Peter Gibbons has to go right ahead and disagree with David P Farrar

August 18th, 2009 at 10:24 am by Peter Gibbons

I fully support the decision to ban talking or texting on a cell phone while driving.  Driving is the single most dangerous activity most of us will ever do (with the exception perhaps of fighter pilots, not that there are any in New Zealand anymore.)  A terrifying number of our drivers seem to be of the linked delusions that:

 a) they are a better than average driver

b) driving only requires part of their attention at any given time

c) they are perfectly capable of multi-tasking, thank you. 

In the vast majority of cases, all of these assumptions are wrong.  Many people on our roads combine arrogance and incompetence with sometimes lethal results.  There are certainly many sources of distractions while driving but using a cell phone is rarely unavoidable.  If it really is vital, make a small investment and buy a hands-free gizmo or use the Blue Fang Face Blog-type set-up David P Farrar already has in his limousine.   

While the New Zealand research is a little light, international research is increasingly confirming that texting in particular is dangerous. 

An American study concluded “the risk [of texting while driving] sharply exceeds previous estimates based on laboratory research – and far surpasses the dangers of other driving distractions.  The new study, which entailed outfitting the cabs of long-haul trucks with video cameras over 18 months, found that when the drivers texted, their collision risk was 23 times greater than when not texting.  In the moments before a crash or near crash, drivers typically spent nearly five seconds looking at their devices – enough time at typical highway speeds to cover more than the length of a football field.

One of the common arguments against the ban, made by David P Farrar and others around the blogosphere, is that there is already a law against driving while distracted though it is not really used.  That is true as far as it goes but my understanding is that the main reason it is not used is because of the difficulty proving causal effect.  For instance, the person may admit they were texting but deny that it contributed to them driving into a tree.  The proposed ban removes the burden of proving effect and focuses instead on the easily proved action of using the phone while driving.

I really would like to think that better use of the existing laws and a laudable public education scheme would make a difference but it won’t.  Too many drivers ignore what should be common sense every day.  A simple direct ban hitting them in the wallet and racking up demerit points is the best way to go.  If drivers really need to talk on their phones, buy one of the readily available kits which will let them do so legally.  After all, they can already afford a car.

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50 Responses to “Peter Gibbons has to go right ahead and disagree with David P Farrar”

  1. nickb (3,696 comments) says:

    So you would necessarily agree to the following then:

    Banning eating while driving
    Banning tuning the radio while driving
    Banning talking to passengers while driving
    Banning drinking while driving
    Banning smoking while driving

    ……………

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  2. Graeme Edgeler (2,972 comments) says:

    nickb – not necessarily. How dangerous were those found to be in the American study linked to?

    Why would we assume that all distractions are equally as dangerous?

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  3. Captain Crab (336 comments) says:

    Nice try Nick but, you can still watch the road while eating, tuning the radio,talking, drinking and smoking. Texting you cant(well I cant anyway)

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  4. Cerium (23,798 comments) says:

    There is research that shows that the things on the list are not as dangerous. For example, passengers often instinctively stop talking in trickier driving situations, and sometimes help by pointing things out. Phone conversations are totally unrelated and uninterrupted by what is happening around the driver.

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  5. Redbaiter (11,880 comments) says:

    “Driving is the single most dangerous activity most of us will ever do”

    For christ’s sake get a life you numb brainded MOT propaganda sucker. Its emotive irrational crap like this that scares your average drone into being a poor driver.

    Just leave people alone..!!

    When will you statists ever learn???

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  6. John Ansell (832 comments) says:

    Texting and talking are two different realms. One is hands-and-eyes on, the other is ears-on.

    Surely the law can make a distinction between activities that take one’s eyes off the road (like dialling a cellphone and texting) and ones that don’t (like answering the phone and talking on it).

    Tuning the radio is more diverting than answering a phone. Should that be banned too?

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  7. dime (10,213 comments) says:

    where the hell did DPF find these people.

    [DPF: I think it is good my fill ins have different views to me on some issues.]

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  8. Danyl Mclauchlan (941 comments) says:

    Tuning the radio is more diverting than answering a phone. Should that be banned too?

