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Author Topic: Should Cell Phones be Outlawed on the Road
KnightEnder
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I love my BlackBerry and am on it, mostly to Stacy most of the time I'm on the road. But almost every time I see a non-foreign woman driving badly the person has a cell phone in their hand.

And I've even looked up and found that I'm driving badly or too slowly in the fast lane because I was focused on the phone.

What to do? I love my phone, but it is dangerous and causes us hours of traffic hours. (They've proven every person that makes a traffic slow down or mistake causes hours of delays. Something like close to 500 hours a year apiece. And don't get me started on teenagers who can't drive for **** anyway.

quote:
Science Confirms the Obvious: Cell Phones Distract Drivers
Brain imaging study shows that drivers engaged in cellphone conversations, hands-free or otherwise, are more prone to accidents and driving violations
By Laura Allen Posted 03.06.2008 at 4:03 pm 0 Comments
Neuroscientists have proven yet again that using a cell phone impairs ones ability to stick to the yellow line. The authors of the Carnegie Mellon University study, which is upcoming in the journal Brain Research, admit that multitasking in this way intuitively seems dangerous—then go on to list 23 behavioral studies that prove even hands-free devices affect driving performance. So whats the big news?

[ Read Full Story ]
READ MORE ABOUT > brain imaging, Laura Allen, neuroscience, Science Confirms the Obvious

What to do? Even hands free doesn't help. Though it's better than texting. Ever try that? That is just stupid.

KE

[ November 22, 2008, 03:52 PM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]

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G2
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There are already laws for driving poorly. Weaving, too slow in fast lanes, speeding, failure to yield, etc. Just enforce those. If someone's doing it, for whatever reason, pull them over and give them a warning or a ticket. Crappy drivers will always find a reason to be distracted. Singing along to their favorite song, putting on makeup while they drive, reading a map, eating or drinking.

We can't anticipate every little thing these people might do that's distracting but we can anticipate the effects - poor driving. There's already a lot of laws out there for this so let's just get better enforcement.

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TomDavidson
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In almost every civilized region, talking on a cell phone while driving is already illegal.
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KnightEnder
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Hey, was that a crack at Texas?

KE

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TomDavidson
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Yes.
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TommySama
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It's legal in the Twin Cities if you're over 18. I don't really see how it is any worse than other forms of distracted driving, except that mostly everyone knows that driving and talking/texting is dangerous, so they have a guard up hopefully. So what G2 said.
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KnightEnder
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[LOL]
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Redskullvw
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http://www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/laws/cellphone_laws.html

If you consider places like California and New York to be civilized...

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Lina Inverse
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As long as we don't do like this guy.
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Michelle
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Yes! They should be outlawed! Even headsets are disrupted to a way a person cognitively functions behind the wheel.

But as far as cell-phones, I am so tired of pulling up to a stop-sign and having to decide to go first, because another person is too engrossed in a conversation to obey the road-rules, and take their turn in a timely fashion.

Also, after watching the recent HBO documentary on violence committed against women in the Congo, I am even more disgusted with our new modern *toys*. Most of the violence is caused by factions trying to control the resources that build our phones.

We should outlaw frivolity use every chance we get.

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cb
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We have the "click-it or ticket" in Washington where they devote days and nights at a time to looking specifically for people who are not buckled. We just recently made the use of cell phones a secondary offense. We started out with the secondary offense with seat belts and then it was eventually made a primary offense. This seems to be the progress of most seat-belt laws, and will probably be the progress of cell phone laws as well. The way I see it, it’s becoming easier and easier for the state to dictate behavior in the name of public safety. All the bru-ha-ha about civil rights infringement by The Dept of Homeland Security with wire-tapping while privacy rights are being infringed regularly by our legislators and police officers.

Did you know that mandatory seatbelt laws came into effect, not for the public good, but due to the combined pressure of the insurance companies and auto manufacturers to save them money? Read http://www.preventioninstitute.org/traffic_seatbelt.html to find out how our right to make personal choices concerning our private property has been infringed for nothing but the almighty dollar.

Wearing seatbelts and the use of car phones has been argued to be a public safety issue, but if PS were primary why isn’t there an equally strong crack down on drunk driving? Washington doesn’t have “drink it and lose it” days and nights advertised on billboards and TV (except for the holidays). Driving drunk is much more likely to cause an accident than driving while talking on cell phones, and yet drunken driving laws are notoriously lax. Why are we still allowed to have a radio in our cars? (http://www.car-accident-advice.com/cell-phone-car-accidents.html) Seems like cherry picking laws to me.

