back to article Take away bad drivers' mobile phones, they still crash their cars

Chinese researchers reckon its bad drivers who cause accidents, not the phones they're using at the time, and that banning in-car use doesn't reduce accident figures significantly. The state-sponsored study was triggered by disappointing results from bans on mobile usage, which haven't reduced accidents as much as had been …

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  1. Desk Jockey
    Pint

    Better interpretation

    People who use handheld phones or text while driving are utter idiots. They remain utter idiots even when not using such devices, but are merely driving a car.

    Simples!

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. Isabello
        Thumb Up

        Re: Better interpretation

        Exactamundo!

        That'd be why I see so many Italians (i.e. pretty much all of them, here in Rome) with mobiles clamped to their ears whilst driving. A*holes the lot of 'em!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: selfish cunts

        Isn't English a strange language. I prefer any cunts I'm involved with to be selfish, it's usually a good sign. The ones that are open and welcoming to everyone have other unpleasant problems.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: selfish cunts @ AC 13:41

          So you would prefer your c***s to be selfish? Strange reasoning there as surely that means you do not get any dibs either as they are keeping entirely to themselves?

          I prefer mine to be selectively open.

          Or maybe you own yours? Can't tell gender on forums sorry!

      3. stanimir

        Re: Better interpretation

        being selfish can be mended/altered/treated to some degree,. Idiocy, however, is beyond help of the medicine.

      4. Alan Dougherty
        Windows

        Re: Better interpretation

        It's all of the above.. Utterly idiotic selfish cunts. All baes covered.

        Good drivers that don't get distracted, don't use hand held devices of any type (including makeup), or try to type anything on a keypad, while the vehicle is in motion (if I'm stopped at lights, I will admit to using the dash keypad to dial a number for the built in handsfree).

        But the dickheads that crash, are generaly distacted by a cloud that looks like a penis, or a car that's slightly better than theirs, or the legs on that blonde over there and by generaly anything other than what they should be looking at.

        I'd drive on average 800 miles a week, and have done for 15 years.. I've been T-boned at junctions, rear ended 3 times (insert Kenneth Williams joke here), and still only managed one accident that I have to admit was my fault, because I locked up on a motor way (twice), trying to not hit a van that had stuck 2 wheels on the outside verge, so it wouldn't hit a car infront, that had another car infront of it pull out blindly from the inside lane.

        Happily, under greasy conditions, and despite locking up a few times, I ended up with a cracked bumper, and the van infront had to geta new rear cluster.. not bad from 70mph on the outside lane, just after localised rain, and no ABS on a connect..

        BUT ,I digress; legislating no phone use for drivers is pointless, because the good drivers wouldn't do it in the first place, and the bad drivers will be distracted by something else, or continue to use their phones anyway, no matter what the law says..

        The good point of the law, is that it's a very easy way for traffic cops to visualy spot, fine and point those bad drivers, to the point that they don't have a licence anymore.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Better interpretation London at least

          I've seen police pass the chatting on phone drivers with no second glance, makes for having to do paperwork you see, all a bit of a pain when they could just ignore it all and have a paper free day, just like pavement cycling, drugs being smoked by people walking along etc.

          Maybe after an accident they will look at it, but then that is guaranteed overtime for them.

          Also, since banning it, I see more people driving keep looking at their laps to read / send txt's whilst moving therefore taking their eyes off the road for longer

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Better interpretation

      I think you have that backwards. Or are just wrong.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Mobile phone use

      Does cause accidents as I witnessed yesterday.

      At traffic lights car (Corsa) runs into the back of the car in front. Having been in the next lane I saw the young airheaded lady, blonde and not unattractive texting on her phone. The traffic came to a standstill, the driver she hit got out and looked at his cracked bumper.

      The young lady in question got out of her car still texting!

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Mobile phone use

        And the cause of this is the texting?

        If they didn't have the phone they would otherwise have been concentrating on the traffic with test-pilot like focus?

        Or would they have been doing their makeup, playing with the radio, looking in the glove box for sweets, reading a magazine, chatting to a friend in the car, turning round to slap the kids

        Since there isn't a specific act to ban any of those then they can't pose any sort of serious hazard to driving

        1. Michael Hutchinson
          Thumb Down

          Re: Mobile phone use

          "Or would they have been doing their makeup, playing with the radio, looking in the glove box for sweets, reading a magazine, chatting to a friend in the car, turning round to slap the kids

          Since there isn't a specific act to ban any of those then they can't pose any sort of serious hazard to driving"

          There is an act to ban all of those, and any others. It's called driving without due care and attention.

  2. Mad Chaz
    Mushroom

    I don't know about China, but here ...

    the problem isn't the law prohibiting people from talking/texting while driving. It's that it's not enforced. Just driving to the supermarket I will be lucky if I don't cross 2 or 3 drivers talking on the cell, even when it's perfectly illegal. See a cop along the way? They are more likely to bust you for a tal light then cellphone.

    As for texting ... words just fail me, so I'll settle for a nuclear explosion.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't know about China, but here ...

      Traffic laws are rarely enforced at all and driving is getting worse.

      A couple of weeks ago some idiot drove past me doing about thirty miles an hour on the pavement that I was walking down.

      Yesterday, on two separate occasions, I saw cars approaching traffic lights that were turning red so they pulled out onto the wrong side of the road, overtook the cars that were stopping at the lights (five cars in one case!), jumped the red light on the wrong side of the road and nipped back into the correct lane.

      With this dangerous nonsense going on I could give more of a toss about mobile phone use.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't know about China, but here ...

      The problem with this study is that they're looking at Chinese drivers. In China everyone drives with their heads up their asses.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Pretty obvious...

    Of course those drivers will continue to cause accidents when you take away their phone. Instead of phoning or texting they are now busy searching (for their phone) so they still have little attention for traffic.

