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Australia uses new technology to catch drivers on phones (ktar.com)
110 points by ColinWright 30 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 217 comments

Good. People in Australia don't take driving seriously. I spend a lot of time on the road, and have lived all over Australia, and the one defining thing I've found in common all over the country is that people are WAY too casual about driving.

Sydney and Melbourne being the worst by far, with it being so bad it has become entertainment[0]

On any given commute you'll see dozens of people playing with their phone while doing 110km/h down the freeway, doing make-up, eating cereal out of bowl, reading, blowing red lights (not "late orange" but "it already went red and now the other direction who got a green have to hit the brakes to not get t-boned", ignoring lane lines, ignoring indicators, and/or ignoring the existence of any/every rule or nearby vehicle.

It's like a national sport. How much of a dickhead can you be in your car then get violently angry if anyone dares even tap their horn at you to remind you the light has been green for 30 seconds now and you're still flicking through Facebook.


As an Australian who has driven extensively in many countries, my observation is that the quality and attitude of drivers around the world maps fairly closely to the style of the built environment and regulatory environment.

Australian roads are unceasingly sensible. Every road is an appropriate width, every road has a logical speed limit, overtaking zones are clearly marked, heck, every bend on a fast road has a sign indicating the recommended cornering speed. All this sensibleness breeds complacent drivers that rarely need to engage their brains.

The UK is full of incomprehensibly narrow roads, arbitrary speed limits and a national fetish for complex muliti-lane roundabouts. And to top it off, most cars have manual transmissions. All this complexity breeds more competent, switched-on drivers.

I think that's just a coincidence, my Northern European country sounds a lot like the parents description, but our roads definately aren't easy to drive on and drivers are very agresive which doesn't help.

Speed limits are seen more as a recommendation; if you leave reasonable space between you and the car in front someone will cut in; we have a lot of three lane roundabouts, and large interchanges which are fun in the middle of winter when you can't see the lane markings (or when they decide to resurface it and paint lines a few weeks later); oh and I see plenty of people using their phone while driving every day.

The roundabouts thing is interesting actually. We have a lot of large roundabouts, which I assume stems from Soviet times. In more Western countries they would have traffic lights, but here they are basically a free for all - I think adding traffic lights wouldn't actually help traffic flow as it blocks the traffic further down, in one case there are two large roundabouts ~800m apart, and the road between is always crawling in rush hour.

Last year they repainted all the lines so each lane corresponds to a specific exit or two. When you enter there are signs showing which lane you should be in, then you just follow that lane and don't need to worry about crossing into another lane (plus the lines are solid so you can't, legally). In a lot of cases they have reduced roundabouts from three to two lanes, but the traffic flow has actually increased.

That has caused another issue in that because it's easier to drive on roundabouts, people now drive faster, so getting on is harder if there is a steady stream of traffic. This year they have experimented with adding speed bumps before each entrace (reducing your speed to 30kmh or less) which seems to have alleviated that.

Since they introduced these changes I can't actually remember seeing any accident on roundabouts, where as it was a common event before.

I am also Australian, have driven all over the continent, but currently live in Austria and am constantly having to deal with people who have no clue what a 'minimum safe stopping distance' is .. its just incredible to me that this key safety behaviour is not entrenched in the minds of most Austrian drivers.

I've also noticed that the cars that offer the most 'comfort' to the driver, are the most dangerous for others - the luxury SUV's, the sports cars with high-torque engines, etc. I believe that the environment of the car begets the attitude of the driver - and in many cases its imperious, officious, classist. For some reason, people who drive the more expensive cars believe they 'deserve the road'.

Then, there is Hungary. It is easily one of the most dangerous places I've ever driven, and I've been around the world. Hungarian drivers seem to have absolutely no fear with overtaking slower vehicles, no matter the state of oncoming traffic. So many times I've had someone overtake me - me, doing the speed limit - only to have to crush an emergency lane recovery in split-second timing in order to avoid certain, violent death from oncoming traffic.

All around the world, driving is a cultural artifact. I sure am glad to have gone electric - slow, weak, but it takes me out of the speed-freak zone and puts me in the slow lane, where its .. relative to the other lanes .. pretty safe, all things considered.

I feel like this is a case of "where I live, drivers are worst". I don't know anyone (except maybe the Germans) who would say that drivers in their country are the best drivers. (For the record, the Germans aren't the best either.) I live in the Netherlands and even in our bike infested cities, where you need to be on edge 100% of the time, people are playing with their phones in their manual cars all the time.

Also, by your logic, French and Italian drivers should be really competent, but they're not. If anything, southern European drivers are less sensible than those in the northern countries, that tend to have more sensible, well-maintained roads. However, statistics make it seem that that is not the case. [0]

0: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/headlines/society/2019...

> I feel like this is a case of "where I live, drivers are worst".

If that's what you got from my post then I've failed in conveying my intent. If anything I think that the median Australian driver is among the best in the world. Perhaps even better than the UK, depending on the metric. The only problem is that we're rarely asked to think for ourselves—everything has already been thought about for us.

Really the vast majority of drivers in every country I've visited have been similarly competent. The local variances mainly change the manifestation of badness in the remainder.

No. Just about in any South Asian country drivers are orders of magnitude worse than in my country (Russia). The worst offender is probably India. Drivers there are insane. There's no better word for it.

I would say this is also false, having driven in India (Maharashtra). It may appear that Indian traffic is anarchy, but there are definitely unwritten rules that most people follow, and native drivers are very aware of how to drive in India. I currently live in Germany, and I follow German road rules - which also happen to be the rules enforced by the state. Just because western style road rules are not being followed, doesn't mean that the drivers are not following any rules at all. /anecdote /opinion /disclamer etc

I've driven in almost all states of India. It's not anarchy. It's anarchy mixed with total contempt towards your own life and life of others.

You can see many times per day how they overpass other cars (sometimes even in 2-3 rows simultaneously: one car starts overpassing, then another starts overpassing first, then third..) just before a blind corner. You can witness several times per day how in the middle of the highway where average speed is about 100 km/h somebody may just make a U-turn without using indicators and passing the double solid line.

You can ride 100 kmph on a highway and then suddenly there's a truck or a bus or a motorcycle on your lane coming into you because the driver decided that waiting 2km for the next place where he can make a u-turn is too long.

If you drive even for one day in India you'll witness all these cases and more.

Statistics of deaths on the roads incidentally confirms this.

Oh, definitely. I was mostly answering this from a 'western' view. I visited Haiti and the only thing that really describes traffic there is anarchy.

Spend a short amount of time on a motorbike in the UK to see how incompetent and switched-off many, many drivers are. Especially in the cities.

>People in Australia don't take driving seriously.

Honestly, as an Australian living in the US, i'm not sure you have enough context. After living in both Asia and the US, we're a nanny state on this stuff. In the US, people barely ever get breathe tested and often drive drunk, speed everywhere (70-80mph is a lot faster than 110-120kmh). I've also seen Facetime in use multiple times while on the freeway.

Yeah in general Australian driving is pretty good I've found. Japan is the only country I've been to where the driving is clearly better.

Driving in other countries - the Americas, Asia, Europe, even the supposed peak of Western organisation and efficiency Germany had significantly poorer driving than I see in Australia.

But use of phones is an issue and I'm glad to see this being put in place.

> in general Australian driving is pretty good I've found

I think driving habits and behaviours are regional.

Comparing the drivers of Newcastle, NSW and Sydney, NSW - just 160KM apart and there's a lot of weird differences.

- When merging/changing lanes - Newcastle drivers tend to speed up/close any gap if you put your indicator on, to prevent you from merging ahead of them. Sydney tends to be more permissive.

- When passing a parked car on a suburban street (single lane each direction), drivers in Sydney will continue on without deviating speed or course significantly. Newcastle drivers will slow down and cross almost entirely into the opposing lane/side of the road. Even on hills and around corners where there's a huge amount of space in their lane.

