Nanny State Czar Continues Anti-Cell Phone Crusade

Cell phone users, beware! Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s crusade against distracted driving, which includes consideration of an outright ban on cell phone use in vehicles, is back in the news.

Recently, the Department of Transportation and Consumer Reports launched a “partnership,” that — with the help of educators — aims to inform teens about the dangers of texting and talking on cell phones while driving. The campaign will include Public Service Announcements to be aired nationwide, explaining the consequences of such activity. Considering the dismal record enjoyed by our public education system in actually educating students about anything, one wonders whether the program will achieve any level of success.

Meanwhile, Consumer Reports released a poll revealing – not surprisingly – that a majority of young drivers talk on cell phones while driving; 63 percent of those under the age of 30. Thirty percent acknowledge texting while driving. The numbers for older drivers are much lower, with 41 percent admitting to talking on the phone during their commute, while only nine percent acknowledge texting.

With the hyperbole that has become the hallmark of his tenure at the Transportation Department, LaHood recently told the Associated Press, “distracted driving has become a deadly epidemic on America’s roads.”

All of us, especially perhaps parents, should take an active role in urging drivers – and especially teen drivers – to be mindful of distractions caused not only by use of cell phones or texting devices while driving, but all manner of activities people pursue behind the wheel. However, forcing the American people to conform to behavior determined by a government bureaucrat to be in our best interest, is not the solution; in fact, it is not the job of the federal government in the first place. But, tell that to LaHood.

During his time in the Obama Administration, LaHood – a former Republican Congressman from Illinois – has employed his position as a bully pulpit to target cell phone users; even though studies from the Highway Loss Data Institute show that cell phone and texting bans do not necessarily decrease car accidents.

LaHood, however, continues to press his agenda, as the de facto Nanny State Czar for the Obama Administration. You can be sure we haven’t seen the last of this plan to tell American drivers they can no longer use the cell phone or other electronic communication device they paid for and own, while driving in their own cars, on roads paid for with their tax collars.

by Bob Barr — The Barr Code

71 comments Add your comment

VietVet

March 25th, 2011
6:06 am

The Highway Loss Data Institute methodology was flawed. It only measured handheld cell phone use in critical situations like exit ramps, and didn’t address hands-free cellphone use at all, which has been shown to be just distracting as handheld cellphone. So stop with the Nanny State business, I want to be protected from people are driving distracted by technology, just like I want to be protected from drunk drivers. Only government can do that job.

arnold

March 25th, 2011
6:30 am

There is a place in our lives for government. The constant commentary that government is bad and doesn’t know what it is doing is foolish verbiage. But, then again, there are wing nuts with a mouth and very little intelligence.

Obamasuxit

March 25th, 2011
6:36 am

VietVet: Just as many wrecks are caused by people fooling with their radios, looking at distracting billboards, eating while driving, fooling with the gps, etc. So should we ban all that also? I get the idea that LoHood is trying to make, however the government can’t do the simplest task correctly. Plus people like you think & assume when there is a law on the books that those things will never be done again. I can bet you $20 at some point yesterday & today you were speeding on a road, people like you who go to fast also kill innocent people, so slow down. Get the point yet?

VietVet

March 25th, 2011
6:45 am

I get the point – Obamasuxit is an emotional cripple. Hiding behind his childish blogging name he offers to make a bet? How stupid is that. He says he knows what “people like me think and assume” from one comment I made. Lame, lame, lame. Without citing any data he claims just as many wrecks are caused by radios etc. Weak. He is indeed a mouth with very little intelligence.

James F

March 25th, 2011
6:57 am

VietVet: Security and protection is all well and good, but the cost of that security is the big question. You mention how you want to be protected from drunk drivers, so I figure you support the DUI checkpoints that localities set up on big drinking weekends, right? I say that because DUI checkpoints are definitely violating the Constitutional right of unreasonable search and seizure. People are forced to take a breathalyser with no reason to suspect them of a crime outside of the fact that they were driving on that road at that time. That should be unlawful search and seizure, however the courts ruled that the nation’s need to be protected from drunk drivers outweighed the Constitution. Where does that kind of ruling end? If the government decided that speeding was too dangerous, should they be allowed to put GPS devices in every vehicle and send them tickets anytime the vehicle gets above 10 mph over the speed limit?

VietVet

March 25th, 2011
7:10 am

James F – You figure wrong, I think random checkpoints are an unwarranted intrusion on our liberties. To all you partisans, right and left, stop trying to divided the world into opposing camps. There are only two types of people in this world, people who think there are two types of people and people who don’t. I don’t and therefore I can see a lot more clearly than people who do.

Parrots

March 25th, 2011
8:05 am

Bob Barr is………using reverse psychology. The phrasing drips with satire. Of course it all goes WAY over his reader’s pointed heads.

