One of the first lawsuits against someone using a cell phone in a car, resulting in the death of another, is against a law firm. See http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1039054421596
Would you support a ban on using cell phones in cars?
I'd like to see how it's working in a state that has banned the use of cell phones--I think New York has banned handheld phone use??? I think cars eventually will become equipped with phones, eliminating the use of handheld phones before cell phones are banned--I don't see Texas as leading the way, given our record in other areas, e.g. open container laws. I just haven't found anything concerning the ban of handheld cell phone use in New York.
No, I wouldn't support a ban on cell phone use in the car. Just like anything else, cell phones can be used properly - and with or without the cell phone, some people just don't pay attention when driving.
While it is tragic that a life was lost, was it really the cell phone that caused the accident? Of course not. Most likely the driver simply wasn't paying attention!
If you start banning cell phones in the car, what's next? Men's razors? Mascara? McDonald's food? A box of Kleenex? I've seen drivers (including myself) use most of these items while driving...
I understand the resistance to criminalizing yet another human activity associated with driving (adding to no seatbelt, intoxication, etc.), but what is the real social utility to using a cell phone in a car while driving? Is there some serious need? Is convenience a worthy thing to balance against public safety?
I recently read about some study that measured such stuff and concluded that the number of deaths attributable to driving while celling was outweighed by the social convenience attributable to society as a whole.
Someone sure has an interesting way to measure.
(Here is a link to the study, which determined that 1 in 20 car accidents are related to cell phone use: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/12/02/tech/main531320.shtml)
Absent an emergency, I really can't accept that the dangers from a distracting phone call are outweighed by the need to have yet another meaningless phone conversation.
I've driven Central Expressway and other Dallas highways for 20 years, and I'd like to see bans on plenty of activities other than talking on cell phones, e.g., lighting cigarettes or pipes, putting on eye makeup or lipstick, taking out curlers, eating -- especially foods that require two hands, reading the newspaper or work papers (I've seen it hundreds of times in traffic up to 50 mph), yelling at kids in the back seat, trying to care for kids in car seats in the back seat, carrying on animated conversations with other passengers, driving at night with interior lights on, weaving through traffic, tailgating, aggressive acceleration . . . . . need I go on. And most of these activities don't have near the "value" of communicating on the phone, which may free up the driver's concentration (try driving Central or the North Tollway in a traffic jam with your kids waiting at school or daycare and without any way to contact them, and see if you can concentrate on the traffic at hand). I'll bet individual studies haven't been done on most of the stupid things drivers do to cause accidents -- maybe the focus should be on limiting the driving privilege to those willing and able to concentrate on the road, and requiring counseling for the aggressive (mostly male) element of drivers. Until we are willing to do that, criminalizing one activity won't make a whole lot of real difference. Of course, it probably would help if you could criminalize talking on the phone while doing one of the other activities listed above. . . .
I saw a woman driving about 75 mph on I-35 the other day using both hands to eat a hamburger. I would support criminalizing that. Besides, we all know that McDonald's made all those poor people fat. Who knew that McDonald's food was bad for you? Between the 400 pound teenagers suing them and the criminalization of the burger, we could put them out of business.
All of these things are already against the law, if we see it happen and choose to prosecute it. Reckless driving is one way to charge it. When there is a child in the car, endangering a child is another way to charge it.
Lots of prosecutors now charge endangering a child when the driver is intoxicated, and I see that Senator Zaffarini has filed a bill that would up it to a state jail felony.
Now, drinking alcohol and driving may have come to be a much less socially acceptable combination, but it didn't start out that way. I would bet that after a few lawsuits against cell phone companies or companies that have employees use their phones in cars, suddenly you will begin to see commercials touting the way to use a car phone responsibly.
I think I've read that putting on lipstick and/or reading a newspaper is more dangerous statistically than any other (measured--I'm sure there are some more dangerous activities imaginable) activity while driving.
Why can't the liability insurance companies get permission to write an exclusion in their policy for an accident caused by their insured while celling? They generally try to exclude the worst risks from coverage. That would quickly change people's view of convenience.
Maybe L&O can do a show on a defense attorney driving thru Manhattan while talking on the cellphone and eating a Big Mac; as he reaches to put on his Mascara and adjust the curlers in his hair, he runs over a local pimp who writes the offender's license plate number in blood on the curb that the Mercedes just hopped as the lawyer looked in the rearview at his nose hairs.
For an update on suing fat providers, go to:
Sure, Big Macs are fattening, but can you imagine Jared eating a Subway meatball sandwich while he was exiting the North Loop at 59 Soutbound, driving a 5-speed Mazda with a bad throw-out bearing and worn clutch plate?
A.P., what are you doing in Texas when you oughta be in Hollywood??
Probably something to do with my looks, lack of talent, head-in-the-sand conservative mindset, not to mention my affinity for fattening foods.
I hate bad cell phone drivers just as much the next fellow but before we start down that slippery slope, has anyone given any thought to two-way radios in police cars or, Heaven forbid, dashboard computers? Seems to me that all of these questionable driving practices fall squarely in the category of DWHUA (don't ask me to explain!)which is why they make personal injury lawyers.
Well, I always wondered why they made personal injury lawyers. . . . .
Lee, you are quite right, but let's get back to the original subject: What would one rather have: their ambulance driver eating a Big Mac or a carry-out helping of Johnny Carino's skilletini (chicken & sausage combo) on the way to Ben Taub with only minutes to spare?
Rest easy, John, your cries for justice have been heard; Rep. Paul Moreno filed House Bill 281 yesterday:
relating to an offense of using a telephone while operating a motor vehicle.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
SECTION 1. Subchapter I, Chapter 545, Transportation Code, is amended by adding Section 545.425 to read as follows:
Sec. 545.425. USE OF TELEPHONE; OFFENSE. (a) An operator may not use a telephone while operating a motor vehicle unless:
(1) the vehicle is stopped; or
(2) the telephone is used without use of either of the operator's hands.
(b) An offense under this section is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $25 or more than $100.
SECTION 2. This Act takes effect September 1, 2003.
1) just designate it as a Class C misdemeanor (we don't need another special punishment range offense);
2) define "telephone" (I can see a lawyer raising a defense that it is a cell phone, not a telephone);
3) there needs to be an emergency and law enforcement defense (a citizen following a drunk driver, for example, should be able to use the cell phone).
Of course, this will give officers yet another bit of probable cause for stops.
But wouldn't use also include answering or dialing the phone? Or putting the earpiece on?
I agree that if you pass that law, you might as well ban lipstick, shaving, eating, adjusting the radio, or dealing with children in the car.
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