Wednesday, April 30, 2008


***DWUCP the acronym to be used for Driving While Using Cell Phone.***

It certainly can be dangerous when DWUCP, but how many motor vehicle accidents can be attributed to the actual use of cellular telephones? Most motor vehicle accidents are caused by some form of reckless driving such as speeding, unsafe lane changes, unsafe vehicles or drinking and driving.

Nova Scotia has recently created a new law banning their use when behind the wheel. It's a bold step but I am unsure if eliminating usage of this mode of communication helps in preventing motor vehicle accidents. I can see their recent change to their motor vehicle act to prevent smoking in vehicles when infant occupants are aboard since second hand smoke unquestionably harms others.

However, picking up your cell phone to take or place a business call is no more dangerous than looking at the radio before changing the station or eating a cheeseburger while scratching yourself. At least I think. Are conversations on headsets any different than when the phone is held in your hand? Probably not.

If their Province keeps statistical information that demonstrates otherwise than perhaps the ban is justified. Unlikely though given the Registrar of Motor Vehicles role under its legislation. So what gives?

Let me know what you think.




detailer said...

Just another example of being over legislated,don't worry about cell phones I say. The RCMP have a lot of unsolved crimes,no time should be wasted on such a foolish piece of law.Crimes are committed every day and when you ask the RCMP for justice they say they don't have the time to investigate, I know , because this has happened to me.

Canadian Rods said...

According to the Insurance Information Institute, cell phone use is the leading cause of driver distraction.

In January 2007, Nationwide Mutual Insurance found that 73% of drivers talk on the cell phone while driving. Cell use was highest among young drivers.

Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety surveyed teens in August of 2006 and 37% said that texting while driving was their biggest distraction.

A study done by the Transport Research Laboratory in Britain revealed that 40% of British drivers use a cell phone while driving. Even though most realized that a cell phone was distracting, they did not think it to be as dangerous as drinking and driving. Over a three month period of testing using a simulator they found that drivers' reaction times were 30% worse when using a cell phone than when the drivers had a .08% BAC. Drivers in the study actually admitted that they found it easier to drive while intoxicated than when using a cell phone.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in Australia published a report in July 2005 that stated that the use of cell phones while driving increased the risk of a crash serious enough to cause injury increased 400%.

A study by researchers at the University of Utah in the 2006 issue of Human Factors concluded that use of a cell phone while driving was as dangerous as being impaired. They found that motorists using a cell were 18% slower in braking and 17% slower in regaining speed after braking.

As many as 40 countries restrict or prohibit the use of cell phones while driving. 5 states have laws prohibiting driving while using handheld cell phones. 17 states ban phones for novice drivers. 15 states ban school bus drivers from using phones when passengers are on board, 2 states ban texting and more have legislation pending.

We have laws against speeding, unsafe lane changes, unsafe vehicles, and DUI, so why not cell phone use? Are there other distractions? Yes, of course there are, but none are as prevalent as cell phone use.

You wouldn't want your daughters to think that it's okay to drink and drive or that it's okay to speed or to drive dangerously. Why would you want them to think that using a cell phone behind the wheel is okay?

Anonymous said...

'What gives' is they actually have a government that attempts to pass legislation to try to protect people. Several COUNTRIES in europe have passed similar laws. A recent study out of Quebec showed that cell phone users are 38 times more likely to get into an accident.

The only odds that are higher are alcohol related, and we have laws that say we can't drink and then drive. Not to mention there are laws about reckless driving, irresponsible driving, etc. So, the question shouldn't be 'why this', but 'why NOT this?'

Tuning a radio doesn't require brain activity, and although it may not technically be a 'law', it is in the drivers handbook that your hands are supposed to be at 10 and 2, in fact you lose points on your driving exam if they aren't. If you are scrambling for a cell phone or staring at it while you dial, obviously you can't do that.

So if people want to gab, how hard is it to pull over? Several states have passed laws excepting hands free phones, but it certainly makes sense. Three people are KNOWN to have died in accidents directly caused by cell phone use, should the question be "how many people should die before a law is passed banning a convenience?"

Paul said...

Ok TJ...I will take your bait....

There is pretty clear evidence that DWUCP does increase the chances of having an accident. One University of Utah study found Drivers on cell phones are as bad as drunks with .08 percent alcohol level in their bloodstream...

Cell phone use is very different from changing the radio station on your radio....and the list of reasons is long. Radio listening is much more passive, and talking on the cell phone is a task that takes much more concentration...I can fade out the radio in my brain much easier than I can stop listening to someone talking to me on a phone.

I also realize in NB, people spend alot of time in cars on highways and rural roads,and cell phone use increases productivity.

Perhaps handsfree mandatory in urban settings, and leave the rest be...or mandatory handsfree, because people will simply ignore a law on an outright ban, so it will only give insurance companies another loophole.

Better yet, TJ, check with the insurance industry and ask if they would reduce our rates if we banned cell phone use in cars? If anyone keep stats, its the insurance industry.

nbt said...

It certainly can be dangerous when DWUCP, but how many motor vehicle accidents can be attributed to the actual use of cellular telephones?

Good point, TJ! Moreover, I wonder how many police files have the excuse "Sorry officer, I was on my cell phone" for reckless driving, speeding (missed the sign because...) and for those who caused an accident?