If the state can tell me what behavior is mandated in my car what’s to stop them from coming into my home next?
freedoms. My car is my private property, even though it is a moving vehicle. The same limitation that apply to entering private property should be applicable to the moving vehicle when matters of others safety aren't the paramount

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The Drake
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What about a conversation with someone in the car? Cell phones are no more distracting, and probably less distracting, than talking to/arguing with passengers. I agree with G2, if you cannot operate your vehicle safely, THAT is the problem... not what devices you may or may not be using.
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Michelle
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Drake, I'm not a neurologist nor a clinical brain specialist, but I have a daughter who suffers from schizophrenia. I have delved into brain functioning more than the lay person. You cannot operate a vehicle safely while trying to process another cognitive skill. When then rain gets hard, or the kid's get loud...don't you turn down the radio? That's automatic safety because you are trying to process things cognitively. But do you think the government is going to step in and encroached on one of the biggest grossing commodities on the market?

This is personal responsibility. Get off the damn phone.

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KonerAtHome
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Just about everyday I come across a driver who I call a complete idiot because they are driving down the interstate in the HOV lane going 10-15 mph slower than the "flow" of traffic while talking on their cell phone. While I think that they are idiots I don't think that their cell phone use should be criminal. Millions of people everyday drive down the road talking on their phones without causing accidents. I think it is wrong to criminalize them. I would rather that their unsafe actions, whether it be talking on the phone, eating french fries or changing the CD, be used as a factor in determining their responsibilty and liability for an accident when they do cause one.

This I think is a separate issue from the seat belt thing. There is an argument for making cell phone use illegal on public safety grounds because the unsafe act of talking on the phone while driving could directly impact other drivers, whereas driving without a seatbelt on only directly effects (we could talk about the indirect effects of causing others insurance rates to increase at lenght though)that individual. When does public safety trump individual freedom though? I'm not sure that it does. I believe, more and more as I think about it, that as individuals we should be free to chose for ourselves how we interact with those around us, and that when our actions actually DO effect others we should be held accountable for them.

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Michelle
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"While I think that they are idiots I don't think that their cell phone use should be criminal."

Oh, I so agree with that, Konner!
That's why I say this is about personal responsibility. Everything from inconveniencing the driver behind you, to the woman in the Congo getting raped and maimed so you can play with your phone, is deterrent enough.

There is no excuse to use your phone without thought or reason.

And for you that have never existed in a world without commuters or cell-phones~ it's not so bad.

There's much more mystery, much more suspense.

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TommySama
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Having slept with a girl from the Congo, I* am curious why driving poorly will result in her getting raped.
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Haggis
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A 2006 study concluded that the effects of talking on a cell phone while driving are comparable to the effects of alcohol, in terms of causing accidents.

quote:
If you consider places like California and New York to be civilized...
According to crime statistics, they are more civilized than say, Georgia...

[ November 23, 2008, 06:33 AM: Message edited by: Haggis ]

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hobsen
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California forbids the use of hand held cellphones, and I think drivers under 18 cannot use any kind.
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TommySama
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Haggis, so is being sleepy.
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RickyB
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Not be banned, but holding them should. There are these devices that allow you to talk hands free. People should use them when driving, if they must talk.
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Michelle
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quote:
Originally posted by TommySama:
Having slept with a girl from the Congo, I* am curious why driving poorly will result in her getting raped.

Oooh, bad-taste joke, even for you, Tommy. Someone should roll a newspaper up, swat, then rub your nose in that reply. [Eek!]

In the Congo the faction armies fight over the control of the resources that go into our phones.
Half a million women have already been tortured, mutilated, and raped as part of the campaign to gain control.

I had already commented that you cannot operate a vehicle safely while trying to process another cognitive skill. So people should stop talking on the phone while driving, or otherwise it should be outlawed. I would rather see the public make an effort to stop on their own.

