Ann Arbor Cell Phone Ban Possibly Delayed

Also discussed at caucus: single-stream recycling, Google Fiber

Ann Arbor City Council Sunday caucus (March 14, 2010): On the Ann Arbor city council agenda for Monday is the final vote on a proposed city ordinance banning cell phone use while driving. At a sparsely attended Sunday night caucus, Sabra Briere (Ward 1) and mayor John Hieftje indicated that a vote on the proposed cell phone ban would likely be postponed.

Other agenda items receiving some discussion were the public hearing scheduled on the Google Fiber initiative, plus a contract revision for Recycle Ann Arbor to perform single-stream curbside recycling using automated carts.

Ban on Cell Phone Use While Driving

At its Feb. 16, 2010 meeting, the city council had given initial approval to a proposed city ordinance banning cell phone use while driving. That initial approval – at the ordinance’s first reading before the council– was followed by revisions to the ordinance that were numerous enough that it was presented again as a first reading at the council’s March 1, 2010 meeting. The council again gave the ordinance its preliminary stamp of approval.

On the agenda for Monday is the second reading of the ban on cell phone use while driving, together with a public hearing on the item.

But at the Sunday caucus, Sabra Briere (Ward 1) indicated that she’d heard from the ordinance’s sponsor, Stephen Rapundalo (Ward 2), that it would likely be postponed – more revisions had been undertaken to the ordinance language. Mayor John Hieftje confirmed that he’d heard similar news from Christopher Taylor (Ward 3).

Asked if this might mean a third presentation of the ordinance to the council as a “first reading,” Hieftje allowed that it could mean that. He said he saw it as evidence that the process was working – the community was giving feedback on the proposed ordinance that was being incorporated into the language.

Asked if the council might consider – in lieu of passing a local ordinance – passing a resolution calling on the state legislature to take action on a cell phone ban, Hieftje allowed that this was a possibility. He also said that if the ordinance eventually failed to win council’s approval, that it would likely be based – for some councilmembers – on the fact that they see the issue as more appropriately addressed at the state level.

Briere, for her part, said she had a concern about the fact that the ordinance specified it was a primary offense – drivers could be pulled over for cell phone use specifically. Secondary offenses require some other additional reason for a driver to be pulled over. Resident Eppie Potts remarked that she figured if she were pulled over by the police, by the time the officer would approach the car she’d have put the cell phone down.

Resident Jack Eaton, who works as an attorney, indicated that he represented transit unions. Every transit union in the state, he said, has a rule against drivers using cell phones while driving. The difficulty, he said, is that enforcement becomes a he-said-she-said issue. How could a hands-free Bluetooth device be seen under long hair, for example?

Hieftje said he was concerned that when stopping motorists, looking for evidence of cell phone use was one more reason that police officers could use to look around in people’s cars.

Briere said she’d hate to think that we’d be sending police officers chasing after people using cell phones, while acknowledging that cell phone use is seen to be a genuine safety hazard by local traffic enforcement officers.

Briere elaborated on a statement from chief of police Barnett Jones, made at a recent city council meeting, that drivers using cell phones could currently be cited for careless driving, but that a cell phone ordinance would make things cleaner in a court of law. She said it would need to be shown that the cell phone was in use at the time of an accident, and that it would need to be demonstrated that such cell phone use caused the accident.

Mike Anglin (Ward 5) noted that the use of various hand-held electronic devices would only proliferate. He cited a demonstration of voice-activated commands for such devices that he’d witnessed as two tech people had squared off – one with a voice-activated smart phone and the other without – as they’d tried to find the answer to the question he’d posed: When was Budweiser founded? The guy with the voice-activated device was faster.

Google Fiber

The city council is holding a public hearing Monday evening on the city’s proposal that Google choose Ann Arbor as a site for installation of a fiber-to-the-home network. The council will be considering a resolution urging Google to select Ann Arbor as a site and promising “to take all lawful measures to expedite and accommodate the safe and efficient installation of the Google FTTH network.”

