Jul 22, 2009

Jumping on the BAN-Wagon

Once again, the progress police have started caterwauling about the dangers of using cell phones in your car. So once again I’m going start ranting AGAINST THEM. (See rant dated April 4th 2008)

In mid-July it was reported on all the major network news programs that a study on the dangers of cell phone use in cars had been liberated from anonymity. The report, created by the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration, was actually written in 2002, but evidently kept under wraps until now. Two public interest groups were able to “rescue” the document as a result of a lawsuit citing the Freedom of Information Act. The ensuing hue and cry suggested that the cell phone industry tried to cover-up the report to avoid negative repercussions to their business.

A spokesperson for the industry, when confronted, said that “the industry” felt that the study was vague and “inconclusive”.

And who can blame them. You think the US Army wants to start updating their TV recruitment ads to show flag-draped coffins being unloaded at the airport? Would the NRA welcome a report that shows 88% of children killed or injured by guns are shot in their own homes or the homes of a friend or relative? Or that gun violence kills more American children than Cancer, Pneumonia, Influenza, Asthma and HIV/AIDS combined? Fuck no!

But let’s really look at what the report says before we go jumping on the “BAN”-wagon. According to the above mentioned report, cell phones contributed to 240,000 accidents and 955 fatalities in 2002.

There were approximately 196 million licensed drivers in the United States in 2003. So, right off the bat, we can note that this is a VERY small fraction of the potential accident victims. On an average, there are more than 6 million car accidents on the roads of the US, annually. More than 3 million people get injured due to car accidents per year and in excess of 42,000 deaths due to car accidents every year… and you cell phone fear-mongers want outlaw progress and convenience for 2.3%?

Guess what, Granny? Making a 1 to 2 ton hunk of metal, rubber and glass hurtle down a rock hard surface at speeds between 50 and 100 mph is fucking dangerous! End of story. People WILL die in the name of faster transportation and increased personal mobility. That’s life! That’s progress. You can’t save everyone from themselves. It’s a terror-dome out there people, so you best get used to it. Drive defensively and expect the worst.

The National Sleep Foundation, working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, estimated at least 100,000 car crashes a year are caused by drowsy driving in the U.S., and that sleepy driving accounts for at least 1,550 deaths a year. So I guess we should outlaw late nights out with friends and jail sleepy people.

About 30% of the car accident fatalities can be attributed to driving above the speed limits and 33% and above. Still EVERYONE does it.

And how about this you, freaking FASCISTS…? A new study shows a staggering 80% of all car accidents and 65% of near misses are caused by distracted drivers more focused on their burgers than the road. So where’s the ban on eating in the car?

"Distractions like eating can become a problem for drivers who can't react quickly to a sharp curve," according to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

A separate study of 1,000 drivers, conducted by ExxonMobil Corp. discovered more than 70% of drivers eat while driving - and 83% drink beverages. But the crusaders have targeted the cell phone! Unbelievable! Talk about missing the forest for the trees.

Now let me establish this. I don’t work for the cell phone industry. In fact, I don’t even use my cell phone (I’m always leaving it somewhere I can’t remember) so it’s no skin of my ass if they ban the Christly things. Shit, ban it all for my money, I won’t miss a beat. Speaking of which, I wonder how many accidents are caused by playing with the radio or CD player? (11.6%) What about smoking in the car? (1.2%) What about talking to other people in the car? (10.9%) What about putting on makeup in the car? What about driving with your hyperactive Shnauzer in the vehicle? They all rival the cell phone, baby, so better get to banning 'em.

Everywhere you look you’ll see hard admissions on the dangers of these various distractions, but the one that gets all the attentrion... cell phones. Yup, let's ignore all the productivity the things create. Screw that, we WANT the economy in the toilet.

And even though the number of people with cell phones continues to grow, statistics show that car accident fatalities have been witnessing a downward trend in recent years.
Let's face it, the majority of car accidents could be avoided if only the drivers would drive more responsibly.

Now, I know the BAN-wagoners will quickly take up bow-up against drinking and driving… and it’s true that, technically, about 40% of car accident fatalities that occur involve a drunken driver according to the Partnership for Safe Driving, a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C.
Plus, everybody knows you can't drive that well when you're hammered... although after 6 rum and cokes you'd swear you were better than Steve McQueen in Bullit.

But here’s an interesting breakdown of the survey numbers pointed out by Lawrence Taylor a prominent California attorney:

“During the year 2001, the government estimates that 17,448 – or 41 percent – of the deaths on our nation’s highways were "alcohol-related." In addition, approximately 275,000 – or 16 percent – of the injuries were attributed to alcohol. Since the rate of fatalities is so high, and so much higher than the rate of injuries, let’s take a closer look at that statistic. Of the 17,448 fatalities, 2,555 occurred in crashes where alcohol was detected but no one was over the legal limit. In these crashes, alcohol may not have been the primary factor in the crash; speed, distraction or fatigue could have been. That leaves 14,893 deaths that can actually be attributed to alcohol. However, of these, 1,770 were intoxicated pedestrians and cyclists who walked out in front of the vehicles of sober drivers. They had nothing to do with drunk driving. The Partnership questions why these deaths were thrown in with what is normally presented as a drunk driving statistic. That leaves 13,123 deaths that can be attributed to intoxicated drivers. Of these, a staggering 8,308 were intoxicated drivers who killed themselves in crashes. That leaves 4,815 deaths in which intoxicated drivers killed someone other than themselves….”

Listen, no one is suggesting that we all go drink a Mickey and play Nightrider, but let’s stop the selective witch hunt… or, if we can’t do that, let’s just outlaw driving completely and go back to horses and buggies.

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