No, I know what Bob Barr is saying this day: Driving diverted is a divisive issue. Like take sexting. If you’re going to be in the car while sexting, then at least do it from the back seat of the car where it belongs. (while parked).

However, not even sexting from the back seat of a parked car is safe. Let me tell you all what happened to moi this one time, at blog camp: I was parked on the side of the road, sexting from the back seat, when a cop pulls up behind me and starts writing me a ticket. I said, “And just why RU writing me a ticket? I’m parked.” That’s when I noticed that one of my blow up dolls had floated over and into the driver’s seat…and she was TEXTING!!!

Look, officer, I can’t keep up with all of my blow up dolls, and we’re all parked anyway. WTF? (It turned out that I had left the engine idling cause it were cold outside).

Why does everything happen to moi?

Poor Boy from Alabama

March 25th, 2011
8:08 am

Mr. Barr,

I often agree with you, but you’re totally out to lunch on this one.

Driving while texting is every bit as dangerous as driving while legally drunk.

Car and Driver magazine, not exactly a nanny-state publication, did a simple test that proved this a while back:

They tested the reaction times for drivers when they were sober, texting, and legally intoxicated. Driver reaction times when texting were actually worse than they were when folks were legally drunk. Those slower reaction times resulted in longer stopping distances that could easily be the difference between a safe stop and a rear end accident.

http://www.caranddriver.com/features/09q2/texting_while_driving_how_dangerous_is_it_-feature

It’s not too much to ask folks to put away cell phones while they’re operating two ton projectiles at high rates of speed.

jt

March 25th, 2011
8:40 am

The government has a place for all who demand their protection.

You frightened weasels will love it………………………not.

the watch dog

March 25th, 2011
8:42 am

I just saw a large picture dated today of Mayor Kasim Reed greeting USDTS Ray LaHood who presented him with a check for 47.6 million in TIGER11 funding for the Atlanta Streecar project. I have always been impressed how well money works when it comes to leading the public down the highway to nanny statism. States simply do not want to discourage the officials that hand out the money.
All of the above being said, the no texting states of Arkansas, Texas and Mississippi have higher accident rates than Lousisiana where texting is allowed.
The NHTSA found that highway fatalities are at their lowest levels since the 1950s. I see that as an enviable record.
I see the ban on texting and talking while driving as another act that continues to erode our 4th Amendment rights. All our liberties are gradually disappearing and soon there will be none to be found.

DebbieDoRight

March 25th, 2011
8:55 am

I said, “And just why RU writing me a ticket? I’m parked.” That’s when I noticed that one of my blow up dolls had floated over and into the driver’s seat…and she was TEXTING!!!

OMG!! too funny!! Thanks for that! You are a breath of fresh air!!

DebbieDoRight

March 25th, 2011
8:58 am

Does anyone remember what Bob Barr used to do before he became the esteemed leader of this blog? oh wait, now I remember he worked for the GOVERNMENT!! And, if I recall, if not for being defeated during a bid for re-election, would still be more than happy to work for the (shiver) GOVERNMENT!

Do you think Barr may be suffering from government envy?

Carlosgvv

March 25th, 2011
9:02 am

Talking on cell phones while driving has been shown to be as dangerous as drinking and driving. I do not want to be killed by a distracted driver just to satisfy your idea of what a “nanny state” should or should not do.

Black and White Smiley Faces ☺☻

March 25th, 2011
9:24 am

The more people like VietVet who we have posting here, the more aspirin we’ll all need.

Viet Vet

March 25th, 2011
9:30 am

Truth hurts.

Civilian

March 25th, 2011
9:35 am

DebbieDoRight
“Do you think Barr may be suffering from government envy?”

Great post Debbiedodo…that sure showed Bob. Way to go after him with your intellectual superiority. When you don’t have anything usesful to contribute…fill it with mindless drivel.

DebbieDoRight

March 25th, 2011
9:37 am

When you don’t have anything usesful to contribute…fill it with mindless drivel

Yes, you do that a lot don’t you?

Spock

March 25th, 2011
9:43 am

If you have been driving a car in the last 5 years, you have witnessed a distracted driver on the cell phone either talking or texting. Statistics (as already posted) and common sense confirms that this is a problem … just as drunk driving is dangerous. Bob…Rather than droning like an old hen about a “nanny state” … maybe you can offer some solutions to what a rational person can see is a problem. I think you just prefer to whine since you are no longer electable and solutions elude you.

Civilian

March 25th, 2011
9:44 am

Yes, you do that a lot don’t you?

