Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

All eyes on us as city mulls phone ban

Lawrence proposal would be strictest in the whole nation

June 3, 2006


— It's not just you wishing there was a way to force the guy with the cell phone plastered to his ear and blocking traffic to hang up the phone and steer.

Dozens of states and towns across the country have tackled the issue of cell phone use while driving, with a handful passing legislation limiting the use of certain phones or restricting phone time for the inexperienced or for school bus drivers.

The college town of Lawrence, Kan., is possibly going the furthest, proposing a ban on all cell phones - both hand-held and handsfree - while operating a vehicle. The ordinance on Monday goes before the city's Traffic Safety Commission, which will make a recommendation on the measure before sending it to the full City Commission for a vote.

The wireless industry is keeping an eye on the ordinance, as it does all attempts to curtail cell phone use, said Joe Farren, coordinator of public affairs for industry group CTIA - the Wireless Assn.

"We think these types of measures, whether legislative or educational efforts, that focus narrowly on one type of (driver) distraction creates a false sense of security," Farren said. "We're ignoring the multitude of other driver distractions, such as eating, drinking, reaching for a CD, grooming, singing, caring for a child."

An unidentified driver pulls in to traffic while using a cell phone in Lawrence, Kan., Friday, June 2, 2006. City officials in this college town are proposing the most aggressive cell phone ban in the country. The proposal would ban the use of hald-held and hands-free cell phones by drivers.

An unidentified driver pulls in to traffic while using a cell phone in Lawrence, Kan., Friday, June 2, 2006. City officials in this college town are proposing the most aggressive cell phone ban in the country. The proposal would ban the use of hald-held and hands-free cell phones by drivers.

More than two dozen local governments have passed their own restrictions on cell phone use while driving, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, although some of those ordinances were later trumped by court action or, in the case of New York and Florida, state law. The Kansas Legislature failed to pass a cell phone bill introduced this winter, but 24 states have instituted their own laws.

It's questionable how far the Lawrence ordinance will go. Two of the eight sitting commissioners on the panel said they believe law enforcement will have a hard time spotting and chasing down violators, especially those using handsfree units that are almost invisible.

"All the commissioners have been concerned about the safety, and they think using the cell phone takes away from your concentration while you drive, but the question is what you do with that," said Commissioner John Ziegelmeyer Jr., the panel's chairman.

Commissioner Robert Hagen said he was leaning toward a second proposed ordinance that would simply double the fine for inattentive driving, which would not require additional enforcement and could be easily seen by an officer.

Lawrence police "will enforce any city code passed by the Lawrence City Commission," department spokeswoman Kim Murphree said Friday. "Strategies for enforcement will depend on the details of the code."

The Kansas Department of Transportation said that cell phones were a contributing factor in 292 accidents last year statewide, causing five deaths and 144 accidents.

That's still less than a third of the accidents caused by such distractions as people applying makeup, eating or dealing with their children while driving. And with around 70,000 vehicle accidents in Kansas, cell phones appear, at least statistically, to be a minuscule problem.

But some researchers, noting that cell phones don't leave many physical traces of their use in a wreck, have suggested that wireless phone-related accidents may be underreported.

Paul Atchley, an associate psychology professor at Kansas University who has done research on the effect that cell phones have on a person's cognitive abilities, said phones require more concentration and create longer-lasting disruptions than many of the other extracurricular activities performed while driving.

"Our brains cannot effectively multitask," said Atchley, who has briefed the commissioners on cell phone research over the last seven months. "Discussion of those other distractions is a distraction and is meant to make us forget that cell phones are a more ubiquitous distraction and potentially more dangerous."

Farren, however, said the focus should be on education and enforcing existing laws aimed at reckless driving.

"We're very clear about that," he said. "If someone thinks their phone is going to distract them from driving, don't use it."


Sigmund 12 years ago

"And with around 70,000 vehicle accidents in Kansas, cell phones appear, at least statistically, to be a minuscule problem." What?!?! How can this be!?!?!

The answer is of course, Ban Statistics! We cannot allow facts to get in the way of our draconian solution to a miniscule problem!

Nikki May 12 years ago

Wow, this is one of the few times I can say this. I agree with Marion. Sigmund has a good point too. I think I want to ban kids that scream in cars and eating and shaving in cars. Makeup, definitely. Why can't we just have stiffer penalties for inattentive driving? If I wreck because of my screaming preschooler, that's just as bad as if I was on my phone! Let's vote on this. I'm tired of the oligarchy that we have now.