> - When merging/changing lanes - Newcastle drivers tend to speed up/close any gap if you put your indicator on, to prevent you from merging ahead of them. Sydney tends to be more permissive.

You get a variation on this in Sydney. No one wants to be behind another car so they will change lanes and speed to over take you just to improve their position by 1 car. Some will continuously do this, switch lanes with no regard of where they need to be, then create a mess for everyone when they try to merge into the lane they need to be in.

The USA, with 40,000 deaths every single year. More than gun deaths.

No longer true. Cars are getting safer: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/injury.htm

Completely agree.

I can’t figure it out though, they have some strict standards getting a license, red p’s for 12-24 months + 120 logbook hours, then green p’s where they are restricted to dangerous below highway speeds so have drivers aggressively overtaking them. Despite this, standards seem far lower than Europe.

The horn thing is really annoying, often the person being beeped can’t move forward anyway due to traffic across a junction and people are just being impatient but sometimes it’s the other way and people are just day dreaming at junctions when the light changeover is quick so you ha e to go.

It seems car first. Cross a road in Europe a car a few hundred meters down the road will back off the accelerator slightly when they see you and let you cross. Australia they see a pedestrian and will speed up as it’s their road and the light is green, they’ll speed up to the point they are deliberately trying to hit you.

Speed limits are annoying here. For such a big country it’s really difficult to travel big distance like you can in Europe or the US. Most people on the highway drive 100km/h as lots of police and the limit is 110. Also everyone will do 100km/h in the outside lane, inside lane doesn’t exist for most people as that’s where the p players are doing 90 and they are afraid of overtaking. It’s also odd as when you pass someone going well below the limit, a minute later they’ll aggressively speed up, fly past, then 5 minutes later they are slowed down and you are overtaking them again when you have kept a constant speed.

I’ve found driving in Northern Africa and Asia far less frustrating than Australia and those countries are bit of a free for all, especially Ho Chi Minh. It’s easier in those countries as no one follows any rules and you know that, AU being 50/50 you just have no idea what drivers are going to do and makes it harder to judge.

The difference between European and Australian drivers is not that Australians have to do 120 hours of supervised driving, but that the supervisor for the hours of driving in Australia is usually the parents of the learner. So any bad habbits from parents are taught between generations.

Compare that to the European system where you are requiredto hire a professional driving instructor to teach you (at great expense I might add) for the entire time you are learning.

And because of that, the culture in Australia seems to be that driving is a right where as Europeans seem to treat it as more of a privilege.

I got my license in Canberra, where I had the option to skip the driving test by doing enough hours with a qualified driving instructor. It was a big contrast to my previous struggles to get supervised drives with friends and family.

I had picked up a habit of going much too fast around every corner, because the owner of the car I was practicing in insisted that it must be done that way. She did it because that's what her brother taught her. The real instructor got rid of that bad habit very quickly.

It's a bit more expensive, but honestly it's so much quicker to get good and less stressful that I recommend it to anyone who has the option.

People lie in the log book, too. So I don't believe many actually do the 120 hours they claim.

I got my license the same way and 100% agree. It's a shame that Canberra is planning to move to the logbook system next year. I only know of one person from NSW who actually did the full 120 hours, and that was only because they took several road trips to other cities.

I don't think that's true in UK. Just that insurance is so expensive that's it's far cheaper to get driving lessons.

With Aussie lifestyle designed around the car, it is definitely a right. Euro lifestyles can support cars as an option.

It’s funny you mention Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnamese traffic seems lawless but I’ve come to the realization that people there follow different rules, that’s all.

Example: often you can cut the oncoming traffic off and turn left before them. This has the advantage of not having to wait 2 minutes in the middle of the road hoping that some poor soul will let you go. Instead, you just do it and people will slow down without honking at you (ironically, since they basically use the honk as a “I’m here too” signal)

Which one is better? Having left turns take forever or simply slowing down for 2 seconds when you cross an intersection?

Driving on motorbikes especially is infinitely smoother than in any other countries. I’ll take driving in Ho Chi Minh City over LA any day.

If you cut people off in the US people will honk, get unreasonably mad and chances are a police car will appear out of nowhere.

Considering Vietnam has twice the rate of death from motor vehicles as the USA, I know which rules I would choose to live with.

Only twice? That's a great rate.

Keep in mind that:

- Most Vietnamese traffic is on 2 wheels; motorbikes are inherently less safe, that's not necessarily related to traffic rules.

- "The [US] federal government estimates that per mile traveled in 2016, the number of deaths on motorcycles was nearly 28 times the number in cars." [1]

I would classify Vietnam as safer for a biker than the US.

That said, street safety can certainly be improved in Vietnam: people wear dirt-cheap helmets that protect nothing. [2]

[1]: https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/motor... [2]: https://noipictures.photoshelter.com/image/I0000TpoYiE1y2Nw

I drive in Australia, and I'm not like what you have described.

My general attitude is to be courteous. That doesn't mean I dont nip through on amber, or go over the speed limit by a couple kph, or park.

However I do behave as I would want other to behave. I don't drive too close to cars in front. I zip feed always. I indicate, even if nobody is around. I treat bikes and bicycles like other cars. I defer to busses. I slow down and wave pedestrians across if it's safe. Just good manners really.

Courtesy makes all the difference, but it's not easy sometimes. Too many drivers are happy to take advantage of 2-second gaps, or use an early indication of lane change as a sign to beat you to a gap.

I always wonder how people like that act outside vehicles. It's really no different to jumping a queue, but I bet of you did that to them outside a metal box they would call you out.

Inconsiderate drivers are the ones who need to be detected and sent back to driver training. They're the ones who try and pass when you're about to merge and leave you nowhere to go.

I also find overly courteous drivers to be dangerous, particularly when they ignore right of way.

There was a crossroad I had to go through daily that often had a long line of cars waiting because it crossed the offramp joining a major highway and a motorway. You would get idiots stopping to let cars go and actually causing accidents behind them because they caused the offramp to quickly congest out onto the highway.

It got so frequently bad that an enterprising local stuck their own Do No Stop cardboard sign there.

It really is different from jumping a queue, though. You have no means to call that person out.

In a queue, you can appeal to the emotions of a clerk, attendent, or some other agent with power. Further, if no power agent exists or is sporadic enough that they virtually don't exist (like, say, police on the same roadway you describe) then the action of calling out devolves to simple game theory in which the best mode of action is to simply not participate.

I challenge you to change your mindset:

>take advantage of 2-second gaps

that 2-second gap is simply a buffer. when buffers are filled do we call it 'being taken advantage of' or do we simply empty the buffer and continue our routine?

I've had a driver in the Brisbane CBD cross multiple lanes on an empty road and swerve at me when I was crossing halfway between red lights. Some people are just jerks I guess.

> strict standards getting a license, red p’s for 12-24 months + 120 logbook hours

It was an open secret (by secret I mean bragging) that people would forge their logbook hours - that hour rule only came in semi-recently so I'm not sure on the age of some posters here who haven't mentioned this.

Either way, P plates statically have a high propensity to get into accidents although from experience alone I would not say the majority of these are the "aggressive" drivers you see on the street. Maybe it's my own bias but it feels like the majority of P platers are trying to drive safe because of their inexperience, it's the full licence drivers who believe they know best and start showing aggressive behaviours.

It was 50 hours in NSW back when I did it ~20 years ago, and most people still forged it. It was mainly out of laziness though (not updating every time, just fill it in when you book the test).

I found the same thing - in the chezh republic, it was a far more free for all than any other urbanized country I had been to, however things ran way smoother because you counted on everyone else following no rules.

True story, in the UK: I once saw a guy using an electric razor while driving - and overtaking at ~80mph.

I regularly see women doing makeup while driving, stretching up to see their face in the mirror, their car often drifting from left to right.

The things some people do while driving are... amazingly fucking stupid.

I'm in Australia and I once saw a lady in a 4WD holding coffee and a cigarette in the one hand, and a phone in the other.

