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I'll bet talking to the person in the passenger seat also contributes to crashes. Also, listening to music. Also, GPS units. I'm not saying they cause accidents, but they do contribute to them. Let's make them all illegal.

Here's a good link that you might be interested in, Robert: http://www.howwedrive.com/2008/12/04/hands-free-is-not-brain-free/

I sent a letter. Is there any movement on a 3ft law for passing bikes in VA?

I agree with Robert all distractions should be banned. Driving requires a great deal of attention. If everything on the road is exactly as the driver expects, he can read a paper for all I care. The problem is most drivers do not have crystal ball that they can accurately predict the future. If there is an unanticipated event such as a bicycle, pedestrian crossing the street or another car that unexpectedly slows down, talking on a cell phone, or fiddling with the CD player or GPS device could be problematic.

All those activities should be minimized. While we can't ban speech, but we can try to reduce the distractions from the other electronic devices

I think Robert was being facetious, carrying the argument to its illogical conclusion. This is one of those "draw the line" problems. Everyone would agree that you shouldn't watch a personal DVD player while driving. But most people would agree that listening to Bach while you drive is probably safe.

There is some science to back up the law, as Deb linked to. And, since we were all taught to keep two hands on the wheel as often as possible, it seems counter to good driving to spend a significant amount of time using only one. I used to drive a stick so I got in the habit of not using the phone when I drive (trying to shift with your left hand and not holding the wheel is pretty much insane).

Can someone tell me why this should not apply to "professional drivers" (see excerpt below)? Is there a hands-free law for professional drivers already in Virginia or would this allow cab drivers, bus drivers, moving truck drivers etc. to make calls without a hands-free device?

"The provisions of this section shall not apply to any professional driver. For purposes of this section, "professional driver" means an individual who is engaged as a regular operator of and who is actually operating a vehicle that normally carries passengers or property for compensation."

I disagree somewhat, I support the exemption for Amateur Radio ..

Dear ________,

I am writing you to voice my strong opposition to ____________.
These recently introduced bill(s) limit the use of cellular phones and “mobile telecommunications devices”. My concern is that there is no exemption for Amateur Radio operators and their associated equipment.

Amateur Radio operators have contributed valuable contributions to society including valuable emergency communications, this most recently spotlighted in the total collapse of New Orleans’s communications networks during and after hurricane Katrina. Amateur Radio operators provided exemplary communications support for the city. Many of the operators volunteered, traveling from states across the nation. It would be impracticable to regulate the use of their mobile equipment in any state.

The federal government via the FCC licenses amateur Radio operators alongside state, county, and local emergency service responders as well as state agencies such as the department of transportation and other state services. Allowing any of these bill(s) to pass would cause these users to be in violation of state law as well. I therefore ask you to ensure that mobile radio users are exempted from these bill(s) if allowed to pass.

It is important to remember that the hobby and volunteer service of any amateur radio operator relies heavily on the ability to use communications equipment while mobile in a vehicle. Almost all communications gear in this industry is designed for mobile use, including handheld radios. Equipment used stationary in buildings is usually mobile equipment augmented by power supplies. Furthermore if Amateur Radio Operators are restricted to hands-free devices the practical application of using communications gear while mobile would be hindered and possibly made dangerous. Mobile radio operators have used radio devices since the early day of radio without any problems or any laws to restrict their usage. Restricting Amateur Radio to hands-free devices is not an option.

With the broad implications and to prevent confusion with neighboring states, I ask you to have the above bill(s) modified to allow unrestricted amateur radio use by the driver of a vehicle while the vehicle is in motion. Furthermore, for the sake of the industry and related services I ask that the restrictions outlined in the above bill(s) apply to paid subscriber cellular telephone services only, completely exempting all other communications.

For the mentioned bill(s) if modifications cannot be made I ask you to vote against these bill(s). I understand the importance of highway safety, however the vague nature of these bill(s) jeopardizes Amateur Radio.

Sincerely,

Mike -- you're conflating "mobile" with "while driving." If you need to make a call, pull over. You're still mobile.

Does the frequency that your radio operates on somehow protect you from running into other road users?

Contrarian -- The frequencies may not, but the mode does. Nearly all amateur devices are simplex - they either transmitting or receiving, not both. This enforces a mandatory pause between transmissions, and its not uncommon for those pauses to last from several to tens of seconds.

Current research already shows that the mode of communication is an important factor in how distracting or not a conversation is. Until someone shows that simplex radio communications are a dangerous distraction, banning them is overly reactive.

It's not clear which way research will go. After all, CB radios, similar in mode to ham devices, have been in service for many decades, and there is little anecdotal evidence to show that truck drivers using CB are more dangerous.

Deb wrote: "Is there any movement on a 3ft law for passing bikes in VA?"

Not this year. The Virginia Bicycling Federation did not find a legislator willing to sponsor such a bill this year. Virginia is the only state with a 2-ft passing law, and the conservative legislators we approached do not believe that a change is needed.

As more states enact 3-ft passing laws, it becomes progressively easier to pass a Virginia 3-ft law every year.

The Virginia Senate referred SB 874 to the Courts of Justice Committee last week. If that committee reports the bill on Monday or Wednesday, it will go back to the full Senate next week.

Several other bills to limit cell phone use while driving (and bicycling) have been introduced in the Virginia House of Delegates. The more stringent of those are almost certain to be killed in committee, but a bill to prohibit sending text and email messages will perhaps be reported by the House Transportation Committee next week.

Crossover for the Virginia General Assembly is just one week away. If any cell phone bills are still alive then, we will push hard to get something passed.

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