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Posted on Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 3:35 p.m.

Cell phone use should be outlawed for all drivers

By Letters to the Editor

My thoughts about any cell phone use while driving is: What did we do before there were cell phones? We waited till we got to a real telephone whether it was at home, the office or, if really necessary, we would look for a pay phone if we were shopping or traveling

This law to prohibit new drivers from using one I don't think goes far enough. It should prohibit all people, not just new drivers or young ones, from using a cell phone to talk or text while driving. The article in Sunday's said people that opposed it were worried about loss of freedoms. This is no different than laws about against drunken driving.

Is it so important to use one to text or talk while driving that you can't wait till you can pull off the road and talk or text safely?

Here's something to think about the next time you have the urge to text while driving: Honk if you love Jesus ... text while driving if you'd like to meet him!

Ralph Schlegelmilch



Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 11:34 p.m.

You want to go back in time, where cell phones didn't exist? 50 years ago, drinking and driving was a lot more common, and was not frowned upon like today. Back then, the police would likely turn the other cheek or at least follow somebody home to make sure they were OK. Also, I'm sure that people fiddled around with their newfangled AM radios, taking their eyes off of the road in the process. People and their susceptibility to distractions is nothing new. (

Stuart Brown

Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 9:01 p.m.

People should neither take or make cell phone calls when driving; pull over and call back. That said, does it make sense to have police stopping cars to pass out tickets for using electronic devices while the vehicle is in motion? No way! This is what will happen: the people will continue to use electronic devices while driving but will try to conceal their using of said devices in ways that will make the roads less safe (this was the conclusion of a study that made it into the news.) What we will end up with is the false illusion of improved safety while once again giving up our rights to be left alone by the state (in other words, we will give a lot but get nothing in return.) Here is a hint how you know this will be the case: the government will not make or publish detailed studies showing how x level of enforcement leads to y% reduction in distracted driving but will be able to show how much revenue in fines is collected.


Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 3:44 p.m.

For those of you in favor of continued cell phone use while driving, hands-free or not, I ask that you read the report by the National Safety Council issued March 2010 at <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> . If, after reading the report, you remain unconvinced, then I ask that you cite an equally reliable reference that shows that cell phone use (hands-free or not) while driving is safe and does not lead to an increase in severe injuries or deaths. Otherwise, you are simply offering your personal opinions. While not worthless, they are just that -- opinions. Even if you are convinced, based on your personal experiences, that you yourselves are capable of using a cell phone while driving, the issue is not whether or not a single individual can do so safely. The question is whether or not society as a whole is capable of doing so.


Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 6:57 p.m.

@towny, providing a link to a white paper by the National Safety Council is only my opinion? How so? Are you a little short on any references showing the safety of cell phone use while driving? Shocking! As you wrote, right.


Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 6:38 p.m.

Just like this is only your opinion. Right

Ron Granger

Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 3:25 p.m.

&quot;I live on the telephone from 7 a.m to 7 p.m. that is life these days. Don't you dare try and destroy my ability to provide for my families livelehood !&quot; Oh yes, the family. Think of the children! Instead of making a buck, let's think of the children killed by drivers on phones. Need to talk, find a safe spot to stop. It is only a matter of time until this will be banned in Michigan, like so many other states.


Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 12:42 p.m.

Is it time to start moving to autonomous driving? I'm tired of 100 Americans getting killed every day.

Ron Granger

Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 3:26 p.m.

And a software or hardware error causes a massive pileup. No thanks.


Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 3:35 a.m.

How about outlawing cars and trucks, after all there would be no auto accidents to report. People got along fine before Henry Ford.


Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 2 a.m.

You want to outlaw cell phones then you need to outlaw any passengers younger than 5 because of temper tantrums, screaming etc. You need to outlaw lighting a smoke/looking for your smokes/ trying to find your pack of gum/looking in your rear view mirror to pick your nose--fix your hair--put on make up--look at your kids in the second/third row seat--apply make up--grab another hamburger out of the bag--find the straw for your super sized coke--spouse in right passenger seat pissing you off for telling you how to drive--GPS in dash telling you to turn right when you know you should turn left, etc--etc--etc. This is a total bunch of BS (Bull Snot) pure and simple ! Good Day


Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 1:47 a.m.

