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Source: (consider it) Thread: Distracted driving
no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
# 15560

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We had recent news of the jailing of a distracted truck driver who killed 3 people, one year of jail for each. The sentencing aside, distracted driving is apparently taking over from drinking alcohol as the first cause of autos hurting people. I wonder if we have a problem with cars being far, far too comfortable.

Maybe autos should be uncomfortable, without things to make the drive so much more relaxing and enjoyable. More noise, less comfortable seats, no automatic transmissions, no visual display on the dashboard, no excessive info-tainment sound system.

How many of us have drifted into self reflection, been distracted by a phone call over the car's sound system or a podcast or a piece of music?

I don't know that automatic, robot or self driving cars will solve the issue, because collisions are usually something that is unexpected, which requires human intervention. I hope we don't have much discussion of how even more technology will cure the distracted driving problem.

Link to truck crash referred to above.

[ 12. September 2017, 17:58: Message edited by: no prophet's flag is set so... ]

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Posts: 10735 | From: Treaty 6 territory in the nonexistant Province of Buffalo, Canada ↄ⃝' | Registered: Mar 2010  |  IP: Logged
Og, King of Bashan

Ship's giant Amorite
# 9562

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I try to model non-distracted driving for my daughter. She will occasionally drop a toy where she can't reach and demand that I pick it up, or have a sudden and pressing need to listen to a specific song from the Moana soundtrack. In these moments, I will attempt to calmly explain that daddy is driving, and that he won't be able to fix the issue until the car is stopped.

The first time I was ever in an accident, I was 14 and in the passenger seat. My brother was driving, and ran a red light while trying to change a tape in the tape deck. We were lucky that we were in one of those mid-80s Volvo station wagons that could survive a direct cruise missile strike, or we might have been really hurt. That was enough for me to learn to keep my eyes on the road.

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Posts: 3096 | From: Denver, Colorado, USA | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged
Rossweisse

High Church Valkyrie
# 2349

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Where I live, it is actually legal for persons over the age of 18 to text while driving. There are a lot of distracted driving-related accidents here.

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Posts: 14537 | From: Valhalla | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
Schroedinger's cat

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# 64

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I don't know about this. Yes, distracted driving is a problem, but the answer is not less comfortable cars.

One part of the answer should be better technology - so that, for example, my dashcam shouldn't stop working while I am driving (as it did today).

I would like to see phones disables within the area of the driver - so that a driver couldn't actually use a phone in their hand. I don't think hands free is good enough, but I would prefer that this is only possible if there is a passenger in the car.

There is a car advert that talks about the car like an office. It is this that I think is the problem. It shouldn't be an office. You shouldn't be able to do work while driving, the facilities are more for emergencies, for telling someone that you will be late. Not for conducting business.

Of course, the other thing that is distracting is the environment - the signs around, advertising etc. Not that the environment should be boring, but that attention should be focussed on the driving experience.

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keibat
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Rossweisse wrote:
quote:
Where I live, it is actually legal for persons over the age of 18 to text while driving. There are a lot of distracted driving-related accidents here.
But Rossweisse, you live in Valhalla, where good strong mead (ABV at least 40%) is the daylong tipple – and how many vehicles are there in Valhalla?

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keibat from the finnish north and the lincs east rim

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Rossweisse

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This is in the realm I visit when I'm tired of hanging out with all those noisy heroes. A body can't hear herself think.

Vis-a-vis the car-as-office thing - There was an item offered on Amazon for a time that was designed to clip to the steering wheel and allow the driver's seat to function as a desk. I couldn't find it when I looked just now, but the comments were hilarious.

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Posts: 14537 | From: Valhalla | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
# 15560

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I have never been distracted when downhill skiing. I've been wondering if cars gave less feelings of safety, more like the level that bicycles or walking give, if this might create more alertness.
Posts: 10735 | From: Treaty 6 territory in the nonexistant Province of Buffalo, Canada ↄ⃝' | Registered: Mar 2010  |  IP: Logged
Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by Rossweisse:
Where I live, it is actually legal for persons over the age of 18 to text while driving. There are a lot of distracted driving-related accidents here.

