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Author Topic: Minding your own business
Geraine
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I consider myself a safe driver. I keep both hands on the steering wheel, keep an eye on the road, and drive the speed limit.

That being said, I sometimes receive texts on my iphone. I work in the payroll industry, and many of my clients have my cell phone number. Sometimes I'll pull my phone out and see who text me and if needs be I will dial their number. I usually won't text them back because I have found that it does impair my driving, but if I am alone on the road, then hey, why not.

This morning I pulled into my office and the parking lot was empty. I received a text a few minutes before but did not have a chance to read it because I was on the freeway. I read the text quickly and put the phone back in my shirt pocket.

I got out of my car and started towards the door to my office building, and a lady from across the parking lot yelled at me to get my attention. We have an Art Institute near us so I thought maybe she was a lost student. The conversation went something like this:

Me: "Good morning! Can I help you?"

Lady: "I just want to let you know that I saw you texting while driving. I should get your license plate and report you to the police!"

Me: "Ummm....Excuse me?"

Lady: "I don't want to report you to the police but I will if you keep doing it."

Me: (Getting frustrated) "I don't know if you just moved her Ma'am, but there are no laws against texting while driving in Nevada."

Lady: "I'll call the police and report you."

(At this point I lost my cool)

Me: "Tell you what, let's go ahead and call them together. You can report me, and I can laugh when they tell you that I was right. Then maybe I can ask them if there is a law against people that dont mind their own business."

Lady: "Just don't let me catch you doing it again."

Me: "I really hope you do catch me doing it again. In fact, if I'm ever driving and you are in front of me, I'll make it a point to pull out my phone and text."

She gave me a dirty look then walked off. If I had been driving erratically or been on the road, I could understand her frustration. I was in an empty parking lot.

Have you ever had an experience with people like this, and how do you usually handle it? I didn't want to be rude and show her my middle finger, but I couldn't believe that the lady had the nerve to even approach me.

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MattP
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You weren't completely clear there. When did you read/reply to your text, exactly? When you were driving in the parking lot? After you were already parked?
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Raymond Arnold
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In New York it is illegal.

I actually don't think either of you did anything wrong, at least initially. From your perspective, you were giving the phone a quick glance before getting onto the road. But the woman didn't know that. I know plenty of people who text while driving in the middle of New York City intersections, who know perfectly well they are being foolish but do it anyway because the risk just feels so small.

Frankly I don't think there's anything wrong with going up to someone who appears to be doing something unsafe and telling them so. The things I consider the woman to have done wrong had less to do with what she was doing but how effectively she was doing so. On the flipside, you responded in what, honestly, sounded kinda childish, exactly like the sort of person who normally texts in all kinds of unsafe situations and has no intention of ever stopping.

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Stephan
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I guess technically reading a text is different from texting anyways.
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kmbboots
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Potential traffic hazards (not saying that you were) would, IMO, fall under the heading of everyone's business.
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Geraine
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That is the thing. At first I tried to be nice. When I checked my phone, I was at a complete stop waiting for the person in front of me to finish parking. They had to pull back out 3 times before they got their car in there straight. I think it may have been the same lady.

I was stopped for about 30 seconds, and literally 5 of those seconds were spent reading the text. I didn't reply to the text , I simply read it.

I tried to be nice to her at first, until she threatened to call the police. After I pointed out to her that there is no law in Nevada she threatened me again.

I don't text while I'm driving. Even though it is not illegal, it is VERY hard to do so on an Iphone. On my old G-1 phone I could without a problem because it had an actual keyboard that I could use with one hand without looking down, and even then I wouldn't do it often. If I am stopped at a light or if there are no cars around on a back street, I may take a quick glance if someone messages me, but I won't reply until my car is off or I am parked.

My problem with the lady was not that she approached me, but that she threatened me with police action. Had she simply come up and said "I noticed you were texting while driving, and there are a lot of accidents caused by doing it" I would have been fine with it.

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airmanfour
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I didn't notice any expletives or name calling. Very impressive.
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Mucus
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I'm confused. If the parking lot was empty, why would you need to wait for anyone to finish parking?

My initial reaction is that this seems to be a grey-area, we have anti-non-handsfree phone use laws here*. The recommended best practice is to stop somewhere, but not necessarily to formally park.

