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HOW-TO: Kill someone with a cellular phone (revise)

By AgentGray in Op-Ed
Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 05:40:16 PM EST
Tags: Round Table (all tags)
Round Table

The answer is simple: use it while driving.

Let's face it. Wireless devices are the norm. Wireless devices are dangerous. A recent survey (non-scientific showing of hands) at the FileMaker Developer Conference 2000 showed that roughly ninety percent of the people there had a wireless device and fifty percent of those people admitted to using it while driving. How many times have you seen erratic driving or been cut off by someone only to look at the driver and see a phone held to their head? Upset? You should be.


Many different cities and even some states in the U.S. are looking into banning wireless devices (namely cellular phones) while a person is driving a vehicle. However, it's not all that easy.

Opponents of the ban claim that other things than just cellular phones may be a distraction to a driver. Some of the recent vans and SUVs in the U.S. have a television as an optional feature. While driving, what should you be looking at? Let's take it one step further. Radios have been in cars for years, decades even. Passengers were there before that.

The major case that proponents have is that holding a phone in one's hand distracts the driver from the wheel. He loses a certain amount of control over the vehicle. That may be so. What about a smoker? My wife had an aunt who would read books while driving.

I don't believe that a ban will take place. I imagine that we will see some limitations such as allowing hands-free phones. In this day and age it's hip to have a cellular phone. You're considered cool. I had a friend in college who bought a fake phone and left it in the car and would act like she was talking on it if she saw someone she knew.

That was completely absurd. Before any law has to be passed we have to ask ourselves: Is it all that important to have to be that connected? Save some lives. Put both hands back on the wheel (or at least one of them).

What are we going to d...

...hang on.

I have a call.

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Do you use a cellular device while driving?
o Yes 24%
o No 75%

Votes: 161
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HOW-TO: Kill someone with a cellular phone (revise) | 69 comments (61 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
I hope we don't all agree on this... :-) (3.88 / 17) (#1)
by magney on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 06:04:21 PM EST

...cause it's boring when everyone agrees. You quickly run out of ways to restate your agreement with everyone else.

For my part, I think that there is a limit on how much you should be allowed to distract yourself while driving. TVs are definitely on the wrong end of the line, for example, as are books. (I could make an exception for someone caught in bumper-to-bumper traffic, but even then you're going to piss off the guy behind you when the car in front of you finally moves and you just sit there.)

Basically, anything that would require you to take your eyes off the road, or your hand off the wheel, in my humble opinion, is too much. Things that you listen to are rather more acceptable, provided that it doesn't plug up both your ears; you need to be able to hear what's going on around you. I could accept someone using a cell phone with a headset, provided that:

  • they were proficient at dialing quickly with one hand without looking down;
  • the headset was in one ear only.
On the other hand, I personally suspect that the worst offenders in these cases are bad drivers anyway, cell phones or no cell phones. It's extremely discourteous to the drivers around you to put you having your conversation RIGHT NOW above their safety, and even when such a discourteous person isn't actually driving erratically because they're talking on the phone, they'll still tend to speed, change lanes without warning, cut people off, etc.

When I receive a call on my cell phone when I'm driving, I just let the voicemail pick it up and call back when I'm stopped. If I was expecting a call (for example, if I'm on call) I'll pull into a parking lot at the next safe opportunity.

Do I look like I speak for my employer?

Re: I hope we don't all agree on this... :-) (3.00 / 7) (#6)
by AgentGray on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 06:43:28 PM EST

I have been in a vehicle with someone who placed a call. He spoke to the thing:

"Phone, dial Mom."

Now, I thought that was cool. Not the fact he had a phone, but the fact he couple operate it without touching.

[ Parent ]
Re: I hope we don't all agree on this... :-) (2.60 / 5) (#10)
by magney on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 07:00:47 PM EST

I've heard about this sort of thing, but didn't know it was in wide use. Now, this is what could help make cellphones safe for driving. Did it also have "Phone, answer" for when the phone was ringing?

Do I look like I speak for my employer?
[ Parent ]

Re: I hope we don't all agree on this... :-) (2.33 / 3) (#20)
by AgentGray on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 10:12:40 PM EST

The answer:

"Answer."

[ Parent ]
Small vocabulary speech recognition (3.16 / 6) (#14)
by mike-c on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 07:34:36 PM EST

Sensory, Inc. makes the speech recognition chip that is in some of these phones, both cellular and household cordless ones. You can see how it works here. It uses a neural network to map your spoken words to phone numbers. You train the net yourself, so it's speaker-dependent recognition.

It's one way that technology can help the problem, but not solve it completely.

Disclaimer: Although I am not directly related to Sensory, my Ph.D. advisor is a co-founder.
-- "If things don't go your way, just keep complaining until your dreams come true." -- President Clinton to Lisa Simpson
[ Parent ]

Re: I hope we don't all agree on this... :-) (4.00 / 6) (#11)
by dopefishdave on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 07:04:14 PM EST

Yeah, I agree, its crap if everyone agrees with you. And, IMHO, I think most people will agree that excessive distraction while driving is a Bad Thing(tm).

