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Ban Cell Phone in Car?

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July 02, 2006, 15:13
JB
Ban Cell Phone in Car?
Let's face it, we don't want to be inconvenienced. That's the only real reason we argue against banning cell phones in cars.

But, not so long ago, cell phones didn't even exist. And, somehow, someway, we managed to overcome that terrible silence that occurred while driving. We just didn't know how disconnected we were.

Seriously, no one died for lack of a cell phone (at least while driving). No one missed anything important.

Now, I will say that I absolutely love how cell phones report crimes. Nothing like a recorded 911 call from a cell phone to nail a drunk driver or robber fleeing the bank. But, hey, those are emergencies, right?

It may take a few years (just like seatbelts, helmets, open containers, etc.), but we will eventually surrender our selfish desires for the safety of all.
July 15, 2006, 07:44
JB
School Cellphone Ban Violates Rights of Parents, Lawsuit Says

By ANEMONA HARTOCOLLIS
Carmen Colon, a divorced mother raising three sons in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, considers herself a law-abiding citizen. But New York City?s ban on students carrying cellphones in the schools is one rule she will not abide by, she said yesterday.

Until he graduated last year, her oldest, Devin, 17, traveled more than an hour each way, taking two subway trains from their home in Brooklyn to Washington Irving High School in Manhattan near Union Square.

Her middle son, Andre, 13, also has an hourlong trip on the A and L trains to his public school, the Institute for Collaborative Education, at 15th Street and First Avenue.

Because Ms. Colon works full-time at Keyspan, the Brooklyn gas company, she relies on the older children to take care of the youngest one after school. Devin and Andre use their cellphones to coordinate who will pick up Taylor, who is going into fifth grade at Public School 261 in Brooklyn.

So her sons, she said, will keep taking their cellphones to school.

?If the Department of Education doesn?t like it, they can sue me,? Ms. Colon said.

For now, it is Ms. Colon who is doing the suing.

She is one of eight parents ? along with a citywide parent association ? who filed a lawsuit yesterday against Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein and the city?s Department of Education, seeking to overturn the city?s rule banning students from carrying cellphones in schools.

The parents argue, in papers filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, that the ban is so broad and blunt that it violates their constitutional right as parents to keep their children safe and to raise them in the way they see fit.

The ban violates their due process right to personal liberty under both the state and federal constitutions, they said, because it interferes with the relationship between parents and their children, without a compelling education reason for doing so.

The constitutional claim echoes arguments raised more than a decade ago by parents who sought to overturn a policy by Chancellor Joseph Fernandez of providing condoms to public school students. In 1993, a state appellate court upheld the parents? right to decide whether their children should receive condoms.

Chancellor Klein and Mayor Bloomberg declined to comment on the suit yesterday. But a spokesman for Mr. Klein, Keith Kalb, sent an e-mail message saying that the chancellor stood by the cellphone policy.

?It is our experience that when cellphones are brought into schools, they are used and disrupt the school?s learning environment,? Mr. Kalb wrote. ?There is no constitutional right to disrupt a student?s education.?

From the end of April to the end of school in June, police confiscated more than 3,000 cellphones in random searches at schoolhouse doors, and principals confiscated many more on their own.

Norman Siegel, a civil liberties lawyer who has taken on the lawsuit free of charge along with David Leichtman, a partner in the law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, said yesterday that he was not arguing that children should be able to use their phones during school hours, only before and after.

At a news conference announcing the suit in Lower Manhattan yesterday, the parents came to the microphone one after the other to tell his or her own cellphone horror story, sounding like Soviet dissidents resisting an oppressive regime.

Maybe it is true, as education officials contend, that students have used cellphones to take pictures in locker rooms and cheat on exams, Ms. Colon said yesterday.

?How far would this city go if we punished the majority for the crimes of a few?? said Ms. Colon, who is also the president of the Association of New York City Education Councils.

Isaac Carmignani, who works nights as an electronic technician for the Postal Service, said his only child, Raven, was stranded outside her locked school alone last fall when he was late to pick her up.

Raven, 9, who just finished fourth grade at P.S. 122 in Astoria, Queens, had a cellphone and was able to call her father on his cellphone. Since then, he will not let her leave home without putting the phone in her backpack. ?I tell her not to take it out during school, not to show it to anyone,? he said yesterday.

Carmella Price, a single mother in the Bronx, said her youngest daughter, Lashea, 12, had been threatened by a group of boys on the way home from school and was able to call her sister, Charlene, 14, for help.

