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littlebluedog
littlebluedog
Tim
Thursday, July 30th, 2009 09:38 am
90 bucks, or ride your bike, or get lost

A couple days ago, Oregon's governor signed House Bill 2377, which prohibits the driver of a vehicle from using a cell phone unless a hands-free accessory, which permits both of the driver's hands to remain on the steering wheel, is also being used.

This is an upgrade of the current law, which applies to drivers 18 and younger, and doesn't include an exception for a hands-free accessory. Also, the violation under the current law is a secondary offense, meaning an officer can only issue a citation if the driver is pulled over for a separate suspected offense. Under the new law, it'll be a primary offense. The maximum fine under the current and new versions is the same: $90.

I'm all for this type of law, but this one has problems:
  1. It doesn't apply to bicyclists, whose personal safety depends more on their manual dexterity and reaction time (both of which, at least in the legislature's thinking, are compromised through use of a cell phone) than a driver's does.

  2. It's overinclusive. My phone has a couple dozen functions other than transmitting voice calls or texts. I use a map application for directions all the time. However, since I'm operating my phone in order to do it, I can get fined under this law, even though use of a similar device to do the same thing (like an in-dash GPS computer, a handheld GPS device, or, for that matter, the same app on an iPod Touch) is perfectly legal. Same with using a music app for some tunes while driving.
The second case is likely inadvertent, but in practice it's going to be a hassle. Cops seeing drivers looking at their phones will ticket them, regardless whether they're texting or talking or not, because the new law says so.

24CommentReplyShare

bellybalt
bellybalt
Belly
Thursday, July 30th, 2009 05:26 pm (UTC)

Two things on that cell phone GPS issue.

1) I would HOPE that an officer stopping someone would see the phone is in map mode and give them a warning.

2) I can see a requirement that a phone in map mode be put on the dash, or in a mounting bracket of some kind to make it hands-free.


ReplyThread
littlebluedog
littlebluedog
Tim
Thursday, July 30th, 2009 05:31 pm (UTC)

A warning of what, though? To be more surreptitious with the use of it?

I only kind of see the logic of the bracket idea, but even with a bracket, the map/GPS feature (or a music app) is almost certainly going to require some amount of interaction.


ReplyThread Parent
drjeff
drjeff
Raoul Duke
Thursday, July 30th, 2009 05:32 pm (UTC)

Mine talks. It's like having an annoying backseat driver. She needs to sigh loudly before she says "recalculating route."


ReplyThread Parent
bellybalt
bellybalt
Belly
Thursday, July 30th, 2009 05:40 pm (UTC)

You have Verizon too, huh? :)


ReplyThread Parent
drjeff
drjeff
Raoul Duke
Thursday, July 30th, 2009 05:43 pm (UTC)

I LOVE the Navigator. I never thought I'd use it much, but I use it lots... the traffic warnings rule.


ReplyThread Parent
brucix
brucix
Non-Sequitur Man
Thursday, July 30th, 2009 05:59 pm (UTC)

My wife made me setup our GPS with the 'british guy' voice. He's so suave, I am jealous.


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thatsassylassie
thatsassylassie
thatsassylassie
Thursday, July 30th, 2009 06:12 pm (UTC)

I think that would bug me so much. "Ok Jeeves, what DON'T you know?" dammit, direct me to the pub!


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brucix
brucix
Non-Sequitur Man
Thursday, July 30th, 2009 08:15 pm (UTC)

I live near these roundabouts and it is fun hearing him say 'roundabout'.


ReplyThread Parent
danger0usbeans
danger0usbeans
Dangerous Beans
Thursday, July 30th, 2009 07:30 pm (UTC)

Ours is set up with the British girl voice. So much sexier.


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brucix
brucix
Non-Sequitur Man
Thursday, July 30th, 2009 08:14 pm (UTC)

I think my wife hates British girl. Maybe she thinks she's moving in on her British guy.


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bellybalt
bellybalt
Belly
Thursday, July 30th, 2009 05:40 pm (UTC)

Your car radio, your wiper blades, and even a manual transmission requires you to take one hand off the wheel to use. I don't see legislation making those things hands-free, or mounted-on-steering-wheel. I think its the level of awareness being removed from the road, both in terms of focus and length of time, that is the issue here.

I know when I use my cell phone GPS, after it starts giving me directions I don't touch the keys, I just listen and look at the display. If I were holding it in my hand, up by the steering wheel, to see if a street name matches up or the map matches what I'm seeing on the ground, a cop could see that and pull me over. I hope once we talked he could see I wasn't distracted from driving by texting, and just give me a warning. But you never know.


ReplyThread Parent
drjeff
drjeff
Raoul Duke
Thursday, July 30th, 2009 05:45 pm (UTC)

I've always wanted to see those distraction studies include a control for annoying passengers. Seriously. Like a really talkative person, a kid, or a girlfriend wearing a lowcut shirt with a strategically-placed shoulder strap.


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bellybalt
bellybalt
Belly
Thursday, July 30th, 2009 05:49 pm (UTC)

Better yet, 4-point harness!!!


ReplyThread Parent
drjeff
drjeff
Raoul Duke
Thursday, July 30th, 2009 05:51 pm (UTC)

I like the way you think.


