Well it was a while ago, but that doesn't make The Press's enthusiam for a ban on the use of cellphones in cars any more forgivable. The proposed cellphone ban is not a 'Good Start'
According to the Government, the number of reported motor-vehicle crashes involving the use of cellphones has more than doubled in the last six years. Between 2002 and 2007, the use of cellphones and the like was a factor in 411 injury crashes and 26 fatal crashes.
Cellphone use has no doubt doubled (at least) in that time. Put another way, I believe that crashes involving the use of coffee have more than doubled in the last 6 years. Coffee is clearly dangerous, or do we just drink more of it when driving?
Research also indicates that using a mobile phone while driving increases the risk of being involved in a crash by up to four times.
Just having someone else in the car will do that. Listening to National Radio is likely to induce suicidal behaviour but we don't ban that.
A ban on the use of hand-held devices will not be a cure-all.
That's a shame - my terminal cancer will have to wait a few weeks perhaps?
Their use is only part of the overall problem of driver distraction, which was identified in 2006 as a contributing factor in 11 per cent of all road vehicle crashes.
Another important factor is our crappy roads, which are not suitable for the traffic volumes on them, and urgently need upgrading in many many areas.
Indeed, official resistance to a ban on cellphones was based on the idea that enforcement should focus on the wider issue rather than cellphones alone.
Fair enough too.
Cellphone use is such a highly visible, plainly dangerous activity that targeting it directly sends a clear road-safety message to drivers. Specific messages are more effective than general ones.
Within reason, it is not plainly dangerous to speak on the phone while driving. I do it all the time. In fact, when I get in the car, often my first thought is 'who can I call?' It is an efficient use of time. Admittedly I did put a car kit in the car, but my new cellphone doesn't work with it and I haven't felt rich enough to change it yet. I do have a hands free headset which I often use, particularly for longer calls, but not always.
In any case, the headset does not remove the distraction. The distraction is caused by having to speak to someone, and is the same even when speaking to someone else in the car. The problem is not the hand holding the phone, but the speaking.
Anyway, holding a phone to your ear for a long time in a car will give you a sore elbow. That's a natural indication that it is a bad idea.
It can be expected that with a focus on a clear example of a hazardous practice, the lesson that drivers must always use care and attention will be reinforced.
Should we ban people from driving after being fired from their jobs? How about after an argument with their dog? What about after being told that they have 6 months to live? I think it should be illegal to eat Burger King burgers while driving, but MacDonalds should be ok. Get a grip, guys.
The speedo is another huge distraction. In recent years I spend perhaps 20% of my time watching the speedo as I drive. Perhaps we should get this removed. It is clearly dangerous. I expect that a good proportion of accidents involved drivers watching the speedo too closely.