Though the Google Fiber network has been widely discussed as cost-free, the language of Google’s request for information (RFI) specifies that homeowners would be offered Internet service “at a competitive price” and this is reflected in the city council resolution.

Asked what they would consider to be a “competitive” price, Hieftje, Briere and Anglin required some time to noodle through what they currently paid to Comcast for their high-speed access, plus TV and phone. Consensus put that number between $60 and $100.

Asked how many residents of Ann Arbor they thought would be adopters of fiber and at what price, councilmembers were not sure. Hieftje said that Ann Arbor was one the most wired communities in the world.

Hieftje reported that he’d been included on a conference call with someone in the governor’s office the previous Friday in the wake of Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s trip to California to lobby Google to choose a Michigan city as a location for their fiber network. Based on his understanding from that phone call, he said, Google’s goal is to see the federal government take the lead on installation of fiber networks – their initiative would be a pilot to demonstrate how successful it could be. In Google’s view, said Hieftje, fiber optic access to the Internet should be like a utility.

On the question of competitive price, resident Jack Eaton speculated that the actual dollar amount would be comparable to Comcast, but that the Google fiber network would compete on quality and speed of service.

With respect to the service, Briere said she’d heard from constituents that they were already at the point of needing the kind of bandwidth that fiber offered (100-times faster than typical cable service), even if many people were not. She said in the next decade, she thought that video conferencing via fiber networks [an extremely high-bandwidth application] would play an increasing role.

On the question of neighborhood reaction to any hardware that might need to be installed external to houses, Briere offered her view that in light of the potential benefit, the aesthetic concerns could come later, not now.

Single-Stream Recycling

Late last year, the city made several decisions setting in motion a switch to single-stream curbside collection of recyclable materials from the current two-tote system – one for paper and the other for containers. The council heard a presentation at its Oct. 12, 2009 work session on the approach, which will include incentives for residents to set out their new single-stream carts for collection.

At their Nov. 5, 2009 meeting, the council authorized upgrades necessary for the materials recovery facility (MRF), and at their Dec. 21, 2009 meeting, they authorized the purchase of four new trucks plus 33,000 carts equipped with RFI (radio-frequency identification) chips.

At the Sunday caucus, resident Eppie Potts contended that most people didn’t know anything about the new single-stream system, and that when she told people about it they were shocked. She said that she did not want to dump the containers, which she rinsed out, on top of the paper she collected, out of concern that it would contaminate the paper. This was something the single-stream system would do anyway.

Potts wondered if the old recycling totes could be recycled. Hieftje said he would get an answer for her on that. From The Chronicle’s report of the council’s Nov. 5, 2009 meeting: “The new carts will be available in June/July 2010. The old totes can be recycled.”

Potts questioned the amount of public money spent on the project, which included, she said, $1.4 million for the carts, $1.2 million for trucks, and $3.2 million for upgrades to the facility.

Hieftje told Potts that the payback on the investment was estimated to be around six years and that money from the city’s solid waste millage had been set aside incrementally to be able to pay for those investments.

On the subject of the solid waste millage, resident Jack Eaton put the investment in single-stream recycling in the context of the cost-cutting measures for the solid waste fund being contemplated in this year’s budget planning. Those measures include elimination of curbside holiday tree pickup, as well as elimination of loose leaf collection. [Chronicle coverage: "Budget Round 4: Lights, Streets, Grass"]

The benefits of single-stream recycling, contended Eaton, would still be there when the time came, even if its implementation were delayed. He wondered if it might not have been wiser to delay that implementation.

Briere responded to Eaton by noting that the cost savings of eliminating the leaf collection and holiday tree pickup were relatively small. The question to ask about single-stream recycling, she said, was not just what it costs, but rather also what Ann Arbor gains.

On the solid waste millage, however, Eaton suggested that now, when the city is short of cash, the solid waste millage rate could be reduced, instead of investing in a single-stream system. Eaton suggested that with a reduction in the solid waste millage, the city could make a stronger case to voters that they should approve a Headlee override – which would restore property taxes to their original rates, before the Headlee amendment rolled them back.