  4. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    Or maybe the good drivers *know* that using a phone will distract them, so they don't do it, and hence don't have accidents?

    You'd need to do a full study, with control groups of good drivers with phones, and bad drivers without, to get meaningful results.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Don't forget hands free please.

      I know it's a lot easier to lump everyone together into just two groups - i.e. the "[good guys who never touch the stuff]" and the "[selfish idiot cunt rags texting while driving]" - but that *might* be oversimplifying the situation just a little bit... maybe?

      1. Elmer Phud

        Hands free

        There can be a tendency to 'zone out' during some calls -like having to think about why your monthly figures are crap and what's your excuse.

        Maybe a mobe section of the driving test? ;-)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Elmer Phud

          There can be a tendency to 'zone out' with kids in the car, or your nagging wife, or being familiar with the route you're driving along, thinking about the lyrics to that song you're listening to a little too deeply, or <gasp> just letting your mind wander when there is absolutely nothing tangible to be distracted by.

          That's what kills me about this conversation... if the standard they want to apply to cell phones - arguing that hands free is inadequate - were to be applied to every other potential distraction we'd need the driver in an isolation bubble, only being able to see their mirrors controls and windshield, with no nourishment music or potential distraction allowed, and we might as well give them a quick shot of meth before they get behind the wheel so they can't 'zone out'. Imagine how safe we would be!

          Where is the evidence that handsfree is any more dangerous or distracting than a normal conversation with someone next to you in the car? If there is none, then why would a reasonable person argue that it should be banned?

          1. jonathanb Silver badge

            Re: Elmer Phud

            Well if I'm talking while driving, whether on a hands-free, or to someone in the car next to me; if I get to a difficult stretch of road, I stop talking and concentrate on the driving.

            The person next to me understands that and waits for me to navigate out of the difficult stretch. The person on the phone starts saying "hello, hello, are you there, can you hear me".

            That, I think is the difference between the two.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Elmer Phud

              "That, I think is the difference between the two." It's a hypothetical situation that you made up to support your case. It could happen sure... but I could, and will now, just as easily come up with a contrary hypothetical:

              Your girlfriend is riding next to you and has accused you of cheating on her... there will be no shutting her up under any circumstance save pulling over and physically removing her from the vehicle. If the conversation were over a hands free it would take one click to end the conversation, or less well, you could reduce the volume and ignore when that dangerous stretch of road approaches. At the very least the person on the other end of the phone cannot reasonably demand eye contact... which cannot be said for a passenger.

              Hypotheticals are fun and all, but if a hands free conversation truly is more distracting than a conversation with a passenger there should be solid, trustworthy research to back it up. Is there?

              1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

                Re: Elmer Phud

                But only one of those has a high probability of occurring...

                Also, in your example a responsible driver would either tell her to shut up, or pull over so that you can have the conversation safely.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Elmer Phud

                  "only one of those has a high probability of occurring..."

                  Really... when talking on the phone via hands free you can't say to someone "hang on for a second" or "shut up", hang up on them if they're screaming in your ear and won't stop, or for that matter pull over so that you can have the conversation safely?

                  In fact, I can't think of a single situation where a responsible driver would be any less capable of handling a conversation via hands-free than they would a passenger.

                  It's not like there is some sort of magic in a hands free device that makes a responsible driver irresponsible, so what would prevent said driver from telling the person on the end of the phone line to, for example, "shut up" any less than they would a passenger?

                  1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

                    Re: Elmer Phud

                    @AC

                    The hypothetical passenger can see out of the car and can probably see you concentrating. The person on the end of the phone only has 'shut up' to go on. Although its not likely to happen often, circumstances could arise where its not wise/safe to take the time to end the call. If Im the last car sat in a queue after a blind bend, I won't exactly be sympathetic if I can still hear someone talking on your phone after you've rear ended me.

                    Im all for people pulling over to have that conversation safely, whether on the phone or in person. That's the sign of a responsible driver, one who recognises they are becoming distracted and takes steps to mitigate it.

                    My point was that a situation where the misses is yelling the odds is less likely to occur than someone on the end of the phone asking if you're still there when you're trying to concentrate.

                    Im of the view that 99% of calls can wait if Im driving. Ill pick up on the handsfree, find out what its about and then end the call unless its important enough. Even then its kept short or I pull over.

                    To be fair though, I really enjoy driving so its as much a case of not wanting to have time I enjoy ruined by trivial calls.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Elmer Phud

                      If I'm on hands free, I always tell the caller that I am driving, so they are aware if I go quiet there is a reason. Often I will say "hold on" whilst I negotiate a junction or similar which requires more concentration, or if I didn't have time, I will ask the caller to repeat the last sentence they said. Seems quite straightforward communication skills to me.

            2. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Elmer Phud

              > The person next to me understands that and waits for me to navigate out of the difficult stretch. The person on the phone starts saying "hello, hello, are you there, can you hear me".

              You assume the person sitting next to you has any road sense at all.

              My ex-wife would continue to talk and then get offended when after asking her to be quiet a few times, she'd get told in no uncertain terms to shut up and let me concentrate on the driving.

              Kids are even worse.

              I want my isolation bubble!

              1. wim

                Re: Elmer Phud

                don't you mean the cone of silence ?

              2. Steve 114
                Thumb Up

                Re: Elmer Phud

                Even a pedestrian on a mobile will blunder into you. Simple reason is his 'mind is elsewhere'. As for why they need to 'walk up and down' while ranting - well, don't try that when driving either.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Elmer Phud

            Rolling a cigarette, smoking a cigarette (one hand on wheel) eating, hell I saw a 73 Bus driver drinking his coffee whilst going along Essex Road last week and another with his newspaper open across the steering wheel along Upper Street, how is one handed mobile use in a car any worse?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hands free

          That used to be me. When I first started work, it was easier for me to visualize what the person on the other end of the phone was looking at if I closed my eyes. After getting a cell phone, so I could be on-call (ugh), I discovered that closing my eyes to more easily visualize their problem was not a good thing to do at 70mph in traffic...