In other words, how do we know they were even on the cell (in the first place) since it is the logical choice for deflecting responsibility for violating a roadway law?

Which begs me to ask, is the data on cell phones causing accidents skewed?

T.J. Burke said...

NBT sums up my point nicely here. I can tell you this, certain Registrars of Motor Vehicles think this is law is absurd. And by the way, who the hell should rely on the insurance industry for accuracy in statistics? Doesn't anyone remember the automobile insurance hike in 2002-03? Those days of sky rocketing premiums were based on a numerous flawed data.

Canadian Rods said...

Let's go for the common sense argument.

Why do you turn down your radio when you get close to a place that you're looking for? The answer is because it's a distraction. You cannot concentrate fully on two things at the same time.

How many hands should you have on the wheel? We all know what the answer to that is. TJ, you likened talking on a cell to fiddling with the radio, eating a burger, or scratching yourself. All the instances you mentioned are momentary distractions and we know that they can cause accidents.

Talking on the cell phone is not momentary. You're severely distracted while you're dialing, and you're continually distracted while you're talking. For minutes at a time!

Stand on any street corner in Fredericton and watch drivers while they're on the phone. They brake late, they cross the pedestrian lane, they don't use turn signals, they accelerate slower, and they can't make a proper turn.

TJ, you name the day and time and I'll join you at the corner of King & Regent for an impromptu study. I'll even spring for the coffee.

Paul said...

Those days of sky rocketing premiums were based on a numerous flawed data.

Has your government corrected the flaws in the insurance data...(Maybe you should have had Dr. Croll's fix the skewed data like he did for your colleague in the education department.)

If it's so flawed, why hasn't your government eliminated the caps on soft tissue injuries that Lord's crowd put in place? Shouldn't that be fixed?

I know all the signs the liberal candidates had in the last election, either outright said there would be public auto insurance or implied it. Cheryl Lavoie and Brain Kenny had numerous campaign signs to that effect), and we both know, if we are being honest, that was never going to happen.

As for cell phone use among politicians, it's crazy. I had someone complain to me the other day that they were at a meeting that Brian Kenny was attending and he spent most of his time pre occupied with his blackberry instead of paying attention at the meeting.

And btw, nbt, it wouldn't be too hard for the police to find out if a cell phone was in use. They may have witnesses, and there is also cell phone records.

Sounds like you don't want to give up your cell phone, even though it would be safer.

Anonymous said...

that for 30 seconds. Then describe how many traffic signs and levels you've seen. Try to gauge how close you were to the driver in front. How much attention you paid to pedestrians.

Now do it for 60 seconds. Then finally three minutes. The entire test takes less than five minutes.

Keep in mind that we are not even talking about tests, the people doing this are talking NON STOP (often).

Did you notice ANY difference? I don't know, I've never done it, I'm just saying that this at least is a way to gauge where the argument is coming from. Perhaps you noticed no difference at all, but then also keep in mind that people are all different, and that there is probably a bias going it.

What would be interesting is if EVERYBODY who reads this blog would do the test and then state what the results are. Of course people can make up anything, but at least its something and not just the justice minister of 750,000 people saying "I'm sure you'll be fine".

This isn't about RCMP 'investigations', even drinking and driving doesn't involve 'investigations', it involves catching people in the act, and people are far more likely to honk at somebody and tell them to get off the phone, just as they would if they got cut off by a reckless driver. It's about PREVENTING accidents, not catching criminals.

As far as insurance goes, this is that 'personal responsibility' that Spinks is always talking about. It may be 'convenient' for me to drink and drive, I may want to call it a 'right', but the law is there to protect other people, not the ones who drive recklessly-no matter how convenient.

It MAY be an example of being over-regulated, but like drinking and driving we are talking about the 'convenience' of one person over the LIFE of another. I've certainly been cut off by enough cell phone talkers to at least take it seriously. In fact, I'm a little nervous of even asking people to do that test, to me its sort of like thirty years ago saying 'hey, have some drinks and see how it affects you'. I think it COULD even result in accidents, but of course its all perfectly legal and the studies are all bogus anyway right?

Finally, if you listened to the news you may have heard that CUPE is attempting to put blackberry use into their contract negotiations because so many employees are complaining about essentially having to be available ALL the time for work. A good percentage of people would LOVE to not be at work's beck and call while on the road (no doubt also contributing to road rage).

Anonymous said...

I didnt copy the first part, sorry. It was an experiment. Drive downtown and count your memory of all the street signs you see. As well as what you noticed of various pedestrians and other vehicles. Do this with no radio or other person or distraction for three minutes.

After that, call somebody on your cell phone, talk for three minutes, then try to remember what they said. Then try to remember how many street signs you saw and what you were aware of.

You can even do an intermediate step with the radio. Listen for five minutes, and try to remember some lyrics from songs and some of the dialogue. That's three test groups that would take about ten minutes.

If you can remember what was said, that's part of your brain that wasn't paying attention to the road. Be sure to do it on a road you've never travelled much, or at all, otherwise it may be your memory of street signs you are remembering, not actually paying attention to them.

As for insurance, that was PROFIT, that wasn't 'flawed data'. The data made perfect sense to the insurers-if it was 'flawed data' then they'd be liable to lawsuits from New Brunswick drivers. It's no accident insurance went up every place that had private insurance right after insurance companies lost big on the equities market.