Monday, June 02, 2008

Nanny State Logic

Headed to California on a business trip?

In a statement issued today, the Automobile Club of Southern California wants us to note that new cell phone laws affecting driving are going into effect.

Beginning July 1, it will be illegal for drivers to use a handheld cell phone while driving. For drivers under 18, it will be illegal to use any cell phone or other electronic device while driving. Other states have similar hands-free laws on their books, including New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, the auto club says.

But here’s what got my attention about the group’s statement:

“Going hands-free does not eliminate the distraction in the vehicle, however. `It’s the conversation that is the most important distraction for the driver, not the device itself,’ said Steve Bloch, the Auto Club’s senior researcher. `Advance planning will help toward being prepared for adapting to these new laws. But remember, hands-free is not risk-free.’”

Now, we all are opposed to idiots who pay no attention to driving while they bray on their cell phones. But I suspect the same people would be idiots who drive unsafely even without a cell-phone glued to their mouths.

But notice the mission creep in the warning by the auto club’s “senior researcher.” “It’s the conversation that is the most important distraction…”

Whoa, nanny! We’ve been conversing in automobiles since Henry Ford’s day. I know people who can hold a cell-phone conversation on a horse at a full gallop. Pilots routinely converse during flight operations, including those on the space shuttle.

It’s the clueless idiots who can’t comprehend the basic laws of physics that are the most important distraction, Mr. Senior Researcher.

Yes, hands-free cell phones are a great idea.

But let’s not start warning against “conversation” in cars because, guaranteed, some nitwit in some legislature somewhere will decide that a law against car-talk is a good idea — and other nanny-nitwits in the media will jump right on board.

As Ron White memorably warns, “You can’t fix stupid.”


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