  5. JimmyPage
    Flame

    Don't take their phone away - take their car.

    If I could issue tickets for people using their phone when driving, I could solve the deficit in a week.

    I don't know why this particular action manages to infuriate me so much. But there is something galling about seeing someone in a £40,000 car who didn't have the brains to buy a bluetooth - or get one bundled with their phone (like wot I did). Everyone knows the ban was for safetys sake - so these selfish cunts (thanks AC@13:21) are basically saying to the world "I couldn't give a toss about anyone elses safety."

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      Re: Don't take their phone away - take their car.

      I don't know why this particular action manages to infuriate me so much.

      For me at least, the answer is here

      Everyone knows the ban was for safetys sake - so these selfish cunts (thanks AC@13:21) are basically saying to the world "I couldn't give a toss about anyone elses safety."

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Don't take their phone away - take their car.

      Because all the studies (including this one) show that using the bluetooth hands free is just as dangerous.

      It's about as effective as saying you should impound all the cars that don't have a St Christopher hanging from the mirror - they choose to buy a £40,000 car and don't bother to invest in the protection of an omnipotent deity.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: YAAC

        Because all the studies (including this one) show that using the bluetooth hands free is just as dangerous.

        Citation needed. In the meantime I call bullshit.

  6. Rob 5

    despite the existence of perfectly-good laws on "due care and attention" already

    ^ This.

    The solution to any given problem is rarely passing a new law. But we act like it always is, because that allows politicians to be seen to be "doing something". The new law usually turns out to be ineffective, or worse, but by then we're wetting our pants over the next manufactured "crisis" and don't care.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Megaphone

      Re: despite the existence of perfectly-good laws on "due care and attention" already

      They absolutely need to pass a new law - one that gives the police the power to not only seize the phone but take the B&Q hammer they keep in their boot to it in front of the driver.

      Repeating:

      You are a twat

      <crash>

      You are a twat

      <crash>

      You are a twat

      <crash>

      Then fining the bastard for clean up costs and disposal. Only THEN will these braindead fuckwits learn. Plus it will make Motorway Cops so much more entertaining.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: despite the existence of perfectly-good laws on "due care and attention" already

        Then fining the bastard for clean up costs and disposal

        I used to know someone who had something similar happen, just not with a phone. He was caught with a piece of equipment comprised of a glass receptacle and a downpipe leading to water (sure you can figure this one out). Car wasn't moving, but car smelt a bit.

        The copper told him to put the bon^H^H^H equipment down and stamp on it. So he did as he was told, copper then did him for littering and then made him clear the glass up.

        To be honest, he learnt more from that than if he'd been done for possession (given they couldn't prove he had, or planned to drive under the influence).

        Can imagine something similar would work with phones. You'll complain about a fine and points for a while, but then forget and do it again. You're unlikely to forget the arse who made you smash your phone, did you for littering and then made you clear it all up!

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. johnnytruant

      Re: despite the existence of perfectly-good laws on "due care and attention" already

      So after a minor run-in with a speed camera recently, I attended a "Speed Awareness Course" which was actually a few hours of defensive driving. During this they said that there is no law against using your phone while driving in the UK and never has been. As you said, it's already been covered by due care and reckless driving. The recent "ban" was just pointing out that it's already illegal.

      If you're involved in an accident, your phone records are checked by the police to make sure you weren't on the phone near/at the time. There hasn't been a single case of a fatal or serious accident where the driver on their phone hasn't ended up in prison (presumably when they weren't the fatality). Which makes exactly no difference to the person they've killed or maimed, but hey.

    3. Mike Flugennock

      Re: despite the existence of perfectly-good laws on "due care and attention" already

      You're reading my mind, man.

      About fifteen years or so ago, when there was all this furor about "aggressive driving", there were laws passed against it in cities all over the US. Never mind that we had laws covering reckless driving, speeding, endangerment and such -- by god, we've got to do something about all this "aggressive driving"! Never mind that a perfectly effective information campaign on the hazards of speeding, tailgating, passing on the right, running red lights, etc. could've been mounted without a law -- we need to do something! Well, they did do something, and people are even more stupid than ever behind the wheel -- still tailgating, still crawling in the passing lane, still speeding, still passing on the right, still running red lights, still fondling mobile phones with one hand while steering with the other... but, hell, at least somebody did something.

      One of the most important things I've learned is that when busybody pressure groups and politicians start yelling about how somebody needs to do something about something, it's time to look the fuck out.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        To quote Penn and Teller:

        "Whenever someone says there ought to be a law there probably oughtn't."

  7. Nev Silver badge
    Stop

    Shite drivers are shite?

    Who'da thunk it?

    Banning the use of a phone whilst driving is all well and good. But they really should ban everything else (smoking, eating, drinking, breast feeding etc) if they want to be thorough about safety.

    1. Desk Jockey

      Re: Shite drivers are shite?

      They already do. That is what the driving without due care and attention law is about. Most commonly used on people who cause horrendous accidents by drinking (coffee or soft drinks) or eating while driving.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Shite drivers are shite?

        Oi! Leave breast feeding alone! I love sucking on a tit whilst driving!

        Oh..... right

  8. Cyberspy
    Big Brother

    Same goes for speeding

    It's the same problem with all the speed cameras and calls to make speeding as socially unacceptable as drink driving.

    Accidents are caused by inappropriate speed - not just going over the speed limit.

    90mph on an empty motorway? Not a problem.