Great come back ddd…now say…”sticks & stones…”

Old Physics Teacher

March 25th, 2011
10:13 am

Any dual activity, for example: walking AND talking at the same time, has an effect on both tasks. There is no such thing as multi-tasking – period! That has been confirmed over and over and over. The poster comparing tuning the radio to talking on a cell phone is valid. You could also make the case concerning talking to another person in the car and cell-phone use if it’s done hands-free. You may not like it, but it is truthful and a valid comparison. As far as comparing simple conversation to drunk driving… well… it doesn’t pass the “smell test.” If it sounds stupid, it probably is. Both activities take cognitive ability away from driving – but so does turning your head to look at your passenger. Don’t we encourage car-pooling? Do you really think 4 people in a car commuting to work won’t talk to the driver and distract him/her? Get real! A drunk driver has impaired decision-making ability as well as reduced reaction times. Not only may he change lanes right into another driver because he doesn’t see them. He also will pull out because he thinks it’s a valid activity! Drunk driving and talking to another person does not equate to each other. I’m with Bob here (and that’s not always true).

Now texting???? Looking down at a tiny keyboard, talking your hands off the steering wheel, focusing on the conversation – all of this while your vehicle is moving AT ANY SPEED (much less highway speed) is criminal and should be discouraged at the point of the crime – right then! A few drivers put in stocks – or worse – would solve this problem quickly without interfering with my “inalienable rights.”

Eric

March 25th, 2011
10:17 am

Mr. Barr, I’m usually in agreement and with and often comment favorably on your articles. As before, I’m glad you are bringing these issues to the public’s attention. The use of cell phones while driving is one of those “gray” areas that need to be debated–the rights of citizens vs. gov’t protection. I do use my phone when I drive IF it’s not congested with traffic. Otherwise, I turn it off. Don’t know if others use this line of judgment?

However, I wish you and Kyle would please stop bashing the public schools! Did you know the AJC just reported that students being admitted to Georgia Tech must have a 3.90 GPA and a 2100 (out of 2500) SAT score. Sure the public schools are doing something right then!

Viet Vet

March 25th, 2011
10:44 am

Old Physics Teacher. As a scientist, I think you’ll be interested in some research concerning the similarity between impairment caused by drunk drinking and that caused by cellphone use. Here’s a link to start, but there have been plenty of other studies done. http://www.distraction.gov/research/PDF-Files/Comparison-of-CellPhone-Driver-Drunk-Driver.pdf

Hillbilly Deluxe

March 25th, 2011
11:21 am

There is no such thing as multi-tasking – period!

Amen to that. Anytime you do two or more things at once, the quality of one or more of your tasks is going to suffer. Most of us don’t want to be the victim of somebody trying to do everything at once, while driving. If they want to talk on a cellphone while using a chainsaw, let ‘em have at it.

Vince

March 25th, 2011
11:26 am

Stop the use of cell phones in cars. And the use of car stereos. And eating in the car. And talking to other people in the car. And trying to control children in the backseat. Please have a new lane added to all highways that will allow drivers to pull over and stop so they may change their minds without affecting their driving.

uga_b

March 25th, 2011
12:14 pm

I think a lot of you have missed the point. Bob recognizes the dangers of texting while driving. He highlighted that the ban itself does nothing to decrease wrecks, which is true. You erroneously attribute that to mean that not performing these tasks does not decrease accidents. In reality, the ban does not stop the behaviors.

Sleep deprivation also has the same effect as alcohol or texting. As mentioned by others, there are many distractions built into the car as well as other activities that take place. Like talking to a passenger and making eye contact.

Bob has said previously that he supports tickets and other legal options for wrecks. He is just pointing out another Nanny State campaign.

mike

March 25th, 2011
12:15 pm

Obviously most of these do-gooders are have never been rear ended by someone on their phone while driving. Or ask the kid’s parents who was run over and killed by the teen girl texting while driving some years ago in Gwinnette county. I think if you talk on the phone while driving it should be with a handsfree device. From what I see on the local highways here, people cannot drive and talk at the same time. I don’t care who makes or enforces a law, I would rather be safe.

Old Physics Teacher

March 25th, 2011
12:21 pm

Viet Vet: Oops! I’ve mislead you. I don’t disagree that cell phone use distracts the driver. The study showed this to be true. I’ve been driving (at admittedly too high a speed) and following (pacing) another driver down in South Georgia on I-75, and had the driver in front drop her speed 15 – 20 MPH. When I passed her I saw she had just answered her cell phone and was talking away.

