Monday, January 12, 2009

Anybody know what this calls for?

From this morning's Houston Chronicle...

WASHINGTON — A national safety group is advocating a total ban on cell phone use while driving, saying the practice is clearly dangerous and leads to fatalities.
States should ban drivers from using hand-held and hands-free cell phones, and businesses should prohibit employees from using cell phones while driving on the job, the congressionally chartered National Safety Council says, taking those positions for the first time.

Anyone know what this calls for? *channeling Ben Stein* Anyone? Anyone?
Thaaat's right...some good old-fashioned jury nullification, especially in the cases in which the offender was not driving in a manner which would cause anyone immediate harm. I've talked on the cell phone while driving and ridden with people who have done it as well, and I have not been in any accidents or felt less safe due to anyone talking while driving. All of which leads me to think that "cell phone use increases the risk of a crash fourfold" is a line of nanny-state horseshit. And even if it's true, the risk would seem to be infinitesimal in the first place, considering how many people own cell phones and drive in the United States. I could almost agree with increasing penalties for accidents that happened when someone was talking and driving, but still I am a bit uneasy. Let the insurance companies assess those penalties, not the government. And I am sure I am not the only one who thinks that the local and state governments would view a talking-while-driving ban as an ATM of sorts, just as they could very well see the laws enforced by the municipal courts right now. In any event, it's worth asking to what extent we want to let these busybodies micro-manage our lives — and to what extent it's worth giving up our right to do as we please as long as we're not putting anyone at risk. I know that last bit is the key to it, but I just don't believe the risks posed by talking while driving are worth passing any more laws against it. And I hope our legislators at all levels see it like that, but to the extent the feds like to dangle the carrot of federal funding for various endeavors — i.e., "if you don't pass these laws you don't get this money" — I am not very optimistic.