She had kids in the back and looked to be driving only using her elbows.

As an Australian that has driven in multiple countries, I would choose driving among Australians over many if not most other countries. US drivers are much more aggressive, particularly in cities like LA. UK drivers seem roughly equivalent. Drivers in Germany and the Netherlands seem to drive safer. Driving in South Korea, China, and India is terrifying.

Im an Australian who has lived in the Netherlands and I found them pretty aggressive drivers. Generally really nice people outside the car but not so in it.

I've never driven in Australia, but I have driven pretty extensively in NZ. Are the drivers similar there? If so, I would agree with you.

Driving around in other countries and then coming back to Australia really opened my eyes to how aggressive (especially towards cyclists) the drivers are here.

yes I really don't understand the hatred of cyclists - yes they might slow you down for 30 secs - is it really that big a deal?

The hilarious irony of drivers getting angry at cyclists is that by just driving their car they are adding more to congestion and commute times than the cyclists they're so irate at.

> People in Australia don't take driving seriously.

I guess that means they don't take it seriously enough for your tastes, but if you've driven elsewhere in the word you would find Australian's take adhering to the road rules _very_ seriously compared to just about anywhere else.

Other's here have called in nanny state'ism. Maybe that's true, but it's also true the expansive nature of the country means we drive long distances at high speeds on wide roads. Someone deliberately driving down the wrong side of the road, which I have seen numerous times in countries like France and Italy would get someone killed in Australia. A drunk drivers mistake at 50km/hr it likely to end up at the panel beaters, at 100km/hr at the morgue. Even in major Australian city like Brisbane I'd say I do most of my driving at 100km/hr. So there is a point to nanny state'ism.

On the other hand if you had driven in highly congested environments like France and Italy tend to have, you would notice a little extra chaos on the roads actually helps. Other drivers are seem to be far more accommodating of you breaking the rules because you've been sitting there for 5 minutes and it is your turn.

Agree with everything as a Sydney dweller, and especially this...

> tap their horn at you to remind you the light has been green for 30 seconds now and you're still flicking through Facebook.

The number of times I've seen this happen then the idiot wakes up, goes, and the light is now red - and we're all still there. Better not even tell them next time.

Great. We need this in every US city ASAP.

Walk around in a downtown area and it’s blatantly visible how many drivers use their phones while driving , often performing illegal maneuvers due to their distraction.

Uber/Lyft are the worst for this. Drivers are staring at their (mounted) phone screen trying to find their passenger, ducking in and out of the bike lane or shoulder, completely oblivious to pedestrians and bikers.

It's gotten to the point where I actively avoid any car that has an Uber sticker or Lyft light.

The issue is that only 15 states ban using/holding your phone while 48 ban texting for all drivers. [1] This means that unless you would need a very high resolution image with litle blur to determine that they were 'texting' (or you investigate after an accident). A lot of people still have to interact with the phone itself for maps & media so the US is very handicaped at enforcing these laws.

[1] http://www.ncsl.org/research/transportation/cellular-phone-u...

> you would need a very high resolution image with litle blur to determine that they were 'texting'

Bigger reason: This amounts to "set up cameras that record exactly what's on the screen of every phone that goes by", which is an utter nightmare in terms of privacy.

Hmm, if you're in a jurisdiction where it's illegal to be using your phone, I'm not sure how upset we should be about the police invading your privacy to prove you're breaking the law? I suppose you could argue that such a camera would also potentially capture the screens of passengers, though.

> I suppose you could argue that such a camera would also potentially capture the screens of passengers, though.

That is exactly the main argument that I would make:) It also amounts to a permanent warrantless recording of a space that most people would expect to be semi-private, which is worrying even if you assume that it will only affect the guilty.

You expect a car driving down the road to be private? Like, you don't think anyone can see what you're doing?

I'd be more upset about the idea of being snooped on by cameras everywhere I go. That _really_ doesn't sit right with me, and there are certainly concerns around privacy, security, and a government that probably shouldn't be trusted with such info.

Big difference between living in a jurisdiction where its outright illegal to use your phone and living in a jurisdiction where the act of driving while holding/using the phone is illegal, and they are two very different things. Many people live in a place where the latter is the case. Its fair to not want people to be distracted drivers while also wanting privacy. Is there no room for a middle ground?

We don't need police-connected camera networks running machine learning in any US city.

Yes, we do. Every single car should be tracked. 40,000 people are killed every year due to car drivers, we should start taking this seriously.

There is an eternal balance between freedom and privacy for the sake of security. The US has usually remained on the freedom side but rights are being eroded constantly.

There are better ways to increase driver and road safety than setting up an ever-present surveillance network in every city. I'm surprised by how many HN users argue against surveillance (for example some fuzzy ad tracking) and yet are fine with having recordings of every physical movement.

That's an awfully dystopian viewpoint. Ever-present surveillance is a cancer on society, and we shouldn't be increasing the amount of surveillance that happens.

That just sounds like a band-aid solution, what is needed are walkable cities, and decent public transportation.

That just sounds like a huge change that will take a long time and a lot of money to do.

With all the discussion on HN about "technical debt" I wonder why the same sort of strategies to avoid technical debt aren't applied outside the domain of software engineering.

Sure, it's effort now to do the smarter-but-harder thing, but the payoff will be huge in a few decades. Sure beats having a police state that is precipitated by goody-two-shoes demanding video surveillance of nearly all public roads in the USA.

Probably because leaders have to get elected, and "we're going to work through this backlog" is far less exciting in general to "new features!"

Well, in the US, that means jobs, and we've got the money. Done right, it makes us worth more and won't even have a meaningful impact on the overall value of currency.

Well New York City is the epitome of a "walkable city" and also has "decent public transportation." Yet there's no shortage of either cars and drivers behind the wheel texting.

Serious question - why? Car related deaths are at the lowest they’ve been per capita in 80 years [1]. Seems to me like we don’t really need to do anything. Hardly seems justified to bring in draconian AI.

[1]: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motor_vehicle_fatality_rate_...

Especially when a officer on the street corner will do the job (and prevent a ton of other petty law violations) just as well without being Orwellian about it.

Edit : Do the down-voters care to explain how a networked camera system is somehow better or less orwellian than a human cop?

1. A camera can't shoot you--seeing as this thread is about cameras in US cities, and police brutality is an issue here, I don't want a bunch of power-hungry cops with a license to murder on every corner of every US city. That sounds both insanely wasteful and also dangerous.

2. I really don't understand how having a cop on the street corner is any better than the "Orwellian" camera. In both cases, you're being watched, but one case comes with the added benefit that the watcher has a loaded gun.

3. The power imbalance is worse with a cop than a camera. With footage, you might be able to subpoena the footage. With a cop testifying against you, it's their word against yours and cops are almost always trusted more than the people they arrest/accuse.

>>I really don't understand how having a cop on the street corner is any better than the "Orwellian" camera. In both cases, you're being watched

Hmm; that feels a dishonest argument - I would expect HN audience to understand the differences between the two without being prompted. One of them will record the observation, store it potentially indefinitely, and enable unfathomable correlations for unfathomable purposes.

If it's really not clear, I would venture most people being OK with cop but not OK with a camera, feel that an honest cop may notice a particular law being broken right now, but a network of cameras may notice all kinds of things that are not illegal, as such, but may still be used against you.

(not to say that I disagree with your premise of US Cops being more dangerous than cameras; just that it shouldn't take much effort to have a basic understanding about other perspectives)

> I would expect HN audience to understand the differences between the two without being prompted.

I would expect you to not be so condescending. The comment I replied to didn't make any sort of actual argument; it's just a statement. Therefore, I don't understand how they reached their conclusion.

> One of them will record the observation, store it potentially indefinitely, and enable unfathomable correlations for unfathomable purposes.

Right, and the other will not record the observation, potentially beat you or shoot you, and if you take it to court, have their word trusted against yours almost universally by a jury, leaving you absolutely no recourse when you lose the case because the police officer may or may not have lied in their report.

