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Hang up and drive

Originally published at BunkBlog. You can comment here or there.

Way back in 2003, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration looked at the available data regarding phone usage while driving. Their recommendations would have included a total ban on phones being used by drivers while in motion, whether with or without hands-free devices. I say “would have” because they never released the report. They were afraid of angering Congress. Get that? Public safety took a back seat to political expediency. The only reason we’re hearing about it now is because of Freedom of Information Act requests/lawsuits by two consumer advocacy groups.

Shouldn’t the NHTSA be a consumer advocacy group? Interestingly, cell phone usage has increased greatly since 2002, the year they gathered data. About half of Americans had cell phones then, and nearly 90% do today.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 22nd, 2009 05:17 pm (UTC)
Damn tootin' they were terrified of Congress. Considering that the cell phone lobbies are still pumping out tremendous amounts of money to prevent cell phone jammers in movie theaters, the idea of the money the phone companies would lose if these slack-jawed yokels stopped yammering was anathema. (I say this as someone who's regularly nearly sideswiped every damn day when bicycling to and from work, and the offender is always some pillock who can't shut off the phone and drive. Of course, to be fair, the two worst bike accidents I've seen that didn't involve me both involved morons who were too busy talking on their cell phones to pay attention, and they both ran into the same exact telephone pole.)
Jul. 23rd, 2009 10:28 am (UTC)
I don't own a cell phone, but even if I did, I can't imagine needing to be on the damned thing every moment of the day, as it seems so many of these folks are. Is it really necessary to be "in touch" all the time?
Jul. 23rd, 2009 01:26 pm (UTC)
What really gets me are the morons blabbing away at 5 in the morning out at the intersection in front of my house. Who the hell is so horribly bored that they need to have conversations when even the nightowls in the neighborhood are asleep?

Actually, I just answered my own question. The now-famed "dopamine squirt" explains everything. I used to work for the call center for a company that took electronic payments for utility companies, and one of our biggest customers was MetroPCS. I say "biggest" because we took more customer service calls from MetroPCS than all of our other clients combined. Oh, there were the parents who simply refused to accept that the unauthorized charges on their credit cards were from their kids using the card at three in the morning to buy ringtones (and I had several mothers so certain that someone else stole their cards and made payments to their kids' phone accounts, from the kids' phones, to get them in trouble that I wanted to ask "And if your daughter gets pregnant tomorrow, are you planning to name your grandchild 'Jesus'?") Since we had such a problem with credit card fraud, we were required by MetroPCS to allow only three payment attempts within a 24-hour period, and we were overloaded with idiots who couldn't get their credit card information correct (or were using someone else's) and called us threatening legal action if we didn't turn their phones on right then. (Even though they had MetroPCS payment centers right down the street in many cases, they were threatening legal action because "I don't feel like going down there."

My "favorite," though, was the string of women calling up because their phones were disconnected. A quick check showed that the card owner had reported these as unauthorized charges, and the credit card company had already been informed that the card information was stolen. When I related this, to an individual, they screamed "But he said he'd take care of my phone if I fucked him! What am I going to do now?" Other than recommending getting an STD test, there wasn't much I could tell them.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )