Ray LaHood has a new bugbear, says Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. in The Wall Street Journal. The transportation secretary has declared war on "distracted driving," or the use of cellphones behind the wheel. LaHood would have us believe that the advent of the smartphone has resulted in a bloodbath on our nation's roads, but he is "spreading darkness as much as light." The highway fatality rate has actually been steadily dropping for five years, even as smartphones get more popular. Now, LaHood is threatening to enact an "outright ban" on using a smartphone while driving. But drivers are just as likely to be distracted by their breakfast, says Jenkins. Here, an excerpt:
No less a harridan for safety than the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has dubbed [LaHood's] campaign misguided. The group's own studies show that the numerous laws enacted around the country to ban or restrict cellphone use have produced no impact on accident rates. Even where phone use has measurably declined, crashes haven't...
By definition, smart phones are implicated in more accidents today than they were before smart phones were invented. But it appears that drivers simply substitute one distraction for another, yakking on the phone instead of spilling coffee in their laps, gobbling down hot dogs or trying to control kids in the backseat.... The truth is, an electronic device is not more villainous than a bagel.
Read the entire article at The Wall Street Journal.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- The mystery behind China's aggressive push into space
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- The best places to find love — and lust — according to science
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- Why GOP reformers are bound to fail
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- How the battle for religious freedom became a nonsensical free-for-all
- How to buy an engagement ring — a man's guide
- The 6 best low-cost smartphones
Subscribe to the Week