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Tuesday Talk: Should distracted driving bans go further?

January 11, 2011 By Rachel Weeks, Communications Specialist

As we noted at Hindsight today, distracted driving continues to be a very real safety concern. Minnesota has banned texting while driving since 2008. Nationwide, 31 states have texting-while-driving bans; 9 of those states ban handheld cell phone use for all drivers. A variety of proposals to tighten regulation are being discussed across the country. What's your take?

Should distracted driving bans in Minnesota go further to include cell phones? What other regulations would make Minnesota's roads safer?

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  • John Robertson says:

    January 11, 2011 at 9:14 am

    I think this is distracted governing which should be banned as MN faces a massive fiscal and cultural crisis/deficit. Let’s all keep our eyes on the road ahead - education, health, jobs, taxes, feeding the people, etc.

    Just saying

  • Carol Taylor says:

    January 11, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Yes, one handed driving while talking on cell phones should be banned.  Actually I’d like to see cell phone usage totally being banned while one is in a moving vehicle.  I no longer can count the times someone has almost hit me, run a stop sign, etc. because they have a phone up to their ear. Since I’ve never owned a cell phone, I can say 100% that I have never phoned while driving, and I very much dislike having someone call me when I know they are driving and talking.

    Another item could make the roads much safer, and that is to requite mandatory headlights.  Why the state hasn’t done something about it is beyond me.  Yesterday as it was snowing and almost dark, I still spotted at least one out of around 7 cars that did not have their lights on.  With an aging poppulation, it is more important than ever.  Good luck with it tho, as over many years we’ve noticed that the law enforcement vehicles are some of the biggest offenders.

  • Donna says:

    January 11, 2011 at 9:25 am

    I personally think all hand held phones should be banned. I do not talk on a phone while driving, but have to constantly look out for those who do. They are not paying attention to their driving and pose a threat to others. Long ago I took behind the wheel lessons and one of the most important things I remember was ‘Both Hands on the Wheel’. So what is wrong with that? What happened?

    Is is too much of a distraction when people should be concentrating on their driving and the road.

  • Claire Thoen says:

    January 11, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Yes.  Writing as one who was rear-ended last week by a guy in a pick-up truck. 

    I experienced severe pain; spent hours in the ER.  Had a CAT Scan. ($)

    Spent time getting my car in for an estimate and must now take time to get my car in for repairs. ($)

    I’m also walking around with a very badly bruised face.

    Studies show that people on cell phones are as disabled as those driving over the legal limit for alcohol.

    It’s hard to see how there can be legitimate arguments in favor of drivers on cell phones.

  • herb says:

    January 11, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Unless we require that vehicle be equipped with “while moving scramblers” the idea is virtually unenforceable.

    We have to have “overtime paid” saturation to enforce DUI and we continue to ignore, “stop for ped in crosswalk laws”...why make a mockery of the law?

  • herb says:

    January 11, 2011 at 9:29 am

    many can focus on more than a few things at once

  • Clay says:

    January 11, 2011 at 9:38 am

    I think there is sufficient evidence to support the prohibition of any communications devices in moving vehicles because they take the driver’s mind off the driving.  That’s not practical for police and other professional drivers who require radio communications, but those folks could be certified somehow. The rest of us could pull over and call back or just wait.

  • Mae B. Haynes says:

    January 11, 2011 at 9:40 am

    I speak only from an empirical point of view.  There are arguments in both directions.  However… I truly believe cell phone usage should be banned in MN.  Actually, everywhere.  The “head set” is not the answer because distraction is the problem.  I understand the use of a cell phone in the car in an emergency ... being lost, being late, a child emergency .... but I receive - at home - dozens of phone calls from people who are just killing time while driving and want to “chat”.  I have also been sideswiped and endangered in several other ways by people whom, I assume, cannot live five minutes without talking.  Yes I do believe in banning cell phones.  Banning text messaging was a no brainer and a ridiculous thing to have to do since it takes eyes AND hands off the road.  But cell phones are a slightly more insidious threat, thus more difficult to convince of their danger.

