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Archive for the 'Phones+Driving' Category

Cell Phone Use While Driving Soon to Be Banned in Baton Rouge

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

After a long and harried day of driving around town looking for the different clinics my doctor had sent me to for various labwork, I was finally heading home. As I turned off of Florida Blvd. onto Lobdell Ave., I saw the guy in front of me busy gabbing into his cell phone.

Had he, as we made the turn onto Lobdell, commenced to drive, I would've let it slide. Yet, no, Preppy Prick was so caught up in his conversation that driving was, apparently, the last thing on his mind (which is just great when you're sitting behind the wheel). I had to honk at him to go when we got our green arrow for the left turn - the person in front of him went when the light turned, but Preppy Prick and I just sat there while he gabbed as we had all the time in the world (which we did not as that light doesn't last very long).

We continued on down Lobdell at a snail's pace and eventually came to the Government-into-Independence intersection where we sat at the light. I had a perfect view of him in his driver's side mirror and I watched as he ended one conversation then got busy dialing up someone else. He didn't need to be honked at when the light turned green this time, but we continued to plod along at speed only a granny would find comfortable.

We went through the green light and onto the subdivision part of Lobdell. There was a gap that could've fit four to five cars in front of Preppy Prick and the car just ahead of him, but he wasn't interested in speeding up - he was busy on the phone.

As we came to where Lobdell opens up from one lane into two at the Jefferson light, he was going so slow I literally had to go around him or lose all sense of sanity. Naturally, I laid on my horn the entire time - something I try to refrain from doing but I'd had a long day and HE NEEDED TO GET OFF THE GODDAMN PHONE AND DRIVE!

Seriously, as we're coming up to the widening lane, there was time for me and the car behind me to go around him and both get in front of him behind the cars already waiting at the light; and neither of us even had to speed up!

Is driving and talking on the cell phone a problem in Baton Rouge? It absolutely is. Our city doesn't have the world's best drivers - let's be honest - and taking their attention away from the road anymore than necessary is something that should be avoided at all costs.

So it is with absolute and utter delight and excitement I announce that a bill sponsored by Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans, has been passed through a House committee on Monday and is going on to the full House for further debate.

Naturally, it's insanely controversial and I'm still wary it will pass through or not.  I drive every day in Baton Rouge, and daily I see accidents and near-accidents caused by careless drivers yakking into a cell phone.  The law, should it pass, would make such distractions illegal; talking with a hands-free device will still be allowed.

It all still remains to be seen if the bill will become law, and - if it is - how vigorously it will be enforced.  If you'd like to read more, including some of the ignorantly laughable arguments against the bill, you can find it on this 2theadvocate link.


Thursday, June 2nd, 2005

States limit cell use by drivers - Yahoo! News:

"State lawmakers across the USA are cracking down on distracted driving as research increasingly documents the perils of inattentiveness behind the wheel.

State lawmakers across the USA are cracking down on distracted driving as research increasingly documents the perils of inattentiveness behind the wheel.

Colorado, Delaware, Maryland and Tennessee banned cell phone use by young drivers this year. A similar ban approved last week by Illinois legislators awaits the governor's signature. This year, 37 states have debated new laws restricting drivers' use of cell phones, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The rush comes as research at the University of Minnesota and the University of Utah concludes that drivers talking on cell phones or fiddling with the car radio sometimes perform as poorly as drunken drivers.

New electronic devices that allow drivers to surf the Internet, send and receive e-mail, get online directions or watch DVDs may create even more distractions because they are more "cognitively engaging," says David Strayer, a University of Utah psychology professor who studies distracted driving.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that distracted driving is a factor in 25% of all traffic accidents reported to police, spokeswoman Liz Neblett says. NHTSA says 8% of drivers are using cell phones at any moment during daylight.

Chicago banned all drivers from using hand-held cell phones last month. New York enacted the first such state law in 2001; New Jersey and Washington, D.C., have similar bans. Other state actions:

* Nevada stiffened penalties for drivers who kill someone while using cell phones, putting on makeup or eating.

