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    JBN
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    Default In Car Mobile Phone Use

    Talking on a mobile phone hands-free while driving should be banned because it presents as great a risk of crashing as holding the phone, a coroner says.

    Victorian Coroner Heather Spooner suggests VicRoads amend the road safety rules to ban any mobile phone use while driving.

    She also wants authorities to look at developing in-car technologies to prevent drivers from using a mobile.

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    Research shows the risk of crashing using a mobile hands-free is equal to the hand-held use, Ms Spooner said.

    The coroner found Melissa Ryan, 32, was most likely distracted because she was talking on her phone when a B-double truck ran into the back of her Volkswagen Golf on the Monash Freeway in January 2011.

    Monash University Accident Research Centre director Professor Mark Stevenson said 2005 research led to hand-held mobile phone use being banned but the ban should have included hands-free talking.

    'Hands-free mobile phone use while driving needs to be a focus in terms of prevention,' he said.

    Professor Stevenson said ways of blocking phone use in 'a localised field' around the driver are being developed but the system would need to be automated to ensure the ban would be effective.

    'A number of motor vehicle companies are developing automated systems to block incoming and outgoing calls while the vehicle is in use,' he said.

    A spokesperson said VicRoads welcomed the coroner's findings and will consider suggestions pertaining to mobile phone use.

    John (my feelings but not my words)



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    1000+ Posts jo proffi's Avatar
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    Mr Mumford, a truck driver of 34 years' experience, said he had seen Ms Ryan's brake lights working when the flow of traffic had earlier slowed, but likened the drop in speed of the Volkswagen to the driver pulling "on the handbrake without the lights coming on".

    Something does not add up here based on the truck drivers account, and "...was most likely distracted because she was talking on her phone" sounds like a wild guess from a so called expert who has no idea what happened.

    I'd feel better if the coroner said...."We dont know what happened", because the way I read it that is exactly the case.

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    I understand that in NSW it is legal to use a mobile if it is in a holder, not hand held.

    I could not help but notice last week that a lovely young lady who stopped for me at a pedestrian crossing was using her phone. It was not hand held but nestled securely in her (umm) ample cleavage. I am not sure why this caught my eye.

    It looked to be a very reliable cradle. I almost wish I had one just like it, but then again, maybe not.

    You are right JBN, mobile phone use can be very distracting.
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    Similarly the driver should have the right to strap all passengers firmly into the car and gaf tape their mouths shut so as to not distract the driver. Next time you're following a car with two or more people in it, just watch to see how often the driver, if involved in a conversation, turns their head to look at the passenger/s while they're talking.

    Mind you I have on various occasions stopped at traffic lights beside other drivers merrily chatting on hand held mobiles and told them to put the bloody phone down!
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    Quote Originally Posted by michaelr View Post
    I almost wish I had one just like it.....
    I almost wish you did too.

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    Icon12 Placing my hat to one side...

    I'd like to see the depth and breadth of the claimed research.

    For years police drivers have been using in car radio communications, including during pursuits and yes there are exemptions that allow this in most Acts and regulations, but I have no knowledge of this practice causing any problems, or collisions and most police departments have gone away from two up patrols with no reported increase in collisions.

    In the coronial inquiry it seemed more likely that the vehicle that was being driven suddenly lost power/drive and this seems to be at least partly confirmed by the Truck drivers observation that the sudden reduction in speed was like someone pulling on the handbrake and giving no warning of course from the emergency stop lights. The recall of vehicles seems to indicate that some faults of that nature have been reported by owners.

    Certainly some modern touch screen phones and the practice of texting while driving does impose some additional issues even when the device is cradle held as a hands free device, some may be tempted to access features that are distracting.

    The push seems to be towards blanket prevention probably with electronic jamming to prevent use on highways.

    the reason I am a bit wary of claims of "research" indicating hand held phone, is some of the sloppy research done in the USA on the claimed "high" incidence of elderly drivers being involved in driving incidents, in at least one case much statistical emphasis was in estimating daily use of cars by the elderly where the car is driven from the home to a local shopping centre, then taking the higher crash stats of ALL other road users (including the elderly) and producing percentages which effectively made one confirmed elderly incident produce a higher percentage per road miles/km travelled, and then no effective analysis of actual rather than claimed or proven fault or incapacity on the classes of drivers under discussion.