> just that it shouldn't take much effort to have a basic understanding about other perspectives

Sorry I'm so dumb, I guess?

Apologies if it sounded condescending; it was the "I really don't understand how..." part of the post that, in turn, sounded to me as condescending - as if there's no plausible way anybody would prefer a cop over a camera, to the point you can't even understand why somebody would think so. It sounded dishonest because I feel, and perhaps I'm wrong, that with some effort to understand another person's perspective, most HN audience would be able to understand why somebody might prefer a cop over a camera.

I am still not certain - were you literally unable to understand why somebody would prefer a cop, or were you unwilling to make the effort, or - something else? :|

I literally don't understand why somebody would prefer a cop over a camera on every street corner of the US.

And just to be double clear, I understand the downsides of having everything on video; in this hypothetical situation, it's my opinion that having a cop on every street corner of the US is the greater evil, while having a camera in their place is a lesser evil. Both evils, both absurd hypothetical scenarios. Both fun to think about because I like dystopian societies.

Well, then, I suppose I was / am condescending, with a dose of pity and sadness:

- If your message is "I vehemently disagree, with every bone in my body, with the idea of having cops instead of cameras" - sure, that's a valid viewpoint we can have a lot of fun productively discussing, even if we never in the end agree.

- If your message is, as you repeatedly indicate, "I literally don't understand [the other point of view]", there is no discussion to be had. From where I'm standing, you are either unwilling, or incapable, of making the effort. A physical/sociopathic lack of empathy, or inability or willingness to process and examine different perspectives, or incredible amount of stubbornness, whatever it may be. If details of other side are presented to you, and you still "literally don't understand" it, then... I don't know, discussion is done one way or another? We are failing on point one of the pyramid of productive/honest discussions and arguments [1].

[note in this framework, understanding, and agreeing, are entirely separate considerations]

1: http://www.openculture.com/2019/06/how-to-argue-with-kindnes...

This problem is so widespread you would need a lot of cops.

Frankly I’d rather have things like automatic cameras than police posted at every intersection.

Look at how stuff like speeding works. Putting cops on the highways just makes people alert each other on waze to slow down in one specific area.

That's why I'm in support of automated linear speed checks absolutely everywhere.

You mean interval speed cameras?

I'd be fine with that if we first can have a conversation on speed limits. It seems on the road network places put in interval cameras and drop the speed limit by 10+mph. On motorways we get a de facto 80mph road going down to 50, regardless of conditions and traffic flow. That seems way to extreme a limitation IMO.

Though if the trains were cheaper it wouldn't bother me!

Yeah, I mean the contraption that identifies you at two points of a straight segment of a road and fines you if your average speed between the points exceeded the limit.

Sure, we should have a conversation on speed limits. I know some places use them as revenue sources, and this would have to disappear. But speed limits are sometimes (usually?) set for safety reasons too. And we can't move forward on getting the speed limits set to safety-optimal values while almost all drivers completely disregard them. This is one case when I'm supportive of metaphorically beating the drivers into submission, so that they start following the law, and traffic engineering can be done under assumption that people follow the law.

Agreed, TeMPOraL for PM!

So they're ramping up the detection of people using their phones while waiting for the traffic light to turn green?

Doesn't really sound like this is actually about safety.

I doubt these cameras can capture the photo do a decent quality on that angle for anything but standing or very slow moving cars

But I guess we can hope it will stop some people, even if there will be a lot of people caught that weren't really endangering anyone

I lived in NSW (the state in the article) for a while, and had my car rammed into from behind 3 times in 2 years while I was stopped at a red light, all 3 times the drivers admitted they were checking their phone and hadn't noticed the light go red or me stop. They're not even shy about it, and the casualness at which people use their phones in cars is shocking.

I got front and rear dash cams after the 1st hit, to protect myself for insurance claims etc, and caught the following 2 + uncountable near-misses almost all of which were people using their phones, doing make-up, or at one point eating a bowl of cereal while driving.

People don't take it seriously at all, and having had a close family member killed by someone blowing a red light while playing on their phone, and my best mate killed by a truck driver mounting the footpath because he was checking his job computer, I'm 100% for stricter punishment against people who don't take driving seriously.

Mobile phones, drink driving, all of them can and do lead to people dying and should be treated as such.

Australian, but my immediate family and mother in law were in a taxi on a highway in China a few weeks ago and were rammed by a truck from behind. The driver was on her phone. Two broken ribs, neck injury, cuts and bruises, missed flight, missed work. To date, zero insurance payout.

People using their phones while waiting for the light is absolutely a safety issue.

They aren’t paying attention and when the light turns green they may either hit a pedestrian as they hurry to move , or not notice the green and be rear ended by a driver who expects them to begin moving.

To second your point- I'd hazard that people using phones at lights are also using them in between lights. I filter at lights despite it being illegal where I live- because I've already been rear ended twice by people on phones. And by filtering I get a great view on people using their phones. They are nine times out of ten using their phones leading up to the light, during the light and during takeoff. I've also noticed that when they notice movement in their peripheral, they start driving forward even when the light is red. I filter much slower now so as to keep people from blindly thinking the light is green and shooting out into traffic or into a pedestrian.

In the last year I've begun pausing slightly before pulling into an intersection when the light just turned green. I don't care to be t-boned by someone failing to get through before it turned red.

I've also started glancing left & right going through the green even if it's been green a while.

Once the traffic in front of me stopped suddenly, I stopped, and the truck behind me didn't and totaled my car, nearly killing me. Since then I glance in the rearview mirror when I have to stop hard, which paid off one day when I figured the guy behind me wasn't going to stop in time, I pulled off onto the shoulder, and he hit the car in front of me.

Isn't this just how everyone should be driving all the time?

This is what I was taught when I learned to drive 20 years ago, and texting wasn't really a thing back then.

> Isn't this just how everyone should be driving all the time?

Perhaps, but I too frequently encounter the notion that having the legal right of way means one doesn't have to look. I've especially encountered this with bicyclists. Sometimes they'll tell me that it's ok because if someone hits them, they'll get a huge lawsuit judgement. I counter with what good is that if you're dead or crippled?

Some people I just don't understand.

> "I've also noticed that when they notice movement in their peripheral, they start driving forward even when the light is red."

This has been the case for years. When people aren't paying attention they are pavlovian in staring forward when they notice movement around them. But this doesn't necessarily have to coincide with cell phone usage, just bad driving.

So we shouldn't punish bad driving?

Because ~95% of the populace is bad for some definition of bad. We should really only be punishing exceptional badness.

95% of the population probably shouldn't be driving. It should be a job held to exceptional standards like a pilot.

How can someone say this with a straight face? Driving is for better or worse the primary means of covering long distance in a timely and economical manner for a large slice of the global population.

That's a pretty big problem. Governments need to put in a big effort to remove the car dependence they created rather than let careless people go on killing because it's a convenient way for them to get to work and read the news at the same time.

What do you mean by "filter"?

I believe they mean riding a motorcycle in the gap between two lanes of traffic, thus "filtering" through the static traffic to the front.

It's worth noting that this is legal in some places. Not everyone on HN may be aware of that. I know I was surprised when I first saw it.

It's legal in NSW Australia so long as traffic is not moving.

It's legal in traffic moving up to 30 km/h (including the rider) actually.


The long name is "lane filtering".

I've seen an increase of motorcycle cops lane filtering at traffic lights, looking into the laps of the drivers. If there's a phone there, they're booked.

> They aren’t paying attention and when the light turns green they may either hit a pedestrian as they hurry to move...

This sounds like a different issue that can arise without phones being involved. Just because you look at your phone does not mean you need to be sheepish when you look back up. The problem is people are more worried about getting going than being safe.

> ...or not notice the green and be rear ended by a driver who expects them to begin moving.

If someone rear ends you when the light turns green that is 100% their fault. You can't start moving if the car in front of you is stopped. This has been the case long before the existence of phones.

