Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Another right bites the dust

Good story today in The Globe & Mail on Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's possible plans to ban motorists from talking on cellphones - and playing with other electronic equipment, such as Blackberries and GPS units.

Interesting stats in the story:

Quebec's coroner's office has blamed cellphones for 24 fatal car crashes in the province between 2000 and 2006. In the United States, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration estimates that driver distraction contributes to about one-quarter of all collisions.
In the past I have written in defence of cell phone drivers. I consider the cell phone the single most important tool in creating the entrepreneurial revolution of the1980s. The magical ability to be in two places at once - keeping tabs on the office while driving to sales calls - suddenly doubled (or tripled) the productivity and capability of individual entrepreneurs, leveraging their time and enabling them to compete more evenly with much bigger organizations.

When New York became the first U.S. state to ban drivers from using handheld cellphones in 2001, I thought it was a huge mistake. As other states (New Jersey, Washington), cities (Chicago) and provinces (Newfoundland, Quebec, Nova Scotia) followed suit, I shook my head and figured, "Oh well - this just gives entre-preneurs in Ontario a competitive edge."

I still don't like shackling entrepreneurs in this way. But like many other people, I no longer oppose this legislation. I've seen too many lazy, stupid drivers wandering out of their lanes or braking suddenly while they try to dial their phones. And whenever I pass cars on the highway that are weaving or driving erratically, the drivers are almost always chatting on the phone.

And yes, my own experience tells me that my concentration diminishes when I talk on the phone while driving. Unlike many people, I avoid complex conversations on the cell, since I know I can't concentrate on both tasks at the same time.

Just last week a car beside me was all over the road, slowing down and speeding up randomly. I looked over as I passed and saw the driver, head down and looking to her right, seeking a document while she clutched a cellphone - along with the wheel - in her other hand.

Big Brother, take away another freedom. We seem unable to use our rights responsibly.

Click here to read today's Globe article, or the 197 accompanying comments.

And feel free to comment here on the topic as well. Can you drive responsibly while holding the phone? Do you think the government should legislate away this right? Will it (or does it) affect your business?

1 comment:

George Torok said...


I agree and disagree with you.

I believe that voice mail was a bigger boost to entreprenuers than cell phones.

Enptreneurs can't be blamed for the recklessness of drivers on their cell phones.

I also once believed that the government should not deny me the use of my cell phone in my car. Because I use it sparingly.

However I am willing to give up my right to use my cell phone in my car if that will stop those other idiots from using their cell phones while driving.

Laws are alwasy made to deal with the lowest common denomiator.

So let's send those cell phone using drivers to Guantanamo.

George Torok