Perhaps You'd Like To Watch An Extremely Touching Video Chock Full Of Anecdotal "Evidence"

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth

Werner Herzog directed the surprisingly good Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans a few years back, and now he’s put his not inconsiderable talents to work making a film about the consequences of distracted driving.

Titled “From One Second To The Next”, the movie was funded by AT&T and is intended to — well, not to prevent texting and driving, because some major percentage of AT&T’s revenue depends on people feeling like they need to stay connected to other mobile-device users at all times, but at least to shame people who cause accidents while they’re doing it. Oddly enough, my son and I witnessed a distracted-driving accident on Thursday while heading home from his school. A woman in her fifties simply drove into the back of a stopped car, waiting to hit her brakes until she was perhaps fifty feet away. I saw that it was going to happen for at least a second and a half before it did, even though the clone and I were busy singing the harmony parts to “Ragged Wood” by the Fleet Foxes. The perpetrator wasn’t texting or chatting or surfing the web; she was just an old woman with poor depth perception and no expectation that there would be stopped cars ahead of her. The impact was pretty hard, and the victim was an elderly guy in a late-Nineties LeSabre. Had I not had my son with me, I’d have tried to assist after the fact, but there was no safe place to stash him at the time.

So now you have an anecdote that suggests that texting and driving isn’t responsible for all the accidents out there, which you can add to the four anecdotes in the movie. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that “distracted driving” is completely insignificant. However, there’s nothing to suggest that it deserves the current cause celebre status it has in the media. The cynic in me thinks it’s yet another battlefield of our little American Kulturkampf. Distracted driving is primarily a middle-class affliction. Poor people don’t own cars, the urban elite take public transportation, and the country’s tastemakers are typically driven in the back of Town Cars and S-Klasses. There’s a considerable number of people out there who are willing to make texting and driving punishable by death because they are never in a situation where they could commit the crime themselves. Furthermore, the middle class can be taxed and fined and regulated and they will largely play the game the way it’s meant to be played, occasionally contributing $150 to the public coffers while furtively holding their phones beneath the increasingly elevated beltlines of their fortress-like SUVs.

Texting and driving is wrapped up in the urban mind with fat people and hicks and the Ford F-150 and the AR-15 and Miranda Lambert and all that other lamentable garbage. Why not rail against it? It’s sort of like the people who rail passionately against Nestle’s former activities in Africa because it’s mostly irrelevant to them; they never eat Crunch! bars anyway. Mr. Herzog’s documentary is unlikely to change anybody’s mind. Either you already hate texting and driving for reasons that are mostly cultural, or you don’t. If you have thirty-five minutes to burn today, you might be better off reading Daniel Greenfield’s essay on some of the root causes behind this difference of opinion.

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  • Ihatetrees Ihatetrees on Aug 11, 2013

    I'm sympathetic with JB's position, but there have to be limits on certain behaviors while driving. Perhaps Utah has it right: Text, drive and hurt someone = Drink, drive and hurt someone.

    • Rpn453 Rpn453 on Aug 13, 2013

      How about: drive and hurt someone = drive and hurt someone. Why does it matter which form of negligence the driver chooses?

  • Probert Probert on Aug 12, 2013

    This article is filled with straw men - who thinks what of whom - it doesn't ring true. Drive around and just see how texting and phoning affect driving - it's right there every single day. The question is how many deaths and injuries are we willing to accept? Around 40,000/year die in car accidents - it's accepted as the price of doing business. But texting and phoning are not part of the transportation business. So what' the acceptable death toll: 100, 500, 1000, 5000, 10,000? What sounds OK to you? I look dorward to the results of the poll.

  • Kat Laneaux Agree with Michael500, we wasted all that money just to bail out GM and they are developing these cars in China and other countries. What the heck. I understand the cheap labor but that is just another foothold the government has on their citizens and they already treat them like crap. That is pretty disgusting to go forward to put other peoples health and mental stability on a crazy crazed, control freak, leader, who is in bed with Russia. Thought about getting a buick but that just shot that one out of the park. All of this for the greed. They get what they lay in bed with. Disgusting.
  • Michael500 Good thing Obama used $50 billion of taxpayer money to bail them out and give unions a big stake. GM is headed to BK again with their Hail Mary hope of EVs. Hopefully a Republican in office will let them go BK the next time, and it's coming. The US economy is not related/dependent on GM and their Chinese made Buicks.
  • MaintenanceCosts "Rural areas hardly noticed COVID at all."I very much doubt that is true in places like the Navajo Nation or the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, some of which lost 2% or more of their population to COVID.No city had a death rate in the same order of magnitude.Low-density living is a very modern invention. Before cars, people, even in agricultural areas, needed to live densely to survive.
  • Wjtinfwb Always liked these MN12 cars and the subsequent Lincoln variant. But Ford, apparently strapped for resources or cash, introduced these half-baked. Very sophisticated chassis and styling, let down but antiquated old pushrod engines and cheap interiors. The 4.6L Modular V8 helped a bit, no faster than the 5.0 but extremely smooth and quiet. The interior came next, nicer wrap-around dash, airbags instead of the mouse belts and refined exterior styling. The Supercharged 3.8L V6 was potent, but kind of crude and had an appetite for head gaskets early on. Most were bolted to the AOD automatic, a sturdy but slow shifting gearbox made much better with electronic controls in the later days. Nice cars that in the right color, evoked the 6 series BMW, at least the Thunderbird did. Could have been great cars and maybe should have been a swoopy CLS style sedan. Pretty hard to find a decent one these days.
  • Inside Looking Out You should care. With GM will die America. All signs are there. How about the Arsenal of Democracy? Toyota?