santa cruz wharf

20 August 2008

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot ~ SB 1613

Okay.  I may not agree with most of the nanny-state legislation we are now living under…but I understand why a few of them exist. Laws against allowing me to spend my own money on food containing transfat. Laws forbidding smoking out in wide open spaces. I do not agree with them…I would not have voted for them….but I get why enough people were so concerned they became law.

And then we have California’s SB 1613 which went into effect a few weeks ago.  SB 1613 prohibits California drivers from talking on their cell phone while driving without a hands free device. 

This is one law which I simply do not understand.

Anyone giving any thought to the matter realizes the problems with talking on the cell phone while driving stem from holding something in your hand other than the steering wheel…and paying attention to the conversation rather than other vehicles, bikes, pedestrians, and road conditions. 

Fair enough.

Someone explain to me how in the world the legislation of SB 1613 changes ANY of that.

I know the statistics on how distracted drivers cause accidents resulting in serious injury and death.  I lost my brother to a car accident.  I know the gig.  But ummm…you guys and gals in Sacramento…this new law did absolutely nothing to alleviate any distractions.  Truth be known, in my little life it has caused additional distractions.

First of all the conversations continue.  Ya'think I am any less engaged in the conversation if I am holding the phone?  Ah..no.  And don’t tell me to just hang up and drive. That is not the point.  The point is we now have this law that benefits nothing and no one with the possible exception of Plantronics and BlueTooth.

Truly…the conversations I have with actual people in my car are far more engaging and distracting than any cell phone discussion I may be having.  Be it one of my kids, my folks, a coworker or a friend, I am paying much closer attention to them in the seats next to me and behind me than if they were merely a voice in my ear. 

Is the next step to forbid talking in a moving vehicle? 

While it may be illegal to hold the phone up to my ear, I still can hold the hands free device up to my ear.  Ironic isn't it?  My speaking voice has a very low resonance …so if the window is down or the AC is blowing…my Bluetooth only works when I hold my hand up along my chin.  I already have glasses, long hair, earrings and a seat belt strap crowding that general area.  Now I have some Borg apparatus as well. 

I find the cold, hard, bluetooth shoved into the sensitive area of my ear cannel far more distracting than the actual phone.  I’m always repositioning the angle…or adjusting the volume.  The other hands free device...the one with the cord….is way fun to fiddle with…I play with the clip and pull the plastic wire through my mouth. I’m always having to retrieve the phone to dial or hang up by tugging on the cord. Half the time the cord pulls out. And then I have to plug it back in again. No distraction there.

Then there is the misguided impression we all now drive around with both hands on the wheel. C'mon. It’s not as if making my cell phone hands free results in my hands actually being free.

I can dial my phone while driving.
I can TEXT on my phone while driving.
I can take pictures with my phone while driving.

I can drink coffee.
I can smoke a cigar.
I can read the paper.
I can eat a taco or one of those hamburgers (without transfat) that drip all over the place.
I can change the CD and reprogram the GPS.
I can put on makeup or shave.
I haven’t tried to wax while driving…
but I bet someone has.

There is just about nothing I can’t do with my hands while driving around in California…except hold my cell phone up to my ear. (does your phone have vibration functionality? )

This is a stupid law.
It does nothing to curtail phone use in cars.
It does nothing to insure drivers hands are on the wheel.
It does nothing to limit distractions to drivers.

Maybe what I really ought to look for is the report detailing revenue generated by citations issued in enforcement of this bogusness. 

With the California state budget two months over due…I bet that dollar amount will be enlightening.

26 comments:

Hammer said...

I read that drivers having a regular cell phone conversation were just as impaired as someone with a 1.0 Blood alcohol level.

I do think hands free is slightly better but like you said still distracted. Conversations with people in the car...I'm not so sure. I guess it depends on the person in many cases.

Most nanny laws are misguided but are passed because people refuse to self regulate.

Everytime I see someone do something really really stupid while driving they have their head cocked to the right and a cell phone smashed against their face.

