Thursday, October 2, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Distracted driving just got harder to enforce

wade kelvin column sig copy

By
From page A7 | March 06, 2014 |

The Fifth District Court of Appeals ruled last week that California drivers could check maps on their cellphones while driving.

The case stemmed from a Fresno-area man getting a ticket for using a handheld phone when a CHP officer saw him while stopped in traffic. The man claimed that he was using his maps program and won. The court ruled that the Legislature only intended to ban using handheld phones when conversing by voice or text. There’s no specific law banning the use of other features.

Since I’m a longtime critic of these laws, this wasn’t surprising. I often hold my cellphone when I’m using GPS to map routes. I never worried about being ticketed for it.

Now isn’t it absurd that one can look for directions on their smartphone while driving but cannot glance at a text message? Mapping out directions takes longer than reading a text message, but one is OK and the other will get you a fat ticket. What?

While I’m all for safer driving, I’ve often thought these distracted driver laws would be difficult to enforce. When California banned talking on handheld cellphones, I thought it was a knee-jerk reaction. (Of course, one couldn’t help but wonder if Bluetooth headset manufacturers were behind the push.) I thought it was sketchy, because study after study shows that talking on a hands-free device while driving is no different from talking while holding a phone to your ear. So how does this make us safer?

Plus, a study in 2010 involving four states found that crashes increased after texting bans. The reason is probably that texters hold their phones lower as to not be ticketed, focusing their vision downward. Previously they held their phones at eye level. This is the law of unintended consequences in action.

While no one wants distracted drivers on the road, I think that Fairfielders would rather have police rounding up murder suspects, cleaning up neighborhoods and getting drunks out of parks than checking to see if a driver is using Google maps or texting someone.

The problem with any law succeeding is compliance and enforcement. While this ruling gives cover to those who need to use their phones to get to new destinations, it makes enforcement of texting laws or talking on one’s handset harder to enforce. Now everyone busted texting is liable to claim they were checking their maps or using GPS, citing the recent Fifth Court of Appeals case.

Drivers hold their phones for other reasons as well. They check the time, look up phone numbers, change songs (for those who have their phone plugged into their stereo), take photos, ask Siri or Google Now a question, use voice texting and play games. I’m not saying it’s smart, but people do it.

To fix this, the Legislature would have to take the step of making it flat-out illegal to hold a phone while driving. That would mean people would need to map their destination before driving and, what I often do, set their phone down on the seat and use voice directions (if their phone supports it). Banning holding phones would make it easier for law enforcement to enforce the law. It’s black or white. Either you were holding the phone while driving or not.

Once that’s done, what about other distractions? What about eating, drinking, smoking, changing CDs, reading mail, reading paper maps, shaving, doing makeup and looking backward while driving and shouting at your kids to not make you stop the car? Peace.

Kelvin Wade is the author of “Morsels” Vols. I and II and lives in Fairfield. Email him at kelvinjwade@aol.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 4 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • CD BrooksMarch 06, 2014 - 6:27 am

    Kelvin, PD isn't enforcing traffic laws anymore, "not enough resources." If there was better enforcement, we'd have a lot less criminal behavior on every level. The majority of folks driving today don't have the necessary skills to do anything but drive their car foolishly. Too bad they prefer unsafe illegal activity over the lives of others.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • LilMarch 06, 2014 - 10:55 am

    CD, you will love this one. I was leaving the mall last night and was stopped at one of the stop lights coming out of the parking lots. I was going straight and a truck pulled up next to me that was in the left turn lane. We both sat there waiting and he suddenly took off while we still had the red. Just got tired of waiting for the light to turn. I was amazed. It hadn't just turned and he blew through a yellow. We were both fully stopped at a red. Thought of you right away.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksMarch 06, 2014 - 11:28 am

    Lil, LOL! Thanks for thinking of me, it helps me believe somebody's listening! :)