Terry Bush 12 years ago

Funny how people always want a law that impacts other people's behaviors "Make THEM stop it" or "Make THEM give up." etc. Everyone ignores or supports more laws, as long as they are for the other guy....No one ever says "Make ME stop it" or "Take away MY property or rights". But when a law may impact them personally.....THEN we see some attention to how over-reaching government leaders can become.

THIS overzealous attempt to protect citizens from other citizens is what happens when we have (for a long time) turned to the government anytime our lives weren't going as we'd like - PASS A NEW LAW has been the rally cry and reaction to a lot of things that would have (IMO) been better left to a private resolution. But we don't trust natural selection any longer and so we elect people to lead us by preventing people from suffering the natural consequences of bad behaviors.

The purpose of government (historically) was to PROVIDE (protect and serve) what could not be adequately provided by individuals - military protection, roads, schools, fire and police protection, etc.

However, over years of turning to "Big Brother" to cure every perceived social "ill" He has gotten the idea that we're all just little immature children who need to be protected from our own lack of intelligence. And the whiners who always want something from THEM (other people) have encouraged the beast. We now have so many laws that common sense is becoming an endangered species. (I mean really - have you read some of the "warnings" now posted on the packages for products?).

I'd like to see government butt out of our lives more. More laws usually mean more taxes and more red tape and job security for lawyers and legislators.

If this cell phone issue really IS such a new/big problem, then strengthen the penalties for inattentive driving (civil and criminal). Please, stop trying to micro-manage the lives of everyone else. If you want to be re-elected by proving you are doing your jobs, then lead by example and back away from passing any new laws that aren't necessary! At least for awhile.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years ago

Sorry, punkrockmom, but "oligarchy" better describes the style of government the commissions of the past few years have replaced.

But I tend to agree that a law increasing fines for inattentive driving would be a better way to go. While cell-phone usage appears to be a more common and pervasive distraction than most others, enforcement of a ban would be difficult.

satchel 12 years ago

Reading is something I can't handle doing while driving. They should ban reading while driving, or watching a movie while driving. I think that is a lot more distracting than when I talk on my cell. I have been using my cell endlessly when I drive and have caused NO accidents. There have been 2 close calls when I have been singing while driving.. That is it. NEVER because of my cell phone use, and I use it practically every minute i am in my van.

How about the fact that by talking on my cell it helps me focus on what is going on around me because my face is pealed to the road instead of dealing with all 4 of my kids in the back who are fighting.. It is kind of my safety net so I am not looking in my rear view telling my kids to stop! When I am on the cell, they just do their thing knowing they are to be quiet while I talk and pay closer attention. I am offended that they say I can't multitask.

Who is this turd who said .."we can't multitask"??? There are people who were born to multitask, who is he to judge?? What is he a neurologist? How in the heck does he know definitavely that none of us can multitask and that the kind of multitasking using a cell is different than eating a sandwich, turning up the radio and yelling at your kids at the same time.. SHoot, cell phones reduce these kind of multi-task disruptions..

They only GUESS that since cell's are 'hidden' factors that the 'statistics' are higher than the researchers say!! SHEESH.. This only leads me to one conclusion.. Lawrence is doing this for the attention.. Pure and simple, and the fallout is on us and our freedoms! Everytime I drive in lawrence, I will listen to music and sing and probably get in an accident.. Or, listen to Rush Limbaugh and get absorbed in his excellency and get in a wreck..

The next thing to go if Gas prices go up: No more SUV's in Lawrence!!

satchel 12 years ago

Get this, why won't they construct a by-pass so that congestion on 23rd eases up and the wrecks that happen because of it would cease?? NO.. That would make too much sense! They are banning cell phones and not building a by-pass. Does that make sense? Typical libs more worried about saving frogs and the wetlands pleasing a small minority of people, than saving the lives of people who get in wrecks on 23rd. Shoot, you can't even get out of a business on the side of the road and have to go around 23rd just to get back on it. Oh but wait.. banning cell phones Will make life safer on the streets in Lawrence.. I don't think so.

monkeyhawk 12 years ago

punkrockmom, Don't ever expect a vote on this because:

  1. This is not a democracy, this is a dictatorship.

  2. It would destroy merrill's, et. al. chance for a rare "win" in his life.

These folks probably think that the rest of the country is looking on with admiration. They are too oblivious to see that the rest of the country is looking on with pity for those of us who must endure.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years ago


Demonstrations of critical thinking skills are all but non-existent on this forum.

paladin 12 years ago

ladylaw-Its good to know that there is finally someone who"gets it".

monkeyhawk 12 years ago

MacHeath, I personally do not like to use my phone in the car, and it does annoy me when I see someone endangering others while driving and talking.