Ralph said: &quot;My thoughts about any cell phone use while driving is: What did we do before there were cell phones? We waited till we got to a real telephone whether it was at home, the office or, if really necessary, we would look for a pay phone if we were shopping or traveling. &quot; Ralph or should we call you Rip Van Winkle, where you been the past 15 years. What do you do for a living , probably retired and bored with nothing else to do but write an &quot;out of touch&quot; opinion piece like this. Business today requires 24/7 connectivity, especially for sales people. The only reason we can compete with the rest of the world is because of our technology, get a clue brostien ! Hand held devices I can agree with, but hands free voice activated blue tooth should be legal. I live on the telephone from 7 a.m to 7 p.m. that is life these days. Don't you dare try and destroy my ability to provide for my families livelehood ! I have spent the past 20 years on cell phones in my car. How about you look into how easy and what a joke it is to get a driver's license in Michigan, or how we don't verify that vehicles are safe for the road or how people drive their vehicles without insurance ? Go Green Go White


Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 1:27 a.m.

GPS units attached to windshields should be banned also.


Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 12:37 a.m.

So many of the comments here reflect the idea that just because cell phones exist, we have to use them every hour of the day in every circumstance. Portable video player exist, and some people do use them in the front part of cars, but this is illegal and most reasonable people do not question this. Just because some have become addicted to talking or texting at every possible moment does not mean that they actually have to do it, even in situations in which this is dangerous. There are enough hours in the day to use the phone while not driving. Judging from the conversations I constantly overhear on the street, many cell phone discussions seems to be trivial and banal, mostly consisting of &quot;like.&quot; Should people die or be maimed just because someone desperately needs to like, totally, like, you know, tell someone that someone else, or something is awesome? As for emergencies and really important matters, you can pull over and call. It is an inconvenience, but we are social animals and supposed to care, minimally at least, about others, and if you do not care about your own safety, at least think about others. I cannot count the number of times I have almost been hit trying to cross the street here while some selfish person was bullying through a turn using one hand while, like, you know, jabbering away. I am not sure, however, that hands-free devices are a solution: every study on the subject I have seen indicate that drivers using these are no less distracted, but there may be other studies I do not know.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 11:43 p.m.

You have a right to your opinion. I believe you are wrong. So one for and one against. In this technology age cell phone use is a must. Sorry. Hands free works I have used for years. Go after the drunk drivers they are still out there killing. Time and energy's should be used to go after drunk driving. Should we go back 50 years in technology because of distracted drivers. Very sorry to the family's that have lost family to distracted drivers. But, we are going to penalize all because of a few. I believe young adults should not get there full licenses until age 18. Have you seen the stats of 16 years old drivers and accidents its staggering.

John of Saline

Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 10:50 p.m.

I just don't take calls while driving. I have voicemail. Leave a message; it can wait a few minutes.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 10:39 p.m.

Hands-free cell phones are not the solution either. See <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> .


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 11:56 p.m.

@towny, I suggest you read the article at the link I provided and then get back to me. Thanks.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 11:47 p.m.

Please. I have used hands free for years and it works and it keeps my eyes on the road. I imagine something can be found bad about everything. You know breathing air is bad for you too.

Another Michael

Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 10:30 p.m.

My thoughts about any cell phone use while driving is: What did we do before there were automobiles? Technology bad! This crusade is ridiculous. There are many situations when it is perfectly safe to take a phone call while driving. It's unfortunate that, individually, drivers often fail to realize when they've surpassed the threshold of distraction beyond which they're unable to operate their vehicles safely. How to best address that through public policy, I can't say. An unenforceable ban on one particular piece of technology which people often use to communicate time-sensitive information is hardly the direction I'd pick, however.

Another Michael

Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 7:19 p.m.

And then I refer you to my reply at 5:43, and we go in circles. For the record, I'm definitively against driving while dizzy ^_^ Anyway, I appreciate the cordial discussion even if we may never see eye-to-eye.


Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 7:04 p.m.

OK, I can accept that we agree to disagree. My final comment, then, would be to simply refer you back to my initial reply (5:39 PM, 2/18/12) to your posted comment from yesterday that began this whole discussion.

Another Michael

Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 6:58 p.m.

Yes, that's the right number. When I'm given values like 11% and one-in-four, I tend to think any further calculations aren't significant out to four figures :) I'll be the first to admit this is a simplified calculation that very well may not hold up when controlling for other variables, but these are the numbers that were featured on the front page. If I see something more convincing, I'll be happy to revise my view of the situation. However, going forward with what we have... The 20% reduction in accident rate that you propose is a marketing gimmick. The real reduction in accident risk is 4%--and that assumes a high rate of compliance, no unintended negative consequences, and that the highest-risk drivers would not find a substitute distraction. Perhaps you think this 4% is achievable, and that it's worth the costs of a blanket ban on cell phone use. I'm not convinced.


Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 5:42 p.m.