* Virginia banned pornographic videos in vehicles if they can be seen by people outside the auto.

* Several states, including Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi, have tried to prevent a crazy-quilt of regulations by prohibiting local governments from banning cell phones for drivers.

Cell phone bans have been difficult to enact in most states. The cell phone industry and the non-profit association that represents state highway agencies question the effectiveness of such measures. (Related story: Distracted-driver debate intensifies)

"You can't have a law for every distracting behavior behind the wheel," says Jonathan Adkins, spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association. "You're not going to ban eating or talking to your kids."

More controls are needed, some law enforcement officials say.

"Distracted driving is a deadly business," says Ken Easterling, chief prosecutor in Kenton County, Ky. He is handling the case of an 18-year-old man charged with hitting and killing a 2½-year-old boy while he was allegedly text-messaging and driving without headlights. "It's time nationally we got some standards, so we don't continue to have loss of life," Easterling says.

It's about time something was done. You can't even compare it to eating or talking to your kids. It's not the same thing. I see way more people driving dangerously, swirving, etc. because they're on the phone than because they're eating, applying make-up or yelling at their kids.

Can you honestly say you think its wise or safe to drive and talk on your cell phone? Are you confident in saying your attention is 100% on the road? Could you say tell that to the families of Nhiem Jennings and Alexis Kiles?

Talking & Driving Don’t Mix

Thursday, October 28th, 2004

Please take a moment to read this article from Yahoo! "Oddly Enough" News:

'Drunk' on Herbal TeaTue Oct 26, 1:33 PM ET
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California prosecutors are cracking down on kava-drinking motorists who are driving under the intoxicating influence of the herbal tea.

Following their first successful conviction in June, San Mateo County prosecutors have filed three other cases, after about a dozen motorists had been pulled over in recent years, said San Mateo Deputy District Attorney Chris Feasel on Monday.

Kava, while not considered as a drug by federal health officials, is classified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a nutritional supplement that can be used to relieve anxiety.

Motorists under the influence of Kava had a "thousand-yard stare," Feasel said. "They're drooling on themselves sometimes, their motor function is so bad," he added.

He said that police had pulled over kava-addled motorists who were swerving, veering into other lanes and drifting onto the road's shoulder.

"Kava basically has the opposite effect of alcohol," Feasel said. "Kava affects your motor skills before it affects your mental abilities."

The June conviction is believed to be only the second successful one in the country, following a 1996 case in Utah.

In the pending cases, motorists have admitted to drinking between 10 to 20 bowls of the bitter tea, which comes from the kava root, a member of the black pepper family.

"We're cracking down on DUI drivers," Feasel said. "Whether it's driving under the influence of kava, or a good merlot or Advil, you're going to be prosecuted."

First, I'd be so totally pissed off if I got a DUI for taking an Advil.

Yet that isn't my reason for sharing this piece. The reason is that if we're going to start pulling people over for "swerving" and "affected mental abilities" due to herbal tea, why aren't we pulling people over for those very things when they are caused by talking on a cell phone?

You KNOW this is one of my BIGGEST gripes. Every day on the way to and from work more than half of the people I see are talking and driving. And they are the ones swerving, getting dangerously close to other vehicles or the shoulder, hitting their brakes for no apparent reason, and driving slowly and obviously not paying attention. I've had people on the phone pull out in front of me because they weren't paying attention. I've had them slam on their brakes because they missed their turn. I've seen them swerve all over the road because they are concentrating more on the conversation going on than on their driving.

This study says that:

We used a high-fidelity driving simulator to compare the performance of cell-phone drivers with drivers who were legally intoxicated from ethanol. When drivers were conversing on either a hand-held or hands-free cell-phone, their braking reactions were delayed and they were involved in more traffic accidents than when they were not conversing on the cell phone. By contrast, when drivers were legally intoxicated they exhibited a more aggressive driving style, following closer to the vehicle immediately in front of them and applying more force while braking. When controlling for driving conditions and time on task, cell-phone drivers exhibited greater impairment than intoxicated drivers. The results have implications for legislation addressing driver distraction caused by cell phone conversations. (Emphasis mine)

So, as I've said before, if drunk drivers are dangerous and therefore it is illegal to drive drunk - then WHY is it legal to drive and talk when it is PROVEN to be as or more dangerous?

