There’s an excellent article , Drivers and Legislators Dismiss Cellphone Risks, on the NY Times website. Not only does it have links to research on the dangers of distracted driving and cellphone use but it addresses one of the issues that trouble me the most:
“A disconnect between perception and reality worsens the problem. New studies show that drivers overestimate their own ability to safely multitask, even as they worry about the dangers of others doing it.
Device makers and auto companies acknowledge the risks of multitasking behind the wheel, but they aggressively develop and market gadgets that cause distractions.
Police in almost half of all states make no attempt to gather data on the problem. They are not required to ask drivers who cause accidents whether they were distracted by a phone or other device. Even when officers do ask, some drivers are not forthcoming.
The federal government warns against talking on a cellphone while driving, but no state legislature has banned it. This year, state legislators introduced about 170 bills to address distracted driving, but passed fewer than 10.”
Imo, this is hypocritical–and what intrigues me the most are those drivers who rail against drinking and driving and yet get on their cellphones as soon as they get in their cars and not just to talk but to text or check a website on the Internet. Because even talking on a hands-free cellphone while driving is as dangerous as being drunk enough to get a DUI:
“Studies say that drivers using phones are four times as likely to cause a crash as other drivers, and the likelihood that they will crash is equal to that of someone with a .08 percent blood alcohol level, the point at which drivers are generally considered intoxicated.”
Cagers who use such devices are actually worse, imo, than riders who drink and ride–at least riders do it rarely while some of these brain-dead drivers can’t seem to drive a mile without getting on their phones.
The article goes on to say, “[police officers] are not required to ask drivers who cause accidents whether they were distracted by a phone or other device. Even when officers do ask, some drivers are not forthcoming.” That, however is something easy enough to check by asking to see their phone and checking if it was in use at the time, isn’t it?
We riders know all too well the dangers of distracted riders–though I have to say it’s incredibly hypocritical for riders to use cellphones via ear buds/bluetooth while riding themselves.
If the motorcycle rights groups want to do something actually useful to the whole of riders and not just their helmet-obsessed members, I suggest they work to change the laws on distracted driving. At least it seems if they really do care if riders are safer on the roads, a requirement that police at least ask–if not require them to check–if a cellphone or other device was in effect in crashes is something that seems easy enough.
I’m generally against anything mandatory and categorical bans–however, I do think that laws that would require similar penalties to DUI for distracted driving is not only fair but just.