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Thread: Ban cell phones? How about banning bad drivers instead?

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Ban cell phones? How about banning bad drivers instead?


    A ban on using cell phones in cars is a lot like putting a Band-Aid on a sucking chest wound. Neither does much about the underlying problem.

    In the case of cell phones, the underlying problem is bad driving -- not the phones as such. Write a law forbidding their use and bad drivers will still be bad drivers -- applying makeup, changing pants or reading the paper while driving instead of yapping on their phones. And even if all those other things were also made illegal, the basic problem -- scores of marginally skilled, inattentive or outright inept/reckless drivers -- remains.

    Do something about that -- by closely scrutinizing any driver involved in an "at-fault" accident, for instance -- and the "problem" attributed to cell phones will quickly become a non-problem.

    But that's not likely to happen, for several reasons.

    First, Americans have an entitlement mentality about driving. Whether they're able to drive competently -- and without endangering others -- is almost a non-issue. Obtaining a license in this country is extremely easy -- and taking a bad driver's license away often takes years of flagrant abuse. We barely require any demonstration of skills on the front end, when we first apply for a license -- and in our dotage, only a few states have any measures in place to screen for age-related physical and mental decline. Almost every week, it seems, we hear or read about a senior driver plowing into a crowd of pedestrians. Or a three-time DWI offender who still had a valid operator's permit when he killed a young couple. Etc.

    Second, our system of traffic law is designed primarily to gin up "revenue" rather than promote safe travel on our roads. Everything from artificially low speed limits set anywhere from 5 to as much 20 mph below the normal flow of traffic on a given stretch of road to things like bans on cell phones are set up to increase not just the number of potential "offenses" -- but also the number of drivers potentially open to being ticketed for those "offenses." Almost all of us "speed" from time to time; meaning we drive faster than the posted limit -- because posted limits are significantly below the normal flow of traffic and it's both uncomfortable as well as dangerous to drive appreciably slower than all the other cars out there. But the catch is, we're open to a ticket for "speeding" at almost any time.

    It will be the same with cell phones. It won't matter whether you were actually driving in an unsafe manner at the moment the cop saw you on the phone. You might even be stopped at a red light. Just like all those tickets issued for doing 65 or 70 mph on the highway during the reign of the old 55 mph National Maximum Speed Limit (repealed, thankfully, in 1995), you'll be ticketed on a technicality. The summons will likely be accompanied by an unctuous sermon about "safe driving" (again, just like the typical ticket for "speeding"). But you'll know it's a scam -- that you weren't doing anything intrinsically unsafe. That all you did was run afoul of an arbitrary rule enforced arbitrarily. You'll still have to pay the fine, of course.

    Many drivers are perfectly able to handle a cell phone and a steering wheel at the same time. They know when -- and when not to -- involve themselves in a discussion that might become a distraction. If that were not true, accidents should be at all-time highs -- since cell phones (and driving and using cell phones) are now ubiquitous. The fact is, most people seem able to drive and use their cell phones responsibly.

    There are, of course, some drivers who can't handle a cell phone -- and many of us have encountered such a driver ourseves.

    But they often can't handle a steering wheel, either.

    Taking away their cell phones might reduce the threat such drivers represent -- somewhat. But a more sensible approach would involve getting marginal/inept drivers off the road entirely -- or at least, into a remedial driver's education program. Followed by close monitoring to assure they've got what it takes to handle a motor vehicle with a minimum degree of competence.

    Cell phone or no cell phone.

    END

  2. #2
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    Re: Ban cell phones? How about banning bad drivers instead?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric

    A ban on using cell phones in cars is a lot like putting a Band-Aid on a sucking chest wound. Neither does much about the underlying problem.

    In the case of cell phones, the underlying problem is bad driving -- not the phones as such. Write a law forbidding their use and bad drivers will still be bad drivers -- applying makeup, changing pants or reading the paper while driving instead of yapping on their phones. And even if all those other things were also made illegal, the basic problem -- scores of marginally skilled, inattentive or outright inept/reckless drivers -- remains.

    Do something about that -- by closely scrutinizing any driver involved in an "at-fault" accident, for instance -- and the "problem" attributed to cell phones will quickly become a non-problem.

    But that's not likely to happen, for several reasons.