That said, it is not about cell phones, firecrackers or smoking. It is about the interference in our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is about a grocery sacking renter and two lawyers injecting their views and personal dislikes and imposing them into our lives. It is about control, and the little people don't like that.

classclown 12 years ago

What's not to like? It's a ban people! A ban! It's the Lawrence way. And remember, the fewer people that appear to be for it increases the likelyhood of it happening.

A few people didn't like smoking in bars, so a ban was placed on that. A few people didn't like everyone else celebrating the 4th of July, so a ban was placed on that.

One statistic I am curious about however, is how many people that have joyfully been riding the town's ban wagon while they were busy banning the things you didn't like, are now up in arms because now they are infringing on YOUR rights?

I'm sure all of you that created this ban monster thought you would be able to control it just like any mad scientist thinks they can control their creation. Unfortunately for you, this monster needs to eat, and when it has completely consumed all rights of those with which you do not like, the only option it has left is to turn on it's creators and and start gobbling up your rights.

I have to say I saw this comming from a mile away.

happyone 12 years ago

The ban is a good idea. IMO, but I hate cell phones. I don't own one and probably never will. I have been in near miss accidents with people on their phones too many times to count.

A lot of posters (on the articles regarding this) have been saying that this ban would infringe on their freedoms.....It can not for the simple fact that driving a car is not a freedom given by the Constitution, talking on the phone is also not a freedom given by the Constitution. If I am not mistaken the Constitution says "Life, Liberty, and the Persuit of Happiness" in that order which means that LIFE is considered most important........If you are driving your car and on your cell phone and get into an accident and kill someone you have violated the Constitution.

Now if "We the People" would monitor ourselves and not talk on cell phones while driving this ban would not be neccesary but since most that have them are in too big of a hurry to enjoy life that won't happen...sooooo...we need the ban!!

It will be relatively easy to enforce, although many of you doubt that. I saw on the news a couple of days ago in a city that already had the law, they had set up a "sting" where one officer was dressed as a "bum" (perhaps we could recruit our local bums and give them jobs) and radioing a uniformed officer. They gave out so many tickets in one weekend that the fines totaled over $14,000!! That would fix a lot of potholes :)

Sigmund 12 years ago

MacHeath what part of "minuscule" did you not understand? minuscule Pronunciation (mn-skyl, m-nskyl) also miniscule (mn-skyl) adj. 1. Very small; tiny. See Synonyms at small.

See many of us here "concepts" don't think that our City Kommission should ban all cell phone use while driving, because it is a "very small" problem and the social utility of allowing cell phone use while driving outweighs the tiny problem created.

See there were 70,000 accidents in all of Kansas (Lawrence is in Kansas BTW) all of last year, and only a very few accidents were actually cell phone related. Why don't we just ban cars, 70,000 is not a "miniscule" number. Because society has decided that the benefit provided by cars outwieghs the problems created by cars. Then we take action against those people who actually have accidents no matter what the cause, cell phones included. We fine them, take away their driving priviliges, and so on. We already have a solution to the miniscule problem and don't need another.

Inattentive driving is a "real law" it has been on the books for years, it is enforced and it is not unconstitutionally vague. I believe the fine for inattentive driving is around $100. There is no fine however for idiotic posting.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years ago

You omit the part about the professor saying that accidents caused by cell-phone distraction is likely under-reported, Sigmund. It's probably a lot like what happens when the officer asks someone after an accident if they were wearing their seatbelt. Probably a few who weren't would admit to it, but most just say, "Of course I was."

Why would someone who just caused an accident admit that it was because they were yacking on a cellphone?

Rationalanimal 12 years ago

If it was any other commission that had a track-record of making objective decisions and weighing both sides I would be more comforted. It sounds like the "expert" they brought in was to preach to the choir. The fact that this is the harshest ordinance in the nation however is consistent with the radical, unreasonable, biased, damn the facts/agenda oriented commission. Lawrence is in the state and national spectacle over the ongoing K-10 circus created by this commission. Now were going for national spectacle over passing the strictest cell phone ordinance in the nation. That's called radicalism any way you slice it. This has 1st Amendment written all over it and residents of Lawrence stand to take on the image of a big horses rear end.

If traffic safety is truly what we are after then it stands to logic the commission amend this ordinance to encompass a ban on food consumption, driving drowsy, crying kids, applying cosmetics, driving after consuming any alcohol within the last 24 hours, changing radio buttons, singing along to music, talking to friends, and for heavens sake, TEENAGE drivers.

