Saturday, January 30, 2010

Driving while dumb

According to this article, a recent insurance industry study found that state laws banning the use of hand held mobile devices (for texting or calling) do not reduce crashes.

Let the arguments about the validity of this study begin. In the meantime, we will continue to ignore the elephant in the living room: In this country, we just about let anyone with a pulse get behind the wheel of a car, and we treat driving on public roads as a right, not a privilege.

Stupid people do stupid things. Irresponsible people do irresponsible things. Stupid and irresponsible choices lead to car crashes. If you outlaw texting, the person who was going to text his or her way into an accident will probably just find another way to cause a wreck while reading, applying makeup, combing hair, eating, drinking coffee, changing the radio channel, or doing countless other things that can lead to accidents.

In 2008, over 26,000 people died in this country in auto accidents. Instead of being outraged, most people view this figure as an acceptable risk of driving.

The only way to make roads safer is to make it more difficult to obtain a license. I bet that it's possible to devise a yearly test that accurately assesses a person's ability to safely drive. And maybe we need yearly driving maneuverability tests. And maybe we need to crack down on people who routinely cause accidents by revoking their licenses sooner than we already do.

Yes, it would be costly and annoying to have to take a yearly driving test. And I dare any state politician to support legislation that could potentially cause thousands of drivers (aka voters) to lose their driving privileges, especially senior citizens.

But, until that happens, all of the talk of safe driving, distracted driving, and the like is a bunch of hot air.

If 26,000 Americans died of terrorism in a single year, there would be a revolution.

When 26,000 Americans die every year in auto accidents, we shrug and blame texting.


Jim said...

It will NEVER happen because politicians will never pass any laws like this.
When I was flying I had to take a very difficult flight exam with a licensed examiner. To maintain my permit, I had to take another test every two years. Don't pass and you don't fly.
Every flight is proceeded by a complete examination of the aircraft AND the filing of a flight plan. Think how few motorists are qualified to do either of theses things but there again, to them, driving is a right.
I have often wondered why the same standards are not applied to both activities. After all, do something wrong, in either case, and someone will die. BTW, in my opinion, the follow up test should be MORE difficult because you should be better prepared.

Kevin said...

It's interesting to ponder why people are so afraid of terrorism that they'll submit to all sorts of inconvenience and expense, even though it has ~0% chance of injuring them. While they complain at any inconvenience when it comes to driving, the most dangerous activity they do.