Archive for Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Cell phone sense

June 6, 2006


To the editor:

Cell phones are such a distraction while driving, we must make a law to prevent people from using them.

Well, how about the dog that is running around the car or sitting on the driver's lap. Let's tell the manufactures of cars not to put radios or CD players in them just for Lawrence, Kan., because they are a distraction. How about outlawing children from riding in the cars, women from putting on makeup, men shaving, drivers must look straight ahead not side-to-side, etc.

Hey, how about just taking our car keys away from us and we'll all ride the T? There is a law on the books now for inattentive driving, which covers all the above. If there is an accident and inattentive driving is the cause, then give the person a ticket. Our police department has enough important things to do than just pulling someone over for using a cell phone.

This doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out, just some good old common sense.

Wayne Rogers,



Richard Heckler 12 years ago

I've not read anything on this matter that did not conclude that it is best and safer to not talk while driving.

The ban matter did not receive majority approval from the Traffic Safety Commission.

Question: There are so many other driver distractions that cause accidents. Why focus on cell phones?

Answer: Phone conversations have been shown to cause a cognitive distraction in drivers. In other words, the driver's brain is intensely engaged with the conversation, although he may appear to be paying attention to the road. This does not happen with other common distractions, including conversations with passengers. Research has shown that phone conversations cause what is termed "tunnel vision" in drivers. Although they appear to be looking at objects, their brains are not registering a good portion of what they see. Therefore, a driver is impaired for the entire length of the phone conversation.

Question: I've heard that there aren't enough data to determine if talking on the phone is a danger.

Answer: The truth is that there is an abundance of data. There is scientific data as well as recently released crash data. All of the researchers agree that the risk of crashing is multiplied when a driver is talking on the phone. Not all agree to what extent the risk is increased, nor do they agree on what measures, if any, should be taken by lawmakers.*

Question: Why doesn't the use of hands free equipment solve the problem? At least both hands would be on the wheel.

Answer: The use of hands free equipment would free up both of the driver's hands during the phone conversation. However, since it's been shown that the distraction from cell phones is mostly a cognitive one, having both hands on the wheel will make little difference.

Question: I drive fine while on the phone. It's other people who can't seem to handle it. Why should I be effected?

Answer: Research shows that drivers are rarely aware of their own poor performance while on the phone, but have observed others driving erratically while on the phone. This would imply that a consequence of using the phone while driving is that it makes a driver insensitive to his or her own impairment. Much like an alcoholic feels sure that he/she drives fine while intoxicated.

Linda Endicott 12 years ago

I think if men find the need to shave while driving, and women find the need to apply makeup while driving, they should set their alarm clocks an hour earlier and do that stuff at HOME. I sure wouldn't want the general public watching me do that stuff. How ridiculous.

I was once a passenger in a car on I-435 near Lenexa, and saw some guy with a newspaper spread across the steering wheel. Now that's pretty ridiculous, too.

lunacydetector 12 years ago

MAS*H used to be my favorite show.

i don't know how many times i've seen people reading War & Peace while driving. it's easier to do than you think.

but seriously, holding a Big Gulp between the legs, chatting on the phone, and writing notes is much more difficult especially when approaching a red light.

lunacydetector 12 years ago

....actually, i am in total agreement with the letter to the editor writer.

crono 12 years ago

If you ban cell phones by the logic of this law, then you can ban anything that some data might show to be a distraction. Most of us would bristle at that intrusion on our freedom... and it would be a nightmare to enforce.

I agree with Mr. Rogers: The inattentive driving law is sufficient.

classclown 12 years ago

So should police pull people over they see talking on a cell phone and cite them for inattentive driving rather than relying on a new ban to enforce it?

classclown 12 years ago

Oops. Make that "pull over ANYONE they see..."

monkeyhawk 12 years ago

Amazing, merrill now questions and answers himself. Was he on the loser end of the vote last night? Let me guess...

SouthernBelle 12 years ago

When I grow up, I wanna be a merrill....

Confrontation 12 years ago

frankzappa: I'm for a ban on having blonde girls as passengers. Of course, they make even scarier drivers.

BDitty 12 years ago

Old merrill is at it again. Anytime there is a cell phone article, you can gaurantee that he/she will be the first one to chime in quoting this study or that. Remember, evidence is not proof. I pose 1 question to merrill and would like his/her answer...

What makes driving safer? Is it the absence of all distractions and total, uninterrupted concentration on the road? Or is it experience, education, and and a general sense of responsibility when behind the wheel?

If you've read any previous letters about cell phones, you'll see that I am for the latter. Merrill, you're studies are full of misrepresented data. None, I'm sure, take into account any of the three above mentioned qualities that make a good driver. I'd also like to see stats on the correlation of accidents resulting from cell phones, and the ages of those drivers involved. I don't think it'd be too much of a stretch to say that a majority of those accidents are also caused by young, inexperienced drivers. That should be the main issue taken away from those studies and not "Cell Phones Bad, Complete Silence Good!" Until drivers are better educated on safe driving techniques, the roads won't be any safer than they are now.

So, fight on merrill. I know you believe you are approaching this from the right side, but before we start burning cell phones and chopping down telephone polls, lets find a solution not so burdening on the general public... at least those of us who know HOW to drive that is.

monkeyhawk 12 years ago

BDitty, apparently you don't know that merrill is, in reality, on the Lawrence Traffic Safety Kommissar.

This is his baby.

monkeyhawk 12 years ago

Sound Off: June 7, 2006

How did the voting go at the Traffic Safety Commission on the cell phone issues?

Jim Woods, John Ziegelmeyer Jr., David Hamby, Robert Hagen and Ken Miller voted against banning cell phone use while driving in city limits. Carol Jean Brune, Carol Bowen, Richard Heckler and Paul Graves voted for it. On the issue of doubling the fine for people involved in an accident when using a cell phone, Hamby, Hagen, Miller, Brune, Bowen and Graves voted for it. Heckler, Woods and Ziegelmeyer voted against it.


BDitty 12 years ago

monkeyhawk - thanks for the heads up. That makes SOOOOO much sense!!!!

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