Assigning fault has nothing to do with safety.

Isn't this entire thread about assigning blame to cell phones causing safety issues? Instead of looking objectively at all the various issues that cause safety issues while driving: distraction, day-dreaming, sleep loss (comparable to driving while drunk), etc etc

In this case, the fault assignment correctly identifies as unsafe that driver who started moving and rammed a stopped vehicle immediately in front.

The stopped vehicle at a green light also increased the probability of collision.

Most collisions require two unsafe drivers. One to swerve out of their lane, another who thoughtlessly drive down the highway alongside another car; that sort of thing.

There is no excuse for hitting something unmoving, right in front of your vehicle, which has been there the whole time.

Vehicles can remain standing on a green for reasons like the engine having stalled, or there still being a pedestrian in front of them.

It is not comparable to doing something poorly considered for which there cannot be a good reason, like driving in someone's blindspot on the freeway for hundreds of meters, in low traffic.

No, sorry if you drive into the back of another car that’s your fault for being too close and not being prepared to stop.

If someone drives into a stationary car just because the lights go green they are an incompetent driver because they haven’t checked the road is clear before moving off.

The car in front could have stalled, the driver could have had a heart attack, a child could have run into the road 3 cars down and you can’t see them.

Anything could have happened and if you’re not prepared for that at all times YOU are not in control of your vehicle and hence a bad driver.

Too many drivers have cognitive dissonance of the form “I already know I’m an excellent driver, so it couldn’t possibly be my fault...” for every situation this why we need presumed liability.

A very simple and necessary general principle is that if two or more vehicles are involved in a collision, if it can be shown that some of them violated the traffic code (committed a ticketable moving offense) and some did not, then the liability should be apportioned among just those drivers which violated the traffic code.

> or not notice the green and be rear ended by a driver who expects them to begin moving.

What? If you ever hit someone like that, I'd say you're ten times more dangerous than anyone texting.

The driver behind them might be texting too! They see in their peripheral vision that the car next to them is moving and hit the gas without properly looking around.

Well, that's more dangerous than texting while stopped.

>or not notice the green and be rear ended by a driver who expects them to begin moving.

That wouldn't be the front driver's fault at all. What if there's someone crossing the road in front of that person and they can't drive off. The person behind them shouldn't be so focused only on the color of the traffic light that they start moving the moment it turns green.

That'd be even more unsafe.

Sure, but it perverts incentives when a crime is punished only when it is a certain level of severity but not when it's more severe than that. For the people who are looking at their phones at red lights today, what percentage of them will stop because of this, and what percentage will say, "Oh there's a camera here, I'll wait until I'm on the highway to check my texts."

Not only that, but even for those checking while driving, how many people now put the phone down below the dash, where they really can't see traffic when looking at it, vs. holding it up in the air where they can glance back an forth (not that this is really safe either, but looking down at your lap is much worse).

Do you have any data to back up this assertion?

Just not moving at a turn lane because they are texting is big deal. Turn lights are timed precisely to let X number of cars go through. Dick butt takes up most of the time texting and now traffic is stuck backing up from the turn lane into the normal straight traffic lane and onwards.

These photos were taken on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, there's no traffic lights on there and there's rarely any stop and go traffic.

i perused the article and saw nowhere that it said that this would only be used at red lights, which i'd oppose, since that's relatively safer (to look at a phone) than while actually driving (perfect shouldn't be the enemy of better).

apparently some cameras are fixed and some are mobile, but presumably they're checking cars that are both moving and stationary (if it so happens to be in view of the camera when/where it stops).

distracted driving is a real problem, and phones are a large part of that problem. genuine efforts at curbing distracted driving are welcome, as long as we don't have to trade away all our privacy in the process. i'm generally against camera surveillance for that reason.

in any case, continuing improvements in voice control will go a long way toward reducing distracted driving via mobile devices.

You are correct, it is designed to catch moving traffic, but it would also catch someone going underneath in a stationary traffic jam.

Actually studies have shown that people on (hands free) phone calls are also very distracted from the task of driving, driving slower than the traffic, around corners etc. [Haque et el at QUT. A small study in a simulator, but it certainly matches anecdotal observation... https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S00014... ]

Just tuning the radio or even listening to the radio can increase response times. Unsurprisingly, having children in the car can also significantly increase risk. [MUARC] Remember that next time you see a Baby On Board sign.

>in any case, continuing improvements in voice control will go a long way toward reducing distracted driving via mobile devices.

It'd have to be a lot of continuing improvements because at the moment, voice control is an absolute shitshow and IMO way more distracting than pushing predictable buttons.

I cross a particularly busy intersection here in Melbourne as a pedestrian every day.

At least once a week I see people who are too busy playing with their phones to realise all the cars in front of them had already driven off, the traffic light was now red again, and pedestrians were about to start crossing. The sudden realisation then makes them slam the accelerator without checking their surroundings first.

At the same intersection I witnessed an accident where the first driver in line was playing with their phone, got spooked by someone honking, and ran the red light straight into traffic.

It's like they're tricking themselves into thinking they're paying enough attention.

It's never about safety. These cameras bring in billions in revenue.

If you want to argue that they're not about revenue raising tell me why the Police here strike for pay rises by warning motorists of where the cameras are?


They've done this for at least 3 pay rises in the past and they actually have followed through.

How would you propose authorities stop people from using their phones while driving without:

1. Detecting when people are using their phone while driving?

2. Imposing a penalty when people are caught?

Applying a high fine for infringements is a good deterrent. It's definitely about safety as much (if not more) than revenue raising.

If people don't want to give revenue to the government, it's simple - don't use your phone while driving.

For these cameras (and speeding cameras, too) to be effective at all, you either:

A) need a huge volume of them so people assume they will certainly get caught if they use their phone even just once

B) place them at critical spots and make them very clearly visible e.g. via adding signs

Otherwise, they're just hidden and rare enough that nobody actually changes their driving style. Now neither A nor B are the case. So what's their use besides making money?

Also, why take money only? Off the top of my head, why not something like each time you get caught, you get a "buffered" 1-day driving restriction and once it adds up to some amount it's applied? Currently you can just speed all the time as long as you're not grossly over the limit. All you need to do is pay a little money which might be trivial for some people. A driving restriction might not be.

These cameras obviously aren't implemented with safety as a priority. It's about money first and foremost. Safety is just a pretense. Same thing for govt surveillance and so on. It's surprising to me that the same excuse can be used over and over effectively.

How about more highway patrol? You know, physical officers who can be anywhere instead of a camera on a pole thats well known.

Speed cameras just cause people to behave in a single spot. Worse they usually backlog traffic because drivers brake when approaching them "just in case"

Agreed. You have to draw the line somewhere and I can't believe people are actually arguing against this like they have a leg to stand on.

The example pictures they showed on the news reports had cars doing at least 80kmh. It was in the info at the top of the pictures.

i also wonder what the real motive is. just expanding surveillance tech? ceo of this company pals with govt officials?

> Doesn't really sound like this is actually about safety.

Wow, what an ignorant statement. I get a lot of people like to drive without following the rules and think there should be no consequences. Even though driving a car is usually the most dangerous thing you will do today.

The only technology needed to solve bad/dangerous driving is a cheap camera phone.

Allow people to turn in video of people violating traffic laws in public places for money. Receive more money if it leads to prosecution/fine.

Rewards split amongst all who submit videos.

Big bonus if person is DUI/OUI/OWI prosecuted.

If it's too much to have just anyone do this, then have some sort of minimal-requirements program where you sign up, pay $X, get registered and a permit, and do it.

This can help homeless people.

You could sit at intersections and make bank recording videos of people driving through. So many people are holding their phone in the hand and interacting with it.


Give the public a cut of the fine, have some rules to avoid abuse, and we'd all be buying dashcams. It'll help so much.

A friend told me Taiwan did something similar to great effect (perhaps it was for littering from vehicles) but I'm struggling to find a reference.