  • KJC says:

    January 11, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Most studies show that texting-while-driving is about as dangerous as drunk driving.  Yikes, that’s how powerful a distraction it is.  There are any number of real world videos showing people having fatal accidents while engaging in this behavior.
    Will I take an important call while driving?  Yes, and I’ll also tell them to “hold” while I pull over to a safe spot (in town.)  On a nearly empty rural interstate with hundreds of yards between me and anything else?  I might not pull over, that would actually be less safe.
    It only gets worse from there.  My concern is that the “hot” features in new cars now are all about this kind of electronic distraction.  Note that Consumer Reports just dropped their “Recommended” on Ford vehicles with their MyTouch e-stuff… which is all about Electronic Connectedness.  (Read a system that will create even more distraction, emails, texts, social media, etc.)  So now we’ve reached the tipping point where we’re going to be selling ever more products (cars and trucks) with this Distraction Quotient set to the maximum (not the minimum.)  Maybe that’s where we should start with legislation? 
    I only wish that the making it a “talk” function fixed it.  It doesn’t.  Yes, being able to say it, rather than physically manipulate all the keys does help.  But that’s all, it only “helps.”  Humans are far worse multi-takers than they generally pretend to be.  While thinking about what you might say in conversation or an email, etc… you just aren’t “all there” in your driving.  The risk goes up.  Some people are paying with their lives.
    The reality check?  The reaction to many laws in this area have been?  Some just hold the offending device below the window level, to keep it out of sight… making using it even more distracting… because your eyes must then be moved even farther away.
    There is no easy answer, it’s pretty much a complete ban as far as a safety concern.  I’d “live” with that.  Would America actually comply?  I have my doubts, unfortunately.
    Hope somebody has a breakthrough model for this, we need it.

  • Mae B Haynes says:

    January 11, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Yes, Herb.  Many can multi-task.  But many cannot.  One of us may be rearended by that one person who cannot.

  • Elizabeth says:

    January 11, 2011 at 9:47 am

    I ride a motorcycle.  We definitely need to encourage people to pay attention when they are driving.

  • Bill C says:

    January 11, 2011 at 10:02 am

    Distraction comes in many forms.  Changing radio stations or CDs, opening a pack of gum, conversation with passengers, lecturing children, lighting a cigarette or eating food.  There were plenty of car accidents prior to cell phones; car accidents would not stop if cell phones were banned.

  • Ellis Dye says:

    January 11, 2011 at 10:07 am

    By all means, the use of cell phones while driving should be outlawed and a heavy penalty attached.

    I do not agree with the person who says a law banning cell phones would be unenforceable. I speak as a pedestrian who has to dodge some left-turner driving with a cell phone at his/her ear just about every time I cross a busy intersection. Do you think I couldn’t identify the vehicles in question?

    I’ve begun to think there has been a mutation in the species. People used to have two hands and more than half a brain to work with.

    While we’re at it, let’s ban cell phones in restaurants and in check-out lines at the grocery store. I, for one, don’t need to hear some idiot’s vacuous blather while I’m eating or waiting to pay for my groceries.

  • mae B Haynes says:

    January 11, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Yes Bill.  You’re absolutely right.  Now measure time and concentration between opening a piece of gum, changing a radio station and talking on a cell phone or texting.  Your argument, while seeming valid, is actually specious.

  • Jojo says:

    January 11, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Talking on phone is not my biggest gripe since most people can drive and talk at the same time.

    It’s the people obviously staring down at their smart phone texting or surfing the web or reading e-mails that bothers me.

    I love it best when they try to disguise the fact that they are doing it by placing the smartphone on the console or in their lap because no one will notice that they are continuously staring down.

    And yes, I have been rear ended by such a driver. I vow to haunt the jerk who kills me while updating his FB status to “Just had a great burrito.”

  • W. D. (Bill) Hamm says:

    January 11, 2011 at 10:31 am

    As much as I am supportive of dealing with the driving while distracted issue, I am also very clear that this is the kind of “in your face” type of proposal that the majority out there is getting very tired of. Bill C is 100% correct, if such legislation is passed people will still die on Minnesota highways. Is their no urge to encourage rather than mandate? Must we make war on yet anouther segment of society? Must we again find ways to pit neighbor against neighbor? Must you of the educated elite do everything possible to divide our house to help you hold on to power. What you folks don’t like to see is that enforcement falls disproportionately on the disadvantaged who can’t aford to hire an attorney for minor infractions. The State doesn’t seem to like to keep records on the income level of ticket recipients but they should. Ticket fines should not be fixed but be directly linked to a percentage of income so that law enforcement and county attorney can feel more confortible bringing these additional criminals to court. On top of that boys and girls it’s a revenue increase without a tax hike, kind of a win win situation.

  • myles spicer says:

    January 11, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Let me answer this authoritatively as a pilot (I learned to fly in the USAF in 1954, and still hold a pilot’s license at 77).

