An older article wrote years ago that I published here since I believe the concept is still relevant.
The article that I have listed below this post states that the NTSB wants to implement a ban on all forms of distracted driving. While on the surface this sounds like a great idea to save lives. Let’s not be lured into the ‘if we could save just 1 life’ line. I want to examine how this could be used to degrade the quality of the driving experience, while driving up costs to motorists.
A general blanket ban on all electronic devices could mean more than you think. Just remember how many conveniences we have become accustomed to in our vehicles. Radio, satellite radio, navigation, cruise control, stability control, traction control, and many other things that drivers can toggle in their vehicles to improve the driving experience could all become banned. Modifying settings on anything listed above could be interpreted as use of an electronic device behind the wheel. How would you feel if you were forbidden to change the radio, or select sport/eco mode on your car? The quality of the experience would fall away; the efficiency of your vehicle could too if you had to stop every time you needed to toggle any electronic device in your car.
Costs to drivers would go up. For starters auto manufacturers would have to design, test, and implement newer levels of tech that the NTSB, in all of their wisdom, found to be ok. All of that means an increase in the price of a vehicle. Secondly, if there is a ban, the fines and tickets received by drivers would go up. I fear that local municipalities would use this as a new cash cow. This past summer, I was sitting in my car, windows down on a street here in NYC. The vehicle was off, key in the ignition and I was on my iPhone making a call to a client. The police pulled up next to me, and asked me what I was doing, I told them I was on the phone. What I did not know was that technically because the key was in the ignition (even with the vehicle off and no lights on), that I was technically ‘using a cellular device with the intent to operate a motor vehicle at the same time’. I was told I could be ticketed; they drove off after saying they didn’t want the paperwork. The officers could have been making it up; police officers can legally lie to citizens to get desired information, so I will never know. It is however a guarantee that the costs to drivers would rise. Vehicles would cost more, potential citations would raise costs, and insurance cost would rise after that. Let us all hope that a blanket ban is never implemented.