The Electric Commentary

Thursday, May 12, 2005

You know, we haven't banned anything in a while...

This is the thought process of a Chicago city alderman. Yesterday they banned talking on cell phones while driving.

Here's a novel idea: Ticket bad driving! Regardless of the cause! There are so many things that we do in our cars that are just as "distracting" to us or to other people as talking on a cell phone. These include, but are not limited to:

1. Talking to a passenger. Let's ban passengers!
2. Listening to the radio. Especially early U2.
3. Eating.
4. Drinking.
5. Putting on makeup. I don't wake up looking this good y'know.
6. Wedgie removal
7. Gathering toll money. Let's ban tolls!
8. Turning on heat/air conditioning.
9. Flipping off guy in H2 with those hubcaps that spin even when you're not moving.
10. Putting on and removing hands free cell phone devices.
11. Smoking.
12. Latroy Hawkins
13. The smell of Gary, Indiana.
14. The smell of Gary, the guy who sat next to me on the bus today. That guy should not be allowed in any type of motorized vehicle.
15. Pondering the idiocy of building a toll booth a few feet in front of the spot where two freeways merge on I-90. I have much time to ponder this as no cars actually ever move at this spot on I-90.
16. Listening to the guy in the Ford Galaxy next to me who really really wants everyone to know how much he likes the Fat Joe song, Lean Back.
17. Billboards.
18. Cars that are double parked next to open parking spots.
19. Shaving.
20. People.

Do we really want to ban all of these things (I mean, besides Gary, and toll booths)? I'll bet you do at least a few of these things in your car on a regular basis. The bottom line is that cell phones are not a problem if you use them responsibly. Bad driving is the problem, and bad driving is not ticketed enough because patrolmen are forced to concentrate on offenses that are completely unrelated to bad driving. I'm glad we've added another.

19 Comments:

  • You said it when you said it. Couldn't agree more.

    And we should definitely ban Gary, Indiana. That place is a real shitfest.

    By Blogger Ace Cowboy, at 3:17 PM  

  • I used to feel that way, but it's so utterly out of control now, this is the only way to stop it. I'd say 90% of the time when I see someone driving poorly, I look closer and see that, yes, indeed, they are talking on cell phones without hands-free devices. Heck, maybe the other 10% is talking WITH hands-free devices.

    I hate stupid laws that just bother otherwise-law-abiding citizens, and this is one that I originally thought was just that. But each day I'm on the road, it becomes more and more obvious that people are too stupid to use common sense, so for my protection (I am a motorcycle rider/owner), I think these laws are necessary.

    By Anonymous mitch, at 3:32 PM  

  • I see a lot of people driving their motorcycles like assholes-weaving in and out of traffic, speeding, reving their engines. It's totally unsafe to them and to other drivers. I'd bet the percentage of motorcyclists that get in deadly collisions is much higher than the percentage of car-drivers that get in deadly collisions. Should we ban motorcycles?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:16 PM  

  • You're seriously going to compare the percentage of motorcycle drivers that get into deadly collisions with the percentage of car-drivers that get in deadly collisions? Are you also going to compare the number of people that burn their hands pulling a metal-handled pot off the stove barehanded with the number of people that burn their hands pulling a metal-handled pot off the stove with an oven mitt on? Jesus, I can't even understand what point you were trying to make besides that you're stupid.

    Why I would even bother trying to refute your other claims is already beyond me, but I feel the need to respond. The ONLY reason that car-driver don't do that is because they CAN'T. They can't fit. I see people in cars do just as dumb of stuff -- try to fit in just as dumb of spaces -- as motorcycle drivers. My drive to work takes me ten minutes in the morning, and /most/ days I find myself cursing at least one driver along the way.

    Besides that, motorcyclists who drive dangerously aren't nearly as dangerous to me as people driving regular vehicles. They are much more dangerous to /themselves/ than the others around them.

    Furthermore, the basis of this discussion seems to revolve around what effect inattentive drivers have on those around them. If you've ever driven a motorcycle, you know it MAKES you be a better driver.

    I'm having trouble deciding if you're just angry at motorcyclists for some reason or angry at my opinion that laws are the only way to stop stupid people from abusing cell phones in vehicles. In any case, this topic is about cell phone use in vehicles, so I'm not sure why you turned it into a motorcycle-crazy discussion. I did not intend to discuss motorcycles as a topic here, and I don't intend on saying any more about them. Wrong subject.