    The essence of flying is to MULTI-TASK. The three elements are stick/rudder…navigation…communication. Sometimes, when the tasks converge, even for experienced pilots, there can be confusion or a glich.  Most people I see or know are absolutley not capable of successful multi-tasking (i.e. talking on the phone plus having situational awareness as we would say while flying). Teenagers especially are inexperienced, a further disadvantage. Flying has one advantage: there is less congestion, and usually time for a correction or catchup in tasking. Driving does not. When the tasks converge, there is little margin for error.

    Given the above, I feel we should not allow even talking on a cell phone while driving. It is inviting disaster. This may be a harsh solution, but the facts are absolutely clear: there will be numerous tragedies—for certain—under the present usage of phones and driving.

  • jojo says:

    January 11, 2011 at 10:49 am

    What if we issued citations without a fine and then let insurance companies decide if they want to jack rates on those fined for texting and driving.

    Oh, and please don’t turn this into a social injustice issue where the rich will get away with it the poor won’t. 

    Maybe start with your won personal accountability and not worry about other people’s.

  • herb says:

    January 11, 2011 at 10:51 am

    I totally agree with Mae, I was commenting on the “excuse” offered by an earlier post by John Robertson!

  • Mary says:

    January 11, 2011 at 10:54 am

    I am not in favor of banning hands free cell phone conversations.  That makes as much sense as not talking to the passenger in your vehicle.  Little extreme.

  • Charlie Zea says:

    January 11, 2011 at 10:59 am

    I think the only thing that a driver should have in their hands is the steering wheel of the vehicle they are operating.

  • Jeanne Weigum says:

    January 11, 2011 at 11:00 am

    Yes, Minnesota should take further steps to reduce driver distraction.  Prohibiting the use of cell phones while driving is an obvious first step. Allowing hands free calling is ignoring the research.  The distraction is of the brain, not the hand.  There is no evidence to support hands free as more safe than regular cell useage.

    But there is another form of distraction and eye pollution that should be addressed.  That is digital billboards.  The entire function is to get the driver to take their mind and eyes off the road.  There is not an unfettered right to advertise and there is no reason to allow the billboard industry to rake in huge profits at the expense of driver distraction and the appearance of our communities.

  • W. D. (Bill) Hamm says:

    January 11, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Myles, the logic of your arguement is hard to argue against until you ask where does it stop. Women putting on make up rates about the same as texting while driving. Trying to find something in the vehicle while driving rates higher than talking on the cell phone. Eating while driving is about the same as talking on a cell phone. Every year I have to go through this information with my employers Insurance Company as a training video. More important than multi-tasking while keeping your eyes on the road are those activities that take your eyes of the road. The length of those interuptions is the most crucial issue to driving. At least acording to the insurance company research I’ve seen. I am not allowed to use cell phones while driving a Company vehicle, not even with bluetooth, there are other ways to deal with this issue than to criminalize anouther segment of society.

  • scott says:

    January 11, 2011 at 11:09 am

    No. It will put us firefighters and ambulance people out of work. The more distractions the better.

  • Dan says:

    January 11, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Excellent point.  I remember being astounded when I first saw one of the animated, digital billboards.  Wasn’t this against the law a while back?  If so, how did that law get expunged or rolled back?  I swear I’ve seen what amount to mini movies complete with ads on these things.  Their conspicuity surely wrests attention from things like driving and being aware of those around you while on the road.  We’ll see if common sense will eventually win over corporate profit.  I won’t be holding my breath for that.

  • Tom Lehman says:

    January 11, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Distracted driving is a real problem. Most of the people I see wandering in and out of their lanes or making that last minute cut across lanes to an exit are holding a phone in their hand. I understand the point about the distraction being the brain, but there is also a physical distraction caused by holding the phone. With one hand in use with the phone, there is no hand left to signal turns, turn on lights or even just navigate tight turns that requires two hands. I advocate the reinstatement of traffic cops. We used to have them, but in the interests of budgets and efficiency, cops are just cops now. The results are obvious with people regularly running red lights and driving in unsafe manners of all sorts. The self-serving court challenges to the photo cop enforcement removed one effective tool. (I don’t suppose a Republican legislature is likely to change that.) Distracted or careless driving should be a ticketable offense. We kill tens of thousands of people each year on the roads. Funny how we use arguments about lives saved through drunk driving or medical screening while ignoring thousands being killed on the highway.

