The anti-telephone brigade wants Congress to stop you from using your cell phone while driving. And Congress is listening.
So far, most of the action has been local. So far, few of the many bills that have been introduced in cities and states have become law. But now a House subcommittee is looking into this. There’s a real danger here. If Congress is willing to tell you how much water your toilet can flush, they’re not going to stop at outlawing phone calls. Maybe you’re thinking that the real danger is talking on the phone? That some drivers have even gotten in accidents while talking on the cell phone?
Hmm. I wonder what else might distract you while you’re driving your car. According to an analysis of 26,000 traffic accidents conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, events outside the car were involved in about 20 percent of accidents. Other top factors include eating and drinking in the car (19 percent), adjusting your radio or cassette player (11.4 percent), and distractions caused by other occupants (9.4 percent). Cell phone usage contributed to 1.5 percent of accidents. Adjusting the climate controls was a factor in 1.2 percent.
So what will we ban first? Sipping soda in the car? Talking to a passenger? Turning on the air-conditioning? The fact is, all these things can be done while still driving responsibly. I have an idea. Why don’t we have rules of the road that people have to follow? Drivers could be ticketed if they break them. And if they break them and have an accident, we could hold them responsible for that accident.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.