    25mph past a school at going-home time? Get the ambulances ready.

    People who drive badly do so even when not using a phone and not speeding - and still cause accidents.

    Good drivers (probably) don't use the phone in the first place, and get off it, or pull over ASAP. They also drive at speeds appropriate to the road conditions, and within their abilities - even if that means they are above the speed limit.

    The problem is, there is no simple way, once the test has been passed, to weed out the morons until after they have caused an accident - so we all have to pay the price with more and more rules that don't actually achieve what they are intended to do.

    1. Vic

      Re: Same goes for speeding

      > Good drivers (probably) don't use the phone in the first place

      Moreover, a good driver who *does* use the phone in such a way as not to cause a problem is unlikely to be caught...

      > there is no simple way, once the test has been passed, to weed out the morons

      Hactually, there is. A police patrol seeing someone driving inappropriately can report the offence, But that sorta presupposes a patrol car being there - and patrol cars are so much more expensive to run than speed cameras...

      Vic.

      1. Cyberspy

        Re: Same goes for speeding

        Extra police patrols could catch people in the act of doing something stupid, but what they can't weed out are the drivers who don't concentrate, or who are just crap but appear to be driving OK (not speeding, overtaking recklesly etc) most of the time. Their poor driving only comes to light when something goes wrong, by which time it is too late.

        Hence my comment that there is no easy way of weeding these drives out once they have passed their test - unless we all have to retake our tests every 10 years or so. While that would do a great deal to improve the standards of driving, I can't see it being something that even people who think driving standards are falling would be willing to support in large numbers.

        I guess another option would be forward facing cameras and GPS tracking in every car. Now that really is a big brother vision I wouldn't like to contemplate!

        1. Vic

          Re: Same goes for speeding

          > but what they can't weed out are the drivers who don't concentrate

          Yes they can.

          Go driving with a P1 some time, and marvel at their observation skills.

          That you or I might find it difficult to spot a driver who isn't concentrating does not mean it's impossible to do so - just that we are deficient compared to people trained to do this.

          > Hence my comment that there is no easy way of weeding these drives

          Yes, I understand why you said that, but it is based on a false premise. There *is* a way to weed out such drivers, but it involves skilled people. The Government would much rather introduce unskilled technology, becuase they can *claim* to be doing something without actually scratching the surface.

          Vic.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah... at last... replace political dogma with action

    Whether it's driving whilst using a mobile phone or any of the tens of other things that appear to have to be banned these days what I think the Chinese have discovered is that there's a difference between:

    Banning something => Political dogma and being "seen to do something"

    Active policing => Work to fix something

    Even in the UK we would be better off if the Police regularly stopped bad drivers...

    Same is true with guns. Banning the legal ownership of guns did nothing for the 3.5 million or so illegal guns circulating in the UK - all we did was close down gun clubs!

    G

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The laws, they do nothing!

    So you see people doing reckless things on the road, and you go like, it must the things they're doing that're bad. And so you get your chum politicians to agree and presto, you've scored kudos "solving" a problem when in fact you did no such thing. And you can always back that up by having your pet scientist club whip up a report, no?

    Had you stopped and not merely looked, but observed, or used your pet scientists the way they're ment to be used, you could've learned that you don't need a law banning some symptom with a fine. Understanding the problem could've led to, say, figuring out how to pick out the dangerous drivers, and send them on improvement courses (costing them about the same as a fine, plus some time and effort to pass the course), until they do improve.

    Now, we had to wait for disappointment from the self-indulgent crowd that just assumed their obviously brilliant plan to simply legislate the badness away and finally caught up with what everyone already knew, that it doesn't work that way, and someone open-minded enough to have someone else try and find a decent-sounding answer. That's not a very efficient process.

    And so we conclude, understanding problems, nevermind fixing them, isn't something that politicians see much opportunity in. It's all a game of perceptions anyway. And so we see a bigger problem with our political system.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The mobile ban:

    We must do something;

    This is something;

    Therefore, we must do this.

    In the same way as how doing 22 in a 20 zone will summon Cthululu (sans eyeball), but doing 22 on an empty motorway is safe, since you are not speeding...

    Prats are going to be prats, and a kids in the back seat going "WE THERE YET? WE THERE YET?" is a bigger distraction than tellling someone you'll be late home due to traffic.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Sir

      "Cthululu (sans eyeball), "

      Very topical

    2. Elmer Phud

      Kid eh?

      My answer was 'We are here'

      "where"

      'we're here, we always are, we can't be there'

      That shut the buggers up.

  12. Hnk0
    Flame

    1. There is an advantage to there being a specific law, in that you can go to the phone company and check if the phone was used in the time-frame during which the accident happened. Proving "without due care and attention" is a lot harder to prove without hard evidence, this is why you see so many cyclists recording their commute on video.

    2. Although driving while on the phone has been shown to be as dangerous as driving above the drinking limit (http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/DrivingIssues/20060830105036.html), the penalty is much lower. Three points and £60 fine for mobile phone offence, for drinking see here http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/TravelAndTransport/Roadsafetyadvice/DG_195019

    3. The law is unfortunately not applied rigorously. I am in favour of systematically crushing/seizing the vehicles of drivers caught on the phone, drunk, without insurance or when they reach 12 points (currently thousands are driving with more than 12 points with the blessing of the courts). If they need to drive for their work, well that just too bad they should have thought of that before being a prick.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Speaking of being a prick

      Did someone on the phone, drunk, without insurance and/or 12 points run over your dog or something?

      Seizing, I get it... but crushing?

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      There is an advantage to there being a specific law

      A clever lawyer can get you off.

      I wasn't talking on a "cellular telephone" - I was making a VOIP call on a data network

      I wasn't making a call I was recording my voice on the handset

      I wasn't making a call - I was talking to a voice recognition app on the phone which was sending a text message.

