Friday, January 30, 2015
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 [email protected]

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

Solano summit focuses on ways to end poverty

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Fraud among challenges immigrants face, Fairfield panelists say

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Teens earn right to perform with symphony

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
From classical to Queen: Chamber Players are ready

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Photographer has a passion for color

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
 
Cadets learn skills for future careers

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Girls on the Run expands, seeks volunteers

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3

 
Sports aircraft company CEO recalls effort to locate in Solano

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
‘Souper Bowl’ coming to Solano County

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A4

 
SolTrans announces changes to bus routes

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

Fairfield police log: Jan. 28, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Jan. 28, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

California’s snow survey shows far less snow than last month

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
State to move more than 2,000 inmates

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Boy Scouts reaches settlement in sex abuse case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Doctors starting to shy away from non-vaccine advocates

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Protestors shun sister-city relationship

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
City event criticized for Mexican mafia connection

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Tech advances lower chance that driver will die in car crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Attorney General nominee wins GOP endorsements

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Police: Family killed man over child custody dispute

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Killer says his ideas influenced family suicide

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

NASA astronaut memorial stirs memories for shuttle veteran

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
‘Anonymized’ credit card data not so anonymous, study shows

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Poll shows giant gap between what public, scientists think

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Fort Hood gunman Hasan says he wants to keep top lawyer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Simultaneous attacks in Egypt’s Sinai kill 26

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Indonesian investigators: Crashed AirAsia flown by co-pilot

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

Gas blast at Mexico children’s hospital, at least 2 dead

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Families plead for lives of IS hostages as swap hopes fade

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Ukraine: Russia-backed rebels overrun another town in east

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Deadly San Francisco blaze spurs look at fire alarms

By T. Burt McNaughton | From Page: A12 | Gallery

California meets judges’ prison crowding goal 1 year early

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
.

Opinion

Editorial Cartoon: Jan. 30, 2015

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Root of US political paralysis: Intolerance

By Clive Crook | From Page: A11

 
Left’s missteps show themselves – given time

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: A11

 
.

Living

Today in History: Jan. 30, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Jan. 30, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

My cousin’s 14-year-old son sleeps in the same bed as his grandma

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

 
Horoscopes: Jan. 30, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Week in preview Jan. 30 through Feb. 5, 2015

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
‘The Thorn Birds’ author Colleen McCullough dies at age 77

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Hilary Duff, George Lopez help in search for stolen dog

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Justin Bieber apologizes for bad behavior in online video

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Musician Geezer Butler arrested in Death Valley altercation

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Lil Wayne sues mentor’s record label for $51M, seeking split

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Jim Parsons to play God in Broadway’s ‘An Act of God’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande to pay tribute to Stevie Wonder

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Review: A tired gimmick weakens thriller ‘Project Almanac’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Bernie Mac widow drops malpractice lawsuit against doctor

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Entertainment Calendar: Jan. 30, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Desert stars: Celebs converge on Phoenix for Super Bowl 49

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
.

Sports

Vanden boys pull away from feisty Fairfield 86-66

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B7

 
Serena aims for 19th major in Aussie final vs. Sharapova

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Marshawn Lynch talks about why he doesn’t talk to the media

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Gronkowski and Chancellor make for must-see Super Bowl matchup

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
This date in sports history for Jan. 30, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Signups for Friday, Jan. 30, 2015

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B9

 
.

Business

Chevrolet polishes its mid-size truck

By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1 | Gallery

 
Prospect of Chinese cars in US still remain years away

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Senate passes Keystone XL bill, battles loom

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
McDonald’s under siege as new CEO steps in

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Obama seeks spending spike for defense, domestic

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Who wants a bite of Hershey…jerky?

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

.

Obituaries

Anthony Neal Hunley

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Joseph Phillip Raiff

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 3 Comments

Frank Z. Perez

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Dzhon Athanc

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Gloria Elizabeth Neal

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

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

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

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