“Hang Up So I Can Write You A Ticket”

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4 Responses

  1. TJ says:

    I think you should clarify the problems with banning hands-free devices go a lot further than “enforcement problems.” The more basic problem is that very few people think that hands-free devices are dangerous, or so dangerous as to outweigh the cost of being disconnected while behind the wheel (which for some people can be several hours a day).

  2. Dave says:

    It’s got to be true that talking on a hands-free device is also dangerous, but is it as dangerous as talking on the phone itself? Instinctively, I’d suspect that the latter is much more dangerous because it limits physical dexterity as well as concentration.

    That said, there are at least three reasons why campaigns might do well to focus on cellphone talking, while not emphasizing the risks of hands-free devices:

    1. Hands-free devices, while somewhat unsafe, are much safer than standard cellphones, so encouraging their use is still a meaningful net improvement (not sure if the evidence supports this).

    2. Phone use of any sort is so pervasive that an incrementalist strategy will be more effective. “Talk in your car, but only on a hands-free device” is a much easier behavior change to implement than “No cellphone use in cars, period.”

    3. Enforcement of hands-free cellphone use in cars is well-nigh impossible. Hell, much of what we do in cars is unsafe–rocking out to the radio, having in-person conversations, etc. In a perfect world, we’d just concentrate on driving, and all would be well. But in the imperfect world we live in, small changes like the current spate of cellphone restrictions may be the best short-term option.

  3. ParatrooperJJ says:

    It would be nice if the laws were applied equally, most of these anticellphone laws exempt police.

  4. Ken says:

    The author’s post contains an “all or nothing” point of view, which is particularly risky in attempting to influence people, because it tends to engender the “nothing” response.

    Yes, talking on the phone is dangerous. But c’mon now:

    >>Ample research has demonstrated that driving while talking on a hands-free device is also unsafe. … the ban on hand-held cell phones has pushed people to substitute one dangerous behavior for another.>>

    The cited prior link presented data that showed the first sentence to be true, but no data to enable us to evaluate the relative amount of danger, which is a key element of the second sentence. “Substitute one dangerous behavior for another?” Don’t we need to know the degree of danger of each to assess that statement?

    I should think that encouraging a less dangerous substitute behavior would be a good thing, especially if the alternative–banning both behaviors–has a small chance of success.