  • W. D. (Bill) Hamm says:

    January 11, 2011 at 11:28 am

    I loved JoJo’s comment about turning the information over to the insurance company and allowing them to raise rates acordingly, let’s add seat belts and child restraints as well (we might finally be able to force child restraint on to school busses). Of course you understand this is going to require a fist full of new insurance regulations, and perhaps a few more public employee’s. Then there is this issue, how much effort do you think law enforcement will give to something as revenue nuetral to them as this?

  • Eric Wagner says:

    January 11, 2011 at 11:45 am

    The main thing that I think of when someone wants to legislate cultural change is how are we going to enforce the law? We already have numerous driving safety laws on the books that can be used to punish those drivers but there is practically no enforcement. As a professional driver I can drive around the metro for hours on end with speeders, distracted drivers breaking all sorts of laws and taking way too many chances and I do not see a state patrol car in sight all day except for accidents and the occasional increased enforcement around big holidays. Tell me this, why aren’t people following the laws and taking chances? Because there is nothing being done to stop them and they get away with it.  If they get away with it once they figure why can’t they again or there’s nothing and no consequence from driving that way again. Real change would from constant enforcement which isn’t a price we have been willing to pay. This is either because people don’t want to be “hasseled” or their privacy would be impinged or mostly it would cost a lot of money. This is the same reason for all the problems with DWI enforcement, there simply is no money for officers or to keep them in prison. Socially our culture is that we think its wrong and something should be done about it but don’t really want to act or pay the price, afterall we are all “busy” and I can make that quick txt or call and I can handle it and multi-task right? Cultural change and attitudes will do more than legislation will ever do.

  • Geoff says:

    January 11, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Let’s triple the fines (and the damages from lawsuits) for those who crash while on a cellphone. This puts the responsibility on the driver, so it will appeal to Republicans. Also it motivates the cops (who get more fines) and the victims (who can sue for larger amounts). Also it separates the call made while going 5-10 mph on a residential street from calls made at 65 mph on the freeway. Big overall bans have not worked, so let’s target the actual offenders—and let other drivers be the “eyes and ears” with an incentive to watch their moves.

  • John says:

    January 11, 2011 at 11:50 am

    One step at a time is the answer.  We have banned the use of cell phones for texting and Emailing while driving.  This ban has reduced the use of cell phones for this purpose greatly. Continue this ban perhaps with better enforcement of the law, this and   raising the fine could go a long way to discourage this practice entirely.  As far as cell phone use itself, states that have enacted hands free cell phone use only such as CT. have found that it does cut down on the distraction caused by holding the phone and dialing while driving.  Talking hands free on a cell phone while driving is really no different than having a conversation with a passenger riding on the car with you while you drive.  If after enacting hands free cell phone use and further studies show that this law does not go far enough, then we can ban the use of cell phones altogether in moving vehicles…

  • Jen says:

    January 11, 2011 at 11:52 am

    Cell phones are a problem, but so is make-up, shaving, eating/drinking, and everything else that takes your attention away from driving. All of this should be address under an umbrella of “distracted driving.” If you have an accident because of this you should be held to the highest penalty possible. Your one and only priority while driving is being attentive to protect yourself, your passengers, and others around you. Your car is not for socializing, eating, working, or anything else other than driving.
    I think that people need to realize that it’s not about your intent - no intends to get into an accident and injure themselves or others. It is about the consequences of your actions.
    I am a victim of distracted driving - I lost the most precious gift given to me.

  • Kathleen Ahrens says:

    January 11, 2011 at 11:53 am

    A group of teens in our area have proposed a ban on all cell phones while driving.  Having taught defensive driving for ATT and Qwest, I agree that no one should try to send or receive messages of any type while driving. 
    Driving a vehicle requires full attention.

  • Nancy Baldauf says:

    January 11, 2011 at 11:53 am

    YES - Anyone distracted while driving needs to be held accountable.  In the case of any accident, if either party involved is found to have been “plugged into proven distractors” they need to be held accountable.  Accessing cell phone records should be automatic and results noted.  Consequences need to be uniform - financial penalties for all offenses - with greater financial restitution along with time consuming community service requirements added for more serious offenses. These guidelines need to be automatic to keep our courts from being further over run and backed up. They also need to be inconvenient enough in both financial penalties and the time requirement to make the appropriate impression upon non compliant drivers.  This is a serious problem and it’s time we impose consequences.