    First, Americans have an entitlement mentality about driving. Whether they're able to drive competently -- and without endangering others -- is almost a non-issue. Obtaining a license in this country is extremely easy -- and taking a bad driver's license away often takes years of flagrant abuse. We barely require any demonstration of skills on the front end, when we first apply for a license -- and in our dotage, only a few states have any measures in place to screen for age-related physical and mental decline. Almost every week, it seems, we hear or read about a senior driver plowing into a crowd of pedestrians. Or a three-time DWI offender who still had a valid operator's permit when he killed a young couple. Etc.

    Second, our system of traffic law is designed primarily to gin up "revenue" rather than promote safe travel on our roads. Everything from artificially low speed limits set anywhere from 5 to as much 20 mph below the normal flow of traffic on a given stretch of road to things like bans on cell phones are set up to increase not just the number of potential "offenses" -- but also the number of drivers potentially open to being ticketed for those "offenses." Almost all of us "speed" from time to time; meaning we drive faster than the posted limit -- because posted limits are significantly below the normal flow of traffic and it's both uncomfortable as well as dangerous to drive appreciably slower than all the other cars out there. But the catch is, we're open to a ticket for "speeding" at almost any time.

    It will be the same with cell phones. It won't matter whether you were actually driving in an unsafe manner at the moment the cop saw you on the phone. You might even be stopped at a red light. Just like all those tickets issued for doing 65 or 70 mph on the highway during the reign of the old 55 mph National Maximum Speed Limit (repealed, thankfully, in 1995), you'll be ticketed on a technicality. The summons will likely be accompanied by an unctuous sermon about "safe driving" (again, just like the typical ticket for "speeding"). But you'll know it's a scam -- that you weren't doing anything intrinsically unsafe. That all you did was run afoul of an arbitrary rule enforced arbitrarily. You'll still have to pay the fine, of course.

    Many drivers are perfectly able to handle a cell phone and a steering wheel at the same time. They know when -- and when not to -- involve themselves in a discussion that might become a distraction. If that were not true, accidents should be at all-time highs -- since cell phones (and driving and using cell phones) are now ubiquitous. The fact is, most people seem able to drive and use their cell phones responsibly.

    There are, of course, some drivers who can't handle a cell phone -- and many of us have encountered such a driver ourseves.

    But they often can't handle a steering wheel, either.

    Taking away their cell phones might reduce the threat such drivers represent -- somewhat. But a more sensible approach would involve getting marginal/inept drivers off the road entirely -- or at least, into a remedial driver's education program. Followed by close monitoring to assure they've got what it takes to handle a motor vehicle with a minimum degree of competence.

    Cell phone or no cell phone.

    END
    You can't ban bad drivers. Take away their license, and they will drive, anyway.

    I know of only one bad driver who eventually was kept from driving any longer--He'd lost sight in one eye in a crash, and when he had another crash, he lost the sight in his remaining eye. When I met him, he was bragging about just how fast he had been going when he went through a stop sign and broadsided a truck.

  3. #3
    ColleenC1
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    Re: Ban cell phones? How about banning bad drivers instead?

    In the case of cell phones, the underlying problem is bad driving -- not the phones as such. Write a law forbidding their use and bad drivers will still be bad drivers -- applying makeup, changing pants or reading the paper while driving instead of yapping on their phones. And even if all those other things were also made illegal, the basic problem -- scores of marginally skilled, inattentive or outright inept/reckless drivers -- remains.

    I agree with this 100%! Point of Fact, I used to do all those things and never was in an accident nor was the cause of an accident! ;D

  4. #4
    TC
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    Re: Ban cell phones? How about banning bad drivers instead?

    Quote Originally Posted by ColleenC1
    In the case of cell phones, the underlying problem is bad driving -- not the phones as such. Write a law forbidding their use and bad drivers will still be bad drivers -- applying makeup, changing pants or reading the paper while driving instead of yapping on their phones. And even if all those other things were also made illegal, the basic problem -- scores of marginally skilled, inattentive or outright inept/reckless drivers -- remains.

    I agree with this 100%! Point of Fact, I used to do all those things and never was in an accident nor was the cause of an accident! ;D
    Well, not that you would know of it.
    You would be up the road by the time the accident happened.

  5. #5
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Ban cell phones? How about banning bad drivers instead?

    "You can't ban bad drivers. Take away their license, and they will drive, anyway."

    Then progressively increase the punishment - including jail/prison time, if need be!

  6. #6
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Ban cell phones? How about banning bad drivers instead?

