I’m taking a break over at mine for a while so I thought I’d pop over there with this one since it’s been a while since I’ve been around.

 Dicing with death, the teenagers who use Facebook and tweet while at the wheel

Let’s see how many folk agree with me on the difference between actually doing harm and doing something that ‘could cause’ harm but doesn’t.

Facebook addicts would argue that the social networking site is a harmless pursuit.
But that may depend on just how addicted you are.

Notice the modern propensity to call anything remotely pleasurable, an addiction. I rarely use Facebook myself, I know a lot of people that do use it very often but it certainly isn’t an addiction.

Thousands, it seems, are using smartphones to log on as they drive, as well as sending emails, tweeting and texting.  A fifth of young drivers admit to using their smartphones to access Facebook or Twitter while behind the wheel.
Eleven per cent of all drivers also looked at apps and websites, listened to music or even played games on their phones. 

I’ve never paid much heed to what teenagers ‘admit to’ in a survey. It would be a lot better if this report was based on actual accident statistics from crashes caused by doing all of the above, but I doubt that would make such an emotional, hard hitting story.

RAC technical director David Bizley said: ‘The growth of the new breed of motoring offences, like drug-driving and social networking behind the wheel, is highly concerning. These offences don’t yet have the same social taboo that drink-driving holds.’ 

These are not ‘new’ offences, they are simply new ways of committing an existing offence – dangerous driving, or driving without due care and attention.

Using a mobile phone did not need to have it’s own separate offence. Using a phone while driving can often be done safely. When it’s done in an unsafe manner there are existing laws to deal with it.

Smoking at the wheel is also due to have it’s own special law. Again, this can be done safely, as in in nearly all cases, or it can be dealt with under existing legislation.

Studies by insurers show that drivers using hand-held phones are twice as likely to crash, 

Twice as likely? Twice as likely as what though? I’ve been driving for years and have never caused a crash. I don’t know anyone who has caused a crash. How many of you reading this have caused a crash?

Twice nothing is still nothing.

Police figures suggest phone use is a contributing factor in 2 per cent of road fatalities. 

So not huge figures then. And only a contributing factor at that.

However, the RAC report says too few offenders are prosecuted, adding: ‘Only 124,700 people were given a fixed-penalty notice for driving without a hands-free kit last year. 

Only 124,700? Well I’ll go t’t foot of our stairs! At £30 a ticket, that’s a lot of kerching!

Of course that is far from enough for the morons in the comments section. I was beginning to develope a tiny bit of respect for the DM readers after they pulled apart the DM’s campaign to censor the internet, but this load of drivvel has reminded me that the average DM reader is as thick as pig shit and wants us all bagged and tagged.

Check these out:

Driving is a privilege not a right. Minimum age to drive? 25!

Actually it is a right. There’s many more.
  • huge fine and a ban to drive a car for a year!
  • Signal blocking technology exists and is cheap. Why cant manufacturers
    be made to fit one which cuts out the phone signal while the engine is
  • They need to have their cars impounded and sold! 
  • Forget points on licenses though, crush there cars!
  • A prison sentence is the only way to deter this crazy behaviour. 
  • Minimum 10 years of hard labour!
  • a 5 year ban and their precious metal box on wheels being crushed into a little cube
  • 6mths mandatory jail.
  •  Take Away Their Licence.
    Never Let Them Back On The Road.
  •  Let anybody report them, then take their licences away ….. and they NEVER get it back.

I find myself hoping that these idiots find themselves on the wrong end of a draconian penalty for a minor infraction.

I say no harm, no foul

11 comments for “Perspective

  1. Jack Savage
    May 23, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    No harm, no foul…

    Would this maxim extend to drink-driving or driving under the influence of other drugs?

    I have argued, on occasion, that it should, but I have struggled even to convince myself.

    I am a great fan of taking personal responsibility but would this be a liberty too far?

    I would interested in what regular readers here thought.

    • May 23, 2012 at 10:17 pm

      I’m inclined to take the Sean Gabb approach. In itself not an offence, but kill someone and you get prosecuted under the offences against the persons act.

      As for the report – that’s some serious rent seeking going on there.

      That said, I’m going to mildly disagree with Bucko – driving a vehicle on the public highway is not an automatic right. It is an earned privilege. Given that it is a shared resource and vehicles are inherently dangerous if not operated competently, some form of demonstration of a minimum level of competence before being allowed to operate a vehicle on that shared resource unsupervised is reasonable – so, yeah, you earn that licence and should continue to demonstrate competence when driving throughout your life. It is, after all, a life skill.