On a related note, Dash Cam Owners Australia[1] just put up their monthly video of collected accidents and near misses.

I watch these with my kids, who recently started driving, as it is a good lesson in why you drive defensively and not be too arrogant about your own abilities and reaction times - because you have to take into account the abilities, reaction times, and occasionally the boneheaded idiocy of any other driver in your immediate vicinity.

“If it weren’t for physics and law enforcement, I’d be unstoppable.”

[1] https://www.youtube.com/user/DashCamOwnersAustral/videos

They don’t need new technology, just a bus. Sit a few officers in it where their vantage point is about a meter over the top of cars, drive around the highway a bit, and mail merge a bunch of citations.

I was bored on a 2 hour bus ride the other day and easily spotted hundreds of drivers fooling around in their phones while driving at highway speed. Mostly texting. Insanity!

The police do use buses here in Ontario. My friend got a ticket after following behind a bus which had a single officer in the back and a trailing car.



Honestly, it might be cheaper and easier to just issue tickets to everyone. I’m mostly kidding, but the number of people I see daily driving distracted because of their phones is enormous.

Traffic police around here seem uninterested in enforcing any rules other than red lights and speed limits.

Stop, why!

Aiming to catch people on their phones is a perversion of the laws because we have made it too easy to get away with driving while distracted.

It used to be that distracted driving was subjective; but with dash cams on police cars, why can't police crack down on actual distracted indications objectively. All of us anecdotally can guess that someone not moving on green, going slow in the left lane, crossing multiple lanes at the last minute is on their cell phone; So let's start enforcing a law that applies more broadly (eating, intoxicated, cell phone, distracted by passengers, rubber necking) and start seriously enforcing it.

If we seriously enforced distracted and reckless behavior, maybe cities wouldn't even have to worry about congestion taxes.

The root of the problem is bad driving. You can be stone sober, fully rested and have your phone locked in the trunk of your car, but none of that matters if you lack the skills needed to operate a vehicle at speed. Drivers education is woefully inadequate and the only driving laws I see enforced are the ones which have a clear easy to obtain financial incentive attached for the police.

I think the lack of decent public transport in many places contribute to this. When I've lived in cities with good public transport I would usually take the bus, especially if I wasn't feeling in a good mental state to drive (tired, stressed, other). In Orlando that's not an option, here I can chose to stay home or drive.

That is a very valid point. Even the best city I've lived in as far as public transit goes had issues such as stopping service around midnight, even on weekends. If the goal was to reduce drinking driving and/or driving tired you'd think they'd keep those going, but instead they just bring out the DUI checkpoints.

Where I grew up the last bus would leave downtown around 4am and the trams stopped for an hour between 6-7am on Sat-Sun (after basically all the bars and clubs had closed). That aspect was pretty good. Most other aspects of Swedish drinking culture is not great...

Has anyone bought a new car recently? Many essentially have a center mounted full size tablet. Yes, police phone usage. But car newer car interfaces cause a lot of distraction on their own.

No. The horrific interfaces being one of the reasons :P I've suffered with various hire vehicles though.

Some are literally tablets I think (or very good imitations?) - the interfce had pull-down menus, swipe left/right app screens/desktops.

What's ridiculous is you can't turn in any footage you take yourself. As a cyclist with a camera on my bicycle I have hundreds of drivers on their phone, yet the police has nowhere for me to turn this in.

This is simply not true. You can report any incidents via Crime Stoppers here: https://www.crimestoppers.com.au/give-information#block-view.... Each jurisdiction's specific reporting forms are different, but you can usually upload small files as attachments.

If you do want the footage to be useful though, you'll have to be willing to put enough personal information in so the police can use you as a witness in court. Your witness account is the primary evidence and the footage the supporting evidence.

Yeah so if I want to give up a lot of personal information, then give up my time appearing in court, and have the guilty party know who I am, then yes, there is a way to report it. But if I don't want that massive impact on my life just to share my clear video and photo evidence, then I can't do anything. But you can report littering easily. No reason I shouldn't be able to do the same for people on their phone. They've made it prohibitively difficult to share my evidence, so I think I'm fine saying there's no way for me to just turn in my footage.

That seems strange to me. Based on that logic, security camera footage (which has no witness at the time) couldn't be used to solve a crime. But surely it is?

About time. I'm not worried about terrorists, not worried about mass shootings, I'm not worried about meteors or sharks. I'm worried about other drivers using their phone while driving -- that's the existential threat right now by far, and they're everywhere!

>But it is illegal to touch a phone while driving except to pass it to a passenger. The ban even applies to drivers who are stationary at red lights or stuck in traffic jams.

This sounds like a hassle for anyone trying to use gps on their phones. Also, doesn't this essentially outlaw rideshare drivers? How can you accept rides or confirm a pickup if you can't touch the phone? I never saw any driver use voice commands for uber.

>This sounds like a hassle for anyone trying to use gps on their phones.

What hassle? Futzing with your GPS app while driving is just as dangerous as texting. Set your destination before you drive and pull over if you need to adjust it, just as you should if you need to text.

>How can you accept rides or confirm a pickup...

Pull over.

> Futzing with your GPS app while driving is just as dangerous as texting.

Just as dangerous yes, but using a standalone GPS or dashboard touchscreen is legal in Australia which makes this rule strange.

I talk on a handheld CB radio regularly in the car and that's perfectly legal too.

Do you yourself drive? It's easy to make these demands when you're not affected by the resulting inefficiency.

I drive 2+ hours round-trip for work every weekday, and my work often has me visiting client sites during the week. I find nothing difficult about setting my destination via GPS before I begin my drive, and I find that my attention to what's going on around me is significantly diminished should I attempt to modify my route while driving. An inconvenience of, say, 5-10 minutes to find a place to pull over and input new coordinates is absolutely worth it to prevent an expensive collision or running into, say, a motorcyclist I haven't seen because I'm staring at my phone.

I cannot believe people are arguing for "efficiency" over traffic safety.

> absolutely worth it

Can you demonstrate, using numbers, that the tradeoff is positive?

> I cannot believe people are arguing for "efficiency" over traffic safety.

People prioritize efficiency over safety all the time. It's a good thing. So do you, if you support non-zero speed limits. The current animus against cell phone use while driving is the result of a moral panic, not a rational cost-benefit tradeoff.

> If I pull over to a safe place to use my phone, nobody is harmed.

Untrue. The act of pulling is itself is a complex maneuver that practically invites accidents. Most accidents occur at low speed, and often, when you pull over, you pull over into an area where pedestrians are active. It might be the case that pulling over instead of using a phone at a red light results in more people being injured or killed.


> My wife was rear-ended while waiting

Anecdotal personal misfortune is not an argument for society-wide policy.

>Can you demonstrate, using numbers, that the tradeoff is positive?

Are you kidding? If I pull over to a safe place to use my phone, nobody is harmed. If I'm driving and take my attention off of the road and over to my phone, and I smack into a motorcyclist because I didn't see them, I could kill them.

>The current animus against cell phone use while driving is the result of a moral panic, not a rational cost-benefit tradeoff.

Moral panic? My wife was rear-ended while waiting to turn because the driver of the car that hit her was on their cellphone and didn't see her - they admitted as much. She's still suffering from pain from that accident and the car she was driving was totaled. How is not getting into an accident "not a rational cost-benefit tradeoff"?

There are 268 million vehicles in the United States. If we assume that each vehicle makes two trips per day on average, and than the number of minutes of inconvenience taken up by pulling over to operate a phone is 5, that’d be 2.68 billion minutes of inconvenience per day alone!

We can be generous and put the intrinsic value of a human life at the average lifespan in the US of 78 years, or 41 million minutes. That means you’d be inconveniencing people at the rate of 65 human lives per day by implementing your law.

Why do you hate human life so much? Think of the children. Hail Satan, etc.