The important part of the study – to me – showed drunk drivers were significantly more aggressive in driving habits. Which I believe is far more of a serious action than simply talking on the phone. Most drivers slow down ( maybe only subconsciously – but they still do slow down) . The study also showed 60 MPH for “in city” driving. That’s far too fast for safety – 90 feet per second is extraordinary high speed (yes, I know the public drives that fast “normally” – that’s why I-285 is a death trap)! The point I was trying to make – and apparently didn’t – is that messing around with the radio dial, talking to the person beside you (or in back), messing around with the temperature control, etc, etc, etc, is also distracting and we, as a society, consider that acceptable. I would much rather the punishment for drunk driving AND texting (which is a deadly act while driving) be severe AND immediate – not send the guy to court 2 years later and have his very expensive lawyer distract some jury of bleeding-hearts, or worse, to allow him to get off with 2 – 3 years of probation. The punishment needs to be immediate and appropriate to the consequences of his/her act.

As far as me answering my cell phone while I’m driving, I would rather the government make sure the roads were wide enough and numerous enough so that I wouldn’t have to sit in traffic when I’m forced to come into “The City” and keep their nosy morality out of my bedroom, AND the inside of my car as long as I haven’t harmed anyone else.
Just MHO.

BTW, it’s nice to have a civil conversation with someone whose opinion differs from mine. That’s rare in this day and age.

And BTW again, thanks for your service to our country!

Old Physics Teacher

March 25th, 2011
12:22 pm

oops; sorry again. I meant drunk driving OR texting

Patriot

March 25th, 2011
12:32 pm

The bans don’t decrease accidents because people continue talking and texting but do it further from their clear line of site (like in their laps, etc.). This means more time with eyes off the road and even more distraction from the responsibility they should be focussing on – driving. Liability and permitting actions by driver’s insurance companies would go a lot farther than fines, etc. Not having your insurance pay for the accident you caused while texting would teach everyone a great lesson about taking responsibility while operating a one-ton potential death machine.

Bryan

March 25th, 2011
12:42 pm

There’s a line between libertarianism and anarchy. Bob’s waaaay over it today.

Driving while texting is an action that has been shown to lead not only to the wrongdoer’s death, but to the deaths of random strangers. A law prohibiting that action is within the ordinary, proper, and entirely reasonable purview of any government — it is one of the few things that government absolutely SHOULD do.

When that nonetheless leads you to scream “nanny state!” and “government over-reach!,” you’re no longer on the “libertarian” side of the line — you’re no longer calling for small government, you’re calling for no government. You’ve driven over the line into anarchy, and gotten yourself totally lost.

So stop. Pull over. Look in your glovebox, and see if you can’t find a map off of your island and back to civilization. We’ll wait here.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

March 25th, 2011
12:44 pm

Good afternoon all. Given that the Department of Transportation has no raison d’etre, suspect the chief bureaucrat LaHood is trying to make the government relevant through intrusion.

Dr. Pangloss

March 25th, 2011
12:54 pm

Way to go, Bob! You got the phrase “nanny state” into the headline! No waiting for the actual text!

Having had a car totaled (with my whole family in it) by an Atlanta woman talking on her cell phone, I can only hope that you enjoy a similar encounter with a cell-phone-addicted driver. It has been proven over and over that driving and phoning simultaneously is just as bad as driving drunk.

And, no, it’s not the same as listening to the car stereo as long as you don’t try to change CDs while the car is in motion.

Libby

March 25th, 2011
12:54 pm

Sorry Eric – they just made the tests easier so we won’t notice the dumbing down of our society.

I lived in Atlanta before wide spread cell phone usage – they couldn’t drive then either!

Viet Vet

March 25th, 2011
12:55 pm

Old Physics Teacher, I really appreciate you taking the time to read the study. You make some valid points about the relative dangers of driving drunk vs distracted by cellphones or other means. Driving drunk is worse. But driving distracted, not matter the cause, does endanger others and in my neighborhood, I encounter a lot more cellphone drivers than drunk drivers. My motivation for responding to this article was to chastise Mr. Barr for trivializing this issue by dismissing valid concerns simply by applying a condescending name to it. And thank you for your service in the classroom, teaching science is not for the faint-hearted or feeble minded.

Ezra

March 25th, 2011
1:00 pm

Everytime something terrible happens to someone, another person shouts,”There should be a law against that!”. It is called sympathy laws and we have too many already. How many have complained about GW’s wars and yet in one year more people died in auto accidents than in all the years of GW’s wars. That is how MAAD got started. That is how DDT got banned but liberals dont mind killing two million people a year with malaria. The list goes on…sympathy laws. Unconstitutional yes, but activist judges know better than the forefathers. I just want my freedom and government out of my life. You do not need to look after me that is what my pastor does.

Pandering to Dullards

March 25th, 2011
1:07 pm

However, forcing the American people to conform to behavior determined by a government bureaucrat to be in our best interest, is not the solution. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah government blah blah blah blah blah blah bureaucrat blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.
Is it a law reasonably crafted to enforce a legitimate issue of public safety? Yes.
Is having to park your car to use your cell phone a burden that outweighs the benefit to driver safety? No.
Ok, that’s decided. Next issue, please.

