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#1 2014-12-18 23:48:09

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
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Texas one of only six states with no cell/device-use ban

Texas is one of only six states with no ban on device use while driving.  [Now down to four states, as of Feb. 2017.]  Most states have a ban on texting, several extra ban the use of all devices, but in a few states, including Texas, anything goes.  Our lege did pass such a ban in 2011, but Gov. Perry vetoed it, calling it, "a government effort to micromanage the behavior of adults."  Then in 2013 [and 2015], a bill passed the house but not the Senate.

I wonder whether he feels the same way about DWI, and if not, why, given that they both correlate with collisions about the same way.

http://impactnews.com/austin-metro/cent … rts-jan-1/

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#2 2014-12-19 00:26:19

RedFalcon
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Registered: 2013-10-10
Posts: 122

Re: Texas one of only six states with no cell/device-use ban

Didn't that fool also veto a 3' passing law a few years ago? 

I can't wait for this ban to take effect.  I hope they actually enforce it.  As far as I'm concerned they can round up all the offenders and put them on chain gangs a la Cool Hand Luke.

'Cell phone, Boss?'

'What we have here is a failure to communicate.'

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#3 2014-12-19 13:53:54

chuckthomas
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From: Far NW Austin
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 76

Re: Texas one of only six states with no cell/device-use ban

I hope the new city council repeals it.  People are going to move their phones from being in line of sight with the road to below waist level to avoid detection.

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#4 2014-12-30 21:54:35

RedFalcon
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Registered: 2013-10-10
Posts: 122

Re: Texas one of only six states with no cell/device-use ban

I did quick look for studies about the effectiveness of these kinds of bans, and it doesn't look hopeful.  And yeah, some people will just hold the damn things out of sight and get away with it.  BUT, a lot of the instances I have personally encountered would be helped by a ban.  I know that doesn't a scientific study make, but what I see a lot of is people driving with a blinder over one eye.  Ever see a horse with blinders pulling a carriage on a city street?  That is what it looks like.   At least if the idiots were holding their phones down on their laps I might get picked up in their peripheral vision.  Maybe not, but it couldn't be worse.

Also, the ban may not seem to be effective, but it may help stigmatize distracted driving.  Once drunk driving was considered acceptable.  Now it isn't.  It still happens, but we are much better off than we were years ago.   I hope these bans move things in that same direction, even if they don't make a difference in the actual body count yet.

The elephant in the room is the cars.  We need to get rid of cars.  Cars are one of the worst inventions of all time.  I hate them.  We need trains, buses, bicycles,and walking. Cars for rare occasions only.  (I know, we need cars...cuz freedom*!)

*Freedom to be stuck on Mopac while I whiz by on the feeder on my bike.

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#5 2014-12-31 19:33:33

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
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Re: Texas one of only six states with no cell/device-use ban

RedFalcon wrote:

Also, the ban may not seem to be effective, but it may help stigmatize distracted driving.  Once drunk driving was considered acceptable.  Now it isn't.  It still happens, but we are much better off than we were years ago.   I hope these bans move things in that same direction, even if they don't make a difference in the actual body count yet.

Bingo!

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#6 2015-01-30 12:43:03

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
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Re: Texas one of only six states with no cell/device-use ban

A poll of Community Impact readers shows that 19% don't intend to comply with Austin's new handheld cell phone ban, unless it's aggressively enforced.

By the way, studies show that talking on a phone is just as dangerous as driving drunk, and that hands-free phones are no better than handheld.  (sources)

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#7 2015-05-31 13:35:23

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 985
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Re: Texas one of only six states with no cell/device-use ban

2011: Texas Legislature passes bill banning texting-while-driving, but Governor Perry vetoes it.

2013: Texas House passes bill banning TWD, but it dies in the Senate.

2015: Same as 2013.

By the way, a few months ago I came across a new free local paper called something like Apartment Store (an advertising vehicle for local apartment complexes), and some local attorney had a column in it frothing about Austin's handheld device ban, saying that "It punishes everyone for the bad actions of a few."

As though there's some imaginary responsible way to text while driving, and as though only certain people were doing it "wrong".  And as though not being allowed to operate your vehicle in a way dangerous to others is PUNISHMENT.  (Reminds me how some equate paying one's fair share of taxes to punishment.)