      For extra points match the (successful) excuse to the celebrity

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      > 2. Although driving while on the phone has been shown to be as dangerous as driving above the drinking limit (http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/DrivingIssues/20060830105036.html), the penalty is much lower.

      Driving with a headcold has been proven to be worse than being above the drink-drive limit, but it doesn't get penalised at all.

      As for being above the limit, there arent that many busts for being "just over the limit" - not least of which is that between the time they blow a fail on the roadside and the time they're tested, most drivers' blood alcohol levels will fall below the limit again. Because of that, cops tend to be pragmatic and either impound the keys overnight or simply forbid driving until morning (then come down like a tonne of bricks if they driver is caught again that night)

      If you sit in court you'll notice that most cases involve drivers being at least twice the limit, or substantially over the limit the morning after the night before - which means they were probably 5-6 times the limit the night before and on the way to alcohol toxicity. What worries me is the minor punishments handed out in UK courts for recidivist drink drivers - who as a group tend to be responsible for more injuries/deaths/damage than everyone else combined.

      My own preference for driving would involve retests every 5 years and mandatory resits after a license ban. As much as I enjoy driving, handling 1000kg+ of lethal metal is a privilege, not a right.

  13. Thing
    Holmes

    Would it be too obvious...

    ... to take way their cars?

    1. jabuzz

      Hands free

      The problem with just pulling the phone records is that it does not tell you whether I was holding the phone to my ear or on hands free which is integrated into my car stereo.

      I have been rear ended by someone too busy talking to a passenger to pay attention to the fact there was stopped traffic ahead, so the mere fact that you are talking and whether they are in the car means nothing.

      1. Hnk0

        Re: Hands free

        See http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/DrivingIssues/20060830105036.html

        it does make a difference.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Would it be too obvious...

      "Would it be too obvious...

      ... to take way their cars?"

      Seizure of vehicles is a regressive penalty; for the wealthy it's meaningless: Buy another one. Take a cab. For the poor, it's crippling - lose your job, have no income, can't buy car to get job due to no income... (or pay huge amounts in interest that cuts your income even more...)

      Basically, a $30k car seizure from a guy with a new S-Class costs him much less per unit-of-disposable-income than a $2k car seizure from a guy with a busted-ass 10 year old Civic, who will lose his job in the few days it takes to even FIND another car, even if he can afford it.

      If you want severe punishment for a given offense, fine, but vehicle seizure is a slap on the wrist for the rich and a devastating blow to the poor (and often middle class, probably).

      Vehicle seizure also often fails to punish the right person; your buddy borrows your car, uses his phone, and suffers little penalty while you lose thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. That's a pretty steep fine for trusting a friend not to reflexively answer the phone when his girlfriend calls.

      Punish people? Sure. But punish the right ones the right way; your solution is vindictive, not punitive.

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. JaitcH
    FAIL

    Living in VietNam I get too see some of the worst, most incompetent drivers anywhere. Lanes, lights and signs mean nothing, just roadside bling.

    Where else do drivers take a 'glide path' profile to a turn, winging through opposing traffic. You don't check turn indicators, you check tire direction. When turning right, the VN driver frequently overtakes the vehicle in front and then take a sharp turn across the other vehicles bows.

    Taxis are of the opinion that a signal gives them right of way, regardless of the fact another vehicle is within an intersection.

    The ultimate indicator of a cultures ability to drive is whether there are any professional race drivers from that culture. The are very few drivers of either hinese or Vietnamese origin.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't underestimate their objective

    The truth is, it's just another revenue producer for the police. They can wallpaper it with politics or "caring", but at the end of the day, it's more more jelly donuts for the gumshoe.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surely the useful conclusion from this would, rather than suggest that cracking down on phone use is pointless, be that if you find someone using a phone in the car the chances are that you've found someone who is an all-round poor driver.

    What the study is effectively saying is that poor drivers advertise themselves by using phones, much as they advertise themselves in other ways which aren't explicitly outlawed.

    So it doesn't mean that we should stop bothering about the use of phones. What it means is that if you find someone using a phone, it would make sense to actually do something to address their overall driving behaviour, rather than simply fine them and give them some points as is currently the case, which has no effect whatsoever on behaviour.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "it would make sense to actually do something to address their overall driving behaviour, rather than simply fine them and give them some points as is currently the case, which has no effect whatsoever on behaviour"

      If they get enough points, they get stopped from driving completely. (Well most of them do, the remainder are utter utter utter ..... of the first order). Perhaps the question is how many they should get - and at the same time how much the magistrates should take into account the old line some pull about driving and livelihood.

      Personally, I reckon if someone relies upon being able to drive for their job, then it should have featured in their thinking even if they are not bright enough to have a "business continuity plan" which noted that being caught by a traffic cop could lead to loss of revenue.

      OK, that turned into a miny rant, sorry folks.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "If they get enough points, they get stopped from driving completely. (Well most of them do, the remainder are utter utter utter ..... of the first order)."

        It doesn't really work though, even without considering those who deliberately flout the bans they do receive.

        Firstly, there's no real incentive to change behaviour until you get 9 points - I've known several people in the past get up to 6 or so without giving the remotest fig about it. The system does not nip dangerous driving in the bud.

        Secondly, there is the good old wheeze of escaping a ban by claiming exceptional hardship. I can't find the link right now, but one recent example was (IIRC) a director of a transport company who killed a cyclist and escaped a ban by claiming that his income, and therefore his family, would suffer if he couldn't use the car. The law allows the judge to make the rest of us pay for his incompetence by having to share the road with him, rather than point out to him that if it was so important then he should have been a bit less flippant with the privilege of being allowed to drive.

