Archive for Saturday, April 29, 2006

Proposal would prohibit teens from using phones while driving

Plan also would stiffen fines; some commissioners want ban for all ages

April 29, 2006

Advertisement

Paul Atchley is trying to be scientifically correct - not politically incorrect - when he says using a cell phone while driving is as dangerous as driving while drunk.

"Someday society will understand that people are dying because of cell phone use by drivers, and then the laws will change," said Atchley, an associate professor of psychology at Kansas University who has done research on causes of inattentive driving.

The days of a law change may be coming sooner rather than later in Lawrence. Members of the city's Traffic Safety Commission are set to debate two proposals on Monday that would ban cell phone use by motorists younger than 18 and create stiffer fines for all cell phone users involved in accidents.

On Friday, several traffic safety commissioners said they were willing to go a step further and consider an outright ban of wireless phones - both hands-free and hand-held devices - by all drivers in the city limits.

"If you're going to ban it, you should ban it across the board," said Richard Heckler, a traffic safety member. "I know teenagers carry part of the burden, but they certainly aren't the only reckless people in town."

Any decision by the Traffic Safety Commission - which will meet at 7:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall - would have to receive final approval from city commissioners.

The issue likely will be watched by many. Members of the wireless telephone industry said Friday that they particularly did not like that the ban would include hands-free devices.

Like many cell phone owners, Nena Grattan, KU freshman, St. Louis, sometimes uses her cell phone while driving. The city is considering a new fine for motorists who are guilty of inattentive driving while using a cell phone. "That would be so hard to enforce," said Grattan, Friday.

Like many cell phone owners, Nena Grattan, KU freshman, St. Louis, sometimes uses her cell phone while driving. The city is considering a new fine for motorists who are guilty of inattentive driving while using a cell phone. "That would be so hard to enforce," said Grattan, Friday.

"We would certainly oppose a complete ban," said Jamie Hastings, director of government affairs for T-Mobile USA, who said her company generally didn't oppose laws that only ban hand-held devices. "We think there are distractions just as great. I suppose if you also want to ban McDonald's coffee and kids in the back seat, then we wouldn't oppose it."

Others also said they had questions about the ban, though many agreed it likely would improve safety.

"It seems like a little too much government regulation," said Eudora resident Jennifer Lawler, who was in downtown Lawrence on Friday.

But several traffic safety commissioners said they thought there was growing evidence that using a cell phone while driving was exceedingly dangerous.

"The data is hard to ignore," said Bob Hagen, a traffic safety member.

Atchley provided information to the Traffic Safety Commission last fall when the idea of a Lawrence ban emerged. He said studies by both the New England Journal of Medicine and the British Medical Journal found that drivers using a cell phone increased their chances for having an accident more than 400 percent, which is the same risk factor for drunken drivers.

Reader poll
Do you think motorists should be banned from using wireless phones while driving?

or See the results without voting

-->
-->

But Hastings, the T-Mobile spokeswoman, said Lawrence leaders should be cautious about relying on such limited data because "there's science on both sides of the aisle."

Although Monday's discussion may evolve into one about a complete ban on cell phone usage by motorists, the Traffic Safety Commission technically has just two proposed ordinances in front of it.

The first would impose a $120 fine - twice the normal fine for inattentive driving - for any driver using a cell phone while involved in a vehicle accident.

The second ordinance would prohibit use of wireless communication devices - everything from phones to computers - by motorists younger than 18 years old. The fine for violations would be $100.

On Friday that ordinance drew the ire of some Lawrence High School students, who said the law wouldn't recognize that many members of their generation had been using the devices most of their lives.

"I think it is probably older people who aren't used to talking on the phones who are more dangerous than the younger users," said Wade Billings, a 16-year-old student who said he used his cell phone about every other time he's in his car. "For some people it might be a distraction, but it doesn't distract me."

Comments

classclown 9 years, 3 months ago

Ban cell phones period.

"I think it is probably older people who aren't used to talking on the phones who are more dangerous than the younger users," said Wade Billings, a 16-year-old student who said he used his cell phone about every other time he's in his car. "For some people it might be a distraction, but it doesn't distract me."