The paper was otherwise pretty sloppy and I predicted then that they wouldn't last but a few months; I won't be surprised if they're already out of business.

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#8 2015-05-31 14:12:40

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
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Posts: 985
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Re: Texas one of only six states with no cell/device-use ban

According to this article, "The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that 3 of every 4 states that have enacted a ban on texting while driving have seen crashes actually go up rather than down."  Hmm...

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#9 2015-06-01 00:25:14

chuckthomas
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From: Far NW Austin
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 76

Re: Texas one of only six states with no cell/device-use ban

Cell phone bans cause cell phones to be moved from line of sight with the road to below waist level to avoid detection.  In places that have banned cell phones while driving, there are fewer eyes on the road,  that's why there are more crashes in places that have banned cell phone use while driving.

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#10 2017-02-21 09:45:10

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
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Posts: 985
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Re: Texas one of only six states with no cell/device-use ban

Chuck, do you have a source for the claim that there are more crashes in places that have banned cell phone use while driving?

BTW, Texas is now down to one of only four states that still allows texting while driving.  The others are Arizona, Missouri, and Montana.

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#11 2017-02-22 01:06:19

chuckthomas
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From: Far NW Austin
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 76

Re: Texas one of only six states with no cell/device-use ban

Michael,  This site contains a compilation of studies with a wide variety of results.  The consensus seems to be that the bans do not reduce crashes.  I'll need to dig a bit more to find the one(s) that saw the correlation that I mentioned.  It has been a while and I don't remember where I got that info.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4001674/

While the bans don't reduce crashes what they do is make us less free and expand the police state.

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#12 2017-02-22 09:46:29

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
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Re: Texas one of only six states with no cell/device-use ban

Thank you very much for digging up that study.  Excerpts from it:

"With regard to the effects of bans on crashes, 11 peer-reviewed papers or technical reports of all-driver hand-held phone bans and texting bans were reviewed. Some were single-state studies examining crash measures before and after a state ban; other national or multi-state studies compared crashes in states with and without bans over time. The results varied widely. The lack of appropriate controls and other challenges in conducting strong evaluations limited the findings of some studies. Thus, despite the proliferation of laws limiting drivers’ cellphone use, it is unclear whether they are having the desired effects on safety....it is not clear at this point that laws limiting drivers’ cellphone use are having the same beneficial effects. A review of the research on the effects of driver cellphone and texting bans found mixed results. As discussed throughout the review, there is considerable unsettled evidence with regard to the patterns of drivers’ phone use or the effects of use on crash risk. Without this information, it is difficult to develop reasonable hypotheses about the expected effects of cellphone bans on crashes, or to choose appropriate crash outcome measures. Evaluations of cellphone and texting bans also must grapple with substantial methodological and data-related challenges that many of the reviewed studies were unable to overcome."

So, given that the study is a meta-analysis and that it's fairly recent, I'll agree that the jury is out on the effectiveness of bans, but that's a far cry from saying that bans *promote* crashes, for which there appears to be scant evidence.

About your idea that bans make us less free and expand the police state, I'm wondering what your criteria is for determining which laws are appropriate and which encroach on our freedoms?  I'll admit that I personally feel that driving is a privilege and not a right, and that since the exercise of that privilege kills tens of thousands of Americans every year, reasonable regulations to encourage safety are, well, reasonable.  We're a far cry from places like Japan where the licensing process is difficult -- if you don't go to a driving school, you're unlikely to pass the test, which isn't a cakewalk.  Here we pass out driver licenses like candy, even to kids, and are reluctant to revoke driving privileges even for those convicted of driving drunk.

