US Government looking at banning distractions while Driving
I will be the first to lobby for the ban of the Physical restrictions of using a cell phone or other device while driving. I have witnessed people close to me impairing their ability while driving by holding their cell phone to their ear while driving or texting. Holding the phone to your ear while driving obviously limits the full range of movement necessary to see in all angles while driving. Texting is even more obvious as it takes your eyes from the road as well as at least one hand from being able to control your vehicle. But where should the limit on driving distractions end? If you are U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, then you believe that:
“I don’t want people talking on phones, having them up to their ear or texting while they’re driving,”
Lahood goes on to say that:
“We need a lot better research on other distractions,” including Bluetooth-enabled hands-free calls and the in-car systems, he said.
Lahood feels that all hands free phone conversations are a “cognitive distraction.” And according to Olivia Alair, the Fed could get their was as the Transportation Department’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is doing research into all driver distractions.
So the physical impairment of driving is one thing, but where does the “cognitive distraction” end? Talking on the phone via a hands free device is every bit as distracting as talking to person in the passenger seat. Perhaps even less as you are bound to look their direction from time to time. So here is the question, how far should the Government ban the use of the phone when not physically impairing yourself while in use?
The Bloomberg article that is the source of my information here also states the effect on Wireless Carriers as well as the Automotive Industry that is developing Sync Technology integrated into their cars and how they would be affected in this decision. I think that it is secondary of course to driver safety, but I do not agree with the line being drawn with mobile hands free calling and other distractions.
Let us know what you think, leave a comment.
Thanks to Kristofer for the tip!
I think legislation has value in raising public awareness in forums like this one but it will be difficult to solely legislate our way out of this issue. I just read that 72% of teens text daily – many text more 3000 times a month. New college students no longer have email addresses! They use texting and Facebook – even with their professors. This text and drive issue is in its infancy and its not going away.
I decided to do something about it after my three year old daughter was nearly run down right in front of me by a texting driver . Instead of a shackle that locks down phones and alienates the user (especially teens) I built a tool called OTTER that is a simple app for smartphones – low cost, no recurring fees. I think if we can empower the individual then change will come to our highways now and not just our laws.
Erik Wood, owner