(Although, they don't IIRC apply to parking lots on private property)

Separately, I think both could have handled it (the conversation) better.

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Raymond Arnold
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The thing is, whether you were trying to be nice, nothing you said indicated that you understood the danger of driving while texting, or that you intended to not do it in the future. From the perspective of the woman (i.e. any other driver out there who could be in danger from someone driving poorly), "nice" is irrelevant.

In that situation (and others like it) I usually just say "I'm sorry." Anything else is honestly superfluous. If you had a good excuse for doing someone in one particular instance, the other person won't be able to tell if the excuse is genuine or not.

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Nighthawk
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My sister once got approached at a red light because of her terrible driving, and because the person couldn't believe that "...a member of MENSA..." could be such an horrible, reckless driver.

My sister had borrowed my father's car at the time, which had a MENSA license plate holder.

She was quite amused at having to explain that she wasn't the smart one in the family.

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rollainm
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The inconsistency MattP pointed out makes me wonder how honestly you've described the situation. But if it happened exactly as you said it did in your op, then I think you were justified in responding the way you did. Yeah, you could have just let it go, but threatening to call the police on you was dumb, and I can completely understand being irritated by that.
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Samprimary
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quote:
When I checked my phone, I was at a complete stop waiting for the person in front of me to finish parking.
quote:
the parking lot was empty.
umm

/edit n/m, beaten to it =)

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MightyCow
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What else were you lying about? Were you performing surgery while driving too? I should report you to the medical police!
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Tara
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You should have told her exactly what you told us: "I don't text while driving, I was simply reading a text while waiting for someone to finish parking. I agree with you that texting while driving is dangerous and there is certainly no need for you to call the police on me."

Texting while driving IS ridiculously dangerous and I think she was right to point that out. Of course she did it a little rudely, but you might as just well just be polite in reponse.

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Geraine
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
I'm confused. If the parking lot was empty, why would you need to wait for anyone to finish parking?

My initial reaction is that this seems to be a grey-area, we have anti-non-handsfree phone use laws here*. The recommended best practice is to stop somewhere, but not necessarily to formally park.

(Although, they don't IIRC apply to parking lots on private property)

Separately, I think both could have handled it (the conversation) better.

Let me get something out of the way since it is a hangup for some of you. The place I work is huge complex. There are probably over a hundred businesses housed in the complex. As such, there are THOUSANDS of cars that are parked there every day. When I say empty, I do not mean there are absolutely no cars other than mine in the parking lot, I mean there is a very large amount of empty spaces. Perhaps 3-5% of the spots were taken. There are also a lot of what we call "islands" scattered throughout the parking lot that have shrubs, bushes, and trees planted. When someone parks, there isn't a space large enough to drive around them, you have to wait until they are done pulling in. While the parking lot was what I consider to be empty, I still had to wait for the car to pull in completely before I could turn into the section of the parking lot where people from my office park.

To Raymond, I feel that I shouldn't HAVE to explain anything to the lady. It isn't her business. I didn't do anything illegal, and so she had no right to approach and threaten me in the way she did. As I said before, had she approached me in a different manner, she would have gotten a different response. Instead of nicely talking to me however, I got a very rude and ignorant reprimand. Since she didn't want to talk to me with respect, she wasn't getting any from me.

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mr_porteiro_head
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Are you really upset that she stuck her nose where you don't think it belonged, or that she did so in a rude manner?
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Geraine
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Both. Stay out of my business. If you do decide to get involved and I haven't wronged you in any way, at least do it with respect.
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TomDavidson
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I believe she thinks that unsafe driving wrongs everyone on the road, including her.
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mr_porteiro_head
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Well, I'm going to disagree that it's purely your business. You appeared to have been doing something, legal or not, which is dangerous to others.
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Raymond Arnold
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I strongly disagree that it is only your business.
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Geraine
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Perhaps you can explain what is dangerous about reading a text for five seconds while sitting in a car that is not moving, and how this gives her a right to involve herself with me?

That being said, if I WERE moving while reading the text I would agree with you. This would present a present danger. A stopped car does not.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Geraine:
Both. Stay out of my business.

Just FYI, it isn't just 'your business.' Not any more so than that is your parking lot you were on at the time.

Also, your original description of what you do counts entirely as distracted driving, which does increase the risk of a crash significantly. People pulling out their phones to read them while driving has the outcome you might think.

