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Friday, September 7, 2007

A Law After My Own Heart

posted by on September 7 at 10:04 AM

All men have secrets and here is mine, so let it be known: People who gab on cell phones while driving make me want to kill. If I had a penny for every time I saw a cell-phone gabber attempting a ridiculous left turn, I could buy a nice semi-automatic weapon and shoot them all. Instead, I’ll just take consolation from the U.K., where lawmakers have passed legislation punishing cell-phone drivers with two years in jail. Full story here.

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Two years in jail? Huh. Um. Okay. Whatever.

Posted by Mr. Poe | September 7, 2007 10:07 AM

What's the penalty for talking to the passenger in the passenger seat?

Posted by duncan | September 7, 2007 10:09 AM

Two years is a tad bit excessive. I think one would learn their lesson after a week in jail. Or even a night!

Posted by Rye | September 7, 2007 10:11 AM

Yeah, clearly the excessive punishment is meant as a deterrent, not as a maneuver to pack U.K. prisons with irresponsible drivers...

Posted by David Schmader | September 7, 2007 10:13 AM

I have been through hell and high tide. I feel I can rely on you.

Can we organize a Smiths Singing Bee contest? I'm a little fuzzy on the line after this though.

Posted by left coast | September 7, 2007 10:19 AM

And yet you start to recoil, heavy words are so lightly thrown.

Posted by kid icarus | September 7, 2007 10:23 AM

That's utterly ridiculous. The ECHR should strike this down as excessive fairly quickly.

Posted by Gitai | September 7, 2007 10:24 AM

Wait, didn't using a handheld cellie while driving just become illegal in WA state?

Posted by MyDogBen | September 7, 2007 10:27 AM

Cell phones are just a scapegoat. Seattle drivers are completely oblivious to what's going on around the, whether they're on a cell phone or not.

Posted by Orv | September 7, 2007 10:33 AM


If you HAVE to talk on the phone while driving then GET A FUCKING HANDS FREE DEVICE!

And if you absolutely HAVE to have a phone conversation while driving you sure as fuck need to make driving the priority.

Posted by monkey | September 7, 2007 10:43 AM

The problem is that studies (I'm dimly recalling an article in New Yorker from 9-10 years ago) state that the 6x increase in accidents you see with handheld cell phones is due to trying to talk and drive at the same time. So you see the 6x with handsfree cell phones or conversations with passengers.

So this law, and other laws punishing drivers with cells, is 100% steaming piles of bullshit.

But I should stop texting slog posts from my phone while driving. That *is* a bad idea.

Posted by Big Sven | September 7, 2007 10:44 AM

My question is: What (or where) is the urgency? What took the cell phone's place ten years ago? Seattle drivers are congenitally self-absorbed, but using cell phones while driving is tantamount to having an Abu Gharaib bag over your head. Drivers who cause cell phone-attributed accidents should be jerked out of their cars and set afire.

Posted by Plus: Ernestine Disapproves | September 7, 2007 10:46 AM

But I'm still fond of you, aha-how. I'm on sacred ground, ohhh-oh, awhahaha.

I can really hit those high notes. I'm impressed kid icarus. I've listened to that song a thousand times at least and thought it was "and yet you start to recall that words are so lightly thrown", but that never made much sense.

Posted by left coast | September 7, 2007 10:47 AM

You are a sane and reasonable man, Mr. Schmader. If you ever decide to actually start killing them, I will be glad to help you.

Anyone who is rationalizing cell-phone use in cars is just plain full of shit. Your crappy driving just gets worse and worse. I have near-encounters with hands-full drivers EVERY GODDAMN DAY.

Posted by Fnarf | September 7, 2007 10:48 AM

I just don't understand why we should single out cell phones, when they're demonstrably no worse than other distractions. Why not also ban driving while arguing with a passenger, driving while reading the paper, driving while applying makeup, or driving while eating? (I've seen people driving erratically while doing all of these things.)

Posted by Orv | September 7, 2007 10:51 AM

@ 9 & 15: Sounds like Orv uses a cell phone while driving. Or putting on makeup. Or both.

Posted by JUST SAYIN' | September 7, 2007 11:02 AM

Banning cell phones is only a start, we still have to teach people how to drive: The other day some asshole who didn't realize I had no stop sign, yelled at me for being on the phone, which I was, yet fully aware of the fact that I had the right of way. He was all mad because I took my right of way in front of him. I'm sure he went home and vented about me to his wife, and maybe on craigslist. Yet, he was the one not paying close enough attention.

Can I be the one to teach them how to drive, and only allow those who pass to get licenses? Please?

Posted by Tizzle | September 7, 2007 11:04 AM

Thanks, left coast! I too have listened to that song a thousand times, and now I'm going to have it stuck in my head all day. Damn you Schmader!

Posted by kid icarus | September 7, 2007 11:08 AM

@16: I'm just sayin', if you want to ban distracted driving, ban distracted driving. Don't single out one form of distraction just because you think it's gauche. I think the real reason for this is there's still a lingering resentment of cell phones from the time when only rich pricks could afford them.

