In Canada, the Alberta legislature is to consider a bill increasing penalties for using mobile phones while driving. Specifically, the bill would change the provinces traffic safety act to increase the penalties for “holding, viewing or manipulating a cellular telephone” while operating a vehicle.
That prompted Calgary’s Newstalk 770 to call me for a chat. Rob Breakenridge and I had a refreshingly reasonable conversation (from my point of view at least).
I’ve put a crude copy online here in m4a format. For better quality, the station archive is here, where you select December 9, 2014, 9AM. I come on about minute 35 (I couldn’t get a link to the specific segment).
My position in a nutshell:
- Lab studies show driving while texting is dangerous. Any kind of distraction while driving is risky.
- The accident and injury rates on US roads have fallen dramatically during the period of mobile phone expansion, and fatalities rates have fallen fastest for teen drivers.
- Harms caused by texting and driving often are exaggerated.
- I see no reason to have laws specific to texting and driving, instead of general laws against dangerous driving.
- The whole debate distracts us from the broad problem of traffic accidents and injuries which results from our reliance on personal automobiles and trucks for getting people and stuff around.
The supporting data and commentary are under the texting tag.