Posts tagged driving
CARSON CITY — People who get caught text messaging or talking on a cell phone while driving would be guilty of a misdemeanor under a bill approved Tuesday by a legislative committee.
The Assembly Committee on Transportation voted 12-3 in favor of Assembly Bill 151, which seeks to prohibit people from using cell phones while behind the wheel, although they would be able to talk on a mobile phone if they used a hands-free device.
The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas, would impose a $50 fine for the first offense, $100 for the second offense and $250 for the third offense.
Republican Assembly members Scott Hammond of Las Vegas, and Mark Sherwood and Melissa Woodbury, both of Henderson, voted against the bill.
Atkinson said the bill is important because the law on distracted driving leaves it up to police to determine whether text messaging or talking on a mobile phone is a distraction. Witnesses who testified in an earlier hearing on the bill said text messaging while driving was a greater impairment than alcohol use.
AB151 is one of several bills seeking to limit mobile phone use by drivers and most similar to Senate Bill 140 by Sen. Shirley Breeden, D-Henderson, which was approved March 17 by the Senate Transportation Committee.
Breeden’s bill calls for a $250 fine for anyone who uses a cell phone or texts while driving. A second offense would be a $500 fine. A third offense would result in a $1,000 fine and suspension of driving privileges for at least six months.
Atkinson’s bill originally included texting only and proposed harsher penalties. He amended it at the request of Assemblyman Harvey Munford, D-Las Vegas, who had a bill to restrict talking on hand-held phones while driving.
Atkinson’s bill would allow drivers to talk on the phone while driving if they use a hands-free device. It also would make exceptions for members of law enforcement, emergency responders, and for two-way radio use by people working for regulated utilities.
Both Atkinson’s and Breeden’s bills would need to pass floor votes and be reconciled with each other before going to Gov. Brian Sandoval.
Dale Erquiaga, the governor’s senior policy adviser, said Sandoval would support a texting ban.
Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3861.
Last week Sprint announced that later this year it will offer a smart-phone app, called Drive First, designed to minimize distracted driving. When activated, Drive First will lock the cell phone screen, redirect incoming calls to voice mail, block text-message alerts, and automatically tell incoming texters that, we’re sorry, but the number you are trying to reach is currently driving. The app will allow access to three emergency contacts and GPS navigation devices.
Drive First will be available for Sprint users with Android phones and will cost $2 a month (plus surcharges and taxes and probably an additional overcharge, because while Sprint may care about the safety of America’s youth, it remains, after all, a phone company). The app, which was created by Location Labs, is the latest in a growing line of devices intended to prevent drivers from using cell phones. T-Mobile partnered with Location Labs on a similar program earlier this year, and the April issue of Consumer Reports gives a glimpse of several others, including:
- DriveSafe.ly Pro: An app that reads texts and emails aloud to drivers and enables them to compose new messages verbally.
- tXtBlocker: This app, the “most effective antitexting product” Consumer Reports has tried, disables a phone and lets parents choose when and where users can enable it again.
- TeenSafer: Appears to be tXtBlocker lite, with fewer features for its lower cost.
Preventing distracted driving has become a defining mission for Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood — rightfully so, according to the leading behavioral research, which suggests the practice is as dangerous as driving drunk — and he no doubt approves of such efforts. Still, the current class of apps, however promising, is not without its flaws. For one thing, writes Engadget, it remains unclear exactly how these apps will know when someone is driving and not, say, on a train or riding in the backseat. One may also wonder how strong a prevention program can be if it requires people to pay money to police themselves.
The first flaw is something programmers can and certainly will address. The second hurdle is probably low; two-thirds of people favor legal measures against distracted driving, which suggests that most will happily pay a nominal fee to increase their safety. Besides, paying a small cost to control your own actions is preferable to being Tased into distracted-driving submission.
A more fundamental problem with preventions like Drive First is that they are marketed toward parents who want to monitor their teenagers. That is a worthwhile (and business savvy) endeavor, but letting parents control their children via smart phone presupposes that parents can control their smart phones. The practical hazards are clear to anyone whose mother still signs her text messages “luv mom.”
Beyond the basic generational-technological gulf is the misguided assumption that the distracted driving problem is limited to teenagers. The best research estimates that between 2001 and 2007 roughly 16,000 people died as a result of behind-the-wheel texting. Surely that figure reflects a broad social problem. After we have thought of the children, who will think of the rest of us?
By Daniela Altimari on March 14, 2011 11:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (33)
The legislature’s Judiciary Committee is looking at strengthening the penalties for driving while using a mobile phone or electronic device, especially for repeat offenders.
