The problem is not with Cell phones, but with folks that cannot drive.
Hello for 6-2001
By: Mike Lipshultz
Mike@biznetonline.com

 Last month I got on the subject of Cell Phones and driving.  Basically I was saying that the problem is not with Cell phones, but with folks that cannot drive.  However it looks like the good folks we elected are still bent on protecting us.

Right now in Washington D.C., you government is working on a national law to ban the use of Cell phones when driving unless the units are both hands free and voice activated.  One version of the bill will require drivers to pull over to make or answer calls.

I have no doubt that more accidents will be caused by drivers frantically pulling over to answer their phones before it stops ringing.

Please tell your elected officials we do not need these laws!.

Again, this is not just my opinion.  Lets look a brief industry report:

Cell Phones Low on the List of Distractions
According to a national study released today by the American Automobile Association (AAA), distracted drivers who crash their vehicles are more likely to have been changing a CD, eating a hamburger or quieting a toddler than using their cell phones. The study, which the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center analyzed for the AAA, said cell phones were low on the list of distractions for drivers involved in 5,000 accidents between 1995 and 1999. The findings of the study will be the focus of a hearing tomorrow by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Critics of the study say the data may not be dependable, because many drivers will not admit they were talking on a phone at the time of a crash. Cell phones have become the focus in the debate over whether to regulate the use of technological gadgets while driving. Mark Edwards, managing director of traffic safety programs at AAA, said, "Legislation that bans cell phones from cars or requires hands-free right now is premature." (as reported in the Washington Post)

Now The Full Washington Post Story

Crash Analysis Lets Cell Phones off Hook
Critics Say Drivers Weren't Honest About Distractions

By Lyndsey Layton
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 8, 2001; Page B01

Distracted drivers who crash their vehicles are more likely to have been engrossed in changing a CD, eating a hamburger or quieting a toddler than by using their cellular telephones, according to a national study released today by AAA.

Cellular telephones were low on the list of distractions for drivers involved in 5,000 accidents between 1995 and 1999, which the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center analyzed for the American Automobile Association.

But those who still believe the phones create a hazard -- and even the study's author -- cautioned that the data may not be dependable, because many drivers won't admit that they were talking on a telephone at the time of a crash.

"People will tell you, 'Oh, yeah, a package fell off the seat,' but they won't tell you, 'I was on the phone, having a conversation,' " said Frances Bents, a former federal official who studies crashes and cell phones for Dynamic Science, an Annapolis-based research company. "The problem is, this data is unreliable. The study is not accurate."

While slightly more than 29 percent of distracted drivers said something outside the car -- like an accident scene, another vehicle or sun glare -- caused them to crash, only 1.5 percent blamed their cell phones.

"This surprised everyone," said Mark Edwards, managing director of traffic safety programs at AAA.

The findings, which will be the focus of a hearing tomorrow by a subcommittee of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, , are being embraced by the cell phone industry as it tries to combat growing opinion that the phones pose driving hazards. Legislation is pending in 40 states to regulate drivers' cell phone use.

"This says a Big Mac is a much bigger issue than a cell phone," said Tom Wheeler, of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association, based in Washington.

The study's author, Jane C. Stutts, acknowledged that drivers play down the role of cell phones in accidents. "People are not willing to report it," she said. The only way to get better data is to check a driver's telephone records to determine if the phone was being used before the crash, a technique not used in the study, Stutts said.

Still, she said the data are valuable for exploring the range of driver distractions that experts believe is increasing. "I don't want people to think cell phones are not a big part of the problem," she said. "They are distracting, but they're just one of the things we do that puts us and other people on the road at risk."

The study found that men under age 20 were most likely to be involved in distraction-related crashes. And the type of distractions varied according to age: Those under age 20 were most likely to be adjusting the radio or CD player, while drivers 20 to 29 were most likely to be distracted by passengers. Senior citizens were most likely to be distracted by something outside the car, such as rubbernecking or sun glare.

"Older people don't allow themselves to be distracted by all these other things -- they don't talk on cell phones, they don't eat and drink in the car," Stutts said. "They get focused on other things -- someone cutting in front of them, road construction, a crash scene."

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted drivers are a factor in 25 percent to 50 percent of all crashes. Of the 6.5 million crashes reported last year, at least 1.5 million were related to drivers being distracted, the federal government said. Social and economic costs for these crashes are approaching an estimated $40 billion a year, experts said.

That has created pressure on public officials to intervene.

"Distracted driving is becoming an increasing issue for lawmakers because it's not just phones anymore. It's fax machines, computers -- you can surf the Web in your car -- televisions, all sorts of things," said Matt Sundeen, of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

More than 110 million Americans own cellular telephones; an estimated 85 percent use them while driving. Cellular telephones have become a central point in the debate over whether to regulate the use of technological gadgets while driving.

Bills that would have required drivers using phones to choose hands-free devices withered in legislatures in Maryland and Virginia this year. A measure is pending in the District.

Elsewhere, the push to regulate is picking up steam. "We're seeing a lot more movement this year in bills to restrict cell phone use," Sundeen said. Although nine municipalities have passed ordinances restricting drivers' cell phone use, no state has approved a ban.

In New York -- where Westchester and Suffolk counties have laws making it illegal for drivers to use a hand-held telephone -- legislative leaders and Gov. George E. Pataki (R) have endorsed legislation for a statewide ban. Last week, Connecticut's House of Representatives passed a bill that would restrict the use of hand-held telephones while driving. It now goes to the state Senate.

"These bills used to die in committee," Sundeen said. "Now they're beginning to see the light of day."

But the nation's largest automobile club said its study should give public policymakers pause. "This study tells us that cell phones are not as yet a major factor in crashes," Edwards said. "Legislation that bans cell phones from cars or requires hands-free cell phones right now is premature."

© 2001 The Washington Post Company

Now here is a real problem.

Birds are starting to imitate the sounds of Cell Phones. Now I donít know about you but I think we should outlaw this.  After all, the last thing we need are folks rushing to answer their phones only to find out that itís the birds ringing not their phone.


 

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