In fact, how many lives could we save if we just banned cars all together and used bikes exclusively. That would certainly accomplish the agenda of this commission to keep every man, woman, child, dog and cat within the parameters of the downtown area.

The really screwy thing is that this ordinance makes no sense with the passage of the recent marjiuana ordiance. Lets see, I can easily get and consume marijuana in Lawrence with little to no repercussions, but I'll get strung up for using my cell phone in a car. That is screwed-up.

When do we get to vote these insane dogmatic bums out of office?

classclown 12 years ago

"Why would someone who just caused an accident admit that it was because they were yacking on a cellphone?"

Haha... I thought I was probably the only person that used the word "yacking". Doesn't seem to be used much anymore. You're the only person besides myself that I've noticed use that word in quite a while. Although I also use "jaw jacking" and flapping your gums".

Sigmund 12 years ago

Bozo- Why wouldn't they report? There is currently no additional penalty for using a cell phone while driving so there is no reason to under report. The good professors "belief", and that is all it is is his belief, that there is under reporting is not a rational for banning all cell phone use in cars in Lawrence. This is doubly true when we have laws already in place to deal with the problem, at least until we get evidence that it more than a small problem and there is no alternative solution.

But then again I can not think of a single ban you didn't approve of, nor any action this City Kommission takes that you haven't supported, in an attempt to force everyone to believe and act exactly like your progressive ideal.

I prefer more freedom of choice for adults, more personal responsibility, more diversity of opinion and actions for individuals and I would require evidence of very a large problem with no alternative solutions before we restrict peoples actions.

We are just different that way.

Rationalanimal 12 years ago

The answer to your theory regarding under-reporting is one of psychology. It is a well accepted prinicple that when people are under very stressful or extreme circumstances (such as an auto accident) they are very unlikely to lie. In trials this is called "excited utterance."

classclown 12 years ago

Posted by Sigmund (anonymous) on June 3, 2006 at 9:38 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Bozo- Why wouldn't they report? There is currently no additional penalty for using a cell phone while driving so there is no reason to under report. ========================================

Stigma. Perhaps there is no additional penalty for it, but they are embarrassed to they were engaged in an activity which is frowned upon by many in society which caused them to have the accident.

The idea of knowing that there will be those who are clucking their tongues over your actions will cause people to be less then forthcoming about their activities.

Very much like all the people that ned to go to the emergency rooms to have something extricated from their person that all for some reason happened to fall off a ladder onto an object while changing a light bulb in the nude. Sometimes including the light bulb that was in their hand.

Now there is a ban everyone should get behind. Ban changing light bulbs in the nude.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years ago

Actually, I'm not that much in favor of banning cellphones. Not because I think people should use them while driving, but because the ban would be very difficult to fairly and comprehensively enforce.

If it had been my decision, the smoking ban would have allowed exceptions for a few small bars and coffee shops-- nicotine dens, if you will.

And Sigmund-- I think classclown answered your question yackingly well.

Sigmund 12 years ago

Some psychology professors belief that there is no evidence of a problem because of under reporting, some bozo who rides a bus progressive ideal driver, and some other classclown's embarrasing experiences in an emergency room all added up together are not a rational for banning talking on a cell phone while driving. :)

Christine Pennewell Davis 12 years ago

doesen't the saftey board and commision have better thing to worry about? The traffic in town is a big enough issue. how about the pot holes? you have to worry about driving around those things so much you can't really pay that much attention to other drivers, some of those are big enough to lose children and small dogs in not to mention your front end and suspension. How about game days in lawerence traffic is so bad that it is dangours to even think of driving. I have been in many of near misses and can not say cell phones where involved it seems to me it is just bad driving and people just " zoning" out and not paying attetion to what is going on around them.

kingdork44 12 years ago

Good for you Lawrence. Be the strictist in the nation, so that others will follow. Talking on the cell phone and driving is "Bad". Talking on a cell phone while your trying to check out at the local supermarket is "Bad". No just plain rude! Just let your phone go to voice mail, You are not that important. Get over it and just Drive.

flames_over_the_wasteland 12 years ago

Ban them! Reclaim your lives. Most of you made it for years without the need for talking on a phone, and now you think you can't live without it. You'll survive.

"Only a flicker Over the strained time-ridden faces Distracted from distraction by distraction Filled with fancies and empty of meaning." --T.S. Eliot

Sigmund 12 years ago

Posted by just_another_bozo_on_this_bus "Actually, I'm not that much in favor of banning cellphones." then later, "If it had been my decision, the smoking ban would have allowed exceptions for a few small bars and coffee shops-- nicotine dens, if you will."

