The Instigator
kpeterson53
Pro (for)
Losing
23 Points
The Contender
Mirza
Con (against)
Winning
28 Points

Cell phone use while driving should stay legal activity

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Started: 5/28/2010 Category: Technology
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 30,125 times Debate No: 12175
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (12)
Votes (13)

 

kpeterson53

Pro

I want to first take this opportunity to say thank you to this forum and its participants. I look forward to this debate.

Currently there are 7 states (Calif., Conn., Md., N.J., N.Y., Ore. and Wash.), D.C. and the Virgin Islands that prohibit all drivers from using hand held cell phones while driving. I wish to debate this type of legislation. I believe that cell phone use while driving should be not become illegal in any form.

I oppose actually doing the action, but do not see where making it illegal will help.
I find that holding a conversation on a cell phone while driving is no more distracting or different than being engaged with a passenger or kids in the back seat, eating fast food or messing around with a music tape, CD or MP3 player.

To legally prohibit cell phones being used while operating a vehicle infringes on my personal rights as a motorist. I know that it is distracting and therefore will not use it in my car. Do we have to place a law on all "unacceptable" behaviors. People still drink and drive, smoke marijuana, etc... even though it's illegal.

Thank you for whoever decides to side with "Making Cell phone usage while driving illegal". I'll be looking forward to the debate.
Mirza

Con

I greet my opponent and welcome him to this site warmheartedly! I look forward to a debate of high quality and interesting facts.

Unfortunately, I have come online and have only five minutes to write my arguments, which would not be long, and I want to save them for the next round. I was unable to write arguments before now because I needed to fix some hardware issues, and the only way I could write was through a game console, which would waste a lot of my time.

I apologize for this, and hope that we can continue debating successfully in the next rounds.
Debate Round No. 1
kpeterson53

Pro

Thank you, Mirza for accepting this debate and I hope all is well with the computer.

To start Round 2 of this debate I will continue my point from Round 1.

With constant technological advances and the increased need to be mobile, cell phone use while driving should be not become yet another citation. An attempt to legally prohibit this type of driver distraction infringes on the personal rights of motorists. Being on the other end of a cell phone traffic ticket may negatively reflect on your driver record and can increase your insurance premiums. This law is just not enforceable. How will officials know if the driver is texting or changing a song on an MP3 player? Holding a conversation on a cell phone while driving is no more distracting than being engaged with a passenger or rowdy kids in the back seat, eating fast food or messing around with the radio. Motorists know that using a cell phone while driving is distracting and therefore one should not do it.

In Wisconsin, the fine for a first time so-called "Moving violation" offense is from $20 to $400 and four points on the diving record of the offender. Second time offenders will face a fine from $200 to $800 (State of Wisconsin, 2009). A single ticket will most likely not cause your car insurance rate to go up but since it is classified as a "moving violation", multiple violations could increase your insurance premiums. In California, this type of violation is punishable by a base fine of $20 for a first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense (State of California, 2008). Each state has its own penalty and certain restrictions. California, one of the states which currently have laws in place prohibiting texting and the use of hand held devices while driving, is even debating extending the violation to people riding bicycles (Miranda, 2010). How far can we allow the government to legislate our lives?

Have these state by state laws truly helped? In some cases yes, but when reporter Nannette Miranda from ABC investigated the cell phone prohibition law implemented in the state of California back in 2008, she found that "Collision claims in California were no different than in surrounding states that don't have the hands-free mandate" (Miranda, 2010). Currently, California State senator Joe Simitian is proposing to triple the current fine in an attempt to further dissuade drivers from using their cell phones while driving. He also proposes increasing the magnitude of the offense, making it a moving violation that adds points to a person's driving record (Miranda, 2010). The law is not effective because it's not identifying the true problem; anything that is distracting to the driver could have the same effect as using a cell phone.

The GPS that sits on my dashboard and displays beautiful 3D renderings of my virtual surroundings isn't distracting? The state of Wisconsin says they're okay to use (State of Wisconsin, 2009). Checking your iPhone behind the wheel can get you fined across half of the country, but many states are more than happy to tweet you with up-to-the-minute directions on how to steer clear of a traffic jam. At least 22 states that ban texting while driving offer some type of service that allows motorists to get information about traffic tie-ups, road conditions or emergencies via Twitter (DeMillo, 2009).

I want to thank you for the forum and my opponent for an engaging Round 2 prior to Mirza's response.