ConsumerReports.org says that:

The suspicion about cell phones and cars caught fire exactly five years ago, with a study published in February 1997 in "The New England Journal of Medicine." That study, conducted in Toronto, Ontario, looked at 699 drivers who owned cell phones and had been in collisions. It concluded that when a phone was used while driving, the risk of a collision was between 3 and 6.5 times higher than when a phone was not used. It also concluded that the relative risk was similar to that of driving with a blood-alcohol level at the legal limit, and that cell phones that allowed hands-free operation offered no safety advantage. (Emphasis mine)

in Cell Phones and Driver Distraction 2/02

BankRate.com's Guide to Insurance states:

The Harvard Center for Risk Analysis reported in December 2002 that cell phone use could be faulted in 6 percent of the auto accidents in the United States each year.

in Cell Phone Chatter Can Cause Accidents

So why aren't we doing something? Why haven't other states followed New York's glowing example and made talking on a cell phone and driving illegal? If it's as dangerous as being intoxicated and behind the wheel, HOW can this still be something people are getting away with?

It doesn't take a rocket scientist, or even these studies and articles, to prove that cell phone users who are gabbing while driving are seriously impaired. If you're over the age of 17 and drive a vehicle then you have seen with your very own eyes the ineptitude of these drivers. You've seen them swerving, you've been behind them when they start slowing down or suddenly slam on their brakes. You might have seen them almost hit someone or run a light. I know I have.

The fact remains that a vehicle is a potentially lethal machine and should be operated with respect, and the utmost attention. Would you have half an ear glued to the phone and operate a miter saw? Replace an electrical outlet? Work on the roof?

Let's look at this way - if you're a die-hard talker who thinks it is perfectly okay to gab and drive, answer me these two questions:

  1. Would you want your child's bus driver talking on a cell phone while driving your kid to school? Why not?
  2. Would you want the pilot of the plane you're riding in talking on a cell phone while he's piloting the plane? Why not?

Talking on a cell phone and driving should be illegal. Period. There isn't anything else to say on the matter.

Shittiest of the Shitty

Friday, May 21st, 2004

For fuck's sake. People you must believe me when I tell you that Baton Rouge has the worst drivers. I know everyone thinks that about where they live, but I promise you, that's only because you've never driven here for an extended period of time.

I'm a good driver, and I'm not some schmuck on the road who thinks that and still drives like a fuckwad. I've never had a speeding ticket, never been in an accident and never talk on my cell phone and drive. When I'm driving, I'm driving and paying attention to the task at hand.

Yet this seems to draw every doing-everything-but-driving-moron to me like a magnet. I almost got hit twice coming home from work today. Twice, and by no fault of my own. When I arrived (somehow) safely at my destination, I was a shaking, furious mess. Even a cigarette couldn't quell the shaking - but it did help with the anger, and then I started crying. I'm going to have to move out of Baton Rouge simply because driving around here is gonig to kill me! And not in the way you may think - most likely in the form of spending the rest of my life in prison after beating the idiot who hits my car to death.

Near-Hit #1
I am sitting at a four-way stop. I start to go. As I begin to cross the intersection, a huge pick-up truck comes at me from the right. At the time, he swung out so far to prepare for his right turn, I thought he just didn't see me and was going to hit me. As it was, he stopped as he was supposed to but was already so far out into the intersection that I had to swerve in the other lane to avoid his knocking the side of my car.

I calmed down and continued my commute. Not too bad, I figured. Just some jerk who pulled out too far.

Near-Hit #2
I was almost home, sitting at the light on the off-ramp behind an Escalade with Dumb Rich White Lady in it. There's only one left turn lane here, so as the light turns green, DRWL procedes to turn at the pace of molasses. When we get onto the road, she is straddling both lanes, then slowly veers over to the left lane. I waited a second to make sure she was going to stay there, then continued turning into and going down the right lane. A few paces down she decides she'd rather be in the right lane and begins just slowly veering over into it - no blinker or anything, just coming right on over. The bomp-bomp-booooooooooooommmmmmmmmmmp of my horn might've have been a hint to more intelligent drivers that they were about to hit someone; not DRWL, though. And she sure as hell was about to hit me - I honestly still don't know how she didn't, because when she started coming over, my front end was about even with the center of her ugly Escalade. Thankfully for Stella and I, DRWL apparently drives like molasses all of the time and I was spared from being knocked off the road by some rich, white bitch who wasn't paying attention to what she was doing. I was livid - and scared. I don't usually get too scared, as I'm usually expecting people to do dumb shit and am prepared - and I'd even kept in mind that she likely might swerve over into my lane, but it was still too close for comfort.

I don't understand. What in the hell are people doing when they're supposed to be driving? I realize that half of them, as anyone can plainly see, are more interested in their cell phone convo's than the road, but what about the ones that aren't on the phone and still aren't driving worth a damn?! There is not a DAY that passes that I don't see someone do something incredibly stupid and dangerous. Not one day - and, folks, I don't drive that much. 15 mins to work, and 15 mins back is about it. Other times we go out, Baret is the one driving and I'm trying not to pay too much attention because it just stresses me out too much.

I can understand blindspots and making mistakes, but unlike the woman in the Beetle a few weeks ago, and this dumb bitch this evening - when I hear someone laying on their horn as I'm changing lanes, I'm going to swerve back and look at where I'm going. I'm sure as hell not going to keep on coming over! What are they thinking: "Oh, they can stop" or "How dare they not let me in?!" Sometimes a blaring horn may be a signal that there is someone in the path you're moving into who can't stop! This is not rocket science. In fact, it's very simple: I'm not honking at you because I feel like you're cutting me off or because I don't want to let you in - I'm honking because you are about to hit MY CAR!! Hel-fucking-lo?!

Deep breaths. Deep breaths and another swig of beer.

There is nothing on the face of the earth that I despise right now more than bad drivers.

But I do feel better for letting that all out. Thank you.

Random Happenings

Thursday, March 25th, 2004

Interesting tidbits

Just a few cool and strange random things have been happening lately and I felt like sharing.

Stella's New 'Sneaks
With her new 15" wheels, Stella, my Miata, is lookin' mighty fine. Now, however, I have this strange phobia about curbs - whenever I pass near one I am silently panicking inside that I may brush up against one and scratch up my new rims. Curbs are the devil and I'm deathly afraid of them - I now try to avoid them at all costs.

The coolest thing, though, had to be the other day. I was driving out of a very small little community out in Prairieville this past Saturday. I was at a four-way stop, about to turn left. It was a gorgeous day and I had the top down. As I turned my head to the right to check for traffic I saw this young girl on a bicycle riding up down and the street. I'd say she was about 10 or 11, but who can tell how old kids today are? Her eyes lit up and she yelled out, "Wow, tight car!" I laughed, waved and yelled "Thank you!" As I drove off, I saw her in the rearview mirror waving at me. Tight car. That was just great.

Betty or Betty Sue?
I was in the waiting room of the doctor's office yesterday, happily reading the first Jamie book when a nurse opened the door. I heard her call out in a loud voice, "Betty Smith." No one answered. She called out again, even louder. Still nothing. The third time I, along with everyone else, glanced up and around the room. The nurse looked down at the chart in her hands and then tried again, "Betty Sue Smith?" Right then a woman sitting in a seat closest to the door the nurse was standing at jumped up, "That's me!" she sang out cheerfully and started grabbing her things. I couldn't figure out if she just didn't put two and two together and realize it might just be her the nurse was looking for, or she if she had some kind of hard-on about her name and refused to answer to anything else. The nurse looked at her like she wanted to throttle her.

