millions of things we do behind the wheel that don’t involve piloting the car the NTSB is spinning this story into a cell phone/texting safety issue. The article itself even points out that the driver was breaking the law, as Missouri already bans any driver under 21 from texting while driving. How further laws would have worked to prevent this tragedy is not explained.

If we are going to ban the use of portable devices while behind the wheel, it should be based on actual facts as they relate to the safety of those devices and not ignore the simple lack of driver training and skill that is truly the real cause behind many of these types of accidents.

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111 Comments on “NTSB Pushing for Full Cell Phone Ban, Misses The Point...”


  • avatar
    redmondjp

    My thoughts exactly, especially after I saw the picture above. The article implies that somehow, the driver of the pickup truck was at fault.

    Even if the pickup truck had stopped in time, the school bus still would have hit it, most likely with the exact same tragic outcome.

    This has nothing to do with texting and everything to do with following too close, possibly combined with marginal equipment condition. BUT, even if the brakes on the bus were working perfectly, school busses HAVE NO SEAT BELTS!!!!??! So even if the bus was able to stop in time to avoid hitting the pickup, how many students would have still been seriously hurt by flying forward inside the bus (and possibly out through the windshield, as my now-wife did on a bus in South America)?

    The family of the pickup truck driver should file a civil suit against the school district and the bus driver (and I’m not one to encourage lawsuits either).

    And it’s simply incomprehensible that our nanny-state government mandates every kind of safety equipment for our kids (car seats, bicycle helmets, safe cribs, etc) but allows these very same kids to ride to school in vehicles which have 1930s-era safety equipment.

    • 0 avatar
      Morea

      Bus drivers can’t even get the kids to sit in their seats, the very idea that the kids will sit down and buckle up is ludicrous.

    • 0 avatar
      photog02

      The idea behind that is two-fold. First, in a typical crash between another vehicle and a school bus, the bus wins (i.e., suffers minimal damage, little passenger cell intrusion, and little passenger injuries). Buses just are so big, heavy, and tall that a car or light truck impact doesn’t harm the passengers. Second, seats on school buses are high enough to compartmentalize the passengers. This makes them impact the seat directly in front of them instead of traveling a greater distance before coming to a stop. Overall, school buses are pretty safe and have a stellar safety record in terms of injuries/fatalities per VMT.

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      I bet if you studied up on school bus safety, you’ll find that virtually ALL modern school buses today are MUCH safer than they used to be.

      Seats are higher, they are padded, even if there are no seatbelts available, the kids are more compartmentalized than they used to be but this doesn’t solve the issue of when a bus rolls over onto its side or accidents of that ilk, though I’m sure today’s buses are designed to minimize rollovers to a very large degree.

      Also, the fuel tanks are much safer when hit from the sides than in the past and most districts replace their buses after so many years, keeping at least part of the fleet up to date as much as possible.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      There was a study done in New York a decade ago that found that school bus injuries went UP when seat belts were installed. Why? The kids were hitting each other with the buckles and doing other damage with the straps. Far more of these injuries than injuries from unbuckled kids in school bus collisions; the belts were taken out.

      The laws of unintended consequences can be very strange.

    • 0 avatar

      This is an irresponsible, ignorant article. The National Transportation Safety Board doesn’t make policy on the basis of one crash. Their action is the result of years of study. The writer should have done a little bit of investigation instead of relying on a couple of articles in the popular press.

      • 0 avatar
        N Number

        The NTSB doesn’t make policy at all. They make recommendations.

      • 0 avatar
        protomech

        The recommendation was made based on both a NHTSA study showing 3092 fatalities in 2010 due to distracted driving (device operation) as well as a study of this particular accident.

        Without having read either study, it seems like they should have just dropped this particular incident. Yes, the pickup truck driver’s accident was almost certainly due to distraction. Had he stopped in the road for any other reason, however, the bus would have likely hit him anyway.

        NHTSA says 7000 people (crashed? died?) in 2009 as a result of distraction due to driver-passenger conversation. I wonder if NTSB will outlaw talking within the car next.

    • 0 avatar

      This article is misleading in that the transportation safety board’s decision did not turn on this one crash, but rather on years of study of the matter. This one crash is merely a news peg.

  • avatar
    carguy

    I don’t disagree that this was maybe not the best of examples to use to push for a national ban on cell phone usage while driving. However, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that using a cell phone to text or talk while driving inhibits the driver’s ability to react so I have no issue with moving to ban it. The problem here is that this is a state issue and not a federal one so all the feds can do is make recommendations or, like with speed limits, threaten to withhold federal funds for highway projects. What should not happen here is that the feds attempt to force this on all 50 states – instead they should make their case based on the available data.

    • 0 avatar

      I work in the roadway for construction and I ride a motorcycle – anything that makes the roadway a safer place is okay by me. And while I completely agree that the use of a cell phone in any capacity while behind the wheel distracts from the task of driving I get upset by attempts to spin the story into something it isn’t. In my daily commute I see plenty of drivers who really aren’t capable of driving even without the distraction of a cell phone, but I have yet to see much government or media attention focused on that issue.

      • 0 avatar
        Kevin Kluttz

        Yes. And we’re trying to blame the school bus? I do not comprehend. If little spoiled Susie had been paying attention, theoretically, she could have hit her brakes in plenty of time and given warning to the buses. Anyone think of that? Of course, being a teenager, she would have been involved in some other distraction, therefore I used the words, “could have” instead of “would have”. She probably would have crashed anyway. And you are so right about ability…I drive for pleasure at times (have to compartmentalize myself and get away sometimes, just me and my Civic) and see and/or experience some of the most idiotic behavior in creation.

  • avatar
    George B

    The driver of the pickup truck was killed by being crushed by a school bus. If the pickup truck driver was not distracted and slowed sooner, he would still have been crushed by a school bus. So why all the attention on the driver of the pickup truck instead of the bus drivers?

    Not all driving conditions are equal. I turn off the radio and other distractions when driving on ice. However, when there are few cars on the road, I use that driving time to make phone calls. I don’t see the need for additional cell phone laws beyond current laws against bad driving.

  • avatar
    Steve65

    I just read that article myself yesterday, and reached similar conclusions. Clearly, the two school bus drivers turned what would otherwise have been an embarrasing fender-bender into a double fatality.

    I was even more boggled that the bad brakes were dimissed as irrelevant. Although I suppose if they were tailgating so aggressively that they never had time to get to the brakes at all that part would be true.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      I was even more boggled that the bad brakes were dimissed as irrelevant.

      The crashes of the two buses were attributed to driver error. The first bus was distracted by a vehicle on the side of the road, while the second bus was tailgating the first bus.

      NTSB found a variety of issues with the brakes. But those issues didn’t affect the performance of the brakes or prevent them from being operated at the time of this particular crash.