People are killing themselves and others due to selfish and careless cell phone use.

Honestly I don't know of a good solution that doesn't involve lynch mobs and a rash of rectal cell phone injuries.

Mel said...

You're talkin' to the gal who pulls over to the side of the road to talk on her cellphone....or I answer with quick a "Driving! I'll ring you when I get to where I'm going!!" and promptly toss the phone.

Yes, I'm one of THOSE people. LOL

But I'm sooooo glad to know I'm not the only one who's played jumprope with that cord to the earpiece....LOL

Oh....and....
Contrary to popular belief--I CAN walk and chew gum at the same time.


I just hate cellphones.
k.....I hate phones,period.
Stupid things....

craig andrew said...

They passed that law here a couple of years ago... to absolutely no affect. No one listened to it, people still drive with their phones to their ears... even cops can be seen driving around while holding a phone to their ears. So, what is the point of passing a law no one is going to enforce? like you say, probably just to sell headsets. C:)

craig andrew said...

I actually, come to think of it, think it is just another loophole the insurance companies can use to get out of making payment to people who got into accidents. C:)

The Teamster said...

can you read a map while driving or do you have to pull over to do that too? Is that mentioned in the law?

at work we use nextel's so dispatchers can have total access to us and we've been told to "not" talk on them while driving; to find the next safest spot to pull over and talk.

In over 25 years of driving truck, I've seen just about everything done while driving. One of my favs is the guy/gal who is reading the newspaper/magazine/book while it's draped over the steering wheel. I can't criticize the one's who have a laptop on the passenger seat (I have one on the dash of my truck while driving).

Linda said...

Connecticut passed this same law a couple of years ago and while I don't see it actually doing anyone any good, I'm not seeing it do any harm either. I, like Mel, am one of the people who will NOT talk on my cell phone in the car and will either not answer it or toss it to Amanda who can then tell whoever is calling that I am driving. I don't know why but I do seem to find it more distracting than talking to the people in the car with me - maybe it's an electronic thing.

People do lots and lots and lots of stupid things in their cars and there is no way to regulate all of them or to get them to smarten up and realize that they could get someone killed. Who cares if they kill themselves? That would be their own stupid fault for not paying attention in my own humble opinion and whereas that would be tragic to a certain extent not as tragic as killing someone innocent.

The police officers here in Connecticut are allowed to talk on their cell phones in their cruisers if it is work related. Do I think they do it for non-work related things? Absolutely. Cops also speed, don't obey traffic signs and lights, and generally tend to think that they are better drivers than anyone else. Are they? Probably not but at least they've gone through driving courses that we, the common driver, never do. Same with those who drive ambulances, firetrucks, and other emergency apparatus. Their is a policy at my company that no one is to talk on their cell phone while driving an ambulance and yet some of those who think they know better still do.

Point of this ramble? Hmmm, I don't know, I seem to have lost it! I guess what I'm trying to say is that those of us who have the common sense to realize that being distracted while driving a motor vehicle could have deadly consequences follow our own laws anyway and those that don't give a hoo-rah-damn are going to do whatever they want regardless of any laws in place. Look how many people still refuse to wear a seatbelt even though they know what the statistics are.

Rules for some people seem to be there merely to be broken but at least the government makes an occasional effort to save people from themselves. It doesn't work, but they try.

Desert Songbird said...

I fail to see why helmet laws and seat belt laws are enacted. I mean, if someone wants to take the risk of brain damage or serious injury, why not let them? Makes me no never mind.

I will, however, differ with you on this point. I've seen my fair share of scary drivers here on the road in Phx, and by far the ones that terrify me the most are the ones with phones to their ears, particularly those mothers who insist on driving too fast in the school zone while juggling the phone and a cup of coffee. Idiots!

Desert Songbird said...

Oh, wait, I forgot to mention the texting teen high on Xanax who crashed into my next-door-neighbor's back fence and nearly took out her pool.

katherine. said...

hammer: I don't know about that. If I am blowing 1.0 I am a mess. You never see stupid people without a cell phone? lucky you. I even see the ones without. smile.