?This is a safety issue,? Ms. Price said. ?It?s not during school. It?s for before and after school.?
July 21, 2006, 12:12
David H
Somehow, I managed to go to public school without a cell phone in my possession in the 70s. I survived. We all did. (But boy, would I have loved the distraction of being able to text message back and forth!)

Somehow, for years, I managed to leave my house and make it to school or work without chatting with anyone on a phone. I managed to get there and my work or my need to bring home groceries didn't suffer. Hmmm.

Somehow I was once able to go to a store, a restaurant or a movie theater and not feel the need to blab incessantly into one of those things, annoying everyone around me.

Oh wait! I can still do all those things! So, why can't anyone else??
July 21, 2006, 13:54
JMH
I too went a long time w/o a cell, but I have seen enough out at Juvi. to know that school ain't what it used to be. The first phone that my girlfriend got for her second daughter was one of the firefly things that she could program w/her, her dad's, her sister's, etc. Only up to 20 #'s and only she (Mom) could program it. Only programed numbers could be recieved or called.
I had no problem with that and would do it for any kid old enough to be able to keep up with it, especially if they are walking to and home after school and will be there alone for an hour or so.
I also think that after the last phone bill, that comes after getting her a "real" phone, she may very well be going back to the firefly.
I think they should be able to carry them to and from school, but once there, they go in the locker and don't come out for any reason. Have them check them in at the office.
September 24, 2006, 09:28
JB
Are Cell Phones Affecting Your Brain?

Written by:
Karen Barrow -

Published on: September 14, 2006
It's always by your side, and when it's not, you are chatting away with it by your ear. Cell phones have made keeping in touch much easier, but what are they doing to your health?
A new study by Italian researchers finds that the electromagnetic fields emitted by cell phones may not be as innocuous as they seem, but they may not be all that harmful, either. Ultimately, it seems, cells phones do change your brain's activity, but whether this helps or harms is still not understood.

For the study, researchers fitted 15 men between the ages of 20 and 36 with a specialized helmet that contained a cell phone near the left ear. While wearing the helmets, the cell phone was turned on for a period of 45 minutes without the knowledge of the participants. The helmet measured the brain activity of the participants both while the phone was turned on and while it was off.

While the phones were on, there was increased brain activity in the cortical region of the left side of the brain, which is responsible for movement and language. This region of the brain remained in the excited state for as long as one hour after the phones were turned off.

It is common for cell phone users to use their phones for a similar length of time, certainly over the course of the day. But it is not known whether this increased brain activity would be beneficial or harmful to a person.

Electromagnetic fields, such as those emitted by cell phones, have been used by doctors in the past to treat migraines and even depression. But there has also been some connection between electromagnetic fields and an increased number of seizures in people with epilepsy.

"Theoretically, it might be both dangerous in all those conditions in which cortical excitability is [already] enhanced, like in epilepsy, or it might be beneficial in all those conditions with a need for higher excitability, as in post-stroke recovery or Alzheimer's disease," said Dr. Paolo M. Rossini, professor of neurology at the University Campus-Bio-Medico in Rome, Italy

If there is a risk to using cell phones, Rossini states that more research is needed to determine which people should limit their use and who should maybe avoid cell phones altogether.

"More research is needed in order to produce safety guidelines, particularly for 'at risk' populations like people with different kind of brain damage, children etc.," said Rossini
September 24, 2006, 18:05
GG
JB,

I'm just curious. Do you own a cell phone?

Greg
September 24, 2006, 21:07
JB
Greg, your question raises an important constitutional issue -- the 5th Amendment.
September 25, 2006, 08:36
J Ansolabehere
An Austin school teacher passed a stopped school bus last week (red lights and sign activated), striking and critically injuring a boy that was crossing the street to get to the bus. Some witnesses reported the driver was taking on a cell phone at the time of the accident.

Cell phones are a great aid. But I personally avoid using one when driving because I find doing so distracting-even if it's hands-free.

Janette Ansolabehere
October 02, 2007, 07:25
JB
Careful officer killed during tollway traffic stop
Driver of SUV that struck him may have been talking on phone

By MIKE GLENN, DALE LEZON and KEVIN MORAN
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle

A deputy constable who recently received a commendation for his work in traffic enforcement was struck and killed Monday by a driver who authorities say may have been distracted by a cell phone call.

Precinct 5 Deputy Constable Jason Norling, 38, was hit about 10:30 a.m. on the Westpark Tollway near Gessner during a traffic stop. He died shortly after 1 p.m. at Memorial Hermann Hospital, said Harris County Precinct 5 Chief Deputy Leroy Michna.