      There’s a difference between the brakes not being optimal, and brake failure being the cause of the crash. As is usually the case in crashes, human error is the problem here. Even if the brakes had been in perfect shape, there still would have been a wreck.

      http://www.ntsb.gov/news/events/2011/gray_summit_mo/index.html

      http://www.ntsb.gov/news/events/2011/gray_summit_mo/presentations/Gray_Summit_presentations.pdf

    • 0 avatar
      Number6

      And that same report specifically says the bus driver was distracted.

      So where is the risk here? The school bus is ill-maintained, the driver was distracted, yet the pickup driver MIGHT have been texting. So let’s predict the outcome here…

      1. Nothing will be done to the bus driver and the school will receive no reprimand for putting their employer’s kids in harm’s way.

      2. If you don’t like #1, suck it up, because you still have to pay your school taxes.

      3. The investigation will find no further fault with the school, because nobody watches the watchmen.

      Reminds me of driving to my emissions test in Annapolis, when I was stuck behind a school bus that was blowing oil all over my windshield….some animals are more equal than others….

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        yet the pickup driver MIGHT have been texting

        It’s more than a “might.” It’s pretty much a certainty, given the phone records and other evidence from the crash site.

        The school bus is ill-maintained

        But that didn’t contribute to this crash. The author of this editorial missed that. He should have read the NTSB report directly.

        The investigation will find no further fault with the school, because nobody watches the watchmen.

        You apparently didn’t read the investigation. The NTSB found that there was plenty of blame to go around.

  • avatar
    HiFlite999

    The example isn’t the greatest, but the point is clear to anyone driving around who pays the slightest bit of attention. It’s seldom I go a day between watching some cell-phone-distracted moron pull some kind of bone-head driving mistake.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Just like I seldom go a day without watching some otherwise distracted moron pull some kind of bone-head driving mistake. Therefore we should ban all possible otherwises. Great logic.

      What about banning, and enforcing the ban, on dangerous driving? It’s not as if a guy who gets rear ended, is somehow less rear ended because the guy doing the deed happened not to be on a cell phone.

  • avatar
    jfbramfeld

    I am continually amazed that when someone causes problems with texting while driving, people immediately start complaining about “cell phone use.” If you can’t talk safely on a cell phone while driving, you shouldn’t be driving anyway. I would suggest you keep the radio off, don’t have passengers with whom you may be tempted to speak, similarly, nix kids, don’t be messing with the trip computer or ventilation and no daydreaming.

    We had a girl run over a bike rider here in Urbana, Illinois while she was downloading ring tones. Naturally, the deep thinkers in town started agitation to ban “cell phone use.”

    When you start talking about changing the rights and habits a several hundred million people, maybe it behooves you to think a little deeper. Sure it takes an extra thirty seconds and may give you a headache, but its worth it in the long run.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynasty

      “If you can’t talk safely on a cell phone while driving, you shouldn’t be driving anyway. ”

      Is that sort of like if you can’t walk and chew bubble gum at the same time you should probably just sit?

      I don’t think this case pertains to talking. The kid was typing, and his focus was on a 3″ screen rather than the road ahead of him.

      Even so, the argument that if you cannot type while driving, you shouldn’t be driving anyway does not work.

      My ex gf used to text while driving all the time while I was a passenger. The truly, truly, truly sad thing is that dumb broad just could not understand is why that pissed me off so much. Especially when it was raining on a 50 mph road with heavy traffic. Dumb f’n b!t$8.

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      +1, jfbramfeld!

  • avatar

    This “article” by someone who apparently does not use his or her real name on the byline misses the point. The texting driver of the pickup ran into a semi cab because he was texting. The school bus running into him is a distraction. The point is that texting is absolutely incompatible with safe driving. That semi cab could have been me on my bicycle, or your mother or daughter walking along the side of the road, and I, your mother, or your daughter could be seriously maimed. In their “100 car study” and their truck study, Virginia Tech researchers found that just taking your eyes off the road for two seconds caused a 19-fold increase in the likelihood of a crash. Doing something that requires a bunch of steps–texting–greatly boosts the amount of time your eyes are going to be off the road.

    • 0 avatar

      The point as a I interpreted it from the AP article is that the NTSB believes the deaths and injuries could have been avoided if cell phones and texting were banned while driving. I am in no way advocating the use of cell phones or any other distraction while driving, but I personally feel that “incompetent” driving is the real issue that is not being addressed by this country.

      A well trained, experienced driver can probably check his or her cell phone from time to time without endangering the public (check with Jack Baruth for tips on surfing the web) but the “average” driver these days seems to barely have the skills and knowledge to drive a car even without distractions. The NTSB seems to be trying to solve the symptom, not the cure.

      As for my name, it’s Mike Sprouse and I didn’t actually create the posting, I simply emailed the editorial to Bertel and was quite surprised when it actually went live on the web.

      • 0 avatar

        texting or reading text messages cannot be done without endangering others as it takes both your eyes and your attention from the roadway. Talking on cell phones is somewhat debatable. But pairing incompetent drivers with cell phones for talking or texting is only going to make them more dangerous.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      In their “100 car study” and their truck study, Virginia Tech researchers found that just taking your eyes off the road for two seconds caused a 19-fold increase in the likelihood of a crash.

      But what you’re glossing over is that phones aren’t the only distractions that result in crashes. As I recall from that study, the primary distraction associated with crashes and near-misses was looking out the window to the side or some direction other than forward (which, incidentally, is what the driver of the first bus was doing in this particular crash.)

      Meanwhile, we have fatality data from NHTSA that shows phone users involved in fatal crashes at lower rates than those who aren’t using phones. We also have research from the University of Utah (the same folks who brought us the phone usage = DUI meme) that indicates that phone users are actually more conservative behind the wheel than non-phone users. That would suggest that phone usage, ironically enough, may contribute to lower crash rates.

      We should stop assuming that drivers who aren’t distracted are good drivers. It would appear that on the whole, we would be better off if we could find ways to distract aggressive drivers so that they become less aggressive. Obviously, it would be better if drivers were both free of distractions and less aggressive, but that may be unrealistic to expect.

      • 0 avatar

        Pch–see my next entry on cell phones. The one you are responding to is about text messaging while driving. Yes, there is mixed data on cell phone use, but studies like the Utah one I mention below make it clear that most of us can’t focus as much attention on the road when talking on the cell phone. But I suspect those conservative drivers you are talking about ARE HOLDING UP TRAFFIC. I see them fairly frequently, talking, driving slowly in the right lane AND the left lane.

        I think it’s safe to assume that bad drivers are going to be much worse when texting.

        As for aggressive drivers, a friend of a friend who used to be an aggressive driver bought a Prius (a UCSF prof, for whatever that is worth), and get so wrapped up in getting the best gas mileage he could out of the thing that he totally ceased driving aggressively. So, good suggestion.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        studies like the Utah one I mention below make it clear that most of us can’t focus as much attention on the road when talking on the cell phone

        Again, this erroneously assumes that a driver who is free of distractions is a better driver. The fatality data would suggest the opposite; distraction is actually a benefit to safety.