  1. March 15, 2010 at 12:23 pm | permalink

    I’m confused about the current status of single stream recycling. Has it been implemented yet or not? Can we now recycle more than 1 and 2 plastics? If I recall correctly, this upgrade to the recycling plant was to allow us to recycle 1, 2, 4, 5, 6. Is it go time?

  2. By Dave Askins
    March 15, 2010 at 12:56 pm | permalink

    Re: [1] “Is it go time?”

    I think “go time” for additional kinds of plastics, and for single stream recycling, will coincide with the deployment of the single-stream carts in June/July of this year.

  3. By Jack Eaton
    March 15, 2010 at 3:50 pm | permalink

    There is an interesting discussion of the single stream scheme over at A2Politico: [link]

  4. By zollar
    March 15, 2010 at 5:43 pm | permalink

    “Please remember where Tom McMurtrie and Bryan Weinert came from before they worked for the City of Ann Arbor = Recycle Ann Arbor.” – A2 Politico

  5. March 15, 2010 at 9:43 pm | permalink

    I don’t think Tom ever worked for RAA.

  6. By LiberalNIMBY
    March 15, 2010 at 10:33 pm | permalink

    “…she’d hate to think that we’d be sending police officers chasing after people using cell phones.”

    Can this statement be rectified with the numerous studies that say cell phone use puts people at the same risk as drunk driving?

  7. By Mark Koroi
    March 15, 2010 at 11:49 pm | permalink

    What has not been discussed is that the City Attorney could currently prosecute cell phone usage by drivers under the careless driving section of the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code to the extent it can be successfully argued to a judge that it is as dangerous of an activity as is suggested.

    Cell phones are only as dangerous as the user who may improperly employ them while driving. “Cell phones don’t kill people – people kill people.”

  8. March 16, 2010 at 12:32 am | permalink

    It’s a can of worms that should remain closed (comparing Driving under the Influence to Cell Phones). There is research available at HFES, [link], that can be read… however it doesn’t take into account a couple options. First, a person can stop talking on the phone. A person cannot stop being under the influence. Additionally, it does not account for the high levels of DUI deaths compared to the lower levels of cell phone accidents resulting in death/injury when totaled with the incredible difference of percentage of people driving on the cell phone vs. driving under the influence.

  9. March 16, 2010 at 2:06 am | permalink

    “a person can stop talking on the phone”

    True but irrelevant. Accidents resulting from cell phone use occur before the use is stopped.

    “it does not account for the high levels of DUI deaths compared to the lower levels of cell phone accidents”…

    That’s a good observation, yet no one would argue that DUI should be legal for the combined reasons that cell phone use is currently legal and because not that many people drive drunk (if I’m not misrepresenting the implied logic.) It’s about safety, not relative safety.

  10. March 16, 2010 at 8:31 am | permalink

    “True but irrelevant. Accidents resulting from cell phone use occur before the use is stopped.”

    However this is also irrelevant because there is no data linking cell-phone usage to at-fault crashes as compared to non-cellphone use. Before we make something illegal, we should demonstrate that not only is it a risk, but actually a risk that would justify the taking away of your freedom. If the motivation for this law is that this is so dangerous it must be made illegal, than the statistics do not justify the motivation.

    The National Highway Safety Traffic Administration reports that most drivers engage in activities that take their attention away from the road. These activities include:

    Talking with other passengers: 81%
    Playing with the radio or CD: 66%
    Eating or drinking: 49%
    Using a cell phone: 25%

    And this being said, the most recent statistics show that the distracted driving accounted for only 22% of all crashes and “near” crashes. [link]

    So, again I ask… if almost 80% of all crashes do not involve any distractions, and of those distractions, only 25% of the crashes involve using a cellphone… why is there wasted energy on this proposed legislation?