Pandering to Dullards

March 25th, 2011
1:10 pm

I wanna put a live MX missile in a silo in my backyard. Statistic show that no nuclear holocaust has resulted from private individuals being able to own their own warheads. Therefore, the ban on ownership is stupid and unnecessary government intrusion into our lives by bureaucrats. Solid logic, right, Bobby?

SaveOurRepublic

March 25th, 2011
1:17 pm

More overly empowered fedgov intrusion on our lives.

uga_b

March 25th, 2011
1:29 pm

Pandering to Dullards, nice bombast. Using your same logical construct, we should ban pretty women from running because they cause accidents!!!

Draw the line

March 25th, 2011
1:32 pm

Cell phone use causes accidents. No denial. But, where do we draw the line? Fast food causes accidents. Smoking causes accidents. CHanging the song on your iPod causes accidents. Looking at GPS causes accidents. To some, oral pleasure causes accidents (aka Pam Anderson’s famous video). Changing the radio station causes accidents (just ask my sister who had her car totalled by a red light runner changing the station). Exactly where do we draw the line??

barking frog

March 25th, 2011
1:39 pm

people, including truck drivers, have been using cb radios for years.
cell phones are no more distracting than cb’s.

Ah, Duh!

March 25th, 2011
1:40 pm

Eric, “students being admitted to Georgia Tech must have a 3.90 GPA and a 2100 (out of 2500) SAT score. Sure the public schools are doing something right then!”

Ga Tech is a private university and not part of the GA State University System. A large majority of GA Public School children attend HOPE funded GA University locations, where the GAP and SAT scores are about 1/2 that of GA Tech. I see the point you’re trying to make, but you may want to use another example to try to make it.

Old Physics Teacher

March 25th, 2011
1:59 pm

Viet Vet:

Are the drivers in your neighborhood of the teen-age/college age variety? If so, I most humbly apologize. I would rather walk through the jungles of Viet Nam wearing an orange jumpsuit carrying a starter pistol for defense than ride in the presence of those individuals ;)

I understand your concerns for distracted drivers; I don’t have a solution; I wish I did. If “the government” would hold liable the individuals who injure others while driving dangerously, we wouldn’t have this problem as a society. Unfortunately the defense, “I’m sorry; I didn’t MEAN to do it.” has become an acceptable ‘excuse.’

This should be, and was at some time in the past, a self-correcting problem. If I hurt/killed a family member of yours, another family member of yours would see to it that I never did that again. We have ‘evolved’ past that point to where, now, the government/legislature feels that it is “their” responsibility to prevent me from doing something that they believe is “in my best interest.” Heinlein said it best: “No one ever asks for a law to be passed that would stop THEMSELVES from doing something harmful. They want a law passed that would prevent someone else from doing something that they don’t like.” I don’t think government is the problem; I believe the legislature IS the problem!

Have a great weekend!

beebee

March 25th, 2011
2:22 pm

THANK YOU MIKE!

And I don’t care what you women out there may say, call me sexist or whatever … but I am so sick and AFRAID of all these babbling, yapping females who rush up on me driving 80+mph morning and evening during RUSH HOUR obvlious to the traffic patterns around them all the while yakking away with those cell phones glued to their ears! makes me sick! ! !

TALK TALK TALK! YAK YAK YAK! I wish you’all would put both hands on the wheel and pay attention to the roads!

You Drama-filled, gossiping nitwits!

Bryan

March 25th, 2011
2:48 pm

@Draw the Line: And where do we draw the line the other direction? If (a) changing radio stations causes accidents and (b) driving drunk causes accidents . . . shouldn’t we allow both? How can we possibly draw a distinction between the two?

Well, easily enough, actually. One’s a significant problem, and the other is not. While I hear your slippery slope argument, I just don’t think this slope is likely to slip.

Dr. Pangloss

March 25th, 2011
3:32 pm

In Bob we see the difference between liberals and libertarians. Liberals are mostly okay with somebody smoking a joint, hiring an escort or practicing a funny religion, but we draw the line at people dying a horrible, useless death.

Dave

March 25th, 2011
4:00 pm

VietVet – just another standard obnoxious lefty that launches into personal attacks on anyone who disagrees with him. Doesn’t provide any data whatsoever to show that cell phone use is any more dangerous than any other distracting activity while driving. Doesn’t cite anywhere in the Constitution where the federal government has the authority to tell drivers what to do in their cars.

Fools like him think that just because there’s a law on the books, it will correct the problem. There are laws against speeding and making illegal u-turns. They still happen. What he doesn’t understand is that when you make a law against doing something which doesn’t harm anyone else, it gets ignored.

The best way to fix the problem is through the private sector – let people eat the cost of the damage they do when causing an accident, and they’ll start paying attention quickly.

