• Freedom vs. Safety

      Cell Car

      Endless numbers of news articles have told us why America needs laws that restrict cell phone use while driving. It is just intuitive that driving while gabbing on a cell phone is dangerous. Driving demands our full attention: two hands on the wheel, eyes on the road. I’ve gotten tickets for driving with a phone in my hand.

      Hands-free devices, the new cure mandated by our leaders, were supposed to solve the problem, but now the safety nannies say they don’t:

      Here's a shocker: That Bluetooth appendage in your ear isn't doing anything to make you safer. This comes from the Highway Loss Data Institute, which studies such things.

      The nannies explain that it must be the distraction of the phone conversation that’s causing accidents, so we need laws banning all phone use while driving. Again, their argument makes sense.

      I get very distracted talking on the phone. I also get distracted playing with my Dodge minivan’s cool navigation system. I get more distracted switching back and forth between its satellite radio, AM radio, FM radio, and hard drive that stores 1000 songs. I also text when I drive, and eat while I drive. It’s amazing I’m not dead. Maybe all innovation must be banned.

      Of course, I've written about studies that suggest that crashes are caused by distractions like fixing your hair or putting on lipstick.

      Where does this leave us? Today almost everyone has a cell phone. Lots of people fool with new car gadgets. A million irresponsible teenagers text while driving. You'd think there'd be carnage on the roads. But no.

      While the number of cellphone subscribers has rocketed to 270 million in the US – the number of auto fatalities has remained stable, at about 40,000 deaths a year. The US Department of Transportation estimates that 6,000 of those are the result of distracted driving, but it has no specific statistics for phone-related deaths. The number of crashes has also remained steady.

      Maybe humans are just good at adapting to innovation. Despite the studies showing more driving but fewer deaths, our leaders continue to write new laws to "protect" us.

      Junk Science
      Scare Stories