    If you can cite convincing proof that tuning a radio is more dangerous than talking on the phone and the police start reporting that radio tuning is playing an increasing role in road accidents then yeah, sure, of course it should be banned.

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  9. Lawrence Hakiwai (117 comments) says:

    “The proposed ban removes the burden of proving effect and focuses instead on the easily proved action of using the phone while driving.”

    This is my problem with the law change. How can taking away the burden of proof be a good thing? Of course it isn’t.

    So you make a harmless action a crime, instead of focusing on what is a crime – CRASHING WHILE TEXTING. How about making crashing while talking or texting on a mobile a very serious offence – the equivalent of reckless driving. Then you can punish the people who actually cause harm and not those trying to tell someone they’re running a little late.

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  10. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,703 comments) says:

    What abreath of fresh air. Common sense trumps policy theory at last! Horaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay

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  11. Andrew W (882 comments) says:

    The biggest distractions I have to deal with while driving are the Mrs and the kids, perhaps the government would pass a law allowing me and other hubbys/father to gag them, this I’m sure would greatly reduce the road toll.

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  12. MT_Tinman (3,317 comments) says:

    John Ansell the govt. have done exactly that, allowing talking on the ‘phone while banning holding the ‘phone with one hand and steering with the other.

    Red, when it comes to my ass I’ll continue to expect the govt. to interfere to protect it – this is exactly why we have governments.

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  13. Alan Wilkinson (1,933 comments) says:

    “For instance, the person may admit they were texting but deny that it contributed to them driving into a tree.”

    Completely daft. They can simply be prosecuted (careless driving) for driving into the tree.

    There is no question that texting is dangerous and should be banned simply for the consequence of taking your eyes off the road. That is driving without due care and attention pure and simple.

    But the rest of this article is hogwash.

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  14. Alan Wilkinson (1,933 comments) says:

    “Between 2003 and 2008, there were 482 injury crashes and 25 fatal crashes in New Zealand where the use of a mobile phone or other telecommunications device was identified as a contributing factor.”

    The brain dead stupidity of abusing statistics like this is demonstrable by taking the complementary statistics:

    “Between 2003 and 2008, there were 34700 injury crashes and 1800 fatal crashes where not using a mobile phone or other telecommunications device was identified as a contributing factor.”

    Obviously it should be compulsory to use a mobile phone while driving. Or have the faintest clue about how to put statistics into a meaningful perspective before you open your big mouth. Some hope.

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  15. MikeMan (173 comments) says:

    While I support the idea of penalties for people who are distracted while driving why is this not covered under the “Driving without Due Care and Attention” statute that is already on the books.

    Why do we need ANOTHER law to address a very specific point?

    Now at times the government is happy to pass laws that have no real measure (Loud exhausts or Excessive Accelleration come to mind) but are not happy with allowing police officers to use an existing law to cover this case?

    Some form of consistency would be nice, the test for new legistation should be “Can we cover this under a clarification or targeted enforcement of an existing law?”. If the answer to that question is yes then a new law is not needed and should not be passed and printed at tax payer cost.

    I agree TXT’ing while driving can be a distraction (although I am as guilty as anyone else at times) but is a specific law the right use of resource at this point in time as the issue SEEMS to be fairly small and a PR campaign from the Police about upgraded enforcement of an existing law MAY have more impact.

    I am open to other views on this but it seems at this point to be an overreaction. Spending money on improved driver training would seem to be the better place to spend the cash right now.

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  16. TelPrydain (14 comments) says:

    I’m in favour of the ban too.

    As I’ve said, I have a fairly libertarian bent. I’m in favour of letting other people do whatever they like in their own homes, as long as it doesn’t impact on me. But the roads are not your own home, and I’m sick of plonkers making the roads less safe while I’m on them.
    More then once I’ve had to wait at a green light while some turkey with a blackberry holds up the lane, or honk my horn at some twerp who can’t keep his eyes on the road.

    Edit:
    Also, I’d be in favour of:
    Banning eating while driving
    Banning tuning the radio while driving
    Banning drinking while driving
    Banning smoking while driving

    I am against:
    Banning talking to passengers while driving
    Banning hands-free headsets.

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  17. Alan Wilkinson (1,933 comments) says:

    MikeMan, you are right. Unfortunately, morons get to vote.

