Tam rolls out the snark about another feel good useless law in “This is why I am a misanthrope“. A quick snippet to encourage you to read the whole thing:
“…they plead for yet another law, a law against cell phones [while driving]…
I would further note that using a hands-free cell phone is no more distracting than talking to an actual passenger, so when the 2019 Buicks from Government Motors come from the factory with ignition interlocks connected to ball gags, don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
First of all that’s just goddamn beautiful. The whole point of the English language is to facilitate quotes like that.
Now for my Curmudgeonly two cents:
The problem with shitty drivers on cell phones is not cell phones. The problem is the degree to which we facilitated, tolerated, encouraged, and financed shitty driving. Laws against doing stupid things will not overcome this underlying principle.
Modern cars are impressive technology. Unfortunately they’ve been harnessed to the least common denominator approach to driving. Traction control, anti lock brakes, automatic transmissions, all wheel drive, SUV design specs for cars that never leave pavement, idiot lights on the dash…these are symptoms of a disease. The disease is the idea that no human is too fucking incompetent, clueless, unreliable, or stupid to pilot a motor vehicle. Eliminating the effort required in driving is a bad idea. Clueless monkeys and skilled operators alike should have to work to drive a car.
Old cars had a special feature…archaic design. It took work to keep the damn things running down the blacktop. At first it took a manual choke just to get it started on a cold day. For decades, if you could not shift, you could not drive. Even in the seventies if you could not pump brakes you might discover the excitement of a spinout in snow. In the eighties came the 4×4 even for those who only drive in an inch of snow quarterly or haven’t seen a dirt road except for quaint postcards. By now the ability to brake, shift, feel the road, or even understand traction are dead.
There is circuitry to protect the batteries of people who can’t figure out how to turn the headlights off. Think about that! We are sharing the road with people who can’t operate a light switch. Laws against cell phones won’t help you with people that can’t handle an on/off switch.
Now, a personal story. Recently I was driving home from the woods with a a heavily loaded trailer. (Free wood!) I ventured on a busy street swarming with busy shoppers busily buying Christmas crap.
I needed coffee and there was just enough room to parallel park in front of a coffee shop. So that’s what I did. I used judgment to size up the space available. I used archaic technology called turn signals to indicate my intention. I used clever optical devices called mirrors to observe the vehicle and trailer and their relation to obstacles. I used a long forgotten feature of humanity called skill and experience to gauge how the combined turning radii of trailer and truck would develop. In short, I parallel parked a ton of firewood and my vehicle using the skills that any driver should already possess.
It took ten seconds. It wasn’t exciting. No laws were violated. I didn’t need an array of gadgetry to help me. I do not have back up proximity alarms, cameras, or whatever the hell else they bolt on cars these days. Because crutches don’t ever truly overcome lack of skill or attention.
While I was getting my coffee I watched several close calls between pedestrians crossing a parking lot and drivers who were trying to navigate out of it. They were having trouble; one cohort with walking and the other cohort with not hitting walkers. This will not be solved with laws against cell phones.