    This proposed legislation takes away your freedom to communicate. And the reasons, to me, to do not justify the overwhelming positives of cell phone usage while driving. Such as getting directions, receiving information about weather/road conditions, and communicating regarding events that can reduce time spent on the roadways.

    We can make recommendations to people to change action. I think this is being done effectively with texting… but before we make an action illegal, it should be justifiable. If cellphone use is not the 1st, 2nd, or even 3rd greatest distraction, why is there a need to make this illegal?

  11. By abc
    March 16, 2010 at 8:57 am | permalink

    No Steve, it is not about safety or relative safety; it is about being able to stand before a judge with an uncontestable argument. Ask a cop how many tickets he or she writes for infractions that they have to go to court to substantiate.

    As stated if as a result of the use of a cell phone an officer witnesses erratic control of the car he or she can pull over the driver and issue a careless or reckless driving infraction; but then they have to go to court and explain the circumstances.

    Maybe instead the driver was beating their dog while driving and unable to focus on the road. Or maybe they were fiddling with the radio, or their date, or eating, or putting on makeup, or trying to light a cigarette, or spilling coffee on their shirt. There are so many ways to be distracted on the road and I am sure we have all seen our share. Certainly cell phone use is distracting BUT it does not have to be, at least for some. I know people who cannot walk and chew gum, most of them know not to drive and talk. You also don’t need to break-up with a partner, negotiate a new job, tell your parents you’re gay, or whatever while you are driving.

    Isn’t driving partly about knowing your own limits with a vehicle? We are all not equal drivers, our cars are not equal, our attention spans are different etc.

  12. By Ruth Kraut
    March 16, 2010 at 9:48 am | permalink

    Tom McMurtrie never worked for Recycle Ann Arbor, but he did work for the Ecology Center for a year (or more?) on a grant-funded project that was, I believe, related to placing dropoff recycling containers around the county.

  13. By Ruth Kraut
    March 16, 2010 at 9:49 am | permalink

    To clarify that last comment–at that time, RAA was a program of the Ecology Center, not a subsidiary, and I’m not sure which program he was placed in…

  14. By Brad Mikus
    March 16, 2010 at 11:56 am | permalink

    Fred: I think you’re combining two different statistics, so it’s not 25% of 20%. If cell phone usage is much more distracting than talking with passengers (which I’ve heard it is), then it could be 50-75% of 20%. At this level, the enhanced safety might outweigh the decreased freedom.
    Also, these are national statistics which might not apply locally.
    I’m for the ban; however, my opinion might be different if I used my phone while driving.

  15. March 16, 2010 at 1:18 pm | permalink

    So the answer to my question from the “A2 Recycling Collection Program to Roll Out July-August 2010″ page at [link] is:

    “As part of the upgrade of the city’s Materials Recovery Facililty (MRF) in mid-2010, Ann Arbor will add and recycle all clean plastic bottles and tubs marked #1, #2, #4, #5, #6, and #7. Bulky plastic HDPE #2 items such as buckets, crates, trays, and outdoor furniture will also be accepted.

    Please note that the plastics to be accepted must have a bottle (check for a neck) or tub shape (such as a yogurt tub, carryout plastic tray, microwave freezer food tray, berry box, etc.) The plastics meeting the shape criteria must be marked with a recycling number. No #3 (PVC for PolyVinyl Chloride–used for some shampoo and food bottles), polystyrene foam (aka Styrofoam™), biodegradable plastics (marked PLA or compostable), or plastic bags.”

    There’s more to it of course, but there’s the answer regarding which plastics will be recyclable. That’s a real shame about styrofoam and especially plastic bags though. Wonder why they still won’t able to handle these incredibly common items.

  16. March 16, 2010 at 2:00 pm | permalink

    @11 — ” it is not about safety or relative safety; it is about being able to stand before a judge with an uncontestable argument.”

    Actually, it’s about both, not either/or. One is the public interest perspective and the other is the personal perspective. They’re both valid. I was simply referring to one, whereas you are referring to the other. I suspect that a lack of clarity about this is responsible for how folks often talk past each other.

