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February 6, 2012 8:00 AM, EST

Letters: Cellphone Safety

These Letters to the Editor appear in the Feb. 6 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Cellphone Safety

In regard to the piece on the new cellphone ban for commercial drivers, I am in almost total agreement — with a couple of caveats (“Opinion: Cellphone Rules Offer Opportunity,” 1-23, p. 7).

First, I find it disturbing that we find it necessary to additionally pay our employees to do the most simple of tasks for which they are already employed. At present, not only do we not have the money for such redundant expenses, we should not be paying for basics twice under any circumstances.

Second, though I agree with the tighter restrictions and zero tolerance on the most inexperienced of amateur drivers, I find no less reason to relax the penalties for the more experienced. As a professional driver, I have seen amateur drivers from every level of society commit such incomprehensible acts of ignorance, stupidity, arrogance and risk as to fit all of society with their very own dunce cap. This has been an ever-increasing problem long before cellphones and has not been sufficiently dealt with appropriately.

That anyone lacks the intelligence to comprehend basic safe driving, regardless of cellphones and especially around trucks, is comment enough on the problem. Cellphones have only magnified an already monstrous issue all but ignored for years.

It is easy and nearly painless for Transportation Secretary LaHood and colleagues to wave their magic wands and pass any kind of regulation affecting commercial transportation and take bows for the applause from the safety groups that target only the professionals. It is another matter entirely to actually step up and deal with the problem head-on.

The absolutely ridiculous wording of the regulation speaks for the mentalities that would write — and pass — such a law. As with all of Washington, we need far fewer futile performances and many more purposeful actions.

Craig Hearn

Over-the-Road Driver

Macon, Ill.

There you go again. Don’t parrot NHTSA. Where are the refined data? With this paragraph, you’re trying to baffle us with BS:

“In 2009, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 5,474 people were killed and an estimated 448,000 injured in crashes involving driver distraction. NHTSA’s data also showed that 16% of all fatal crashes involved reports of distracted driving” (“Cellphone Rules Offer Opportunity,” 1-23, p. 7).

I’m tired of seeing that particular statistic. We need a highly publicized breakdown of what kind of distractions caused how many accidents, fatalities, etc. I believe it will be discovered that distraction caused by cellphone use (except where teenagers are involved) is a very, very minor percentage.

A couple of years back, before we knew those statistics about traffic deaths and accidents from 2009, a local radio station’s afternoon host — Dori Monson of KIRO radio in Seattle — was disputing the cellphone ban proposed by Washington state and cited a statistic that said only 2% of [distracted driving] accidents were related to cellphones — as opposed to eating, reading, applying makeup, children, trying to recapture items that fell on the floor, etc. Apply that 2% to the 16% of accidents caused by distracted driving we keep hearing about, and you come up with 3.2 hundredths of a percent actually caused by cellphone use.

I heartily agree with bans on texting while driving because you can’t text and keep your eyes on the road, and I can live with the ban on holding your cellphone to your ear because a good speaker or earpiece will work

But I do not agree with a total cellphone ban. You’ve heard “show me the money,” so now I say, show me the actual statistics before trying to shove unnecessary regulations down my throat.

Judy LaFleur

Selland Auto Transport Inc.

Seattle