Dave

March 25th, 2011
4:05 pm

Pangloss – a horrible death from what? Getting into an accident with a distracted driver?

If that’s what you’re worried about, then you’d damn well better be on-board with a proposal to remove radios from cars. In fact, let’s make all cars one-person vehicles, so that conversation doesn’t distract the driver. No more family trips with Dad turning around to yell at the kids in the back seat (because that’s distracting).

Government-worship is a religion to you people, isn’t it? Believing that government can do no wrong and that just because there’s a law on the books means the problem is fixed and you can go home? Ever heard of the Law of Unintended Consequences? Ever thought through any of your foolish proposals to see where they might lead?

Of course not. Your first, last and only thought is: “Let’s make a law…”

Bryan

March 25th, 2011
4:07 pm

It’s worth noting — though I think this discussion is dead — that operating a motor vehicle is not a right. As such, it’s hardly odd to suggest that the government can require you to operate that vehicle safely.

Let me give you an example. Why does the government get to say that I have to go 35mph on that stretch of road near my house with the kindergarten on it? I want to go 50! I can safely go 50 — I’ve gone 50 everyday for years without an accident, and I only rarely see a kid run out into the street. Why does some bureaucrat with some gussied up idea of “safety” get to infringe my right to drive my car however I see fit?

Because that’s the tradeoff for getting to drive a car — you have to follow the traffic laws. And if I get pulled over for going 50, I’m not going to scream about freedom and nanny state and other such nonsense. (I’m going to grumble about quotas…) In the end, I broke a reasonable and ordinary law — nothing to complain about.

A cellphone ban is similarly a traffic law. You don’t like it? Take a cab — where you can sit in the back seat drunker than a New York City fireman, talking on the phone while doing a crossword and flossing. But if you instead choose to drive…

Dave

March 25th, 2011
4:14 pm

Bryan,

It would be safer for everyone if we all drove 35mph everywhere. School zones. Local roads. Interstates. Probably better for gas mileage too, which would cut down on demand for gas and ultimately lead to lower gas prices.

So why not? Because 1.) it doesn’t hurt anyone that I drive 60mph or 80mph on the interstate and 2.) getting to places slower decreases my productivity. A 35mph speed limit in a school zone is a limited restriction for a specific purpose. A blanket cell phone ban while driving is not.

Pretty sad that so many Americans are so unconcerned about the mounting restrictions on their freedom. We truly are in a period of national decline.

Bryan

March 25th, 2011
4:34 pm

@Dave: When you begin with “just another standard obnoxious lefty that launches into personal attacks on anyone who disagrees with him,” I know you’re a troll. No one could be that blindly hypocritical.

But despite my “don’t feed the trolls” policy, I do want to address one point you made (perhaps accidentally). You say that the private sector should cover injuries — that we should allow tort law, rather than criminal law, to cover public safety.

So how long would that radical experiment take to break down? Oh, about five minutes, by my watch. It would last right up until a poor man got drunk and ran over a rich man. This act — which would not be criminal, in your world, but rather only tortious — would of course bankrupt the poor man. Yep, he’d be out $50, his wrecked car, and the lint in his pocket. Oh, I suppose if he ever sobered up and got a good-paying job, he’d feel the pinch — but otherwise he’d be off scot-free. Because this man is what we call “judgment proof,” he’d quite literally have a license to kill.

Of course, you COULD require him to carry insurance — but whoa whoa whoa, what’s the government doing requiring someone to meet some “insurance mandate” before they drive? Freedom alert, freedom alert! Call the Tea Party, organize a rally. Or you could require him to be sober before driving, and impose criminal penalties for refusal — but if we do that, we’re practically Josef Stalin!

You get where I’m going with this. The private sector sounds like a panacea to people raised on a diet of wild, anarchist bile — and there are things that the civil courts do well. (You…do realize that if you want to enforce your system, you’ll need government courts and sheriffs, right?)

But there are also things that require government — and tort law will never be able to replace criminal law for things like regulation of traffic rules. And just as criminal law prohibits speeding and drunk driving, it can take reasonable steps to ban other types of dangerous driving behaviors.

Now get back under your bridge.

Bryan

March 25th, 2011
4:39 pm

@Dave (4:14): Yes, the government has drawn an appropriate balance in speed limits. Also, it is seeking an appropriate balance for cell phone usage — reflecting the input of studies and the opinions of people like yourself.

A tragedy this is not.

Dave

March 25th, 2011
4:42 pm

@Bryan,

Hey retard – I never said requiring insurance or having laws against robbery, rape and murder were bad ideas. There’s a place for government, and there are things that only government can do (national defense, justice system, etc).

That’s a far cry from having some puffed-up bureaucrat tell me when to talk on the phone, how many vegetables to eat or what color to paint my living room. The last 3 fall into a category you’ve probably never heard of before called “stuff that doesn’t affect anyone else”.

