Cell phone driving ban request back

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    A partial ban on the use of cell phones while driving in Cayman recommended 18 months ago as part of changes to the Islands’ Traffic Law has not materialised, despite support from local police and the National Roads Authority.

    The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service and a Seventh-day Adventist Church group are targeting 2011 as the year when that will hopefully change.

    “Cell phone use is one aspect we will be looking to address within our planned multi-agency road safety strategy,” said RCIPS Chief Inspector Angelique Howell. “While there is nothing currently within legislation that bans the use of cell phones whilst driving, it is clear that any activity undertaken by a driver that distracts him or her, results in a collision, or impairs driving ability could result in a charge of careless or dangerous driving.”

    “The RCIPS has recommended the banning of cell phones. This recommendation is contained within the new draft traffic law, which was submitted for consideration by Cayman Islands legislators in 2008.”

    That initial recommendation in the Traffic Bill was proposed only for hand-held cell phones and would have allowed the use of hands-free speaker phones or Bluetooth devices in cars.

    The Adventist Development and Relief Agency – an arm of the Seventh-day Adventists – began a public education and survey effort focused on the dangers of “cell phone” driving, including texting and Internet browsing, last year. A survey on the subject that began in late October has now been completed and the agency’s local deputy director for special projects, Mitch Evans, said they plan to release those results soon.

    “We have also been in touch with members of the government advising them of our intent to launch this programme, as well as the future plans to have legislation tabled before the Legislative Assembly to enact such laws against cell phone driving in the Cayman Islands,” Mr. Evans said.

    The Adventist Development and Relief Agency did some preliminary research in 2010 about efforts to ban texting and cell phone use while driving in the United States.

    According to the agency’s research, 30 out of 50 US states have banned text messaging while driving for all drivers. Eight other states have partial bans on texting while driving.

    “Partial bans apply to specific people such as school bus drivers or persons between the age of 18-20,” the group stated.

    The agency identified eight US states that had already enacted laws to ban handheld cell phone use while driving and five other states had partial bans in place.

    “No [US] states currently have laws enacted to ban headset or hand-free cell phone devices,” the church agency said. “However, partial laws are in place in 29 states, which prohibit [hands-free devices] for bus drivers, under age 18 drivers and novice drivers,” the agency stated.

    Not all US states that have enacted cell phone bans as ‘primary offences’. This means that in some US states drivers can only be cited for cell phone usage while driving if they are first pulled over for another offence such as speeding or reckless driving.

    “The range of fines for those caught breaking the law in relation to cell phones [is] anywhere from US$50 to US$1,000 depending on the state,” the Adventist agency stated.

    Cell phone use deadly?

    The agency quoted other research from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society that blamed cell phone “distraction” for 2,600 deaths and hundreds of thousands of injuries in the US each year.

    “The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society have also identified that drivers talking on cell phones are 18 per cent slower to react to brake lights and that they also take 17 per cent longer to regain the speed they lost when they braked,” the agency noted.

    The group also cited another study from the University of Utah that indicated driving while using a cell phone was as dangerous as drink driving.

    “Earlier this year [referring to 2010], a truck driver killed 11 people in Kentucky and it appears from the investigation that he was operating a cell phone while operating his tractor-trailer,” the group’s research stated. “Published reports show that he was receiving and making cell phone calls in the moments leading up to the accident.”

    In conclusion, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency stated: “Texting while operating a motor vehicle poses the highest risk for cell phone usage on a public road. Although using hand-held phone devices while driving are not banned by the majority of US states, it is still considered to be a huge distraction while driving.”

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    The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service and a Seventh-day Adventist Church group are targeting 2011 as the year when drivers can no longer use cell phones for chatting, texting or Internet use.
    Photo: File
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    13 COMMENTS

    1. In the UK cell phone use while driving is being referred to as one of the fatal four causes of road casualties.

      The others are inappropriate/excess speed, getting behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and failing to wear a seatbelt.

      You have laws against three of those actions so why not ban the fourth?

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    2. The US Figures speak for themselves. On this issue we should follow the sensible United Kingdom and have an outright ban on Cell phone usage. This island is too small for people to be on the phone so much whilst driving. Wait until you get where your going people!!

      I followed a lady the other day who was obviously taking her children to school. She was on the phone driving at 20 miles per hour in a 40 whilst swerving all over the highway. It was only a small car, had she swerved into an American trunk it would have probably killed her and her children. Was that phone call really worth it????
      In this case i am sure it could have waited, if not pull over and make the call.