    Quote Originally Posted by ColleenC1
    In the case of cell phones, the underlying problem is bad driving -- not the phones as such. Write a law forbidding their use and bad drivers will still be bad drivers -- applying makeup, changing pants or reading the paper while driving instead of yapping on their phones. And even if all those other things were also made illegal, the basic problem -- scores of marginally skilled, inattentive or outright inept/reckless drivers -- remains.

    I agree with this 100%! Point of Fact, I used to do all those things and never was in an accident nor was the cause of an accident! ;D
    Amen!

    Don't you get sick of "least common denominator laws"?

    I know I do!

  7. #7
    ColleenC1
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    Re: Ban cell phones? How about banning bad drivers instead?

    The point is whether you talk on the cell phone, apply makeup, or read a paper while driving, if you are a good driver you can still do all those things.

    The one they won't outlaw or ban is driving with children, now that's a distraction and unsafe on the road. Children screaming, fighting undoing their safety belts, climbing out of car seats (NOW THAT'S DANGEROUS!!!)

    When my children were little so many times I had to pull over and threatned them "within an inch of their lives!"

  8. #8
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    Re: Ban cell phones? How about banning bad drivers instead?

    Quote Originally Posted by ColleenC1
    The point is whether you talk on the cell phone, apply makeup, or read a paper while driving, if you are a good driver you can still do all those things.
    If you're a good driver, maybe you can do all those things, but you don't!

  9. #9
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Ban cell phones? How about banning bad drivers instead?

    Quote Originally Posted by ColleenC1
    The point is whether you talk on the cell phone, apply makeup, or read a paper while driving, if you are a good driver you can still do all those things.

    The one they won't outlaw or ban is driving with children, now that's a distraction and unsafe on the road. Children screaming, fighting undoing their safety belts, climbing out of car seats (NOW THAT'S DANGEROUS!!!)

    When my children were little so many times I had to pull over and threatned them "within an inch of their lives!"
    A good point. But the "breeder lobby" is pwerful - and any attempt to apply rules and standards where screechng children are involved can really get the fur flying!


  10. #10
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Ban cell phones? How about banning bad drivers instead?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Brand
    Quote Originally Posted by ColleenC1
    The point is whether you talk on the cell phone, apply makeup, or read a paper while driving, if you are a good driver you can still do all those things.
    If you're a good driver, maybe you can do all those things, but you don't!
    Generally, yes, that's true. But just as an example: On an open highway with light traffic, it's not necessarily dangerous, as such, to make a call. It's about exercising good judgment and common sense.

  11. #11
    mrblanche
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    Re: Ban cell phones? How about banning bad drivers instead?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    A good point. But the "breeder lobby" is pwerful - and any attempt to apply rules and standards where screechng children are involved can really get the fur flying!
    Well, everyone has their favorite lobby. It's a little like wars; our freedom fighters are their terrorists.

    The "old fart" lobby and the "move yourself" lobby are two powerful ones in this country that make our roads more dangerous by exempting moving vans and huge RV's from sensible driver licensing laws.

  12. #12
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    Re: Ban cell phones? How about banning bad drivers instead?

    I wouldn't mind seeing a requirement that if you were involved in an at-fault accident, the next time you renewed your license you had to re-take the road test.

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

  13. #13
    mrblanche
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    Re: Ban cell phones? How about banning bad drivers instead?

    Quote Originally Posted by chiph
    I wouldn't mind seeing a requirement that if you were involved in an at-fault accident, the next time you renewed your license you had to re-take the road test.

    Chip H.
    I was in the DMV office in Hot Springs, AR, when a geezer with a white cane was led in by a young lady. He had an absolute fit when they wouldn't renew his license; AR had just started requiring an eye check before renewal.

    In Texas, you can renew your license online, now.

  14. #14
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    Re: Ban cell phones? How about banning bad drivers instead?

    Quote Originally Posted by mrblanche
    I was in the DMV office in Hot Springs, AR, when a geezer with a white cane was led in by a young lady. He had an absolute fit when they wouldn't renew his license; AR had just started requiring an eye check before renewal.

    In Texas, you can renew your license online, now.
    In the UK licences don't have to be renewed until the age of 70, then, as far as I know, all it requires is a declaration that you don't suffer from any medical condition which makes you unfit to drive. However, if such a condition is diagnosed at any age the medics have a legal obligation to inform the licencing authority. Luckily, when one of my sisters was diagnosed with narcolepsy she had a friend with her, otherwise she would have been 50 miles from home with her car & no licence to drive it!

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