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What's Worse Than Those Asshats Driving One-Handed While Yammering Into Their Cellphones?
Asshats text-messaging while driving. New Jersey looks like it's about to be the second state to ban texting while driving. I saw my first episode of this insanity the other day on Broadway in Santa Monica. A car was going reeaaaallly slowly. Almost at a crawl. I honked. Nothing. I honked again. Same speed. Finally, I got up to the light at Lincoln and looked over. Some girl was text-messaging! I honked again and gave her the finger. Unfortunately, the light changed before I could photographically immortalize her endangering ass. And no, I don't photograph the offenders unless I'm stopped.

I did love this, from a USA Today story by Laura Bruno:

Research showing whether texting while driving causes accidents won't be available for a few years, said Charlie Klauer, senior researcher at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

Hey, time I'll videotape the girl, and you take a look and see for yourself. The way I see it, it looks like the next best thing to drinking while extremely intoxicated. For the record: I don't want you driving while watching a movie, writing a novel, applying mascara, holding a phone in one hand and the steering wheel in the other, or getting a blow job. And especially, please, not while giving one.

Oh yeah, here's the chickie who nearly rear-ended me on Lincoln last week while driving with one hand on the wheel, the other on her cell, and her head planted way too far up her ass.


And here's a little trick my friend Russ Baker taught me after I got rear-ended by a Cherokee on the Santa Monica Freeway -- and saw it coming, to my horror. If you think somebody behind you looks like they aren't paying attention, and is coming too fast -- wake them up by honking your horn. That's what I did this time, and maybe it's what kept me from getting my cute little car (and maybe more) smashed up.

Posted by aalkon at June 26, 2007 10:16 AM


Y'know, it's a $100 fine if you get caught talking on your cell phone while driving here in CT, and so many people still do it that there's been talk of raising the fine to $250. But who's going to pay it if the cops aren't pulling anyone over for it?? Sheesh.

Posted by: Flynne at June 26, 2007 6:18 AM

For me, it's moral issue, and I think a $100 fine for people who can afford Blackberries, etc. is chickenfeed. I think they'd be wiser to run PSAs showing why it's immoral to drive and text -- the cost in human life.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at June 26, 2007 6:23 AM

Flynne - you know why people are still doing it, and the cops aren't pulling anyone over for it?


Kinda hard to write a ticket for someone with a straight face when you're doing the same damn thing, and it doesn't matter that there's a loophole in the law to allow it. If a cop can do it, then dammit I can do it.

Posted by: brian at June 26, 2007 6:29 AM

There is good scientific evidence that talking on a cell phone while driving is at least the equivalent to driving impaired. You can find lots of supporting studies at the link below. The most surprising thing for most people is to learn that both hand held and hands free are equally dangerous. If you need to be on the phone pull over.

Posted by: Raymond at June 26, 2007 7:37 AM

As you can see from this website, the good ole USA is about the only country that doesn’t ban cell phone usage while driving.

Posted by: Roger at June 26, 2007 8:42 AM

I object to the idea of banning the use of cell phones on the basis that it just gives the cops permission to effect a search of your car for the mere reason of its movement.

What I would rather see is a law that imposes criminal sanction for causing an accident as a result of the driver's impairment.

Because otherwise we end up with a crapton of laws and new checkpoints for everything from applying makeup to reading the paper.

Posted by: brian at June 26, 2007 10:27 AM

But Brian, nobody should be reading the paper or applying makeup or eating watching a dvd or doing the crossword puzzle or yapping on the damn phone anyway! The guys on the morning radio station here were talking about that this morning when some guy called in to talk about something or other and said on the air "oops, gotta go, I just rearended someone!" Fortunately no one was hurt, but hello? talking on a cell phone while you're driving is against the law! Then he calls back and says it was no big deal, no damage, etc. yeah fine, he got lucky. and then some idiot girl calls and says, "well someone tapped my car like that and then told me he did it because he wanted to meet me!" and I'm sitting there thinking "the 2 of you are assholes!"

Posted by: Flynne at June 26, 2007 12:16 PM

I steer one-handed anyway.

Posted by: kg at June 26, 2007 1:11 PM

kg, I'm pretty sure that how many hands you're using doesn't matter QUITE as much as whether or not you're paying attention to the road and not your precious cell phone.

