Cell Phones and Driving: Brace for Impact?

I’m not certain libertarianism is a workable governing or political philosophy. Maybe Ron Paul will demonstrate that one way or another in the next few months. But I kind of endorse the idea of libertarianism as a way to live your life, even as the Inside the Beltway crowd continue their navel-gazing over the proper role and extent of the federal government.

Here’s a blurb from the Institute for Human Studies, trying to define libertarianism:

The libertarian or “classical liberal” perspective is that individual well-being, prosperity, and social harmony are fostered by “as much liberty as possible” and “as little government as necessary.”

Hey. I’m down for that — at least in principle. Although I recognize that not everyone can stand up in a crowded movie theater and shout “asshat” just because there are seven or eight previews before the feature flick begins. I digress.

When I was teaching media ethics at Kent State, I discovered that advertising majors tended to be the strongest and most vocal libertarians. Should you ban commercials that promoted unhealthy cereals and snacks for children? Nah. Parents just shouldn’t buy the crap. Government regulations on smoking? Nah. If you want to kill yourself, have at it. If you don’t appreciate cigarette or cigar smoke, wear a gas mask or go somewhere else. And so on.

So here comes another issue that tests the ideals of a libertarian. The National Transportation Safety Board yesterday called for a nationwide ban on cell phone use while driving. And here goes any hope I ever had of being elected president, I agree with that. It’s dangerous. It puts others at risk. And is it really necessary?

Here’s the NYT story, “U.S. Safety Board Urges Cellphone Ban for Drivers“:

A federal agency on Tuesday called for a ban on all cellphone use by drivers — the most far-reaching such recommendation to date — saying its decision was based on a decade of investigations into distraction-related accidents, as well as growing concerns that powerful mobile devices are giving drivers even more reasons to look away from the road.

As part of its recommendation, the National Transportation Safety Board is urging states to ban drivers from using hands-free devices, including wireless headsets. No state now outlaws such activity, but the board said that drivers faced serious risks from talking on wireless headsets, just as they do by taking a hand off the wheel to hold a phone to their ear.

And Deborah Hersman, chairwoman of the N.T.S.B., an independent federal agency responsible for promoting traffic safety and investigating accidents, said the concern was heightened by increasingly powerful phones that people can use to e-mail, watch movies and play games.

“Every year, new devices are being released,” she said. “People are tempted to update their Facebook page, they are tempted to tweet, as if sitting at a desk. But they are driving a car.”

The agency based its recommendation on evidence from its investigation of numerous crashes in which electronic distraction was a major contributing factor.

Ms. Hersman said she understood that this recommendation would be unwelcome in some circles, given the number of drivers who talk and text. But she compared distracted driving to drunken driving and even smoking, which required wholesale cultural shifts to change behavior.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m driving and I see the person in the car behind me thumbing the steering wheel with one hand while using the other to press the cell phone to his/her ear, my asshole sphincter closes tighter than Scrooge’s wallet at Xmas. Just sayin’.

Couldn’t we just return to a kinder and more gentle time when the primary form of communication among drivers was to extend the middle finger — and smile?

 

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One response to “Cell Phones and Driving: Brace for Impact?

  1. Amen, Brother!!

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