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#13 2017-02-22 11:18:50

RedFalcon
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Registered: 2013-10-10
Posts: 122

Re: Texas one of only six states with no cell/device-use ban

Even if it is shown that the distracted driving ban is not effective, I'll still take it.  Again, the ban will do a couple of things.  1. It will help make it socially unacceptable to drive while texting.  It may take years for this to matter, but I think it is worth giving it a chance.  2. If some one is hit, and it were to be shown that the driver was illegally texting, this could help any legal case that follows.
I'm all for guarding against the government taking away freedoms, but I don't worry that having stringent regulations around driving will lead to that.  I think that if a police state were to arise, and use tough driving regulations to keep the sheeple in line, they could do it a lot more easily than by banning texting.  I don't disagree that we should keep an eye on our liberties, but we should also work to keep the roads safe.  My liberties wont be worth much if I get killed on my afternoon commute by a kid texting some goofy message to his friends.

We worry a lot about freedoms in this country and no where near enough about responsibilities.

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#14 2017-02-22 18:14:54

chuckthomas
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From: Far NW Austin
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 76

Re: Texas one of only six states with no cell/device-use ban

Michael, Here's a Time article from 2010 that references some studies from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) that found increases in crashes in several states after bans were implemented.  I didn't look up the original papers but you should be able to find them if so inclined. 

http://healthland.time.com/2010/09/28/t … s-studied/

I find many such laws to be an unnecessary encroachment on the liberties of peaceful people.  I don't like to see the vast majority of people burdened with such hindrances due to the incompetence of a small minority.  I find the authoritarians in government much too eager to implement their heavy handed solutions to such problems whether they be perceived or real.

Last edited by chuckthomas (2017-02-22 18:15:22)

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#15 2017-02-22 23:56:47

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 985
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Re: Texas one of only six states with no cell/device-use ban

I think the meta-analysis of several studies which said the results are inconclusive trumps a single study that said that bans cause crashes, especially as the meta-analysis included that specific single study.

And in that single study, the plausible suggestion was made that crashes didn't go down simply because drivers didn't honor the ban.

I found this statement to be odd, and troubling:

ChuckThomas wrote:

I don't like to see the vast majority of people burdened with such hindrances due to the incompetence of a small minority.

Are you suggesting that the vast majority can text and drive safely while only a small minority can't?  Because that flies in the face of all available evidence.  If so, do you extend that to drunk driving too?  Do drunk driving laws unfairly infringe on our liberties because just a small minority can't hold their liquor?

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#16 2017-02-23 10:15:55

Donald Lewis
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Registered: 2009-07-11
Posts: 172

Re: Texas one of only six states with no cell/device-use ban

Thank you Michael.    I can't get behind being outraged over the denial of freedom to put innocent people's lives in danger.  That is essentially the argument, unless one feels that texting while driving is safe for the overwhelming majority of motorists and I consider that notion absurd.

Don in Austin

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#17 2017-02-23 17:38:06

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 985
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Re: Texas one of only six states with no cell/device-use ban

Coincidentally, I was just trying to schedule a job interview by text for a position I'm hiring for, and the applicant's answer was confusing, so I asked for clarification, and she said, "Oh I'm sorry, I'm driving."

I replied that texting while driving is dangerous and illegal.  And she's not getting the interview.  Besides being irresponsible, she's demonstrated that she thinks rules don't apply to her, and I certainly don't want to hire someone who's not going to follow the rules.

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#18 2017-02-23 18:30:37

chuckthomas
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From: Far NW Austin
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 76

Re: Texas one of only six states with no cell/device-use ban

MichaelBluejay wrote:

And in that single study, the plausible suggestion was made that crashes didn't go down simply because drivers didn't honor the ban.

Yes, that's exactly my point. Before the ban people texted with the device in line of sight with the road.  After the ban people text with the device below window level to avoid detection.  I would argue that the second one is more dangerous and more likely to cause crashes.  This is consistent with the findings of those studies.

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#19 2017-02-23 18:48:50

chuckthomas
Member
From: Far NW Austin
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 76

Re: Texas one of only six states with no cell/device-use ban

MichaelBluejay wrote:

Are you suggesting that the vast majority can text and drive safely while only a small minority can't?  Because that flies in the face of all available evidence.  If so, do you extend that to drunk driving too?  Do drunk driving laws unfairly infringe on our liberties because just a small minority can't hold their liquor?