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evilnel
evilnel
Evilnel
Friday, July 31st, 2009 04:12 am (UTC)

http://74.125.95.132/search?q=cache:mw-mALhan2sJ:www.psych.utah.edu/AppliedCognitionLab/cdir.pdf+cell+phone+induced+bottleneck&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-a

This study actually does address this issue, although they didn't test it in the study: "We
hypothesized that these two conversations would differ because passengers tend to adjust their conversation based on driving difficulty; often helping the driver to navigate and identify hazards on the roadway and pausing the conversations during difficult sections of the drive. By contrast, this real-time adjustment based upon traffic demands is not possible with cell-phone conversations,"


ReplyThread Parent
bernmarx
bernmarx
Paul
Thursday, July 30th, 2009 08:21 pm (UTC)

The studies I've seen have pretty consistently said that it's the momentary glance away to control the device and the level of distraction we're programmed into having with someone on the phone (higher than someone in our presence, since someone in our presence can (a) see that we're trying to drive, and putatively grant us leeway for that and (b) help us drive by telling us about dangers we don't see... annoying obtuse passengers notwithstanding). The actual holding-it-in-hand distraction isn't that big of a contributor. In other words, hands-free sets aren't less distracting enough to warrant an exception.


ReplyThread Parent
dstroy
dstroy
dorota
Thursday, July 30th, 2009 06:09 pm (UTC)

I can honestly say that I feel way more an unsafe driver when fiddling with my iTouch to do music selection than I do on the rare occasion that my phone rings and I one-handed flip it open to answer while never having my eyes leave the road. Not that I gab on the phone while driving, but in my opinion, I think the law is stupid and redundant and just leaves itself open to abuse - ALL distractions are bad, and the guy who drove into that apartment complex pool yesterday was leaning down to grab his tipped coffee cup, not talking on a cellphone.

We already HAVE a law for reckless driving, and hell I've seen plenty of that and not just phones but those infernal GPS controls on the dashboards as well.
I wish they'd pull people over for plain old shitty driving, not technicalities like whether the reason they were weaving and driving stupid was because they were shaving while driving (I have seen this!), or being one of those hand-talkers who waves their hands in the air while talking instead of holding the wheel, or staring at the little built-in screen on the dashboard instead of the road while trying to rewind the little in-flight movie screen that so many vans come with these days to that one scene that the kids in the backseat are watching, or whatever. NOT just the damn phone. Not that phones are great either, but it's a part of the general short-attention-span multitasking culture that we are all becoming.


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girl_on_a_stick
girl_on_a_stick
stickgirl
Thursday, July 30th, 2009 07:01 pm (UTC)

" wish they'd pull people over for plain old shitty driving, not technicalities "

this


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bernmarx
bernmarx
Paul
Thursday, July 30th, 2009 08:25 pm (UTC)

I think electronic devices (including in-dash devices) that require you to look away from the road ought to be treated as a class: Either drivers are prohibited from using all of them when the vehicle is in motion, or none of them. Also, I think it should be a secondary offense, not a primary one. Someone who can Blackberry with one hand, Zune with the other, and drive with their knees safely ought to be allowed to do so, even if I think they're nuts.


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jef182
d
Friday, July 31st, 2009 01:14 am (UTC)

What part of your body do you use while "hands free" texting or map navagating with your iphone?

Better yet- I don't want to know


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littlebluedog
littlebluedog
Tim
Friday, July 31st, 2009 05:09 am (UTC)

January 1.


ReplyThread Parent
evilnel
evilnel
Evilnel
Friday, July 31st, 2009 04:08 am (UTC)

3. Research has pretty conclusively demonstrated that the problem with cell phone talking is NOT taking your hands off the wheel, but that something about talking without looking at the person you're talking to creates a cognitive bottleneck whereby you select the input you're going to pay attention to and ignore the other. In other words, if you're listening to a person on the phone, you are ignoring other things, even if you think you're paying attention. In one study I read, people could not recall signs that they had looked directly at (tested using an eye tracker). Law fail. Cell phones should not be used while driving at all!

http://74.125.95.132/search?q=cache:mw-mALhan2sJ:www.psych.utah.edu/AppliedCognitionLab/cdir.pdf+cell+phone+induced+bottleneck&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-a


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cornycornguy
cornycornguy
Cornycornguy
Friday, July 31st, 2009 05:07 am (UTC)

Yup. The NY Times had a great piece on this a couple of weeks ago. In summary, "Five states and the District of Columbia require drivers who talk on cellphones to use hands-free devices, but research shows that using headsets can be as dangerous as holding a phone because the conversation distracts drivers from focusing on the road."


ReplyThread Parent
littlebluedog
littlebluedog
Tim
Friday, July 31st, 2009 05:09 am (UTC)

I dunno. I've seen studies similar to this one for a while now, and I'm convinced that there's no general rule to be drawn. Some people are competent drivers regardless of distractions; others aren't. A friend of mine in college simply could not drive if someone else in the car was talking to her. I think any attempt at legislating what should be a common-sense approach to knowing your own abilities is never going to get it completely right.

That being said, I'm glad to see some legislation at least attempting to address this.


ReplyThread Parent