Risky business

The more drivers imperil others, the more government steps in

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Much of the country needs stronger laws, in our view, governing the use of cell phones while driving.

What we don’t need is a one-size-fits-all policy from on high that treats texters, handheld and hands-free cell phone users the same.

The five-member National Transportation Safety Board voted unanimously recently to urge all 50 states to ban all cell phone use by drivers.

While we appreciate their perspective and agree that it’s risky to use cell phones while driving, we’re glad that five people are incapable of setting policy for 300-million-plus Americans across our very diverse nation.

Fact is, we think Georgia has it about right: Texting is banned for all drivers, and talking on cell phones is prohibited for drivers under 18.

And while we’re nonplussed that – once again – South Carolina legislators are way behind the curve, and haven’t outlawed texting, the beauty of this country’s governing structure is the freedom of states to fashion their own solutions to problems. That encourages innovation while leaving room for flexibility, common sense and local sensibilities and conditions.

We do think texting while driving is one of the most dangerous components of modern life, pure and simple. Can you imagine plopping a Royal typewriter down on your lap and typing out a letter while careening down the road? Well, the chief difference is simply the size and swiftness of the machine; there is no discernible difference in the danger of the two.

Some 35 states outlaw texting while driving. The others are sure to follow.

But banning all cell phone use? Much less likely.

For one thing, it may be too ingrained in our society. Much business gets done on cell phones, often in vehicles. Going back may be hopeless.

For another thing, there’s cell phone use and then there’s cell phone use. Talking on the phone is nowhere near as consuming as texting. And hands-free phone use is even less consuming than handheld.

As for hands-free, banning that would be ludicrous – as there’s hardly any difference between that and chatting with someone in the passenger seat. Are they going to ban that too?

It’s a good idea to avoid talking on cell phones, especially handheld, while driving. We strongly endorse it. But there are a lot of good ideas that a free people need not have forced upon them. Should the government also tell us what to eat (it increasingly is), what to wear, what habits to quit?

The government simply cannot reduce the risks in life to zero. It can help try to eliminate the worst of them, such as texting – and, indeed, a horrific texting crash in Missouri was cited in the NTSB’s cell-ban recommendation (even though Missouri already outlaws texting while driving). But there are other calculated risks in life that the government has little chance to eliminate. And the fact is, the overwhelming majority of cell phone users are doing just fine.

It’s always a delicate balance between security and freedom in a country such as ours. But in most cases, we err on the side of liberty.

The more that distracted drivers endanger others, the more likely it is we’ll lose freedom.

Comments (27) Add comment
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Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 12/19/11 - 02:19 am
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Do we need separate laws for

Do we need separate laws for murder by firearm, knife, baseball bat, fist and antifreeze? No, we already have a law that prohibits ALL murders.

Do we need separate laws for failure to maintain control of your vehicle by texting, talking, doing makeup, eating and doing taxes? No, we already have a law that prohibits all reckless behavior that leads to failure to maintain control of your vehicle.

Another law isn't going to make anyone safer.

Riverman1
79032
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Riverman1 12/19/11 - 07:25 am
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r u serious...txt while drvn

r u serious...txt while drvn safe unless u dont know abbrev. lol does not mean lots of love. d'nt tell ur other she/he is only one lol

Message sent via a Smartphone while speeding down Mike Padgett Hwy dodging log trucks.

DuhJudge
206
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DuhJudge 12/19/11 - 08:20 am
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Ban backseat drivers......now

Ban backseat drivers......now that's a law I could stand. Especially the one telling me not to answer my phone.

copperhead
1035
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copperhead 12/19/11 - 08:25 am
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Riverman1 is correct-ALL

Riverman1 is correct-ALL trucks over 5000 lbs. should be outlawed on our roads. There is absolutely no use for these terrible instuments of death and destuction. They are only on the roads to kill auto drivers! Ban all trucks today for a safer highways!

agustinian
671
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agustinian 12/19/11 - 08:45 am
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The sky is NOT falling. With

The sky is NOT falling. With all the Chicken Littles around warning of the extreme dangers of cell phones while driving you'd think our death toll on the highways would be skyrocketing.

