Posts from ‘Commentary’
There’s a Devo greatest-hits anthology called Pioneers Who Got Scalped.
If that title sounds a little self-pitying to you, it’s likely you don’t recall just how explosively radical Devo music seemed back in the late Seventies.
Driving is hazardous enough without the car making it even more so. Yet thanks to a combination of “feature creep,” misplaced design priorities, and overzealous engineering, driving distracted is now more likely than ever, even if you never use a hand-held gadget on the move.
As mentioned in Driven to Distraction: Part 1, the federal government has come out against distracted driving (DD) in general and texting from hand-held phones in particular. Not surprisingly, the Department of Transportation (DOT) seems on the verge of requiring automakers to install “anti-DD” systems that would disable certain phone functions once the vehicle is in motion. I’m not sure what they’re thinking of—perhaps some whizzer “damping field” a la Star Trek—but the technology is doubtless on somebody’s shelf. However, it’s odd that the DOT is okay with voice-activated devices, as various studies have found that drivers are more distracted by phone conversations than by chatting with people in the car—which must be discouraging for all those helpful live operators at OnStar.
Is distracted driving as dangerous as drunk driving and should it be just as illegal? That’s the issue in a widening national debate over the use of smartphones and other electronic devices while driving, triggered by the growing number of fatalities and injuries attributed to texting and other attention-diverting activities. Not surprisingly, battle lines of sorts are being drawn among regulators, politicians, the auto and electronics industries, and don’t-tread-on-me activists.