        The problem is that there is no framework for acting on the minor offences that are indicative of a poor driver in such a way that will correct their behaviour. Fines and points do not do that. And without correcting their behaviour, the risk of someone sooner or later being killed or injured by that driver rises.

  18. Dave 15 Silver badge

    As with most things understanding is crucial

    When I moved to the USA a few years ago my car insurance premium was huge -despite having a very large number of accident free years. When I queried this I was told it was because my credit rating was low (I had only just moved and they didn't take into account the credit rating here). I was incredulous, what has my driving skill (or lack of it) got to do with my credit rating I asked. The reply was classic ... we have studied the accidents and concluded that people with a low credit rating have more accidents. I did ask if this was perhaps because the 14, 15, 16 year olds they insured had low credit ratings and high accident rates? Just because something appears to be in some way statistically linked does NOT mean there is some link of cause. People driving fast are more likely to die in an accident, but it doesn't mean the fast driving actually caused the accident, it might have made it harder to avoid the lorry that pulled out without looking or indicating, and it might be that had you also been doing 45 you could have got away with minor damage... but the speed was not the cause of death, the lorry drivers ignorance was.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think I disagree with most posters on here

    I got caught drink driving in 1997 (my drink was spiked in the middle off the day by my now ex-wife)

    There was nothing wrong with my driving at the time and I was not involved in any accident or any stupidity

    The reason the police took an interest was my use of a mobile phone (This was not illegal at the time)

    At court they offered no evidence of phone usage (which I admitted to doing)

    The police were only after a drink driving conviction, they didn't get their wish

    I didn't get the automatic ban I was expecting, but I got 7 points and a £50 fine + costs

    My ex wife on the otherhand was arrested and charged, not saying what for, but she got 6 months!

    I still believe she intended to kill me, along with our 2 children, who were in the car at the time

    So somtimes it's not the drivers fault, and I didn't feel the slighest bit like I'd even had one pint off beer

    let alone the alcholic cocktail she's fooled me into drinking as a large glass off fruit juice.

    Was I guilty.... well yes, did I intend to drive that day.... no, was I danger.... probably no

    The reason I was driving was to take one of our kids, aged 3, to the local hospital, because she'd been given the same cocktail, by the ex-wife and was being very very sick.

    See we (some) are not always as dangerous as others think!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I think I disagree with most posters on here

      That's terrible, though as you were under the influence in the eye's of the law it's your responsibility! Not that I don't sympathise though.

      Actually, I've always found the Driving Under the Influence stuff interesting;

      I'm prescribed strong painkillers regularly, they have some pretty strong effects some days. It's perfectly legal for me to drive having taken them (though, I hasten to add I do my best not to) as long as I feel I'm OK to drive. Of course, if I were to have an accident and the drugs were believed to have caused/contributed I'd get raped by the insurance companies and probably be charged too.

      Alcohol on the other hand, the law states the amount I may imbibe and still be allowed to drive. Some people could be perfectly fine to drive many times over the limit, others may not be fit to drive below the limit. There's no leeway for 'I felt I was OK'.

      Illicit drugs are even worse, they wanted to change the law (might have done so, I haven't been paying attention) on the basis that there is no legal limit for illicit drugs. So if I had some a week ago and they can detect it in my system, that's DUI and I can be charged. After a week it's probably having no effect, but my blood-dope level is above 0 so I'm bang to rights.

      IIRC Cannabis is a particularly nasty one for this. It's considered a 'relevant disability' by the DVLA, so without so much as a court case they can take away your license on medical grounds.

      Now I don't disagree that we don't want people driving whilst under the influence, but there's a huge feeling of 'must be seen to be doing something' mixed in there. I try to be responsible with my painkillers (usually opting to miss a dose and try and ignore the pain than drive whilst off my face, if not then get a lift or cancel the trip/meeting). I don't doubt, though, that others don't think like this and are probably quite happily driving around under the influence of 'legal' drugs.

      What we need is consistency. If there's a 'safe' (which I doubt) amount of alcohol to have in our blood when driving, why not for every other substance (legal or otherwise?). Frankly wanting to do someone for having trace amounts of a drug in their system is absolutely ridiculous unless you have hard evidence that it was actually putting others at risk.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I think I disagree with most posters on here

        "It's considered a 'relevant disability' by the DVLA, so without so much as a court case they can take away your license on medical grounds."

        It's a bad law. Get the law changed.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I sympathise... yet I disagree

      Most drivers under the influence wilfully imbibed, knew very well they did so, and know very well they're not supposed to go driving in that state, yet they do. What you describe as an incident is clearly what is called an outlier, something that doesn't happen very often. The law on drinking and driving wasn't written with evil wives spiking drinks in mind. If such a thing does happen, if not the law, at least the courts ought to be lenient about it. But it's not something the rules assume has happened, because most of the time it hasn't.

      That doesn't make what happened to you less terrible and I'm glad to hear things worked out reasonably well for you in the end, though.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I sympathise... yet I disagree

        > The law on drinking and driving wasn't written with evil wives spiking drinks in mind.

        It was, actually. It is a valid defence, and although it won't get you off the charge (ignorance is never an excuse) it it a valid reason for a lenient sentence, in particular not getting the automatic 12-month ban, as the other poster found out. Good to see a judge applying the law sensibly.

  20. Chris 211

    double standards

    So your all perfect are you, you never use the radio, phone, turn round to slap the kids, turn to talk to your passengers etc etc. Dont give me that crap. Some people are stupid, some people are unlucky by a split second. You can be a perfect driver and one way your luck will run out, are you suddenly a bad driver?