--Works Cited--
Miranda, N. (2010, January 29). Calif cell phone law not reducing car accidents. Retrieved from ABC 7 News, Los Angeles, CA website: http://abclocal.go.com...

State of Wisconsin 2009-2010 Legislature. (2009). 2009 Assembly Bill 496. (2009, October 15). State of Wisconsin: Author. Retrieved from http://www.legis.state.wi.us...

State of California, Department of Motorized Vehicles. (2008). Hand-Held Wireless Telephone: Prohibited Use. (2008, July). State of California DMV: Author. Retrieved from http://www.dmv.ca.gov...

DeMillo, A. (2009, Sept 20). Mixed Messages on Texting and Driving. Retrieved from Associated Press and ABC News website: http://abcnews.go.com...
Mirza

Con

Thank you.

-- Rebuttals and Arguments --

• Paragraph 1

"I find that holding a conversation on a cell phone while driving is no more distracting or different than being engaged with a passenger or kids in the back seat, eating fast food or messing around with a music tape, CD or MP3 player."

To me, this is like saying that we should not try to find a cure for AIDS, because there is still cancer, polio, lupus, and so forth. While a cell phone may not be more distracting than those things mentioned above, it does not mean that we should not make an exception toward one issue. In fact, it is important to keep strict rules for driving, since there are more than 6 million car accidents in the United States yearly.[1]

With regard to music, a few studies have actually shown that music also plays an important role in distracting drivers.[2] While some studies are a few years old, or not very broad, it should be noted that they do indicate that music does play a role in distracting drivers.

• Paragraph 2

"To legally prohibit cell phones being used while operating a vehicle infringes on my personal rights as a motorist. I know that it is distracting and therefore will not use it in my car. Do we have to place a law on all "unacceptable" behaviors."

Your and my personal rights as drivers should be ones that are safe, even with many restrictions. Should we have the right to drive on a countryside that belongs to someone else? Technically, we are allowed to drive. However, due to limits, we are not allowed to drive on other people's property. Similarly, when something like usage of cell phones distract people too much, which will unintentionally damage other people's properties, lives, and so forth, then we need to find a solution. Currently, the best solution is to ban usage of cell phones, but since many people use them nowadays for important work, we can set exceptions.

For example, usage of Bluetooth Headsets can be less distracting. Having it on the ear all the time, setting the "Auto Answer" option on the cell phone, and the results are positively effective. This is, in principle, not cell phone usage, since its features are used remotely. However, as I said above, exceptions should be made for people who need to perform many calls for important work.

"People still drink and drive, smoke marijuana, etc... even though it's illegal."

Yes, which is why in the year 2008, there was approximately a total of 11,773 deaths caused by drunk driving, which was 32% of the total amount of car accidents in the United States the same year.[3]

In the United States, the maximum amount of legal alcohol concentration in blood is 0.08%, and a study has shown that usage of cell phones matches that in a similar way.[4]

• Paragraph 3

In Round 2, a few arguments about technological advances and increased need to use cell phones. I have already addressed that above. My opponent asks, "How will officials know if the driver is texting or changing a song on an MP3 player?"

One should understand that few things are perfect. We can indeed not always make sure that someone used an MP3 player and not a cell phone, but how about banning both? Yes, personal freedom, or freedom of a driver comes to question. However, in order to maintain security, it is important to have strict laws. The vast majority of people do not drive for the entire day, so they have the option to listen to music, make phone calls, and so on, as long as they are not driving.

"Motorists know that using a cell phone while driving is distracting and therefore one should not do it."

Should is not the same as must. Most people also know that driving while intoxicated is very dangerous, yet many people do it. I have provided some statistics above. In fact, as a source says, "driving while distracted is a factor in 25 percent of police reported crashes."[5] This probably covers food, music, and mostly cell phone usage. It is indeed a high number, and should be reduced. It can be reduced with stricter laws.

This is taken from an article: "The use of cell phones, including dialing and texting, has long been a safety concern for drivers. But the Carnegie Mellon study, for the first time, used brain imaging to document that listening alone reduces by 37 percent the amount of brain activity associated with driving."[6]

If listening alone reduces brain activity by as much as 37% while driving, what about listening and writing something down, or anything similar?