  • Gary Lee says:

    January 11, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    You are exactly right.  I recently moved from being a lifelong Minnesota resident to Florida.  After seeing the insane drivers here we now consider driving safety a serious motivation to return to Minnesota, despite all of the reasons we moved in the first place.  We would hate to see Minnesota become like this place (it is worse than you would believe), but it could happen with further budget cuts.  Distracted drivers are a major problem, but bad drivers of all sorts are a problem.  There are two potential consequences for bad driving which could deter at least some people, being caught or having a serious accident.  Being caught is a far better alternative, both for the person who is at fault and for the rest of us.  We expect our police, courts, and the rest of the criminal justice system to provide a deterrence.  We need to provide those departments with the resources to do the job we keep asking them to do.

  • Scot M Kindschi says:

    January 11, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    I believe that driver’s licenses and cell phones should be unavailable to anyone who has yet to earn a high school diploma.

  • Ginny says:

    January 11, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Absolutely, ban cell phone usage while driving. And enforce it.
    I walk my dog a lot, and often cross (or try to cross) Summit and Grand Avenues. I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone stop for me who was talking on a cell phone. I have always had the sense that they did not see me at all. Their phone is jammed up to their ear where they should be able to see from that side.
    ANY distracted driving should be an offense—lighting a cigarette, changing a station, putting on makeup or shaving. Talking to another person in the car can definitely be dangerous. More than once I have said, or the person I’m riding with has said, “I can’t talk and drive.”
    Listening to the radio is a different matter. When I listen to the radio, I immediately tune it out when I think I’m approaching some unusual activity or a tricky turn or anything like that.

  • Tom Brinkman says:

    January 11, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Yes, ban cell phone use while driving.  May have to staff up police forces slightly to handle this kind of thing?  But definitely implement a ban!

  • Bruce Kittilson says:

    January 11, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    I agree with Jen, only the category should be labeled “inattentive driving.”

  • Dale Barto says:

    January 11, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Distracted driving is indefensible.  If it were only the offenders who were killed and maimed, I’d be all for it.  Call it “natural selection” or “survival of the fittest” or a primitive form of “population control”.  But an accident has collateral effects, tying up traffic, making people late for work, etc., and, oh yeah, precipitating some “REAL face time.”  However, I do sympathize with the “Facebook” crowd.  In response to the question, “What are you doing right now?” - it takes a long time to enter: “Rear-ending a gravel truck.”

  • don Conroy says:

    January 11, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    I see many drivers using head phones even tho MN has a law against it. It seems the law is not being enforced.

  • Dave Culver says:

    January 11, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    If it isn’t the radio/CD player in the dashboard, it should NOT be used while driving. Hand off isn’t good enough; you need your mind off too!

    Studies have shown that people talking on a cell phone while driving are as impaired as someone who’s had too much to drink. We’ve got too many drunks/addicts on the roads now; we don’t need more.

    That goes for cell phones, ear buds, the works. Good driving is challenging enough without being distracted. Driving while under the influence of a distraction makes that impossible.

  • Gary Lee says:

    January 11, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Even those devices installed in the dash can be a problem.  Last week my wife was hit from behind while driving 40 mph (the posted speed limit) on a main street through a residential area.  The driver who hit her was doing 55 mph, and didn’t notice she was in front of him because he was looking on his front passenger seat for a CD to put into his dash CD player.

    The really scary part is that they were driving by the front of an elementary school when the “accident” occurred.

    Distracted driving from whatever source, cell phone, factory installed steroe, or otherwise, can kill.  That’s the bottom line.  And while it is impossible to legislate stupidity out of existence, it is at least possible to hold those who are caught doing stupidly risky things accountable.  We need to support enforcement.  We also need to voice the opinion that people should be held accountable, and that people should be held to a standard of responsible behavior.  This should be a social value we teach both by example and by how we react when others fail to act responsibly.

    In states where drunk driving holds little social stigma and drunk driving laws are not enforced, or when penalties are light, more people drive drunk.  We can all name a hundred other similar examples.  From them we know that when we can enforce the laws on distracted driving we have now, increase the penalties for failure to observe the law, and apply social stigma to stupidly risky behaviors behind the wheel, then there will be fewer distracted drivers.  And we can be absolutely sure there will be fewer injuries and deaths.  Isn’t it worth that?

  • norm hanson says:

    January 11, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    Seems to me that the first question is where is the beef?  Do we have good information that such bans make any kind of a difference or have any kind of effect, both for texting while driving as well as using a cell phone while driving?  I assume that we do otherwise the bans would not be being proposed, right?

  • Mike Downing says:

    January 11, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Yes, lets add more laws, regulations and mandates to drive more business and people out on this state!