However, I think you miss the point that dialing is what causes the distraction. Its having someone else to talk to that isn't in the last bit aware of the road conditions. If you're discussing a major business deal while driving, you are just not going to be devoting enough attention to the road. And that is dangerous.

However, I digress, what I'd like to see more discussion of is how to stop this. Any technological solutions that don't involve the driver putting himself at risk? And educational solutions so we can persuade people (a la drink driving) just not to do it at all.. I know here in the UK, people don't seem concerned in the least about driving while having long protracted conversations, and I've had my own fair share of near misses because of it... (But then, I sense another re-write coming on...)

We think we understand music until we try to compose it and what comes out of the piano scares the cat.
-- Robert McKee
[ Parent ]

Re: I hope we don't all agree on this... :-) (2.80 / 5) (#13)
by magney on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 07:28:05 PM EST

Actually, I am aware of the argument that the conversation is more distracting because it's not with a passenger; and I have to say I don't buy it. After all, just because it's possible for your passenger to be aware of what's going on on the road, doesn't mean they are. In fact, if your passenger(s) are conversing with you, they probably aren't watching the road because they don't have to. Unless they know you're a lousy driver, of course... :-)

Do I look like I speak for my employer?
[ Parent ]

Re: I hope we don't all agree on this... :-) (2.75 / 4) (#28)
by dopefishdave on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 10:03:49 AM EST

Very true, often passengers are blissfully unaware of the road conditions, and sometimes seem hellbent on distracting you. But there is at least a chance that they'll be aware of the road conditions. If you suddenly slam on the brakes to avoid an accident, your passengers will notice - whereas the person on the other of the phone has no idea.

I'd argue too, though, that involved conversations with passengers are also dangerous. Maybe we should just stop people from talking while driving?? ;)

We think we understand music until we try to compose it and what comes out of the piano scares the cat.
-- Robert McKee
[ Parent ]

Re: I hope we don't all agree on this... :-) (2.00 / 2) (#48)
by tzanger on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 10:01:58 AM EST

Basically, anything that would require you to take your eyes off the road, or your hand off the wheel, in my humble opinion, is too much.

I drive almost exclusively with one hand. What's wrong with having a cell in the other?

While we're at it, why not enforece a 30MPH speed limit on all roads as there are some who can't handle a vehicle at higher speeds?

There's a real problem with banning cellphone use in moving vehicles. Not everyone is a jackass. As you said, dialing single handed (or even without looking, you've used a phone for HOW long? You can't tell where the buttons are?) should be acceptable.



[ Parent ]
Re: I hope we don't all agree on this... :-) (none / 0) (#67)
by jlb on Sun Oct 08, 2000 at 01:54:46 AM EST

The difference is in how easy it is to put your second hand on the wheel when you need to, and how willing you are to keep that second hand busy in a situation that *may* require two hands.

Have you ever talked to someone while they were driving? Has the conversation ever been interrupted because they needed the other hand to activate the turn signal or something?

It hasn't happened to me once, and I think most people would have had similair experiences. I find it hard to believe that when I've talked to people who are driving, they've never once been in a situation where it would be safer to use two hands.

Adequacy.org.
[ Parent ]

Re: I hope we don't all agree on this... :-) (none / 0) (#68)
by tzanger on Sun Oct 08, 2000 at 08:41:17 AM EST

Have you ever talked to someone while they were driving? Has the conversation ever been interrupted because they needed the other hand to activate the turn signal or something?

I usually drive with my left hand; accessing the signals/hibeams isn't a problem. Hell even when I drive with my right, I am able to slide my hand over to the left side of the wheel to do signals, etc.

There has been one occassion when I've told the person to hold on a second and dropped the phone in my lap ("hang on!" <drop>) to avoid hitting a labrador retriever. Most cases, however I perch the phone on my shoulder (you know how to do it) and use both hands.

As I said, not everyone's a jackass and it does take a bit of mental work to get it into your head that driving is more important than the conversation at hand (seems ironic but it's true) but once you've got your priorities straight, it's as natural as talking to someone beside you.

I find it hard to believe that when I've talked to people who are driving, they've never once been in a situation where it would be safer to use two hands.

There are definately situations where it is better to drive with both hands. The one I can think of off the bat is rough roads. I can swerve better one handed, I can get myself out of slides better one-handed. I dunno; maybe I'm just weird that way.