• Paragraph 4

My opponent claims that state laws prohibiting cell phone usage while driving are effective in some cases, but not all. I agree that it may not be effective at all places and times, but it can be more effective overall. While the best ban would be a ban that covers the major distraction devices/things, such as cell phones and food, it is important to remember that many drops of water make an ocean. As far as I am concerned, we should ban things like food in the car (for the driver), but to make it easier for people to get used to all these laws with restrictions, we should move on step by step. The major distraction is apparently cell phone usage while driving, so we should start by banning that. Then we will have an ocean of blood reduced. Then a ban on eating while driving would be ideal, and so forth. Rome was not built in a day, and neither will a successful prohibition law.

• Paragraph 5

"The GPS that sits on my dashboard and displays beautiful 3D renderings of my virtual surroundings isn't distracting?"

It can be more distracting ending up in a deserted place, not knowing where you are. A GPS serves the purpose of showing the way to a specific destination. Is it distracting? Perhaps. But, I believe it is far less distracting than listening carefully to someone talking to you, especially if it is about an appointment that you have to remember and/or write down. A GPS can simply show a route that one can look at every minute, or even less, especially if driving at a highway, where the road is long.

-- References --

[1]http://www.edgarsnyder.com...
[2]http://www.newscientist.com...
[3]http://www.edgarsnyder.com...
[4]http://www.unews.utah.edu...
[5]http://www.nationwide.com...
[6]http://www.cmu.edu...
Debate Round No. 2
kpeterson53

Pro

Thank you Mirza and to the forum.
As we close our debate, I would like to first comment on my opponents rebuttals and well documented arguments. Then I will close with my final thoughts.

I will kindly disagree about the statement Mirza made in paragraph 1 rebuttal:
"To me, this is like saying that we should not try to find a cure for AIDS, because there is still cancer, polio, lupus, and so forth."
--> In this statement, Mirza is comparing driving distractions to AIDS which seems to be a drastic comparison. Contracting or being born with a disease is not the same as choosing to engage in distracting driving behavior.

We are progressing in identifying new ways to "cure" driver distractions. Blue tooth phones and voice activated controls are examples. The comparison that is mentioned by Mirza is mute.

Why do we need a law to tell us that it's wrong and unsafe?
How about this... if we want to ensure that no one uses a cell phone in hand while driving, create a law that addresses the car and the cell phone companies. "From this day forward, to ensure driver and pedestrian safety, all new cars come equip with built in speaker phones -voice activated, and cell phones shall not transmit a call nor text if going over the speed limit of 30 mile per hour unless transmitted through the car." Temptation removed, distraction eliminated. Why can't it be a law upon manufacturing companies instead of on the people?

Paragraph 2-
We are not allowed to drive on other people's property because it's other people's property. It's against the law because it's my property. The limits are in place because of rights of ownership, not because of safety.

Road safety analysts predict that by 2030, when all baby boomers are at least 65, they will be responsible for 25% of all fatal crashes. In 2005, 11% of fatal crashes involved drivers that old. [1]
Should we place a law now to make it illegal to drive when you are older than 65?

I'd still like to point out the mixed messages that many states are more than happy to tweet you with up-to-the-minute directions on how to steer clear of a traffic jam. At least 22 states that ban texting while driving offer some type of service that allows motorists to get information about traffic tie-ups, road conditions or emergencies via Twitter (DeMillo, 2009). As stated in round 2

While I agree Rome was not built in a day, the baby steps in this war against distracted driving should not start legislating a device that will, in a couple years, be more advanced and will not be much of a factor.
Let's identify and target activities that have been happening since the creation of the automobile.
More than 80% of drivers admit to blatantly hazardous behavior: changing clothes, steering with a foot, painting nails and shaving. (Nationwide Mutual Insurance Survey) [2] People also admit to eating, using mp3 players, applying makeup and engaging in other distracting behaviors. There are many distractions and some by personal choice, others by equipment such as the GPS, and some that are not controllable, such as passengers. Education on how to ignore distractions and drive distraction free is what we should be focusing on.

Fatigue is a cognitive distraction that is extremely dangerous. Many accidents are caused by driver fatigue, and police officers even report pulling over drivers for DUI and finding out they are just sleepy. If you are drowsy―especially from medication―then you need to get off the road. [3] It's not illegal.

It is easier for you to control the inside of your vehicle. For example, you can make a decision to establish a pre-trip routine to set your radio buttons, mirrors, and seat before you drive. You can also decide not to eat in the car, answer the cell phone, or play movies.[3]

It is your responsibility and the responsibility given to you when you receive your driver's license. I will conclude my side of this debate by once again thanking my opponent and this forum.

