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US may disable all in-car mobile phones

Transportation boss: 'It will be done'

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The US government may require cars to include scrambling tech that would disable mobile-phone use by drivers, and perhaps passengers.

"I think it will be done," US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said on Wednesday morning, according to The Daily Caller. "I think the technology is there and I think you're going to see the technology become adaptable in automobiles to disable these cell phones."

LaHood is on a self-described "rampage" against distracted driving, and if making it impossible to use a mobile phone while in a car can save lives, he's all for it — although, according to TDC, LaHood also emphasized the role of "personal responsibility."

In a Tuesday blog post announcing an online video series, "Faces of Distracted Driving", which presents first-person accounts of distracted-driving tragedies, LaHood noted that "Just last year, nearly 5,500 people were killed and 500,000 more were injured in distracted driving-related crashes.

"These lives, and too many others like them, were cut short — not because of malice, but because of carelessness," he added.

The problem is that the average driver doesn't think that he or she is an average driver: nearly two-thirds of drivers think of themselves as safer and more skillful than a driver of median safety or skills — a statistical impossibility, of course.

When faced with the prospect of automotive mobile phones being disabled, we'd be willing to bet that most drivers, suffused with confidence in their own skills, will think in terms of personal inconvenience and a restriction on personal freedom.

Perhaps it might be better to think of the guy texting in the lane to your left, or the gal yelling at her ex on her iPhone in the lane to your right, and think not of your own inconvenience, but of some distracted dolt killing you.

Remember one unassailable statistic, as explained by the late, great George Carlin: "Just think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are even stupider!"

LaHood may be right. Disabling mobile phones in cars should not be looked at as a way of protecting you from yourself, but instead as a way of protecting you from the stupid. ®

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