The National Safety Council (one of those private but sounds-like-it’s-the government “interest groups”) wants to see cell phone use in cars banned.
I hate sail fawns, too. They’re annoying and they’re over-used. Society got along perfectly well without them as recently as the ’90s. But banning their use in vehicles is the automotive equivalent of gun control: It blames a tool, an inanimate device, for the idiocy of those (always a minority) who cannot handle that tool responsibly.
The real problem isn’t cell phones. It’s the degraded quality of the average American driver; the might-as-well-be-nonexistent training – and testing – that we require before we let people get behind the wheel. And the system that does nothing meaningful to take objectively bad drivers (that is, the ones who actually cause accidents) off the road, while endlessly harassing drivers who have never caused any harm but who “speed.”
The Safety Council says that flapping your gums on a cell while driving is very much like drunk driving; that it works out to a degree of impairment comparable to having a BAC level of .04 to .06 – which is close to the legal minimum necessary in most states to be convicted of DUI.
But here’s the thing: The DUI/DWI standard has been dumbed-down, too. It used to be (about 20 years ago) .10 or .12 BAC – a standard that was arrived at not by pulling a number out of a hat (or caving to pressure from hysterical “moms”) but by examining accident stats. It was determined that actual accidents – real ones, not theoretical “might have happeneds”- correlated to BAC levels of .10 or higher.
So – reasonably – the law reflected this.
Then came Mothers Against Drunk Driving. (You know that anything with “Mothers” in its title is not going to be reasonable – right?)
No surprise, a campaign of emotional blackmail caused state DUI/DWI standards to be revised downward to the point where BAC levels that used to be legal – because there was no evidence of a real-world correlation with actual accidents – became evidence of “drunk driving.”
Most of the drivers ensnared manifested no outward signs of “drunk” driving – other than blowing into a Breathalzyer. They just got caught up in sobriety checkpoint dragnets; otherwise, they would have gone unnoticed – and made it home without incident. The actual facts about BAC levels and accidents (again, real ones) supports this irrefutably. In fact, while the cops are manning sobriety checkpoints, the handful of real drunk drivers – those with BAC levels of /10 or above, the ones who will cross the double yellow into your lane and kill you – now stand a better chance of getting away with it, because there are fewer cops on the road to find them.
But MADD fixates on theoretical risk – ever diminishing – and always based on the least common denominator. The least able, the most marginally skilled driver.
And so it is today with sail fawns.
Take one borderline inadequate driver. Add a cell – or a frozen margarita over dinner – and, presto! Now you have an accident waiting to happen. But take away the cell (or the margarita) and you still have a marginal driver. Who is still an accident waiting to happen.
Just slightly less so.
Conversely, take a high-skilled driver. Add one margarita over dinner – or cell phone chat – and you’ve still got a driver with a higher skill level than the didn’t-have-a-drink, not gabbling on his sail fawn marginally skilled driver n the example above.
Who is the more likely to run a light and t-bone your car?
And yet, we focus the law and all its punitive powers not on the actual danger but on the assumption that everyone is an imbecile and ought to be treated accordingly.
The problem with that is there’s no fixing stupid. You just get more of it – and aggravate the hell out of the people who aren’t.
Maxim: A little skill goes a long way. Much longer – in terms of public safety – than yet another Band Aid law designed to protect the least common denominator from itself.
And us from him.