I think I hurt myself when I fell out of my chair. I'm headed to the emergency room where, if my luck holds, Ill run into some clown with lightbulb stuck in an emarrassing body part, probably his ear.

Have a nice day all!

kingdork44 12 years ago

ClassClown. Thank you for spreading some light on that subject. I'm behind you all the way!!!!!!!!!!!!

satchel 12 years ago

Here is a great story... I am just waiting to hear that these things are caused by cell phone use.. But, to my disappointment, this one wasn't..

Van crashes into railroad tracks World Online staff

Saturday, June 3, 2006

At 3:12 a.m., a white 2001 white Chevrolet van ran into the railroad tracks on the 700-block of Pennsylvania St. The van continued northbound over the first set of tracks and came to a stop on the second, Sgt. Dan Ward said.

The driver, 18, was taken to Lawrence Memorial Hospital where he was treated and realeased. There were no other vehicles involved

Alcohol was believed to be involved.

YourItalianPrincess 12 years ago

Does this ban include law enforcement, lawyers, doctors, and city workers from using their cell phones?

I see alot of officers chatting away while driving........oh but I forgot they are expert drivers.

girly 12 years ago

Don't we already have laws against negligent/inattentive driving? This would cover cell phones, eating and whatever else might cause a driver to drive recklessly. How can they ban just one thing? And didn't they say the ban would not pertain to people who need their cell phones for business? Why should they get to endanger everyone else then? I heard an ex-police woman on NPR a couple days ago saying that cops not only talk on the radio and the phone while driving, they also use their write and use their computer! She said they don't get any special training for mulit-tasking, but they learn from experience. Now that's fair!

bthom37 12 years ago

I need my cell phone for business. Personal business, thank you very much Officer.

brfts 12 years ago

All I can say about this potential ban is that I'm glad that I moved away from Lawrence when I used to be a nice, unrestrictive place to live. So much for the good ole days.

Christine Pennewell Davis 12 years ago

why does our city want to waste time on this when there is so much else to worry about. Angalina and Brads baby, Mathew mcdreamy is free again and tom and katie of course oh yeah least i forget all the real bad guys in the world. We live in a bubble or something?

yourworstnightmare 12 years ago

I guess the rightist wack-jobs decrying bans on this site only like bans if they are based on ideology, dogma, and religion, not objective facts and reality.

I guess bans on abortion, stem cell research, and gay marriage are just hunk-dory with them.

Hypocrites? Yessah!

tell_it_like_it_is 12 years ago

Just one more reason to stay out of your folks' town and shop my hometown first. How do you people stand to live up there?

Christine Pennewell Davis 12 years ago

We are the next stepford wives movie/ Move to lawrence and never have to think or decide any thing for yourselves. Now that just sounds so nice will they also take care of my bills or do I still need to pay those. How about banning bills.

Rebecca Valburg 12 years ago

Here's my favorite personal observation regarding people loudly complaining about cell phone use:

Last summer in the Wal-Mart parking lot on a Saturday afternoon around 1 p.m., I was cut off by two men in a pickup truck. As they whipped past my car, they yelled a number of choice words at me, ending with "hang up the f#@&ing phone and drive!!" I WAS on my phone, but having been and watched others get hit in parking lots several times, I was proceeding rather slowly and with my usual amount of paranoia about getting hit - I had the right of way, but they took it. No big deal, but I was irritated that they yelled at me, so I followed them for a while to see what was going on. They proceeded to drive erratically across town to the strip mall across from the old Dillon's on sixth street, where they got out and went inside. Upon examination of their vehicle, the beverages that I could see them drinking and the most likely reason for their behavior was the half-finished case of beer still sitting on the seat between them. But of course, I'm quite sure that the topic of conversation when they went inside was what an idiot driver I was. Funny, I'd have rather they'd have both been on cell phones.

Cell phones can be distracting, but so can a myriad of other things in the car which we're not going to be able to ban. For whatever reason, a lot of people tend to like to blame the phones, when in all actuality, the fault of their inconvenience is poor driving habits of others, or gasp their OWN poor driving habits.

I think the last car that nearly hit me was red. Let's ban red cars.

Liberty 12 years ago

I think that the truth is that they don't really have the jurisdiction. Make them prove that they have jurisdiction first. They can't prove it if you don't say that you are under their jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is assumed that they have authority over you. And if law enforcement is smart, they will reject this exercise in stupidity.