Your legislators need clubbing.

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Og, King of Bashan

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quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:
I have never been distracted when downhill skiing. I've been wondering if cars gave less feelings of safety, more like the level that bicycles or walking give, if this might create more alertness.

Given the number of people I see wandering into traffic while walking and texting, or texting while riding their bicycles, or even screwing around on the ski slopes without looking out for the people below, I think this is a hard no.

My general rule for driving is to act predictably, and anticipate chaos ahead. It's served me pretty well.

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Moo

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# 107

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quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
I would like to see phones disables within the area of the driver - so that a driver couldn't actually use a phone in their hand.

In the US, texting while driving is a far more serious problem.

Moo

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Posts: 20101 | From: Alleghany Mountains of Virginia | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Rossweisse

High Church Valkyrie
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
Your legislators need clubbing.

Our legislators text while driving.

But yes, they do, for this and for much else. They're an active embarrassment to the state.

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Posts: 14537 | From: Valhalla | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
Gee D
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# 13815

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Texting and using a mobile while driving are offences here, but the problem would be catching someone committing it.

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no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
# 15560

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Legislation is an interesting thing. As of this year here, the fine for touching, glancing, using or anything is $280 plus 4 points against the driving licence. Second offence in a 12 month period is a 7 day driving ban at the roadside, and they impound the car for 7 days also, even if it doesn't belong to the driver. They did this in response to a number of collisions where cell phones were involved. I understand that the total costs for a second offence are about 10 times the fine cost (towing, impound, extra insurance surcharges, penalty costs for licence). The penalties parallel drinking and driving except the drinking driving is a criminal offence.
Posts: 10735 | From: Treaty 6 territory in the nonexistant Province of Buffalo, Canada ↄ⃝' | Registered: Mar 2010  |  IP: Logged
lilBuddha
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# 14333

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quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:
I wonder if we have a problem with cars being far, far too comfortable.

Maybe autos should be uncomfortable, without things to make the drive so much more relaxing and enjoyable. More noise, less comfortable seats, no automatic transmissions, no visual display on the dashboard, no excessive info-tainment sound system.

uncomfortable means different distractions, not fewer distractions. More noise means one doesn't hear things one might need to. I'm with you on the displays. Way too distracting.

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LutheranChik
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# 9826

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Our state recently made it illegal to drive while holding a cell phone -- in fact, even if you have a Bluetooth or dashboard holder for your phone, if a police officer determines that hands free use of the phone is leading to distracted driving, the driver can still get a ticket.

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simontoad
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# 18096

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In outback Australia the police used to string you up on a roadside tree if they found you texting on the Stuart Highway. It is a very long straight two lane road with the occasional curve and it used to have no speed limit. Also you can't drive on it after dark because of the kamikaze camels. Don't buy camel jerky from service stations on the Stuart.

Less seriously, I'm surprised that distracted driving is a greater cause of road trauma than speed (driving quickly) or drink driving. I have not been able to find any stats that disprove the assertion though.

[ 13. September 2017, 01:29: Message edited by: simontoad ]

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mousethief

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# 953

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I think we have to distinguish between distracted driving as in changing the channel on the radio, and distracted driving as in texting. They're really not comparable.

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lilBuddha
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# 14333

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quote:
Originally posted by simontoad:

Less seriously, I'm surprised that distracted driving is a greater cause of road trauma than speed (driving quickly) or drink driving.

A surprising number of people think they are competent drivers even whilst texting.

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So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Anglican_Brat
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When I learned to drive, my instructor told me that a good driver does not take risks. When your focus is not on driving, whether it is talking on the phone, having conversation with the guy in the backseat, or staring off at a stationary object on the sidewalk, you are taking a risk.

