Friday, August 1, 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

‘Boyhood’ mature on music, moments

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B1

 
Mr. Clean: Dennis Regan offers friendly jokes, with a bite

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

Gemstones shine at Solano County Fair

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Trifecta: ‘The Who’s Tommy’ third play in three months

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

 
Japan Summerfest returns this month

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Solano Tea Party Patriots schedule meet

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Details limited after shooting leaves 1 with injuries

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

Highway 12 to close overnight in Jameson Canyon

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

 
Air district calls Spare the Air alert

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

Vallejo police arrest suspect in shooting death

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Fairfield man settles suit against Raley’s

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4

Stabbing victim dies in Vacaville

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5

 
Fairfield police log: July 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: July 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

Abbas seeks broad support for war crimes charges

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
US, UN announce deal on 72-hour Gaza cease-fire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

As US job market strengthens, many don’t feel it

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Dow plunges as multiple worries vex investors

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds 2011 union law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
A look at the impact of Wisconsin’s union law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Union: California prison staff told to fake checks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Candidate goes homeless to show economic gap

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5 | Gallery

California ex-mayor sentenced in corruption case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Californians to see increase in health plan costs

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Appellate court overturns high-speed rail rulings

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Report: Secrecy enveloped Bay Bridge construction

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Yosemite wildfire weakened, evacuations to end

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
US warns against traveling to Ebola-hit countries

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Congress races to finish VA, highway bills

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
See-through mice reveal details of inner anatomy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

CIA spied on Senate, internal review finds

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Demoted worker shoots CEO, kills self in Chicago

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

NASA to test making rocket fuel ingredient on Mars

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Investigators reach Ukraine jet wreckage site

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7 | Gallery

.

Opinion

Editorial Cartoons: Aug. 1, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
To err is human – but not in print

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: A11

Why do so many Americans support Hamas

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

 
Nice guy becomes House majority leader

By Dan Walters | From Page: A11

Should union organizing be a civil right?

By Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis | From Page: A11

 
.

Living

Today in History for Aug. 1, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Aug. 1, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

My irregular monthly cycles were a symptom of cancer, not menopause

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

 
Horoscopes for Aug. 1, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Week in preview Aug. 1-7, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Review: Boseman drips with charisma as James Brown

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

‘Godfather of Makeup’ Dick Smith dead at 92

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Starz’ ‘Outlander’ brings novels to life vibrantly

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Dionne Warwick knows her way to San Jose

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Entertainment calendar Aug. 1, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

 
‘Sharknado 2′ whipped up storm of viewers, tweets

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
.

Sports

Chekwa taking reps with Raiders while Hayden sits

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Safety Bethea finding a groove with new 49ers team

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Expos fall short in 10-9 loss to Leghorns

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7

 
A’s deal Tommy Milone to Twins for Sam Fuld

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

A’s get Lester, Gomes from Red Sox for Cespedes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Another decent start for Woods at Firestone

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

Ravens’ Rice: His actions ‘totally inexcusable’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Dustin Johnson takes leave of absence from golf

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Commonwealth Games athlete convicted for assault on rival

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Lynch ends holdout, arrives at Seahawks camp

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Nick Watney leads PGA Barracuda Championship

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Rich get richer: Rays’ Price traded to Tigers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

Dumdumaya takes third in World Junior/Junior Olympic tourney

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B8

 
AP Source: Trump advances in Bills sale process

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Mudcats get 15-7 win in Auburn Classic

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B8

 
Phelps to compete in 4 events at US nationals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Signups for Friday, Aug. 1, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B9

 
Derrick Brooks set standard for NFL linebackers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

.

Business

Daimler launches new version of tiny Smart car

By The Associated Press | From Page: C1

 
Iliad of France makes surprise bid for T-Mobile US

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

In San Francisco real estate, $1M won’t buy much

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Facebook’s Internet.org expands in Zambia

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Debit overdraft fees often exceed cost of purchase

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Panasonic, Tesla to build big US battery plant

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

SeaWorld, Southwest Airlines ending partnership

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Target taps outsider as CEO for needed shakeup

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

.

Obituaries

Clifford C. Hemler

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
.

Comics

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Get Fuzzy

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

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

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

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9