Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cell Phones Cause Death

Did you know that cell phones are the spawn of the devil? Well, you better believe they are. Government bans on cell phone usage while operating vehicles are on the rise. Currently five states ban hand held cell phone usage (California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Washington) as well as the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands (See 1 below).

The mainstream press would have us believe that cell phones are evil. We are continuously bombarded with news stories about cell phone use causing more and more accidents. Our state and local governments seem to endorse this fear mongering by enacting bans on cell phone use.

Of course, that's all a bunch of crap.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) traffic fatalities have actually gone down over a ten year span from 1994 to 2004 (See 2 below). Over that same time frame, cell phone usage has grown about 400%. Worldwide revenue from mobile phones has grown about 3.5 times over the period of 1997-2004 (See 3 below). Fatality rates have continued to fall since then (See 4 below).

The truth is, the media and government protectionist machine feeds on our fear, the same fear perpetuated by organizations within each. Additionally, while talking on a cell phone may be distracting during the operation of a motor vehicle, it is no more distracting than talking to a friend in the car, eating a bagel or drinking a soda. Something nearly everyone does on a daily basis.

This is the reality. There are good drivers, and then there are bad drivers. And everyone on the road is human. Mistakes happen. We are left with a fatality rate of 1.46 per 100 million vehicle miles driven. And lets face it, banning cell phone use doesn't change the owner of fault in an automobile accident. Unless they are going to ban eating a granola bar while driving, I'm willing to take my chances without cell phone bans.

1 - State Cell Phone Driving Laws - http://www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/laws/cellphone_laws.html

2 -Traffic Safety Facts - http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/809911.PDF

3 - Key Global Telecom Indicators for the World Telecommunication Service Sector - http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/statistics/at_glance/KeyTelecom99.html

4 - Pennsylvania Fatality Rates - http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/departments/nrd-30/ncsa/STSI/42_PA/2007/42_PA_2007.htm