Is the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) trying to diminish your liberty?
The NTSB has released a new study that claims distracted drivers cause 600,000 crashes and kill around 3,000 people a year. They are now pushing for state governments to take action. The NTSB has called for a ban on using cell phones while in the car. This includes texting, but also includes using hands-free technology for talking or texting. Robery Sumwalt, a NTSB board member has gone on the record stating, “In regarding distractions due to electronic devices, if we don’t act now how many lives will we lose in the next 30 years. I don’t think we can afford to wait an entire generation to change this.”
The NTSB has no regulatory power against you, but they do have a heavy influence on American politicians. No politician wants to be seen as being against something that is said to be such a tragic taker of life.
One fortunate thing about living in Texas is that most regulations that hit other states seem to take longer to trickle into our political arena. In our more conservative state, passing something like this statewide would be a challenge.
My thoughts, for what it’s worth:
Just a few weeks before releasing this statement, the DOT pointed out that traffic fatalities on U.S. highways have reached their lowest level since 1949. They tout this as a success of regulations and policies put forth by the government. At the same time, they seem to dismiss this number by saying less people are driving less miles per year due to the economy.
What does this have to do with texting and driving? At the same time as they are calling this an epidemic, traffic accident fatalities are at an all time low. It always seems that things get hyped in the name of saving lives when, in the big scheme of things, it’s not causing that many fatalities.
I’m not arguing that texting and driving is dangerous, just that there is no point on specifically banning cell phones in cars. If you are driving distracted, we already have laws on the books to take care of you. Plus, banning cell phones all together seems to be overkill. The people that ignore the dangers will most likely ignore the laws.
We now have great technologies like Bluetooth, talk to text, and many talk to update status out on the market. All these technologies are in place to help and remind you that you don’t have to have a small device in your face distracting you from doing your job behind the wheel.
How exactly will we be able to enforce this? Will you get pulled over for talking to yourself in the car for suspicions of talking on a hands free phone? If my wife shoots me a quick text to bring home some bread, can I not shoot back a quick “k” while I sit at a traffic light? How can it be proven in a court of law after the fact? Are we going to have the state be able to pull phone records anytime they feel that you’ve been texting while driving? People who are going to talk and text now are not going to be swayed much by a statewide ban.
Some cities have already started on their own, by voting citizenry, implementing texting bans. Take Arlington, Texas for example. Or take the no cell phones in school zones in Dallas and many other areas. These are more local, but still bring about problems.
We do need to educate people, especially young drivers. We need to educate them not just on paying attention while driving, but on how to be better drivers. If the NTSB released their statement to help educate the people and try to influence the individual to not drive and text, I would have no problem with it. It’s the pushing regulations, laws, and bans onto the states that bothers me.