And before you get on your high horse about “other types of dangerous driving behaviors”, why don’t you take a moment to explain how “distracted by a cell phone” is any different from “distracted by your kids” or distracted by your radio” or “distracted by your cheeseburger” or “distracted by your makeup” or “distrated by your friends in the back seat”.

Unless you can, then maybe you should think a bit harder before telling other people what behaviors YOU think are ‘unacceptable’.

Bryan

March 25th, 2011
5:28 pm

@Dave: Troll harder — I don’t think you’ve quite got the knack. A good troll is funny, or interesting, or at least maddening. Saying stupid things insultingly…meh. I suppose everyone needs a hobby — and at least with this one you’re interacting with people (your counselor would be proud). But I don’t think you’re funny or smart enough for it.

To your “arguments.” You can’t do things while driving that significantly endanger others — whether it’s drinking or smoking pot or talking on a cell phone. Behaviors that have been shown to significantly raise the risk of deadly accidents are illegal, because they’re not “stuff that doesn’t affect anyone else.” They’re “stuff that can kill someone else.” You want to do those things anyways? Tough. Move somewhere else.

Ok, enough feeding an obvious troll.

Sally

March 25th, 2011
6:27 pm

I want to be protected from people with screaming kids in the back seat. Ban all kids in cars.

saywhat?

March 25th, 2011
7:21 pm

The people who want to text and drive or talk on their cellphone and drive should get their own lane for only them to share with those who want to drink and drive. The single lane could be used for travel in both directions, with high concrete walls to protect these freedom loving Americans from the nefarious Nanny-staters. God bless them freedom loving Americans, every one!

Brian

March 26th, 2011
1:00 am

It could be incorporated into law that even having any kind of electronic device in a vehicle would be illegal but the distracted drivers would just find something else to be distracted about; just like before these devices were invented. The people that were easily distracted by a miniskirt or shirtless boy-wonder would be weaving down the roads again. It’s a matter of priorities. Have drivers get that straight and there will be less problems. Priority 1) Maintain control of the vehicle! Priority 2) Maintain control of the vehicle! And so forth. Continue this line of thought until the time comes that when a person is talking on the phone, they’re barely paying attention to the call and would either drop it in the passenger seat or throw it in the passenger floorboard as I have done several times. When conditions require total concentration and probable evasive actions, the call has just ended (at least temporarily). .. There will always be defective drivers. Get used to it. B~)

[...] Nanny State Czar Continues Anti-Cell Phone Crusade | The Barr Code. This entry was posted in Opinion and tagged Cell, cell phone users, Code, Continues, Czar, [...]

O'Really?

March 26th, 2011
6:08 am

“You can be sure we haven’t seen the last of this plan to tell American drivers they can no longer use the cell phone or other electronic communication device they paid for and own, while driving in their own cars, on roads paid for with their tax collars.”

So, Barr, can I assume you also think that people have a right to drive down the road shooting a gun just because they paid for and own it and their taxes paid for the road? Just trying to follow your logic.

Parrots

March 26th, 2011
8:02 am

One thing about driving while distracted is the effect that drivers have on each other. One thing that distracts me is how other drivers lean into turns. Even if the road curves just a little bit, they lean over like it’s tryouts for the Jamaican Bobsled Team. If it’s a couple sitting cozy-close on the front benchseat of a pickup truck, then the two will lean in tandum. What do these lovers do when they drive in a subdivision? “Put on a crash helmet, Martha, it’s a cul-de-sac”!

Dr. Pangloss

March 26th, 2011
10:33 am

O’Really?
March 26th, 2011
6:08 am

“You can be sure we haven’t seen the last of this plan to tell American drivers they can no longer use the cell phone or other electronic communication device they paid for and own, while driving in their own cars, on roads paid for with their tax collars.”

So, Barr, can I assume you also think that people have a right to drive down the road shooting a gun just because they paid for and own it and their taxes paid for the road? Just trying to follow your logic.
———————
Of course, Bob thinks that. He thinks anything is okay if a gun is involved.

Oma-Rob

March 26th, 2011
11:32 am

A friend of mine put it thus: “personal rights of any individual end when they infringe upon the rights of another.” which I agree with.

The fact is, Mr Barr and all others who think this is a witch hunt or going overboard, you are upset because someone would dare ask you to put down your PDA/Phone/Mobile TV/Texting device/MP3 player/internet portal while you are driving, so as to put the people in front of you and around you at less risk that you will be distracted when MY kid or loved one happens to be in front of your Esclade. Are you kidding me?