Christine Pennewell Davis 12 years ago

it was not me got rid of the red car,lol but I agree been almost plowed into many time no phone in site. I do see people just staring staight not looking around and oh my talking to other people in the car with them. Driving is about skill and attention if you can not pay attention while on the phone do not talk and drive. If you can not drink your pop or what ever and drive well put it down and wait till later to drink it I mean if you have a 16 oz bottle and keep taking the lid off and on a bit distracting. all things that go on while you are driving are distracting it is that simple. You can not ban everything you dislike or think is bad I think it is called dictatorship.

Christine Pennewell Davis 12 years ago

please no more wasted money on studies and law suits to much waste

yourworstnightmare 12 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years ago

I'm glad you could contain the spew, Sigmund, but that's been my position on the smoking ban all along. And you won't find me advocating a ban on cellphones anywhere, either.

strateup 12 years ago

Once again Lawrence, Ks is succesfully gaining national recognition as the Left Wing Nutball Capital of the United States. This town is becoming the prime example of government gone bad. Aren't you Liberal wacko's tired of being fodder for national media? Give it up already.

satchel 12 years ago

Strateup.. Ditto! I think the libs in Lawrence are proud that they are more liberal than New York, while the majority of America thinks they are nuts. In reality, they are nuts.. I mean, they spawn people like some of these liberal wackos' on here who believes in taking away everyone's right to choose, except babies.. Who believes one can never challenge darwinianism.. He called it a 'ban'? I think the whole issue was a 'challenge', not a ban. The only ban right wingers are behind is abortion because the baby doesn't get the right to choose, and it is murder. Typical libs want to make that choice.

Gay people should be able to go in and re-define marriage. IN other words, our right as women and men to keep marriage defined as it was originally defined should just be thrown out the window to a minority group.

AND, we have no say or choice as to whether our children should taught morally reprehensible stuff at school. I am sure the libs are behind the U.N. wanting to take away parental rights period, giving the child the upper hand.. No boundaries set by parents, no direction given to them.. They should just fumble around for themselves at 6 years old and up. If you are a true evolutionist/liberal, you have to agree with this.

Liberal Utopia.. Yeh, where anything goes.. Survival of the fittest.. That is the kind of world I want to live in.. No rules, boundaries.. Anything goes.. I am sure we would all feel safe, and prosper!

classclown 12 years ago

Posted by Liberty (anonymous) on June 3, 2006 at 1:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I think that the truth is that they don't really have the jurisdiction. Make them prove that they have jurisdiction first. They can't prove it if you don't say that you are under their jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is assumed that they have authority over you. And if law enforcement is smart, they will reject this exercise in stupidity.

Do you also advise people that they really don't have to pay their taxes?

KsTwister 12 years ago

Better include dispatches, I smell another lawsuit if not.

rhd99 12 years ago

Humph! Why don't these STUPID TRAFFIC COMMISSIONERS BAN CARS from Lawrence streets! David Schauner e-mailed me back & he doesn't like this proposal. I hope he backs up what he says & he & other commissioners turn their noses up at this NORTH KOREA like dictatorship!

jayhawks71 12 years ago

momma- yeah no more money for [research] studies. we know all there is to know. how ridiculous of people to seek out knowledge; ignorant fools.

jayhawks71 12 years ago

and for those who are worried about enforcement of such a law, the NSA database has that covered. You didn't realize they were combining their phonecall database with the tracking system built into every car sold in the US did ya?

Rebecca Valburg 12 years ago

"Discussion of those other distractions is a distraction and is meant to make us forget that cell phones are a more ubiquitous distraction and potentially more dangerous."

And is Paul Atchley actually trying to help the people of Lawrence, or simply trying to get his name published a few more times? His quotes don't really sound like he's aiming for the lay person to read them.

As for his comment that "our brains cannot effectively multitask," I'm having problems understanding why anyone can physically drive at all. Last I checked, even BASIC driving requires the individual to steer, brake, accelerate, read signs, react to other drivers, changes in the environment, etc. And that's assumming we kick out the passengers, completely numb our minds to what is going on in our personal lives, at work, turn off the radio, etc, and discount all of the things our brains are controlling just to keep you alive in your car (i.e. regulating the heart, breathing, digestion). Seems to me the very act of driving REQUIRES quite a bit of "multitasking."

