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Monday, February 7, 2011

No talking please, I'm driving.

Last year nearly 50 000 people were fined for mobile phone offences whilst driving their cars. Everyone knows it's against the law to talk or text and everyone knows it's dangerous but 50 000 is a fair whack of naughty people. Surely that is only the tip of the iceberg. Think of all those who didn't get caught. How many did you see today?

A new study, hands up if you have had a gutful of studies, has shown that talking on your mobile phone even using a hands free system, dramatically increases your crash casualty risk. Presumably it's not the use of the hands that is the problem, but the use of the mouth, ears and brain that causes people to become distracted from the task of driving, sometimes with terrible consequences.

The response to this study has been so predictable that it makes you wonder why we needed the research done in the first place. What can we do about this newly revealed hazard? Ban all mobile phone use, including hands free.

Let's ignore the fact that any new laws will join the swollen throng of stupid, paternalistic and impractical ones already on the books. (Did you know you can be booked for leaving your car unlocked in a public place?) Let's also ignore the fact that eating, drinking and smoking are allowed in private cars as well as all sorts of other interesting pastimes like reading, and playing drums on the steering wheel,for example. Let's say it's a great idea. Anything we can do to reduce accidents, injury and loss of life is good. Right?

Wrong! Even with such a ban people will still talk and I want to know what the difference is between a conversation with a present person and a conversation with an absent person? No, any new law must ban conversation in cars all together. Actually why not ban all conversation during your favourite television show? Ban all chit chat which interferes with, either the execution of your work duty, or the enjoyment of your passive hobby, whatever it may be. What about banning all conversation that doesn't interest you? What else? Help me out here because everyone knows what the world really needs is not love and peace, or even common sense. What the world needs is more stupid laws telling us how to, or how not to live.

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