Scientific studies, the organization claims, show that drivers get distracted while on the phone whether the drivers are using speakerphones or holding the phones in their hands. The linked AP story quotes National Safety Council president and chief
I do not doubt the research. I do not doubt that people can get distracted while driving. But whoever reported this "story" didn't ask the obvious question: Don't people get distracted by conversations in their cars as well? You know -- with passengers? Kids? spouses? Mothers-in-law in the back seat? Don't drivers sometimes get distracted by a song on the radio? Or by reaching for change for a toll booth?
(A million years ago, when I took driver's ed, we were warned that turning on the radio was a sure way to fail the driving test. And not because the instructor wouldn't like our music either.)
Just asking these simple, basic questions would have exposed the proposal to ban all use of cell phones in cars as silly.
Perhaps in an age of increasing concern over gasoline scarcity we should also ban carpooling because of the potential for distraction there. Or make all passengers wear gags as well as seat belts. (Insert your own mother-in-law joke here.)
I hardly ever use my cell phone in the car except when I'm running late or need an update on directions. These are short calls. Sometimes, on the highway, over a long stretch, I might chat with someone -- but that's not the kind of driving I usually do. Common sense should be the guide.
You would expect common sense to be in short supply among bluenosed meddlers like the National Safety Council -- but, apparently, it's just as rare in the news reporting business.