If Paul Atchley would like to present real, unbiased data on this topic, then super; until then, he needs to sit down, and KU needs to re-evaluate what research our tax dollars are funding.

jayhawks71 12 years ago

Richard, have you evaluated the research? You(and others posting here)misunderstand the relevant context of multi-tasking where attention is concerned. Breathing, heartbeat, and digestion are not cognitive processes; perception, language, memory, problem solving, and reasoning are cognitive processes. Breathing, heartbeat and digestion do not consume cognitive resources (attention). Cognitive processes form a continuum. Low-attention tasks at one end(e.g. recognizing that a pattern is an object) high attention tasks at the other (e.g., learning to solve a calculus problem). There are also highly learned motor responses that involve areas of the cortex but also the cerebellum, a primary source of "skill memory" (which, with practice requires little attention).

The problem with cell phone conversations is that they are attention demanding and conversations remain attention demanding even though we have them all the time. Try splitting your attention between two conversations and EFFECTIVELY recalling who said what and what was said. It is very difficult. I won't speak for Atchley, but that is what I believe he means by EFFECTIVE multitasking. If you imagine attention as a cup of water (limited capacity) that you "pour" on cognitive tasks, some tasks require more attention, some require less. Once you exceed the contents of the cup, task performance suffers. The combination of conversation and driving exceeds the limited attentional capacity and therefore, as the research clearly shows, driving performance suffers. Slower response times, failure to remember and, failurre to identify hazards in external to your vehicle are the primary deficits seen.

Manipulating your radio (I am not talking about fumbling for CDs and reading the CD labels, etc, just simply tapping the presets) requires very little attention once the motor system has learned the task. The radio is always in the same spot in your car. The buttons are always on the same spot on the radio. In case you didn't realize it, much of the design of the dashboard of your car is the result of research into human factors and cognition. The goal being to make all of those things LESS distracting to a driver (and some to add aids to increase signals about the environement). However, as I mentioned before, we don't get much better at reducing the cognitive load of conversation.

jayhawks71 12 years ago

Richard, I think Atchley knows the topic FAR better than anyone posting in these threads or the reporters who keep quoting him. I have little concern that his comments are not solidly based in research, because I HAVE read the research. Very few people reading the newspaper are trained in conducting research and no reporter is going to reprint the details of scientific research reports.

Richard, head over to the KU libraries and read the research. Or email Atchley and ask for citations for the research. Much is available online if you take the initiative. Don't stop with one or two studies. The claims are not based on one or two studies.

jayhawks71 12 years ago

glock, that's quite an assumption you are asking us to swallow. First, these companies are more than happy to have people pay and not use their minutes. They collect their $$ and their bandwidth isn't used; likely results in better service for those who are using their phone.

Then, picture it, 28,000 college students, coaches, faculty, and administrators walking around campus using cell phones. Hundreds of people walking downtown. People all over the city walking around stores, sitting in restaurants, bars, and coffee houses. Tens of thousands at sporting events. Others sitting on their patios at home. Another bunch who have no landline in their home, because there is little or no reason to have one. Not one needs to be using it while driving a motor vehicle. Yeah right, those towers are just going to be going unused and shut down. Talk about stretching an assumption to try to make one's point. I guess that saying about assumptions fits here...

Rebecca Valburg 12 years ago

I HAVE read a lot of studies on the topic, and while there are many that do cite cell phones as being dangerous enough while driving to warrant banning, there are many others that disagree. Many professors even at KU disagree with him.

I understand the science at work here (I have a psych degree from KU, and that particular topic came up numerous times, and I very much enjoy reading about topics that interest me) - however, the at the root of all of this is how much are we going to allow the government to regulate what goes on inside our vehicles? Are cell phones distracting? Absolutely. Are children yelling in the back seat distracting? Is the dog barfing on the seat distracting? Is driving down I70 in the dark watching a movie on a tiny screen distracting? Where should the lines be drawn, what should be illegal, and what should we leave up to the judgement of the drivers? Should I be talking on my phone while I drive past an elementary school at 3 pm? Probably not. Am I significantly increasing my risk of wrecking by answering my phone at 10 a.m. on the K10 bypass with no one around? Should both calls be banned?

Tighten up the tolerances for inattentive driving, raise fines, quit letting people buy their way out of tickets with diversions, make it harder to get a drivers license in the first place, great, but don't try to ban your personal pet peeve and happily look the other way when a driver with three screaming kids in the back seat as she fumbles for that CD she dropped cruises past.