If your calculations actually result in a 20.79% risk, and you rounded off to 21%, then I agree with you given the quoted figures (see, once again we agree). Comparing the difference between the quoted figure of 25% and the calculated figure of 20.79%, that results in a relative increase of 20.25% (+/-) in accidents attributable to cell phone use. I can't speak for you or anyone else, of course, but to me a reduction in the accident rate of more than 20% by the elimination of what is almost always a nonessential activity at the time of driving is HUGE.

Another Michael

Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 4:38 p.m.

Thanks for linking that. I'm afraid I don't have time to read it all today, but I will get to it. The white paper is very light on relevant statistics, so I would have to go to the original studies to assuage my skepticism in any case. An interesting fact from the first page is that 11% of drivers are using cell phones at any given time, and that one in four accidents &quot;involve[s] cell phone use.&quot; Suppose the average accident involves two cars. If cell phone use were an insignificant variable, akin to having blue eyes, you would expect 21% of accidents to involve at least one driver who was using a cell phone. That paper reports a value of 25% (or perhaps something more precise later in the text). Maybe that's a significant increase when you run all the statistics, but it's hardly an impairment level that justifies a blanket ban on all cell phone use. Certainly, I'm not saying that no one uses their cell phone unsafely while driving. I'm unconvinced that a ban is necessary, skeptical that it would be enforceable, and (to be honest) a little offended at the implication that the fact that I take a call every once in awhile makes me an irresponsible driver. The way to combat dangerous cell phone use, and other dangerous distractions, is with education, not prohibition.


Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 4 p.m.

I noticed the removal of your comment after I had posted my reply yesterday. I also don't know why it was removed. It is interesting how we continue to agree on at least one point and not on others. I actually agree with your statement that "Improved safety is unrelated to cell phone use..." What I am contending is that a significant proportion of the ongoing dangers of driving IS related to cell phone use. Estimates are that 25% of traffic accidents now involve the use of a cell phone in some way. If you will just read the report by the National Safety Council ( <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> ) which I posted yesterday, you will see why I continue to hold the "...view that any use of a cell phone turns a driver into a speeding mass of death." And, if you remain unconvinced after reading the report, I ask that you cite an equally reliable reference that shows cell phone use while driving does not create "...a dangerous situation."

Another Michael

Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 12:52 p.m.

So is now arbitrarily removing comments that don't violate the conversation guidelines in any conceivable manner? I'll keep that in mind when I think about how much time I want to spend at this site in the future. In any case, you're still not dealing with the point that many people are perfectly capable of taking calls without creating a dangerous situation. The rate of roadway deaths has continued to decline even as cell phones have propagated to the point of ubiquity. Improved safety is unrelated to cell phone use--better technology, seat belt compliance, and drunk driving enforcement are major players--but it's difficult in light of this to understand your view that any use of a cell phone turns a driver into a speeding mass of death.


Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 3:18 a.m.

Why not simply legalize drunken driving then, since it is often less distracting than cell phone use?


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 11:18 p.m.

No, your emotional state is not a reason to ban something. Foreseen and demonstrated consequences (i.e., putting people's health and lives in danger) of an unnecessary action (cellphone use) while driving, is a reason. A good reason. A very good reason.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 10:58 p.m.

You're right, I would not take you seriously. But the difference is that transportation of people (including passengers under 18) is a fundamental role of cars. Talking on a cell phone is not. Big difference.

Another Michael

Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 10:43 p.m.

Maybe, but that doesn't mean that I would be right. If someone I cared about was seriously injured or killed by a driver with young children in the car, and I started agitating for a ban on passengers under 18, would you take me seriously? Of course not.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 10:38 p.m.

I can't know for certain, of course, but I think you would feel differently if you or someone you cared about was seriously injured or killed by a driver while using their phone, hands-free or not.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 9:58 p.m.

For older cars, I don't understand why people don't use a solar charged bluetooth speaker. I have one and it works like a champ - key point- you don't have to hold on to the phone which is so tacky when you're driving! In newer cars, there's some initial set-up but you don't even have to touch your phone!

Turd Ferguson

Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 9:40 p.m.

Ralph, I'll hang up and drive when you see police not jawwing on them and driving.

Ron Granger

Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 3:32 p.m.

Police get to speed too. That doesn't mean we get to speed. Even in the many states that ban cellphone use while driving, use of a cellphone to report an emergency is allowed.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 9:33 p.m.

&quot;To do two things at once is to do neither.&quot; - Publilius Syrus


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 8:52 p.m.

We cannot go back in time - cell phones are here to stay. Now that we, as a world, are accustomed to using them in our vehicles it will be impossible to ban them. Perhaps the author should try a pro-hands free campaign which has a far greater likelihood for success.