6 2 mins 13 yrs

Wonder who out there would agree that motorists who talk on hands-free phones are more dangerous than drink-drivers?

Drivers using the legal alternative to hand-held mobiles are 30 per cent slower to react than those slightly over the limit, tests found. And for up to ten minutes after a conversation their reflexes remain dulled, according to the Transport Research Laboratory. Its study suggests that millions could be unwittingly risking their own and others’ lives while obeying the law on phone use in a vehicle.

I can sort of see the logic – people merge into their conversations and perhaps are less observant of road conditions and hence slower to react. But then again, are we to be muted in our own private cars because experts decide this is on our best interests?

And what about listening to music, or the radio? Shall we silence those too? And how about passengers that chat – shall we shut them up and make conversation a criminal offence? Maybe, best of all, we tell “experts” to shut up? 

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  1. "But then again, are we to be muted in our own private cars because experts decide this is on our best interests?"

    If the facts are that you are risking your own and other’s lives by taking a call in your car then YOU should decide whether your phone call is more important than someone’s life.

    Certainly if not then let’s have no more of this ‘pro-life’ nonsense, after all aren’t we constantly told that life is more important than mere conveeeeeeenience? Now it seems that any triviality, even listening to a song, is more important than somebody’s life.

  2. Frank’s a genius.

    I’m ironic.

    The problem here comes because there are some rules we can enforce better than others. Wearing seatbelts is easier to enforce than hands free telephone conversations, which is easier to enforce than chatting to one’s passengers. There have been times when I’ve dreaded having passengers because of the conflict between concentration on driving and politeness and sociability.

    I say give up the regulatory approach and start taxing people over the consequences of their actions, bearing in mind that driving is inherently risky.

    To take one example, road safety is not enhanced by wearing seatbelts- my safety is of course though. But actually my concentration on driving should be my business- the results of it should be society’s interest, and it should be free to enforce whatever penalties seem appropriate for my actions and their results.

    Regarding seatbelts (the poster child for Frank’s regulatory leftism), I honestly believe that if I were truly free to adjust my position in the car, to peer into all corners, to organise my legs and back and arms in the way most comfortable and suitable to the moment, I would be a safer driver- albeit perhaps less safe in myself.

    So I think safety should be every driver’s primary obligation to society, and his only one. Bugger the regulatory approach; it only leads to obscenity.

  3. Ed T –

    To take one example, road safety is not enhanced by wearing seatbelts

    I’d say the compulsory weasing of seatbelts increases the risk of accidents by giving the illusion of safety.

    Would we drive more slowly and carefully if steering wheels included a metal spike in front of the driver’s chest? I think so.

    If state agents were interested in safety and not just building tax-fed empires, they’d do away with most or all road signs, markings, highway architecture and speed cameras. These are hugely more distracting than mobile phones conversations.

  4. Ed,

    "Frank’s regulatory leftism"

    Who said anything about regulations? Certainly not me.

    The question is if using the phone etc in the car increases risk or not. That’s all. You will surely never find out if you dismiss all test results and people who know what they’re talking about, merely because you’re afraid of policy implications.

    I merely poke fun at the hypocrisy of those who dismiss all regulations of themselves – putting their convenience above other’s lives – while in other contexts wailing that nothing is more important than life.

  5. David:

    "And how about passengers that chat – shall we shut them up and make conversation a criminal offence?"

    Glad you brought this up. One of my bugbears (and I have many, crotchety old shite that I am) is people looking at one another as they conduct an in-car conversation.

    I think to myself: Why? Keep your bloody eyes on the road. You know what the person sitting next to you looks like—the exception of course being the prozzie you’ve just picked up.

  6. Never mind hands free. Every day I drive I see drivers with phones clamped to their ears. Often they are driving expensive cars, but have evidently decided to economise by not having a hands-free kit installed. My solution is to treat them like drink drivers – an automatic one year ban. Nothing else will deter these bastards.

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