The committee will hold a public hearing Friday on two bills designed to add teeth to a 2005 law banning the use of handheld cell phones while driving. It’s the second time in two years that lawmakers have sought to tighten the rules on cell phone use while driving. Last year, legislators passed a bill eliminating a one-time forgiveness policy for violators, provided they agreed to buy a hands-free device. Former Gov. M. Jodi Rell signed the measure into law.
One of the bills under consideration this year calls for an immediate, 24-hour suspension of the motor vehicle operator’s license of anyone issued a summons for two or more incidents of driving while talking, texting, or checking an email.
It would also sharply raise the fines for repeat offenders: Instead of $150 for the second violation and $200 for third and subsequent ones, the new penalty would be not more than $500 or three months in prison or both, for the second and subsequent offenses.
Another bill also under consideration would empower police officers to seize the phone or electronic device that was used by the driver and impound it for 48 hours.
The Judiciary Committee is slated to hold a public hearing on both measures on Friday at 10 a.m.
An example of a GPS and mobile phone jammer. Photo: Tradekorea.com
According to The Economist, a driver who passed the Newark airport in New Jersey each day had a GPS jammer installed in his truck for personal reasons. The Economist said it took two months in late 2009 for investigators to track down the problem, which led to “brief daily breaks in reception”.
Professor Dempster said the matter of interference with GPS was “a significant hazard for military, industrial and civilian transport and communication systems” because criminals had “worked out that they can jam GPS”.
He also said that because GPS signals were weak, they could “easily be outpunched by poorly controlled signals from television towers, devices such as laptops and MP3 players, or even mobile satellite services”.
But it’s not only interference from here on earth. Solar flares in space can also cause havoc for satellites.
Professor Dempster said he had found one such example of unintentional interference in North Sydney, where an SBS TV tower was causing GPS signals nearby to be degraded.
“There will be times if you were driving along past there [where] your [car's] GPS would drop out there for 30 seconds or maybe less,” he said. “But you wouldn’t really notice it,” he added.
He said a car’s GPS navigation device dropped out for “all sorts of reasons”.
“I think one of the problems we have with interference or detecting interference is that many people would have observed it and not known that it was happening,” he said.
Many people may have even noticed interference with their car’s GPS when driving, he said. However, the fact there was interference was most likely unknown to drivers because the signal usually returned to normal after a short period of time.
But it was not only interference Professor Dempster was worried about. “What has happened is GPS has now been around for a while and a number of navigation systems have been retired because GPS has overtaken them,” he said.
“So there were a number of backups that sort of existed and as we became more reliant and also more confident in GPS, some of these backups have been removed.”
Planes for example, before GPS, used many other ways of finding an airfield other than GPS. But those systems were being phased out because “they’re expensive to maintain” and “they only work in the local area”.
Although his workshop on the matter, held on Wednesday in Canberra, heard from Australia’s communications regulator, the ACMA, that it had not prosecuted a single person for jamming a signal in Australia, professor Dempster said that he was still concerned.
“There is certainly evidence … with eastern European criminals making pretty widespread use of GPS for that sort of purpose – for making high-value assets and vehicles … (the location of those assets) unavailable [using jamming devices],” he said.
Many of Professor Dempster’s concerns were echoed in a report released this week by the Royal Academy of Engineering in London, which suggested that developed nations had become too reliant on GPS systems.
The report said all these are vulnerable, with consequences ranging from “the inconvenient – such as passenger information system failures – to possible loss of life – such as interruptions to emergency services communications”.
“GPS and other GNSS are so useful and so cheap to build into equipment that we have become almost blindly reliant on the data they give us,” said Dr Martyn Thomas, chairman of the academy’s GNSS working group.
In a statement put out alongside the report, it said that the range of applications using the technology were “now so broad that, without adequate independent backup, signal failure or interference could potentially affect safety systems and other critical parts of the economy”.
It recommended, among other things, that critical services include GNSS vulnerabilities “in their risk register and that these are reviewed regularly and mitigated effectively”.
All of this was why the UNSW team were working with the University of Adelaide and private company GPSat Systems on a project which aimed to develop geo-location jamming-detection technology.
Although jamming-detection technology exists today, what doesn’t exist is the ability to be able to pinpoint exactly where a jammer is, which was why the research was being conducted.
This reporter is on Twitter: @bengrubb
- with AFP
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MyFord Touch At least not today…
Deaths from auto accidents related to distracted driving are nothing new and have been making headlines for years. The federal government is looking at ways to penalize drivers for using things like cell phones and texting while driving. So far, there is no federal ban for the masses against distracted driving, but several states have made their own laws that ban driving and using a cell phone or texting.