    Have any of you been a sales representative who needs to get to a customer and is late due to traffic or schedule an appointment with another customer or needs to call customer service to check on a shipping date, etc.? Sales representatives can and must do multitasking to compete in this global economy.

    Hands free/Blue Tooth connected phones are no more dangerous than talking with a passenger, listening to the radio or a CD. Will you next ban radios? CD players or multi-passenger vehicles?!

    Do any of you liberal progressives have a job out in the real world?! No, I doubt it…..

  • Ginny says:

    January 11, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Demonstration after demonstration have proven they cannot. Ask a peace officer to give you a road test and then say that.

  • Michael N Hindin says:

    January 11, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    First, passing regulations without training drivers to understand and obey them is a wasted effort. Minnesota has a history of passing legislation and then not funding advertising or funding enforcement.  The wiper law is commonly violated with very serious injury potential.  Adult learners need training, reinforcement and real consequences. As a safety professional we do this all the time. 
    Adults need training and periodic retraining.  Scheduled training is required for workers by OSHA. Professionals are often required to get CEU’s to maintain licenses.  People and automobiles change over time. Cell phones & texting are an example of a new issue.

    I propose that drivers be required to take 8 hours of defensive driving to renew their licenses.  6 hours would be standard for everyone and would be certain to cover new regulations. Two hours would include the folowing options: young drivers, aging drivers, commuters, and parents of new drivers. Young drivers and aging drivers would have to renew every 2 years.  Cosmotologists are required to get periodic training and they don’t often kill.  Thousands are maimed or killed on our roads.  Periodic training will make a significant difference.

  • W. D. (Bill) Hamm says:

    January 11, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Lot of fixed attitude, “Left Brain”, emotional connection going on here. It also really demonstrates the willingness of the few to hold power over the many. Many of you here really need to take a look at Insurance Co. statistical data and see why bluetooth and other handsfree devces are being allowed. If you really want to talk distracted drivers and serious multi-tasking problems, look inside a state patrol car with it’s onboard computer. It’s allright for them but not us? Temper your emotions with some reality like our legislators are going to have to do.

  • Eric Wagner says:

    January 11, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    Interesting that us “liberals” as you state have our head in the clouds and don’t have jobs.  Is your child’s, wife’s, mother’s, life worth the time you take to make that all important sales call and the chance you are taking risking other drivers lives?  I suppose the speed limit is something that is irrelevant given the need to get to your client’s meeting, afterall that’s just more government regulation getting in the way.  What is the cost if you don’t make it to that meeting at all? How about if you are indeed running late pulling over and calling that client directly to better facilitate the needs of your client without the distraction of driving?

  • Schmo says:

    January 11, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    gimme a break. what about all the old fashioned distracted driving.  Hitting the kids in the backseat (just kidding), putting the bottle back in the babies mouth, eating, changing the radio station.  Its dubious that any of the many versions of distracted driving that have existed forever are any worse.  Bottom line, we are distracted drivers some of the time no matter what.  How about passing a ban on all the billboards and electric signs that jump out at you?  That would be a good idea no matter what! 

    But, this is really stupid.  I have seen plenty of cops doing all the texting in the world on their phones while in their cars.  You what is dumb about the texting ban?  How do you know if I was texting or just searching for a contact to make a call (which is still legal)?

    The benefits of cell phones way out weighs the negatives.

  • Norm says:

    January 11, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    Can’t say I can agree with Mr. Hamm.  I commute into St. Paul on 35E every day.  If somebody is going slow in the left lane and/or wondering across the lines, or changing lanes without looking or tailgating close enough to touch, it is almost always somebody with a phone in their ear.  Wireless options may help but there are too many who don’t have or use them.

  • Mike Downing says:

    January 11, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    Bill: Is this left brain “tongue in cheek” just for me? grin

  • W. D. (Bill) Hamm says:

    January 11, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    Couldn’t help it Mike, my last comment never got through on last weeks site.

  • Ginny says:

    January 11, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    What kind of training is needed to tell drivers not to use their cell phones?

  • Ginny says:

    January 11, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    What’s extreme about saving lives?

  • Ginny says:

    January 11, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    What a hostile world you must live in—not to mention bleak: “Must we make war on yet another segment of society? Must we again find ways to pit neighbor against neighbor? Must you of the educated elite do everything possible to divide our house to help you hold on to power.”

    I hadn’t noticed that the “educated elite” are holding all the power in society. If that’s the case, why am I not rich?
    Maybe you’d be less hostile if you went back to school and became one of the educated elite for the sole purpose of wielding power over others. 


