Ban Driving w/ Cell Phones or Ban Automatic Transmissions

Several weeks ago it became big news that the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration released a report that came to the conclusion that all cell phone use should be banned while driving. Currently, many states (including Georgia and New York)  have  laws banning texting while driving – and there is no national rule that ensures that all states are similar. The news stations in Georgia reenforced the idea through the same anecdote from the family that pushed the law here – after their son died while texting and driving. Here’s the main article.


Rather than choosing the banning of cell phones, government could choose to increase driver attentiveness and safety by making laws that ban automatic transmissions. Here are a few arguments for that legislation, but this is mostly backed by some preliminary studies I’ve seen and heard about attentiveness improving in ADHD adolescent males. Some other points I would like to make, manual transmission legislation could immediately:

  • Immediately increases the skills and training required for driving
    (Can make training more expensive, increasing the respect driving gets)
  • (Anecdotal) Makes drivers decide between talking on a cell phone and shifting
    (though this only matters in traffic)
  • Increases fuel mileage
    (the average manual transmission gets better mileage than the same car equipped with an automatic)
    (speed and gearing thinking can use more read ahead and gear braking)
  • Decreases other distracted activities
    (Drivers are less likely to eat or try to reach back to children while driving)
That said, this is a red herring, because  I’m fairly confident that all of America is not willing to no longer be able to purchase automatic transmissions, including being required to learn a new skill – or suffer the possibility of not driving. The key thing is that states already have laws for distracted driving, failure to maintain a lane, using the left lane for other than passing purposes, and many more issues that should already enforce being distracted by cell phones.
As an additional note, I use my phone for both GPS and music in my car. This means that I could have a glowing screen lighting up my cabin while I’m really just trying to change songs.
Finally, in a non correlation / causation argument, driving fatalities actually decreased after 30 years of increases when the recession and iphone booms came.

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