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JBDragonMarch 06, 2014 - 1:13 pm

    Wow, something you actually wrote I agree with! I think this is a first.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Head-on crash sends 2 to trauma centers

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
 
Vacaville man earns Carnegie heroism medal

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Mundy fifth-graders share their thoughts

By Mayrene Bates | From Page: A2

 
Veterans meet set in November

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Solano Tea Party Patriots meet next week

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Bevy of vintage warbirds expected at Nut Tree air show

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
 
Suisun City police log: Sept. 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Weather for Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B12

 
Fairfield police log: Sept. 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

FBI turns animal cruelty into top-tier felony

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

 
California Catholics challenge abortion order

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

San Francisco expands free public Wi-Fi access

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Judge: Stockton must treat pension like other debt

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Mexico’s probe of army slayings raises doubts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
John Wayne’s heirs lose ‘Duke’ legal brawl

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Hong Kong protesters threaten to occupy buildings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Man convicted of murder in killing over loud music

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5, 1 Comment

3 Afghan soldiers who fled say they can’t go home

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Poll: Divided voters still focus on economy

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Respiratory virus seen in 4 deaths; role unclear

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
920 California chickens killed with golf club

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Liberia short on ambulances for Ebola patients

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Wife of slain Los Angeles-area mayor released

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Ebola patient told hospital he was from Liberia

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Caltrans: Bay Bridge tower rods exposed to water

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Secret Service chief quits due to security lapses

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
2 children in Los Angeles County have enterovirus

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Palestinians: Israeli occupation must end in 2016

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Infant’s body found in California trash facility

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

App teaches kindergartners basic computer coding

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
2 white Ohio women sue over sperm from black donor

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

.

Opinion

 
Editorial Cartoon: Oct. 2, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

Crazy? Violent? Lose your guns

By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A11

 
It’s time to teach history

By Jay Ambrose | From Page: A11

Read this column ASAP or immediately

By Reg Henry | From Page: A11

 
Real reasons neighborhoods are in trouble

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

.

Living

Today in History: Oct. 2, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Oct. 2, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Oct. 2, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
Our son’s suicide has made us feel like outcasts in our community

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Lena Dunham launches tour for book of adult essays

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

‘Interstellar’ to be released 2 days early on film

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Steinem: Domestic violence discussion a positive

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

‘Orange is the New Black’ author talks Season 3

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Joy Behar to debut a 1-woman show in New York

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Tony Bennett sets mark as oldest act with No. 1 LP

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
.

Sports

Bumgarner, Giants silence Pirates 8-0 to advance

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
A’s part ways a day after 12-inning loss to Royals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

49ers prepare for familiar face in Chiefs Smith

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Raiders leave for bye after meeting with new coach

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

College notebook: Former Falcon Williams tearing it up as Torero

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Prep water polo: Rodriguez boys swim to 11-1 win over Armijo

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

Prep girls tennis: Stybnarova earns victory at No. 1 singles

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
 
Prep cross country: Armijo rolls to sweep at MEL center meet

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

Drivers fear next round of NASCAR’s Chase

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
JC volleyball: Solano wins twice in Falcons Classic

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

JC women’s soccer: Sjoberg nets 2 goals as Solano ties Chabot

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Trout makes playoff debut when Angels host Royals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Tigers hope starters can outdo Orioles bullpen

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Wambach, players file lawsuit over World Cup turf

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Oslo latest city to drop out of 2022 Olympic race

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Cardinals re-sign Fairfield High graduate Bishop

By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B3

 
LeBron warmly welcomed ‘home’ by Cleveland fans

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

This date in sports history for Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Business

Stocks start October with a drop

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
GM looks to new vehicles, China to boost profit

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

5 reasons bonds may be less safe than you think

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Why the bond market is more fragile than you think

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

.

Obituaries

John ‘Bo’ M. Miller

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Laura M. Gerdes-Lemmons

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9