      The UK has now banned smoking in cars, I feel we should also be looking at this one as well.

      When you are driving a car you should have full concentration on the desk in hand. Save the smoking and phoning for when you get there!!!

      I fully support the seventh day and Government in this action and believe the Streets of Grand Cayman will be a much better place with a total Cell phone ban in place!!

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    3. Ban Cell phone usage immediately before more accidents and deaths occur. Confiscate the cell phones of those caught using them while driving (they can pick them up from the station 48 hours later). I had a serious accident a few years ago by a young male who rear ended me while talking on his cell phone to his girlfriend — didnt notice that I had stopped! To this day, I have problems with my back, neck and right arm (seat belt dislocated my shoulder). Not to mention the 3600 repair bill to my car because he didnt have insurance. There should be NO DEBATE about this — it is unquestionably a safety factor. Why is our government dragging its feet on this issue? No more discussions — DO IT !

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    4. When using these devices whilst driving, the only item you may see are large obstacles such as cars etc. hence the reason that most accidents are done to pedestrians, cyclists, animals etc. Sad fact is that in these cases the ignorant driver usually survives but the victim does not. An easy way to enforce a ban on cell use would be to install a signal scrambler in every vehicle by law which activates the moment the vehichle has been started. With todays technology that would not be too hard to do I imagine.

      I have seen on-line pictures of church billboards in the USA that says:

      Jesus Loves You – Continue texting or calling while you drive if you wish to meet him.

      To date, many have met him!!

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    5. The commonsense approach to the danger of cell phone use while driving has been proven over and again in the the USA and the UK; laws in those countries already reflect the measures taken to curb this dangerous driving practice.

      As usual, the Cayman Islands taks some time and a few lives lost to catch up with current best practice methods from other countries.

      My question concerns the involvement of this church (the 7th Day Adventist Church) or any other church for that matter in the influencing of laws passed in the Cayman Islands.

      Yes, this is a public safety matter that affects all but also reflects a dangerous precedent…

      The involvement of religious organizations in matters of the state.

      What happens when this, or any other church in Cayman has garnered enough influence and power to get laws passed that reflect their religious beliefs over those of alternative religious beliefs or non-believers in their religion ?

      Keep the state and church seperate; history speaks for itself of what happens when religion influences the power of the state.

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    6. Danishbacon – I saw that film too and was shocked by the footage. The program in full was called Only Stwpd Cowz Txt N Drive.
      I would like to see a teacher or other community leader show this film in schools to every pupil and also at any driving safety schools.
      If this were to be done, theres 100% chance at least one life will be saved.
      Like Caymanmermaid says -Why all the talk? Do it!!

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    7. there is a cell phone driving ban here in ireland, thats all fine and good however how do you police such a ban? (im all for a total ban)it has had little effect in this country i see it all the time

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    8. This should be brought in ASAP. In some provinces in Canada it is now a law. The fines are big enough that people dont want to be caught doing it, and the law is enforced. This island will need to enforce it, which Im not sure would happen.

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    9. The idea to ban cell phone usage while driving is a good idea, but nobody is going to listen. I see the police officers on their cell phones while driving, so how can we expect them to re-enforce the law if they would be breaking it? I agree with the person who suggested we develop some kind of signal scrambler device. One could be located every 2 miles, and there could be a message given to the person trying to reach them saying The person you are trying to get a hold of is currently on the road, paying attention to it and not you. Please call at a later time.
      Our government needs to put aside funds to make this device a reality. We all know theyre not spending the Countrys money smartly anyways, and I think the majority of the Island would agree that this would be a smart investment.

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    10. Some guy backed into my car door last weekend while he was on his cell phone. When the police arrived, I asked the officer to check to see if his cell phone showed a call in progress during the time of the collision. The officer showed no interest in confirming such a distraction caused this collision.
      What a loosing battle……..

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    11. Wielding tons of material at lethal speeds to pedestrians and cyclist just inches away requires UNDIVIDED ATTENTION! To converse with someone who wont shut up when the situation gets dicey (because theyre not in the car and dont know to get quiet as you need to look around intersections, cyclists, etc., regardless of hands free device or not) is an anti-social threat to all. Just stand and observe as people who are barely good enough drivers when using all their limited skills and abilities to concentrate on driving their huge or fast vehicles, start yacking on a phone. Better they be drinking a beer and concentrating on the road and lifting their lazy hand to use the turning signals than having eyes roll back in their head while chatting on a phone.

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