    So easy these days to produce stats to indicate anything you wish, even excuses for insurance companies to impose higher premiums or reinforce young old bias and folk legends.

    I'll leave it to alexander to work on that for a day or two

    Jamming of communications, even if the phone frequencies could be separated from other radio communications may in itself interfere with and cause emergency failures (unintended consequences) that kill many.

    There are more pressing road safety issues including issue of licences only when competencies are established to a standard rule and effect in all states and territories.

    My

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    Quote Originally Posted by UFO View Post
    Similarly the driver should have the right to strap all passengers firmly into the car and gaf tape their mouths shut so as to not distract the driver. Next time you're following a car with two or more people in it, just watch to see how often the driver, if involved in a conversation, turns their head to look at the passenger/s while they're talking.

    Mind you I have on various occasions stopped at traffic lights beside other drivers merrily chatting on hand held mobiles and told them to put the bloody phone down!
    100%. Cars are for driving. Passengers in my vehicle are there with the understanding I will ignore them if the traffic or road demands it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by UFO View Post
    Similarly the driver should have the right to strap all passengers firmly into the car and gaf tape their mouths shut so as to not distract the driver. Next time you're following a car with two or more people in it, just watch to see how often the driver, if involved in a conversation, turns their head to look at the passenger/s while they're talking.

    Mind you I have on various occasions stopped at traffic lights beside other drivers merrily chatting on hand held mobiles and told them to put the bloody phone down!
    I wish for driver controlled ejecting seats.
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    ok, my 8c worth...

    for whatever reason, there is something about Coroners which mean they just love making unfounded pronouncements (which is a bit of a concern in itself), and 'calling' for measures frequently including the impossible, the impractical and the unacceptable, simply because they think a life could potentially saved. obviously, not everything which could save a life is worth doing or even vaguely desirable. i recall years back, after a particularly nasty bus accident near Grafton, nsw, a coroner calling for 'a divided dual lane highway to be built between sydney and brisbane immediately'.

    saying 'research shows that speaking on a hands free is as risky as holding a cell phone', is, as a simple statement, absolutely untrue. there has been some research which says that, but it is not an established fact. when one such report, from WA, was in the news, i had a look at it and found that it defined 'on the phone' as 'having been on the phone sometime in the 10 minutes leading up to an accident'. ie it didnt actually establish that someone was holding a phone at the time. so it didnt actually show what it was said to show in any way at all.

    the claim is also counter intuitive and against personal experience. you only need to hold a phone to your ear while driving to realise that it physically restricts your vision and awareness in a way which is a/ quite significant and b/ in addition to any mental distraction deriving from speaking. in short i would assess this claim as 'stupid'.

    the call for electronic bans on mobile phone use at all in cars also completely ignores the considerable utility to society in being able to make phone calls from the car. which of course may just be the passenger, but obviously the coroner in question hasnt thought of that. it also fails to consider in any way the fact that injury rates are falling, while in car mobile phone use has exploded over the last decade, a fact which obviously does not support the over all idea. all up, i see it as typical of a normal inability to analyse risk outright, or balance it against benefits.
    Last edited by alexander; 16th November 2013 at 06:57 AM.

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    Victorian Coroner Heather Spooner ( I have little faith in that one, remember the school bus belts or banning night time driving for all P platers )