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  18. Alan Wilkinson (1,933 comments) says:

    TelPrydain, I’m in favour of banning people who want to ban things.

    Where is deportation when we need it?

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  19. Redbaiter (11,880 comments) says:

    “Red, when it comes to my ass I’ll continue to expect the govt. to interfere to protect it – this is exactly why we have governments.”

    No it is not. The government is not elected to manage every small risk you might face up to every minute of every hour of every day.

    If you want them to do this you open the floodgates to an even greater degree of intolerable interference.

    Anyway, its not as if this law will ever be enforceable. And you don’t need to wonder why no cop will respond to your 111 call when their so busy ticketing cell phone users.

    Why the hell aren’t you calling for action on the gang problem? Why isn’t Steven Joyce worried about that?? This is just window dressing by a combination of useless politcians and empire building bureaucrats, and as usual numb brained government worshipping sheep NZers go for it with bells on.

    Gutless soft cock wimps who deserve to be in slavery.

    Baaa baaaa baaa….

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  20. Redbaiter (11,880 comments) says:

    “I have a fairly libertarian bent. I’d be in favour of:
    Banning eating while driving
    Banning tuning the radio while driving
    Banning drinking while driving
    Banning smoking while driving”

    Well if you’re an example of a NZ libertarian then its no wonder they’ve got the political traction of over boiled cabbage.

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  21. themono (128 comments) says:

    Alan Wilkinson:

    I appreciate the point re manipulating statistics you are trying to make when you say “Between 2003 and 2008, there were 34700 injury crashes and 1800 fatal crashes where not using a mobile phone or other telecommunications device was identified as a contributing factor.”

    Except, of course, that that is a stupid example and it doesn’t apply at all. Far from being identified as a contributing factor it simply wasn’t a relevant factor. There’s a marked difference. You may as well say that in 100% of fatal crashes, the absence of a pink gorilla in the passenger seat was identified as a contributing factor, therefore we should make that compulsory.

    Of course, it wasn’t a contributing factor – it was simply an irrelevant factor.

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  22. MikeMan (173 comments) says:

    So looking at Alan’s stats this law addresses just 1.3% of the total road toll over 5 years, both injury and accident.

    That has made this an absolute joke.

    The millions of dollars it has taken to pass, print and enforce this law would have been MUCH better spent on getting a review done on upgrading driver training in New Zealand to have a LONG TERM effect on the road toll.

    They really are just posers and tossers much more intrested in style than substance down in the beehive huh?

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  23. MT_Tinman (3,317 comments) says:

    Redbaiter (7239) Vote: Add rating 1 Subtract rating 0 Says:
    August 18th, 2009 at 11:28 am

    “Red, when it comes to my ass I’ll continue to expect the govt. to interfere to protect it – this is exactly why we have governments.”

    No it is not. The government is not elected to manage every small risk you might face up to every minute of every hour of every day.

    Yes it is.

    One of the main duties of a government is to protect the citizens from the dangerous actions of others, whether citizen or alien.

    In fact I can think of no other use for government.

    Certainly the world would be a better place if all other functions of governments everywhere were stopped.

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  24. Andrew W (882 comments) says:

    “I have a fairly libertarian bent…”

    No you don’t

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  25. Redbaiter (11,880 comments) says:

    Check this out baaa baaas

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1207166/Angry-motorists-torch-speed-camera-backlash-scores-tickets-days.html

    Hat tip Crusader Rabbit- The Only Real RW Blog.

    http://crusader-rabbit.blogspot.com/

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  26. Alan Wilkinson (1,933 comments) says:

    themono: “Of course, it wasn’t a contributing factor – it was simply an irrelevant factor.”

    As maybe was the use of cellphones in the complementary case. Until proper analysis is done the difference is indistinguishable.

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  27. Redbaiter (11,880 comments) says:

    “One of the main duties of a government is to protect the citizens from the dangerous actions of others, whether citizen or alien.”

    So you want a law to prevent sneezing?

    You poor bastard. You’re so typical of NZ’s pathetic right wing. Posturing as protectors of individual freedoms yet willing to give them all up one by one by one by one to a government ever increasing in size and power, under the lame and mistaken perception that government exists to neutralize every risk you might ever face.

