Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Friday, June 10, 2011

NHTSA's Latest Target? All that Cool Technology in Your Car

They are at it again.

Thank, God, those of us who are among the drones of this society have the federal government to look out for us.

With what may be its most recent effort (It's difficult to keep up.) to protect us from ourselves, the federal government is searching for ways to disconnect us from our mobile devices when in our cars.

New regulations are being cobbled together by NHTSA to restrict what in-vehicle communications systems can do. This from NHTSA's Chief Nanny David Strickland.

Among the systems NHTSA is targeting are GM's OnStar and Ford's Sync, along with systems that integrate smartphones and the like.

I am the first to admit texting while driving is dangerous and a bad idea; but so is sky diving, eating a burrito from a roadside stand and online dating.

We do stupid and dangerous things every day.

Limiting what an in-vehicle system can offer, I guess, is one way to control what people do.

If you don't want drivers looking at a navigation screen, listening to the local weather or having their recent Facebook postings read to them, simply outlaw these features in in-vehicle systems.

Bureaucrats can punch out at 5 pm feeling good about themselves because of all the mayhem and carnage they have prevented on our highways with the stroke of a pen.

But where does it stop?

An argument can be made that in-vehicle audio systems are also a distraction and therefore must cause accidents.

Likewise conversations can distract. A driver participating in a conversation with passengers certainly isn't giving his full attention to the road. Let's legislate shutting up.

What about kids in the car? Talk about a distraction! Maybe NHTSA can create a few regulations making it illegal to drive around with your kids. I know a couple of dads who would be positively giddy over such laws.

But, some may argue, what about all the lives that have been saved in areas where talking on a cellphone while driving has been outlawed. Isn't that proof that such regulations are beneficial?

Here's something you may not know: According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety when I last posed the cellphone question to them about a year ago, there is no evidence that prohibiting cellphone use has reduced accidents or loss.

In those areas where such anti-cellphone-use laws exist, there has been no impact on the number of accidents or property loss.

Although it seems counter intuitive, that was IIHS's position a year or so ago.

Far too often regulating is more about justifying a bureaucracy's existence and exerting control than anything else.

Bureaucrats live to regulate.

In academia the mantra is "publish or perish." In government bureaucracy it's "regulate or irrelevancy."

So the regulations just keep on a comin'.

You can't outlaw stupidity. If someone is going to put on makeup, read a book or text while driving, all the regulations in the world aren't going to matter.

For those who believe we are just one more regulation away from making each individual perfect or just one egghead short of having the ideal team in central planning, there will never be enough regulations on the books or enough elitists in Washington running our lives.

It is all for us, after all.

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