    As Alexander intimated just as the Judiciary are living in some anti reality bubble some idiotic conclusions made by some Coroners must be an attempt at bad humor.
    The family is seriously confused and disappointed with this woman's findings. She found no 'evidence' of faults with the vehicle that Melissa was killed in. The truck drivers testimony must have passed straight through her consciousness as a public officer, as must have the recalls and reports of issues with some VAG products. WTF is she on the VW Christmas gift list or something. How does a phone decelerate a car from 95km/h to just more than 30km/h without activating the brake lights? I own a DSG TDi and I have had no problems but that doesn't mean I don't accept a lot of incidences are popping up with VAG drivetrains. It takes a bit of effort to apply the handbrake and the alert bell goes off, not an inattentive action by any means.
    DS Peter Bellion, of the major collision investigations units 'opinion', that the probable cause of the crash was that Ms Ryan did not adjust her driving to the traffic around her because she was distracted by a hands-free telephone call to a friend, had more weight in the coroners mind than anything else I gather. Suposition and opinion over first hand evidence - brilliant! (not)
    I would put little weight onto anything this Coroner does and question her methodology and her personal agendas before I accepted anything she says.
    I find it of interest that another tax grab was announced by VicRoads with the penalty for using a mobile phone while driving increasing from $289 to $433 and the loss of four demerit points from November 25. All probationary drivers would also be banned from using a hands-free phone. Seriously!
    I have always though that fines in the hundreds of dollars have little impact on the risk/reward behavior of drivers. Seriously how likely are you to be caught by a member of the constabulary using your phone. There is another way perhaps - enforced education and dob in a dic7head, is using a point and shoot camera illegal? I 'like FredGrapes comments but' I have no problem with anyone taking a voice call with a hands free phone as I feel it is less of a risk that talking to someone actually sitting in the passenger seat. The physical involvement in communicating with another person is more than just the spoken word and far too few drivers have the discipline to focus on their driving task whilst having a chat with the person sitting nest to them. A phone does not demand the eye contact ( add hand waving for the Mediterranean decedents ) that another person talking to you does. The problem here is smartphones have too many features for the mentally deficient driver to ignore and they keep looking at the little screens rather than the big one in front of them that keeps the wind and the rain out of the cabin. That they get off without incident most of the time when displaying this risk behavior many that use these devices whist behind the wheel provides them a reward to their crap logic that it is not a big deal. Texting was awful enough - now these totally portable computers are taking the distraction further than ever before. It is a big deal - phones kill people.


    My perspective comes down to the belief that having a drivers licence is a birth right here ( as in a lot of other countries ) with the impost of having morons and the inexperienced foisted by our licencing system on the road system an its users. In Norther Europe the long classroom 'evening classes' and defensive /advanced driving skills required before you are granted an 'open ' licence make our system look like a a Cornflakes packet toy giveaway. So instead of filling the states piggy bank with ineffective fines a user pays system of after hours re-education centers, sounds ominous but is just utilizing the empty after hours school facilities. We have a private industry of driver training 'professionals' so there is a base to create a faculty to deliver a curriculum of driver training. It would create employment for dedicated people to clearly demonstrate to the vast majority of road users that they are actually useless and what a 'driver' is truly required to do ( capable of ). Human beings have a "it won't happen to me" denial circuit, when confronted 'head on' it changes behavior. The repeat offender would be offered ever increasing levels of difficulty and tasks like moping the floor in the local hospitals emergency ward and see close up and personal the messy first hand cost of stupid/dangerous behaviors.


    My gut feeling in this instance is the coroner seems to have had giving the Vic Gov't a free pass to increase fines in her mind than actually doing her job of determining the actual reason Melissa died. Enough said, judges and obtuse coroners just make my blood boil - I just wish we were mature enough as a population to actually change the current tenure system for these idiots. Perhaps then they would actually get out into the real world and see what we have to live in.


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    Melissa was on her phone when she was hit and I see more young women using these devices than I see of the combined age groups of all men in the 80k+ of kilometers I do on the road every year. She didn't deserve to die for being on her phone but was she stupid nonetheless? What is it about 25yo something females that makes them so aggressive / arrogant on the road - I just don't get it.
    Last edited by Fangbosun; 16th November 2013 at 10:04 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fangbosun View Post
    . A phone does not demand the eye contact ( add hand waving for the Mediterranean decedents ) that another person talking to you does.
    How do you manage to get a decedent (Mediteranean or otherwise) to wave their hands?

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    OK. Mobile phone conversations are not distracting. Thats why we have a lot of near misses when pedestrians, engrossed in conversation, cross roads without looking and nearly run into you whilst walking on the footpath.

    Idle chatter to while away the time is distracting. That is not to say it is bad, but it should be confined to appropriate circumstances.