        You should read the details of those phone = DUI studies. If you did, then you would see that those studies specifically prevent test subjects from toning down their driving behavior while using the phone, as they would in the real world. The studies aren’t realistic because of that.

        It is true that if drivers drove identically when on the phone than when off that their performance would deteriorate. But they don’t.

        For all you know, the kid in the pickup truck would have been playing with an iPod, or daydreaming about girls, or weaving through traffic and tailgating had he not been texting. You can’t just assume that the alternative to texting was a model citizen who wouldn’t have been involved in a similar incident either here or somewhere else.

        The answer is not as simple as banning a device. It would be nice if life was that easy, but it isn’t.

    • 0 avatar
      photog02

      They, being the NTSB, believe he was texting. That is not a certainty. You are right in that texting, or anything that takes your eyes off the road for a significant amount of time (such as indicated in the VT study you mention) increases your likelihood of a collision. However the use of hands-free cell phones, which the NTSB is asking states to ban the use of while driving, do not take eyes off the road or hands off the wheel. The conclusion of the NTSB seems to be a bit broad based on their evidence in this case.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        They, being the NTSB, believe he was texting. That is not a certainty.

        It’s fairly certain. They reviewed the phone records, plus there was a lack of skid marks.

        The odds of the driver not paying attention, for whatever reason, are high, given the evidence. Implicating the phone seems reasonable, given that it was being used actively at the time of the crash.

      • 0 avatar
        photog02

        Fairly certain isn’t certain. :-)

    • 0 avatar
      GlobalMind

      David,

      The evidence as it’s presented simply says the teen was texting during the 11 minutes prior to the accident. It does not say a text was being sent or read as they hit the semi.

      That part of the incident is itself a problem and we can agree there. However, the teen’s death is ultimately on the driver of the bus behind him.

      This proposed ban does very little. If I have built in bluetooth in my car, how are you going to propose the LEOs enforce this? All of the cronies making their rounds today talked about personal responsibility. We have that without any kind of cell phone or texting ban.

      Distracted driving is distracted driving regardless of whether it’s texting, talking on the phone, eating a burger or shaving…or any number of other things. If you cause an accident while distracted then that’s your responsibility.

      The proposed law is junk and should be tossed, with no “influence” being placed on the states by DOT or NTSB (you know like taking away or giving money to the state that implements it).

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Kluttz

      And I bet no one will agree with you. But I do, wholeheartedly.

  • avatar

    And even cell phone use while driving is pretty dangerous:

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/super-taskers-can-phone-and-drive-the-rest-of-us-should-shut-up/

    Yes, there is definitely a problem with the school bus, and hopefully the transprtation board is addressing that, too. But there are a lot more drivers using cell phones on the roads than school buses.

  • avatar
    ajla

    …that States “should ban all driver use of cell phones and other portable electronic devices,

    What does “portable” mean here?

    Does this include things that are wired into a vehicle like CB radios and OnStar’s phone service? If that’s the case isn’t your stereo system a “portable electronic device”?

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    “If we are going to ban the use of portable devices while behind the wheel, it should be based on actual facts as they relate to the safety of those devices and not ignore the simple lack of driver training and skill that is truly the real cause behind many of these types of accidents.”

    *Massive applause*

    You don’t seem to realize though that fear-mongering and sensationalizing an issue is the only way that many groups seem to think they can get their message across. We live in an era of snap judgement and sound bites where it’s hard to get peoples attention away from their iphone. “Scare the bastards, then they’ll listen” seems to be the new mantra.

    • 0 avatar

      I realize it, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t get upset by it. There is plenty to scare people with, but I guess it is easier to regulate the use of a phone in a car – it’s pretty easy for a cop to see when someone is breaking that law – than it is to revamp our driver training and licensing system.

  • avatar
    darkcobalt

    …. and it’s o.k. to change radio stations, CD’s, have the wife discussing your driving abilities, your kids fighting each other.

    If 10% of car accidents are caused be “electronic device distractions”, shouldn’t we focus on the other 90%?

    I am not endorsing cell phone use, but another law isn’t going to change peoples habits/”rights” of using the phones. Enforcement of current laws may lessen the use, but probably not by much

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    It’s an absurd accident to use as an example against using electronic devices while driving. Those buses were crashing regardless of what the pickup driver did. Hell, they would have crashed if the pickup wasn’t even there. And it is unfathomable how investigators can claim that faulty brakes played no part in the accident.

    I second the recommendation for a lawsuit against whoever is responsible for maintenance and operation of those buses. And it isn’t about an opportunity to cash in because someone else was responsible for a tragedy – whoever is responsible for maintenance and operation of those buses can’t continue with their current practices.

    Besides the big logic fail with using this accident to illustrate the dangers of texting, I like to think government legislators have better things to do than try to pass unnecessary, ineffective, and redundant laws. As was already pointed out, the pickup driver was already breaking a law. Clearly that law did nothing to keep the driver safe. You can even make an argument that current laws regarding texting are pointless – I would think anybody responsible for an accident caught texting could simply be cited for reckless driving.

    On top of all this, I believe the NTSB’s recommendation makes an exception for electronics that are supposed to aid in driver safety, such as GPS devices. I use my cell phone as a GPS device as well as to play music. How are the police supposed to enforce this? Stop me and verify what I was using the phone for? Would I be in violation of this law because the music doesn’t aid in driver safety? I assume iPods and other digital music players will fall under the umbrella of portable electronics? What happens with the iPod adapters already integrated into cars? Is the distraction caused by the car’s radio somehow different?

  • avatar

    Every single post here misses the point. I challenge anyone to name a municipality in the United States not desperate for new sources of revenue, and are actively seeking Federal cover for doing so. Much like all those states with “balanced budget amendments” who just pawn off unanticipated expenses to Washington.

    Funny how the safety of the general public becomes critically important when times are hard and someone works out a revenue angle. Or did you think that wave of grace and compassion in the early eighties is why intoxicated driving went from being a faux pas to a capital crime?

    • 0 avatar

      In 2009, there were 1,600 DUI checkpoints set up in California. They issued about 3,200 DUI citations, mostly in the 0.08 to 0.10 % BAC range. However they ended up getting about $40 million in fines from equipment violations etc. The cops made about $30 million in overtime. Thousands of cars were impounded so you can add on yet more millions in impound fees.

      Obviously the checkpoints are more about revenue than safety. The whole idea of the checkpoints in the first place is to catch folks who are drunk but not so impaired as to attract attention on the road.

      I’d much rather that police resources were devoted to actual traffic safety instead of revenue.

    • 0 avatar
      GlobalMind

      Hey stan, sorry I didn’t realize you’re the ONLY one who gets it. :)

      Funding dollars from the Feds to states for road projects has long been tied to policy decisions. Just look at the 55 MPH speed limit as an example.

      That limit was tied to dollars, states who kept that limit got money.

