So that Bluetooth headset that you bought specifically for use in your car so you can avoid tickets and be a responsible driver may be rendered useless if the man gets his way. The government is seriously considering mandating that all car manufacturers install software into new cars that blocks certain cell phone features when certain speeds are reached. The government is also looking into mandating that Sandra Bullock drive all of those cars and that Keanu Reeves is the voice for all turn by turn direction devices.
The intentions of the government are certainly in the right place. According to statistics, distracted driving accounted for more than 5,000 fatalities and 500,000 injuries in 2009. The same studies show that the results of distracted driving are comparable to drunk driving. It is definitely a cause for action.
However, the government doesn’t force all car manufacturers to install breathalyzers into the ignition systems that serve as kill switches if a drivers BAC is too high. Such devices do exist, but aren’t typically installed until an individual racks up multiple DUI arrests. Unfortunately, the stigma attached to drunk driving hasn’t been translated to distracted driving, and that is the major issue.
The department of transportation is planning on launching a nationwide ad campaign outlining the dangers of texting and talking while driving. That’s certainly a step in the right direction. However, as more people use their phones to stream music to their stereos or take advantage of their phones GPS capabilities for turn by turn navigation, the government would be taking away a consumers freedom of choice by blocking those features.
Hopefully this idea is reconsidered and shelved. Education is certainly a better solution than punishing responsible drivers who adhere to hands free policies.