    "Professional" use of on board communications such as mobile police work, taxi drivers, pilots, etc is of a different nature in that those conversations are more of the nature of commands. Short sharp questions and answers, precise in relation to the task at hand, very quick for the mind to process and less distracting than unstructured chatter.

    For my part it doesn't worry me. In the 2CV I can't hear the phone ring. Sometimes I can feel a vibration in my left shirt pocket, which I put to either an incoming phone call or imminent heart attack. My reaction is to grip the wheel and scan the area ahead for a good place to die. If the heart attack doesn't ensue, I completely forget about the phone call as I am too engrossed in enjoying life, looking around and thinking to myself that the world is too good a place to exit just yet. I have no need to phone a friend to tell them of my near death experience. Just a quiet bit of God time is all I need.

    I have become adept at picking the talkers and the texters. The head looking down everytime they stop at the lights indicate they are a texter. The lone driver with the moving lips. If their head moves from side to side, they are talking. If it nods up and down they are singing. If they are Italian, the hand moves as well - open palm for the talkers, closed hand for the conductors. The driver whose face suddenly displays a look of relief when stopped at the lights has just scratched his balls or adjusted his underpants to prevent imminent castration.

    In all, I find observation and deduction of fellow drivers a far more satisfying experience than talking.

    John

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    We have a private industry of driver training 'professionals' so there is a base to create a faculty to deliver a curriculum of driver training.
    some real merit here,

    full time, in school, curriculum for driver training for years 10, 11, 12 students, proficiency to be tested in theoretical and practical exams to sufficient standard to obtain graded license

    to be paid for by fines collected.

    now, something for the MOTORING PARTY Senator to get his teeth into ...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fangbosun View Post
    The problem here is smartphones have too many features for the mentally deficient driver to ignore and they keep looking at the little screens rather than the big one in front of them that keeps the wind and the rain out of the cabin.
    This is a big one, and I really hate seeing people looking into their laps at an obviously concealed mobile phone. They even do it at night, when you can clearly see the glow and reflections from the screen!

    Too many times I've seen people barely in control of their vehicle, and as I pass them, I see signs of mobile use. I find my lungs quite capable of getting their attention in most cases: "GET OFF YOUR PHONE!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by JBN View Post
    OK. Mobile phone conversations are not distracting. Thats why we have a lot of near misses when pedestrians, engrossed in conversation, cross roads without looking and nearly run into you whilst walking on the footpath.

    Idle chatter to while away the time is distracting. That is not to say it is bad, but it should be confined to appropriate circumstances.

    "Professional" use of on board communications such as mobile police work, taxi drivers, pilots, etc is of a different nature in that those conversations are more of the nature of commands. Short sharp questions and answers, precise in relation to the task at hand, very quick for the mind to process and less distracting than unstructured chatter.

    For my part it doesn't worry me. In the 2CV I can't hear the phone ring. Sometimes I can feel a vibration in my left shirt pocket, which I put to either an incoming phone call or imminent heart attack. My reaction is to grip the wheel and scan the area ahead for a good place to die. If the heart attack doesn't ensue, I completely forget about the phone call as I am too engrossed in enjoying life, looking around and thinking to myself that the world is too good a place to exit just yet. I have no need to phone a friend to tell them of my near death experience. Just a quiet bit of God time is all I need.

    I have become adept at picking the talkers and the texters. The head looking down everytime they stop at the lights indicate they are a texter. The lone driver with the moving lips. If their head moves from side to side, they are talking. If it nods up and down they are singing. If they are Italian, the hand moves as well - open palm for the talkers, closed hand for the conductors. The driver whose face suddenly displays a look of relief when stopped at the lights has just scratched his balls or adjusted his underpants to prevent imminent castration.

    In all, I find observation and deduction of fellow drivers a far more satisfying experience than talking.

    John
    I would interested in your take and early warning interpretation of of road-rage perpetrators.

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    I work for a Vee Dub dealer so have kept a pretty close eye on these proceedings. Happy to be corrected on any of these facts though as my recollection isn't quite as good as I remember it....

