Tarry for the Nonce

June 1, 2006

T-Mobile Objects

Filed under: Rambles — lmwalker @ 3:18 pm

‘Twas only a matter of time before those pesky lawmakers decided to legislate a convenience right out of existence:

The proposed Lawrence ordinance up for discussion Monday by the Traffic Safety Commission would ban the use of both hand-held cell phones and hands-free cell phone devices by motorists . . .

I think, initially, people assumed that the problem with using a cell phone while driving was the holding of the phone and the dialing of the phone, but now the body of research is suggesting that the conversation itself is the major distraction, [Russ] Rader [a spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety] said.

So let’s ban conversation! And radio! And children! And those stupid TVs screens that have found their way into the newer vehicles! Honestly, why doesn’t Uncle Sam just leave people alone and let them shift for themselves? We don’t need him to mommy us.



  1. See, that’s the problem with setting up a Traffic Safety Commission — they can never just say, “Well, driving and living in general are risky, and there’s nothing worthwhile we can do.” So they keep banning things, assuming everyone has the skill level of the most dimwitted driver.

    And you don’t have to go to Kansas, either. The same busybody alderman who banned using a phone while driving in Chicago* is now saying that he’d like to ban other things, like reading or drinking coffee. (Obviously, one shouldn’t drive while finishing up the New York Times crossword puzzle, but you could be pulled over for reading directions.)

    Of course, as far as I’m concerned, nothing beats Ald. Joe Moore successfully ramming through a ban on foie gras. Cruelty to geese, dontchaknow — it’s OK to kill them, but not fatten them first. Isn’t it nice to know that Chicago is such a safe, clean, well-managed city with superb schools that our elected government has time to worry about the livers of French poultry?

    * Not that I’m not grateful for the extra sales of Bluetooth headsets.

    Comment by Toly — June 1, 2006 @ 5:07 pm

  2. To be fair, I’ve heard that it isn’t the conversation per se, but the fact that the person on the other end isn’t in the car with you. The conversation mentally pulls you partially out of the car, and in a dangerous situation, someone talking to you in the car would at least know to hush up for a moment and alert the driver.

    It’s probably best if people pull over into a parking lot or side street if they need to call for directions (or consult a map or whatever), but with so many damn cars, that isn’t always feasible either. I guess the fine isn’t such a bad solution as long as it’s just barely enforced, and only in egregious cases — just enough to make people minimize the time they spend on the phone in the city. Hmm. Cops can’t magically determine “egregious cases” though. Bah. My other solution is to let insurance companies handle it by raising rates for people who cause accidents (which they do anyway). But you have the same problem with identifying whether someone was really at fault, or whether talking on the phone was really what made the difference. Man, it’s too late for me to come up with ingenius social policy. I’m going to bed.

    Comment by Chrispy — June 1, 2006 @ 10:54 pm

  3. Well, I am eternally upset about paternalistic mandatory seatbelt laws, but this kind of rule seems like common sense to me.

    If a condition is known to create extremely dangerous driving conditions for others, e.g. drunk driving and cell phone usage, then that condition should not exist on public roads. I don’t care if the idiots kill themselves, but leave me and other innocents alone.

    Comment by Troy — June 5, 2006 @ 9:48 am

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