> If we assume that each vehicle makes two trips per day on average, and than the number of minutes of inconvenience taken up by pulling over to operate a phone is 5,

Once you need to pull over to check your phone you realize that you can just wait until your destination. I never touch my phone while driving, but I'd estimate the time I spend pulled over to use my phone to be more in the area of 5 minutes per couple thousand km.

But how will tech companies extract value from you if you don't pick up your phone even when driving?

That was funny. Looks like it cost a few karma points, but I appreciated the humor at this point in thread.

Although I'm hardly losing sleep over my loss of karma, I'm glad someone appreciated it.

Gonna respond with this separate post, since OP edited their post to respond to mine.

>Untrue. The act of pulling is itself is a complex maneuver that practically invites accidents. Most accidents occur at low speed, and often, when you pull over, you pull over into an area where pedestrians are active. It might be the case that pulling over instead of using a phone at a red light results in more people being injured or killed.

As I've said before, driving is always an inherently dangerous act, and I'm not disputing that point. It seems to me as though you don't believe risks should be mitigated; that you're saying, "Well, pulling over could be pretty dangerous, so I think you should still be allowed to distract yourself with your phone while driving". Is that correct?

Driving in an area with a lot of pedestrians is certainly dangerous, but to my point, it's far more dangerous if the driver is staring at their phone rather than consciously looking for people walking around in an effort to avoid them.

>Anecdotal personal misfortune is not an argument for society-wide policy.

Again - how is not getting into an accident "not a rational cost-benefit tradeoff"? Can you provide any sort of valid argument in support of taking your eyes off of the road? Do you have any kind of data that shows that not looking at the road is safer, or for that matter safe at all?

> The current animus against cell phone use while driving is the result of a moral panic

Spend some more time walking then, it'll feel a lot more personal when you have daily close calls with multi-ton monsters doing rolling stops with their eyes glued to a screen.

Here are some stats on rates of crashes while driving with phones in the U.S. https://www.edgarsnyder.com/car-accident/cause-of-accident/c...

> The act of pulling is itself a complex maneuver that practically invites accidents

Well, 100% of car trips involve at least 1 pull-over. Of the major causes of crashes, injuries and fatalities, attempting to pull over safely isn’t even listed as a major cause of accidents in any stats I can find anywhere for any country. Can you demonstrate with numbers that pulling over is dangerous?

> Most accidents occur at low speed

Your link is talking mostly about commercial vehicles bumping into walls at 3mph. Most injuries and fatalities do not occur at low speed. The number one cause of vehicle fatalities in the US is speeding, second is alcohol. https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/Publication/8124...

Same is true in Australia https://www.qbe.com/au/news/the-most-common-causes-of-car-ac...

Same is true worldwide https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/189242/9789...

> People prioritize efficiency over safety all the time.

This is true, if they didn't we wouldn't have cars in the first place. 40,000 people are killed by drivers every year, that is more than gun deaths.

heaven for bid we impact "driving efficiency" for something as low-priority as public safety...

Why is "safety" the most important consideration? A world that values safety above everything else is a pretty dismal world --- and it's a world without cars at all.

A single distracted person in a vehicle can inflict an incredible amount of death and damage upon those around them. This isn't just the government making you wear a straitjacket to protect you from yourself.

Also, I'm on board with a world that minimizes ape-driven cars. I can't even imagine how much more amazing my city would be in that utopia.

I don't understand why pulling over before fiddling with your gadgets is so much to ask of you, though.

>Why is "safety" the most important consideration?

Because driving is an inherently dangerous act, and we should be doing as much as we can to minimize said danger. We wake up and leave the house understanding that there are a litany of risks in the world that could bring harm to us. Many of these risks, such as driving, are accepted because we put restrictions on drivers to minimize the risk of harm that they would otherwise pose.

Driving requires a significant amount of focus and attention from the driver. What you're arguing for is to allow drivers to remove their attention and focus from the situation entirely. Should they use their GPS while operating their car, they then become unaware of what is happening around them and are unable to respond quickly and safely.

Do you really think that is OK?

> and it's a world without cars at all.

And a wonderful world that would be.

I just read the NSW legislation. Phones cannot be touched except for passing to a passenger. To be used to take calls they must be operated hands-free.

For GPS and speed apps, it IS legal to touch the device, as long as it is mounted.

That's a great way to treat GPS apps. In CA, our law is across-the-board, and it doesn't matter if you're playing candy crush or using navigation. I wish we had a GPS carveout, though I've never heard of anyone who was legit using navigation on a mounted device getting a ticket for having done so in CA.

Link to the NSW legslation: https://roadsafety.transport.nsw.gov.au/stayingsafe/mobileph...

The relevant info is in the first table.

I've just noticed the rules about making and answering calls and audio playing uses the term EITHER, as in Either in a cradle OR can be operated without touching. So it appears that drivers can touch the phone when making calls or playing audio when the phone is in a cradle or mount. If the device is used for GPS or speed monitoring then it can be hand-held.

> This sounds like a hassle for anyone trying to use gps on their phones

I think safety is more important than avoiding hassle. I think someone touching their phone for navigation is distracted from driving. Their eyes are away from the road. Their mind is focused on finding the place to touch, touching it, and getting confirmation, possibly repeatedly. Without tactile controls, that requires focus.

Hold your phone to use it for contactless payment at Mcdonalds and they can fine you. I shit you not. Revenue raising is most definitely what it is.

You're not on the road at that point, so I doubt that

You are as private roads owned by businesses open to the general public have certain road rules still applicable to them. This is in Victoria (Australia) where that piece of news came to light.


> (1) A "road related area" is any of the following—

> (d) an area that is not a road and that is open to or used by the public for driving, riding or parking motor vehicles;

Right. I'm sure the language of laws in many regions suggests that using tap-to-pay with your phone at a drive-thru is technically illegal, but I'd be curious to see if anybody has actually been ticketed for it or if this is just fearmongering.

I'm pretty sure a drive-through isn't considered a public road in most jurisdictions, similar to how people usually don't worry about speed traps on Nürburgring.

Under australian motor law (on phone so I'm not going reference hunting but you can look it up) anywhere you can drive that isn't explicitly private (such as a driveway or a fenced off road on a farm) is a public road - this includes drivethroughs and car parks (even the mutistory carparks you have to pay to get in - if you can pay, as a member of the public, to get in then it's a public road).

>people usually don't worry about speed traps on Nürburgring

Now that would be a real moneymaker.

Australia-wide according to the police.

"The police from NSW, ACT, Northern Territory and South Australia also confirmed it was an offence to have a mobile phone in your hand while sitting in a running car at a drive-through."


Seems your doubts have been put to rest. Pity I got voted down by so many, this is a fact in Australia.

>This sounds like a hassle for anyone trying to use navigation systems.

That's a key feature. It creates probable cause to pull over a huge chunk of drivers and possibly (at the discretion of the cop/department) rake in some revenue while doing it. Screw the poors and their non-integrated GPS.

I'm sure someone will tell you it's about safety but if it didn't also please the pro-revenue crowd and the pro-control crowd it wouldn't get done. There's plenty of ways to be pro-safety that are better bang for your buck. This gets done because the other two groups like it too.

>Screw the poors and their non-integrated GPS.

"The poors" can still use their non-integrated GPS, just in a safe (set your destination before you drive, pull over to adjust) manner. That's what everyone should be doing anyway.

What evidence is there that pulling over and then re-entering traffic is any less dangerous than adjusting your GPS at a stop light?

You can adjust your GPS at a stop light if the phone is in a cradle.

Actually it's still legal to adjust the GPS on your phone while driving, if it's in a cradle.

Someone else posted a response to a similar point, higher up in this thread.

"They aren’t paying attention and when the light turns green they may either hit a pedestrian as they hurry to move , or not notice the green and be rear ended by a driver who expects them to begin moving."

What evidence is there that pulling over and then re-entering traffic is any less dangerous than adjusting your GPS at a stop light?

We used to call it "common sense." Though it does not seem to be so common anymore.

