March 5, 2014
Netanyahu's inaction to Obama's provocations sends powerful message
Kerry, after apparent criticism by Schumer, seeks to allay skepticism on diplomacy
How to ruin a perfectly good kid in 10 simple steps
2014 Oscars played it safe, but was faith lost in the shuffle?
Apple joins Hobby Lobby in touting corporate values beyond profit
March 3, 2014
Alina Dain Sharon: In the Hebrew calendar, a leap year has extra month, not day
Latest Obama appointment to prove Prez set on emasculating so-called Israel Lobby
Jewish World Review
Dec. 19, 2011
23 Kislev, 5772
Cellphone ban would be a distraction
Here in the capital, there is a whole new etiquette at stoplights.
Upon arriving at a red light, drivers apply the brakes, pick up their mobile devices, and begin reading and sending e-mails. The signal to resume driving comes not from the green light but from some motorist in the back tapping politely on the horn.
It is not uncommon to drive up to a light and discover several vehicles still immobile because no one has yet noticed the green. A horn tap will cause the procession slowly to restart, as drivers, one hand on the wheel and one holding their devices, type a few last words. Or sentences.
So you can imagine my surprise Wednesday when I was driving down Connecticut Avenue, scanning the Twitter feed on my iPhone, and came across this bulletin: “NTSB calls for a nationwide ban on driver use of personal electronic devices.”
I spit my coffee onto my laptop and nearly cut myself with the electric razor I had been using. I lowered the volume of MSNBC on my satellite radio so that I could focus on the important task at hand: Surfing the Web on my phone to learn just what the folks at the National Transportation Safety Board were thinking.
Turns out they weren’t thinking very much. They were proposing to “ban the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices” – including hands-free mobile phones – “for all drivers.” It’s an absurd overreaction to an unrelated problem.
The accident that spurred the proposal was a grisly 2010 crash in Missouri caused by a driver who was texting – which is definitely a bad thing to do behind the wheel – and not talking – which is not nearly such a bad thing. To conclude that the answer is to ban all cellphone conversations is a government overreach far more invasive than the supposed death-panels of the health-care law. The agency’s proposal, if embraced by lawmakers and the administration, would jeopardize Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s noble effort to crack down on distracted driving.
I’ve never had a distracted-driving related accident, but that is probably a matter of luck. I’ve downloaded iTunes while driving, made reservations on OpenTable, and done part of a Washington Post Web chat. Driving in New Hampshire recently, I found myself playing a conference call on speakerphone and recording it with my digital recorder while changing the destination on my GPS.
Clearly, I need to break this addiction, but the ban on texting – already in effect – is not having much effect. Often, I’ll look up to see if the cop stopped next to me at the light can see my lawbreaking, but invariably he’s staring at his own device. The likelier solution is what’s already happening: awareness campaigns to teach about the dangers of texting behind the wheel and the spread of technologies in cars to make hands-free conversations easier.
The NTSB could encourage both of those solutions, but instead it went in the other direction. Writing in Friday’s Post, NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman claimed: “Studies published in 2008 in the journal Brain Research as well as in the Journal of Experimental Psychology show that it is more distracting to engage in a cellphone conversation than it is to talk with a passenger.”
Incredibly, the NTSB has no data to support its radical proposal – only some laboratory-based studies, and those are inconclusive. The “Brain Research” study speculates that cellphone conversations are more distracting that “listening to a radio, eating and drinking, monitoring children or pets, or even conversing with a passenger,” but the authors admit: “It is not known exactly how much each of these distractions affects driving.”
The other study concludes that, while cellphone conversations can be more dangerous than those with a passenger, a passenger who is “constantly commenting and directing attention in an overcontrolling fashion has a potentially negative impact on performance.”
So, to be evenhanded, the NTSB should also propose a ban on back-seat driving, a ban on transporting children, a ban on radios and cup holders, and a ban on GPS devices, so that we can go back to those safer times when we blocked the windshield with gas-station maps. The agency should also ban cellphone use by pedestrians, to keep them from wandering into intersections.
An absolute ban would be the equivalent of defining a drunk driver as any motorist with a blood-alcohol content above 0.00. This would turn us into a nation of lawbreakers and erase the distinction between what is truly dangerous and what is relatively safe.
Disagree? Send a tweet using the hashtag #cellphoneban. I’m going out for a drive.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Comment on Dana Milbank's column by clicking here.
• 12/15/11 Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell and the Malfunction Minuet
• 12/14/11 The presidential auction of 2012
• 12/12/11 Newt's tactics comes back to haunt him
• 12/06/11 Can an anthem save Occupy non-movement?
• 12/05/11 The winner of the GOP campaign: Washington
• 11/30/11 Barney the bully: Congressman Frank's other legacy
• 11/23/11 Jon Kyl's search-and-destroy mission
• 11/21/11 Pay to play, brought to you by Washington
• 11/17/11 Big enough to save the supercommittee?
