Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Incomplete Solutions Can Do More Harm Than Good

Laws requiring the use of a hands-free system for talking on the phone while driving are killing people. Why? Research shows that what distracts us is not the fact that we have the phone in our hand. We are perfectly capable of driving safely with one hand. The distraction comes from the phone conversation. To decrease accidents and safe lives we need to decrease the use of phone conversations while driving. Hands-free or no hands-free. Yet by requiring the use of a hands-free system these laws send the erroneous message that it is safe to talk on the phone while driving - as long as the phone is not in your hands. So more people end up talking on the phone while driving and more people end up in accidents. A perfect example of a well intentioned partial solution that does more harm than good!

Granted, forbidding phone conversations while driving would be very difficult. Most new cars now incorporate a hands-free system. And millions of people every day make their commute more bearable by talking on the phone. Still, governments should be discouraging ALL distractions while driving, not arbitrarily forbidding some and sanctioning others. More importantly, they should realize the best solution (maybe the only solution) is to remove humans from the equation all-together. Sure, self-driving cars will have lots of issues, yet these issues pale in comparison to the millions of lives they will safe. But I am getting off topic here...

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