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RuthW

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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
I think we have to distinguish between distracted driving as in changing the channel on the radio, and distracted driving as in texting. They're really not comparable.

It's a difference of degree, not kind, I think -- at least in my car it is. One of the few things I dislike about my car is that it's hard to change the channel on the radio without glancing over at it. Everything is a bit too sleek and feels too much the same under my fingers, and I have to look at it to figure out what I'm doing.

Years ago I knew a radiology technician who said she never did anything at all in the car but drive -- didn't drink coffee, didn't eat while driving, nothing. In the 80s I didn't know anyone else who thought about these things, but she had taken a lot of x-rays of people injured in car accidents. I thought of her recently after a friend spilled coffee on himself while driving, reacted to that, and ended up plowing his car into a building. He walked away with assorted aches and pains, but still -- I've stopped drinking coffee in the car.

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Gramps49
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Washington State has made Distracted Driving because of an electronic device a primary offense, meaning if an officer sees you talking on your phone, you will be pulled over. If you cause an accident because of distracted driving, you will be charged. The penalties are pretty steep $136 for first offense. $234 for second and subsequent offenses if within five years of first offense.

Using a Bluetooth is still allowed, but you cannot manually dial out while driving.

The law also considers eating while driving a secondary offense, meaning the officer would have to pull you over for some other reason other than eating, but if the officer notes you have been eating, you will be charged Fine is $56 for first offense and $136 for second offense if within five years of the first.

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Gee D
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# 13815

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quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:

Maybe autos should be uncomfortable, without things to make the drive so much more relaxing and enjoyable. More noise, less comfortable seats, no automatic transmissions, no visual display on the dashboard, no excessive info-tainment sound system.

That was the approach which Alex Issigonis took and hence the extremely uncomfortable seats in the Mini, 1100 and 1800 ranges and the ergonomically wrong placement of the various controls. Radios were a frivolity. He went as far as to suggest that heaters were an unnecessary distraction. I'd have thought that shivering was more dangerous than being comfortably warm and not having to wipe your nose every couple of minutes.

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Erroneous Monk
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What I mull over is whether the penalty for texting/using mobile in hand while driving should be the same regardless of consequences, all other things being equal.

So I can see that it might be regarded as less serious to break the law and use your phone on a road with good visibility, few pedestrians etc. And more serious to do it on a fast unpredictable road.

But let's say two drivers use their phones while driving on the lower risk road. One is stopped by police; the other hits a cyclist causing serious but non-fatal injuries. Should both drivers get the same penalty?

Or two drivers use their phones driving on the high risk road. One is stopped by police, the other kills a pedestrian. Again, have they committed the same crime and should the penalties be the same?

I can't decide if same penalties is the "right answer" and/or better deterrent. Any thoughts?

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Posts: 2797 | From: I cannot tell you, for you are not a friar | Registered: Jan 2006  |  IP: Logged
Gee D
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# 13815

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As G & S put it, let the punishment fit the crime.

To go back to the OP, before we can start to think on the actual sentence we need to know the charge which brought the sentence, what was the maximum sentence for that charge, what extenuating/mitigating circumstances there were, what personal and general deterrence was called for, were there 3 sentences each of 12 months to be served cumulatively or 3 of 3years to be served concurrently; rather a lot more than we do. Then we can start to comment on whether this punishment fitted the crime.

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Jane R
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quote:
My general rule for driving is to act predictably, and anticipate chaos ahead. It's served me pretty well.
Mine is "Assume every other driver is a homicidal maniac out to get you, and all pedestrians and cyclists have a death wish." And I always use my indicators - even when there doesn't seem to be anyone else around - but never believe anyone else's until they start to move in the direction they're indicating. Being paranoid only works most of the time, though.
Posts: 3829 | From: Jorvik | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Tortuf
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The average weight of a vehicle in the US is 4,079 pounds, which works out to 1,850 Kilos.