I added the remarks about the Congo, because, it seems to me that if we all think about the price being paid, just for the freedom of whipping our our phones anytime we please, that we would in the very least, cut down on unnecessary usage. Talking on the phone while driving is unnecessary, as well as dangerous.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
If the state can tell me what behavior is mandated in my car what’s to stop them from coming into my home next?
I'm firmly opposed to seatbelt laws, but solidly in favor of anti-cell-phone laws. It's not exactly hard to buy a hands-free device.
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Michelle
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My problem with the hand-free systems is that it gives you a false sense of security. Holding the phone has little to do with the challenge of cognitively processing the information you are receiving, and that is what causes drivers to drive ten miles too slow, or pause in the middle of an intersection, or fail to obey traffic lights.
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TommySama
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"I added the remarks about the Congo, because, it seems to me that if we all think about the price being paid, just for the freedom of whipping our our phones anytime we please, that we would in the very least, cut down on unnecessary usage."

Why would we want to cut down on the usage if getting the phone comes at such a disastrous price? It seems to me you should use the crap out of these phones to make sure the suffering wasn't for nothing. What resources are you talking about? This kind of stuff has been going on for hundreds of years in the Congo, I don't really think cutting down on cellphone use is going to stop the battle for a country with so many useful resources.

And seriously, I slept with a girl from Congo, and was curious why talking on the phone while driving was going to get her raped. (Her parents studied were the first people to study these nasty deer looking things.)

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FiredrakeRAGE
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Michelle,

I would argue that if you're in a dangerous situation and you're driving with one hand, you're driving in an ineffective manner. The problem with holding cell phones is that we do not want to drop them (ditto with coffee) - and therefore we hang on to them when we should be dropping them and putting both hands on the wheel. You can see this behavior when people do straight-line stops when trying to avoid a fixed obstacle. Driving around things is often a better method for avoiding collision.

That said, I am against laws against cell phones for several reasons:
1) It gives law enforcement an additional reason to stop otherwise law-abiding people.
2) If you cause an accident, you should pay the price. On the other hand, cell phones do not contribute any more than neon signs, poorly delineated road markers, kids in the back, etc.

As for the Congo... "finish your peas. There are starving kids in Africa that would love to have those peas." Poor argument - the scarcity of resources has always resulted in battle of some type. The Congo is FUBAR not because we're using the resources but because there is no structure in place to ensure that economic competition is used to determine who distributes those resources, rather than military force making that determination.

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Lina Inverse
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Hands-free phones are just as risky as cell phones.

We found that people are as impaired when they drive and talk on a cell phone as they are when they drive intoxicated at the legal blood-alcohol limit” of 0.08 percent, which is the minimum level that defines illegal drunken driving in most U.S. states, says study co-author Frank Drews, an assistant professor of psychology.

I vaguely remember reading somewhere that the reason why handheld devices are more dangerous than talking to a passenger in the car might be because someone in the car will also be reacting to whatever goes on on the road, whereas someone on the other end of the phone obviously won't be. I don't know if that was an informed opinion or some random blog comment, though.

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cb
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
If the state can tell me what behavior is mandated in my car what’s to stop them from coming into my home next?
I'm firmly opposed to seatbelt laws, but solidly in favor of anti-cell-phone laws. It's not exactly hard to buy a hands-free device.
Tom, I agree that buying a hands free device is easy enough; my question is why should I?

Someone mentioned in this thread that drinking coffee is a distraction. So is eating, putting make-up on, dealing with kids and playing with the radio. If the money that has been wasted on studying cell phone use was used to study these other distractions they'd probably find them to be equal in distractibility. Why aren't the states outlawing those other activities? Why only outlaw the use of cell phones?

Maybe the cell phone companies got on board with the insurance companies so as to be able to sell a whole new range of accommodations for hand free calling. I'm sure it has something to do with money...everything does.

All I know is I don't appreciate being told what I can and can't do in the privacy of my vehicle which is my private property. I agree with Koner, "When does public safety trump individual freedom...? "

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I don't appreciate being told what I can and can't do in the privacy of my vehicle which is my private property.
I'm pretty sure you can't drive naked. And I'm equally sure that you can legally talk on a cellphone while parked, or while in a passenger seat.

In other words, I don't think that automobiles automatically carry with them an assumption of privacy -- and, obviously, while they're operating on common roads, the behavior of the people in the vehicles is legislated as per their use of that common resource. You're required by law to stop at stop signs even though the car is your private property. Why do you think that is legal?

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The Drake
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People don't straight line stop because they don't have a hand free. It's because they are not trained to swerve. Mostly, that's a good thing, because sideswiping other cars isn't much better than hitting the object in the road in most cases.

