…new research from Carnegie Mellon University and the London School of Economics and Political Science suggests that talking on a cellphone while driving does not increase crash risk. Published in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, the study uses data from a major cellphone provider and accident reports to contradict previous findings that connected cellphone use to increased crash risk.
Oops. If this study, which appears to be organized along some fairly rational and defensible lines, turns out to the best representation of reality we have available, it will mean that the sole purpose of all the anti-talking-while-driving and mandatory-handsfree laws that have fast-tracked through the states in the past decade has actually been to, um, increase revenue from ticketing harmless motorists. If this in any way surprises you, then you might well be an exceptionally naive and trusting person and a few years from now I’d to introduce my son to any biological daughters you might have. This is government in the modern (and perhaps any) age: create a fear that shouldn’t really exist, manipulate the public into hysterics, extract cash from the public and divert it to the most favored recipients. It’s a tactic with an exceptional success rate and an appeal that spans the entire spectrum of political beliefs.
With that said, when the phrase “the public” is used, it refers to us. You and me. As individuals. Can’t we do better than providing the desired knee-jerk responses to whatever soundbites Messrs. Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Stewart, and Maddow scream and snark into our ears?