If it was horrific to steer with one hand, we'd have to ban standard transmission vehicles.

Way to miss the point.

Posted by: may at June 26, 2007 2:12 PM

"If a cop can do it, then dammit I can do it."

You'd be surprised how many people think that police are legally entitled to break the law. They're not. Intimidation as well as expedience has led us to think that whatever a police officer does is legal. No.

Posted by: Radwaste at June 26, 2007 2:46 PM

Flynne - the "against the law" part is really immaterial. Some people can handle conversing while driving, some cannot. It isn't the act of holding the phone that is the distraction, it's the conversation. Unless you are prepared to ban conversation in a moving vehicle, you're not going to solve the "problem" anyhow. Better to have penalties for causing damage, rather than sacrificing freedoms on the alter of political expediency.

Oh, if you really wanna risk losing control of your car, sneeze. It's a blast.

Rad - It doesn't matter if it's legal for the cop to do it, who's gonna pull him over? Me? It's not like I've got the gun, he does. And he's trained to use it. And he'll get away with it.

Intimidation doesn't make us think that whatever a police officer does is legal. Intimidation is what tells us to let them get away with it for our own good.

Posted by: brian at June 26, 2007 3:12 PM

Oh, and Flynne, one more thing. Here in CT it's perfectly legal to be on the phone, so long as you aren't holding it to your head.

Which is why we get to see all those assnozzles with the nextels chattering away at the top of their lungs with that loud-ass CHIRP! for punctuation.

Posted by: brian at June 26, 2007 3:14 PM

Yeah, those "hands-free" devices are a real treat, aren't they? Bottom line is, you have to PAY ATTENTION to the traffic when you're driving.

Posted by: Flynne at June 27, 2007 6:45 AM

I'm with Brian. We already have a law against reckless driving, which covers pretty much ANY reason why you may be endangering others while driving. Trying to pass laws against each and every negligent thing a person might do is only going to create a nightmare of legislation.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at June 27, 2007 8:54 AM

The girl in that photo has got some great lips. Please tell her that all cellphone transgressions will be forgiven if she blows me.

Posted by: Lena at June 27, 2007 9:11 AM

A better tactic to keep from being rear ended when you see someone coming up far too fast is to pump your brakes quickly. Flashing, red brake lights help to get their attention.

Posted by: Don at June 27, 2007 12:22 PM

I didn't miss the point, may. And I do drive a stick shift sometimes. I was trying to point out a little hyperbole. This is the one point about which I don't totally agree with Amy. I talk on the phone and drive out of necessity. I am a's no big deal. Brian's point is right on. So is Pirate Jo's. And I have a great phone so it's hands free without the stupid ass looking BlueTooth thingy.

Posted by: kg at June 27, 2007 1:49 PM

I drive a stick. I tore a tendon and my right hand is in a splint for a total of 3 months. What do you think about driving one-handed? I'm not supposed to use the right hand at all.

Posted by: terry at July 8, 2007 7:26 PM

Amy: Please let your readers know that Charlie continued with her comments, when she mentioned about text-messaging and driving. There were other lines in the story, right after the line quoted:

"Existing data, however, show driver inattention is the leading factor in most crashes and near-crashes, she said. And texting involves taking a driver's eyes off the road, she said.

In a 2006 joint report issued with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the institute found 78% of crashes involved a driver distracted within three seconds before an accident. Talking on or dialing a cellphone accounted for 6% of crashes or near-misses.

"If a driver's eyes are away from the roadway for two seconds or more in a six-second window, their risk of being involved in a crash is two times higher than an alert driver," Klauer said.

It's simply human nature to know something is dangerous but to believe."

Studying texting while driving is a difficult issue. You have to create a study in which drivers don't know they are being studied, act normally, and text and react the way they normally do while texting their friends. Oh, and do it in a controlled, repeatable manner in a safe way - and get it by the approval boards - and get it funded, insured and staffed. Try it.

Oh, and by-the-way, the comparison of driving while on a cell phone to driving while intoxicated has some limitations. There are lots of differences - mainly that you can pull the phone away from your ear and stop listening - its a lot harder to pull the alcohol out from your blood supply and stop being drunk.

Posted by: Erik at October 4, 2007 5:57 AM

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