    First point is that car in question was a manual, not a DSG gearbox that has been in the 'recall' (not technically a recall but splitting hairs). The vehicle was examined, found to have no faults. Bear in mind, they have electronic brains that will show data points - a few years ago a young lady fatally rolled her 206/207 (can't recall which, but an older car all the same) and the cops plugged in and found at the time of the accident exactly what speed the car was doing when it rolled and she was found to have been at fault. Same for the Golf.

    I fundamentally do not understand how the truck driver was not charged by police. I was always under the impression that if you didn't leave sufficient space between you and the car in front, that is, the car in front could jam on the brakes and you ought to have left enough space not to hit it, then it was YOUR fault. No two ways about it, the truck driver did not leave enough space, should be neg driving at very least. Since when do we take the bloke who 'rammed' a woman off the road's word for it that he didn't see any brake lights?.

    Yet at the very first instance, the family even said they apportioned no blame to the truckie. I find that remarkable. They placed it entirely with Volkswagen and the car, even though nothing was found to be wrong. They are wrong to say no evidence was taken on board about the 300 reports of sudden loss of power. The coroner in fact delayed her findings by weeks to examine these reports even though these reports applied for the most part to cars equipped with DSG gearboxes, prompted by media reports about the original case.

    Does a DSG equipped car stop suddenly IF it develops a fault? In a word, no. It causes the gearbox to go into neutral. I don't doubt if I was on the wrong side of the road passing a B-double and that happened I wouldn't be a bit worried, but if you take reports that "my car stopped from 100km/h to 0 in 3 seconds" you'll realise of these 300, a fair few were just full of merde. You'd be hard pressed to get a GT3 to stop in that time by jamming in the brakes! But the story, thanks to VW's non-existent response, got a life of its own, with anecdotes taken as fact all over the media. Google "BMW sudden loss of power" or "Ford Focus sudden loss of power" and you won't want for results, yet not a peep about those cars being "like a deathtrap."

    As for the hands free v holding debate...my own experience would say I KNOW I cam not able to concentrate as much when using hands free as when I have passengers, in fact, I no longer take calls in the car at all as I have frightened myself at my lack of awareness. This gives a brief outline http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/1...ssengers/?_r=0

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    As a former smoker I think smoking while driving is a distraction .What happens to a cigarette in a crash .It will end up on the floor somewhere.

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    Quote Originally Posted by iluvbrownale View Post

    As for the hands free v holding debate...my own experience would say I KNOW I cam not able to concentrate as much when using hands free as when I have passengers, in fact, I no longer take calls in the car at all as I have frightened myself at my lack of awareness. This gives a brief outline http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/1...ssengers/?_r=0
    Entirely agree - I have been quite disturbed on occasion how bad my driving gets when speaking on the 'phone in the car.
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    Quote Originally Posted by robmac View Post
    I would interested in your take and early warning interpretation of of road-rage perpetrators.
    I haven't really been involved in any road rage incidents, except perhaps one, so its still a study in progress.

    That one incident was in a 3 lane suburban 70 kph zone. A small flatbed ute was in the left lane going faster than the middle lane. I changed to slip in behind him, preferring his speed. Mid way around a left hand curve, he applied his brakes hard, the rear brakes locking up (no load) producing smoke. I flicked the 2CV into the middle lane just missing having an accident with him. He then comes alongside and abuses me for driving such a vehicle on a public road. Being a bantam weight, I didn't react. I understand that some hate 2CVs.

    I was lucky there was a gap for me and I was lucky that I constantly update my memory map of the surrounding traffic always looking for escape routes. In that case there wasn't time to look if the coast was clear. Instinctively, I figured being hit on the side or from behind was better than running into a flatbed. Quick reactions are neccessary ability if you want to stay alive driving a 2CV. It is a car that can be flicked at any speed without falling over. Momentum is your friend. Hit the brakes and your manouverability and steering are crap. I treat all utes as suspect and they are enemy until proven otherwise. A lot of small trucks/vans (< 3 ton) are in the same category. The occasional 4WD, particularly on wet days, when they think they are bullet proof.

    I don't categorise drivers as potential road ragers, but I do pick up on the way others drive and put them in the "stay away from this guy" category. Drivers that vary their speed when sitting behind another vehicle (accelerating then backing off then accelerating). These people have poor vehicle control and are trying to push the driver in front to go faster or get out of their lane. Other drivers that have the same intention but keep their speed and distance constant until a gap opens up and then they pass and move on display good control of their vehicle and their patience. I place those drivers into a "follow him" category because I can see that he is alert, reading the traffic and taking advantage of opportunities to get some clear space where he can drive at his pace.