Whether or not the police in areas where bans are in effect can catch drivers using their phones is a point of debate. Some people claim that driving and talking on a mobile phone using hands free technology like OnStar from GM or Sync from Ford is just as distracting as holding a phone and talking while you drive.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has stated that the NHTSA will not at this time seek any ban on hands free technology while driving. However, LaHood notes that the NHTSA is investigating whether features like OnStar and Sync pose a “cognitive distraction” to users. If the research the NHTSA is performing proves that these hands free systems are a distraction more regulations could be imposed.
LaHood said, “We base our solutions on data, and before I or anyone else gets up and starts talking about ‘hands-free this’ or ‘hands-free that,’ or Sync or whatever, we want to have good data to back it up.”
LaHood said that a study that the NHTSA conducted last year found that over 5,500 people died in 2009 in accidents that were a direct result of distracted driving. Ford and OnStar maintain that their hands free systems allow the driver to use their mobile phone in a safer manner with fewer distractions.
Ford’s Alan Hall said, “Drivers are going to have conversations on the phone, read maps and directions, and listen to their MP3 player while they drive. Ford Sync helps them perform these tasks safer.”
GM has noted that it has no evidence that suggests crashes increase when drivers use OnStar hands free features. LaHood said, “Until we have some good data on some of these systems, which we’re studying right now, we can’t really say for certain.”
Consumer Reports would agree that MyFord Touch that works with Sync on some Ford vehicles is a confusing and distracting system. Ford is offering classes at some dealers to teach buyers how to work the MyFord Touch system and Sync.
ZoomSafer, developer of safe driving software for mobile phones, has raised an additional $1.1 million round of financing from White Birch Capital and SugarOak Holdings, bringing the company’s total capital raised to $3.35 million.
ZoomSafer provides risk management software to control and prevent employee use of mobile phones to text, email or browse the web while driving, which it says one of the most difficult challenges fleet operators face today.
For fleets equipped with smartphones, FleetSafer Mobile delivers an active policy enforcement solution that automatically prevents employees from texting, emailing or browsing the web while driving. For fleets equipped with any other type of mobile phone, the company also offers a cloud-based analytics service that enables companies to empirically measure employee use of phones while driving, with no on-device software required.
Driving with a cell phone might become a serious violation for teenagers younger than 17. A proposed bill will make any cell phone use while driving a primary offense for minors. The bill passed a Senate committee Monday and will now move to the Senate floor.
The proposed consequence for the bill would be a $50 fine, though no points will be added to the driver’s record.
Sen. Ross Romero, D-Salt Lake City, who is sponsoring the bill, said the main reasoning behind the bill is that teenagers’ brains are still developing.
The cognitive part of the brain that makes judgments is not yet reliable with teenagers, said Roylane Fairclough, a representative for AAA. Operating a vehicle while talking on the phone can be overwhelming, she said.
Drivers who are 18 or younger account for seven percent of the license holders in the state, but are involved in 22 percent of accidents, Fairclough said.
The bill bans talking on both handheld and hands-free phones. Romero said the actual conversation with another person is what’s most distracting.
Minors driving while talking on a cell phone are currently guilty of a secondary offence, so they cannot be pulled over by a police officer solely for that offense. The bill would make it a primary offence, allowing police officers to pull over minors for cell phone use only.
Janet Brooks, a child advocate for Primary Children’s Medical Center, said the hospital endorses the bill.
“We do anything we can to protect the lives of teenagers,” Brooks said.
Ashley Bailey, a senior at Herriman High School, was one of many high school students who testified in front of the committee.
“I get very nervous on the road when there’s distracted driving,” she said. “I do see people with cell phones out and it definitely makes me worry.”
The Legislature passed a bill in 2009 that banned texting while driving for all ages. There are 30 other states that have passed a bill banning texting while driving. Utah would be one of two states to ban cell phone use for young drivers. The other state is Arkansas, where drivers 20 years old or younger are banned from cell phone use. There are five states that have banned cell phone use for all ages.
Palmer Township employees prohibited from using cell phones while driving Published: Monday, February 07, 2011, 8:56 PM Updated: Monday, February 07, 2011, 9:44 PM By Colin McEvoy | The Express-Times
Follow Share Email Print Express-Times File Photo | DAN CLERICOA Palmer Township public works vehicle in December 2010. Under a new township policy, employees will not be permitted to use cell phones while driving equipment like this.Palmer Township employees will no longer be permitted to use mobile phones while operating township vehicles.
In a 4-0 vote tonight, supervisors approved a policy that will prohibit employees from using cell phones or wireless devices for voice, text or e-mail communication while driving during the course of their job.
“It’s pretty self-explanatory,” said township Manager Bob Anckaitis. “We probably should have passed this policy five years ago.”
The policy was brought forward by township police Chief Bruce Fretz, who said the township’s safety committee had been discussing it for about a year.
