More on cellphone ban in cars

July 22nd, 2009 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

A ban on using hand-held cellphones while driving looks set to be in place by October as officials prepare to report back to Transport Minister Steven Joyce this week.

Mr Joyce confirmed yesterday he expected recommendations to land on his desk by the end of the week after lengthy public consultation.

But he has made his intentions clear a ban on texting while driving was a “no-brainer” and he had sympathy for the view that taking calls on a hand-held cellphones should be outlawed.

Hands-free cellphone kits would be allowed.

I look forward to seeing the research that says hands-free cellphones are safer to use in a car than hand-held ones.

Road safety experts suggest that drivers are nine times more likely to have a crash if they are using a cellphone, and cellphone use has been blamed for close to 100 crashes a year.

This is correct, but let us out in context. In 2007 cellphone use contributed to 94 out of 11,667 crashes. That is 0.8% of crashes. And only 3.2% of crashes are fatal, so that suggests three fatal crashes a year have cellphone use as a factor (that does not mean no cellphone use would have resulted in no accident – there are often many factors).

But let us look at all things that are cited as having caused a distraction that was a factor in a crash:

  1. 262 – cigarette, radio, glove box
  2. 130 – scenery
  3. 122 – passengers
  4. 96 – cellphone
  5. 30 – animal/insect in vehicle

So are we going to ban radios? Are we going to ban passengers? How about banning animals – that may stop 30 crashes a year.

106 crashes have a factor if impairment due to old age? Should old people be banned from driving?

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31 Responses to “More on cellphone ban in cars”

  1. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    Relax.
    Self drive cars are on the way, so soon you will be able to text, and phone and snoggle as much as you like.
    At first you will have to wait until you are on a bus lane or wired motorway HOV lane, but the door-to-door self drive is also on the way.
    They will be a commonplace about the same time as we finish wasting billions of dollars on urban rail.

    I have watched videos of self-drive convoys which increase the capacity of a motorway lane four to six times. A wonderful example of communication and intelligence substituting for stuff – stuff such as the concrete, and steel and space needed to build four to six additional motorway lanes.

    Solves the boy racer problem too. We can wire the car to recognise boy racer behaviour, take back control and improve the gene pool by driving into the nearest wall.

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  2. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    Actually, pleased to see you addressing this issue, as i was going to write a bit on it in the ‘Kiwis staying at home’ thread.

    If you’re visiting NZ, you can always tell a new Zealander by their vociferous concerns with what is important.

    While their country sinks into a bottomless swamp of racism, statism, crime, violence and welfare addiction, you can always spot the Kiwis. They’re the ones writing feverishly to the newspapers about the horrendous crime of simultaneously driving and talking on cellphones.

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  3. Chris2 (766 comments) says:

    DPF – as I wrote yesterday in the earlier thread, these figures do not paint the full picture of the accidents and costs caused by cellphone use whilst driving as they are compiled only from incidents attended by the Police – in other words serious accidents.

    There will be many occasions when a cellphone-induced accident or collision occurs that does not involve injury, for which the Police are not called to attend. These figures are never taken into consideration when discussing this subject…….

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  4. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    More on the issue- there’s ol Jellyback Joyce doing the bidding of his masters again, the grey shiny arsed empire building bureaucrats in Wellington. Just rolling over as usual. Not for one instance thinking of balancing the benefits against the percieved downsides.

    FFS Jello, there’s a major recession happening. You should be firing those guys arses, not pandering to them.

    All in favour of this law, I guess you can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.

    Damn little Napoleonic, tinpot, dictator wannabes! Always minding somebody else’s business.

    But it’s the way the typical fascist liberal mind works; their life sucks, and they want everyone else’s life to suck just as bad.

    As soon as they get this law passed, they’ll be on to their next big urgent busybody quest in life, one that no human being, going back to the dawn of time, ever saw a need for.

    True Conservatives (are you out there anywhere?) should keep that in mind before jumping on that train with these dickwads

    Guess what. I can talk on a cell phone and drive.

    I can drink a coffee and drive.

    I can talk to passengers in my car and drive.

    I can listen to my radio and drive.

    All safely. And you citizens can, too. If you try.

    We’ve been doing it for almost a century, with not a damn peep out of anyone — until the current Wellington busybodies came along and began massaging the data and otherwise lying with statistics.

    What a fucking farce.

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  5. Rob Salmond (246 comments) says:

    This is becoming distressingly familiar. You take an interesting article and make a pretty silly point with it. What is the value added again?

    To answer your questions: No, nobody is going to ban more than one person riding in a car at once, ban anyone from going anywhere with interesting scenery, ban people from taking kitty to the vet, or ground all the old folk. Why? This is the big point: Because the benefits of carting people around, going to fun places, having dogs without rabies, and having 20% of your population remain independent are worth more to society than the crashes they cause. Amazing!

