Sunday, Sept. 24, 2006
S.C. Statehouse Report editor Jerry Ausband passed
away Sept. 16. We're deeply saddened over his loss and miss
his wit, wise counsel and professionalism.
Jerry Cox Ausband, 1937-2006, Rest in Peace.
Taking a look at using cell phones
SC Statehouse Report
24, 2006 - - Cellular telephones are as ubiquitous in modern
American society as hamburgers, apple pie and bad television
shows. Some 200 million Americans have cell phones, according
In the next South Carolina legislative session, there's a
good chance state lawmakers will look at ways to restrict
cell phone usage when people are driving, predicts state Sen.
Larry Martin, R-Pickens.
"People are getting more and more aggravated in what
they perceive as inattention to driving" from people
using cell phones on the highway, he said.
But he admitted, cell phone usage while driving is a two-edged
sword: For some, it may serve as a distraction and be a contributing
cause to accidents. But for many, it is a necessary convenience
because it helps people stay in contact better and allows
them to work more efficiently.
So far, the District of Columbia and four states, including
California earlier this month, have banned use of cell phones
in cars unless drivers are using hands-free devices, such
as headsets. Lawmakers in those states curbed use of hand-held
phones in cars generally because of concerns of driver distraction,
inattention and unsafe driving behaviors, such as tail-gating.
A highly-publicized June study highlighted how drivers using
cell phones in traffic posed five times the risk of getting
in an accident. More surprisingly, their driving behavior
was more dangerous than driving drunk, the study said.
"As a society, we have agreed on not tolerating the
risk associated with drunk driving," University of Utah
researcher Frank Drews told HealthDay News. "This study
shows us that somebody who is conversing on a cell phone is
exposing him or herself and others to a similar risk -- cell
phones actually are a higher risk."
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration
also says it's risky to talk on the phone while driving: "Research
shows that driving while using a cell phone can pose a serious
cognitive distraction and degrade driver performance,"
according to its Web site. "The data are insufficient
to quantify crashes caused by cell phone use specifically,
but NHTSA estimates that driver distraction from all sources
contributes to 25 percent of all police-reported traffic crashes."
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Please keep your comment to 250 words or less:
It's easy to see how talking on a phone while driving could
pose problems. Instead of paying full attention to driving
conditions, you might be listening to a fine point of somebody's
conversation. Instead of driving defensively, you might be
looking away from the road and dialing.
But it's just as important to keep in mind there are other
distractions drivers face constantly. They might be just as
distracted due to an animated conversation with somebody in
the passenger seat. Or they could be eating. Or they could
spill hot coffee in their lap.
In 2005, some S.C. lawmakers offered three bills to curb
use of cell phones in cars. Two of the bills targeted young
drivers, who reportedly engage in riskier behaviors when talking
on the phone and driving. None of the bills received serious
But Martin says he's asking state highway officials for statistics
to see if cell phone use in vehicles can be linked in any
way to more accidents.
Anecdotally, he says he's heard several stories of accidents
caused in part while drivers were on the phone. But before
taking any legislative steps, he wants to see some data.
In fact, there's already a law on the books which allows
police to charge drivers with "distracted driving."
That law, he noted, might be applicable to risky cell phone
Perhaps all that is needed to make state roads safer from
drivers who engage in risky behaviors is to enforce what's
currently the law regardless of whether they're talking on
the phone, yelling at a kid in the backseat or focusing more
on the food they're eating than the highway.
Send your comments to Andy Brack at email@example.com.
His book of commentary, Bugging
the Palmettos, is available for
here for more.
9/24: Don't eat
Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:
black colleges prepare students
To the editor:
Thank you for the article on SCSU. (Commentary,
8/27) It is and has been a great institution of higher
learning for African American students and has been regarded
as such in the African American community in SC.
Many employers do not feel that black colleges and universities
prepare their students academically (I've actually heard managers
make this statement in one of my previous positions). I hope
this will change this perception and give black colleges and
universities their just dues. Several of my family members
and friends have done well as graduates of a HBCU (historically
black colleges and universities.) HBCUs need more of this
kind of publicity.
-- Doris Starkes, Arlington, Va.
- 9/12: Frustrated
with judicial system, Terry Housley, Sumter County,
- 9/5: SC
State is a gem, Robertretta Brown Patterson, Columbus,
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