[Carfreeliving] RE: [SFBike] Taxi driver hits bicyclist
echill at sfhills.org
Tue Apr 26 10:14:09 MDT 2005
A good summary.
If you are willing to make a presentation, and someone is willing to lead an
effort towards tangible recommendations, I will place it on the agenda for
next month's BAC meeting. To be most effective, I would suggest someone
propose organizing a task group to look at the legal/political objectives
that could lead to a resolution to the Board of Supervisors.
Reinforcing your comments, in a pull-out pamphlet published this week in
VIA, the AAA California magazine, 'Check Up' (p.4) states, "Reckless? A
recent study has concluded that motorists talking on cell phones, with or
without a headset, are more impaired behind the wheel than drunken drivers
with blood alcohol levels exceeding 0.08." (Source: Strayer and Drew,
University of Utah, 2005)
From: Carfreeliving-bounces at livablecity.org
[mailto:Carfreeliving-bounces at livablecity.org] On Behalf Of Coffin, Richard
Sent: Tuesday, April 26, 2005 8:26 AM
To: sfbike at topica.com
Cc: WalkSFers at walksf.org; Carfreeliving at livablecity.org;
political_bob at juno.com
Subject: [Carfreeliving] RE: [SFBike] Taxi driver hits bicyclist
I am glad to hear the Inspector make the statement recognizing the danger of
this behavior. That is encouraging, HOWEVER,...
I would like to call on the SFBC, TLC, SAN, WalkSF and other concerned
groups to start a campaign to enact a ban on driving while talking on the
cell phone in San Francisco. It is the law in most civilized countries of
Western Europe and Asia. This will save lives and cut down on "Accidents".
California and San Francisco has been a leader in other national trends for
safety and the environment such as smoking bans and stricter auto emission
laws, and we should lead the way for this as well. (Yes I know there are
some bans in place already for non hands-free cell phone use in NY, etc)
I propose the following:
1) Ban the use of ALL cell phones while driving on city streets.
Research has clearly shown that it is the distraction of the mind that is
the danger, not the physical act of holding a phone. Our brains process
what is in our field of vision and what is abstract (person on the other end
of phone) in completely different ways. This is one of the reasons why
talking to a passenger is not even close to being as dangerous as cell phone
use and also why hands-free is not a real improvement. (The only advantage
of a hands-free only law would be that it requires more effort to use a
headset and most people are too lazy, so they might not use the phone as
much or at all)
Passengers could still use cell phones and I even say allow them on
separated highways (I-80, 280, 101), since these are usually clogged to slow
speeds anyways. The real danger seems to me is on city streets; with life
on every block, and no protection for the vulnerable. On a freeway, at
least most are protected by some steel and traffic is all moving in one
direction (motorcyclists may certainly have a strong desire for a total ban
as well, even on the freeways, since they are clearly the most at risk)
Every freeway off-ramp could have big warning signs telling motorists as
they are exiting the freeways, they cannot use a cell phone. "You are
entering a living city, with people everywhere, so put your cell phone away
and drive safely through our home" (Otherwise go speed through your own
Cell phone use has exploded in the past few years and this acceptance of
know dangerous behavior is just another example of a convenience for drivers
at the expense of the public good and safety of the vulnerable and weak on
the streets. I think most of the people in control of the lawmaking and
money (business, cell phone/car companies, etc) drive as their primary mode
of transport, so they are corrupted by this dangerous system, so they won't
change it unless pushed.
As for the arguments against such a law?
1) It won't be enforced!! Either are red light and other major traffic
violations in the City; however, IF a driver is on a cell phone during a
crash, then they will be negligent and it will be easy to charge them with a
real crime for engaging in this dangerous behavior on dense city streets. A
simple accidental death (Car hits pedestrian, oops, sorry) can be turned
into the more appropriate manslaughter if someone is on the phone. (BTW,
Italy has a total ban and on my last biking trip their I did not see ONE
person talking on a phone while driving, so it CAN be enforced; although I
saw many people pulled over in parking areas taking, etc.)
2) It's no more distracting than eating, changing the radio station, etc!
NOT TRUE, some studies have shown it to be equivalent to being legally
3) I can't pull over to answer the phone in the city! DPT could add more
white zone/loading zones on each block which could allow better truck
loading, passenger drop-off and serve as cell phone yapping zones.
This could be done in conjunction with raising curb street parking rates
closer to market rates, so that a space or two is usually available a la D.
As for some campaign ideas:
1) Bumper stickers that show a cell phone (or yapping person on head set
even) on the left and a big .08 and cocktail glass on the right separated by
an "=" sign. In other words cell phone = drunk. Get the message out there.
2) We need other ways to get this into the public consciousness like other
successful campaigns have done (anti-smoking, anti-fur, anti-drunk
driving) so that everyone knows the real results of the scientific studies
and understands how dangerous this is.
3) Get more companies and businesses to ban cell phone use while their
employees drive on company business. Some businesses apparently already
have this policy to limit their liability.
4) Market that such a ban will improve safety for all; including other
drivers; there is definitely a large contingent of drivers that would
support this law in the City. The suburbanites will mostly hate it.
I think this ban is politically feasible if we develop a large coalition of
groups. Cell phone distraction may be even more dangerous to bicyclists
than pedestrians and other street users, so the SFBC and/or BAC would have
to be strong contributors. WalkSF would also be a major backer.
I would be interested in everyone's thoughts on the feasibility and
importance of this idea, as well as any insight into the best way to enact a
law in the City (are there any legal impediments such as with some state
controlled traffic laws?)
From: AP Thornley [mailto:apt at thornley.com]
Sent: Monday, April 25, 2005 7:56 PM
To: sfbike at topica.com
Subject: [SFBike] Taxi driver hits bicyclist
"A spokesman for the Speck taxi company said he heard the bicyclist was
at fault but wished him a 'speedy recovery.'" Yup.
[from today's SF Examiner]
Taxi driver hits bicyclist
By Alison Soltau
A taxi driver who was allegedly distracted by his cell-phone
conversation slammed into a bicyclist early Sunday morning, catapulting
the bicyclist over the cab's hood and into a cement wall but causing
only minor injuries, police said.
Witnesses, including the cab's passenger, told police the collision
happened at 12:30 a.m. as both driver and cyclist were going southbound
on Gough Street, when the Speck taxi company driver made an abrupt right
turn at Turk Street without signaling, hitting the cyclist, who was
legally on the far right side of the road, said Traffic Insp. John
"The bicyclist, who was doing about 40 mph himself down the hill, got a
big surprise - he evidently flew over the hood and was stopped by a
cement wall," Haverkamp said.
He added that the 41-year-old bicyclist, who was riding with a rear
light, was not wearing a helmet but only suffered head, arm and leg
abrasions and was expected to be released from the hospital Sunday.
The 50-year-old cab driver was not charged at the scene, pending further
investigation. Haverkamp said he referred the case to his unit's
charging officers for them to decide whether to issue a citation.
"The cab driver was on the hands-free cell phone, chitchatting away,"
Haverkamp said, noting the practice was legal under California law.
"I don't think anybody should be driving and talking on cell phones,"
Haverkamp said. "He wasn't concentrating on what he was doing."
A spokesman for the Speck taxi company said he heard the bicyclist was
at fault but wished him a "speedy recovery."
Police are also looking for a hit-and-run driver who hit and caused
minor injuries to a bicyclist last Friday. The bicyclist was riding
south on Fourth Street and crossing Harrison Street when an unknown
driver going west on Harrison Street ran a red light and struck him,
E-mail: asoltau at examiner.com
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