Friday, December 16, 2011

Cell Phone Flap

The United States is working itself into a lather - something Americans so enjoy doing - over this week's proposal by the National Transportation Safety Board to ban all mobile phone use by drivers of cars. Some of the nation's 50 states already ban handheld devices. But the proposal by the NTSB (, a branch of the oft-reviled federal government, would ban hands-free devices, too.

It's America's Outrage du Jour.

This proposal will fail, for two reasons: First, it makes too much sense. Logic suggests that texting, talking or e-mailing from behind the wheel of a two-ton moving vehicle might be a tad dangerous. But logic has nothing to do with it, which brings us to the second reason for imminent failure: It would be seen as infringing on the individual rights of Americans, among the most individualistic people on earth. Some of my countrymen would rather be dead than allow Big Gov'mint to tell them what to do, even if it would serve the greater public good. And so, with the continuing explosion of smart-phone use by drivers, some soon will be.

But why sweat the small stuff? There is already push-back by phone-makers, states-righters, and don't tread on me types, and predictions are being made that any laws passed will be laws not enforced.

This is the time of year when travel-watchers predict what the coming holiday will be like. The American Automobile Association ( produces one of the most closely followed forecasts. This holiday season, encompassing Christmas and New Year's Eve and running from Dec. 23, 2011 to Jan. 3, 2012, will see 91.9 million Americans travel more than 50 miles, predicts the AAA. Some 83.3 million of them will drive, driven to their cars by rising air fares, crowded airports and airplanes, famously limited U.S. train service and slightly less expensive gasoline.

Think just how good it will be to have a teenage driver drinking and driving on New Year's Eve and texting something along the lines of "U cool? I had awesome cupcakes at grandma's'' while sharing the road with you.

Hold that thought, and Happy New Year.

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