Thursday, January 22, 2009

To ban or not to ban 

The National Safety Council wants a total ban on cell phone use (including hands-free) while driving, saying that 636,000 crashes a year can be blamed on cell use.

I'm pretty deficient in the math department, but I'm not convinced the roads are more dangerous because of the phones. Consider these numbers:

Now, I know, that's correlation, not causation. But could other variables (anti-lock brakes? road improvements?) make such a huge difference, given that it seems like about 30% of drivers are now on the phone at any given time?

But a secondary -- and I think more convincing -- point is this: People will do dangerous shit while driving. If they're banned from using their phones, they'll do something else dangerous, like eat, shave, blog, watch DVD's, or sleep.

In fact, the NSC itself seems to inadvertently support this argument: (my emphasis)

Talking on a cell phone may be less distracting than some other activities people may engage in while driving, but the use of cell phones and texting devices is much more pervasive, making it more dangerous overall...
Right....unless they all stop talking on their cells, and start doing the other, more dangerous things.

So for the moment, should we just leave not-so-well enough alone?

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