Telephoning and driving

I agree with the National Transportation Safety Board and with the following editorial in today’s New York Daily News:

Driven to Distraction

The National Transportation Safety Board—asserting that distracted driving killed 3,000 Americans last year—has called for a total ban on the use of cell phones and other devices.

Even if handsfree, while driving.

We are still combing through the evidence that talking to someone, even if over speakerphone or Bluetooth headset, is more dangerous than, say, telling a screaming 4-year-old to be quiet or else.

But suppose for a moment the NTSB is right.

How are we supposed to retweet that hilarious tweet about that thing?

How are we supposed to razz our Patriots fan friend on the way home from the Jets game?

How are we supposed to settle a bet about Robert De Niro’s career by checking Wikipedia?

How are we supposed to download the newest farting app?

How are we supposed to order delivery when we’re 10 minutes from home rather than waiting until we get there, thus saving precious minutes of our lives?

Oh, the humanity.

[end of editorial]

Yes, there are many people who use cells phones carefully while driving their cars. But in my view conducting a telephone conversation or sending/receiving text messages is inherently at odds with the act of driving. A telephone conversation inevitably draws a person’s attention away from his immediate environment, and thus is inherently dangerous when done by the driver of a moving vehicle.

I recognize that enforcement of such a law is problematic. Yet the fact remains that no matter how convenient or pleasant it may be, no matter how much time it may save, telephoning and driving do not mix.

- end of initial entry -

Jonathan W. writes:

I agree that driving and using a cell phone to make calls or texts is dangerous, and should be prohibited by the states. However, I don’t think it’s a federal issue, and I don’t support any efforts by the federal government to use the threat of loss of highway funding as a vehicle to coerce the states into implementing the ban.

LA replies:

Good point. I agree.

Roger G. writes:

The Joe DiMaggio Highway and a Western interstate are entirely different propositions. That’s why the Founders, in their wisdom, made the NTSB illegal.

LA replies:

That’s clever and sounds good, but is it correct? The very purpose of the Constitution was to provide a national authority for matters that transcended the individual states and that the individual states did not have the ability to handle on their own. A common coinage was one such matter. Interstate commerce was another. The prohibition on tariffs between the states was another. Modern transportation technologies that connect the entire nation in one unified network are quintessentially, within the thinking of the Founders, matters that properly fall within the authority of the Congress and the federal government.

At the same time, this obviously does not mean that all issues relating to transportation should fall under federal authority. I agree with Jonathan W.’s point that the use of cell phones by drivers is an issue that, like speed limits, properly falls within state and local, not federal, authority.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 15, 2011 05:22 PM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):