    As the study points out in a clumsy kind of way it doesn't actually matter what is distracting the driver. The driver is at fault not the activity. So dont ban phones, lets have better drivers, longer training is required, maybe even raising the driving age. Aww poor fucking CHILDREN should not be driving, your still a child at 16, 17, most adult activities are limited to 18 so why not driving. If you want a private pilots licence you have to complete a minimum of 45hrs flying, pass 8 exams and be re-tested yearly and fly regular, so you cant go away for 6 months and get back in without a refresher. Driving has been brought down to the lowest level for the masses and so surprise surprise you get idiots driving. Raise the standards, some people really should not have a licence to start with!

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      Re: double standards

      The thing about an unlucky split second distraction (i.e ignoring those who are just asking for trouble) is that its not something you can avoid. We don't choose to be distracted for that split second.

      In other words, the extra training would do nothing to help those who are unlucky.

      What it probably would do is mean a lot of youngsters couldn't afford to drive. For those not in towns/cities that means little chance of being able to get to work. Even then, Im not sure our roads would be any safer, have you seen how some of the over 50s are driving? More of those seem to be causing problems where I live than the kids.

      Driver error is a problem, but I don't think its something we're likely to solve unless we're happy for a minority of the population to be the only drivers. We can work to try and reduce some distractions as a mitigating technique but there'll always be something else (look at the blonde in the car behind us, isn't she...... oops)

    2. Vic

      Re: double standards

      > minimum of 45hrs flying, pass 8 exams and be re-tested yearly and fly regular,

      For a single-engine PPL, the re-check is every other year. The requirement to fly regularly is just 12 hours, with at least 6 of those as pilot-in-command. There needs to be at least 12 take-offs and landings in that time. Then you need to get a certificate of revalidation from an examiner. All this needs to take place in the 12 months prior to the licence expiry date

      > you cant go away for 6 months and get back in without a refresher

      Yes, you can.

      Vic.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    hams and cb's

    How come we watched this come and go and never had a problem? Even with a stick shift, a coke between the legs, a fag hanging out of the mouth, a radio, three pedals and a wheel.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Good question

      Volume, probably. There's far more suburban assault vehicles with annoying kids in the back and someone who's not really fit to drive such a thing without power steering yabbering on a gadget held against an ear in the driver's position weaving through rush hour than there's unshaved types in lorries talking about smokey bears or whatever. Which is not to say the latter is inherently safer. Especially if, as was often the case, that "coke" wasn't of the malt variety. Or, at least, the former made themselves more conspicuous.

      You can also much more easily drop the mike since it's such an expensive gadget, and it doesn't require staring and poking at it quite so much. Maybe it's also a case of knowing to leave the CB bloody well out of it. Getting found crashed with a half-written text on the phone is a bit damning.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: hams and cb's

      "How come we watched this come and go and never had a problem?"

      The ones who had problems are presumably not here to post about it.

      This is the same argument I hear for not wearing seat belts - "I crawled around the back seat when I was a kid and I"m still here" - no kidding, asshole; the ten thousand kids who *got killed* doing that in the same period aren't around to let the rest of us know!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: hams and cb's

        Speaking of assholes, how about YOU turning it around and counting the MILLIONS of people, including kids, who are still alive - despite not wearing seat-belts.

        Cretinous argument, and the one usually used by the "holier than thou" types who would love to have a law passed to ban every little thing that was wrong with OTHER people.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Bananas

    That'll be next. A ban on driving whilst eating a banana.

    An apple is ok, there's no distracting peeling involved in the process.

    But bananas - you have to peel them before eating, or at least, I do.

    I'm not sure of the stats, but I reckon eating bananas whilst driving is an equal menace to using a mobile phone.

    Bananas are easily as popular as mobile phones, if not more so. They're also a lot cheaper, therefore it stands to reason that more people eat bananas when driving than use mobile phones.

    A banana, with it's cunning shape, can also double up as a mock phone, so there's a direct correlation between bananas and phones - I'm surprised the government hasn't looked into this.

    Other distractions which should be addressed are:

    1. Hot beverages

    2. Crisps

    3. Passengers

    4. Windscreen wipers

    Point 4 is a concern to me. I'm often so transfixed watching the wipers go back and forth, I can't concentrate on eating a banana whilst driving, this is worsened during an extreme weather event, such as a blizzard.

    If my phone rings at the same time, I've had it - windscreen wipers, phone and banana = certain death.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Bananas

      To be more serious, smoking.

      Smoking while driving is seriously dangerous (and not just because of accidents, they cause wildfires as well) yet it's ignored.

      It's even already usually illegal in vans (place of work), yet I've never heard of anybody being cautioned or prosecuted.

    2. Vic

      Re: Bananas

      > An apple is ok, there's no distracting peeling involved in the process.

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4788910.stm . Look for the paragraph entitled "Discretion".

      Vic.

  23. Dropper
    Thumb Down

    More likely the enforcement

    Two things really.. first is a close relative would still be alive if the driver of the train she was on had not been txting but instead paid attention to the big, fucking red stop signals he blew through repeatedly just prior to slamming headon into a train travelling down the same track. So yeah, he wasn't driving a car and yeah there are issues with trains travelling opposite directions on the same track without implementing auto-stops at red lights , but the principle remains and even if he had been cunt behind the wheel. It's a fair bet that he still would have stopped if not distracted.

    The other thing is after cell phone use while driving was banned in my city, it has stopped maybe 3 people from using their cell phones while driving. I still see just as many cunts txting or otherwise fucking around with their phones while they randomly slide into other lanes or blowing through red lights.

    I figure it's because people just can't shut the fuck up for a few minutes and because the punishments for driving while using a cell phone are far too lenient. You might get the attention of these people if you were to ban them from owning a cell phone. We take away the cars of those that don't have insurance (at least we do in the US) so why not take away the phones of the people who can't stop being dicks when they drive?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ban them all

    They should ban the use of all electronic devices while the vehicle is in motion and make people actually pass real driver's tests instead of the joke they have now for exams. Make $5000 mandatory fines or jail time for using your electronic device while driving. The second offense and you go to prison for 2 years.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ban them all

      "They should ban the use of all electronic devices while the vehicle is in motion"

      That's such an asinine idea that, if it ever comes to pass, I'm going to start using an abacus in the car just to spite you.