    Pitiful.

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  28. TelPrydain (14 comments) says:

    This is where I begin to get frustrated with people who (supposedly) share my political leanings. I’m all for low taxation, zero GST, minimal government intervention, individual rights and personal responsibility… if you want to put your own health at risk, that’s awesome…. But if you want to start risking my life, then I have a right to advocate for my own goddamn safety.
    I’m not super pumped that the government would just ban cellphones – in an ideal world I’d rather that the police just enforce the “Driving without Due Care and Attention” laws we have more stringently. But this isn’t an ideal world.

    I understand that just about everything we do entails some risk, but the old adage that “Your rights stop at the end of my nose” applies here.

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  29. themono (128 comments) says:

    Alan Wilkinson:

    “As maybe was the use of cellphones in the complementary case. Until proper analysis is done the difference is indistinguishable.”

    But that’s the whole point. They did do the analysis that showed cellphone use was a contributing factor in those cases. And the analysis they did on the others showed no evidence that cellphones contributed, making them an irrelevant factor.

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  30. RRM (10,099 comments) says:

    Pulling over to the side of the road before returning the call will not kill you. On so many levels.

    But predictably cue libertarian outrage:
    “No!!! I’VE GOT A RIGHT to put everyone else’s lives at risk! I know my rights…”

    Sorry but NO. Minor matters of your convenience and your “freedom” (pffft) to carry them out are just not as important as your obligation to not veer across the centreline and kill me.

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  31. Danyl Mclauchlan (941 comments) says:

    Sorry but NO. Minor matters of your convenience and your “freedom” (pffft) to carry them out are just not as important as your obligation to not veer across the centreline and kill me.

    Ah, but today you’re taking away their right to drive like idiots and kill you, tomorrow it’s the gulag. It’s all a slippery slope.

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  32. Sonny Blount (1,809 comments) says:

    If we genuinely give a damn about safety and not laws for laws sake.

    When are bicycles going to be warranted and where are the prosecutions for unsafe cycling?

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  33. Sonny Blount (1,809 comments) says:

    Sorry but NO. Minor matters of your convenience and your “freedom” (pffft) to carry them out are just not as important as your obligation to not veer across the centreline and kill me.

    How about building something on the centreline. That seems to me the most responsible and realistic solution.

    Fixing stuff is a better solution than banning stuff.

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  34. Sonny Blount (1,809 comments) says:

    Cellphone stats are heavily biased because everybody knows it can be shown whether you were using it or not from phone records. There are no such way to prove that you were drinking a coffee, talking to the kids, or reading a map, so it is NEVER acknowledged by a driver when they have a crash.

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  35. Sonny Blount (1,809 comments) says:

    If required the burden of proof could be established by putting a camera in the bonnet of new cars with a small black box.

    BTW, how many bicycles on the road can stop in a safe distance in the wet?

    The fatality rate for riding a bike is 40 times that of driving a car per kilometre travelled.

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  36. TelPrydain (14 comments) says:

    “If required the burden of proof could be established by putting a camera in the bonnet of new cars with a small black box.”

    Seriously? I mean….. Seriously?

    No really, that’s a GREAT idea. We can follow that up with cameras in our schools and work places.
    After that, we can just pop them in the homes of people who don’t raise their kids the way we like…..

    Awesome.

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  37. OllieGI (36 comments) says:

    It’s not a phone officer, I’m just changing the song on my ipod touch – honest!

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  38. unaha-closp (1,067 comments) says:

    a) they are a better than average driver

    In the vast majority of cases, all of these assumptions are wrong.

    Nope.

    50% of drivers are better than average, so the remaining 50% cannot contain a “vast majority”.

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  39. James (1,299 comments) says:

    RRM; “But predictably cue libertarian outrage:
    “No!!! I’VE GOT A RIGHT to put everyone else’s lives at risk! I know my rights…”

    Libertarians uphold individual rights AND personal responsibility….and privatised roads which are the solution to this issue.The owners can set the terms of use for those roads.As the roads are currently State owned…(supposedly meaning by us the public) people feel that they should be able to pretty much do as they please on them.