  17. March 16, 2010 at 3:11 pm | permalink

    @ BRAD,

    There’s no reason to believe that talking on a cellphone is more distracting than talking to someone in the car. In fact, I would believe that it would be more distracting to have a conversation with someone in the car. After all, with phone communication, almost all of it is verbal. With personal communication, it is not. Also, I think that talking on the cell phone is less distracting that driving with kids in the car. Does that mean we should make it illegal for soccer moms to drive kids around? No. We can not constantly legislate everything. And currently, I do not see anything regarding cell phone use that indicates it’s an epidemic thats endangering our lives any more than anything else that can be a distraction. Including singing along with the radio, talking to a passenger, driving young children, changing the radio, reading a sign, etc. There’s simply no reason at this time for this ban.

  18. By Dave Askins
    March 16, 2010 at 3:55 pm | permalink

    Re: [17] “There’s no reason to believe that talking on a cellphone is more distracting than talking to someone in the car. In fact, I would believe that it would be more distracting to have a conversation with someone in the car.”

    From the Chronicle’s March 1, 2010 meeting report: [Green is Paul Green, with the University of Michigan Transportation Institute, where he works on vehicle-human interface issues.]

    Why, asked Christopher Taylor (Ward 3), was talking on the phone different from talking to a passenger? Green explained that the key difference was that the passenger is also aware of the driving situation: you come to a stop, then look left and right – your passenger also looks left and right. The person on the other end of a cell phone conversation with a driver, Green said, will continue to “blab on until they hear a crash.” Listening to the radio, Green said, is completely discretionary, whereas the demands of a phone conversation are not – it’s rude not to take one’s regular conversational turn.

    I think, however, it’s going to depend on who the passenger is and how adept they are at recognizing the needs of a driver’s attention to the road. If the passenger in question is a three-year old who sees a sign for Nick’s House of Pancakes, for example, and begins agitating for the driver to stop so they can have some PANCAKES RIGHT NOW — along these lines — then I have to think that would be more distracting than a cell phone conversation. You can, at least, hang up on the cell phone conversation if you recognize that driving requires your full attention.

  19. By Leslie Morris
    March 16, 2010 at 4:58 pm | permalink


    Your last example is not really plausible. Most three-year-olds cannot read sign that say “Nick’s House of Pancakes”. Our four children and two local grandchildren would have been at least five or six before they could read such distractional roadside signs. And parents (or grandparents) interested in survival have learned not to devote much attention to such requests.

    I have been almost runover (as a pedestrian) by a driver turned away from me and engrossed in a cellphone conversation. I am a strong supporter of this ordinance change. It does not solve every problem, but no ordinance change solves every problem. We have to work on the problems bit by bit, and piece by piece. This is how changes are made.

  20. By Brad Mikus
    March 16, 2010 at 5:29 pm | permalink


    From a March 5th Chronicle comment:
    “What Clark’s participation highlighted is that non-verbal communications — that are very useful in managing a meeting — get lost when participation is by phone. So while Clark was weighing in by phone, he could not respond to cues from other board members and the chair of the meeting that they thought he had finished up a speaking turn. Likewise, they could not see Clark and interpret any non-verbal cues he might have been giving that, no, he was just pausing.”
    Phone conversations require more attention because there is much less information. I’m sure there are scientific studies to support this, but my own experience convinces me.
    About your second point, driving with kids is a necessity; driving with phones is a luxury.

  21. March 16, 2010 at 5:42 pm | permalink

    Leslie, Dave doesn’t have kids. He thinks three-year-olds take out the trash, too. ;-)

  22. March 16, 2010 at 5:52 pm | permalink


    Driving with kids is only a necessity to those with kids to drive. Cell phone use is a luxury only to those who have no need for a cell phone. Everything is perspective… and this is just completely unnecessary for legislation.