I try to assume I am driving a large missile that is capable of destroying lives. I don't always succeed as sometimes things distract me: shiny objects, squirrels, calls, etc.

Making something illegal assumes people think they will be caught.

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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quote:
Originally posted by Erroneous Monk:
What I mull over is whether the penalty for texting/using mobile in hand while driving should be the same regardless of consequences, all other things being equal.

So I can see that it might be regarded as less serious to break the law and use your phone on a road with good visibility, few pedestrians etc. And more serious to do it on a fast unpredictable road.

But let's say two drivers use their phones while driving on the lower risk road. One is stopped by police; the other hits a cyclist causing serious but non-fatal injuries. Should both drivers get the same penalty?

Or two drivers use their phones driving on the high risk road. One is stopped by police, the other kills a pedestrian. Again, have they committed the same crime and should the penalties be the same?

I can't decide if same penalties is the "right answer" and/or better deterrent. Any thoughts?

I think we've got to do more about preventing this behaviour before it happens. I like the idea of short immediate bans handed out at the roadside like a fixed penalty ticket is. But the main thing is detection; the evidence is that people are not deterred by severity of penalty but by probability of detection. Guarantee a £10 fine every time a phone was used by a driver and most would stop immediately. You could introduce hanging for it but if no-one is every caught the deterrence would be limited.

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Posts: 17421 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Spike

Mostly Harmless
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What's is needed is a change of attitude. Nowadays, drink driving is considered socially unacceptable. 30 years ago, everybody knew it was wrong but many did it anyway. Those who got caught were simply deemed unlucky. Mobile phone use seems to be where drink driving was 30 years ago.

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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Indeed. A starting point would be to nudge the idea of "motoring offence" out of the public consciousness. They are offences against the criminal law, and most people have an objection to considering themselves to be a criminal. Reinforce that these are criminal offences with potentially very serious consequences.

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Posts: 17421 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Doc Tor
Deepest Red
# 9748

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My solution is to take out the driver's air bag and fit a large spike to the steering wheel.

That should concentrate the mind...

(Hell, keep the air bag, but I'd be worried about spearing one of the passengers behind)

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simontoad
Ship's Amphibian
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How about fitting airbags that explode on impact?

Oh yeah, they did that already.

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Higgs Bosun
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# 16582

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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
My solution is to take out the driver's air bag and fit a large spike to the steering wheel.

That should concentrate the mind...

(Hell, keep the air bag, but I'd be worried about spearing one of the passengers behind)

I dimly recall someone making that suggestion years ago. It might have been Shirly Williams as minister of transport. Also suggested were that seat belts should be banned, and vehicles made of cardboard.
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Wet Kipper
Circus Runaway
# 1654

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it is similar to a comment by Jeremy Clarkson who was annoyed at those who use their brakes on the motorway (because they are going too fast/not anticipating) even for a brief moment, as it causes those behind to also apply the brakes, and 4 miles behind and 15 mminutes later the concertina effect means you have everyone stopped for no apparent reason

he suggested that a spike should come out of the steering wheel every time the brake pedal was touched, which should encourage people to drive more smoothly.

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Posts: 9799 | From: further up the Hill | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
Og, King of Bashan

Ship's giant Amorite
# 9562

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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
My solution is to take out the driver's air bag and fit a large spike to the steering wheel.

That should concentrate the mind...

(Hell, keep the air bag, but I'd be worried about spearing one of the passengers behind)

I seem to remember stories about some classic car where in the event of a head-on collision, the steering wheel became a blunt spear headed straight for the driver's sternum.

Obviously everyone is being a bit silly here. But I know plenty of people who still ski without helmets and put their seat belts on a block into their drive on the claim that "it makes me act safer." If being less safe actually made us more careful, we wouldn't have needed these things in the first place.