[ Parent ]
You hit it on the head. (1.00 / 1) (#60)
by mindstrm on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 12:23:15 AM EST

I think you hit it on the head. BAD DRIVERS are still bad drivers. I often use a cellphone while driving. Well.. not THAT often. If it Rings, I don't answer it unless it's safe to do so. I keep my eyes on the road, and slowly reach for the phone. Hey.. if I miss it, they can leave voicemail and I'll pick it up in a few minutes. There' sthe caller-ID too. If I need to call someone, I dial slowly and methodically. I keep my eyes on the road. My brain has no trouble keeping it's priorities straight. I never do much business on the phone while driving; I have light conversations: "What kind of beer should I get on the way home baby?" or "Hey.. wanna meet me for dinner?". IF I get work calls, asking about the servers and such, they can expect to get slow answers. I can't close my eyes and think hardcore about it.

[ Parent ]
Driving us to distraction! (3.84 / 19) (#4)
by DoctorE on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 06:30:17 PM EST

(Jeez, enough of the resubmits, already!)

Legislation aimed strictly at one particular form of distraction would be misguided.

What next, will there be laws to prevent us from walking and chewing gum at the same time?

There are many different causes of poor driving.

Impairment:

  • alcohol and other drugs
  • exhaustion (equal to alcohol in impairment)
  • emotional disturbance (ie: your SO just dumped you)
Distraction:
  • cell phone use
  • controversial radio program
  • kids fighting in the back seat

You can do something about distractions. The more serious problems are where your judgement is impaired.

Still, even with impairment you have a choice to continue with driving. No matter how disturbed, we still have the ability to recognize the situation and say, 'no, it's not right to drive right now'. Impaired driving of any type is still a choice.

Perhaps two general areas of the law can be made:
1. Driving while impaired
2. Driving while distracted.

We need increased public education on the other forms of impairment (exhaustion and emotional impairment) as well as eduction on the consequences of distraction in general.

Re: Driving us to distraction! (1.75 / 4) (#5)
by AgentGray on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 06:40:48 PM EST

Sorry about that, DorctorE. It was my first story and I wanted it right.

Thanks for posting your comments on all of them.

[ Parent ]
Re: Driving us to distraction! (1.00 / 7) (#7)
by Acous on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 06:46:41 PM EST

this isnt the place to state your opinion on the subject. this is the place where you state your opinion on the article itself.

[ Parent ]
Re: Driving us to distraction! (3.00 / 4) (#8)
by DoctorE on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 06:51:48 PM EST

this isnt the place to state your opinion on the subject. this is the place where you state your opinion on the article itself.

I selected "topical comment" rather than "editorial comment". If topical comments should not be posted here, then why is there an option to mark comment as topical in the first place? It doesn't seem to have been made clear.



[ Parent ]
Re: Driving us to distraction! (3.60 / 5) (#9)
by magney on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 06:57:22 PM EST

You've got it right, DoctorE. Topical comments are absolutely the way to state your opinion on the subject. That's why there is a distinction. The Editorial comments are dropped when the article gets posted, but the Topical comments allow the discussion to start when the story's submitted and then continue uninterrupted when it's posted.

Don't feel bad, Acous. Everyone's a newbie at kuro5hin sometime, and although I'd had an account here Before, I hadn't had it for very long.

Do I look like I speak for my employer?
[ Parent ]

Re: Driving us to distraction! (3.00 / 3) (#12)
by DoctorE on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 07:10:50 PM EST

The content of the above comment should be added to the site's documentation/help section.

[ Parent ]
Re: Driving us to distraction! (1.50 / 2) (#18)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 09:15:54 PM EST

there should be a way to submit any comment as editorial, so they can be ignored more easily. Teaching someone how to use the site is great, but tends to disrupt normal converasation flow. Yes, this post is guilty, that's why I'm making the suggestion. :-)

[ Parent ]
Re: Driving us to distraction! (3.00 / 3) (#17)
by cesarb on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 08:19:40 PM EST

In fact, editorial comments aren't dropped, but become invisible. Select 'All Comments' to see them.

[ Parent ]
ugh (5.00 / 1) (#69)
by Acous on Thu Jan 10, 2002 at 09:35:56 PM EST

i really wish i could delete that... its too embarrasing :)

[ Parent ]
Re: Driving us to distraction! (3.60 / 5) (#16)
by Perpetual Newbie on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 08:14:35 PM EST

Legislation aimed strictly at one particular form of distraction would be misguided.

Agreed! I also am ticked off when laws are proposed for specific situations when there is an obvious broad generalization that would work well. As far as I know, we already have laws against something called Reckless Driving that you can get a traffic ticket for, so if yon yuppie is doing the SUV Shuffle, the cops can already pull the schmuck over. Since there's apparently a problem, we might need more cops on the road, and/or get a policeman on the TV news to tell people to pull over if they have to take that call Right Now.

Another note on that subject; I've heard that there are laws(state:CA) against driving while eating food. Anyone know the validity of this or, or know of other laws specific to driving while doing one specific thing? Or, is there anything in the traffic regs that actually lets cell phone users off the hook, as it were?

