Monday, December 19, 2011

Driving While Distracted (DWD) - Stop The Regulation Insanity!

With the recent news that the NTSB wants a ban on cell phone use while driving, including the use of hands free devices, I think it’s time to bring some sanity to the insanity of over regulation.

While I believe that texting while driving a car, truck, bus, or train is inherently dangerous as it can not only take a driver’s hands off the wheel but also their eyes for too much time, the suggestion to ban hands free cell phone devices is just plain ridiculous. Talking on a cell phone while driving and using hands free device in the process is no more distracting than driving with a passenger in the car. Granted, sometimes having a passenger (or passengers) in the car can be a distraction, but  the NTSB hasn’t suggested a ban on having passengers in a car or any other motor vehicle...yet.

If banning hands free cell phones comes to pass, maybe the NTSB should look at these other behaviors that can distract drivers:

1. Eating/drinking beverages while driving: – Admit it, everyone has seen a driver weaving down the road while drinking a cup of coffee or chowing down on a sandwich.

2. Applying makeup while driving: I’ve never had the urge to do this myself, but I have seen other women apply mascara while driving. Scary.

3. Having a radio/music player in the car: In the late 1960s, some kid trying to change the channel on his radio lost control of his car and demolished my parent’s mailbox as he went off the road. Imagine if we had a law banning changing radio channels in the 1960s – this accident would have never happened (sarcasm intended).

4. Changing the heating/cooling settings while driving: Sometimes it’s hard to see the controls, and I admit I must take my eyes off the road for a second to change them. Maybe if we didn’t have the ability to heat or cool our cars, there would be no accidents! (more sarcasm)

5. Putting purses, bags, briefcases, or any non-human object in the front seat: Sometimes things shift off the seat while driving, and sometimes people lean over to pick them up. Case in point: a Miami cop drive up a utility pole when he bent over to pick up a pen. If we ban any objects in the front seat – especially pens! – accidents like this will never occur. (even more sarcasm)

6. Simply looking out the window can distract a driver. Who hasn’t had something catch their eyes while driving which takes the eyes off the road for a brief period? Maybe everyone should wear blinders?

By now, you get my point. There are many things that can distract drivers, and sometimes bad things can happen when drivers are distracted. All it takes is a few seconds with a driver’s eyes off the road and accidents, even fatalities, can occur. Texting while driving IS a big problem. But let’s not get carried away with more rules and regulations that are not practical or that are very hard to police. If there were never any distractions, we’d have far fewer accidents. But we live in a world filled with distractions, and it is virtually impossible to write laws to prevent all of them. The best course of action is to educate drivers on what is safe driving behavior, and what is not – and to hope that the person behind the wheel has enough common sense to practice safe driving.

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