Rebecca Valburg 12 years ago

I guess my main complaint with this ban, is that I think it's silly that we allow so many drivers on the road in the first place. I think we take the whole "all men are created equal" thing a little too far. I don't know of anyone that's been unable to get a drivers license, and quite frankly, not everyone that currently is should be behind the wheel. That is, unless we find a way to completely regulate what's going on inside the vehicle at all times, take the speed limit to 10 mph everywhere, and force everyone to drive the exact same boxy, little, air-bag filled, rubber bumper surrounded type of contraption. We can either regulate everything, or just better regulate the people we let drive in the first place. I drive a tiny car, and quite frankly, I'd much rather take away the SUV from the inattentive driver than the cell phone - there will ALWAYS be other distractions.

jayhawks71 12 years ago

Richard, you raise good points, but I still disagree with the overall weighting of the evidence. Afterall, I don't typically support government intervention in our lives. There are places where it is appropriate though.

First, not that it matters, but what other professors have DONE research in attention AND driving at KU? I know that Atchley has. I know of one other professor in psychology that I know is highly qualified to address the issue from a highly knowledgeable position.

While driving, the dropped CD and dog barfing events happen how often? There is a tendency to group rare events together to form a substantial distraction. Combining 50 rare, but equally (which they aren't really) distracting events together to equate with pervasive, distracting one sets up a false comparison for argument sake. The false equality leads to the argument that "this" is as bad (danger and pervasiveness combined) as "that." Most of the examples given fit the rare event criteria. They aren't equivalent.

And sure, there are the kids in the car crying and passengers who talk, can be distracting, but the purpose of a motor vehicle is to tranport passengers and goods. When weighing the costs and benefits of talking passengers, they get more weight on the benefit side than does talking on a cell. The vehicle was created for the primary purpose of transporting people and goods efficiently. The ordinance is not about talking on the phone while in your car, it is about driving and talking on the cell phone. If you aren't using it that much it certainly won't hurt to pull over.

Inattentive driving is vague, as I have said before. If we are going to have a law, it should be specific. What is the measure of "inattention." Perhaps I pulled into your lane after looking, seeing you and deciding I want that spot (willful!). I am surprised that more aren't clamoring for ambiguous laws to be re-defined. This is a source of laws being overturned by higher courts, but "inattentive driving???"

Regarding the licensing issue, perhaps it stems from the "innocent until proven guilty mentality" that we (supposedly) hold. You get a license and then it is taken away when you provide substantial (probably too much) evidence that you are a danger on the road. Probably the same core perspective that has people wanting to enforce "bad driving" only after an accident.

Ultimately, we would have a thread of people crying about government restriction if the criteria were raised to cut out 10-15 percent of the people who have licenses. Whereas government should listen to its citizens, the voices of a minority who oppose often outshout the majority who approve. There is always a disagreement to be had.

jayhawks71 12 years ago

Glock, I appreciate your response. In response, I made no assumptions regarding the content of what you posted. I left out business use from my response because, given all of the people using cell phones, they are irrelevant in the "number of customers that would be POed" measure.

The average person is not doing a monthly cost-benefit analysis to see if they can cut corners on their cell phone. If they are, its to change their minutes, not to get rid of the phone (especially for individuals with one phone) I am not saying business use is not important in the equation, they clearly are, but all business use isn't from moving vehicles.

Were the phones you managed for a company or are you saying that you are a cell-phone provider (e.g. Verizon)?

The ordinance isn't banning phone calls "from cars," just "while driving." Calling after pulling off the road, a passenger making a phone call, calling from the parking lot outside of where you just conducted business can all be "from cars." I would oppose such a measure that said "from cars."

Should I have assumed from your statement: "If one assumes that most minutes are spent using one's phone in a location in which a land line is unavailable - typically a vehicle - then it follows that a law banning cell phone use by drivers in cars will significantly impact cell phone companies."

that what you meant by "typically in a vehicle" was "people driving cars?" Even in your last post to which I am responding you said they were "being made from cars," are you inviting assumptions? If you mean while driving in cars, say so, and once you say that explain how you could tell from looking at minutes whether the person was driving. Was the person out on business alone or with someone? It looks like a good reason for you to avoid saying "while driving" because then you have difficulty backing your claim.

My point was that what you are asking us to assume, for the sake of your argument, is too much to swallow. Tens of thousands of phonecalls are being made by people either living in Lawrence of visiting Lawrence without being made by the person operating a motor vehicle. I don't see much of an assumption being made with this claim, but if you do, so be it. However, it is a much more digestable assumption than the one you presented.

jayhawks71 12 years ago

rightthinker, you are a label lover and slave to labels. I would hate to view the world with the black-and-white perspective that you have.

jayhawks71 12 years ago

pilgrim, cut and paste away. I bet this identical comment is on larryville too.

Christine Pennewell Davis 12 years ago

so have you figured out where and when the meeting is?

jayhawks71 12 years ago

be creative Pilgrim. I mean really cut and paste?!?!?!

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