[ Parent ]

(2.41 / 12) (#15)
by mattc on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 07:41:59 PM EST

I don't think a cell phone is any more distracting than a radio or conversation with a passenger, or any of the other things mentioned. Let's face it, most driving is either sitting in traffic, going straight ahead, or waiting at a stoplight.. not exactly strenuous activities.

Of course this is coming from someone who uses a Palm Pilot while driving :-)

Oh yeah? (4.16 / 6) (#38)
by sbeitzel on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 06:00:09 PM EST

I ride a motorcycle and I live in San Francisco. Riding around the area I see a lot of crazy and stupid stuff. I've seen women putting on their makeup, using the rear-view mirror to make sure the eyeliner is goin on okay -- at 65 miles per hour. I've seen guys shaving. I've seen guys reading the Wall Street Journal folded up on the steering wheel at 80 miles per hour. Think about that last one a second and think about the typeface/point size used by the WSJ.

With all that, though, these people never tried to kill me.

At least once a week, though, some dim-bulb on a cell phone decides that oh-my-gosh-I-need-to-be-in-that-lane and nearly squishes me. Go ahead and listen to the radio. Go ahead and have conversations with your passengers. But don't pick up that phone; I don't wanna die.

[ Parent ]

No different, perhaps, but none of them are good. (4.16 / 6) (#39)
by adamsc on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 06:14:38 PM EST

The problem with that is simply that you should be paying more attention. It's not just a matter of keeping your car in the lane - you really should be watching other drivers, keeping an eye on traffic conditions ahead, etc.

In my experiences driving in Southern California, the real dangerous people aren't the substance-abusers going 120mph but the ordinary people who aren't paying attention or don't care about others. They'll get onto the freeway at 35MPH; they change lanes without warning and speed up or down seemingly at random; they never demonstrate proper lane control and will be going wildly inappropriate speeds for the lane they're in, never noticing the stream of people who are trying to pass them or panic-braking to avoid accidents. These are the same people who will be going way too slow in the fast lane with good conditions and yet also tailgating at 65MPH in heavy rain.

My answer would be a substantial change to the existing traffic laws. Get rid of the set speed limit, which doesn't do anything other than provide non-tax revenue (e.g. we have some freeways where 150MPH would be a perfectly safe speed, at least in good weather, and others where 65MPH is pushing the limits of safety). Replace it with strictly enforcement for the laws governing maintaing safe speeds for current conditions and laws against driving while impaired/distracted. If you aren't paying attention to the road and the people on it, you put other peoples lives at risk. It doesn't matter whether you're drunk, talking with a passenger, using your cell-phone or PDA or extremely tired - if you can't drive safely, stay off the road.

[ Parent ]

Sorry, I disagree. (4.00 / 1) (#57)
by static on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 07:17:41 PM EST

Paying attention to the road is always a priority. Sometimes conditions mean the radio must be forgotten for a few seconds, often a few crucial seconds. Telling a call to hold one whilst that happens usually takes too long, but the radio you can ignore in an instant. Even fellow passengers will usually notice your "distraction" and will give you some leeway.

And this is from listening to the radio (or a CD) in the car most mornings and nights whilst driving 30 minutes to or from work. Including a tricky intersection where I always ignored the radio until I was through it.

Wade.

[ Parent ]

offtopic: didnt this happen... (1.90 / 10) (#19)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 09:18:53 PM EST

Didn't the Israeli government kill someone with a cellphone which was rigged to blow up when you hit 'send'?

Re: offtopic: didnt this happen... (3.75 / 4) (#23)
by digitalrust on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 12:15:41 AM EST

Not quite. They rigged a phone full of explosives (back when phones were larger) and put it in proximity of some terrorist. Then they called him. They decided not to detonate the guy's head because they weren't certain the voice on the other end was his. Saw this on the Bill Kurtis channel.

[ Parent ]
Down Under (3.63 / 11) (#21)
by reverb on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 10:24:00 PM EST

Well,

Here in Oz, you are legally allowed to use a phone, as long as you aren't holding it. This means that you can either have a 'personal' handsfree, or a full in-car kit.

The police have a device which can detect cellular usage (supposedly), and I have friends who have been pulled over, and had to show their handsfree device to be let off.

Studies, with which I concur, have shown that it's actually the mental power required to have a phone conversation, not the actual physical act of holding the phone, which causes the accidents. I know that I, for one, concentrate less on the road when I'm using my mobile. Sorry to have no backup links for this, it's just one of those things you remember.

Oh, and I voted -1, as this topic has been done to death, and resubmits suck.
With the exception of five, my email address doesn't have numbers.

Re: Down Under (2.00 / 1) (#59)
by Christopher Biggs on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 08:46:59 PM EST

I'm in Oz, too. I have a handsfree kit for my phone, which I use to avoid frying my brain. I would not use it when driving.