The biggest problem with these laws is selective enforcement. One more excuse to pull over someone who "doesn't look right".

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cherrypoptart
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All I know is that whatever people are talking about that they think is more important than the added risk of getting into an accident, it isn't.

But what I'm talking about on my cell phone while driving is that important. Obviously. Or I wouldn't be putting everyone at risk doing it.

Having said that, I always use my speaker phone. Although, I ALWAYS use my speaker phone. Because of the EMFs. They give me a headache. Or give me hypochondria, one or the other though for sure.

But to seriously answer the question, I think it should be a locally decided issue. If local people and politicians think it's an important problem, they can ban it and see if that improves things. It's entirely possible that is IS a problem in some places, and not so much in others. I've got no problem with the laws really, except maybe knowing where they apply and where they don't.

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Stevarooni
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I say we should prosecute behavior, not inanimate objects. Cell phones, bowls of soup, radios, rear-seat passengers, crocheting gear, etc. is not the cause of bad driving, but rather a symptom of it. If someone can drive with a cell phone in-hand, or while basting a turkey, that's the point. I've known people who shouldn't be on the road without blinders.
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cb
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quote:
Originally posted by Stevarooni:
I say we should prosecute behavior, not inanimate objects. Cell phones, bowls of soup, radios, rear-seat passengers, crocheting gear, etc. is not the cause of bad driving, but rather a symptom of it. If someone can drive with a cell phone in-hand, or while basting a turkey, that's the point. I've known people who shouldn't be on the road without blinders.

[LOL]

Agreed. Prosecute behavior, don't outlaw behavior. What else will be outlawed if we as a people simply accept the idea that it is the state's responsibility to protect us from ourselves. What about extreme sports? What about mountain climbing? What about Nascar? A lot of danger involved with those activities. Next thing you know they'll want to take our means of protecting ourselves (guns) away from us, for our own protection. [Razz]

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cherrypoptart
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I'll have to respectfully beg to differ. The libertarian argument might be that we can just punish these cell phone abusers after they crash into someone. We might do the same thing with drunk drivers too. Or drug abusers. Just prosecute them after they recklessly kill or maim someone in an accident. They can have their license revoked, maybe even go to jail for a long time. If they ever get any money, they can give some percentage of it to the families. That settles that. Right?

Well, not quite.

A better alternative would be that the killed or maimed person never got that way in the first place. That the reckless person was pulled over by the police and taken off the road before the accident took place. The person might exhibit symptoms that leads the police to pull them over, like reckless driving, but then again they might not until right when they crash.

So while I can appreciate the argument for waiting until after something bad happens to take action to prevent punishing people who can be more responsible while on the edge, I'm also sympathetic to the idea that punishing people after the fact does no good for the innocent victims, and that preventive measures have their place too.

That's why I'm not a libertarian. I see the connectivity of so many things which at first seem unrelated. But I do favor a somewhat more balanced approach than the complete nanny state.

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RickyB
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" Holding the phone has little to do with the challenge of cognitively processing the information you are receiving, and that is what causes drivers to drive ten miles too slow, or pause in the middle of an intersection, or fail to obey traffic lights."

I could be wrong, but I disagree. I instinctively slow down when my grip on the wheel (or handlebars in my case) feels anything less than firm. Plus, holding anything in one hand reduces most people's control of the wheel. Hands free is like talking to someone in the car.

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Stevarooni
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quote:
Originally posted by cherrypoptart:
A better alternative would be that the killed or maimed person never got that way in the first place.

I respectfully disagree with your use of the word "better". Safer would be correct, but safety must be balanced against other factors. It would be safer not to have distractions in a car like dome lights that work while the car is in gear, or radios (even traffic/weather reports can be distractions...especially tuning a radio whilst one should rightfully be focused on driving). I get your point, too, cherrypoptart, but I don't demand as much safety as you do.
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Lina Inverse
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quote:
Originally posted by RickyB:
" Holding the phone has little to do with the challenge of cognitively processing the information you are receiving, and that is what causes drivers to drive ten miles too slow, or pause in the middle of an intersection, or fail to obey traffic lights."

I could be wrong, but I disagree. I instinctively slow down when my grip on the wheel (or handlebars in my case) feels anything less than firm. Plus, holding anything in one hand reduces most people's control of the wheel. Hands free is like talking to someone in the car.