You Waving at Me?
So I was trying to be nice again (will I ever learn my lesson?) and let a guy out. The light turned green, the parking lot he was leaving was right in front of me, so I politely paused to let him out. Dumbshit was on the phone, so subsequently driving with one hand, and he pulled out too far - swerving into the other lane. The vehicle there paused, not politely but out of necessity, and he waved at the guy. He gave the "thank-you-for-letting-me-out" wave to the guy he almost sideswiped, but he didn't give me a wave. He looked me right in the eye before pulling out, and knew I was letting him out - but he didn't thank me. He thanked the other guy for letting him be an asshole and swerve into his lane because he was talking rather than driving. I had half a mind to ram him from behind after that - but I figured he wasn't worth messing up my "tight car" over.

Money, Not Honey
I returned home yesterday and saw that I had a message on our new answering machine. Baret was standing right there, so I hit Play to hear this older black woman slurring into the phone, "Ya know ya there, so ya better pick up. It's not money - oh no - it's honey, baby. Ahhhh....fuck it." Or something along those lines.

Happy, Hot Enemas

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2004

Firstly, I'd like to say a big, fat "Fuck you, you fucking fuck" to the dipshitty asshat whom I was kind enough to let out into traffic yesterday. The fuckwad was so busy talking on his cell phone that he couldn't even give me an acknowledging "thank you" wave. I hate that. It's not that I do it for the wave, or that I expect people to thank me for being courteous. Just that it's so fucking rude not to! Like they deserved to be let out, or it was my duty to do so - not that I was just being kind in the middle of rush hour traffic when they otherwise would've been sitting there for 10+ minutes (people in Baton Rouge never let you in). But that's not the all of it. I'm not insanely furious with this man b/c he didn't give me a "thank you" wave - my road rage isn't that bad. It was the fact that he was talking on his DAMN CELL PHONE - the fact that he was so busy talking on his cell phone he couldn't even pause to give a "thank you" wave, and (WORSE) he proceeded to have us merge onto the Interstate at 40 mph!! Talking, not driving. You fucking fuck.

And naturally I have to say something about the Jackson-Timberlake-Super Bowl-Boob-Thingy. Not much though, b/c it's already given them way more attention than they deserved, or probably even bargained for in the beginning. She's got a new album coming out, it was a publicity stunt, it wasn't an accident (we knew that before you 'fessed up about it, Ms. Jackson) and it was pretty fucking lame. Look, I'm not big on censorship or anything, but there is a reason basic network TV doesn't show nudity - for celebs to take their "look at me! look at me!" shock-tactics to family TV was just plain wrong. Furthermore, this night was about football and about the players that earned the right to play in the Super Bowl - an accomplishment to be proud of. It was their night - for Justin & Janet to be so selfish and turn it into their shining moment and publicity stunt bullshit was wrong. In the big scheme of things, it doesn't matter and most kids know what a booby looks like anyway. It's just the fact - celebs act like a bunch of spoiled brats, each one doing something worse than the one before to get all the attention. Perhaps if Timberlake and Jackson themselves got slapped with a hefty thousand dollar fine rather than the networks, they'd think before they pull these stupid, childish acts. There's a reason MTV exists (and we know it isn't for music), so just keep it there, ok?

Last but not least, I found out today that I am the #1 Google Search for coffee anima. Woot! I never thought I would be a top Google search for anything, so this brings me great joy - even if I'm really only the #1 search find for people that can't spell. It's good to rule something, though. Coffee anima, coffee anima, coffee anima, coffee anima. Woohoo! Though I feel sorry for all of the misguided souls who want to shoot coffee up their ass and end up just reading a lot of bitching from a foul-mouthed, fiesty Southern gal, so I have added a little link (up top on the right) to help them on their way. It's just my way of thanking them for making this a #1 Google search for terrible spellers coffee anima.

Happy hot enemas to all, and to all a good nite.