Wednesday, December 14, 2011

NTSB Got This One Right

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has unanimously recommended that all states ban the use of cell phones while driving.  This recommendation comes on the heels of a sharp increase in deadly crashes attributed to the use of cell phones, including one in which a teenager sent or received 11 text messages in 11 minutes before causing the deadly crash.  The teen died in the accident.
Small government conservatives are already lashing out at the recommendation; calling it just another example of big government intrusion into our daily lives.
Rather than get into an ideological debate…let’s just look at the facts.  Let’s start by putting things in perspective.
From 2003-2011 4,484 young men and women died while serving their country in Iraq.  From 2001-2011 1,855 young men and women died while serving their country in Afghanistan.  And on 9/11 3,000+ men and women were murdered in the terrorist attacks.  We are horrified by this senseless loss of life.  We mourn these losses each and every day.  These events changed our culture and forever changed the way we live our daily lives.
From 2002-2007 16,141 people died in car accidents attributed to cell phone usage.  In 2010 alone 3,092 traffic fatalities were attributed to cell phone usage.  Each year 570,000 traffic accidents resulting in minor or serious injury are attributed to cell phone usage. Each of these occurrences could have easily resulted in a fatality.  We are looking at the new DUI.     
Given our horror at the death toll from two wars and the 9/11 tragedy; why do we simply shrug at the carnage occurring on our roads each and every day?
We understand that in our Facebook, Twitter society some people have an obsessive need to feel connected.  We know people who even have a name for this phenomenon.  They call it FOMO…Fear of Missing Out.   To be without a cell phone even for a brief period leaves many in a state of panic.  Some people do not even know how to turn the damn things off.  The cell phone has become like another appendage…a third arm or leg that we cannot do without.
We would never condone a brain surgeon texting while conducting an operation.  And we would be horrified if a policeman tweeted while brandishing his firearm.  So why do we allow people to text, tweet or gab while propelling a two ton missile down a crowded highway at high speed?
This is not about ideology or big brother.  This is about public safety and the common good. 
NTSB got this one right.     

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