A veteran motorcycle officer, Norling was aware of the risks and dangers of pulling over drivers on Westpark.

On Monday, authorities said it appeared he'd taken every precaution when he stopped a driver along the outside shoulder of the eastbound lanes for an apparent traffic violation. He parked his motorcycle behind the car.

Moments later, a sport utility vehicle apparently swerved from the traffic lane onto the shoulder, hit the motorcycle, clipped the left rear of the stopped car and then hit Norling, who was standing at the driver-side window, officials said. The impact flung him in to the air and possibly as far as 90 feet, officials said.

"You can only get over so far (on the shoulder)," said Precinct 5 Constable Phil Camus. "He was over as far as he could get."

Investigators will check the SUV driver's phone records to see if he was on the phone, said A.N. Taylor, a Houston police accident investigator.
October 02, 2007, 08:10
Doran Williams
JB started it on 12-10-02.

Has anything happened in the past five years to change the positions or concerns of any of you? Like tech advances, or more evidence that celling is truly so dangerous that it needs to be criminalized.

One thing that has happened, or is perhaps more prevalent now than in December 02, is the On-Star telephone system in vehicles. It can be activated by nothing more complex than the same motion to adjust your rear view mirror. Hands free operation. Having one in your car is like riding around in a $15k-$25k cell phone.

The basic problem with using a telephone while driving, is that so many drivers seem to be so incompetent that they hardly know what is going on around them even if they are not celling. Where are their minds>
October 02, 2007, 08:13
JB
The issue has made a little progress legislatively. Bills have been at least filed for the last couple of sessions. It will take a long time to change social attitudes. Texas was one of the last states to make an open container of alcohol in a vehicle a crime. Even then, Texas only did it because it was facing the loss of federal funding. Hmmm.
October 03, 2007, 06:55
JB
Hand on wheel, mind elsewhere
Cell phone use is driving the safety debate

By MIKE TOLSON
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle

They have become a staple of modern life, an electronic umbilical cord that ties us to everyone we know. And they are the scourge of driving safety advocates everywhere.

Cellular telephones, now considered essential even for middle school students, often are possible factors in traffic accidents, including the one that took the life of Deputy Constable Jason Norling on Monday as he stood by the side of Westpark Tollway writing a speeding ticket.

"It's really not controversial anymore, in terms of drivers being very impaired," said David Strayer, a University of Utah psychiatry professor who authored a study that showed drivers talking on cell phones perform as poorly as those who drive under the influence of alcohol.

"People become pretty bad drivers when they are talking on the phone," said Strayer, whose study referred to "inattention blindness."

"The truth is they are four times more likely to be in an accident," he said. "I was with a guy that picked up his cell phone as he was driving, and he went sailing through a school crossing that had a crossing guard and a child in the intersection. He swore that he did not."

Unlike European countries, which have mostly outlawed cell phone usage while driving, the U.S. has tiptoed around prohibition. Only four states and the District of Columbia ban it. A number of states restrict phone use among drivers under 18 or require that users employ hands-free devices.

Once thought of as the cure for driver distraction, headsets or other hands-free devices saw their value placed into serious question by a major 2005 study done by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. The study concluded that the conversation itself, not the device, was distracting, and headsets provide only an illusion of greater safety.

And scientists who probe the human brain have even figured out why: That portion of the brain that is responsible for an engaged conversation overwhelms the part that controls visual acuity.

Put simply, the more we talk, the less we see. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have proved it with experiments involving people whose brains are being scanned with magnetic resonance imaging machines.

Divided attention

Whether Norling's death translates into any momentum for change at a statewide level is unclear. The day after his death, Houston police were occupied with the immediate task of completing their investigation.
Ask any police officer, however, and a clear picture emerges that people talk and drive far more than they ever drink and drive. Anyone who doubts it should spend a few moments at a busy traffic corner, said officer A.N. Taylor, with HPD's accident division.

"Watch how many people are on the phone when they drive by," he said. "But again, it's a matter of proving it."

Police say advances in cell phone technology mean motorists can now send text messages and check their e-mail, all while trying to avoid other drivers.

"They forget they're driving," said HPD accident investigator J.A. Mushinski. "A lot of people can't have divided attention (and) can't do two things at once."

Taylor said that a Harris County grand jury likely will decide whether the GMC Yukon driver who struck and killed the deputy constable will face prosecution. Seconds before he hit Norling, authorities suspect the SUV driver was talking on his cell phone and also may have become distracted by an insect flying around the vehicle.