    “Sorry but NO. Minor matters of your convenience and your “freedom” (pffft) to carry them out are just not as important as your obligation to not veer across the centreline and kill me.”

    A cellphone ban is unworkable and like all bad law will be ignored by most people.Prosecute for dangerous and careless driving as the laws WE ALREADY HAVE allow.

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  40. Cerium (23,798 comments) says:

    Will you be allowed to change songs on your phone while using it as an mp3 player?

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  41. johnbt (90 comments) says:

    I hate those dickheads who use their phones when driving. They are the same sort who do 70 to 80kph until there is a passing lane and then it’s up to 120. They do not understand keep left. They wander all over the road. Like cyclists, they think that the road rules do not apply to them. One should be allowed to shoot the bastards.

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  42. MT_Tinman (3,317 comments) says:

    Redbaiter (7241) Vote: Add rating 3 Subtract rating 2 Says:
    August 18th, 2009 at 11:52 am

    “One of the main duties of a government is to protect the citizens from the dangerous actions of others, whether citizen or alien.”

    So you want a law to prevent sneezing?

    You poor bastard. You’re so typical of NZ’s pathetic right wing. Posturing as protectors of individual freedoms yet willing to give them all up one by one by one by one to a government ever increasing in size and power, under the lame and mistaken perception that government exists to neutralize every risk you might ever face.

    Pitiful.

    My guess, Red, is that you were educated in the NZ taxpayer funded school system with it’s nil component of English language reading and comprehension.

    You have my sympathy.

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  43. llew (1,286 comments) says:

    My guess, Red, is that you were educated in the NZ taxpayer funded school system with it’s nil component of English language reading and comprehension.

    He’s just blinkered to anything but his own point of view, the school system is not to blame, he successfully resisted their indoctrination.

    But which taxpayer funded school is this? The one my daughter goes to teaches plenty of reading comprehension. Not that all students are going to learn it of course.

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  44. Dave Mann (1,240 comments) says:

    You guys have got it all wrong.

    The law change doesn’t go nearly far enough. Research shows that 98.23% of all crashes occur because the driver is thinking of something else at the time, while other research using videos tells us that most ‘near crashes’ are caused by the vehicle NOT ACTUALLY CRASHING.

    Obviously, there is an opening here for the government to legislate against thinking, and also to install video cameras in all vehicles, in order to validate that they haven’t actually crashed. Then we can have some cool statistics on the subject, which I am sure will throw a lot of light onto the discussion.

    There is also the question of nose picking. In 1984 a ute was found crashed into a power pole in Arizona and the driver was dead, quite dead, with one index finger up his left nostril. Something should be done about this and I am sure a responsible government such as we now have will address this road safety issue in light of the new facts.

    Meanwhile, though, thinking is a most pressing danger and anything a government can do to stop this dangerous tendency is to be applauded.

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  45. James (1,299 comments) says:

    “Meanwhile, though, thinking is a most pressing danger and anything a government can do to stop this dangerous tendency is to be applauded.”

    They have….its called State education.

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  46. Alan Wilkinson (1,933 comments) says:

    themono: “They did do the analysis that showed cellphone use was a contributing factor in those cases.”

    Are you naive or what??? The accident report had a box that says “using a cellphone at the time of crash”. The attending officer ticked it (or didn’t). That was the beginning and end of the “analysis”.

    Correlation is not causation – in either case.

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  47. Viking2 (11,674 comments) says:

    chuckle chuckle; that will be Gibbons banned for life. you just can’t disagree with DPF like that. Its just not on.

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  48. Lance (2,713 comments) says:

    This topic was guaranteed to descend into name calling and people spouting forth their own superiority…

    Methinks DPF likes this sort of ………………………… banter…………………

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  49. kiki (408 comments) says:

    As usual the problem is not what it seems.

    All managers want to increase their reason for being and their budget as the bigger the budget the more people under you command the more important you feel. This just increases the work load of the police more reasons to increase staff and budgets not really about our safety. Same reason to keep drugs banned hate to decrease the work. Just another bunch of bureaucrats don’t fool yourself otherwise.

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  50. jcuknz (689 comments) says:

    NickB … you left ‘having sex while driving” off your list :-) [News report awhile back from Germany I think]

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