    By Anonymous mitch, at 5:11 PM  

  • Well, obviously you missed my point Mitch. Perhaps I'm not the stupid one. I don't think we should ban motorcycles OR cell-phone use while driving. I, like the author of this post, think we should ticket bad driving. You actually gave some support to my theory in your little rant. You pointed out that motorcycles can do things that cars can not. The fact that these things are dangerous lends the same kind of fodder to the argument that they should be banned as the fact that cell phone use is more distracting than no phone driving lends to the the suggestion that cell-phones should be banned. BOTH are still bad arguments.

    Laws may be the best way to stop stupid people from driving poorly, but the law should target the poor driving, not the suspected cause. Some people drive okay with cell phones and some people drive okay on motorcycles. They shouldn't be banned outright for that very reason.

    Wow are you dumb Mitch. You shouldn't be allowed to drive for making that comment and missing my point completely.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:49 AM  

  • Whoa, whoa, whoa, calm down fellas. Are you guys commenting from a bar?

    Alright, first let's deal with Mitch post #1. I'm not saying that cell phones are not a distraction, but before you leap onto the banning bandwagon, think about this:

    1. Do you think these people who are poorly talking on their cell phones would be driving better without them? I don't. I think that they would tend to find a replacement distraction.

    2. Cell phones users that do stupid things often send out warning signals. Notice that you notice people on cell phones doing stupid things. THat does not necessarily mean that these people are doing more stupid things than other people. Cell phone use is readily observable from another car or bike, and allows you to prepare a bit.

    3.I don't have time to go stat hunting right now, but I'm pretty sure that accidents attributed to cell phone use have not lead to an increase in total accidents, further supporting my substitution theory. I do know that they are a small percentage of overall accidents.

    Now, on to Mr. Anonymous, making the motorcycle comment.

    You make an interesting assumption that is similar to one made by mitch, that a certain action appears unsafe to you. The real question is, is it unsafe? Weaving in slow moving or still traffic seems low risk to me, and in high speed traffic it is unecessary, and should probably be labeled as reckless if it occurrs.

    That said, I'm willing to bet the following. I'll bet motorcycle riders per capita get into fewer accidents than car drivers. Related to that fact, I'll wager that Bikers do suffer more fatal accidents per accident, but, as Mitch stated correctly, that vulnerability makes them safer drivers, and the externalities imposed on other drivers are comparatively low.

    The costs of Cycling are largely internalized by the rider, hence, your comparison is not quite right.

    Now to Mitch's rant. Oh how I pity those who insult the integrity of the activity of motorcycling to a motorcycler. Ad-Hominem attacks notwithstanding, Mitch has a few good points, mentioned above. The point about cars not being able to do it is weak though. If it is a dangerous activity, the reason that cars can't partake of it is immaterial (unless it's a law).

    It is also at this point that the discussion became a pissing match. Most unfortunate. Alas.

    Still that last anonymous point isn't bad. If motorcycle weaving is inherently dangerous, then it does make as much sense to ban them as it does cell phones if cell phone usage is inherently dangerous. I don't think either activity is particularly dangerous.

    So, to sum up:

    Mitch: The externalities imposed on others by motorcycles do not justify a ban, whereas I believ cell phone users cause frequent harm to everyone around them.

    Anonymous: I believe that you can make a similar argument regarding the safety of motorcycles, which I believe lead to many forms of unsafe driving. I have not stated anything about the relative costs of one activity vs. the other, but surely poor motorcycling has some negative effect on others. Ergo, their is as good a case to ban them as their is to ban cell phones, although I do not thing either should be banned.

    Paul: I think anonymous was attempting to show how Mitch was ok with banning something as long as he himself didn't really like it.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 10:29 AM  

  • "The costs of Cycling are largely internalized by the rider, hence, your comparison is not quite right."