In the article I linked to, studies (not only that one, but previous studies as well) found no difference between the impairment caused by driving with a cell phone vs. driving with a hands-free phone. If they cause equal impairment, I don't see the rationale for banning one and allowing the other.
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Michelle
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People who try to multi-task cognitively or at a disadvantage. You don't have to think about sipping coffee or tuning out the radio. If it starts raining hard, driving becomes even more of a cognitive abilities. So you do, (usually) turn-down the radio, or cease to pay attention to the conversation in the car.

Reading is a cognitive skill. If you are unable to concentrate, you could read a paragraph of your book and not process what it says. But you could concentrate on reading and do a lower-functioning skill like drinking coffee at the same time, while giving your attention to the book, but most people cannot have a conversation while reading, right? Both skills, require processing of information using cognitive skills. You can't ask your brain to process both driving and a phone-conversation equally without consequences.

Drive a car? People can barely walk across the street properly while talking on the phone.

Cell phones, and especially headsets add the extra hazard of interrupting brainwaves because of the transmission, and from what I have read, headsets have more of an effect on brainwaves. The effects can last for up to a half hour after the conversation ends.

[ November 24, 2008, 06:45 PM: Message edited by: Michelle ]

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scifibum
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Posted by Michelle:
quote:
Cell phones, and especially headsets add the extra hazard of interrupting brainwaves because of the transmission, and from what I have read, headsets have more of an effect on brainwaves. The effects can last for up to a half hour after the conversation ends.
Michelle, are you talking about this?

quote:
Loughan, a PhD student at Swinburne University's Brain Sciences Institute in Melbourne, said the results show that there was an increase in brain wave activity in the first part of non-rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, following mobile phone exposure.
<snip>
Loughran said the most interesting finding was that the effect of mobile phone radiation on brain waves was noticeable even 30 to 40 minutes after the handset had been turned off.

Here's a more recent update that references a second study.

The findings are interesting, but I don't see how they could be construed as demonstrating additional hazard.

I think what people need to do is concentrate on driving safely, and recognize when conditions permit some spare cognitive cycles and when they do not. On miles of straight rural interstate, talking on the phone might actually make things safer, since it might reduce the chances of so-called highway hypnosis. In crowded urban traffic where a driver has to be aware of and react to several other cars at once, they probably can't spare much attention for the phone - although I've certainly seen situations where in-car conversations are paused while a driver negotiates a traffic situation. The same thing can be done on a hands-free phone call, if the driver is willing to relegate the call to a lower priority.

(I'd be interested to see whether the driving simulations that demonstrate impairment from talking on the phone required continuous concentration on the phone conversation or if they allowed drivers to pause or stop paying attention while they handled the driving tasks.)

Edit: the second study discussed in the Scientific American article says that a specific brain wave was depressed for an hour after the phone shut off, and that this was associated with delayed sleep.

I really wonder if the study controlled for whether the participants were mobile phone users. What if the brain isn't affected by cell phone radiation so much as adapted to it somehow? In other words, what if the cognitive effort of talking on the phone somehow becomes linked to the brain's physiological detection of the additional EM radiation, such that the brain adapts to the presence of the EM radiation by maintaining a mental state appropriate to conversation (preventing a sleepy state)? I realize that's a wild speculation...but there might be a sci-fi story in that: the brain's unconscious adaptations to EM radiation. Perhaps I'll write something up for submission to IGMS. [Wink]

[ November 24, 2008, 07:09 PM: Message edited by: scifibum ]

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cb
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Michelle you aren't addressing the fact the cell phone is no more distracting than having a baby crying in the backseat at the top of his lungs. Why aren't there laws against driving with infants? Tell me you can't see that cell phones have been made into a boogie.

Mandatory seatbelt usage became almost universal because of high powered insurance companies and auto makers joining ranks to save themselves money. It had very little to do with the public good. I imagine the boogie of cell phone usage has the same kind of source.

I'll state again, when the police and the judges treat driving impaired with the seriousness they should, then I will be willing for them to add another "impairment" to the list.

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FiredrakeRAGE
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What about passengers in the car? Perhaps we should ban passengers? Or maybe make them wear a cloth bag over their heads? [Smile] For the safety of the Children, of course. We should also ban being over 40 - reactions start to really be affected around that age.

Or, alternately, we could relax with the nanny-stateism, and get over it.

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