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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Why the Proposed Car Cellphone Ban Is Wrong

Following a multi vehicle crash in Missouri, the nannies at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) want to outlaw using cell phones while driving.

As Frank J. Fleming observes, it's a good thing that cars were not invented today. If they were, the government would never allow them to be built, or allow us to drive them. Too dangerous, too polluting, too much freedom.

But back to the crash that the NTSB doesn't want to go to waste. Glenn Reynolds explains that while the Board places the blame on cell phones, the reality is much different. Let’s start with the impetus for NTSB’s pronouncement: a multi vehicle crash that happened in Missouri in 2010.
A 19-year-old pickup driver rear-ended a truck, and then was rear-ended by two school buses. Two people, including the pickup driver, were killed, and 38 were injured. Although there’s no evidence as to whether the pickup driver was texting at the moment of the crash, he had sent or received 11 texts in the previous 11 minutes.
Texting while driving is dangerous and in my state of Virginia, it's already illegal. But the NTSB wants to go much further including outlawing hands-free phoning.
First, the Missouri crash was largely caused by more mundane safety issues that the NTSB seems to have deliberately downplayed. For all the discussion of the dangers of texting and driving, the NTSB report contains this rather significant finding: “Had the driver of the following school bus maintained the recommended minimum distance from the lead school bus, she would have been able to avoid the accident."

That’s right: Don’t follow too closely, just like they teach you in driver’s ed. And why did the first school bus rear-end the pickup? According to the NTSB, that was “the result of the bus driver’s inattention to the forward roadway, due to excessive focus on a motorcoach parked on the shoulder of the road."
We suspect an agenda that has nothing to do with any particular accident, but the desire to never let a crisis go to waste. There is an hostility to cell phone use despite the lack of persuasive evidence that they have contributed to any meaningful increase in accidents.

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air has a list of things that should be banned before cell phones:
While they’re at it, the NTSB might want to take a look at banning some other distractions to driving, too:
•Screaming children
•Back-seat drivers
•Car radios
•High-beam headlights
•(Actually, I’ll put subwoofers twice, since I hate those things)
•Necking … and worse
He also references a report that shows the a cell phone ban in California has not impacted car safety at all.

The NHTSA report on accidents "involving" cell phones as the cause of fatal accidents is instructive.  In the highlights, the report states that ...
Sixteen percent of fatal crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving and ... of those people killed in distracted-driving-related crashes, 995 involved reports of a cell phone as a distraction (18% of fatalities in distraction-related crashes)..
For the mathematically impaired, let me explain: 18% of 16% is 2.9%. So the NTSB wants to ban cell phones in cars to affect less than three percent of traffic related deaths.

Do we see a trend here?  It has been said that we can't go a day without breaking the law.   This one is for those who haven't broken any of the millions of others yet.  The ruling class can always put your in jail for something.   You're only exempt if you are a member of the ruling class.

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