  • avatar
    cdotson

    I don’t buy the line that the 1st bus crashed because the driver was checking her mirror for a lane change. That bus was going *WAY* too fast to have climbed up on top of a pickup that had crashed on a bobtail truck. The bus driver either 1) never saw that the truck(s) were stopped in front of her or 2) had no ability to slow enough to avoid the accident anyway.

    The only two “crashes” I have had were both fender-benders (or bumper cover-chewers) from shoulder-checking in traffic preparing for a lane change to avoid sitting traffic or a crash in front of me. Both were <=5mph velocity difference collisions. No way the bus could ramp both axles off the ground from a 5mph collision.

    Anybody ever notice that semi trucks don't have CHMSLs? Neither bobtails nor trailers have had this safety feature that has been commonplace for over 20 years. I wonder if such a thing would have improved the bus driver's ability to detect the stopped truck in time to stop with inadequate brakes.

    What municipality would allow a school bus, let alone THREE, with inadequate brakes to go around picking up kids? If I lived there I would be clamoring for heads to roll in the county's fleet management.

    Of all the problems contributing to the casualty numbers which make this a shocking road safety case, the texting is the absolute least of the concerns that pop into my head and the texting bears absolutely ZERO responsibility for the death or injury of anyone other than the moron who did it. This is Darwin at work; the other death and 38 injuries cannot be pinned on the texter.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynamic88

      What municipality would allow a school bus, let alone THREE, with inadequate brakes to go around picking up kids? If I lived there I would be clamoring for heads to roll in the county’s fleet management.

      Most likely no municipality was involved. I hope you don’t feel that I’m picking on you, but I just want to point out that the relationship between a municipality and the local schools is usually non-existent.

      Local school districts usually take the name of the town, so it’s understandable that people think the municipality runs the schools. But usually that’s not the case. The school district is a separate entity.

      • 0 avatar
        cdotson

        Dynamic88, I wouldn’t take your comment the wrong way at all. It merely highlights the difference in political divisions between different areas of the country. I know in Delaware (and I’m sure many other places) the school district is its own political division and controls such things. In Virginia where I live and in Maryland where I attended primary & secondary school, the County School Board controls the schools and buses while the district is merely the zone that defines which resident students attend the various schools. The County Fleet Services & Fueling Outpost (used for trucks, county police cruisers, buses etc.) is just a couple miles from my house and they service and store over the summer a tremendous (over 100) number of buses that must service a good portion of our county.

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      School buses are owned by school districts, but are often driven by contractors such as LaidLaw so the county has no part in the maintenance of the buses, other than insure they ARE kept up to spec in their maintenance.

      My old school district not only owned their buses, but maintained them and had their own drivers on the payroll, don’t know if they still have their own drivers or not but I know many districts have contractors drive their buses.

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    It would be easier to ban school busses or left turns, and the results would be better.

    Every time something bad happens, there are screams to make something else illegal. Newsflash: texting while driving is already illegal most places. As is following too closely, operating a vehicle without properly functioning safety equipment, and most other causes of accidents.

    As a teen I had an accident because I got distracted turning on my car heater. Make them illegal?

    I deal with accidents for a living. Left turns are by far the biggest cause of accidents in my experience, but nobody is calling to make them illegal. It is also illegal to drive without insurance or without a valid license. But it happens everywhere, every day. My point is that there are a million distractions, both in and out of the car. I have no problem with a law banning texting while driving. But it is unenforceable in advance of an accident, and only has application retrospectively.

    This accident was a tragic situation. But in my city, there was the same day an accident where a guy was killed after slamming into the rear of a school bus. Difference was there was no texting going on. It’s a dangerous world out there. Be careful. Other than this, there is not much that can be done.

  • avatar
    Lokki

    This is a great idea! Let’s also go back to 85 mph speedometers and cars that won’t start if someone’s seatbelt isn’t fastened for even more safety. We already have glow-in-the dark emergency trunk lid releases that have saved thousands of lives since they were introduced. Breath Analyzers in every car would be good too.

  • avatar

    I’m fine with the proposed regulations just so long as they apply equally to nonemergency use of cellphones, two-way radios, and other electronic devices used by government employees, including police officers. If it’s dangerously distracting for regular folks to use PEDs behind the wheel, it’s just as dangerous for cops to do likewise. The activists at NTSB and elsewhere keep telling us that you can’t learn how to text and drive at the same time. Some folks can multi-task, others can’t. Just because you went to the police academy doesn’t mean that you can multi-task behind the wheel. And remember, the average police cruiser is filled with all sorts of distracting electronic equipment including laptop computers, all sorts of radio equipment etc.

    Do we really want a society where a cop gets on his own cellphone or radio and calls into the station to tell them that he’s pulling you over for using a cellphone while driving?

  • avatar
    MattPete

    I see this every morning on my way to and from work — it’s like being on a road full of drunks. It wasn’t like that 10-15 years ago, and I can’t fathom why anyone would want cell phone use in a moving vehicle to be legal.

    • 0 avatar
      GlobalMind

      MattPete,

      I can’t speak for everyone else but I have a fundamental problem with the proposal because it’s vague in parts, it overlaps with what should be existing “distracted” or “reckless” driving law and thus isn’t needed.

      Unless we’re going to write a bill that calls out eating, smoking, drinking (anything not just liquor), shaving, turning around to deal with your kid…etc then the bill is useless. As I said in another post, distracted is distracted no matter what it is.

      The rounds of media today talked about personal responsibility. Funny how they make that claim in relation to this when all it really comes down to is – you cause the accident then you take responsibility.

      I don’t need our LEOs out there looking for people using phones. But like you I see the idiots every day. Most all of them don’t have a handsfree set. And that’s largely the problem. Folks who have a headset can speed right along and get on just fine. I also have no idea how they’re going to expect to enforce the ban with people who have built in Bluetooth in their car.

      The whole thing stinks of yet again more knee jerk reactionary “we’ll force the states to do this with a bribe” type of deal. It is more law for the sake of more law and I absolutely oppose that.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      It wasn’t like that 10-15 years ago

      Consider yourself lucky. Compare 2009 with 1994:

      -There were 18% more fatal crashes in 1994, even though there were 14% fewer drivers and 20% fewer miles driven

      -The fatality rate per mile was 52% higher in 1994.

      http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx

      The good old days weren’t so good, after all.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        They never were…

      • 0 avatar
        MattPete

        PCH: that is a fallacious argument. Not only were our cars less safe, but we also had more drunk drivers.

        In contrast, the number of people I see running red lights, drifting into head-on lanes, and dropping wheels into drainage ditches astounds me. For the last 2, the hit rate for cell phone usage is 100%.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        In contrast, the number of people I see running red lights, drifting into head-on lanes, and dropping wheels into drainage ditches astounds me

        Anecdotes are not data. And I have little doubt that your views are colored by selection bias. You focus on the things that get under your collar, while downplaying those things that don’t.