  25. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Leave the phones. Take away the cars.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Complete idiot young-ish lady driver with phone

    In Newmarket Road area this afternoon. Two lanes of traffic joins a roundabout. The traffic is heavy. She's at the front of the queue in the left-hand lane... hazard/flashers on, faffing with her smartphone. Other drivers from the left-hand lane are having to force their way into the right hand lane to get around her, and turn left right in front of her.

    She's making the already congested traffic situation even worse.

    Whatever it was, she could have driven 300 yards and pulled up in a side-road.

    I just can't comprehend how people can be so completely and utterly oblivious of what is going on around them, and have no self-awarness whatsoever.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Complete idiot young-ish lady driver with phone

      "The traffic is heavy. She's at the front of the queue in the left-hand lane... hazard/flashers on, faffing with her smartphone."

      <woman> "No, I need a tow truck here *now*! I've tried to start the damn car about ten times! These people back there are going to murder me!"

    2. Boris S.

      Re: Complete idiot young-ish lady driver with phone

      Maybe the car just died and she was stuck there?

      I do agree however that at least 85% of those behind the wheel are braindead and it's not just women.

  27. PatrickE

    Mobile (cell) phones are addictive. Drivers also might not be texting but updating facebook as well. :) status: "I'm driving in traffic at 70mph on my way to work. It's soooo boring. Thank God I have a coffee, my breakfast and facebook to keep me awake! See you all at work later"

    How about really putting the boot in to idiots driving and texting (or calling without hands free). Close all their mobile phone accounts and data plans - they can foot the early exit fees as well. Ban them from mobile phone use for a year or so and let them drive without the electronics. Anyway, there's still breakfast and coffee for the freeway commutes.

  28. daveeff
    FAIL

    So I'm stationary in a q of traffic for 30 mins but it's illegal for me to phone home & say I'm going to be late? 3 key presses that I don't have to look at?

    The times I've had to brake sharply or pull out because some clot has taken a phone call so has pulled over unsafely or in everybody's way.

    You should be able to do whatever as long as you are paying due care & attention, if you are not paying attention then not talking & having both hands on the wheel is not going to make you a good driver.

    Get rid of the air bags for drivers & nice safe feeling 4x4's - a glass floor so you can see how fast you're travelling & a big pointy stake sticking out of the steering wheel might help us all concentrate. It would cut down on NHS bills too, fewer accidents and most of them fatal. Could even clean up the gene pool.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Get rid of the air bags for drivers & nice safe feeling 4x4's - a glass floor so you can see how fast you're travelling & a big pointy stake sticking out of the steering wheel might help us all concentrate."

      So, an idiot backs out of his driveway smack in front of you, you hit him and get impaled, and he gets a broken collarbone. Sounds like a good solution!

  29. Great Bu
    Joke

    Surely the solution........

    ....is not to enact more and more draconian traffic laws to ban any possible distraction from the driver, but to massively raise the standard of driving required before someone gets a license.

    My proposal is that anyone who cannot keep their car in it's lane on a motorway at 135mph whilst simultaneously:

    - snorting a 12" line of cocaine off the dashboard

    - texting his x-factor vote

    - eating a supersize big mac meal

    - receiving oral sex from an Albanian prostitute

    - having already downed a bottle of tequila

    should simply not be allowed to drive.

    All other road users (and near-road users) should be aware that this will be the default state of awareness in all drivers they see, and should take that into account when deciding whether to venture out of their front door.

    1. Boris S.

      Re: Surely the solution........

      Actually much more serious punishment AND much higher standards of actual driving skills should be required. The punishment is for those who continue to make bad choices in life. The increased driving skills are to reduce the unnecessary accidents caused by a lack of driving skills.

      BTW, I always love the media reports of a "run-a-way vehicle" where the driver miraculously avoids an accident for miles when there car has a stuck throttle or is possed by demons... Never in this wild, harrowing adventures does the driver even slam on the brakes - which will stop ANY modern car no matter what the power of the engine, nor does the driver shut off the ignition nor does the driver ever shift the trans into neutral. Instead they drive for miles with a stuck throttle until they crash.

      What ignorance! These people should never have been given a driver's license in the first place if they aren't smart enough to slam on the brakes or shut off the ignition when the throttle sticks.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Surely the solution........

        >shut off the ignition when the throttle sticks.

        If you do that, you find that assistance to your brakes and steering will get shut off. You will probably still have hydraulic mechanical advantage on the brakes, but a sudden lack of pressure in your steering system will produce unpredictable results as you turn the wheel.

        But over this side of the pond, we don't have many stories of the type you describe. But then we don't drive many American cars. Toyota had an issue for a while, but the accidents they suffered generally took place over a small distances so the driver didn't have sufficient time to fully grok the situation before hitting a wall at a fairly low speed, or (more worringly) placing themselves in the way of traffic

  30. quatra

    MOBILES WHEN DRIVING

    It's not holding a mobile in your hands that distracts. It's the attention that's being diverted. Technologically speaking it's feasible to make use of a mobile impossible when a car is moving. Also people who try to finish an SMS while stopped at a red light and then failing to move when green comes on is very annoying.

  31. quatra

    MOBILES WHEN DRIVING

    It's not holding a mobile in your hands that distracts. It's the attention that's being diverted. Technologically speaking it's feasible to make use of a mobile impossible when a car is moving. Also people who try to finish a message when "green" comes on is very annoying.

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