I feel so much safer now knowing that politicians like Jimmy Jeffress want to protect me!
Doctors ask about your family history because it’s one of the best predictors of what will bring your demise. My family history? Being hit by public transportation while distracted. My grandfather was killed by a bus when he was crossing the street while reading. I was hit by a taxi when jaywalking.
Arkansas State Senator Jimmy Jeffress proposed to “make it illegal for you to wear headphones in both ears if you're working out or walking on or near a street.”
He’s not alone. New York City wants to ban texting while crossing the street.
I feel safer already.
No. I don’t. And I feel less free. What’s next: no walking and chewing gum because some Americans can't?
The foolish legislator may have been inspired by this video of a woman falling into a fountain. It’s been viewed millions of times.
Trying to change such behaviors with legislation is pointless and intrusive. So are laws banning texting and using cell phones when driving. Those proposals are more compelling because distracted drivers do kill lots of people. But the laws don’t work. In fact, the laws may even lead to more accidents.
People do all kinds things while driving. They eat, fix their hair, put on lipstick, light cigarettes, and we even saw someone curling their eyelashes. If we must always drive with two hands on the wheel, should we outlaw picking your nose? Just putting on my sunglasses or drinking a sip of coffee takes a hand of the wheel. The radio is a big distraction problem; I'm constantly distracted trying to push the tiny buttons to avoid commercials.
In many states, the proposed laws call for hands-free devices like earpieces, but have you ever tried to put on one of those ear-pieces while driving? That's more of a distraction than the cell phone.
What one person may find to be a distraction may be an easily integrated invention for another. Carmakers keep bringing us new gadgets like navigation systems. While some of these new features may be distracting, we adjust to them. Why try to idiot-proof the world by banning new technology?
Just because something is wrong or dangerous doesn’t mean that banning it will solve the problem. Texting is just one of many activities that distract drivers. If I’m not texting, I’m eating, smoking, changing the radio station, trying to figure out the GPS, or simply talking to another passenger. All of these actions take our attention off the road; should they all be banned too? Maybe we are just getting better at multi-tasking?
If outlawing cell phones didn’t decrease the number of traffic related deaths, and banning texting doesn’t seem to either, why don’t they just leave us alone. Of course, maybe these laws are passed not just to prevent accidents, but to generate tickets that provide funds for governments.
Fortunately, Arkansas’ Jimmy Jeffress has had second thoughts. This afternoon he dropped his proposal.
John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. The show airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. and midnight ET. It re-airs Fridays at 10 p.m., Saturdays at 9 p.m. and 12 midnight, and Sundays at 10 p.m. (all times eastern). He's also the author of "Give Me a Break" and of "Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity."
To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at johnstossel.com.