Are you ready -- last year 32,885 people died on the highway -- the lowest number since 1949 (when the US had only 130 million people). And last year the US recorded the lowest highway death rate EVER, 1.1 deaths per 100 million miles traveled.

Now, tell me again, what is this cell phone menace that is killing us all?

copperhead
1035
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copperhead 12/19/11 - 08:56 am
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agustinian,it is ALL the evil

agustinian,it is ALL the evil trucks on our roads! They are only a menace and only cause death and destruction. They have mo other use-only destroying 4-wheelers. Truck drivers should be jailed BEFORE they kill and destroy.

dstewartsr
20388
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dstewartsr 12/19/11 - 09:49 am
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RE 7:45: There you go again,

RE 7:45: There you go again, confounding the opinions and feelings with facts, sir. For shame!

dstewartsr
20388
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dstewartsr 12/19/11 - 09:51 am
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This is another instance of

This is another instance of our pattern of government; every time the legislatures meet it is to forbid something in everyday life, or tax it.

Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 12/19/11 - 10:14 am
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All of the hating on cell

All of the hating on cell phones will die down soon. I want to start the next fad...

We should ban all forms of distractions to keep us safe.

Sheriff's deputies endanger the public when they get distracted by their police radios.

Therefore, we should ban police radios to keep us all safe.

Chillen
17
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Chillen 12/19/11 - 10:29 am
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When will the American

When will the American sheeple wake up and realize that the United States government wants to control EVERYTHING?!

They are 70% of the way there my friends. You have one last chance to stop them. November 2012. Your vote could never be more important.

allhans
23178
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allhans 12/19/11 - 10:47 am
0
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The closest thing I had to

The closest thing I had to rear-ending another car I was trying to do what the woman on the GPS was telling me, and before I got it she was recalculating...

dstewartsr
20388
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dstewartsr 12/19/11 - 10:50 am
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One of my favorite anecdotes

One of my favorite anecdotes about distracted drivers is the CC deputy I witnessed who thought he was stopped at a light; he wasn't; he rolled half-way through the intersection while typing on his dashboard computer. (Fortunately, there was no one coming in the cross lanes)

wondersnevercease
9216
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wondersnevercease 12/19/11 - 10:57 am
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", is that november 2012
Unpublished

", is that november 2012 thing like the 'end of days' thing so many are worried about on 1/1/12, superstition about catastrophic events always sells in some circles.".....................................................

faithson: Re-election of barry Would indeed be catastrophic..so the answer to your rather sarcastic question would have to be a resounding ..yes.

bjphysics
36
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bjphysics 12/19/11 - 11:12 am
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Can we just go with no keypad

Can we just go with no keypad use (texting, dialing, internet surfing, etc.), i.e., handsfree and voice command dial? Seems to me this technology is a reasonable compromise. Many people are driving long distances as part of economic activity and conducting important business over the phone while in transit. This across the board ban recommendation sounds premature to me.

“Handsfree device

Driving while using a handsfree cellular device is not safer than using a hand held cell phone, as concluded by case-crossover studies.[19][20] epidemiological,[1][2] simulation,[9] and meta-analysis[11][12]. The increased "cognitive workload" involved in holding a conversation, not the use of hands, causes the increased risk.[21][22][23] For example, a Carnegie Mellon University study found that merely listening to somebody speak on a phone caused a 37% drop in activity in the parietal lobe, where spatial tasks are managed.[24]

The consistency of increased crash risk between hands-free and hand held cell phone use is at odds with legislation in many locations that prohibits hand held cell phone use but allows hands-free. Nevertheless, dialing a cell phone is more distracting than talking on a cell phone,[25] and hands-free devices that offer voice-dialing may reduce or eliminate that increased risk.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_phones_and_driving_safety#Handsfree_...

itsanotherday
0
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itsanotherday 12/19/11 - 11:49 am
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Sorry I can't remember the
Unpublished

Sorry I can't remember the details, but I saw something on TV about a new app for smartphones that will lock out texting when moving. Concerned parents may want to look into it. Your teenager won't appreciate it, but it could be a lifesaver.