Mel: yeah. I can see you doin' that. I hate cell phones so much I gave them up for a year....A YEAR.

Craig...well they are writing tickets for it here...lots! And you may be right about the insurance industry having their hands in it...

katherine. said...

Teamster: an expert can read maps while driving ...or off to the side of the road.

SB1613 has an exception for you...Allow drivers of commercial vehicles to use push-to-talk phones until July 1, 2011.

I wasn't gonna mention the laptop...smile

katherine. said...

Linda: People feel strongly about this issue don't they??? While I agree with most of your comment...you kinda made my point for me. If the danger is to be talking on the phone...why not outlaw talking on the phone? If the danget is having something in your hand...why not outlaw holding things while driving. People who disobey laws...will disobey no matter what.

(I was wondering how Amanda dhipped her tooth ...smile)

katherine. said...

DS: so again...why a law that does nothing to stop the problem of talking on the phone? Or holding an object other than the steering wheel? Our new law doesn't do anything to solve the problem of those crazy ass mothers.

I've been known not to wear a seatbelt. The helmet thing..eh...I have mixed feelings on that one. If a guy is going to fast...hits a patch of gravel and slides into my car...I want him in a helmet. I don't want my insurance paying off for his death...then again...the wind in my hair....

Jeff B said...

I think this one could be filed under, "Good intention, bad execution."

It is absolutely impossible to legislate us into safety.

The one that kills me is Washington's hands free law. The way they have it worded, talking on a hand held phone is illegal, but it's a secondary violation. Meaning they can't pull you over and ticket you for it by itself, there must be another reason/infraction to enable them to write a citation for it.

Travis said...

Washington has such a law that is also poorly written. Patrols cannot stop drivers solely for talking on the phone. There has to be some other infraction, and then they can also ticket for the cell phone. That's just stooopid.

But bad law or not, I am still in the camp that says put the dang phone away while you're driving. And if you must make or take a call, then pull off the road and do so.

Same with eating. Same with reading a map. Same with fixing your hair. Same with putting on your make up.

That's just my opinion.

The Teamster said...

an expert? what determines if one is an expert or not? and how does one achieve such an honor?

Matt-Man said...

It is an incredibly stupid law and I am certain that it will soon make its way to my state of No-hio. Cheers Kat!!

Marilyn said...

I don't have a cell phone so I am unqualified to have an opinion. Hubby does have a blue tooth thingy and I'm always asking him to just call me back later. It makes me nuts when he starts talking about how bad the traffic is and I don't want to be the reason he crashes.

I do know that I take my life into my own hands every time I try to eat a hamburger and drive at the same time.

Anonymous said...

I thought there must be a reason you defended bloggers.

Now I know.

Mel said...

*tap tap tap*

Everything okay?

<-- doesn't do silence well

(thinkin' you knew that......)

Mel said...

k.....
.....see.....I just feel a need to check in and check up...

On you.
On the kiddos.
On the mom.....

*sending prayers and peacefilled, warm thoughts*

.....Matters to me......

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

One step closer to controlling all of our lives. Socialism if you ask me. A piece at a time. Some laws they won't even uphold, like illegal aliens for one. Just saying. Selective aren't they? Yes, they are. Pretty soon government will control almost everything. Living in a free country is great isn't it? Have a great day. Big hug. :)

Gordie said...

We have a similar law in the UK. It does seem like it was passed to make it easier to find people guilty. Why not just charge people with dangerous driving, if that's the problem...

Marilyn said...

I hope things are okay over there. I know you are going through some rough stuff with your mom and not hearing from you for a while, I worry.

Jeff B said...

Joining the league of concerned friends. Just taking a break I hope.

Mel said...

k........

(((((( katherine ))))))

<--just wantin' ya to know I'm thinkin' of ya...

.......bunches......

k.....

Sandy B and Dick said...

I continue to be amazed at guvmint *trying* to legislate common sense! Hey, isn't that an oxymoron?!!!