Fretz said the measure is meant to combat distracted driving, which he said is often the source of vehicular problems in the township.
“You can tell when you’re driving behind somebody on their phone just from the way they are driving,” he said. “It’s a major problem in our area.”
The policy makes exceptions for police radios that are hard-wired into the motor, as well as hands-free devices with single touch activation that do not require drivers to constantly touch or hold the device.
But beyond that, the policy will be enforced even for employees who often use cell phones as part of their jobs, including public works employees, road department workers, police officers and firefighters.
“They will have to pull over to the side of the road,” Anckaitis said.
Supervisor Chairman David Colver stressed that the policy only applies to township employees, not all residents.
It is only applicable when the employee is operating a township vehicle, not during their time outside of work, he said.
Some Pennsylvania cities, including Bethlehem and Allentown, have enacted cell phone bans for all motorists. Easton City Council considered a citywide ban, but authorities there expressed concerns it would not be enforceable.
Fretz said a cell phone ban for township residents has not been considered and would be even harder to enforce in a municipality like Palmer Township than it would for cities like Easton or Bethlehem.
“Something like that really has to be done at the state level,” he said. “And it’s something the state should take a serious look at.”
The new township policy does not include specific disciplinary measures if a township employee is in violation.
Anckaitis said it will be handled on a case by case basis.
“I’m not saying it’s not going to happen,” he said to the supervisors. “You’re going to call me and say, ‘Hey, I saw so-and-so on their phone,’ and when it happens we’ll take care of it.”
The policy also includes exceptions for emergency 911 calls, as well as any calls made from an idling car in a parking lane or space outside the regular movement of traffic.
Call for total ban on phones while driving
Updated February 7, 2011 16:03:00
Increased risk: researchers found drivers using phones are at a much greater risk of crashing. (Getty Images: Chung Sung-Jun)
There is a push for the use of mobile phones to be totally banned in cars, after a report found drivers using phones are at a much greater risk of crashing – even when using them hands-free.
A draft national road safety report recommended the consideration of the total ban on mobile phone use in vehicles as one of a range of strategies to cut the road toll.
Researcher Mark Stevenson from Monash University’s accident research centre says the report shows the risks to drivers.
“It’s around a fourfold increased risk if you’re holding the phone, in terms of crashing resulting in an injury,” he said.
“Hands-free, it’s around 3.7 times the risk.”
Federal parliamentary secretary for Transport Catherine King says a complete ban might not be practical, but voluntary bans for drivers of government fleets, taxis and heavy vehicles might be a first step.
Tags: disasters-and-accidents, accidents, road-accidents, health, information-and-communication, mobile-phones, safety, australia
First posted February 7, 2011 15:27:00
Besides, people using mobile phones behind the wheel mayhave to pay Rs 1,000 in fine and carry penalty points.
An expert panel has recommended that if 150 mg of alcoholis detected per 100 ml of blood of a person caught fordrunken driving, “he or she may be serve imprisonment of sixmonths which may extend to one year and a fine of ten thousandrupees or both.”
For 30 to 150 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood, detectedin a test by a breath analyzer, the person will faceimprisonment of up to six months or “with a fine of fivethousand rupees or both.”
The recommendations are part of 411-page report preparedby a 10-member committee headed by former road secretary SSundar for overhauling archaic provisions under Motor Vehicles(MV) Act, 1988.
The committee has submitted the report to Union Ministerfor Road Transport and Highways C P Joshi.
Apart from stiffer penalties for offences like rashdriving and jumping signals, the report suggests that “whoeveruses mobile phone or any accessories thereof while driving amotor vehicle shall be punishable with a fine of one thousandrupees and shall carry penalty points.”
Use of mobile phone means “any appliance, instrument,material or apparatus used or capable of use for transmissionor reception of signs, signals, writing, images and sounds orintelligence of any nature by wire, visual or otherelectromagnetic transmissions, radio waves or Hertzian waves,galvanic, electric or magnetic means,” it said.
Habitual offenders may even get their driving licensescancelled under the provision.
The committee has suggested overhauling the Actincorporating best road practices in nations like China andJapan to suit the current requirement and minimise the numberof accidents.
The need for amending the present Act or replacing it byan entirely new legislation will be assessed soon, Joshi hadsaid earlier.
The Transport Ministry was in the process of amending theAct for long to meet challenges like safety and security ofroad users and a Bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in May2007.
However, it was referred to a parliamentary panel andthe Ministry incorporating its suggestions constituted by apanel headed by Sundar to review the Bill. It submitted itsreport today.
The Committee had held about 40 meetings and incorporated90 suggestions from various stakeholders and experts from theroad sector.