December 3, 2010

Cell phone scrambling? The wrong approach for safer driving

Adam Thierer

Senior Research Fellow
Summary

Could today’s commuters handle being offline for 2-3 hours a day? They won’t have a choice if Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood succeeds in his efforts to disable cell phones in all vehicles. LaHood’s push to disable cell phones in vehicles is the wrong approach to decrease distracted driving.

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Could today’s commuters handle being offline for 2-3 hours a day? They won’t have a choice if Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood succeeds in his efforts to disable cell phones in all vehicles. LaHood’s push to disable cell phones in vehicles is the wrong approach to decrease distracted driving.

Instead of trying to ban technologies or specific activities inside the cabin of an automobile, police officers should simply enforce existing laws dealing with reckless or negligent driving. If a driver is weaving in and out of traffic lanes, or posing a serious threat to others on the road for any reason, they should be pulled over and ticketed if the infraction is serious enough.

Besides being practically impossible to enforce without creating an Auto Police State, the ban would also have negative unintended consequences.

What happens when a driver veers of a snowy road into a ditch and needs to call or text for help? Perhaps there will be a switch to disable the jammer in a time of emergency, but wouldn’t people just flick it off preemptively, undercutting the ban entirely?