    Is the pleasure from talking on the phone right now and while driving (as opposed to either passing the phone to a passenger or pulling over for the important call, or waiting until later for the non-important call) really worth about 100 crashes a year? That is a decision we get to make as a community, and I vote no.

    PS – As for that first category, I wish they had split out the category. I love box isn’t much like a cigarette, which in turn isn’t much like a radio. Why are they all in one category?

    PPS – I bet many of the 106 old person crashes involved doing stuff like backing into someone at 5kph, or ramming their own garage door. I care less about those accidents.

    [DPF: Well done. You capture the crucial thing. Benefits and Costs should be examined. The Govt has never done this.

    First of all we do not know how many fewer crashes there will be from banning handheld phones only. The research suggests it may be close to none if people all go to hands free.

    And secondly no one has calculated the benefits of allowing cellphone use in cars. Or what are the costs of banning them?

    If someone does some decent analysis, that would be good. But it never gets done]

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  6. Rob Salmond (246 comments) says:

    (Having seen Chris2’s comment, I take back my slight about oldies and their garage doors. My bad, Greatest Generation.)

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  7. voice of reason (490 comments) says:

    ” 262 – cigarette, radio, glove box ”

    Well thats 3 factors ?? why group them- it skews the figures

    [DPF: That is how Transport report them.]

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  8. MT_Tinman (3,184 comments) says:

    The ban on hand-held cellphones will hopefully stop idiots texting while driving.

    That alone makes the ban worthwhile.

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  9. bearhunter (853 comments) says:

    Might I suggest they look at sneezing while driving becoming illegal too? I defy anyone to keep their eyes on the rqoad in the middle of a sneezing fit. Obviously a danger to others and must be legislated out of existence along with anything else that might just possibly be classed as a distraction. Jesus wept. And I find myself in the unfamiliar position of wholeheartedly endorsing Redbaiter’s comment:

    “While their country sinks into a bottomless swamp of racism, statism, crime, violence and welfare addiction, you can always spot the Kiwis. They’re the ones writing feverishly to the newspapers about the horrendous crime of simultaneously driving and talking on cellphones.”

    Spot on.

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  10. gd (2,286 comments) says:

    And like all the other dumb laws on the statues book will it stop the problem?

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  11. Rob Salmond (246 comments) says:

    David – Your comment on my comment is good. Of course we need to consider both costs and benefits! But if this comment-on-a-comment represents your considered view, what is with the OTT hysterics in the main post?

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  12. Tom Semmens (79 comments) says:

    Daddy State!

    Daddy State!

    Daddy State!

    Daddy State!

    Daddy State!

    Daddy State!

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  13. david (2,557 comments) says:

    gd – you make a very good point. Peter Blake coined the phrase “will it make the boat go faster?” and in various incarnations it should become the acid test for all these controlling suggestions. Simultaneously it demands that the purpose of the measure and the effects of it are objectively evaluated.

    For example no-one in their right mind could have honstly answered the question “will microchipping reduce dog attacks?” in the affirmative. Likewise S59, and many other legislative measures would have failed the acid test and been discarded. Unfortunately there are idiot people collectively called the electorate who cannot define a common rationale for any suggestion and populism carries the day.

    So I ask purely as an example of this test in action, Do either Labour or The Green party contribute anything to New Zealand’s future social or economic benefit?

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  14. MyNameIsJack (2,415 comments) says:

    [DPF: Well done. You capture the crucial thing. Benefits and Costs should be examined. The Govt has never done this.

    First of all we do not know how many fewer crashes there will be from banning handheld phones only. The research suggests it may be close to none if people all go to hands free.

    And secondly no one has calculated the benefits of allowing cellphone use in cars. Or what are the costs of banning them?

    If someone does some decent analysis, that would be good. But it never gets done]

    Actually, it does, and then it gets supressed. And then it gets out again.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/21/technology/21distracted.html?_r=1

    http://documents.nytimes.com/documents-from-the-u-s-department-of-transportation-s-national-highway-traffic-safety-administration

    [DPF: That research looks interesting but is partial. Ideally what I want is research that measures whether a ban actually reduces crashes, or just leads to lots of people being fined, but no reduction in crashes where cellphone use is a factor.

    Also as I said, one also needs to measure the costs of any ban]

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  15. david (2,557 comments) says:

    Equally, Does Rob Salmond not realise that ad hominem attacks on the blog’s author are taken as proxies for his inability to carry an argument?

    Ah page 2 says “deny, delay, denigrate” Oh well one out of three isn’t too bad I suppose.

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  16. Cerium (23,559 comments) says:

    “And like all the other dumb laws on the statues book will it stop the problem?”

    No, because for every dumb law there are probably 1000 dumb ass drivers – that excludes Red of course who can do everything with his eyes closed.

    It’s not just about whether we can safely do things ourselves (of course we can, it’s just the other buggers who can’t). I’d be pretty annoyed if someone takes me out while urgently texting “k”.