I argue that the majority of drivers know when they can and can't use their devices and to what degree so as to maintain a reasonable amount of safety.  I don't extend this to drunk driving as I see that as a much more obvious state of dangerous impairment. I try to balance study results with my own and others anecdotal experiences to arrive at a balanced solution that burdens peaceful people as lightly as possible.  I do however oppose things like open container laws and blue laws as I believe most people can manage such activities with an acceptable level of safety without interference from the state.

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#20 2017-02-23 19:38:38

RedFalcon
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Registered: 2013-10-10
Posts: 122

Re: Texas one of only six states with no cell/device-use ban

It has been my anecdotal experience that when people are holding phones up to the side of their heads they simply cannot see me because their phones are in the way.   I have had many such experiences.  I was not hit because I pay attention and because I take evasive action when necessary.  However, I feel that my freedom to ride safely was violated each and every time.

The place I see this the most is when I pass through North Austin Medical Center.   When many of the nurses get off shift they immediately try to make up for lost social media time by checking their phones as they leave the parking lot.  So, watch out riding near hospitals!

Now, these are nurses and hospital workers.  They should be among the most compassionate, intelligent, hard working, decent, and empathetic individuals on the planet.  So, no. I don't buy it for a minute that the average person can handle knowing when it is ok to use their devices and when it is not. 

Drivers with phones next to their heads remind me of those horses that pull carriages in city parks.  Those horses have blinders built into their bridles so that they are not spooked by traffic.

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#21 2017-02-23 20:35:28

RedFalcon
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Registered: 2013-10-10
Posts: 122

Re: Texas one of only six states with no cell/device-use ban

And one more thing.  This is not some abstract philosophical discussion to me.  This is my life.  I do not own a car.  I ride, walk, or run to all of the places I need to go.

It is NOT good enough to me that 'most people can manage such activities'.  I have 12 more years to go until I reach retirement.  And to save money I want to be able to NOT own a car and ride to work and put the savings into my retirement.  I need a better deal than 'most people can manage such activities'. 

I demand FREEDOM! [Picture Mel Gibson here]

FREEDOM!

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#22 2017-02-23 21:13:18

RedFalcon
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Registered: 2013-10-10
Posts: 122

Re: Texas one of only six states with no cell/device-use ban

And what exactly is an 'acceptable level of safety'?

Define please.

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#23 2017-02-24 17:10:08

chuckthomas
Member
From: Far NW Austin
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 76

Re: Texas one of only six states with no cell/device-use ban

RedFalcon wrote:

And what exactly is an 'acceptable level of safety'?

Define please.

acceptable level of safety is the situation where engaging in an activity does not produce a level of risk of harm that a reasonable person would believe is disproportionate to the benefit attained by the activity.

In the context of my remark I believe that if open container laws and blue laws were repealed society would not see an increase in harm. I argue that having them in place produces greater harm to society in the form of more use of police force and thus a greater risk of police brutality.  Furthermore they divert precious resources towards more police, more courts, more jails, resulting in less freedom and poorer people.

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#24 2017-02-25 15:38:35

RedFalcon
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Registered: 2013-10-10
Posts: 122

Re: Texas one of only six states with no cell/device-use ban

I will still argue that having rules in place about how to behave in public makes a difference.  Especially since a small, but not insignificant, portion of the population is too stupid to know how to behave at all.

I agree that we shouldn't just make up laws lightly and that having too many rules can also create problems.  I was a middle school classroom teacher for 20 years.  I do appreciate that you need to have the right balance of enforceable rules to maintain order without become a tyrant.  It can be a tough balancing act.

However, most people don't seem qualified to push a shopping cart through an HEB much less drive a 2000 lb death machine through a busy intersection.  I would err on the side of caution, where public safety is concerned, and err on the side of total freedom, where no one is any danger of being harmed at all. 

I would also argue that a better educated population, with more buy in to the idea that we all have both rights AND responsibilities, would go a long way towards having more relaxed rules in general.

btw, I'm thinking about starting a website where I can put up the IDIOT VIDEOS I collect while riding around town.

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#25 2017-04-01 19:01:51

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 985
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Re: Texas one of only six states with no cell/device-use ban

A guy texting while driving plowed into a church bus killing all thirteen aboard:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/pos … 2a57623bab

I guess he was one of those few drivers who don't know how to text and drive safely.

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