Today the government banned the automobile arguing that by doing so hundreds of thousands of lives would be saved. The logical argument presented by our leaders was that the government needs to protect citizens from themselves.
Could you imagine if such a thing were true? There would be panic in the streets and the stock market would tank. People wouldn’t be able to get to work, enjoy themselves by driving away on vacations. Worst of all the productivity of the nation would grind to a halt as people would no longer be able to quickly get to point B from — well — point A.
From a productivity perspective I am not sure if the cell phone ranks higher or lower than the automobile but I am sure they are both in the top 10 of technologies that have changed – for the better — the way people work and play.
So while politicians have not decided to make driving illegal they are eying the concept of making it illegal to talk on the phone or listen to music in New York city crosswalks.
When I do venture into Manhattan I am surprised there aren’t more accidental deaths as the city does seem to be in an iPod stupor. This above article calls it “iPod oblivion”.
New York state Senator Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn) is behind this initiative and is introducing legislation that would fine pedestrians in New York’s big cities $100 apiece for using their Blackberrys, iPods, cell phones, and other electronics while crossing the street.
The legislation’s intention, according to Kruger, isn’t to annoy pedestrians, but to protect them from themselves. Hmm this line of reasoning doesn’t seem to make much sense when applied to the automobile. Does it make more sense when applied to phones and music players?
My take on this is simple. It does make sense for the government to impose helmet wearing on motorcycle riders because if they have an accident the helmet decreases their risk of major head injury. Ditto for seat belts. Accidents happen. Let’s protect our citizens.
But if we are going to eye banning gadgets in crosswalks because a few people die every year let’s examine our entire value system. Many thousands of people die from smoking and drinking. Let’s start there. We will save a few lives with iPod legislation but if politicians really understand they are here to serve the public they will allocate a few million dollars a year to educate pedestrians about the dangers of being distracted while crossing the street. They can hire a nice ad agency to help– isn’t Madison Avenue in New York? Does anyone remember the successful campaign “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk?”
So Senator Kruger, thanks for bringing the problem into the spotlight but let’s take a step back and come up with a solution that doesn’t angry millions and kill productivity for the sake of potentially safer intersections. After all, if we banned cars, the iPod users wouldn’t have anything to worry about. 😉