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"I like to eat crawfish and drink beer. That's despair?" ― Walker Percy

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Rossweisse

High Church Valkyrie
# 2349

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quote:
Originally posted by Jane R:
Mine is "Assume every other driver is a homicidal maniac out to get you, and all pedestrians and cyclists have a death wish." And I always use my indicators - even when there doesn't seem to be anyone else around - but never believe anyone else's until they start to move in the direction they're indicating. Being paranoid only works most of the time, though.

That's my approach.

I used to drive a stick shift, which gave me a great excuse for not being available in the car. Now I just pretend I'm driving a stick, and ignore it. (edited - after using Preview <sigh> - to add: To ignore the phone if it rings, that is.)

[ 13. September 2017, 15:55: Message edited by: Rossweisse ]

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BroJames
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# 9636

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quote:
Originally posted by Erroneous Monk:
What I mull over is whether the penalty for texting/using mobile in hand while driving should be the same regardless of consequences, all other things being equal.

So I can see that it might be regarded as less serious to break the law and use your phone on a road with good visibility, few pedestrians etc. And more serious to do it on a fast unpredictable road.

But let's say two drivers use their phones while driving on the lower risk road. One is stopped by police; the other hits a cyclist causing serious but non-fatal injuries. Should both drivers get the same penalty?

Or two drivers use their phones driving on the high risk road. One is stopped by police, the other kills a pedestrian. Again, have they committed the same crime and should the penalties be the same?

I can't decide if same penalties is the "right answer" and/or better deterrent. Any thoughts?

That's effectively what is done with drink driving which pretty automatically results in a serious fine and a twelve month ban.
Posts: 3213 | From: UK | Registered: Jun 2005  |  IP: Logged
Soror Magna
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quote:
Originally posted by Erroneous Monk:
...
But let's say two drivers use their phones while driving on the lower risk road. One is stopped by police; the other hits a cyclist causing serious but non-fatal injuries. Should both drivers get the same penalty?

Or two drivers use their phones driving on the high risk road. One is stopped by police, the other kills a pedestrian. Again, have they committed the same crime and should the penalties be the same?...

IANAL, but I believe what would happen is that Drivers 1 would be charged with driving without due care and attention. So would Drivers 2; however, the Crown would add on negligence causing injury or negligence causing death, or whatever the equivalent. If convicted, it's up to the judge to determine the sentence for each crime, and whether the sentences are concurrent or consecutive. The judge can also impose a heavier sentence on the drivers that used their phone on a high-risk road, as that is an additional level of negligence.

So, in practice, the answer to your questions is no, they'll probably all get different sentences.

The would / should answer depends on how we determine responsibility for 2nd order effects. In these examples, I'd say crashing into something is a foreseeable consequence of using a phone while driving.

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argona
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quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:
I have never been distracted when downhill skiing. I've been wondering if cars gave less feelings of safety, more like the level that bicycles or walking give, if this might create more alertness.

I read a suggestion once that if car floors were transparent, seeing the road whizz by underneath would give a driver more reality about their situation. Makes sense to me.
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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by argona:
quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:
I have never been distracted when downhill skiing. I've been wondering if cars gave less feelings of safety, more like the level that bicycles or walking give, if this might create more alertness.

I read a suggestion once that if car floors were transparent, seeing the road whizz by underneath would give a driver more reality about their situation. Makes sense to me.
Some drivers would be mesmerized and stare at it instead of the road.

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Soror Magna
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Fred and Barney didn't!

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by argona:
I read a suggestion once that if car floors were transparent, seeing the road whizz by underneath would give a driver more reality about their situation. Makes sense to me.

Doesn't to me. It is something that would be quickly got used to and ignored.
But more importantly, if the driver were looking at the floor, they are not looking at the road in front. And that is just a bit more dangerous.

quote:
Originally posted by Soror Magna:
Fred and Barney didn't!

If our motors were limited to the speed at which we can run...

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Schroedinger's cat

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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
My solution is to take out the driver's air bag and fit a large spike to the steering wheel.

That should concentrate the mind...

