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Legal Restrictions on Cellphone Use Gain Traction 526

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the hands-on-for-hands-free dept.
Carl Bialik writes "The Wall Street Journal is reporting that States are scrambling to impose tougher restrictions on cell phone use by drivers, addressing what safety experts say can be a deadly distraction. From the article: 'Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia have written legislation on the issue, mostly since 2003, [...] This year, other legislatures are tackling the subject, and two states have passed laws on it. [...] While no state has banned talking on a cell phone while driving, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Washington, D.C., have the most restrictive laws: Except in emergencies, motorists in those states can use cell phones only with hands-free devices, such as earpieces. Restrictions vary across other states. Some prohibit teenagers, bus drivers and drivers with learning permits from using cell phones -- even with earpieces.'"
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Legal Restrictions on Cellphone Use Gain Traction

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  • try children (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @07:43AM (#15147701)
    Anyone tried concentrating on the road with two sqabbling under-10's in the back? It's far worse than any phone conversation.
  • Hands free? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by homer_s (799572) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @07:48AM (#15147709)
    Except in emergencies, motorists in those states can use cell phones only with hands-free devices, such as earpieces

    I thought it was the distraction of talking to someone whom you cannot see that was the problem - most drivers can steer the car with one hand.
    So what now, ban drinking coffee in cars, applying lipstick while driving? After all, this also causes the driver to take one hand off the wheel.
    Don't they *think* before making these laws?
  • by ArsenneLupin (766289) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @07:51AM (#15147718)
    In the accident, the 20-year-old driver fell asleep while talking on the phone, crossed three lanes of traffic and hit a car driven by a 55-year-old woman, who later died. Authorities lodged what they thought was Michigan's first cellphone-related negligent-homicide charge. Later, they added drug charges, after a medical exam allegedly turned up illegal drugs in the driver's system.

    Hmm, so the driver got into an accident while he was:

    • phoning
    • sleeping
    • driving
    • having drugs in the system
    Incidentally, he was also breathing, and (presumably) had a good meal within the last 24 hours.

    Now, in you're opinion which combination should be outlawed? Driving and Breathing? -> Don't think so!
    Driving and drugs? -> Makes more sense already.
    Driving and sleeping? -> Makes lots of sense!
    Driving and yucking on the phone? Hmm, with all the other stuff going on here (drugs, sleep, ...) I don't really think that this accident should be hold up as an example for the dangers of driving while phoning! I don't argue that phoning may distract you, but please, if you want to illustrate that point, please use an example where there weren't any other more likely causes! If anything, the phone keeps you awake!

  • by technothrasher (689062) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @07:52AM (#15147724)
    In the accident, the 20-year-old driver fell asleep while talking on the phone, crossed three lanes of traffic and hit a car driven by a 55-year-old woman, who later died. Authorities lodged what they thought was Michigan's first cellphone-related negligent-homicide charge. Later, they added drug charges, after a medical exam allegedly turned up illegal drugs in the driver's system.


    So this kid took drugs and fell asleep while driving, and somehow the cell phone is to blame? I think I'm confused...

  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @07:53AM (#15147726) Homepage Journal
    1. Most of us were raised on cop shows where the good guys are always driving around calling around on their radio system. Now we have our own radio system we naturally want to use it. Police no doubt have policies about these things so perhaps they should publicise them: we don't use the radio/phone while driving and you shouldn't either. Or something like that.
    2. Here in Australia it is customary for people who have serious accidents in their cars to get breath tested to see if alcohol was a contributing factor. Perhaps the police should pull the phone records of the driver (happens all the time on law and order, shouldn't be that hard to do) and charge them appropriately if they were shown to be on the phone at the time of the crash.
    3. This really comes down to distractions in cars. Whether it be the kids screaming to be taken to macdonalds or the mother in law going off about something in the back seat or that idiot guy who is always on the fucking radio. There is a lot of distraction out there. Perhaps this needs to be looked into, otherwise the narrower issue of people talking on cellphones without using an earpiece will look pretty silly.
    4. Because of insurance you can go out and do a lot of damage with a car and pretty much get away with it. You can kill someone with a car and get less time in jail than if you did it with a gun. I think that needs to change. If it did people might start taking responsibility for their actions and they might start looking where they are going when they drive their car. That would make life a lot safer for bike riders like me.
  • by CaptainBogus (816440) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @07:56AM (#15147735)
    Are these attempts to increase safety, or a puritanical knee-jerk reaction? Hard not to notice that there are not similar laws against smoking/arguing/eating/etc. while driving, http://www.misc2.com/whisper.html [misc2.com] has a scenario on how this plays out long term...
  • by hughk (248126) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @07:58AM (#15147747) Journal
    Why introduce extra legislation?

