NMA E-Newsletter #252: Cell Phones and Driving—Kind of like Politics and Religion

Our newsletters discussing the topic of cell phone use while driving always generate the most, and the most impassioned, responses from readers. And last week’s newsletter (#251: Usefulness Takes a Backseat to Technology and the Law) was no exception. We thought we’d share a few notable reader comments:

From Mark H., Utah:

As a proud NMA member in Utah for the past three years, I have to respectfully disagree with this particular newsletter. Having worked in field service before (I did onsite laptop and desktop repair, covering the northern half of Utah and even into Nevada and Wyoming), I don’t buy the “I can’t pull over to take a call/text” excuse. I frequently got calls from customers, coworkers, my boss, and our dispatch center while driving, and always pulled over to answer them (or let them go into voicemail until I could).

Also, company policy did not require me to keep a PIN on my phone, but it did require me not to talk on the phone while driving. Furthermore, based on my own anecdotal observations, talking on the phone while driving goes hand-in-hand with one of our biggest shared pet peeves: drivers who don’t yield the left lane. In my experience, the majority of drivers I’ve seen getting in my way in the left lane (and not responding to high-beam flashes or even my horn) are talking on their phones—or worse, texting. The same goes for drivers who otherwise don’t seem to be paying attention—probably other drivers’ biggest complaint. I have to say that I fully agree with “no touch” legislation and wish Utah would follow suit.

From Steve, New York:

Using a phone while driving is a form of multi-tasking. Talking is one thing, texting is quite another. My phones can text but I’d be hard put to text while seated at the kitchen table with the written instructions in front of me.

Yet, I regularly multi-task in an even more challenging environment than highways as a commercial pilot. I routinely talk on the radio to air traffic control while setting up a landing pattern, referring to charts, adjusting multi-engine power settings, adjusting flight control surfaces, compensating for adverse weather conditions and winds, often times at night and in the rain. I’d still never try to text while in a plane.

Intelligent management of one’s personal resources and remaining within one’s abilities are the keys. Legislators are often driven to “do something” whether it is productive or not so they can parade themselves as having done something about the problem. Foolishness begets foolishness.

From C. Johnson, California:

What an interesting article. Recently, someone told me that we have a “form-based” government. The government is run by checking this box, punching this button, etc. So there is no place for common sense and individual differences. You mention “dangerous distracted driving” in the last sentence below. That really describes the problem. Some people can talk on a cell phone and be as alert and safe as if they weren’t. Some people are dangerous drivers no matter what. It is pitiful that our government puts everyone in the same class. Always appreciate your newsletters and magazine.

Editor’s Note: One reader told us he uses his iPhone 5S hands-free in his Bluetooth-equipped Audi. He uses the controls on the Audi to answer the phone and make calls without ever touching the phone, even when it’s locked. You probably don’t need an Audi to accomplish this (although it wouldn’t hurt), just a vehicle with Bluetooth connectivity.

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