    Really? SO are ALL OF THESE comparisons "quite right"?:

    1. Talking to a passenger. Let's ban passengers!
    2. Listening to the radio. Especially early U2.
    3. Eating.
    4. Drinking.
    5. Putting on makeup. I don't wake up looking this good y'know.
    6. Wedgie removal
    7. Gathering toll money. Let's ban tolls!
    8. Turning on heat/air conditioning.
    9. Flipping off guy in H2 with those hubcaps that spin even when you're not moving.
    10. Putting on and removing hands free cell phone devices.
    11. Smoking.
    12. Latroy Hawkins
    13. The smell of Gary, Indiana.
    14. The smell of Gary, the guy who sat next to me on the bus today. That guy should not be allowed in any type of motorized vehicle.
    15. Pondering the idiocy of building a toll booth a few feet in front of the spot where two freeways merge on I-90. I have much time to ponder this as no cars actually ever move at this spot on I-90.
    16. Listening to the guy in the Ford Galaxy next to me who really really wants everyone to know how much he likes the Fat Joe song, Lean Back.
    17. Billboards.
    18. Cars that are double parked next to open parking spots.
    19. Shaving.
    20. People.

    "Paul: I think anonymous was attempting to show how Mitch was ok with banning something as long as he himself didn't really like it."

    Exactly. And you knew it the whole time too. So be a man and say it. Mitch was being a shit-head and you know it. Do you always talk to yourself?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:58 AM  

  • Yes, they are. All of these (even the jokey ones) are distractions to driving a car, like a cell phone. Be it smell, or fiddling with some gadget, they are distractions to driving a car. Therefore they are more likely to cause a car accident. My quibble with your analogy, and one of Mitch's points, was that the separate coveyance of a motorcycle poses different "threats" for lack of a better term.

    And that is correct. All of my examples are distractions to driving. A motocycle is...a motorcycle.

    Now, if you had a motorcycle in the passenger seat of your car, then your analogy might hold up. But I don't see why you're getting all huffy since I largely agreed with you.

    "Exactly. And you knew it the whole time too. So be a man and say it. Mitch was being a shit-head and you know it. Do you always talk to yourself?"

    I did say it. In fact, you even quoted it above. Just because I don't agree with Mitch's position doesn't make him a shithead. He did gt a bit over the top in the motorcycle defense, but I also pointed that out.

    In fact, did you read the comment, or just skim it?

    I wasn't talking to myself. I was establishing which opinion I was summarizing.

    But yes, I do.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 11:08 AM  

  • Motorcycles ARE distracting to drivers. When they rev their engines and weave in and out of traffic they are distracting to other drivers on the road. They are also often brightly colored and/or have freaky dudes in leather on them.

    Yes, I read the whole comment and it appeared to me that you were trying to hard to be diplomatic. I know you gave me some credit, but not enough in my opinion.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:14 AM  

  • Can we all agree that it should be against the law to talk on a cell phone when driving a motorcycle? At least if you don't have an ear-peice thingy.

    By Blogger DannyNoonan, at 11:17 AM  

  • Now you're engaging in revisionist history. Earlier you wrote:

    "I see a lot of people driving their motorcycles like assholes-weaving in and out of traffic, speeding, reving their engines. It's totally unsafe to them and to other drivers. I'd bet the percentage of motorcyclists that get in deadly collisions is much higher than the percentage of car-drivers that get in deadly collisions. Should we ban motorcycles?"(Emphasis added).

    Now you claim that what you meant was that motorcycles will cause others to become so distracted that they get their cars in accidents? That interpretation is not consistent with your previous points. If your intent was to make a toungue-in-cheek comparison regarding the garish attire of riders and the loud noises of bikes, like I did with Gary, and Latroy Hawkins, then perhaps you would have a point. However you made the point that motorcyclists get into deadly collisions more often, not cars.

    As for being too diplomatic, do you require me to insult those that I disagree with when I win an argument? Just because the two of you engage in name calling does not mean that I will join the fray.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 11:26 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 12:41 PM  

  • Danny has informed me that I am not being clear, and that anonymous guy is correct.

    Anonymous guy is correct, in my opinion. You tend to only favor bans that affect other people.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 12:41 PM  

  • Paul, show me where I engaged in name-calling. I admit I called him/her stupid for bringing up a totally irrelevant and meaningless "analogy", but I hold by that. It has no merit. Obviously, more motorcycle riders will be killed in the same type of accidents than car passengers. To bring that up here, or anywhere, is stupid.

    I obviously struck a nerve with motorcycles, so I'll discontinue discussing them any further. It seems to have pushed your anonymous friend over the edge.

    My point, simply, is that, while I think that a cell phone usage law is ridiculous, it is not nearly as ridiculous as the insanity with which people driving cars are talking on their phones while driving.

    I mean, is it really too much to expect that if a driver is going to be on the phone more than a minute, to continue the call when they are NOT driving, or to at least use a hands-free device, so that both hands are free to drive the car poorly? It's not like everyone you see is a doctor instructing someone over the phone on emergency open-heart surgery. They're talking to their spouse about what Sally said at the friggin office today. Should my life really be endangered more than it already is because you can't wait to get home to talk to your spouse about menial things?

    I fully understand that it is more logical for police to ticket bad driving, but giving a ticket to joe blow for changing lanes with no signal in no way means that he won't do it again. Obviously, the same can be said of a cell phone law, but at least it would show we're trying.

    It's actually quite funny that I'm in this discussion (and I call it that rather than an argument, because I'm not trying to anger anyone or change anyone's opinion. I'm just stating what I believe -- the questions above are rhetorical.), since I really am not a /proponent/ of cell phone laws. I DO think something needs to be done -- something BESIDES saying "oh, cops should give tickets for violations that already exist." Obviously, that's ALREADY not working. In my opinion, something NEEDS to be done, though, since it is so WAY out of hand.

    (Honestly, looking at what I wrote above, I don't know why this ever turned into an agitated motorcycle rant. Maybe if you do a post on motorcycles, we can discuss that as well.)

    By Anonymous mitch, at 12:59 PM  

  • OK, after re-reading, I still don't know where I'm a shit-head. Is it because I think a cell phone ban isn't a bad idea? And does anon make an automatic conclusion that because I think that, that I am unaffected by it? If so, that's poor logic. But it also explains why he/she got upset right away.

    For the record, I DO have a cell phone, and I DO use it in a vehicle. But I DO use it responisbly. I don't make or take calls in inner-city driving, and when I do take or make calls that will last over a minute, I use a headset. It's only logical. Obviously other people not only struggle with this logic, but also use the phone alot more than I do. If it takes a ban to make marked improvements, then I can't argue. Up to this point, the only "other" solutions you've offered aren't going to do anything for the problem.

    So I guess I have to ask, on a scale of 1-10, 10 begin most severe, how big of a problem do you think drivers talking on cell phones is? Obviously, I think it's a very big problem. As far as driving only (not counting /real/ crimes -- murder, rape, robbery, etc), I'd give it at least a 9. I am more affected by people talking on cell phones than I am by speeding, lack of signals (tho I attribute alot of those to people talking on their cell phones anyway), "country" stops, tire-squealing, etc. About the only things that are more dangerous for me as another driver are running red lights and/or stop signs. My day-to-day drive to and from work is affected every day by cell phone drivers. That, inarguably, is a big problem. So how big of a problem do you feel it is?

    By Anonymous mitch, at 1:23 PM  

  • Your first "stupid" set off a "stupid chain reaction, which is why you got credit for it. The anonymous guy's was worse:

    "Wow are you dumb Mitch. You shouldn't be allowed to drive for making that comment and missing my point completely."

    And, for the record, I don't know the anonymous person. And the analogy wasn't that bad, it just wasn't perfect. And while it wasn't perfect in the logical sense, it actually wasn't bad because it was specific to you.

    For some context on why it's a bad law, my commute does not require me to wait ten minutes, it requires me to wait at least an hour. In fact, most places in chciago take an hour to get to know matter where you start from. I like to be able to call my wife if I'm going to be late, or receive a call from my friends if they're doing something fun on the north side, so that I can save time and not drive all the way down south.

    And you assume that the cops will not give tickets for the 30 second call. They will. I guarantee it. And once you start driving, is it practical to put on the hands free device? No, you have to anticipate needing to make a call.

    This law will probably cost me several hours out of my week (if I obey it, which I won't).

    And I believe that ticketing bad driving hasn't worked because it doesn't occurr. I would have cops cease patroling for speeding and concentrate on reckless driving.