        Again, crash data from NHTSA shows that phone users are involved in fatal crashes at lower rates than other drivers. The numbers don’t back you up.

        If phones were the menace that you’d like to believe, then we should be having more crashes, and the rates of crashes that involve phones should be above average. As it turns out, neither point is true.

      • 0 avatar

        Not only were our cars less safe, but we also had more drunk drivers.

        Based on what statistics are you saying that there are fewer drunk drivers? The legal standard has changed so there’s no way of comparing DUI arrest data.

        BTW, the push to lower the BAC limit to 0.08 had almost nothing to do with safety and much to do with revenue. DUIs are a cash cow for jurisdictions with thousands in fines. The dirty little secret is that the government entities that collect traffic fines would cry hot tears if people stopped driving drunk.

  • avatar
    slance66

    I’m tired of the nanny state legislating every aspect of our lives. I talking on a hand’s free cell phone is a distraction, ok, so is talking to a passenger in the car, listening to the radio, adjusting the HVAC, grabbing a drink etc. So let’s ban passenger seats, cupholders, HVAC systems and radios. An appropriate balance is necessary between inconvenience and effectiveness. The fact that someone had fallen off of a toilet and hit their head doesn’t lead to seat-belts and helmets as a requirement when using the can.

    Texting is visual. It necessarily involves a lengthy period, beyond a glance, where the driver is not looking at the road. I can see the ban. Using my cell phone via the bluetooth system in the car, and the buttons on the steering wheel, is less distracting than adjusting the temp on the A/C.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    This is stupid on so many levels. If the pickup had stopped with 6″ to spare, it still would have gotten crushed by the bus. As ususual, a blantant “oh, but it is FOR THE CHILDREN” heartstring yank. Gag. Children are easily produced by unskilled labor, and there are too many of them as it is. I feel much more sorry for the poor pickup truck driver.

    I agree that the issue with cell phones is not the act of holding the phone, but rather the conversation with someone who is not in the car with you and thus unaware of the driving conditions. I try to minimize my cell use in the car as much as possible, and have no problem either hanging up, or telling who I am talking to that I need to DRIVE for a minute or two due to what is going on around me. No need for any sort of ban.

    I cannot imagine that the cell industry lobby will allow a ban to happen anyway. And as been said, how on Earth would you enforce it? It would take YEARS to have any sort of manditory won’t work in motion device in all phones, and then people would just hold onto thier old phones as long as possible. A total non-starter.

    • 0 avatar
      dejal1

      “Gag. Children are easily produced by unskilled labor, and there are too many of them as it is. I feel much more sorry for the poor pickup truck driver.”

      That folks, is one of the most ignorant and hateful statements I’ve ever read.

  • avatar
    StevenJJ

    Poor example from the lobby – looks like the chap would have bought it even if he managed to stop shy of the truck.

    Mobile phone use when on the go was banned here a few years ago; that is actually using the handset – you can go handsfree using whatever method when actually on the go. There were the initial cries of ‘nanny state’ and so forth and I admit I was opposed to it. The landscape was different though; I could and still can hammer out texts blind on my trusty Nokia which has real keys. Trying to compose texts on a touch-screen would surely take so much time away from you it is not sound to equate it with changing the radio station. The difficulty of course is you can’t really legislate against ‘texts’, you have to go the whole hog and prohibit the handset being held/messed about with.

    It is policed by way of fines/penalty points on licence. I have changed my position and fully back it.

  • avatar
    makuribu

    This crash may have a lot to do with bad brakes and following too closely, but nobody should be texting and driving. Come on, people, be honest. You cannot concentrate on the road if you are looking at a a screen and typing on a keyboard. Your car is not your office or your home. You may be able to talk on the phone, or sing along to the radio, or talk to a passenger, or even eat (ugh!). You can NOT text, write notes, fight with the kids in the back seat, plane a board, crochet a doily, perform surgery, or any of a million other things, and drive safely. The dead guy in the truck was texting, and at least partly because of that, he’s dead.
    Hang up, shut up and drive like lives depend on it. Maybe even your own.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Using this particular accident as the catalyst for this legislation is not that bright, but it in no way exonerates cell phone use behind the wheel. Many accidents, both minor and atrocious like the one above are caused by distracted driving. Cell phones are a huge source of that distracted driving.

    If a university study can quantitatively provide evidence that cell phone use results in driver error similar to being over the legal blood alcohol limit, why would you defend it?

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    It’s rare that I side with a BS small population report, but regardless of the bus brakes or safe trailing distance or anythinh else, cell phone use while driving is dangerous and I fully support its banning. If you’re looking me to shed a tear becuase you can’t text or dial in the left lane or have a disembodied argument with your kid while driving, then you’re looking in the wrong place. Pull over, and have the conversation from the shoulder with your hazard lights on.

  • avatar
    ott

    No maybe about it… your life does depend on it.

  • avatar
    Yuppie

    While I agree with all who stated that the bus drivers contributed greatly to the severity of this accident, texting behnd the wheel should still not be condoned.

    Re: the point about drivers using phones being more conservative (and hence holding up traffic), this morning, on the I-5N here in Los Angeles, there was an elderly gentleman who was driving with a 20+ car length gap in front of him in slow moving traffic. HE WAS HOLDING HIS GLASSES IN ONE HAND WHILE PEERING AT THE PHONE IN HIS OTHER HAND because presumably, he cannot see the text on his phone with his “regular” glasses. While the gap was inviting, I am not sure I want to be driving in front of him.

  • avatar
    CurseWord

    Completely agree with the author. The state is using this accident to advance their agenda, twisting the story and omitting facts to fir their case. The idea that text messaging from the truck has anything to do with being rear-ended by a bus is ridiculous. The driver of the pickup0had he not been texting- MIGHT have seen the bus coming and tried to escape, either on foot or in his vehicle. But the blame for this accident should fall on the bus driver. You don’t get mad at someone for being shot in a library, because they didn’t move out of the way, and use that to make reading illegal. < Exaggerated I know, but similar.

  • avatar
    philipwitak

    once again, it is clearly evident that many people simply cannot be trusted to ‘do the right thing’ and behave themselves in a manner which benefits collective society ahead of their own self-interest. which is precisely why many categories of human behavior should be regulated – and those regulations strongly enforced.

    outlaw all driver distractions to the best of our ability, or accept the realization that the lives, safety and general well-being we needlessly risk include our own.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Except, of course, that there is no proof that cell phone use is the cause of the fatalities in this particular accident. Nor is there any proof that cell phone use is making the roads more dangerous.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Except, of course, that there is no proof that cell phone use is the cause of the fatalities in this particular accident.

        Now, let’s be fair — there is proof. NTSB has the phone records and noted the lack of skid marks. The lack of skid marks correlates with a driver who wasn’t paying attention, and the phone records suggest that the driver wasn’t paying attention because of the texts.