(Hell, keep the air bag, but I'd be worried about spearing one of the passengers behind)

I remember seeing a program about the growth of car safety, how this slowly developed (because in the 1950s, the idea of surviving a car crash was fanciful).

One of the cars they showed had precisely this - a large spike in the centre of the steering wheel. To more modern eyes, it was quite shocking to see. And it probably would concentrate the mind somewhat. It worked with Damocles.

Personally, I would argue for much heavier penalties for driving while deliberately doing something else that is distracting. Lifetime bans for not paying attention to the road (repeatedly maybe - hope people learn from a first offence). As someone said above, drink driving is considered socially unacceptable these days among many. The authorities are trying to make speeding as bad, but I feel that driving while distracted would be a better focus (not just because I got caught speeding).

If I was In Charge (God help us all), I would seek to take the worst 10% of drivers off the road. This is not about lack of experience, it is about those who are deliberately careless in their driving.

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Spike

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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
Indeed. A starting point would be to nudge the idea of "motoring offence" out of the public consciousness. They are offences against the criminal law, and most people have an objection to considering themselves to be a criminal. Reinforce that these are criminal offences with potentially very serious consequences.

Yep. A few years ago, someone I know got pulled over for drink driving. After being handcuffed at the roadside and then having his fingerprints taken at the police station, he complained that he was being treated like a criminal. The custody sergeant replied "well, you are sir"

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Doc Tor
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quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
If I was In Charge (God help us all), I would seek to take the worst 10% of drivers off the road. This is not about lack of experience, it is about those who are deliberately careless in their driving.

I do lots of long journeys, but irregularly (and long is 200 miles+. All the Australians are laughing at me now.), and I've noticed my ability to keep going has diminished. Obviously, I have work-arounds for that - stop often for short periods of time, plenty of tea and snacks, interesting things on the radio or mp3 - and I haven't rammed a bridge support yet.

But I'm genuinely looking forward to the day I can just type in the destination into the navcomp and have the damn thing drive me there. I'm not (I don't think) by any means in the bottom 10%, but I'm aware that my ability at the end of a journey is quantifiably eroded compared to what it was at the start.

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chris stiles
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There have been a few occasions where something has been preying on my mind and when I've noticed after a while that I'm not paying as much attention as I should to my driving generally.

In these circumstances, I'm not really sure any of the above would have helped.

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Jane R
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Soror Magna:
quote:
So, in practice, the answer to your questions is no, they'll probably all get different sentences.
There is a specific offence for 'causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving' in the UK. IANAL but I have heard that you can (theoretically at least) be charged with this even if your contribution to the accident in question was obeying the speed limit and 'forcing' some idiot to overtake you...
Posts: 3829 | From: Jorvik | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Doc Tor
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quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
There have been a few occasions where something has been preying on my mind and when I've noticed after a while that I'm not paying as much attention as I should to my driving generally.

In these circumstances, I'm not really sure any of the above would have helped.

No, and if you imagine the number of lorry drivers who've had an argument with their partner, or have money worries, or the kids/parents are ill, and they still have to drive a rig to Felixstowe to make the 8pm ferry...

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Baptist Trainfan
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True of train drivers too (who can very easily go to sleep, too, especially at around 6 am if they've been driving a night freight). But they at least have various safety devices to support them and they don't need to steer the thing!

Airline pilots, of course, do not fly alone.

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
True of train drivers too (who can very easily go to sleep, too, especially at around 6 am if they've been driving a night freight). But they at least have various safety devices to

Though from my own experience of driver assist features, there's a certain level of tiredness where turning them on have a counter productive effect on how much attention I'm likely to pay.

Roll on self driving cars.

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Jane R
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Self-driving cars, eh.

... have you *heard* of the New Machine Jihad?! Well, obviously Doc Tor has, he invented it.

There is no way of reducing the number of road traffic accidents to zero. None. Even self-driving cars are only as good as the software they are programmed with. And guess who creates software?

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