[LINK] Mobile phone use set to be banned in vehicles - nanny state?? A-pillar blind spots . . .

Birch, Jim Jim.Birch at dhhs.tas.gov.au
Tue Feb 8 10:53:42 AEDT 2011

Frank O'Connor wrote:

> If they want a zero sum accident/death rate then maybe they should
just ban the car and the internal combustion engine.

Who is this "they"?

Maybe you haven't observed the effect of a car accident death of a
family but it's actually not a casual event.    Death is one outcome of
car accidents but persistent reduction in physical or mental capacity to
varying degrees is more likely.  Injury to death ratio is about 40.  In
addition to the immediate pain of family and friends there are often
serious ongoing economic consequences for the family and society in
general - it's not just a matter of scraping up the stuff lying on the
road and disposing of it.

We all suffer from the woebegone effect ("I'm a better driver than
average") and what's worse, young males - who are vastly overrepresented
in accident statistics - are actually biologically programmed to take
risks for good evolutionary reasons.  Lethal accidents are very rare
(measured in deaths per ten thousand car years, or per billion passenger
kms, depending on locality/culture) so there is weak behavioural level
learning about serious accident risk.  This means that learning requires
education and to the extent that this has limited effect, laws and
policing.  There is no possible way that laws can be framed with word
like "if you are a mature, experienced driver choose you own speed
appropriate to the conditions, otherwise - if you're one of the other
guys - drive at 50 km/hour.  Please argue you case with the police
officer if you dispute his assessment."  We all know what would happen.

Suppose a new 3D communication TV came out.  They were highly useful and
great fun so everyone loved them but when misused they occasionally blew
up - say only one per 10,000 per year or so - killing or maiming one or
more of the people in the room and often also cause another connected
unit somewhere to explode and kill or maim nearby people.  Would this be
acceptable?  We accept it with cars and some people don't think they
should have to alter their behaviour.  

FTR I had an aunt who was killed about 15 years ago by a young male,
driving carelessly, on a suburban road, on a Sunday morning.  In this
case, it was a parent not a child, and her children were grown and
self-supporting, so it's not as tough as many cases.  I'm not bitter,
just realistic.

- Jim      



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