        However, we have to separate individual incidents from the total pool of crash data. If all the phones were removed tomorrow, we would not necessarily see a greater decline in the fatality rate than we would otherwise have. The overall situation might even be worse, as these drivers discover other distractions and/or maintain worse driving habits than they would have otherwise. While certain individual crashes might be avoided, there could be others to replace them that are equally bad or worse.

        Again, we should avoid the logical error of assuming that driving would necessarily improve if there were no phones. We shouldn’t assume it, we should prove it.

        And the data that I’ve seen doesn’t support the view that phone-free driving is assured of saving any lives. Just as eliminating the 55 mph speed limit didn’t result in a holocaust on the highways, as had been predicted (ironically enough, due to the greater reaction times needed for higher speeds), I seriously doubt that a phone ban would change much of anything.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        I thought that the fatalities were caused by the buses colliding with the pick-up truck, not the pick-up truck hitting the tractor unit.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I thought that the fatalities were caused by the buses colliding with the pick-up truck, not the pick-up truck hitting the tractor unit.

        I see your point. You may be right about that. It’s not clear what the severity was of the initial crash between the pickup and the Volvo.

        My point was that the crash between the pickup and the Volvo truck would have definitely been the fault of the pickup driver. The pickup may have also contributed to the fault of the collision with the lead bus. And it seems likely that usage of the phone contributed to that crash.

        But judging from the wreckage, even if the initial impact with the Volvo didn’t injure or kill the pickup driver, the second crash between the pickup and lead bus definitely would have. There was pretty much nothing left of the pickup truck.

    • 0 avatar
      CurseWord

      The truth is, it’s not just phones that distract. The DMV defines everything, from talking to passengers to “looking at an object outside the car” as a distraction. According to one neuro study (below) it’s simply the mind’s focus on anything besides driving that distracts the driver.

      [Neuroscientist Marcel Just, director of the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, agrees. Just studied 29 volunteers who used a driving simulator while inside an MRI brain scanner. The volunteers steered a car along a virtual winding road undisturbed or while deciding whether a sentence they heard was true or false.

      Listening while driving led to a “significant deterioration in driving accuracy,” Just and his co-authors write in the latest issue of the journal Brain Research. The drivers hit the guardrail and veered out of the center of the lane more often while listening.

      In the listening situation, MRI brain scans found a 37% decrease in parietal lobe activity. The parietal lobe is associated with spatial processing, so it is critical for navigation. Activity also decreased in the occipital lobe, which processes visual information.]

      Phones are responsible for distractions because many people look at their phones to perform a task. Eyes off road=ow. Some people are also addicted to social contact, through the prevalence of social media. So we have a need to check our phone else we feel alienated. But using any of this to black JUST the pickup truck for this crash is insane.

      The pickup driver may have been texting, and he rear-ended the semi. Fine. What’s the bus driver’s excuse for hitting him, and injuring 38 people?

      • 0 avatar
        Number6

        Listening decreases parietal and occipital activity, therefore makes a bad driver? How does this explain Tommi Makkinen’s success while listening to pace notes AND deciding traction budget, maximized exist speeds, etc…there’s a lot more going on then “driving” a simulator constructed entirely of non-ferrous materials.

        I get nervous when MRI studies are cited- the experiment isn’t being run inside a moving car, nor is any of the other stimulus- sensation of acceleration, immersive visual inputs, etc. While I haven’t read the study, I would be shocked if an educated researcher used this study as justification for banning cell phones. But then again, this is the sort of stuff that keeps Jenny McCarthy and movie-worthy litigation whores in the limelight…

        For the record, texting should be banned outright in moving cars. It’s not a big deal to have a GPS sensor detect motion and disallow the app, ya know…

      • 0 avatar
        CurseWord

        Number6

        I’m definitely not implying listening makes a bad driver, neither was the scientist. I think he wanted to clarify that it’s not talking on the phone that distracts people it’s doing an extra activity of any kind. I think people are already attempting to ban phones-before this study was done-and if anything this is aimed to show those legislators cell phones aren’t the only problem.

      • 0 avatar
        ptschett

        Number6: re: GPS Sensor… what about the passengers in the moving vehicle? Or riders on a bus or a train? Then there are situations where it actually is safe to text from a driver’s seat, like my dad and his employees coordinating their activities on his farm by texting while they’re using the GPS autosteered tractors in the middle of the field (voice calls are sketchy there, but SMS gets through). NTSB’s recommendations included asking the wireless industry to come up with ways to identify which seating position the device user has and lock out functionality based on that, but there are plenty of ways that could fail too.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      But judging from the wreckage, even if the initial impact with the Volvo didn’t injure or kill the pickup driver, the second crash between the pickup and lead bus definitely would have. There was pretty much nothing left of the pickup truck.

      We have no clue how much damage was caused by the second crash. It is most likely that the 3rd crash is what killed the pickup driver. And certain that it is what killed the 15 year old girl.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        We have no clue how much damage was caused by the second crash.

        No, the NTSB report surmises that the first bus landed on top of the semi and crushed the pickup truck prior to the final collision. Look at the graphic in the presentation.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    What we really should be asking… Are we paying school bus drivers enough to attract the very best candidates with the most class A experience?

    • 0 avatar
      vww12

      Union rules, man.

      To fire anyone: nearly impossible. Usually have to pay them to do nothing for years before an actual termination can take place.

      To hire more qualified drivers: Have to wait for someone to retire. If you have to do layoffs, you lay off the youngest union members with better reflexes, protect the seniors despite deteriorating eyesight.

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    The is the NTSB’s version of “Fast and Furions”, or of “Climate Change”.

    They had already decided what the cause was, and d*mn the data, full (false) conclusions ahead.

    Folks, the government by and large is no longer comprised of folks who are very bright (as if it ever was).

    And the NTSB folks are right down there in the lower levels of ability – next to the “Justice Department”.

    Believe them at your peril.

    • 0 avatar
      vww12

      The only reason Big Brother is using this particular accident as justification to nose into your life is because there were kids involved….

      … even though the killer was the school bus, completely unrelated to the poor text-messaging sap who got killed by the school bus.

      Think of the children, please!

  • avatar
    SilverHawk

    In truth, driving is the most life threatening activity most people do
    in their entire lifetime. Yet, we increasingly take part in this activity with a very low level of interest. I would like to see a meaningful national discussion take place on the subject of distracted driving of all types. If we could place this subject at the forefront of the national conscientiousness, then maybe we could improve highway safety for all of us. Why do you think so much research is being done today on driver-less vehicles? The enthusiast community should be leading this discussion.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynamic88

      I’m not sure it’s possible to have meaningful discussion on this or any other subject. People can’t agree on the data, people can’t agree on interpreting the data. People can’t put aside their gut feelings in favor of data.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    If we are going to ban the use of portable devices while behind the wheel, it should be based on actual facts as they relate to the safety of those devices and not ignore the simple lack of driver training and skill that is truly the real cause behind many of these types of accidents.