Works cited
[1] http://www.usatoday.com...
[2] http://www.negligentdriving.com...
[3] http://www.dmv.org...
DeMillo, A. (2009, Sept 20). Mixed Messages on Texting and Driving. Retrieved from Associated Press and ABC News website as mentioned in round 2
Mirza

Con

-- Content --

• Rebuttals
• Conclusion
• References

-- Rebuttals --

"In this statement, Mirza is comparing driving distractions to AIDS which seems to be a drastic comparison. Contracting or being born with a disease is not the same as choosing to engage in distracting driving behavior."

This is false. My opponent said that cell phones are not the only driving distractions, so why ban them. I responded by saying that it is the same as saying that we should not find a cure for AIDS, because there are other diseases. This means that just because cell phones are among some other driving distractions does not mean that we should not find a way of dealing with them. Similarly, just because AIDS is not the only disease that can affect a person does not mean that we should not try to find a cure for it.

"Why do we need a law to tell us that it's wrong and unsafe?"

Without law, we would have extremely much increased murder, rape, theft, etc. Laws are there to protect people. When cell phones distract drivers as much as I have demonstrated, then the safest thing is to ban them until we find a better solution. With advanced technology in the future, such as a car automatically returning to a track if it is heading in the wrong direction, then maybe we can think of legalizing cell phone usage while driving, since it would not be as much dangerous. For now, a ban is the proper thing.

"How about this... if we want to ensure that no one uses a cell phone in hand while driving, create a law that addresses the car and the cell phone companies. (...) Temptation removed, distraction eliminated. Why can't it be a law upon manufacturing companies instead of on the people?"

Today, enforcing such advanced technology to be built would be extremely expensive. Built-in speaker phone, no use of cell phone if driving over 30 miles per hour, that is not cheap. It is not cheap for the manufacturers, nor for the customers. The average prices of cars would rise, and should there be technical errors, it would cost more to repair the car. Also, for the sake of argument, assume that the United States did enforce this law upon manufacturers in their country. What if a someone drove to the United States from neighbour countries, where cars are not equipped with this technology? Should those drivers from the neighbour countries, then, be allowed to use cell phones?

No. The best thing to do is having a strict law, all until such advanced equipment in cars becomes basic technology, and fairly priced.

"We are not allowed to drive on other people's property because it's other people's property. It's against the law because it's my property. The limits are in place because of rights of ownership, not because of safety."

Yes, but my point clearly was that just because you have the right to drive does not mean that you have the right to drive everywhere. Similarly, you do not have the right to drive in a way that may harm others, in this case, being distracted by cell phone usage.

"Road safety analysts predict that by 2030, when all baby boomers are at least 65, they will be responsible for 25% of all fatal crashes. In 2005, 11% of fatal crashes involved drivers that old. Should we place a law now to make it illegal to drive when you are older than 65?"

Bad sight etc. all relate to driving problems. Elderly people usually have weakened vision due to their ages. However, instead of banning driving licences to people over the age of 65, why not make sure that they visit their doctor, and that he gives permission, if they are capable of driving safely? In fact, some studies suggest that accidents involving elderly drivers are decreasing.[1]

"I'd still like to point out the mixed messages that many states are more than happy to tweet you with up-to-the-minute directions on how to steer clear of a traffic jam. At least 22 states that ban texting while driving offer some type of service that allows motorists to get information about traffic tie-ups, road conditions or emergencies via Twitter."

This is not exactly related to the discussion taking place. I am not the spokesman of the states. In fact, if such services distract drivers, then they should be banned. I cannot tell why the states allow this while they ban texting, but it is not my job to defend them in this debate.

"While I agree Rome was not built in a day, the baby steps in this war against distracted driving should not start legislating a device that will, in a couple years, be more advanced and will not be much of a factor."

In this case I ask, why not ban them while driving until we actually reach the point where such advanced technology is the basic one? Surely, it is the same as saying that we should legalise intoxicants because in the near future, cars will drive on their own, so being intoxicated will cause absolutely no car accidents. Yes, but the present is different, and we should have laws dealing with present technology, not one we can guess having in 10, 20, or 30 years in the future.