People who don't drive new enough cars to have integrated GPS buy a suction cup mount for their phone. It's not 2012 anymore, everyone has smartphones, nobody but truckers uses standalone GPS.

I know this crowd is too high class to know what it's like but something like using your phone for GPS can be the difference between leaving a fishing stop with a warning or a ticket depending on what kinds of citations the department is trying to prioritize.

>nobody but truckers uses standalone GPS

Here in south australia, if you're on your P1s you cannot use mobile phones in any way while driving, including handsfree and mounted GPS function. I got a Garmin (as a birthday present) which I still use even though I can use my phone now, since it's actually very nice (especially traffic/red light camera warnings, school zone and speed limit change notifications, live traffic, etc.).

I'd be heartily in favor of phones being banned from being used as GPS/navigation aids, since it seems most people don't have the self control not to interact with their phones while driving - it would remove it as a distraction and hopefully prevent "opportunistic" phone use.

What I'm saying is that it doesn't matter what kind of GPS you're using. Set your destination(s) before you drive, and pull over if you need to adjust them. Telling drivers to do that is not "screw[ing] the poors", as you've suggested.

One thing that is unclear is that the two independent images, one showing an individual using a phone where they may be personally identifiable and a second showing the car's license plate. So they fine the registered owner of the car for the driver being distracted? What if I'm in a car share? Do they subpoena the companies records or just fine them and have it passed on a la rental cars and speeding tickets?

I think distracted driving is a real problem but just like photo radar this punishment weeks after the fact when you get a fine in the mail will have very little impact on the underlying behavior. It's like watching your kids do something unacceptable and then grounding them a week a later as punishment. If they wanted to really change behavior they need to get in the faces of drivers like drinking and driving check-stops; pull them over, ask them if their using their phones, warn them of the danger (they could check for impaired driving at the same time). The problem is cops on the ground costs money; this makes money.

>> So they fine the registered owner of the car for the driver being distracted?

Yes, I think that makes sense.

If the car owner is a car share company, they will know who the car was shared to, at the time, and then they will send the ticket to that person.

And if the car owner just borrowed the car to a spouse/child/friend/whoever, they can pass the ticket to the borrower.

As an Australian, I'm happy they're doing something about stopping stupid/distracted drivers.

I'm also very nervous because I'm 100% sure this will end up being abused or "enhanced" in some scary way in the future, or used as an argument for more government AI cameras to police other transgressions.

The new New South Wales Roads Minister Andrew Constance emphatically states:

“>There is no doubt drink-driving as far as I’m concerned is on a par with mobile phone use, and that’s why we want everyone to be aware that you’re going to get busted doing this anytime, anywhere,” Constance told Australian Broadcasting Corp."

But the further down we read:

>"Photos that show suspected illegal behavior are referred for verification by human eyes before an infringement notice is sent to the vehicle’s registered owner along with a 344 Australian dollar ($232) fine."

I'm guessing the penalty for being caught driving under the influence in Australia is far greater than $344 AUD. Why wouldn't they price the infraction for driving while texting similarly then?

They don't need to increase the price, just make it a 6 month loss of licence for the first time, 1 year for the second and 5 for the 3rd. 4th offence should probably be life time loss of license.

Sorry yes that it what I meant by price, the total penalty.

No fancy technology is needed.

All they need is inspectors on motorbikes riding between cars that are stopped at traffic lights.

Large number of people are using their phones when waiting at the lights.

A motorbike inspector riding between cars would make an infinite number of catches.

But; are those really the people you WANT to catch as a matter of priority? What is our goal - sheer income, or safety? :-/

In my mind, I'd rather people check their phone at a stopped traffic light, going 0kph; then while driving at 100kph or turning etc...

Ultimately tickets should have a purpose - prevent the most atrocious behaviour we see.

There's a poorly marked off-ramp from a major freeway in Toronto; and after off-ramp it's still a divided highway that basically looks like freeway. Cops are constantly staking out this exit because they know they'll get tickets - but what are you teaching? Most of these people were honestly trying to do the relatively right thing. There's no lesson or behaviour modification, just income. (if you want to modify behaviour at that particular offramp, add signing and/or lights etc).

Understanding that it's against the law in most places (because technically you are "operating a motor vehicle", I honestly don't have a problem with people glancing at their phone on a red traffic light. Others, I suppose, may vehemently disagree.

If the motive was to actually stop the behaviour then you'd be correct, however if the motive is simply to collect as many fines as possible then what they're implementing is the best solution.

Pretty much this. Same for bikers with headphones and phones. Just put more cops on intersections and you can feast all day.

what a waste of money. studies show its not the lack of a free hand that causes accidents, but lack of attention. and hands free is legal. also day by day more cars will have phone paired with the infotainment system

My prediction is that this initiative will kill people by encouraging phone apps to build in complex voice interaction features that are almost as dangerous but undetectable and therefore will be used indiscriminately by drivers. To those arguing this is a good thing in a black and white manner, please have a think about whether the convenience of that simplistic approach is worth the lives of the people who may die through unintended consequences.

Kinda funny how HN is normally anti-surveillance and against automated law enforcement unless you frame it as something pro-social.

At the end of the day this is still a camera network capable of being repurposed for more sinister means of revenue generation at the whim of the government.

If you really want to stop this behavior post a cop on the corner. His presence will prevent people from all sorts of other minor traffic violations too.

Speed/red light cameras use a combination of sensors in ground and with laser/radar. On matching parameters, it records pictures at time of incident. Plausible that they don't record every car.

This Phone Use camera technology literally records every car AND who is in it (at least in front seats) for AI to process. Since they admit to using AI, it is likely that they are keeping all of the images.

This is definitely creepier technology. Imagine a fresh popular candidate caught 10 years ago in a leaked photo of being in a car with a racist. Well, poor example but you get the drift.

It's simpler than that: a lot of HN posters are just anti-car, and anything that makes driving less convenient is a good thing in their eyes.

motor vehicle accidents/deaths are a public health crisis in the US: 30K deaths/yr, $300mil direct medical costs/yr (more indirect obv.)

if you are between 18-34 in the US your highest probability of death was/is motor vehicle accident

i'm guessing most people here are anti bodily harm/death/opportunity loss due to stupidity/impatience more than anything else

That doesn't fly, because you could dismiss your posts in this comments section the same way: you're pro-car and anything that makes driving less convenient is a bad thing no matter what.

It's not very productive discourse to make these claims about others.

Have just one experience with an inattentive driver for you or a loved one and then tell me the priority should be "driving convenience".

Of course, there are a lot of smart people here.

China has been doing this for years! How can they say they are first in the world?

This is an article from 2016: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2016-08/08/content_263919...

Australian drivers aren't the best, but they're better behaved than drivers in SE Asia. I've driven in Australia and the Philippines. In the Philippines, road rules aren't enforced. In Australia they are, but people don't always follow the rules anyway.

Excellent. I hope the technology also works for truck drivers.

I turned on the iPhone "do not disturb while driving" functionality which is awesome.

It helps me not fiddle with the phone whilst in the car.

The technology is from Acusensus:


And yet in the same state, NSW, they could do nothing when my car was stolen and recorded speeding on the motorway. And took nearly a year to apprehend a suspect in the shooting of a fast food restaurant worker when it was caught on multiple cameras.

I'm not saying that people should be free to use phones but it's increasingly obvious to me that the police's main objective is to keep mostly lawful people in line, pursuing criminal activity is a secondary concern.

In Holland they just put a few people on a bus and they look in the cars on the highway, very high score results.

In London the rules are really stupid. Using smart-devices while driving is allowed as long as the device is mounted. Woe betide anyone caught with a phone to their ear.

Yeah, if the reason is attention (and safety), then it does not matter whether it is mounted or not. Your attention is still elsewhere.

Unpopular opinion, but vehicle deaths are at basically the lowest they’ve been since the introduction of the car. I honestly believe phone use while driving hasn’t had a major effect on safety overall. The statistics certainly don’t indicate it.


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