    I, and another pedestrian, was once hit by a bus that was not on the phone, but for some reason drove close to the sidewalk so that it’s mirrors hit us. I was also once struck my a baby stroller. Should I have lobbied for legislation for these? I don’t think so. You almost got hit by a cell-phone using person. To me, that’s better than the 2 actual hits I’ve experience. And none of these experiences justify a law being enacted. Also, I’m more than certain that an “average” child of 3 years old can recognize a McDonald’s sign. Either that, or every 3 year old I’ve met was above average.

    It comes down to this… either you don’t like something and think that it should be the government’s job to not make this horrid action that you don’t like illegal. So that someone’s freedom is reduced… basically because you don’t like it or simply your “experience convinces” you. Or… you believe that any law that limits freedom should only be enacted when there is an incredible amount of fact and example that not enacting the legislation will result in something that society simply cannot withstand.

    Cellphone use is so common that if it were as dangerous as this law suggests, crashes would have increased so dramatically that evidence of these suggested dangers would be readily available immediately. It is simply not the case. In fact, 2008 was one of the safest years we’ve had for car crashes with a record LOW rate of death which we have not seen since 1961 (and there are many more cars on the road). The fewest amount of people were injured from car crashes in 2008 since the NHSTA started keeping statistics.

    Why legislate this? What is the need? What will happen if you don’t?

  23. March 16, 2010 at 6:36 pm | permalink

    There are a lot of data about the role of cell phones and other devices in distracted driving. We don’t have to hypothesize. This is probably why six states bar cell phone use for all drivers [link] and 20 states bar texting.

    I don’t know whether laws at the city level are the logical way to approach this problem, but though I have never had a personal incident, my husband was rear-ended at a freeway exit by someone who was on his phone (he had already had a couple of other such incidents, apparently; he wanted to buy my husband off so it wouldn’t be reported). But I’ve seen many cases of bad driving with people weaving, failing to go through intersections in a timely manner, drifting into lanes, etc. – then you see they are on their phone. They are scary to be around. It is a problem. Maybe not the only problem. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be addressed.

  24. March 16, 2010 at 10:54 pm | permalink

    Texting and using the cellphone is completely different. One requires you to take your eyes off the road, the other doesn’t.

    In Michigan, miles traveled on average increased since 1999 by almost 10%. Crashes since 1999 DECREASED 24%. So, as cell phone use increased, crashes decreased.

    New York banned cell phone use while driving in 2001. That year they had 331,979 accidents. In 2008, they had 316,231 accidents. That’s a decrease of only 0.03%. Looks like banning cell phones didn’t help that state.

    In January this year, the LA Times reported that California’s cell phone ban had not reduced crashes. “A new study from the Highway Loss Data Institute released Friday found that the rate of crashes before and after the landmark law took effect in 2008 has not significantly changed. The research also found that California’s auto accident trends before and after the cellphone law took effect mirror those of neighboring states such as Arizona and Nevada, which don’t have hand-held phone bans.”

    This also mirrors other jurisdiction that after enacting the bans, did not notice any significant reduction in traffic crashes.

    So why make it illegal? Instead, educate and try to make it socially unacceptable. But stop making laws that do nothing other than take away freedom. Why should anyone sacrifice their freedom for this? There is simply no benefit. None.

    Others have tried it. It did nothing.

    Please stop supporting laws based on hunches and dreams and instead look to doing something that actually will improve safety, like pressuring the city to actually fix roadways and bridges.

  25. March 16, 2010 at 10:56 pm | permalink

    Correction to my last… it’s a reduction of 4.8% for new york.

  26. By Rod Johnson
    March 17, 2010 at 12:00 am | permalink

    If you adjust for vehicle miles traveled–the usual measure of how much traffic there is (I only have numbers for 2002 and 2007, alas), the reduction is more like 7.3%. Unlikely that all of that can be attributed to the cell phone ban, but a pretty significant drop. (Source: [link] )

  27. By abc
    March 17, 2010 at 11:07 am | permalink

    “…whereas you are referring to the other.”