"More than 80% of drivers admit to blatantly hazardous behavior: changing clothes, steering with a foot, painting nails and shaving. (...) People also admit to eating, using mp3 players, applying makeup and engaging in other distracting behaviors."

Yes, and this is an unfortunate fact. But, why not dote wise thing and simply outlaw some things, namely one like cell phone usage? We can also outlaw eating etc. for a driver, and even though it might be hard to detect that someone eats, at least people will be less motivated to do so if the law is very strict on that. But even if we simply outlaw cell phone usage, then we will still have a reduced amount of car accidents.

"Education on how to ignore distractions and drive distraction free is what we should be focusing on."

Indeed, but many people ignore potential harms. We should educate people on the matter, but until we are safe in letting people drive ad avoid using cell phones etc., we simply need to prohibit the usage, because many people ignore the risks.[2] Also, I would like to know why not ban the usage instead of just telling people that they should not drive while using cell phones? If we assume that every person avoided using a cell phone while driving, is having a strict law against it not the same thing, leading to only few drivers using cell phones?

"Fatigue is a cognitive distraction that is extremely dangerous. Many accidents are caused by driver fatigue, and police officers even report pulling over drivers for DUI and finding out they are just sleepy. If you are drowsy―especially from medication―then you need to get off the road. It's not illegal."

It should be illegal. In fact, if someone is on regular medication, then the same thing can be done as with regard to elderly people, as I mentioned above: Get permission from the doctor. Also, there is technology already that measures the level of fatigue, and if one is too tired, he will be able to see it in no time.[3]

Using this, it can be part of cars, and a person will not be able to turn the car on if his level of fatigue is too high. Useful if you are alone and on rush to work!

-- Conclusion --

I would like to tell my opponent that next time he debates, he should use quotation marks when citing arguments from other sources. Quite a lot of his arguments are directly copy-pasted, and you would think that he wrote it because there are no quotation marks, but he did nevertheless cite the references. We learn from mistakes!

I conclude that these days, it is best to ban cell phone usage, because that will reduce the amount of accidents. I thank my opponent.

-- References --

[1]http://www.boston.com...
[2]http://www.boston.com...
[3]http://www.gizmag.com...
Debate Round No. 3
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by ariasullivan 2 years ago
ariasullivan
I think that using a Bluetooth device with your cell phone is about on the same level as talking to passengers, so I don't think cell phones should be totally outlawed while driving. However, if people would be more responsible about how they use their cell phones, there would be a lot less business for those dent repair companies out there.
Posted by kpeterson53 3 years ago
kpeterson53
That's a good point about the passengers. I'd have to give that solution a little bit more thought :)
Now remember, as we license people to drive - we give them the freedom to make life and death decisions. Just as we license people to have guns, which is a whole other debate I'm sure, we continue to "tighten the leash" on everything. Is it a political agenda to tax and fine more people for that revenue or is it truely in light of "looking out for us?" We should quit blamming technology for distractions and start regulating our own behavior. Thoughts?
Posted by Mirza 3 years ago
Mirza
Yes, no freedom. No freedom to do millions of things. Please.
Posted by lovelife 3 years ago
lovelife
I am not lying. I've seen your veiws elsewhere and then read this and it scares me cause I think there might be people that could become important with similar veiws and then no one would have any freedoms.
Posted by Mirza 3 years ago
Mirza
And once again, do not lie about me. I am not saying that if I find something wrong, it should be banned. Especially not in this debate here I referred to scientific studies.
Posted by Mirza 3 years ago
Mirza
OK. Then no need to be scared of my views that can only help.
Posted by lovelife 3 years ago
lovelife
Yeah I get more scared of drunk people driving then my mom texting and driving about 90% of the time.
Posted by Mirza 3 years ago
Mirza
A drunk truck driver will scare you more.
Posted by lovelife 3 years ago
lovelife
Mirza scares me to be honest. HE doesn't like something or believes something is harmful so it should be illegal. He wants us to have no freedom. Lol Mirza scared me away from the side I have always been on.

I want to ask about the 30 mph rule, what about passangers? When I'm taking a long trip, about 4 hours the only thing for me often times is texting. Lol I take mom's phone and text for her because I get pissed off when she texts and drives, but she clearly told me no matter how illegal they make it she wont stop.
Posted by cjl 3 years ago
cjl
Pro. Iin round three, you state early that mirza made a "drastic comparison". That is irrelevant, because it makes an excellent point. It works.
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