You shouldn't care a bit about whether or not it's against the law, especially when you shouldn't do it anyway and when injury lawyers can still gouge you for major settlements when distracted driving is reported as being part of the cause of a crash.

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Geraine
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Samprimary,

You must not have read the part where I stated (3 times now?) that I was in an unmoving vehicle at the time. Stopped. Completely. Essentially parked.

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Samprimary
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I read that. I said 'your original description of what you do,' not what you went on to describe what you got criticized for. this:

quote:
That being said, I sometimes receive texts on my iphone. I work in the payroll industry, and many of my clients have my cell phone number. Sometimes I'll pull my phone out and see who text me and if needs be I will dial their number. I usually won't text them back because I have found that it does impair my driving, but if I am alone on the road, then hey, why not.
It's an FYI. Don't do this.
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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
Perhaps you can explain what is dangerous about reading a text for five seconds while sitting in a car that is not moving, and how this gives her a right to involve herself with me?

That being said, if I WERE moving while reading the text I would agree with you. This would present a present danger. A stopped car does not.

The issue is that there's a lot of people who text while driving. I don't know offhand what the statistics are for how many people ONLY EVER text while sitting in a parked car, but I'm willing to bet that 9 times out of 10, if you see someone texting in a car that is not moving, there's a good chance they might text in a more dangerous place some other time in their life. (As Sam notes, you DO engage in behavior that is dangerous to some degree).

I absolutely would rather live in a world where someone occasionally tells me I am driving badly (even if I am not), if it means that there are fewer people driving unsafely. My only disagreement with the woman is that because she spoke rudely, you were less likely to listen to her.

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Perhaps you can explain what is dangerous about reading a text for five seconds while sitting in a car that is not moving...
Like I said, regardless of how safe you were, you appeared to have been doing something dangerous.
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rivka
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I disagree -- pretty strongly -- that it actually WASN'T dangerous. If the vehicle's engine is on, you have NO business reading or sending texts. Period. And doing so makes you a danger to everyone around you, and that WAS her business. Which doesn't make threatening you ok or a good way to handle it.

Your punishment for this behavior is being sentenced to read Traffic. [Razz]

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MightyCow
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Hatrack has spoken: you were wrong. Don't text in the car unless you're actually parked.
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Scott R
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Oh, baloney.

If you're not moving, there's no actual danger in it. Just make sure you're REALLY not moving.

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rivka
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YOU are also sentenced to read Traffic.

Actually, everyone should read it! It's a really interesting (and sobering) book!

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shadowland
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Eh, I wonder if she would have made as big of a fuss over the issue if you had been changing a CD instead of checking your phone.

I think the problem is that many times people associate a specific activity with distracted driving instead of associating distracted driving with, well, actual distracted driving.

I've found that a lot of people feel very strongly about any type of cell phone use while in a car, so I tend to usually just try to avoid any discussion with strangers on the matter altogether. Based on your description, I think the lady's actions were a bit rude, but as was mentioned earlier, most of what you said back to her was probably a waste of effort.

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Geraine
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Well, in a completely ironic twist of events, I was waiting in the parking lot after work behind a long line of cars waiting to get out of the complex, and a car backed up right into me. It didn't hit me hard but I now have a dent near my front left head light. It is a 13 year old car and the dent can be hammered out, so no big deal.

Even more ironic was that it was the same lady, and she was talking on her cell phone at the time she backed into me. Her eyes went kind of wide when she saw who she backed into, and I had to laugh. I told her not to worry about it since it was such an old car and the dent really wasn't that bad. She apologized to me for the way she spoke in the morning and I did as well. I didn't call the police since I didn't feel it was that big of a deal.

So we made up. I got a dent in my car, but it was well worth it. Sometimes I think God/Fate/Karma/The Flying Spaghetti Monster has a sense of humor.

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Raymond Arnold
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Seriously? That's pretty funny.
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BlackBlade
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Geraine: Imagine if you were in your car, waiting for a spot to open up, reading a text, and somebody in front of you starts backing up towards you. Because you are looking at your phone you can't honk your horn or attempt to get out of the way.

Having said that, that lady's behavior really makes me mad. Not because she was wrong about texting, but because she's a bleeding hypocrite.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Geraine:
Even more ironic was that it was the same lady, and she was talking on her cell phone at the time she backed into me.