    Many countries already have offences such as Driving without Due Care and Attention. This is fairly non-specific and can be used against any driver who endangers others by performing a non-driving activity (such as having their groin scalded by superheated coffee) whilst nominally in control of a moving vehicle.

    The same problem is had by those who fiddle with their GPS while driving, or even the entertainment system. Must we introduce specific legislation for each device?

    It should be noted that I do agree with the clampdown which is already in place in much of Europe. Handsfree units are convenient and quite comfortable to wear now, especially the lightweight BT varieties such as the Plantronics 640 [plantronics.com] which even my wife wears without problems.

    If you don't like the cost of BT, there are still wired headsets which often ship for free now or are a very low cost extra.

  • Re:Hands free? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pieroxy (222434) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @08:12AM (#15147797) Homepage
    handsfree kits are the sensible way to go
    I actually tend to think that this is more dangerous. You see, there is actually two problems with cellphones and driving:
    A. One hand is taken. That forces the driver to use a pretty uncomfortable position to be able to drive and hold the phone at the same time.
    B. Talking to someone you can't see over a link that is not great. This is much harder that talking to someone in your car. And if you're really into the conversation, your reflexes are just numb.

    handsfree kits are solving A while increasing B, because you don't NEED to pay attention to your driving anymore. With a real phone, you are in an uncomfortable situation, so you pay attention because it is unpleasant.

    I think the only way is to just BAN any cellphone activity by the driver. Of course, that's unfortunately science fiction.
  • by gfxguy (98788) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @08:17AM (#15147809)
    No, you are absolutely wrong - driving while talking on the cell phone is extremely dangerous, hands-free or not. Just because you haven't been in an accident yet doesn't mean it's not dangerous. Studies have shown that it's the concentration one needs to carry on a cell conversation that causes the distraction, so hands-free doesn't even help.

    It's most certainly NOT the same as drinking coffee of listening to the radio...

    Your brain tunes out the radio when you need to concentrate, but it makes more effort to keep up with the conversation when you are talking... and it's worse when you're on the cell phone because you're not hearing the other person with as much clarity as you would if they were sitting next to you, so your brain has to divert even more resources to deciphering what the other person is saying.

    Applying make up and doing some other things are certainly worse, because applying makeup typically requires looking in the mirror; but eating or drinking, while not completely safe, are at least safer than either make up or talking on the phone.

    I'm sick of people claiming it's not dangerous because they do it and haven't had an accident. That doesn't mean it's safe! I also get annoyed when someone claims that they are a better driver while on the phone than a lot of other people who are concentrating on the road; even if it's true YOU are still a better driver while YOU are concentrating on the road.
  • Re:Hands free? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by somersault (912633) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @08:22AM (#15147829) Homepage Journal
    so you regularly turn to face someone in the backseat while you're having a conversation with them? I've been in a car where the handsfree kit was built in and run over the soundsystem, it worked great, probably better than trying to hear someone in the back. If you're going to ban speaking on the phone, you should ban speaking altogether to anyone in the car, and roadside adverts etc. I remember reading about an old VW advert, I think it featured an attractive young lady in lingerie, causing accidents (and I believe it, that sort of thing appearing unexpectedly can be quite distracting)
  • by gsslay (807818) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @08:22AM (#15147833)
    Go after the problem drivers, rather than ticketing the guy who can hanle calling his wife via voice-dial for 15 seconds to let her know he is on the way home.

    So you're suggesting that the law should be based on someone's evaluation of their own capabilities?

    "I think I can handle talking on the phone while driving, therefore it's legal. It's those other scatter-brain guys who are the problem."

    "I think I can have five drinks and still drive home safely, so it's legal. It's those other guys who can't handle their liquor that are the problem."

