The NTSB nannies want a Federal law banning all cell phone use in cars, even hands free, bluetooth and voice activated. They are doing what government nannies always do when they want to restrict freedom, they are lying and obfuscating. They are playing fast and loose with accident data and accident analysis.
For example, Mona Charen writing the Washington Examiner points out that NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman stated flatly that 3,000 people lost their lives last year due to texting in the driver’s seat. Not true, by the NTSB’s own data which says 995 deaths resulted from distraction by cell phones in 2010. We don’t even know if it’s really even that many since the number comes from the NTSB. If Ms. Hersman is willing to exaggerate by a factor of three times the actual number her agency has previously claimed, maybe 995 is just as unreliable.
Charen reports that three accidents occurred in the same intersection that she personally witnessed in the space of 20 minutes, none of it involving cell phones. The distraction in accident Nos. 2 and 3 was due to rubbernecking at the first accident scene.
Investor’s Business Daily has editorialized against the cell phone ban because there is no compelling reason for it and it’s beyond the authority of the Federal government; it is an issue better left to the states. There are many other worse distractions such as eating or drinking coffee while driving. Moreover, According to federal data, traffic deaths have fallen from 2.1 per 100 million vehicle miles in 1990, when virtually no one had a cellphone, to 1.1 in 2009, when almost everyone does.
Hersman is apparently getting her number of 3,000 distracted driving deaths [which she falsely claims were all from cell phone use] from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) which found that there were 3,092 highway deaths from all forms of distracted driving in 2010. How do they know that? How do they get such an exact number? Never mind, that’s a subject for another post another day.
NHTSA also determined that drivers in the U.S. rang up three trillion (3,000,000,000,000,000) vehicle miles traveled last year. [205 million licensed drivers driving an average of 15,000 miles per year] That means, according to NHTSA’s own numbers, that U.S. drivers experienced the annual equivalent of one distracted-driving fatality for every 970 million vehicle miles traveled. Let’s see, 970 million vehicle miles is the equivalent of 334,000 cross-country trips on the full expanse of Interstate 80, which spans 2,900 miles between Teaneck, New Jersey and San Francisco, California. 3,092 goes into 334,000 roughly 111 times. So, exactly one (1) death from distracted driving occurred in 2010 for every 111 coast-to-coast driving trips that year. This is a crisis that requires restricting the freedoms of 205 million Americans? A little perspective here, please!
See also Ronnie Schrieber, NTSB Chair Supports Cell Phone Ban With Lies & Obfuscation.