TeeJaw Blog

NHTSA Wants to Ban *ALL* Cell Phone or other Portable Device Use in Cars

Posted in Government and Politics by TeeJaw on Thursday, December 15, 2011, 1: 28 AM

This is the crash that provides the excuse for the latest outburst of fatuous bromides from the  safety Nazis.  This might come to be called the 11-11-11 crash.  Eleven people were killed in this crash when a teenager ran up the back of an 18-wheeler tractor right after sending 11 text messages in 11 minutes. [correction — only 2 people killed, 38 injured.  Lots of photos of the crash here]   As liberals always do, they blame “things” when it is people who are the problem.  Here, they blame the cell phone, but it was the teenage driver that did this.  Banning cell phone use while driving, even if that were possible, would not solve the problem. Careless and inattentive drivers will continue to be careless and inattentive no matter how many laws are passed attempting to ban their “stuff.”  The corrective action to prevent this sort of thing needs to be focused on the real cause, the careless driver.

Banning cell phone use by the 100 million people who can manage to use a cell phone while driving without causing an accident because a very few can’t or won’t is the  stupid solution; the smart solution is to find ways to make careless drivers act more responsibly, and leave alone the good drivers who aren’t a problem.

Technology is overtaking this anyway.  You can now text with an iPhone simply by speaking to it.  Soon you will be able to do that on just about any cell phone.  That means you’ll be able to talk to your wife, text your girlfriend, buy or sell stocks, or send flowers to your mother without taking your eyes off the road or your hands off the wheel.

I guess you shouldn’t talk to your wife husband and text your girlfriend boyfriend at the same time, though.  At least not with a speak-enabled phone.


5 Responses

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  1. Ken Spiker said, on Thursday, December 15, 2011, 10: 39 AM at 10:39 AM

    As a libertarian I usually agree with you on issues like this, but this time I can’t. First, the people who want a new law are not blaming the cell phone. It may be common sense that you can’t use a cell phone and still have enough attention left over in order drive a car, but people will do it anyway unless there’s some penalty. Hands-free devices actually use about as much of a driver’s attention as actually punching in numbers so technology isn’t going to solve this problem. Try initiating a text message to a specific number on a hands-free phone by means of verbal codes and see if you have enough attention left over to avoid the pedestrian in front of you. I’m not a total libertarian. There are enough morons in our society we have to have some legal protection from them. Same with guns: anybody should be able to own a gun, but firing willy-nilly in an urban area just can’t be permitted (outside of course shooting the thug who’s breaking into your house).

    • TeeJaw said, on Thursday, December 15, 2011, 11: 21 AM at 11:21 AM

      Sounds like you agree that the problem is people (morons, your term) and not inanimate objects. But you still support the ban.

      Would you also ban hands-free devices? Almost every new car since 2009 has blue tooth so you an talk hands free and answer and end calls with buttons on the steering wheel. Do you want to ban that also? What about listening to an audiobook on an iPod while driving? How about car radios? Are they next? And then talking to a passenger riding with you? Gosh, you could get into an argument with your passenger and think about the distraction that might result from that. What about a mom transporting her unruly children in the back seat? Soccer moms with the whole team in her van? I mean, hey, shouldn’t we make damn sure we’re safe from all the morons?

      I’m not kidding about the soccer mom problem. On May 13, 1998 my very good friend was walking down a wide residential street with no traffic, good visibility on a mild day, and even though he was on the right side of the road well out of the traffic lane he was struck and killed by a soccer Dad bringing his five children home from a soccer game while they were all talking excitedly about the game they had just played. Looks like we better have a law against kids in cars speaking to each other. Children are to be seen and not heard. Might distract the driver.

      In fact, to be sure we’re safe hadn’t ought to ban soccer games? This stuff does proceed incrementally, step by step until we wake up one day and all freedom has been ceded to the government.

      Ken, I hope I haven’t been too forceful in this reply. I do appreciate your comments.

  2. Ken Spiker said, on Thursday, December 15, 2011, 1: 00 PM at 1:00 PM

    Maybe we should ban children. As W.C.Fields says, “Anybody who hates dogs and little children can’t be all bad.”

    People have been worried about the microwaves from cellphones causing cancer, but there’s hardly any evidence in support of that while by far the most severe negative effects of cell phones are the injuries and deaths from accidents by people using cell phones in cars. But in a way you’re right: it’s very hard to design laws to prevent from drivers from being distracted and I also cringe at the expansion of the nanny state. Though I might argue that talking in a car with passengers is different than having a conversation on a phone. With passengers you can just leave off talking when you have to deal with driving, you can just make grunts in answer to questions and of course you don’t have to dial or manipulate any device. I do have a cell phone but use it only when my Phoebe calls me to pick up stuff at the store. When I”m driving I’ll answer but I pull over to talk. I wouldn’t want to risk breaking any law just answering a call which might be an emergency, so I have reservations in my support for the ban. Driving involves managing a lethal amount of metal hurtling down the streets at 30 or 40 or 60 MPH and the consequences of an accident to innocent civilians are potentially huge. I really think that the majority of drivers just don’t appreciate the danger and the necessity for concentration.

    And no, you have not been too forceful. I appreciate your forcefulness. No spin zone!

  3. TeeJaw said, on Thursday, December 15, 2011, 1: 50 PM at 1:50 PM

    The safety Nazis pose a real and insidious danger because they mask their true intentions behind the need for safety. We all care about our own safety more than anyone else ever could and so we’re always going to listen to someone who presents themselves as caring about our safety. Especially if they point out a danger we had not or could not have foreseen, but which we can immediately recognize as a legitimate concern. An example would be someone warning us that the road is washed out ahead. We’d know that they probably aren’t trying to con us.

    The problem is that human beings universally have a serious flaw in wanting to control the lives of others. The motive can be anything from the trivial satisfaction of lording themselves over other people, to the seriously gruesome motive of holding life and death power over others and the gaining of wealth for themselves at the expense of their subjects. Anyone with doubts might want to watch the movie The Lives of others. The extras on the DVD contain an interview with the director that is priceless.

    The appeal to safety is a cunningly treacherous way for people to hide what they’re really trying to do. We should always view with skepticism anyone’s claim that we must agree to a limitation on our freedom out of the need for our own safety and that of others. This is doubly true when it’s the government, and double that again when we are told something harmless in itself is actually going to kill us because we or others are too dumb to handle it.

    A red flag should go up anytime the impetus for some new restriction on freedom is some calamitous but isolated event, such as this 11-11-11 crash. Public policy should never be made in the emotional turmoil of tragic events.

  4. Don’t Let The Nanny State Take Your Cell Phone Away « TeeJaw Blog said, on Friday, December 16, 2011, 10: 17 AM at 10:17 AM

    […] December 16, 2011, 10: 17 AM The horrible pile up in Missouri the other day, I’ve called it the 11-11-11 crash, is the perfect excuse the nannies at the NTSB were waiting for. They’re using it to try to […]

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