  • W. D. (Bill) Hamm says:

    January 11, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    Micheal Hindin, what is this “wiper law” I may be violating, help me I do need educating on this one. I go through a 2 hour defensive driving course every year sponsored by Insurance Companies. That I would support, please don’t suggest we turn that task over to the state.

  • Michael Hindin says:

    January 12, 2011 at 10:05 am

    The “wiper law” requires drivers to turn on headlights & tail lights whenever they use their windshield wipers.  Professional drivers use their full lights at all times to be very visible to other drivers. Motor cyclists have cut their losses this way.  Observe ahead and in your mirror under varied lighting conditions, car colors and backgrounds including low angle bright sun.  Headlights will always appear first. 
    Even if I screw up, you may have an opportunity to prevent a collision, if you see me. I do not want to meet you this way!

    There are plenty of good non governmental organizations like the MN Safety Council that provide safety training.  Community Ed programs could also provide facilities and qualified instructors.

  • W. D. (Bill) Hamm says:

    January 12, 2011 at 10:15 am

    Ginny, as an obvious DFLer it is a shame you apparently don’t attend the caucus process. You seem so unclear about the amount of power weilded by your White Collar associates within that structure. You should also be clearly aware of how out of touch they are by this years Gubenatorial election where the Parties endorsed Candidate was severly beaten by Mark Dayton. Yes, power hungry elitist is proper terminology.

  • W. D. (Bill) Hamm says:

    January 12, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Thanks Micheal, that is what I suspected it was about but you had me a little paranoid for a while there that someone had slipped something new in.

  • Gary Lee says:

    January 12, 2011 at 10:26 am

    The idea of a refresher driving course is a good one, particularly for older drivers like myself.  There is the question of who will provide these, and who will pay for these.  Some insurance companies might be willing to provide this, sensibly thinking they are avoiding casualty losses by insuring more skillful and careful drivers.  Not all insurance companies do this.  I’ve had numerous insurers over the years, and I don’t recall any of them offering such a service.  So here’s an idea.  Insurance companies, private educators, and any other capable organization is able to give such courses, providing they meet reasonable certification requirements as far as content and instructors.  In turn, the state supplies two things, an alternative set of courses for those whose insurer does not supply them, and an incentive of some sort for those who take the courses.  This could be a tax credit, or perhaps a requirement for older drivers (as is already being done in some states) for periodic retesting which can be satisfied in whole or in part by taking the driving skills course.

    If such a thing were offered I would suggest they pattern it after the motorcycle beginners’ safety courses.  In those courses they spend a great deal of time on one important topic, just how dangerous it is to ride a motorcycle.  Cars are also dangerous to drive.  That seems to be a knowledge component which escapes many automobile drivers.  Driving is inherently dangerous, both to yourself and to others.  You can get killed doing this, and you can kill other people.  And it requires constant attention.  All of which we all know, but for some reason so many of us seem able to forget when it is inconvenient.

    I remember “Signal 30” from drivers’ ed.  There are more recent versions, including some excellent ones on YouTube.  If more people were reminded more often that this really is a life and death matter, perhaps there would not be so many lives destroyed and lost.

  • Sheila Rausch says:

    January 12, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Yes, cell phone and other distracting devices should be forbidden to drivers. We do not need to TALK all the time.

  • Mike Downing says:

    January 12, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Oh yes, let us ban cell phones, radios, CD players, navigation systems, iPods and passengers in cars! Let’s go a step further and hook people up to EEG monitors and electroshock them if the think of anything other than the task of driving! 
    Common sense tells you there is no risk free utopia.

  • Michael Hindin says:

    January 12, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    This is not about “risk free utopia.” We each have a responsibility to manage our own personal risk and a community obligation to manage risk.  Even folks who say “when your time is up, you time is up” don’t believe it enough to play in the middle lane of 494 in rush hour.  When over 30,000 lives are lost yearly on the road, we have a personal and community obligation to better manage the risks to reduce the losses to families, communities and businesses. I believe that is why this discussion was started.  We may not agree on how, but all suggestions should be respected as good faith contributions to the discussion.  Snide comments are not useful, but reflect badly on the source.

  • Ginny says:

    January 12, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    This is not a serious answer. It is a formula—setting up a straw man (or woman) by exaggerating the issue and then knocking it down. It’s a favorite among some commenters and doesn’t really deserve your attempt to set the commenter straight, especially since most are loath to leave their single minded ideology where government is the enemy.