A study in the UK (sorry no reference for this) recently showed that even with a handsfree kit, driving is significantly impaired.

Gratuitous horror story: I once saw a guy (driving the obligatory SUV) with mobile phone in one hand, a blueprint spread out on the steering wheel, driving through a school zone!

[ Parent ]

No, THIS is how to kill someone with a cell phone. (3.60 / 10) (#22)
by Greyjack on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 11:18:20 PM EST

The Shotcaller, from Birdman Weapon Systems.

--
Here is my philosophy: Everything changes (the word "everything" has just changed as the word "change" has: it now means "no change") --Ron Padgett


Re: No, THIS is how to kill someone with a cell ph (2.66 / 3) (#43)
by inspire on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 09:19:50 PM EST

Actually, I was thinking something like this would've been really useful for the times I've seen people get their mobile phones stolen. Most recent case was that someone had their purse snatched - the victim rang the mobile phone, guy answered and hung up immediately, and turned the phone off.

If there was an invention that allowed typing in some sort of code to make the phone explode, that would solve many of the worlds problems as we know it.
--
What is the helix?
[ Parent ]

The REAL way to kill someone with a cell phone... (2.20 / 10) (#24)
by Daemosthenes on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 12:19:04 AM EST

Use it normally.

With government studies about radiation and brain cancer/damage in realtion to cell phones, I wouldn't be too sure that you aren't already slowly killing someone (i.e. yourself) every single time you make a call on a cell phone.

-
No demonstrated risks of cancer or anything else. (3.00 / 4) (#37)
by Christopher Thomas on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 05:57:26 PM EST

<i>With government studies about radiation and brain cancer/damage in realtion to cell phones, I wouldn't be too sure that you aren't already slowly killing someone (i.e. yourself) every single time you make a call on a cell phone.</i>

Just about every decent-sized, decently-controlled study on this subject has come up inconclusive or negative.

As with the power line debate, this keeps getting raised/debated/studied because of the public's general fear of anything that uses the word "radiation".

The sole effect of using a cell phone will be to heat your head by a few thousandths of a degree. You warm your head more by wearing a _hat_.

If you're worried about cancer, I'd worry more about cigarette smoke and the various chemical pollutants that find their ways around cities.

[ Parent ]
Re: No demonstrated risks of cancer or anything el (2.33 / 3) (#40)
by Daemosthenes on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 07:02:18 PM EST

Thanks for the info. To tell the truth, I wasn't too sure of the results, and boldly made an assumption. Good job tracking down the actual findings of the study.

-
[ Parent ]
Re: No demonstrated risks of cancer or anything el (4.25 / 4) (#45)
by ppanon on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 03:53:04 AM EST

Well, the reason why they heat your head is that the frequencies of radiation that they use are in the microwave range, which couples quite nicely with the loose (polar) water molecules and the soft tissues (brain) in your head. This probably does increase the chance of breaking various organic (molecular) bonds and causing cellular damage - something which will not happen from wearing a hat on your head.

The long term effects of using cellular phones (for >20 years) is still undetermined, but for my personal portable (900MHz) phone use at home, I prefer to use a headset and have the radio transmitter/receiver on my hip (where tissues aren't as susceptible to microwave radiation).

Having a Bachelor of Science in Physics, I don't have an unreasoning fear of anything that uses the word radiation. In fact, I tend to vacillate between amusement, frustration, contempt, and disgust at the average North American reaction to the words nuclear and radiation. I do know that most radiation protocols dictate that you can safely receive a certain amount of ionizing radiation per year. I just prefer to keep that amount away from my brain where my immune system can't deal with its results as well. This is well reasoned caution - perhaps excessive caution, but (unlike Steve Martin) I only have the one brain.

[ Parent ]
"No demonstrated risks of cancer" (4.66 / 3) (#47)
by ppanon on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 04:56:06 AM EST

Or in other words, look again at the title to this article. How many decades did the tobacco companies claim that this was the case for smoking/chewing tobacco and pay for studies to prove the point? I am not saying that this is the case yet for cell phone studies (even though cell-phones are a multi-$billion market), but you can be sure that the cellular manufacturers and service vendors are going to insist on pretty clear indications that there is a risk. Current results don't prove that risk, but they don't rule it out over the long term and they do demonstrate an effect from cellular phone use.

In the late 60's and 70's, people knew that exchange of body fluids in sexual activity could allow the transmission of disease, but they figured the typical diseases like chlamydia, gonorrhea (sp?), and even syphilis were curable. After the development of the birth control pill, the resulting sexual promiscuity set the stage for herpes and AIDs in the 80s and 90s. This isn't to say that premarital sex is bad - you can take precautions to decrease your risk - but ignoring known possible risks until they have been indisputably proven to be risks isn't the smartest avenue to take if the price for being incorrect is very high.