  • by caudron (466327) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @08:37AM (#15147885) Homepage
    ...all the other reasons these careless drivers cause road problems. Seriously, Cell phones are a good start, but how about addressing the hypocrisy of SUVs. A vehicle with a Gross Weight of over 3 tons gets special tax incentive for work use, so they all get claimed, but vehicles over 3 tons also get regularly banned from certain roads for being over weight limit, which these same owners pretend doesn't apply to them. Not to mention that they should require a trucker license to pilot such a beast, which they would need if the federal regulations weren't rewritten specifically to get these things into the hands of Soccor Moms everywhere.

    But that's not politically safe to talk about.

    How about minimum driving ages being changed? It shouldn' surprise anyone that kids under the age of 18 account for a HUGELY disporportionate piece of the accident pie. How about something like a learners permit (requiring a licensed driver in the car until 17 instead of 16. How about a restricted license (to work and back, etc...) until 18. Give these kids a chance to learn how to drive before we shove them off on their own. Seriously, now we give them a permit at 15.5 yrs and by 16 we shove em out of the driving nest to fly on their own. Them we get outraged at the damage they cause.

    But that's not politically safe to talk about either.

    How about some real draconian legislation to end drunk driving. If you are drinking and driving in this day and age, you, sir, are a fucktard. Seriously, have NEVER seen an afterschool special? Is your head planted so firmly in your own buttocks that you failed to hear the upteen warning shouted from every media outlet we can bring to bear on the topic? Of course not. That's why if you drink and drive, giving you any "1st offense" effect is a waste. You knew. You did it anyway. Manditory jailtime. Manditory removal of license...not restricted license, REMOVED license. It's a priviledge and you just lost it. STFU and pick up a bus schedule on the way home from the jail when you get out.

    But that also is not politically safe to talk about.

    How about serious legislation to curb car use in general. Something to give commuters and travellers a real alternative. People will bitch, though, because God forbid (no, literally God forbid---I mean car use is a right spelled out in the King James Bible, right?) anyone points out just how many lives are lost every year because the bar is so low on who we are willing to let careen through our neighborhoods behind the joystick of a 2+ ton screaming fast hunk of metal.

    But that's DEFINATELY not politically safe to talk about.

    Americans need to end their love affair with their cars.

    But I guess cell phones are a good start. :-\

    Tom Caudron
    http://tom.digitalelite.com/ [digitalelite.com]

  • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @08:42AM (#15147902)
    "It's most certainly NOT the same as drinking coffee of listening to the radio..."

    Bullshit. In both cases, you take your eyes off the road to either line up the coffee cup to your mouth OR to fiddle with the options on the stereo. You can shake your head all you like, but there were plenty of studies showing the dangers involved with both of the cases you described.
  • Absolutely! In all seriousness, I think it should be completely illegal to leave a child on their own in the back seat. Is having someone sit in the back seat to watch them really too much to ask?

    I've seen three year olds break out of restraints and jump up and down in the back seat while two adults sit in the front seat and do nothing about it except the usual "sit down" [or else]" routine.

    In any case, it's very unfair to a child to take them on a long, boring trip where they are obliged to do the one thing they hate, namely, sitting still, all alone. I've seen parent dump a two month old into the back seat whilst they sit up in front and then wonder why the child is howling.

    Personally, I think cars are some kind of advanced intelligence sapping device.
  • Re:Hands free? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AdamWeeden (678591) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @09:01AM (#15148026) Homepage
    Is it really so hard to pull over, or wait 5 minutes to finish your coffee, apply your makeup, or whatever it is you have to do?

    I think this more of a problem of societal norms than anything. Most people are raised to try to multitask, and be as efficient as possible in our society. This is not to say that it isn't irresponsible, or that these people are blameless, but it does give us insight into the question fo "Why?"
  • Re:Hands free? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Quarters (18322) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @09:23AM (#15148181)
    If you think "driving" is the same as "steering" then you don't have the mental faculties required to contribute anything sensible to this conversation.

    That you think applying lipstick is currently an acceptable act to perform while driving just reinforces my opinion of you.

  • by The Asmodeus (18881) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @09:24AM (#15148199)

    I've heard that comparison several times and I thought it was just wrong. After all, I talk on the cell phone and my driving is pretty good. That is what I thought at least, until I started riding a motorcycle on the street. You notice everything when on a bike in the middle of a bunch of distracted car drivers, and soon I started noticing several patterns. The biggest was that people talking on a cell phone can be spotted easily.