    I’m not sure driver training is the problem. What driving instructor fails to tell the students not to text while driving? If we could train people not to do the things they are not supposed to do, we could eliminate accidents, and get rid of all our prisons.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    Say, isn’t Ray Lahood apart of the NTSB? If so, this may explain why they are cherry picking parts of this accident for their own agenda.

    First off, if the driver of the pickup was even AWARE that the bobtail semi was slowing down to stop, he’d have avoided crashing into it, but the bus drivers just added insult to injury by not one, but 2 buses crash into the truck and crushing it.

    This means the bus drivers were BOTH responsible for the accident, even more so than the kid in the pickup and why the NTSB is ignoring the buses and trying to blame the kid and his texting as the source of the problem? That’s cherry picking to me.

    That said, I don’t read emails or text while driving and I DO have a Bluetooth device on my truck’s visor that allows me to make or receive a call should I need to by simply pressing the main connect/disconnect button of the Bluetooth device and my phone stays firmly in its holder on my waist and if I need to make a call, I just talk to the Bluetooth device to call and tell whom to call and it does it all for me. MUCH less distracting than fumbling with the phone and failing that, get some earphones with a mic or a Bluetooth headset and learn to use voice recognition to operate one’s phone?

    That would at least reduce the chance of having eyes off the road while talking. While I don’t carry on conversations while driving normally, it comes in handy when I have to call work and say I’m running late though.

    This smacks of something Lahood would do in the first place even if it isn’t him and I want no part of this nanny state.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Say, isn’t Ray Lahood apart of the NTSB?

      No, he isn’t. NTSB is an independent agency.

      if the driver of the pickup was even AWARE that the bobtail semi was slowing down to stop, he’d have avoided crashing into it

      He wasn’t aware. He was reading and sending texts, and may have been fatigued. He made a lane change right into the back of the truck. The crash between the pickup and the truck that it hit was completely the fault of the pickup.

      why the NTSB is ignoring the buses

      They didn’t. If you had read the report, you’d know that.

  • avatar
    LJD

    We can argue all day long about cell phones and other distractions. Humans are imperfect, they make lots of mistakes. I work in insurance, I’ve seen it all. People shouldn’t do anything in their cars but drive. We can’t ban everything though. Someday when cars link up to each other when we get on the freeway we’ll see less of these accidents. The truck driver was at fault for rearending the semi, the drivers behind him were at fault for hitting him. Was the kid staring at his cellphone while driving? Maybe. Is staring at your cell phone while driving good driving behavior? No. Is driving too close good driving behavior? No.
    Stop messing around in the car and just drive. Is it that hard?

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    What’s next, banning the radio playing in your car?

    ‘Distracted driving’ can be defined in a myriad of ways. Texting while driving? Cell use while driving? Looking out the window at scenery? Yelling at your child in the back to shut up? Drinking and driving? It could really be anything. In my opinion it is the driver’s responsibility to keep their eye on the road REGARDLESS of what they are doing.

    The question is, where is the line to be drawn?

    And the bottom line is, ‘Stupid Hurts’; as evidenced with recent Corvette wrecks.

  • avatar

    My suggestion, raise the speed limit by 50% and I would like to see if anyone can keep up with the posted speed limit + holding a cell phone.
    Then it would be extremely easy to spot the offenders, they would either drive very slow or find themselves in a ditch on the side of the road.
    Cars are so comfortable these days that people tend to forget what they actually doing, you can’t hold a cell phone riding a sport bike or anything that is not as comfortable and isolating as a car.
    And what is the deal with all these luxury car drivers holding a cell phone, they probably too lazy to set up the phone Bluetooth capability.

  • avatar
    RogueInLA

    Maybe the NTSB picked the wrong example, but is anyone seriously saying that texting/using cell phone isn’t dangerous? Sure, “talking to passengers, adjusting the radio and temperature” are distractions, that doesn’t make them safe. I’ve seen people driving while shaving, reading, texting, working on their laptops, talking on the phone, putting on makeup, and even cooking. Doesn’t the fact that driving is a dangerous activity that should be done with minimal distraction count? Does anyone really think they’re a better driver while texting/talking? “I don’t want the government to tell me what to do!!!” Then get your head out of your *ss and PAY ATTENTION to your driving!!!!. Maybe you’re a multitasking genius who can watch your phone and type and drive at the same time, congratulations, I’ll bet you’re in the minority. I hate the nanny state, but there are instances when people are just too f’ing dumb and/or self centered ie: “*I* can do this!!!”, where yes, someone has to step in and say “NO YOU CAN’T”. When I drive I don’t f*ck with the radio, the heater, or my phone, I DRIVE. If I get a call, I ignore it until I can safely pull over and call them back. Is a phone call or text so freaking important that it can’t wait a few minutes? I HATE DUI checkpoints, speed traps, and stupid laws, but sometimes you’ve just got to suck it up and GET OFF THE D*MN PHONE!, or face the consequences. If it takes a law to get people to hang up, GOOD. Here in Los Angeles it’s been illegal to use the phone and drive for several years, but it hasn’t seemed to have much effect, and yes, I see people have near misses and accidents because they’re not watching the road. So this is a case where I’m in favor of doing SOMETHING to get people to hang up the phones. They’re already distracted enough with the radio and heater controls.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      If YOU have got to pull over to adjust the heater or radio, then I don’t know what to tell YOU. I agree texting is a tremedous distraction while driving and wildly stupid *however* I’ve about circled the globe talking on the phone and survived just to tell YOU I am a safer driver on the phone and although I’m multi-tasking, I’m just doing (count them) two things. Any other time, like anyone else, I’ll be reading a billboard or bumpersticker, checking my gauges, scanning for cops, checking my mirrors… Hey who’s that driving the new bimmer behind me? Hey it’s a young chick, wonder who’s making the payments? Now she’s along side, bet if I honk… Look, the rest of us are HUMAN and get bored just looking straight ahead, hands at 10 & 2, occasional check of the mirrors… YOU may be the safest cat on the road, 100% of the time but YOU cannot come close to proving driving while on the phone is dangerous for anybody except for YOU.