      • May 24, 2012 at 7:31 am

        See my reply to Woodsy

    • May 24, 2012 at 7:30 am

      I’ve never had a problem with beleiving a victimless crime should not be a crime. We have a set limit but alcohol affects different people in different ways, just like some under eighteens can drink sensibly and some adults should not be around the stuff.

      Of course there are many morons with absolutely no personal responsibility but that is because years of nannying have bred such a society. I beleive we could breed a society of responsible people if we let go of the reins.

  2. May 23, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    I’m with Longrider on that ‘right’ issue too. I think it requires a test of competence. A right however does exist, everyone must have the right to demonstrate their competence, and having done so is allowed to drive.

    • May 24, 2012 at 7:37 am

      That’s basically where I am on this one. In every field, no restriction on who can go for the test but there does need to be a test. The argument about who sets the test and whether we agree is not really all that political, e.g. the driving test is pretty logical, although South Africa ruins this with a test designed to fail the majority [post coming up].

      • May 24, 2012 at 7:47 am

        See my reply to Woodsy. The driving test may have been logical in it’s early days but so many changes have been brought in by grieving mothers and pressure groups that now it’s a farce. It’s getting worse all the time too.

    • May 24, 2012 at 7:43 am

      I’m going to disagree with yourself and Longrider. I beleive in the absolute right to travel in any manner you see fit, even if that means building your own mode of transport and driving / flying it yourself. If you do harm then that’s the time for punishment.

      I will concede though, that there are an awful lot of cars on the road these days and my philosophy has maybe been made impractical because of this.

      I might (just might) be in favour of a competency test as long as it was not done by the government. As long as the driving test is subject to the whims of beurocrats and single-issue pressure groups then it’s not fit for purpose in my opinion.

      My grandad learned to drive in the army in 1942 and was not made to take a test in civillian life.

      I passed the test of the time and was automatically allowed to drive 7.5 tonner which I have done since.

      Mrs B had to take a very daft theory test and must do a separate test if she wants to drive a 7.5 ton.

      My local paper is campaigning for new drivers to be banned from driving at night or carrying passengers.

      Roads will always be dangerous no matter how many new laws grieving parents are allowed to bring in. If there is to be a competency test it should be basic and consistent. Governments don’t do basic or consistancy

      • May 24, 2012 at 5:16 pm

        The problem with this approach is that if everyone was to do their own thing, no one would know the rules of the road, for example. We have to have commonly agreed standards – which side of the road we drive, for example and how to operate the machine without being a danger to oneself and others – we owe our neighbours a duty of care and not crashing our vehicle into them falls within this basic common law principle of not causing harm to others. Also, we need commonly agreed terms of reference. And, frankly, I wouldn’t allow someone loose with a piece of machinery unsupervised until they have demonstrated to me that they can operate it competently. Why should road vehicles be exempt from this basic principle?

        The test as it stands has hardly changed in decades, so the grieving relatives have had little effect. It is basic and it is consistent despite the urban myths that regularly do the rounds. I have no particular problem with the changing of vehicle groups and licence categories.

        Actually, this is one area where the state should be involved. The state is the one national body set up to operates as a standards setting body – even if it does not actually conduct assessments.

        Are you really, really happy for pilots to take to the air without any form of training and competence assessment – and fly where they like when they like with no regard for other aircraft? That should make the summer trip to Alicante interesting, to say the least.

        Can you imagine what would happen on our busy roads if the GINs (God Never Intendeds) were let loose unsupervised, unable to carry out the most basic machine control or roadcraft? And there are plenty about that the test system has weeded out from our roads and that’s a damned good thing for the rest of us, frankly. There are occasions when harm prevention is the right approach. This is one such. A basic level of competence that is assessed before being let loose is the right thing here – it ain’t the 1930s with empty roads any more. To do otherwise would be gross negligence.

        The roads are a shared resource, we owe other users a duty of care to be competent when using our vehicles, so I do not go along with the free for all approach.

        You nailed it early on in your reply to Woodsy and I – your approach just ain’t practical on today’s busy infrastructure. It was, once, not any more.

        Oh, and your local paper can go fuck themselves, frankly – but you knew that already, didn’t you 😉

        • May 25, 2012 at 7:45 am

          Yes, Ill concede that my approach is desireable (to me) rather than practical.
          I won’t go quite as far as you and completely agree with the status quo though.
          Government gives you a bit of paper, government takes it away and it’s reasons for doing either are often based on no more than the date showing on your calendar.

          As for my local paper, yes indeed, but I can’t help feeling that they might get at least some of thier demands.

          • May 25, 2012 at 6:57 pm

            I didn’t say that I agree with the status quo. I would massively revamp driver training and assessment if I had my way – and the state would have only minimal involvement as a standards setting body, but that’s a whole new post.

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