The phone has been confiscated, and the driver's phone records will be subpoenaed, police said.

Safety advocates say the time has come to ban the use of phones by drivers.

"It's a major factor in crashes," said Lisa Lewis, founder of the Partnership for Safe Driving. "We don't need any more studies to tell us that. We've got plenty of victims to tell us that."


Major contributors

Bills to require the use of hands-free cell phone devices while driving have been offered in the Legislature since at least 2003, but all have died, mostly without creating much of a stir.
Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, won committee approval of the latest offering, SB154, this past spring, but didn't have enough votes to win approval by the full Senate. A companion bill in the House by Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, never got a hearing.

The phone industry, meanwhile, is a major contributor to legislators and other state officeholders. In the 2005-06 election cycle alone, the political action committees of four phone companies with wireless services gave more than $1 million to legislative candidates of both parties, the governor, lieutenant governor, other state officials, political parties and related political committees.

Wentworth believed much of the opposition to cell phone restrictions is from consumers.

"A lot of people take the attitude that we're micro-managing people's conduct and interfering with Texans' private lives," he said.

The wireless phone industry's trade association said it usually takes no position on measures before state legislatures. But Coleman and Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, who didn't get a hearing on a similar bill in 2005, said phone companies share the blame, although they do their work quietly.

"I had the sense that the industry was quietly working behind the scenes to keep the bill from being heard in 2005," Ellis said. "They (phone lobbyists) carry a lot of weight. If the industry had gotten behind it, it certainly would have passed."

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said no one from the phone industry talked to him about Wentworth's bill and said he wasn't influenced by campaign contributions.

"While I think hands-free cell phones would be safer, there were a lot of Texans who thought this legislation was meddling with their individual liberties and freedom," Dewhurst said. "What I recall is that Sen. Wentworth didn't have the votes to bring it up on the Senate floor."
October 03, 2007, 07:20
Lisa Peterson
One of our local attorneys was in a serious accident a few years ago as he was entering information on his PDA while talking on the phone, driving at something close to 90 on a Farm to Market road. Which act do you criminalize? (He walked away, totalled the car, and was irritated that he lost the stylus...)

Anyway, with the popularity of electronic gadgets that combine a cell phone with e-mail and the traditional uses of a PDA - is it only talking that is criminal, or any use of the thing?

Lisa L. Peterson
Nolan County Attorney
October 03, 2007, 16:31
WHM
How does this research play in to conversations with passengers? Are we going to be encouraging carpooling to save the evironment and reduce traffic, while at the same time prohibiting drivers from carrying on conversations with the other people in the car. I for one imagine that is is more distracting when you can hear and see the person you're talking to than when you can only hear them with a hands-free cell phone.
October 30, 2007, 10:13
JB
Survey Finds Texas Teen Driver Texting While Driving
10/30/2007

Newsroom

Nearly a third of 4,400 teenage Texas drivers routinely have talked on a cell phone while at the wheel.

That's according to a survey by the Texas Transportation Institute. The survey results also show that one in four of the teen motorists say they've repeatedly written and received text messages on wireless devices while driving.
The results come from the largest survey of young Texas drivers ever by the institute, which is part of the Texas A&M University System. The survey also shows teens from rural school districts are likelier to use the distracting communications technology while at the wheel than their counterparts in urban districts.

That surprises Russell Henk. He's director of the agency's Teens in the Driver Seat program. He says he would have expected urban teen motorists to be talking and texting while at the throttle than their country cousins.

Of 4,442 students surveyed at 17 Texas high schools, 48 percent of those from rural schools reported talking on the cell phone at least 10 times while driving. Among urban students, 25 percent said they were active phone users.
July 03, 2008, 08:42
JB
For a nice visual explanation of why hands-free is, perhaps, not the answer, watch this video.
July 03, 2008, 11:16
Gordon LeMaire
Silly me, I thought the hands free referred to the cell phone.
December 01, 2008, 13:13
JB
AAA East Tennessee says it will urge lawmakers to make the highways text-free in the 2009 General Assembly.


Details.
January 10, 2009, 09:54
JB
If your cell phone rings, and your driving, several state lawmakers do not want you to answer it. A half dozen bills are awaiting debate when legislators return to Austin January 13th. The six cell-phone bills that have been introduced either call for an all out ban, or at the least, targets teen drivers. FOX 7's Rudy Koski takes a look at the proposed laws and explains how several towns are already restricting some cell phone use.

Details.
January 10, 2009, 16:39
R_Smith
This is dumb because it is a law that will never be obeyed. So why bother?