We all know that texting and driving at the same time is both incredibly dangerously and incredibly stupid. If you don’t agree, you’re wrong. But what the U.S. Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, wants borders on the ridiculous. If he gets his way, a federal law would be passed that would outright ban the presence of phones inside cars. Land of the free, etc.
LaHood told Bloomberg (the news organization, not the 85-time mayor of New York City) that hands-free cellphone conversations, hitherto seen as a common sense compromise between cellphone use and staying safe on the road, are tantamount to a “cognitive distraction.”
In other words, since hands-free conversations take your mind off the road, they ought to be banned outright.
And if we’re going that far, perhaps we should consider banning in-car radios and GPS navigation systems?
In fact, let’s ban passengers, too. What could be more of a “cognitive distraction” than having your girlfriend in the passenger seat go on and on about how much she doesn’t like Katy Perry’s new album, or how so-and-so was robbed on Dancing With The Stars last night. I’m driving here, please no more “cognitive distractions”!
Will any such ban come into place? Well, it’s not like LaHood can wave a magic wand and change the relevant laws; they’re a states’ issue, you see.
The obvious to solution to distracted driving is to ban driving altogether. Clearly people are incapable of handling the responsibility of moving about a couple of tons of metal at 50 miles per hour.
Or, a little more seriously, perhaps we simply need better driver education in the U.S.? I could have sworn former (and future?) Formula One driver Kimi Raikonnen had said something to the effect that to obtain even a basic driver’s license in Finland you basically have to demonstrate a driving ability that would just about qualify you to drive for Ferrari or Red Bull. Here in the U.S. (at least in New York) it’s more like, “Are you 16? Do you have eyes and hands and feet? Then here’s your license, have fun out there!”