And almost every person caught driving drunk considered themselves to be sober enough and in complete control of their faculties to be able to drive.

formerfarmer 9 years, 3 months ago

Lets ban radios, cds, tapes, or anything else that would cause you to look away for an instant. We could make you drive alone so you wouldn't talk to a passenger and be distracted. Reading while driving has been banned for years, but just drive to KC on K10 and see how often you see someone eating, reading, putting on makeup, ect.

paladin 9 years, 3 months ago

Conozco a una mujer que sideswiped una vez tres coches mientras que comÃ-a una ensalada, busca un Cd, y poniendo en su maquillaje, todo en el mismo tiempo. Ella consiguió un boleto para conducir desatento, entre otras cosas. Sus ya ilegales dejaron cualquier actividad interfiere con conducir. Pero, es imposible hacer cumplir a menos que el algo más demuestre que ha ocurrido. Apenas ver a alguien el hablar en un telefono de la celula, serÃ-a una pesadilla a juzgar.

Ragingbear 9 years, 3 months ago

Did anybody see that episode of Mythbusters where they tested whether it was safer to drive with a .50 alchohol limit than to drive while talking on a cell phone?

Every day, more fender benders, close calls, accidents, and people getting ran off the road are caused by cell-phone talkers than any other demographic.

In the last month, I have been nearly hit twice by somebody chatting on a cell phone and not paying attention.

Ban cell phones while driving period. No hands free, no headset, no mental uplink to the internet. Ban them, or get the drivers that use them off the road. They are worse than those who had a few beers with lunch, and we should not tolerate such dangers on the streets at all.

crono 9 years, 3 months ago

So, here in Lawrence, we don't believe teenagers are capable of choosing what they should eat for lunch. Now we also want to make it so they can't judge whether they are capable of talking on a phone and driving at the same time.

They have to grow up sometime... when?

paladin 9 years, 3 months ago

No hago las drogas y nunca no las tengo. Ni, lo tolero de mis niños o apruebo de el en sociedad en general. Deje el estado del expediente tan.

YourItalianPrincess 9 years, 3 months ago

You simply can't ban cell phones from only teenagers. Going west on 6th St. the other morning was a prime reason why.

Here I am going 35 down 6th St. when a lady in a truck pulls out in front of me leaving the parking lot at Dillons. I noticed she had one hand on the wheel, and the other holding her cell chatting away. When I pulled up next to her I then noticed her two kids in the back seat. Don't think I didn't yell at her, because I did.

How could anyone take a chance like this. You don't pull out in front of someone going 35, chatting on your phone, and taking a chance of hurting others. What a digbat for having no regard to me, her kids and herself.

When my phone rings and I'm driving I don't answer it. If its truely important they will call back again. Then you pull into a parking lot and answer it.

Apparently this lady was to intertested in her phone call to understand that she could have caused harm to others.

classclown 9 years, 3 months ago

The other evening I was at my granddaughter's school for some music program she was in. Seated a bit behind me and to the left was a parent yacking away on her cell phone. Nice to know what our priorities are.

geekin_topekan 9 years, 3 months ago

BUENOS KNOCKERS???!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

jwmound 9 years, 3 months ago

I will love it when they ban them and all the city commissioners will get a call from their wife/husband on the way to the grocery store to remind them to pick up some milk, and they get pulled over and ticketed. Don't these commissioners have anything better to discuss and debate? More important that is.. How bout , discussing how to fix all the pot holes in town,.. do somthing that will help us all out and our cars.

The_Voice_of_Reason 9 years, 3 months ago

Lets ban police sirens and their distracting flashing lights! I bet those have caused just as many wreaks from rubber necking folks! I can understand the hand held argument but baning hands free talking is STUPID!!! Yet another stupid ban from our "great" city commission...

egypt 9 years, 3 months ago

JPT, My drivers ed course (4 years ago) said to pull over to take or make a call on your cell phone, Driving in Lawrence and Kansas city, there have been multipul times where Ive been cut off, or almost hit by a cell phone driver, I had one person try to change lanes while I was beside them, swerve and almost hit me, then they gave me the finger. Another time I had someone beside me stearing with there wrists, while holding the phone infront of them trying to dial a number and drive, I dont think the ban should just be on teenages, Ive been almost hit by plenty of business men and woman and adults, If the phone call is that much of an emergancy you can pull over and take the call.

strateup 9 years, 3 months ago

First it was cigarettes now it's cell phones. Is Lawrence still in the united Staes?

Lonestar1 9 years, 3 months ago

Ban Cell Phones, Hair Brushes, Makeup and Fastfood in cars. Like the ad said, "Drivers wanted", do the rest when your parked.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.