[ Parent ]
Re: No demonstrated risks of cancer or anything el (5.00 / 1) (#61)
by Christopher Thomas on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 01:01:04 AM EST

Well, the reason why they heat your head is that the frequencies of radiation that they use are in the microwave range, which couples quite nicely with the loose (polar) water molecules and the soft tissues (brain) in your head. This probably does increase the chance of breaking various organic (molecular) bonds and causing cellular damage - something which will not happen from wearing a hat on your head.

Um, you seem to be overlooking a couple of important points here:

  • The molecular oscillations are overdamped. Strongly.
    Water is an interesting substance. On a macro scale, it behaves like a liquid. On an atomic scale, it's something closer to jello in a firehose - both gross pressures and thermal energy cause it to flow like a liquid, but there are still reasonably strong bonds that form and break among the molecules (hydrogen bonds). Anything trying to wriggle around on a molecular scale will meet strong resistance, causing a strong damping effect on oscillations
    These transient bonds occur not only between water molecules and other water molecules, but between water molecules and the polar parts of any other molecule present. The proteins that make up the non-water content of our bodies are rife with binding sites for hydrogen bonds. This causes even better coupling between oscillating molecules and the water around them, and even stronger damping.

  • The energies involved are far lower than the binding energies within the molecules.

    Hydrogen bonds, IIRC, have a breakdown energy that yields a photon somewhere in the infrared range. Thus, the type of oscillation that couples to microwave-energy photons would not be one of sufficient energy to break even the weakest bonds within proteins. Truly "breaking" molecules would require overcoming the binding energy in a covalent bond. Good luck.

    It's also easy to demonstrate that ordinary thermal energy has a more destructive effect chemically than microwave energy: the wavelength of the average photon emitted by a room-temperature black body is shorter than the wavelength of the microwave photons being considered, thus indicating energy packets of higher energy being tossed around.


I do know that most radiation protocols dictate that you can safely receive a certain amount of ionizing radiation per year. I just prefer to keep that amount away from my brain where my immune system can't deal with its results as well.

Um, cell phone radiation is not ionizing. Ionizing radiation is, by definition, radiation whose quanta have sufficient energy to ionize atoms or molecules. This starts somewhere out in the UV range for most substances.

In summary, I think that several points that you seem to have overlooked substantially impact the validity of your points.


Having a Bachelor of Science in Physics, I don't have an unreasoning fear of anything that uses the word radiation.
BASc, and likewise.

[ Parent ]
I beg to differ. (1.00 / 1) (#56)
by static on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 07:08:51 PM EST

A well respected Australian columnist, Stewart Fist, has been chronicling the industry's experiences with this test. You can see his pages here.

I would agree that the risk of disease from a city's chemical pollution is higher, but then I don't use my phone much. :-)

Wade.



[ Parent ]

Germany (3.33 / 9) (#27)
by Shiftless-Jungle-Bum on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 03:53:46 AM EST

Using a cell phone while driving is already against the law in Germany. This includes hands-free car phones. The reasoning is that the concentration required for a phone conversation takes away from the concentration required for driving. I find the car phone ban somewhat over-restrictive but on the other hand I'm glad that someone passing me at 125+ mph is devoting all of his attention to the road.

Not illegal in the UK (3.33 / 3) (#31)
by pwhysall on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 12:19:48 PM EST

but the police can and will do you for driving without due care and attention, and also reckless driving.
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
[ Parent ]
Re: Germany (1.50 / 2) (#51)
by Aztech on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 11:10:15 AM EST

You've gotta the fact there's absolutely no speed limits on the autobahn's, putting the driving without due care and attention laws aside!

What ever happend to that story of the bloke who took a road equipped McLaren out on an autobahn on a quiet day and was blasting around at 200mph?



[ Parent ]
short attention spans are the real problem (3.55 / 9) (#30)
by xah on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 11:54:50 AM EST

People just can't focus on anything for more than 20 minutes these days. For example, I'm in school and after about 15-30 minutes into an hour-long class, just about everybody starts rustling through their bags, moving around in their chairs, leaving the classroom to go somewhere, or even chattering amongst themselves. The ability to concentrate is important if you're going to learn anything. As a second example, how many times are you in the middle of a conversation with someone when they see a bright and shiny thing which diverts and captures their attention for a few minutes, until they return and ask you to continue the previous conversation? Perhaps I'm just exceptionally boring, but I think this generally happens a lot.

How is driving any different? After a short while, people need to distract themselves by stopping or talking on a phone. Anything but continue driving.

Society is forgetting the value of simplicity. To flit around like a butterfly may engage and exhaust the mind, but to focus on something and really drill down is the only way to receive rewards in life.

Re: short attention spans are the real problem (3.60 / 5) (#32)
by mattc on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 12:59:12 PM EST

Don't confuse simplicity and monotony. They are very different.