Posted by Orv | September 7, 2007 11:21 AM

@15: reckless driving is already banned, so to speak. but sometimes a particular act is so bad and becomes so common that you take preventative measures.

that said, i'd rather not have cops have to pull over anyone with a cell phone. and would we really want a police priority to be bad driving. yesterday, i was behind two bad drivers. the first one: cell phone. the second: sandwich.

Posted by infrequent | September 7, 2007 11:25 AM

Here's an interesting study and an interesting website.

Phone conversations have been shown to cause a cognitive distraction in drivers. In other words, the driver's brain is intensely engaged with the conversation, although he may appear to be paying attention to the road. This does not happen with other common distractions, including conversations with passengers. Research has shown that phone conversations cause what is termed "tunnel vision" in drivers. Although they appear to be looking at objects, their brains are not registering a good portion of what they see. Therefore, a driver is impaired for the entire length of the phone conversation.
Posted by keshmeshi | September 7, 2007 11:26 AM

Just ban driving altogether. Good for the environment or something... cuz you never know what will distract you in the car. For example, yesteday, Im driving along and notice a huge spider on the ceiling of the car -definitely, nearly rear-ended the car in front of me trying to get it out! get it out!

Posted by eloise | September 7, 2007 11:30 AM

Bitches PLEASE- I've never been in an accident, and I've been known to talk on the phone, smoking a ciggie and eating a three course meal, all while putting on my pants. On the freeway going 90.


Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | September 7, 2007 11:34 AM

@22: i think we can all agree that spiders shouldn't be allowed in automobiles. it should be illegal for them to enter at any time.

Posted by infrequent | September 7, 2007 12:08 PM

I've had numerous near-misses as a pedestrian walking across the street as an idiot on their cell phone goes speeding through the stop sign or stop light...happily gabbing away, never noticing for a second that I (or anybody else) was less than six feet from a 30mph (or more) impact with their car.

Posted by BallardDan | September 7, 2007 12:13 PM

lets draft that legislation!!!

Posted by eloise | September 7, 2007 12:25 PM

@25: I think there's an element of confirmation bias, here. When some idiot almost hits you, you think, "oh, some random idiot" and dismiss it. When some idiot talking on a cell phone almost hits you, you think, "damn cell phone users!" and add it to your mental tally.

Posted by Orv | September 7, 2007 12:47 PM

ORV (cell phone company apologist),

thanks. But you're wrong.

It's just been too damned many times, and too many very close calls to suit your theory.

Nice try, though.

Posted by BallardDan | September 7, 2007 12:51 PM

I'm not apologizing for the cell phone companies. Just wondering why everyone mentally singles out cell phone users while giving every other kind of distracted driver a pass.

Posted by Orv | September 7, 2007 12:57 PM


I apologize.

I've failed to see who the real victims are here.

It's not the people who are nearly run over by idiots talking on their cell phones. No.

It's the cell phone users who are being scapegoated and turned into a new victim class.

My apologies.

And I won't complain the next time one of these victims runs over my foot, as that would only be blaming the victim.

Posted by BallardDan | September 7, 2007 1:13 PM

I already suggested in an earlier comment that distracted driving of all kinds should be a crime. That obviously includes cell phone users. For some reason this makes me a cell phone apologist?

Posted by Orv | September 7, 2007 1:26 PM

From #31: I already suggested in an earlier comment that distracted driving of all kinds should be a crime.

From #9: Seattle drivers are completely oblivious to what's going on around the, whether they're on a cell phone or not.

According to you, would this make "Seattle drivers" criminals?

Posted by BallardDan | September 7, 2007 1:55 PM

@24 what about pit bulls in cars?

Posted by anna | September 7, 2007 1:58 PM

Well sure, everyone knows talking on the cell while driving gives you a little bit of the ol' tunnel vision. The best way to offset this effect is to take a few stiff shots of pure corn liquor before climbing behind the wheel and hitting speed dial.

Posted by flamingbanjo | September 7, 2007 3:00 PM

Absolutely no cougars in cars. REEEKEY BOOOBY.

Posted by left coast | September 7, 2007 3:05 PM

Just finished a lap around Green Lake on the bike and was nearly run into by a woman pushing a baby carriage, leading her pit bull on a leash and babbling on her cell phone. So terrifying and humbling was this that I then and there coined the word: SELFPHONYACK (sounds like cell-phone-iac). Twice passed the University Bridge fatal accident site - two hours apart - and traffic is still congested there. Drivers: please look RIGHT AND LEFT before you turn, and if you're a Selfphonyack, please limit your practice of that religion to some sort of sound-proofed confession booth.

Posted by KY. COL. of TRUTH | September 7, 2007 7:18 PM

driving while eating?

Already happened in the sunny UK. Woman charged with ( I think) dangerous driving as she was eating an apple at the wheel.

Posted by Boz | September 10, 2007 9:08 AM

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