    • They veer constantly between the lines. Sometimes it's just a little but they all do it. Most aren't even aware of it.
    • Their reaction time is slowed tremendously. The light turns green/red, someone stops in front of them, etc.. They are always just a bit late on their reaction.

    You all can tell yourselves that you don't do that. That YOU ARE a good driver, and you probably normally are. But so am I.. And so are probably 50% of the people I spot weaving and hitting the brakes 1 second later than they should.

  • by Tim C (15259) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @09:27AM (#15148227)
    you take your eyes off the road to either line up the coffee cup to your mouth

    If you seriously need to look to bring a cup to your mouth, you need to work on your coordination...
  • Re:try children (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stunt_penguin (906223) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @09:37AM (#15148326)
    Fuck man, you just reminded me that I did this very thing when I was 5 or 6 years old- I used to get up in the back window of the car and just lie there. This thought now scares the living shit out of me as I can only imagine what'd have happened had we had even a small crash. A child in that window will strike any rear seat passengers in the back of the neck, possibly en-route to the back of the front passenger's seats (if they're lucky) and if they're really unlucky they'll somehow strike a combination of the dashboard and the windscreen.

    Also,

    'What's the deal? This never hurt any of us growing up....just seems that the govt. is trying to legislate everything.'

    Let me fix that for you.

    'This never hurt any of us who never had an accident and are alive now to talk about it'

    See the first paragraph for a reason why legislation is a good idea on this one. Seatbelts save lives, and not just those of the wearer.

    This is making me kinda angry at my parents (but not in a freudian way) for letting me do that. :o'
  • Re:Hands free? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @09:44AM (#15148406)
    What color is the sky on your planet? What's next? Are you going to ban dictaphones? How about talking on CB Radios? How about singing to the radio? How about talking to yourself?

    Just because you can't walk and talk at the same time doesn't mean you need to ban it for the rest of us. There are a few bad apples out there. How many? If there are a lot of deaths due to cellphone conversations, I've yet to see them piled up on the front page of the newspapers. Absolutely, without a doubt, if there were a death toll, the news media would be pounding their agenda down our throats. Ted Turner and the limousine liberals would make absolutely sure that there was nothing worse than talking on a cellphone while driving.

    Yet, it's not happening. Hmmm. So I guess we need a law?

    The problem is that bad drivers are often seen with a cell phone stuck in one hand, head tilted. It's easy to identify and point the blame. Move these bad drivers to handsfree kits, and suddenly, there won't be a visible problem. How are you going to identify a problem then? The problem here is that legislators think they're solving a problem. In reality, they have no way of enforcing these laws. Traffic police are few and far between.

    Lastly, when was the last time you shopped for a new automobile? Many have bluetooth. What does that mean? It means that there's no way anyone is going to ban cellphone use completely. Did you ever stop to think how many industries have laptops set into the passenger seat in company automobiles? Insurance adjusters, cellphone testers, investigators, meter readers, the list goes on. Yet you don't seem to indicate that paying attention to a laptop is a problem. I think you are a bandwagon jumper. You have little to contribute, but are vocal in your opinion.

    Good luck.
  • Re:try children (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @10:09AM (#15148665) Homepage Journal
    Actually....I remember at least one wreck we did have....and I wasn't hurt at all. Yeah, I got tossed into the back of the front seats, but, hey, kids are much more resiliant than people give them credit for I guess.

    Anyway, just was something I was pondering with a friend of mine the other day, about how things were so much different than when we were kids.

    The biggest one that got me was....that no one hardly seems to let their kids play OUTSIDE. Hell, during the summers, I'd leave home in the morning, and not come home till lunch, then out again till dinner. All my friends in the neighborhood ran like this together....each families house was all of our homes, and we'd all generally be at one of our houses....at the neighborhood swimming pool, or out biking, skateboarding, building forts in the wooded area beyond the developing subdivisions. All I hear today is "you can't let kids out, the predators will get them". I just have to wonder, are there really that more predators out there? Or do we just hear about it more as sensationalized news by 24/7 news stations that have to put something on the air?

    Also, when did kids get stupid? I was raised to where I did not trust strangers at all...and neither myself nor any of my friends would have been 'kidnapped' like you often hear of today.