    I am wary of cars full of young guys, particularly Skylines and Lancers. Not road ragers but road ratbags. Most are inexperienced and are better drivers in their imaginations rather than in reality. Young women can also be aggressive. I worry that in an emergency, their Plan B may be too much emotion and too much brake.

    The drivers that always throw me (because they are driving well) are the ones that momentarily flash the red and blue lights on an unmarked car, just to let me know who they are and that a drop in speed may be a good idea. I always take top quality advice.

    John

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    Quote Originally Posted by JBN View Post
    I was lucky there was a gap for me and I was lucky that I constantly update my memory map of the surrounding traffic always looking for escape routes. In that case there wasn't time to look if the coast was clear. Instinctively, I figured being hit on the side or from behind was better than running into a flatbed.
    Quote Originally Posted by JBN View Post
    I don't categorise drivers as potential road ragers, but I do pick up on the way others drive and put them in the "stay away from this guy" category. Drivers that vary their speed when sitting behind another vehicle (accelerating then backing off then accelerating). These people have poor vehicle control and are trying to push the driver in front to go faster or get out of their lane. Other drivers that have the same intention but keep their speed and distance constant until a gap opens up and then they pass and move on display good control of their vehicle and their patience. I place those drivers into a "follow him" category because I can see that he is alert, reading the traffic and taking advantage of opportunities to get some clear space where he can drive at his pace.
    Good ways to stay alive! I'm trying to train myself into similar habits. I don't want to die, and I don't want my cars smashed!

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    Quote Originally Posted by FedGrapes View Post
    Good ways to stay alive! I'm trying to train myself into similar habits. I don't want to die, and I don't want my cars smashed!
    I would say that no one wants to die on the roads. Just don't focus on death and accidents. Train yourself to always be aware of escape routes. Understand your car and its and your capabilities in all circumstances. That probably means you scare yourself at times, but it is nice to know your limits.

    Most of all, drive with confidence. As in other things in life, self belief is the edge that explains why some survive when others don't.

    John

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    Quote Originally Posted by iluvbrownale View Post
    I work for a Vee Dub dealer so have kept a pretty close eye on these proceedings. Happy to be corrected on any of these facts though as my recollection isn't quite as good as I remember it....

    First point is that car in question was a manual, not a DSG gearbox that has been in the 'recall' (not technically a recall but splitting hairs). The vehicle was examined, found to have no faults.
    You are probably right, especially as it was a manual.

    The problem is, VW is conservative with the truth when it comes to DSG problems. A brilliant concept, let down by sub par engineering (which I'm sure will be rectified in the next generation). When VAG adopts the deny deny deny stance (while knowing there are massive problems), it is hard to believe anything the company says.

    Dave
    2008 Renault Laguna 2.0 dCi break
    ​1997 BMW K1200RS

    IR655
    (George Bush Snr): "I'll never apologize for the United States of America. Ever, I don't care what the facts are."


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    1000+ Posts jo proffi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 68 404 View Post

    The problem is, VW is conservative with the truth ..

    I like that... I'll add that to my list, which already includes 'conservative use of melody' to describe amateur singers fumbling their way through a jazz standard, or 'conservative use of harmony' when the guitarist doesn't know the chords.

    Jo

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    dvr
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    Phone usage whilst driving should be treated the same as PCA. Automatic driving suspension upon first offence with increasing periods of disqualifications for subsequent offences.

    It has a major effect on concentration. And as noted earlier professionals using 2 way have short, purpose laden conversations often with protocols such as "over" after finishing a comment.

    In my previous occupation I often saw the aftermath of fatalities after phone related crashes (hate the term accidents).

  25. #25
    1000+ Posts Kim Luck's Avatar
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    So I wonder if listening to "Betty in the Back", my dulcet toned female navigator hiding inside my 'phone makes me more or less dangerous than someone trying watch a moving map display whilst driving?
    Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone............

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