• 11/16/11 Why Newt Gingrich won't last
• 11/08/11 The 2012 campaign gets seedier
• 11/06/11 A Machiavellian model for Obama
• 11/03/11 The Herman Cain crack-up
• 11/01/11 Cain can --- he will survive
• 10/27/11 Stuntmen of the supercommittee
• 10/26/11 Democrats on the sidelines
• 10/24/11 Rick Perry's birther Parade
• 10/24/11 The birthers eat their own
• 10/19/11 The GOP's middle man
• 10/17/11 The waiting for nothing Congress
• 10/12/11 Sparsely occupied D.C.: Why the movement hasn't caught on
• 10/10/11 Can Obama strike an alliance with Occupy Wall Street?
• 10/06/11 Chris Christie, such a presidential tease
• 10/05/11 Obama and his foot soldiers go toe to toe
• 09/28/11 Cain could deliver
• 09/26/11 Republicans? Mr. Nice Guys?
• 09/22/11 Why Ron Paul is winning the GOP primary
• 09/21/11 I am a job creator who creates no jobs
• 09/20/11 Obama launches a revolution
• 09/19/11 Dems for Romney?
• 09/14/11 ‘Supercommittee’? More than stupor committee
• 09/07/11 Mitt Romney finds his (corporate) voice
• 09/01/11 The infallible Dick Cheney
• 08/31/11 This liberal says Perry is the ultimate conservative candidate
• 08/29/11 Wanted: More bite from Obama the Great Nibbler
• 08/10/11 How Rep. Austin Scott betrayed his Tea Party roots
• 08/09/11 The most powerful man on Earth?
• 08/08/11 The FAA shutdown and the new rules of Washington
• 08/04/11 Lt. Col. Allen West fires a round at the Tea Party
• 08/03/11 Government on autopilot
• 08/02/11 Dems mourn debt deal like death
• 07/27/11 Life imitates sport
• 07/26/11 Obama and Boehner take on Washington
• 07/21/11 Why Americans are angry at Congress
• 07/20/11 The new party of Reagan
• 07/18/11 Rob Portman, the boring Midwesterner who could bring sanity to the debt debate
• 07/13/11 John Boehner's bind
• 07/04/11 Stephen Colbert, Karl Rove and the mockery of campaign finance
• 07/01/11 President Puts Up His Dukes, As He Ought To
• 06/28/11 Rod Blagojevich verdict: All shook up
• 06/27/11 Progressives voice their anger at Obama
• 06/24/11 Mission accomplished, Obama style
• 06/22/11 Jon Huntsman's first step toward oblivion
• 06/21/11 Scott Walker finds making bumper stickers is easier than creating jobs
• 06/20/11 A day of awkwardness with Mitt Romney
• 06/06/11 Hubris and humility: Sarah Palin and Robert Gates on tour
• 06/02/11 The Weiner roast
• 06/01/11 Congress clocks in to clock out
• 05/30/11 Hermanator II: No More Mr. Gadfly
• 05/24/11 How Obama has empowered Netanyahu
• 05/24/11 Pawlenty bends his truth-telling
• 05/20/11 Default deniers say it's all a hoax
• 05/18/11: Gingrich gives voice to moderation
• 05/17/11: Donald Trump and the House of Horrors
• 05/16/11: The medical mystery of Mitt Romney
• 05/12/11: The body impolitic: Schock photos should tempt lawmakers to cover up
• 05/10/11: Muskets in hand, tea party blasts House Republicans
• 05/09/11: The GOP debate: America -- and the party -- needs the grown-ups
• 05/05/11: Mitch Daniels, an alternative to scary
• 05/03/11: Obama's victory lap
• 05/02/11: How the journalist prom got out of control
• 04/28/11: Obama's birther day: Why did he lower himself by appearing in the briefing room?
• 04/27/11: Obama, lost in thought
• 04/24/11: Andrew Breitbart and the rifts on the right
• 04/22/11: Ten Commandments for 2012
• 04/21/11: Obama likes Facebook. Facebook likes Obama.
• 04/18/11: Without Nancy Pelosi, Obama is adrift
• 04/15/11: If progressives ran the world
• 04/14/11: Faith in political apostasy
• 04/13/11: One man's revolution is another's political expediency
• 04/11/11: Shutdown theatrics
• 04/06/11: Paul Ryan's irresponsible budget
• 04/05/11: Robots in Congress? Yes, we replicant!
• 04/04/11: Robert Gibbs, Facebook and the White House corporate placement service
• 04/01/11: Haley Barbour, the fat cats' candidate
• 03/31/11: Republican freshmen in House shut down compromise, and possibly the government
• 03/30/11: Coburn and Durbin, the dynamic duo of the debt crisis
• 03/28/11: The Obama doctrine: A gray area the size of Libya
• 03/24/11: Dems as Weiners
• 03/23/11: Obama's quick trip from tyrant to weakling
• 03/17/11: Who's afraid of Elizabeth Warren?
• 03/15/11: The underwear flap over Bradley Manning
• 03/10/11: In Senate's debt debate, talk isn't cheap
• 03/09/11: With Obama's new Gitmo policy, Administration officials had some 'splainin to do
• 03/02/11: Issa press aide scandal is like bad reality TV
• 02/25/11: Jay Carney: Mouthpiece for an inscrutable White House
• 02/14/11: The Donald trumps the pols at CPAC
• 02/09/11: Arianna Huffington's ideological transformation
© 2011, Washington Post Writers Group