    I'm fine with motorcycles. Next time a helmet law is proposed maybe I'll post about it. I hate helmet laws.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 1:23 PM  

  • I think it's about a 3. Most people I see on cell phones do a fine job driving, but I'm always more aware of what they might do.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 1:29 PM  

  • We're talking about two different kinds of driving. You're apparently driving so slow that you can observe others on their phones. I'm talking about multi-lane fast-moving traffic, where if you're looking at /drivers/ rather than just /vehicles/, you're not watching the road, and someone will slam on the brakes and you'll rear end them. I don't notice people who drive decent while talking on cell phones, but I sure as heck notice all the ones who drive like crap. But I notice their sporadic driving before I have a chance to look to see if they're on the phone. Like I said in my first post, 90% (estimate) of the bad drivers that I see are on the cell phone. If we get them off the phone, at least we have a /chance/ that they'll drive better.

    And I never said that the cops wouldn't ticket you for a thirty-second call. Absolutely, cops are bastards. They have a money-making racket set up in the form of traffic court, and they know how to manipulate it. I've got more bad cop stories than you'd know what to do with. I just wish a couple of the bad situations I've been in, I've had had enough ambition to do the right thing about it. The situation ain't gonna get any better until they starting getting nailed to the wall for the shit they do.

    And lastly, if you ARE in for an hour drive ahead of you, then I don't think it would be asking too much of you to at least make a hands-free device easily accessible at the beginning of the drive. You don't have to have a headset and try to find the little headset hole, you could always have a speakerphone attachment (some phones even come with them built in).

    I'm not saying it wouldn't be an inconvenience to have to try to always use a hands-free method to use the cell phone in the car. What I AM saying is that I'm already inconvenienced by others' poor driving as a result of cell phone use while driving, and I think I'd be less inconvienced by having to use a hands-free solution to be able to make or receive calls while driving.

    I've been rear-ended twice in the past three years (for driving safely and within all laws -- actually, both times were when stopping for a traffic light), and I'm not sure if either driver was or was not on the phone, but if I was a betting man, I'd bet that at least one of the two was talking on the phone at the time.

    By the way, is there a helmet law in Illinois? It's not necessary in Wisconsin unless you only have a learner's permit, and then it's only daytime riding only.

    By Anonymous mitch, at 2:41 PM  

  • Perusing the internet after a rather tiresome morning of getting flak over my preference of motorcyles to car, I googled rants and motorcyles and found this juicy tidbit.

    Anonymous seems incapable of grasping 'intelligent' discussion, choosing to be the blatent name caller, bearing an obvious grudge against motorcyclists, and dismissing any opinion two or more degrees from his own, instead choosing to feebly invalidate other views by calling the holder of said views 'stupid' and unable to read.

    Skimming these comments, Mitch has got this spiel pegged, right on.

    Riding *is* a lot more dangerous than driving, I won't refute that. But as such, it *does* make you a more responsible and _aware_ driver. Riding a motorcycle entails a hightened awareness that's not always necessary in a box (car). It is more fatal because you don't have some steel frame encasing you; and there *are* stupid motorcyclists out there.

    I think it's these idiots who've apparently ruined motorcyles for anon like stupid cell phone drivers have ruined it for Mitch. There are morons out there riding without proper gear, who mod their bikes to make them louder and annoy the crap out of the rest of the world, who weave, who stunt, who drive at excessive speeds. But, I'll bet you the percentage of bikers doing that is about parallel to the percentage of people who drive without paying attention, speed, drag-race, drive drunk, ect.

    A motorcycle entails a great amount of balance even just to get her off the kickstand and start her. Motorcyclists, quite simply, can't ride drunk. The few that manage, usually weed themselves out of the world in a very Darwin-esque way.

    I personall have a very small (250cc) bike, I quite simply *can't* drive at unsafe speeds because my bike will start screaming and hurting. I actually *chose* the bike for this reason. She's a KawasakiEX250. Very quiet, and I like it that way. Anon; I'm so sorry some jerkoffs have ruined the idea of bikers to you, but not all of us are that way. I wear protective gear; boots, denims and tights underneath, plain black NexGen jacket and plain full-face helmet and kevlar knuckled gloves... I don't consider myself one of the 'freaks' out there that distract other drivers with their 'bling'.

    Regardless, I wouldn't impose my driving ideals on another human being, but almost *all* of people who've nearly creamed me -just driving in an econobox- *were* on cell-phones. I *do* think it's an issue that needs to be addressed, but not by banning altogether.

    In summary, anti-cell phone *and* anti-motorcycle propoganda is total bull.
    Thank you for reading.

    ~Leena Rosen
    http://www.geocities.com/leena_rosen

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:07 AM  

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