    I dunno, like I said, I don't have kids...so, kind of like an unmarried marriage counselor talking here, but, it just seems to me that kids of today, don't get to be kids anymore and have the fun we used to have? We were all in good shape physically, because we stayed out playing every day during the summer, and after school. Hell, I was talking with a friend of mine, and kids in very low grades had homework that took HOURS after school and required parental attention...where did that come from?

    I just seems sad, that all kids have today are video games at home, and orderly outdoor activities like soccer teams and the like. It seemed so much more fun in my day to run with the kids in the neighborhood, figuring out stuff to do (some of it mischevious, but, not bad)...and doing physical exhertion activities while at the same time building social skills, and in many cases....making lifelong friends.

  • Re:try children (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thewiz (24994) * on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @10:11AM (#15148689)
    Actually, I find duct tape, velcro, and handcuffs effectively eliminate the distractions children can cause in the car.
  • by Ill_Omen (215625) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @10:29AM (#15148869)
    Personally, I don't see this as being much different from speed limits. Cell phone restrictions, visibility requirements, speed limits, DUI laws, and everything else aren't just for the driver's protection. They're for the protection of the other people on the road too.
  • by Garse Janacek (554329) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @10:35AM (#15148934)
    That's exactly why I don't believe all the people saying "Oh, but those are just the irresponsible people, I know that I'm still a good driver!"

    I used to ride a bike to school all the time. I was careful about it, and unlike most cyclists I actually obeyed traffic laws. Even so, there were several times that I had near misses. Every single one was a driver talking on a cell phone, and most of the times were at an intersection, and the driver wasn't paying enough attention to notice me -- maybe they would have noticed a car even though they're on the phone, but for a bike they wouldn't even stop.

    I also noticed a lot of symptoms like the ones you describe -- you very quickly learn to spot and avoid the cell phone drivers, because they won't respond as quickly as a normal driver.

    Maybe there are some people who can do it safely, just like maybe there are some people who can drive well after a few drinks. But you don't get to drive a dangerous machine because "maybe" you're one of the small minority that can do it without impairing your driving.

  • by Nowhere.Men (878773) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @10:36AM (#15148940)
    The difference between a cell phone conversation and talking with a passenger is that a passenger can help you looking at the road and slow the conversation when in heavy traffic.
    Someone on the phone will not and will not understand so easily why there is a pause in the conversation because the driver notice something strange.

    A passenger have a better understanding of his/her responsibility not to distract the driver than someone in his/her office/living-room.

    This is valid for normal peaceful conversation. For fights or seductions as some touching may occur, the physical presence may be an additional distraction and cell phone may be a better solution.

    Phone sex would definitely be less distracting than real sex while driving.
  • Re:Hands free? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @12:05PM (#15149952)
    Cofee and tea is supposed to be served around 80-90 Celcius (177-194 fahrenheit). According to http://www.gragson.com/coffee/brewing.htm [gragson.com] most stanard drip brewing machines hold the coffee at 155 fahrenheit or above..

    And $600.000 for some hot coffee that is plainly insane and a lottery ticket. What even worse is that it was set much higher at first, but later reduced to 600.000.
  • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @12:48PM (#15150393)
    Talking on a phone not only distracts you from keeping track of hazards, it compromises control of the vehicle something rotten.

    That's true, but in tests leading up to the UK ban, it was found that drivers using hands-free kits are almost as dangerous as those on hand-held phones. The distraction is the main problem, not the fact that you've only got one hand on the wheel. It's not the same as someone sitting next to you, because usually someone sitting next to you can see both you and the road ahead, and will instinctively shut up when they sense that you need to concentrate on approach to a hazard.

    The UK government proceeded to implement a ban on hand-held phones only, and a lot of "responsible" organisations have since been promoting the highly-dangerous habit of driving while on a hands-free kit. It will be interesting, in a macabre kind of way, to see whether the introduction of the anti-mobile-phone legislation here actually correlates with an improvement in road safety.

    The only really safe way to use a phone in a car is when you're not driving it at the time. I don't care how urgent your business call is, or that you need your other half to put the kettle on now so the coffee's ready when you get home. Either pull over in a safe and legal place and make/answer the call, or wait until you've arrived. Anything else is dangerous driving, and should be prosecuted under your local dangerous driving laws regardless of any phone-specific restrictions. If it really was safer than not making the call (e.g., you're calling the emergency services a good reason) then that should be a sufficient defence in court.