[ Parent ]
Re: short attention spans are the real problem (3.50 / 4) (#42)
by skim123 on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 09:06:45 PM EST

People just can't focus on anything for more than 20 minutes these days

A side-effect of TV, in my opinion. Shortening attention span is a depressing trend our society is facing. Presidential debates this year are short question/answer (90 seconds? Five minutes? I don't know the exact number, but it is short.) When Lincoln and Douglas debated, it was 45 minutes by one man, 90 minute rebuttal by the other, and another 45 minutes for the first man to sum up. If we tried such a format today, we'd need breaks every 10 minutes to keep people's attention, perhaps a quick word about the various corporate sponsors for the 2000 Presidential Election.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Hmmm... (2.00 / 8) (#35)
by 3than on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 02:54:03 PM EST

Nowhere near enough anger. Why not some gory descriptions of cellphone-caused accidents? Or plans to get even with cellphone abusers? If I don't hear 'kill 'em all, let god sort 'em out' in a rant, I just can't vote +.

It is already banned in France (2.83 / 6) (#41)
by Tester on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 07:12:41 PM EST

A few weeks ago, I heard oin the French news(that we have here in Quebec) that they had banned the use of cellphones while driving, except for hands-free phones. Also, in Quebec, there are rules that specifically forbid TVs that can be seen by the driver. I doubt its the only place where there are such rules. And I beleive that when cellphones get more into the normal lives of the "Average North American" like they are in Europe, such rules will start to appear. Its just a matter of time.

For now: Dont call and drive!

Do you hate cellphones? (3.50 / 8) (#44)
by Inoshiro on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 12:36:18 AM EST

If so, head over to phonebashing.com for some funny movies ;-)



--
[ イノシロ ]
No. (3.12 / 8) (#46)
by ksandstr on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 04:00:06 AM EST

Running over someone because you were talking on a cell phone at the time isn't killing someone with a phone. Stabbing or clubbing someone to death with one is, but running someone over with a car and blaming it all on the cell phone is still running someone over with a car.

The same thing has come up here in Finland (where like 70% of the population has one or more cell phones... GSM, usually) and the politicians are yet again discussing if talking on a cell phone while driving should be outlawed. Which is kind of amusing, since there haven't been all that many accidents where one party was talking on a cell phone compared to how many people have them. The absolute number of accidents hasn't changed more than the yearly expected fluctuation either, which suggests that the "more cell phones == more accidents" argument doesn't hold water. A point that the politicians conveniently ignore, naturally.

Is it so important to be connected, then? Probably not, at least not for me. It's still a good thing if your cell phone has an "off" switch, or at least a "silent" mode. Owning a cell phone used to be a status symbol here too in the early 1990s (they were big clunky NMTs back then), but ever since they became cheap enough for your average person to buy they seem to have gained that everydayness that you get whenever a certain type of gadget has been on the market for several years.



Fin.
Re: No. (2.00 / 1) (#50)
by Aztech on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 11:00:18 AM EST

It's the same over here in the UK, 55% of the population have a mobile phone, so you're officially in the minority if you don't have a phone. It's certainly not a status symbol anymore, since some 13yr old kid who has a nicer phone upstages all the businessmen. The pay-as-you go SIM cards have certainly drove up adoption, definitely amongst kids.

I knew something crazy was happening in 1998 when my friend dumped his girl-friend via an SMS message! ... I guess that was better than the last time, he used ICQ then. Slack :/

Az.

[ Parent ]
I'm not sure I can believe that. (none / 0) (#55)
by static on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 06:54:36 PM EST

In Australia, using a phone whilst driving was shown to increase the chances of causing an accident. That's why it was made illegal.

Wade.

[ Parent ]

Re: No. (5.00 / 1) (#58)
by adamsc on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 07:20:43 PM EST

The absolute number of accidents hasn't changed more than the yearly expected fluctuation either, which suggests that the "more cell phones == more accidents" argument doesn't hold water.
This would seem reasonable since most people seem to agree that the real problem with phones is inattention. People who don't consider paying attention important will do countless other risky things I've seen:

<DAVEBARRY TYPE="I swear I'm not making this up">

  • read the paper
  • eat something messy[1]
  • play with the radio
  • hold animated
  • highly-emotional conversations with passengers[2]
  • engage in sexual acts with passengers
  • shave / apply makeup
</DAVEBARRY>

Unfortunately, passing a law penalizing incompetent people for endangering others is seen as discriminatory these days...

[1] I can forgive eating a hamburger or something which can be eaten one-handed while in light traffic in good conditions. I'm talking about people I've seen eating soup (with a spoon) or other 2-handed foods while in heavy traffic during a storm.
[2] looking at the passenger instead of the road for prolonged periods of time, breaking up with an SO, etc.

[ Parent ]

Lethal Phones (3.75 / 8) (#49)
by Aztech on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 10:45:42 AM EST

Mobile phones can be lethal, putting all the radiation issues aside. A couple of months ago, I had to grind to a halt from about 50mph and swerve to avoid a teenage girl who just walked across the road without looking, she was too busy staring at her mobile phone typing out a text message. In fact, until 3 cars skidded to a halt and tooted their horns I think she was totally oblivious to the fact she was even on a road.