    I guess I was too obtuse for you Steve. This possible new ordinance is redundant; a police officer already has the tools in their tool box to issue a ticket to someone operating their vehicle unsafely, for whatever reason. As was pointed out by the police chief in a previous Chronicle article:

    [Chief] Jones said that having an ordinance with specific language addressing cell phones made it “cleaner in a court of law.”

    This law is about making it easy to prosecute; the safety issue is already covered by other laws if officials were only willing to enforce them. I cannot be clearer. Officials turn a blind eye to a myriad of unsafe driving behaviors like, driving in the passing lane, speeding (0 to 10 over limit), some of the elderly’s inability to see, hear or operate their vehicles safely, reckless driving, tailgating, etc.

    As far as ‘personal perspective’ I have no idea what that means in this context. Maybe you can clarify lest you talk past folks.

  28. By Jack 40
    March 17, 2010 at 11:48 am | permalink

    “Briere, for her part, said she had a concern about the fact that the ordinance specified it was a primary offense – drivers could be pulled over for cell phone use specifically.”

    Candidate Bean, are you fine with making this a primary offense and drivers being guilty until proven innocent?

  29. By ChuckL
    March 17, 2010 at 8:37 pm | permalink

    In regard to the cell phone ban, it is not sufficient to show that cell phone use is distracting. It must also be shown that any enforcement is effective at reducing the accident rate. If the safety effect cannot be demonstrated with field data, the law should be thrown out. I’m willing to give Ann Arbor the opportunity to pass an ordinance, but I expect the city to prove within a reasonable time frame that the enforcement is effective. If enforcement is not effective as shown by actual data, the law should go away. The law should automaticly go off the books within a few years and should provide funding for a study to be completed before the law is scheduled to go off the books. If the law is shown to be effective, the council should re-new the law then.

  30. March 18, 2010 at 1:08 am | permalink

    Fred, a source for the Michigan and NY numbers you provided would be helpful. As Rod noted, VMT and average VMT are different measures, which raises the question of whether the source chose to use the latter for a (biased) reason.

    ABC, I almost added a comment to clarify that I meant ‘public safety perspective’ and ‘personal freedom perspective’. Does that help? I see now what you mean about the law, versus my focus on the effort to improve safety, regardless of the law. You also make — yes, clearly — some logical points. And I’m glad that council is considering this, if for no other reason than that we (and they) are having this discussion and others are considering it.

    Jack 40, I’m not at all fine with presumed guilt. I’m not clear on whether primary offense enforcement — or this type of ordinance — necessarily implies that. Keep in mind that I won’t be voting on this. Contact your council representatives if you want to share your thoughts with someone who will be.

    ChuckL, it doesn’t seem that you’re making a distinction between the effectiveness of the law and the effectiveness of the enforcement. Do you (or others) have thoughts on that? I have some of my own, but you all might be better able to present it, and I think others might benefit from consideration of it.

  31. March 18, 2010 at 8:28 am | permalink

    Steve, Source was Michigan State Police and New York DOT. Also, the articles and studies showing that bans on cell phones (for talking not texting) have not reduced crashes significantly have been reported pretty heavily in the news. On the flip side, other than a single expert from UM, can you provide sources of data that show that this law would prevent crashes? The hard evidence I see is that a professor from UM talked to the council (one expert testimony) and that yes, cell phones are a distraction. Again, this is no different than laws already existing on the books for careless driving, and any cop that couldn’t articulate why someone should be ticketed for an action shouldn’t have received a ticket. Cell phone use while driving does not cause more crashes. If you can show studies of crashes increasing without the ban, or decreasing after the ban that would be great. Otherwise, lets kill this ordinance before it’s passed.

    Again, look at Michigan crash statistics. Crashes down 24% since 1999. You can get a good summary of this from the report “2008 Michigan Traffic Crash Facts” by the Michigan State Police. Miles traveled up, drivers licensed up, fatalities down, crashes down.

  32. March 18, 2010 at 1:40 pm | permalink

    There was a post on Sociological Images today about this very topic, questioning the logic of banning cell phone usage in cars: [link].