  • by cyberchondriac (456626) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @01:14PM (#15150668) Journal
    I'd be surprised if requiring a headset changed anything.
    It's usually not so much the act of holding the cellphone, that's distracting for most of these people that are, IMO, unable to walk and chew gum at the same time, I think it's the conversation that they get lost in.
    Holding a cell phone is really no more challenging than say, changing out a CD or holding a drink, and certainly not as difficult (or crazy) as applying makeup, yet there's never been a movement against those specific activities. The cell phone conversation just seems to send some into la-la land.
    I suspect that an intra-vehicular conversation would also be just as likely to result in an accident with some drivers, y'know, the kind that prefer to keep their eyes on the passenger rather than the road.
  • by smoker2 (750216) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @02:07PM (#15151192) Homepage Journal
    Yeah yeah yeah, but by the time you have them in court, it's already too fucking late for the person they killed or maimed, isn't it ?

    The whole idea is to prevent the accidents in the first place. Because they are preventable. No one can legislate against acts of God, brake failure or people mis-judging things, but this is 100% in the hands of the people doing it. They can't claim an accident if they weren't paying full attention to the road.

    As for idiots and bears, well they're the ones that get eaten, not some innocent bystander, so there is no real similarity there.

    BTW, I agree about being criminally responsible, but that doesn't mean you don't at least try to prevent accidents.

    Cell phone use is 100% avoidable when driving (or in the cinema, hospital, library where-ever). The damn things have only been around for 15 years or so, what ever did we do without them ?

    It's funny that people who would advocate a technical/legal solution to cell phone use in cinemas, seem to be completely laissez-faire about something that will ruin your life, not just a stupid movie !

  • by Sunburnt (890890) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @09:04PM (#15154116)
    The only reason that a car is less dangerous and disruptive is because of the widespread inconsideration of motorists. This is one of the few cases where blaming the victims is a widely accepted philosophy, probably because almost everyone in the U.S. drives a car. Nobody likes to accept responsibility, even for such simple things as paying attention to cycists.

    Then again, philosophical consistency doesn't seem to be widespread among drivers in general. Take this statement:

    "I value the of other people's right to have a smooth commute."

    Obviously not. For many folks, a bike ride is their commute. I'm sure you understand this, but apparently haven't internalized it, judging by your earlier assumption that the cyclist to whom you responded was cycling for pleasure. Communities that have continuous bike lanes and/or suitably wide sidewalks leading to every possible commuter destination are certainly rare, and possibly non-existant. That means that, for most bike commuters, at least a portion of their commute will involve use of a road. Shouldn't that portion be a smooth commute, without inattentive drivers who don't understand the road use rights of cyclists causing problems?

    You asked earlier if a poster had the money to buy a 1000 dollar car. Perhaps the poster doesn't; this is not an uncommon situation for hourly workers in my country when you factor in costs of gas, insurance, taxes, and maintenance. Or perhaps they do, but would then have to spend a large portion of their minimal resources on unpleasant transportation, which is generally the nature of a thousand-dollar car. I've owned a few. Not everyone accepts the paradigm of "drive the car you can barely afford to a job you hate so you can pay for the car" as a viable lifestyle.

    Last year I spent just shy of 2500 dollars on insurance, maintenance, and fuel for my car. Insurance is expensive here if you're an under-thirty male driver; at least my car was already paid off. While I was making payments, that figure was more like 5600 dollars. That is a sizable portion of my after-tax income. After realizing what a sucker that made me, I went shopping. Now I own a $300 bicycle, I do my own maintenance, my physical condition is much better than it was this time last year, and I have more money to spend on wonderful new experiences like health care and fresh food. A brief period of unemployment was considerably less spooky without an insurance or fuel bill. My attitude and energy have improved as a result of eliminating stressful Florida commutes.

    Now, I suppose I could give all of that up so that a pack of oblivious motorists can "enjoy" their commute.

    Naaah...I have a better idea. I think I'll just keep using these roads, funded as they are by my taxes, and if some folks find it too difficult to drive and pay attention to other commuters simultaneously, then I'll suggest that they shouldn't be driving.

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN

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