A couple of weeks later, I heard the tragic news that a 15 yr old girl got knocked over and killed because she was playing on her phone and didn't look where she was going, the first fatal accident of its kind in the UK. It certainly made me think back to my own experience, I can well believe something like this happening very easily. Kids have always been unaware of the dangers of roads, and it appears teenagers no longer know any better since they’re constantly distracted ‘texting’ their friends.

As for using your phone whilst driving, it’s illegal over here, you can get a pretty hefty fine for doing so. Some research indicated even hands-free kits are no better, since your concentration is still on the telephone conversation rather than the road, despite having two hands free.


Also in Australia (2.00 / 1) (#54)
by static on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 06:52:09 PM EST

It's also illegal to use a mobile phone without a hands-free kit whilst driving in Australia.

But so many people still do it. I wish I knew a good hand signal to tell drivers to put down the #$^% phone!

Wade.

[ Parent ]

Re: Also in Australia (3.00 / 1) (#62)
by A. Nut on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 12:58:34 PM EST

I wish I knew a good hand signal to tell drivers to put down the #$^% phone!

Heh... I already have a hand signal to use for just that occurence...
You should reverse the fish in my e-mail address
[ Parent ]

Insurance (2.50 / 4) (#52)
by Aztech on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 11:26:05 AM EST

On a somewhat related note I just found this article whilst doing some research.

Drive safely, pay less
"Some safe drivers in Texas are paying less for their car insurance by agreeing to have satellites monitor their driving habits.

"How much they use the car, the routes they take and the speeds at which they drive are being monitored high above the Earth."


Also, this article is pretty funny!

Paragraph separation... (3.00 / 2) (#53)
by DigDug on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 06:06:23 PM EST

When posting something, whether comments or articles, it's nice to use <P> for paragraph separation, and not two <BR>s. Perhaps Rusty needs to hack that into the text-to-HTML scripts? I'd post it on the Scoop site, but... you know.

--
Yavista - if you haven't found a nice homepage yet.

On This Topic.. (1.00 / 1) (#63)
by wholen1 on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 04:44:17 PM EST

Let's get the government to ban those dang bugs that fly up and hit my window at night. Those bugs not only impair my vision, but the splat is distracting. I have to say this - it is ingrained in me, it is my mission in life to enlighten: Government banning is not the solution!

I used to wear my seatbelt until it became a law to do so. Now, out of pure defiance I refuse to 'buckleup'. That some lawmaker can tell me to wear a seatbelt, for my own safety, disgusts me. Not only that, but I'm a regular guy. I spent my four in the USMC, I have a good job, pay my taxes, vote if I feel like someone is worth it.. and generally obey the law.

On the other hand, I have been talking on my cell phone while driving for several years now - everyday without exception, and have yet to have an accident while using the phone. I talk during rush hour most of the days, in the morning and evening. I fail to see the logic in banning something because a few percentage of the people 'almost' have accidents. Would it not make more sense to revoke the driver's licenses of people over the age of 55? - I can't tell you how many times I have almost been plowed into, rear-ended, stopped in front of, and not to mention the occaisional 25mph in the 70mph zone from the senior citizens, and yet if I proposed we ban them from driving I'd get thrown out on my ear.

You have to decide if you would like to make the decision, or if you would like to be told what to do by someone else, and ultimately punished for non-compliance. Laws are for your protection, yeah and everytime a new one is enacted my personal liberty is sacrificed as a result. I'm just a little leery about talk of 'banning' and 'new laws' - - where does it all end and at what cost?

out...E

Re: On This Topic.. (none / 0) (#65)
by jlb on Sun Oct 08, 2000 at 01:45:37 AM EST

The difference between buckling your seatbelt and using a cell phone is like the difference between driving drunk and driving while not wearing your seatbelt.

I don't think I need to elaborate.

Adequacy.org.
[ Parent ]

Chicago considering ban (none / 0) (#64)
by skim123 on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 04:09:31 PM EST

Chicago is considering banning hand-held cell phone usage while driving. "The Chicago ordinance would set a fine of $25 for a first offense and up to $100 if use of a cell phone was found to have contributed to an accident."
http://abcnews.go.com/sections/tech/DailyNews/verizon000925.html

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


televison? (none / 0) (#66)
by jlb on Sun Oct 08, 2000 at 01:48:15 AM EST

I was under the impression that throughout most (all?) of the US it's illegal to have a television or anything of that sort where the driver can see it. Or maybe that's only when it's turned on.

Regardless, I'm pretty certain it's illegal.

Adequacy.org.

HOW-TO: Kill someone with a cellular phone (revise) | 69 comments (61 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
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