Carleton Duvall
6305
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Carleton Duvall 12/19/11 - 12:01 pm
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LETS GO BACK TO THE GOOD OLD

LETS GO BACK TO THE GOOD OLD DAYS, FOLKS, WHEN WE HAD NO CELL PHONES. HOW IN THE WORLD DID WE GET BY?

bjphysics
36
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bjphysics 12/19/11 - 12:19 pm
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Retired Army's posts NEVER

Retired Army's posts NEVER showup in the article's posted to; they only showup in the "discussion" scroll bar. This has been brought up before but never get's resolved.

itsanotherday
0
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itsanotherday 12/19/11 - 12:28 pm
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That is too bad. He is a
Unpublished

That is too bad. He is a counterbalance to right wing opinions, so makes a good sparring partner for some.

justthefacts
20230
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justthefacts 12/19/11 - 12:30 pm
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Take up a collection and pay

Take up a collection and pay his subscription fee.

itsanotherday
0
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itsanotherday 12/19/11 - 12:31 pm
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Is that how it works? I
Unpublished

Is that how it works? I didn't think you could post a comment anywhere unless you were subscribed?

justthefacts
20230
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justthefacts 12/19/11 - 12:37 pm
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0
It's a flaw in the system.

It's a flaw in the system. They are probably working on it.

bjphysics
36
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bjphysics 12/19/11 - 01:02 pm
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Amazing that someone would

Amazing that someone would put forth such an effort trying to poke the hornets net knowing their digital stick would not reach the nest; just pay the subscription and be done with it.

harley_52
22064
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harley_52 12/19/11 - 01:05 pm
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I don't know (yet) what

I don't know (yet) what happens when you're "banned" from these boards, but that may be what we're seeing here.

harley_52
22064
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harley_52 12/19/11 - 01:07 pm
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Where are "retired Army's"

Where are "retired Army's" posts showing up? I don't see them.

itsanotherday
0
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itsanotherday 12/19/11 - 01:14 pm
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On the main discussion/
Unpublished

On the main discussion/ latest comments page where all of the individual posts are listed.

http://chronicle.augusta.com/discussion

justthefacts
20230
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justthefacts 12/19/11 - 01:40 pm
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Notice, "jasonbennett"s many

Notice, "jasonbennett"s many posts suffer the same fate.

Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 12/19/11 - 02:24 pm
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Can someone explain why under

Can someone explain why under Georgia law it is illegal to text and drive but it is perfectly legal to play games on your cell phone and drive?

bjphysics
36
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bjphysics 12/19/11 - 02:51 pm
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Poorly written legislation?

Poorly written legislation?

robaroo
673
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robaroo 12/19/11 - 02:59 pm
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I don't see where talking on

I don't see where talking on the phone is any more distracting than talking to a passenger in your car. I don't like the idea of banning talking on your phone. But texting is a real problem.

The problem with banning texting and not banning talking is that it can't be enforced. How can a traffic cop know whether a driver is dialing a number or texting?

But officer, I was trying to call my friend about that cute boy in English class. I just misdialed her number ten times in a row.....

itsanotherday
0
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itsanotherday 12/19/11 - 03:13 pm
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robaroo, I suppose if they
Unpublished

robaroo, I suppose if they were really serious about stopping it they could require all phones to have motion sensing circuitry that locked out keyboard input when moving. As I posted earlier, there is supposedly an app available that will do that on smart phones.

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