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FOLLOW UP: Laptop Steering Wheel Mount
January 4, 2004 7:14 AM   Subscribe

California bans using computers or watching TV while driving I made this post on Dec. 26 about the Laptop Steering Wheel Mount and just wanted to post a follow up. I wish more states would enact the same type of law.
posted by radio_mookie (13 comments total)

 
The most screens Stauffacher has installed in a vehicle in the Sacramento area is six, in a Ford Excursion. The sport-utility vehicle had screens in its visor, dash and one on each of four headrests, he said.

Gawd. That said, this seems pretty unenforceable. Cop sees a light from your dash, he pulls you over and you switch to the GPS channel...
posted by delmoi at 7:24 AM on January 4, 2004


btw, has anyone ever been destracted by Video screens in other cars? I remember trailing this big-ole SUV with a TV for the kids for like a half hour, trying to figure out what they were watching. Some sort of computer animated thing.
posted by delmoi at 7:25 AM on January 4, 2004


Actually, this law is ridiculously draconian and has some utterly absurd holes in it.
...prohibit any person from driving a motor vehicle if a video monitor, or a video screen, or any other, similar means of visually displaying a video signal that produces entertainment or business applications, is operating and is located in the motor vehicle at any point forward of the back of the driver’s seat
Emphasis mine.

Notice that this means if you have someone in the passenger seat acting as navigator with a laptop, some handy autorouting mapping software and tethered to a handheld GPS unit, you're breaking the law. I'm annoyed by this because it's exactly how our family gets around -- despite growing up in the area, neither my wife nor I started driving until this year, and we pretty much don't know how to get from point A to point B without maps. And over the summer we took up geocaching which requires some awareness of map, waypoints, and current location while driving.

Worse still, the exception for navigational aids doesn't cover this situation. It's OK for the driver to use the navigation screen built in to your $40,000 luxury car, but not to have a passenger whip out a laptop to provide the same functions in a lesser automobile:
(b) Subdivision (a) does not apply to the following equipment when installed in a vehicle
Emphasis mine again.

The way this law is worded, a driver is more likely to be in violation if someone else is operating a navigational computer than if they were using that steering wheel mount (which could be argued in court as being "installed"). Ridiculous! I intend to violate this law freqently and flagrantly, and if I could find anyone challenging it I would donate thousands of dollars to the effort right this very second.
posted by majick at 8:12 AM on January 4, 2004


delmoi : I live in NYC and it's always funny to see a limo or SUV full of guys having a bachelor party.

As it drives by, thru the dark tinted windows you can always see the porno video.
posted by radio_mookie at 8:34 AM on January 4, 2004


I commented in that thread about drivers watching TV in cars in Japan. A couple days later a guy was arrested for doing just that, running a red light and causing an accident that killed one. link
posted by planetkyoto at 9:03 AM on January 4, 2004


I wish more states would enact the same type of law.


You'd think that this prohibition was so common sensical that a law banning such a thing should be unnecessary.
posted by gyc at 10:33 AM on January 4, 2004


Merely by driving a car these days, aren't you using a computer?
posted by gimonca at 10:40 AM on January 4, 2004


A couple days later a guy was arrested for doing just that, running a red light and causing an accident that killed one.

For a moment, I thought you were saying that this driver had killed a traffic signal, or maybe a TV!
posted by kindall at 12:44 PM on January 4, 2004


in New York (STATE!) talking on a handheld device (read: cell phone) is illegal.

while this new CA rule is odd and has its problems, at the same time it doesn't go far enough.

the language should be something along the lines of "hands and eyes free to focus on driving" and amount to a lack of distraction for the driver.

yeah, the front seat thing is stupid, but given the state of media, a distinction between still picture (maps, photos) and motion (video) seems necessary. I wouldn't have considered GPS, but it should be ubiquituous, especially with maps & GIS data.

to take the issue to the extreme (within my limited individual perspective, of course) what would the prognosis be for Steve Mann driving in Cali?

http://genesis.eecg.toronto.edu/steve5.jpg

I doubt very much anyone would notice or conceive of the fact that Steve watches video overlay through his glasses. From what I recall reading in Wired it's possible to see "through" billboards, stop motion, etc.

Looking past the Luddite arguments of "if you don't understand it or can't control it, there's an increase in danger" which I fully support... is this not an improvement over driving without integrated video? I mean, maybe the controls need to be mounted to the dash or wheel like cruise control, but couldn't integrated video be used to "see" past the gargantuan SUV about to swerve to avoid stopped traffic and tumble end-over-end across the media into oncoming traffic? how about a city skyline or other landscape markers giving one a sense of direction from an otherwise blocked vantage point?

although I have no personal experience with such devices, it seems logical that integration of sources is safer than single source, whether still or motion picture. in other words video overlayed into your view would always have a significant portion of transparency. since such wearables are designed for use in motion, I'm assuming the priority is for balanced integration, without disrupting standard neural interpretive paths.
posted by gkr at 1:06 PM on January 4, 2004


"http://genesis.eecg.toronto.edu/steve5.jpg"

gkr, in my world alcohol is the "reality mediator".
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:44 PM on January 4, 2004


As majick implies, people seem to focus on the intent of this law and completely miss the danger that laws written this sloppy create. Driving while "distracted" is already illegal in CA (and most other places, I trust). However, this law just made my younger relatives' playing of their gameboy in the passenger seat, my use of a laptop while carpooling to the university, and use of most new cellphones by passengers illegal.
posted by BrandonAbell at 10:05 PM on January 4, 2004


Steve's a gargoyle!

The idea of someone watching television while driving is so ridiculous that I can't believe we have to have laws forbidding it. I felt the same way when laws were passed to outlaw human cloning. Just... weird.
posted by swerve at 10:20 PM on January 4, 2004


Thanks majick! The geocaching looks fun. Motivation to do something besides sit at the computer. In my house, we need all the motivation we can get. There's a cache within walking distance of my house in England. New use for our IQue!
posted by Goofyy at 5:06 AM on January 5, 2004


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