[ROFL]
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Geraine
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I'll see if I can take a picture of the dent and upload it to photobucket.

It was one of those coincidences that I thought only happened in movies, I couldn't help but laugh. [Razz]

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TomDavidson
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I remember chatting with my wife, who was then my new girlfriend, as we pulled up into an intersection. She had just observed that some of my anecdotes were pretty out there, and I was animatedly complaining about it. "I know!" I said, waving my hands in exasperation. "I don't know why, but weird stuff just happens around me. I don't think I'm excessively weird, but, well, maybe I just notice....Wait. Is there anyone driving that car?"

Rolling down a hill and through the intersection in front of me was a driverless car.

I threw on my blinkers, told her, "I'll be right back," and ran out to catch the car. I was able to stop it before it rolled into the next intersection, and was joined by a college kid who managed to jimmy the door open; once able to turn the wheel, we muscled it back into a parking spot, threw the parking brake, and left a note on the windshield explaining why the car had been moved.

I returned to my car, apologized, and said, "So, like I was saying, this sort of thing just happens."

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Raymond Arnold
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[ROFL]
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Tammy
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[Eek!]
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rollainm
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That's frickin brilliant.
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rivka
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The thing is, I think it's just the ONE story Tom has. So much for "always happens around me". [Wink]
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Shigosei
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Geraine, that's hilarious. I guess the dent is a small price to pay for having a great story to tell about it.

Rivka, I'm not trying to challenge you or split hairs, but is it actually the engine being on that's the issue? Or is it texting while not-being-in-park (even if you're stopped) that's the problem?

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Lyrhawn
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To Geraine and the OP:

I don't think you did anything particularly wrong. Some might call it a slippery slope, but I don't see a problem with people making firm separations between what they consider acceptable and unacceptable behavior involving specific instances of a specified activity. I NEVER text while actually driving. Sometimes I will read a message when stopped at a red light, but not often. I've texted while sitting in my car, sometimes with the engine on, lots of times. It's not even a blip on the safety radar of unacceptable activity.

I'd call reading a text while driving questionable. I suppose it depends on the length of the text, but really, it's no different from fumbling with the radio for 5 seconds.

Sounds like it all worked out for the best.

Tom - Hilarious. [Smile]

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rivka
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Why would one leave the engine on while in park?


Lyr, studies say it IS different than messing with the radio. Go read the book!

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Lyrhawn
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Maybe I just like the soothing sound. [Smile]

No, usually I'll either get into my car, turn it on, and get a text, so I'll text back. Or I'll pull into a spot and text someone back quickly but I might forget to turn the engine off right away. I don't generally leave the car on if I don't have to.

I might have to check out that book. I just read a couple of snippets and a couple things look interesting, and a couple things run counter to what I've read in other places.

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rivka
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Stipulated: If you are going to leave your engine on for no reason, it doesn't count for the purposes of my statement.

However, we may have to have a chat about the environmental impact. [Wink]

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:

I'd call reading a text while driving questionable. I suppose it depends on the length of the text, but really, it's no different from fumbling with the radio for 5 seconds.


Very true, and sometimes overlooked, I think. People seem to have a tendency to demonize cell phone use specifically.

I remember a conversation I once had, several years ago, with a police officer who was giving a talk about the dangers of cell phone use. He said that studies had shown that even using a handsfree headset cell phone significantly impaired the driver's concentration. He was in favor of outlawing even headset cell use while driving.

I asked how using a headset compared to a driver having a conversation with a real live person in the car with him, but he didn't have an answer. I'm curious, if the two are comparable, how many people would favor outlawing talking to a passenger too.

My guess is, even amongst those that are generally proponents of this sort of nanny state intrusion you wouldn't get too many takers.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
I asked how using a headset compared to a driver having a conversation with a real live person in the car with him

Poorly.

READ THE BOOK.

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Lyrhawn
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I didn't realize the entire book was available to read online.

Damn you rivka, it's interesting and I'm getting sucked in, but I have 50 pages of articles about the relationship between literature and legal studies to read before my first class tomorrow.

...
...
...

::goes back to reading Traffic::

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
I didn't realize the entire book was available to read online.

The whole thing? I had no idea.

Go read your articles. THEN read Traffic.

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