Safety the main goal of ban on cell phone rings on buses
The City Council has approved a ban on cell phone rings while riding TheBus.
THE city's decision to quiet ringing cell phones on TheBus
will remove a distraction that intrudes on a driver's attention and places passengers and others on the road at risk.
The ban should prompt broader legislation on chatting while driving, a practice studies have shown to be dangerous because a motorist's concentration wanders away from the task at hand.
The bill approved by the City Council doesn't muzzle passengers, just the rings and other sounds cell phones emit to alert their owners to a call. It also disallows speaker phones or walkie-talkie functions.
The Council passed the measure after hundreds of bus drivers complained that ring tones startled or distracted them. Examples included recordings of people screaming or of cars screeching and colliding. In addition, discourteous users talked through speaker phones, much to the annoyance of fellow bus riders.
The measure requiring phones to be set on vibrate is no different from current restrictions on playing radios, televisions, portable stereos and electronic games without headphones or earphones. Though that part of the ban is designed to control rudeness, the primary goal is safety.
The Army and Marine Corps prohibit cell phone use while driving on Hawaii bases, even with hands-free devices or headsets, because studies have concluded that the distraction isn't handling a phone, but the conversation itself.
State lawmakers have considered legislation to require, at least, hands-free devices, but have yet to move forward as other states have done. Some smart drivers recognize the danger and pull over to talk on their phones, but a good many continue to jabber away while weaving across lane dividers and failing to use turn signals, obey traffic signals or notice other vehicles around them.
Bus drivers are forbidden to use cell phones while behind the wheel because of the risks. Logic should dictate that the distraction would apply to other drivers, as well.
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