      • 0 avatar
        RogueInLA

        Did YOU read anywhere I said I pull over to adjust the heater or radio? I said I return calls when it’s safe to do so. You’re saying people are safer drivers while adding another distraction to the mix? You honestly think you’re a ‘safer driver’ while talking on the phone? So add talking on the phone to ‘checking out the chick in the bimmer, reading the billboard or bumpersticker’ and you’re over your ‘just doing (count them) two things’. I do not claim to be the safest cat on the road. I’ve seen a disproportionate number of people with cell phones doing dumb things in traffic because they’re not paying attention. 2 days ago a friend of mine was sitting at a red light and got rear ended by a driver who didn’t see her… why not? He was texting on his phone, duh. I’m not attacking anyone personally here, but anyone who thinks they can take their eyes off the road to text, and still drive alertly and safely, is kidding themselves. Driving in congested urban areas is dangerous enough as it is, without having additional distractions.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        “When I drive, I don’t f*ck with the heater, the radio…”

        Seriously, I knew you weren’t serious on this especially if you’re on a trip to Vegas or Frisco with light traffic. You’d have to either leave the heater or radio OFF or pull over to adjust or tune… OK, so you won’t use your phone even on long stretches thru the desert or whatever but if you were human, you’d be juggling dozens of distractions ‘outside’ your car in places like LA, like the rest of us. Yes I tune out the ALL the inside/outside distraction and focus just on driving when I’m on the phone, like most everyone else. You may focus on a bad driver here or there that cannot do two things simultaneously but if you studied them up close you’d see quite a few other disorders. Most drivers around you are on the phone or distracted by a multitude of things although you won’t notice them until they do something dumb in traffic. You only see what you choose to see. If you did ‘see’, you’d crash because it’d be TOO much of a distraction for YOU… See???

        I said I agree with you on the texting thing. Whole other ballgame but you’re just combining the two to push your point. Both things can be done on the same device but that’s where the similarities end. For law enforcement, they never ‘end’ and put all handheld devices/actions under one umbrella… to push their agenda.

  • avatar
    windswords

    “The article itself even points out that the driver was breaking the law, as Missouri already bans any driver under 21 from texting while driving.”

    Sounds like gun laws. Pass a law you can’t have/use/possess x firearm and then those criminals have the audacity to ignore the law. Now I know the 21 year old is not a criminal but he is a civil violator of the law (I’m assuming texting like speeding is a civil matter). But let’s pass more laws and congratulate each other for doing something.

  • avatar

    More government regulation is one thing…but if LEOs were actually ABLE to enforce the cell phone bans already in place, maybe it would be different.

    I spent the last 5 years commuting into a major city on a sportbike..10-11 months out of the year (black ice and 2 wheels doesn’t mix, I don’t like flat track racing THAT much) and I can tell you that I can tell you when someone is texting or on the phone. It’s bad. Heck I was in the left lane on I-95, cruising along when the young woman in a new BMW in the middle lane simple took my lane. I was on the SHOULDER for a bit.

    When she saw me she looked at me like she couldn’t believe I Was passing her on the shoulder. She had NO Clue I was in the lane she occupied. She had a cell phone GLUED to her ear at the time.

    The other thing about the mentioned accident that I don’t recall being touched on….

    If the driver of the pickup truck WAS distracted and he simply hit the truck at speed without being able to slow, that semi would have stopped that pickup COLD. “Safe” stopping distance aside, there is no way that bus could stopped in that case. Most panic stops also take into account the time it takes the vehicle ahead of you to stop. Imagine a close call you’ve had in the past. Imagine if that car in front of you had stopped IMMEDIATELY.

    Still think you would have had room to stop.

    Personally I think they should drop the cell phone issue and make it harder to get and keep a license. There are people in this country who just aren’t cut out to pilot a 3000lb potential weapon in traffic even WITHOUT Distractions.

  • avatar
    redav

    I’m not impressed with the article. The safety board’s recommendation cannot be judged as a bad idea because the bus accident was a poor example.

    As for the issue itself, for me it’s simple as a cost-benefit analysis.
    - What benefit is gained from eliminating cell phone use in cars? It removes a significant distraction and thus improves safety. (The contention that since there are other distractions, there is no reason to remove this one is a fallacy. Just because you can’t fix every problem doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fix the ones you can.)
    - Conversely, what is the cost of such a ban? IMO, not much; there really isn’t a need to use a phone while driving, just like there isn’t a need to use facebook at work unless you are in social marketing. Just wait a few minutes till you are done.

    As to the exclusion of “emergencies,” that’s pretty obvious. In those cases, there are benefits, e.g., alerting EMS to an accident, and if the benefit is greater than the added risk, fine. (It still is not better than pulling over to make the call, though.)

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I’m not going to farm out making my own judgements to people so insipid that they built a distracted driving campaign around an irrelevant accident. There are people who spend a great deal of their time on the road and that can increase the productivity of that time by carrying on business related conversations while driving. There are technologies that make such communication acceptably safe, and anyone using poor enough judgement that they’re texting while driving is as likely to find some other way of making their mistakes everyone’s problem anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      It removes a significant distraction and thus improves safety.

      There’s no evidence to support that position. Things are not as simple as you’d like them to be.

      Conversely, what is the cost of such a ban? IMO, not much

      I guess that you didn’t learn anything from the 55 mph speed limit. These types of laws are unenforceable.

  • avatar
    dhcobra

    How is talking hands free on a cell phone any more dangerous that talking to another person in your vehicle? Will NTSB ban talk too?

  • avatar
    the911s

    It’s incredible how many people on here will debate or deny the obvious, misconstrue results of studies, or cite benign news as evidence of conspiracy theories or groups otherwise pushing an ‘agenda.’ Try listening to yourselves once in a while and ask, “but what if I just used common sense?”

    Someone stated earlier something like “driving while distracted may actually decrease the number of accidents.” Whatever you got from the study you based that statement upon… either read the study again, or realize that the study is flawed. I mean… seriously? Listen, I’m in a profession where it’s my job to make decisions based on statistics- not emotions- that affect the safety of our products. I respect your attempt to look at statistically significant samples and draw conclusions based on that. I certainly think more people-ahem, politicians- should do the same. But one thing about working with statistics is that you need to be alert to things that don’t pass the sniff-test. When your subconscious alarm bells start screaming, “WTF???, that’s weird!”, it usually merits a second look at the data, or the experiment. Fact is, things usually make sense if they’re according to a sensible protocol. Most of the time when data is odd, something turns out to be wrong, or you’re not interpreting it correctly. I think this is one of those cases.

    Likewise, it really seems like common sense that driving while texting is incredibly unsafe. You are piloting a 3000-lb-plus projectile. I’m a rock climber; at some point every climber thinks about how they’re putting their life in someone else’s hands, and takes pause. I got over this fear when I considered that every time I get out on a two-lane highway, I’m putting my life in others’ hands anyways. If someone isn’t taking the responsibility of conducting that 3000-lb cruise missile seriously, and comes across the divider, it’s curtains, just the same as if the person holding my rope wasn’t paying attention. How many times have you been texting or futzing with your phone when you realized you were veering across lanes? Or that traffic was slowing and you needed to stand on the brakes? Oh sorry, that’s anecdotal; total taboo. I guess we need some data to misinterpret.

    It’s pretty clear the NTSB selected a questionable accident to use in their press release, and it may be assumed their hope was to scare people with the image of a school bus freight-training a semi. Dumb move, sure. But it seems like many people are extending this dumb PR move to be a reflection on the guidance itself- that’s not reasonable.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “Pull over, and have the conversation from the shoulder with your hazard lights on.”

    That’s absolutely the last thing you want to do. Pull off into a parking lot but NEVER sit on the shoulder with your hazards flashing.


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