If that is your line of reasoning then consider this: let the pilot flying your next flight take off and land while sending an “o-so important” text or updating their facebook status; allow the school bus driver who is driving YOUR kid to school casually dial their bff while bombing down the expressway; allow the dentist who is drilling your tooth to also have an intense conversation with a family member on their hands free device; or allow YOUR 16 yr old the opportunity to free talk/text/watch VAmpire diaries on their 4G phone that you got them for their birthday. Don’t worry: none of these situations could POSSIBLY produce a PREVENTABLE death or injury.

Oh, and when you go to the funeral of someone you love who has been killed by one of these ridiculous reasons and somone like you, Mr Barr, is calmly waving their flag of freedom in the background, consider this: you consider just about anything that you do in a car an inalienable right.

Bottom line: if you don’t trust ME to do it safely, then why should I trust you? P.S. the annual deaths caused by these distractions are real, flesh and blood Americans too and they did not have to die. Why don’t you point to the next 5000 or so that will die this year and give them a heads up that you REALLY need to make a call in your car.

Oma-Rob

March 26th, 2011
11:37 am

Oma-Rob

March 26th, 2011
11:56 am

A friend of mine said this: “Personal rights of any individual end when they infringe upon the rights of another.” which I agree with. Mr Barr sees this differently, I believe. In his mind- nothing that you may want to do while operating a car should be illegal. Just look at what your phone does:

It is an MP3 player, an internet portal, a Facebook status updater, an email client, a mobile television, -oh ya- and a phone. So which of these are we talking about Mr Barr? Do these studies that look at the most common uses of the device (talking and texting) which overwhelmingly support the idea that they do distract and they do cause needless injury/harm/death each year on the roads become overshadowed by the few that may contradict them? And speaking of that contradiction, if you cause a serious crash yourself while talking or texting on your phone would you hop out of your car & offer that information to the other drivers? Probably not.

Take it a step further and consider this: is it ok for the pilot of your next flight to talk & text while taking off and landing the plane you are on? Is it ok for the person driving the bus that your kid is on? How about the for the trucker who is on a 14hr haul and who is pointed towards the intersection you are entering with your baby in the back seat? Should your dentist be drilling on your teeth while having a rather intense conversation with a family member on his hands free device?

You can pretend that 5000 humans or so cease to exist each year because of people who have to take that call or want to text their bff- but you would be wrong. Maybe you need to stand at the grave of your son, your daughter, your spouse while you wave your flag of freedom above them and say, “We did it for the next call. Good job.” Or maybe you need to understand that if you are a responsible adult, then be responsible for the 1-2 tons of steel and glass that you pilot every day and pay attention to that; not the crap that can wait until you have pulled over.

Dr. Pangloss

March 26th, 2011
4:28 pm

Dave, you’ve fallen into the imperfect world fallacy. Things aren’t perfect; therefore, this particular incredibly cruddy thing has to go on.

Tracy

March 27th, 2011
4:30 am

The irony of this story is the fact that just 2 days ago I literally had to drive into the emergancy lane on 285 because of some about coming right over onto me.

That person, was on a cell phone.

90% of the time I want the government out of my life, but in this they’re doing what’s truly in the best interest of everyone who gets behind the wheel.

Rightwing Troll

March 27th, 2011
9:59 am

In this case it’s less about the government protecting you from yourself, and more about the government protecting me from you. Some people are just too stupid to realize that they CAN’T do two things at once and become a danger on the roads.

Parrots

March 27th, 2011
11:56 am

Bob Barr was using reverse psychology, you morons. He’s baiting you trolls into making fools of yourselves, (even though that boat has sailed).

Read his article again. He’s not that subtle, but you mutants are that stupid.

bwa

Tragaperras

March 28th, 2011
1:25 pm

Very informative post. I have already bookmarked your site. I am very lucky today as I have found many interesting websites like this one and Como jugar a las maquinas tragaperras. Keep up posting!

Party casino bonus code

March 29th, 2011
6:11 am

You completed a number of fine points there. I did a search on the subject and found a good number of people will have the same opinion with your blog.

driving is a privilege not a right

March 31st, 2011
10:16 am

The problem is HORRIBLE driver’s ed. They teach answers to a test….they do NOT teach HOW TO DRIVE. Too many people don’t take it seriously enough, and while I have no problem with them killing themselves behind the wheel, I take issue when they take out OTHER PEOPLE or their own family because they think they are invincible and own the road. We need to adopt tougher driving test standards and more driving instruction. Not everybody who has a car should have one. If you can afford to buy tires with actual tread on them….you need a bike. If you can’t afford to repair the headlight that got knocked out when you hit the bollard at KFC drive-thru…..you need a MARTA pass. Driving is a PRIVILEGE….not a right. Sadly the police are too inept to punish bad drivers and allow way too many sensible drivers to get hurt or killed. But goshdarnit the revenue from handing out tickets means safety! *eyeroll*