  • Ginny says:

    January 13, 2011 at 10:49 am

    My father was a long-distance over-the-road truck driver, and he always
    said, “Turning on your lights is the cheapest insurance you can buy.”
    Still I see many truck drivers now, presumably professionals, who don’t
    turn on their lights. I can’t figure out why people DON’T turn on their

  • W. D. (Bill) Hamm says:

    January 13, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Ginny, if you must mandate at someone mandate the rest of the Auto companies to do what motorcycle manufacturers have done for many years. My Subaru has automatic light on. So much for the lights issue, let’s examine doing the same thing with cell phone use in cars. The technology is allready there and this has been put out as an option. It is much more prefferable to me than criminalizing people over minor items. Cell phone use, especially with Bluetooth, is not our biggest accident problem as the insurance institute will tell you. Way to much left brain emotionalism here.

  • Mike Downing says:

    January 13, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Bill, I think you mean Right Brain emotionalism. grin

  • Mike Downing says:

    January 13, 2011 at 1:17 pm


    It’s because too many people lack common sense.

    I have my cars set to headlights on all the time I drive. It just makes sense to do so.

  • W. D. (Bill) Hamm says:

    January 13, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    I hummbly accept your correction Mike. I tend to relate it to Left wing feminism, my mistake.

  • Riordan Frost says:

    January 14, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Thank you all for the comments! In case you have doubts about the dangers of distracted driving, especially text messaging, check out this video

    Happy Friday!

  • Jim says:

    July 27, 2011 at 11:24 am

    I am under the impression and belief that countries that are free are not under the oppression of those who are above them. This oppression is usually defined in terms of an all too watchful government followed by punishments from those who are the watchers, namely the government. Many governments become oppressors by the consent of their people, usually under the idea of safety. Soon, if the people don’t keep a wary eye, they will find themselves being watched and punished everywhere they go and everything that they do. This is where we are in terms of cd players in cars, fast food in our laps, and even cell phones.
    It can all be considered a psychological game, and just know that governments have the best of the best of the best psychologists and emotional persuaders in their chain of command. People can be manipulated very easily if one of the dominos of their existence is toppled. Then the other dominos follow suit. This is where we are with the privacy of the inside of our cars. It’s doubtful that anyone would disagree that texting in cars is a safety issue. I, for one, will admit that I have texted while driving and will concede that this is a very dangerous maneuver. But I will stop there. I will not go along with the idea that talking on cell phones is as dangerous, or talking to the passenger, or the person in the back seat, or eating a cheeseburger, or listening to a cd. Sure these things could be considered dangerous, just as dangerous as walking across the road when there’s no crosswalk within 5 miles, or mountain climbing, or taking a shower without the rough stickers on the bottom of the tub to keep us from slipping. In this life we have our dangers.
    In this life we try to cross out the most imminent dangers and leave the rest to the citizenry, otherwise we end up with an intrusive government. We definitely don’t want a government putting cameras in our homes making sure we are treating our children right of putting stickers in the bottom of our bath tubs, or turning our heater on in our cars, oops I meant playing with the radio dial. 
    For government leaders that are reading this, here is a good way to get into our homes. Start a mass propaganda effort about how child abuse is on the rise. You could put pictures of dead kids, and beat up kids on billboards and on the news and even on the front pages of magazines. Then have news anchors and talk radio say “should government be allowed to put cameras in our homes to protect children?” And everyone will go “awww, poor kids, why would anyone not want to protect the children? We don’t mind if you come into our homes. Those people that don’t want to protect the children are the “bad” ones”. So they put cameras in your house and the dominos fall. They make their way into your bathroom to “watch for your safety” because after all we want to make sure that everyone has those rough stickers in the bottom of their bathtubs. The dominos fall, and all it takes is one big domino to creek, and bend, and “timber!!!!!!!!” the rest will follow.
    This is where we are with cd’s in our cars. No one doubts that texting and driving is dangerous, but cd’s, 8 tracks, cassette players, and radios have been in our cars for 70 years. This has never been a problem, even when cars were much more unsafe and highway fatalities were astronomical. Governments are trying to get inside our automobiles, soon the cameras will come and once they get in your car they will get inside your head, and then it’s Game Over. It’s the same system that it has always been and always will be, and as long as they can get 30-40% of the population to go along with it, get ready to see more of the dominos of freedom and decency come tumbling down.
    Don’t mountain climb, don’t cook hot food, don’t go skiing or intertubing on the river, don’t eat meat cause you might choke, don’t cary nail clippers on planes, don’t go out of your house it’s just too unsafe…....ect.