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  17. Rob Salmond (246 comments) says:

    david (not DPF): 1. I think you’ll find there is an argument in my comment, one which DPF subsequently agreed with. 2. If you’re going to come out against personal attacks, it might pay not to do so in the form of a personal attack. Duh.

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  18. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    “Banning cellphones while [driving] is simple and has almost no negative side.” What totally uninformed tosh.

    Cellphone calls in the vehicle pass necessary information both commercial and private which makes our transport more efficient cutting wasted journeys, giving quick responses to customers and colleagues and allowing staff to make more efficient use of their time during the day.

    Which is why the law will be totally ineffective. It is unenforceable and it will be ignored for good reasons as well as poor.

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  19. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    Current laws address this problem.

    The offence of careless driving for example.

    Joyce is a dickwad allowing himself to be manipulated by shiny arsed public servants trying desperately to avoid being made redundant.

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  20. Brian Smaller (4,023 comments) says:

    I still would like to know if the actual number of crashes (absolute number or per head of population or whatever) has reduced, or just the lethality of them. I have a suspicion that there are just as many crashes as there have ever been and that in turn makes me wonder if bans on cellphones, hugely expensive driving campaigns or police blitzes are responible for the reducing road toll or it is the simple fact that that cars are safer.

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  21. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    To all the ignorami who think this will have any effect, within one year of the cellphone ban in New York, usage was back to pre-ban levels.

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  22. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    Mr. Smaller, this is all so much breast beating empty crap.

    If these statist scum really cared about deaths on the roads, they’d cease all this bull shit, cut back on all the advertising money spent with their tit sucking mates at TV One and TV3, and they’d put every dollar they could into fixing the roads. Making four lane highways instead of two lane cattle tracks.

    This is just a prize con. Useless no effect self serving wasters and bludgers putting up window dressing. Trying to build empires and make themselves indispensable.

    The best way to save lives on the road would be to fire every one of their useless arses, and put the money into earth moving and bitumen.

    National’s (and Stephen Jellyback Joyce’s) biggest weakness is their failure to get these self serving statist scum under control and off our damn backs.

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  23. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    Redbaiter, absolutely true.

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  24. gd (2,286 comments) says:

    can I offer the matter of smoking as an situation where a law banning this wasnt needed to greatly reduce the problem

    I am of the generation where my parents and most of their generation smoked.

    My father was introduced to smoking in the delightful sandy environment of North Africa 1941 where he and his fellow travellers where treated to free packets of cigarettes by their kindly government presumably to while away the hours under the desert sun. And to possibly take their minds off other odd incidents.

    ( this is how he described the situation to me)

    to return to the point.

    After several generations of infromation exchange there is no doubt been a significant reduction in the numbers of smokers

    Remmber Its still not illegal over a certain age,

    so perhaps in the matter of cell phones and many other issues rather than nanny or daddy State passing inept ineffective dumbarse laws we might consider alternatives.

    No the command and control nutbars in every political party wouldnt get their jollies

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  25. Cerium (23,559 comments) says:

    My father got free fags in N Africa too, and he was addicted until he ran out of good bits of lung.

    The reduction in smoking is in part because of “dumbarse” laws. It is also a lot more pleasant and healthy for the majority to go out and eat and drink without being polluted.

    Drink driving also reduced significantly with the help of “dumbarse” laws.

    A law banning phone use in vehicles won’t stop everyone from using them. But it will stop some.

    If they didn’t pass any law that someone might ignore we wouldn’t have any.

    What is more dangerous, a political nutbar? Or a drunk smoking txting driver?

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  26. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    “Drink driving also reduced significantly with the help of “dumbarse” laws.”

    Is this actually true? I am not at all certain that the proportion of drink-caused accidents has reduced.

    “A law banning phone use in vehicles won’t stop everyone from using them. But it will stop some.”

    Yes, it will stop a law-abiding risk-averse minority. It will have no detectable impact on crash statistics.

    “What is more dangerous, a political nutbar? Or a drunk smoking txting driver?”

    The nutbar. He will affect everyone. The drunk will at worst affect one other vehicle but most likely only himself.

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  27. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Another distraction is your beer tipping over when you go around a sharp bend, such a waste.

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  28. kaya (1,360 comments) says:

    I have no problem with talking on the phone, that is no different to changing radio stations or opening a beer, but texting is nuts. Driving over Auckland Harbour Bridge in a van looking down at people texting in motorway traffic at 80 kph plus is freaky.
    Cops can ping you for not wearing a seatbelt, why can’t they just use existing rules of dangerous driving if someone is texting and driving badly?

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  29. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    Agree completely, kaya. Driving without your eyes on the road is dangerous driving, period.

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  30. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    cellphone use without handsfree should be illegal and should be punishable. as should reading penthouse while driving, painting your fingernails and all sorts of stupid shit. however the fact remains that cell phone use is so ingrained that it is a problem and should be dealt with, the question really becomes how to police it, not if its bad per se.

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