Sep 27, 2011

Easy Fix, Never Happen

All Rights Reserved © 2011 Thomas W. Day

The news report read, "Hennepin County attorneys say that on the morning of Oct. 7, 2010, 20-year-old Amanda Elizabeth Manzanares was driving without insurance and under a restricted instructional permit when she drove her car across the centerline of Excelsior Boulevard in Minnetonka and struck a man riding a motorcycle. The man suffered severe injuries that have, to-date, required $500,000 in surgeries and other medical care. . .

"After retrieving Manzanares' cell phone at the scene, Minnetonka police investigators found a series of text message exchanges and calls on Manzanares' phone that were made and received in the minutes surrounding the collision.

"But, according to court documents, Manzanares denied using her phone at the time of the accident, telling Minnetonka police she had “blacked-out,” was tired, that she hadn't taken prescribed medication and that she was still getting comfortable as a driver."

This is what passes for "news" in modern America. Tainted, slanted "information" intended to inflame the unwashed, illiterate masses without providing any solutions, context, or depth. Back when he was funny, Dennis Miller defined television news as a series of unimportant but bad things we could all be glad didn't happen to us.

Don't get me wrong, Manzanares ought to prosecuted for nearly killing an innocent bystander with her miserable, incompetent (for whatever reason) driving. But by shining a bright light on this pitiful excuse for a human being, the law and the media are doing their damndest to distract the blame from the real criminals in this all-too-common sort of incident; cell phone providers. On one hand, television reminds us at every cop-show opportunity that any cell phone can be tracked if it is on. If it can be tracked, its trajectory and velocity can be determined. If all that is true, any communications attempted while the phone is in motion can be terminated. End of problem.

Driving while yapping on a cell phone use is clearly an example of driving while incapacitated. Every study that has examined the relationship between driving drunk and driving while asking "whut r u doin?" has found that cell phones are linked to driving mental retardation. One study (published in Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society) found in simulated driving conditions that drunks (at least those with a 0.08 percent blood-alcohol level) are better drivers than cell phone yappers. None of the drunks crashed in that study, while three cell phone morons did.

Why it took a study to identify this character of cell phone abuse says more about academia, society, and capitalism than it tells us about the actual problem. Any half-conscious motorcyclist knows that you stay as far from a cell phone user as the road permits. They are erratic, marginally conscious, and as dangerous as gangbangers. I'm no less worried about riding near a cell phone user than I am about trying to get by someone who is tossing out the occasional empty beer can or has an Easy Rider rifle rack loaded with automatic weapons.

If you're brand new to this planet and these United States, you might ask, "Why is this tolerated if the solution is so simple?" The reason, dear alien life-form, is money. The slim splinter that remains of our democracy is dedicated to the idea that the profits of a few override the security, health, safety, and quality of life of the nation and its not-rich citizens. Those trust-funded, grossly overpaid and under-skilled corporate executives who are the only real beneficiaries of the death and destruction their products cause (not the cigarette executives, this time) are more important than the lives of every other person on public roads. Why that argument doesn't hold true for alcohol-pushing corporate executives is a little inconsistent, but I'd bet it's because the cell phone execs are richer.

Of course, my electronic trigger isn't the solution I'd recommend in an ideal world; too passive and forgiving. Personally, I'd rather see cell phone manufacturers forced to install a spring-loaded 4" spike in every cell phone that would be triggered by cell phone use at any velocity exceeding 10mph. At worst, the cell phone user would have some part of his/her anatomy skewered for violating rational cell phone laws. At best, one more idiot would be spiked from the gene pool.

Honestly, I don't expect either idea to take hold in my lifetime or before the next comet blasts an idiot wind across the planet and restarts the evolutionary cycle. The rapid degeneration of our species depends on the right of the dumbest and most corrupt evil spawn's access to every damn toy their idiot heart desires. So, my favorite solution is dead in its tracks. Second, the attention deficit disordered have grown to depend on knowing what their friends and family are doing at this very second and they are perfectly happy to kill anyone in their path to have that knowledge. What's the worst thing that can happen, being prosecuted for "felony texting and driving?" That sounds slightly more serious than unpaid parking tickets.


Paul said...

A fine example of our take no personal responsibility society. Her license should have been revoked, or at least suspended until she goes back to drivers ed (what a joke). I've read that in Japan when it comes to driving, you are your brothers keeper. If you hurt someone you are responsible for them and their family and all that entails.
I hope there is a large civil suit against this woman. If the message could get out that you might be paying the rest of your life for harm you cause while driving distracted it 'might' help.

T.W. Day said...

Seems like the long way around. There is no good reason for cell phones to be used in a moving vehicle. Regardless of the profits gained by the amoral corporations who could care less how many people their products kill, what's the justification for avoiding a technological fix for a portion of the problem? So far, I haven't seen any proof that criminal penalties for foolish acts works as a deterrent. It's hard to justify calling the US a "no personal responsibility society" when we imprison more of our citizens than any other industrialized country, unless you're referring to corporations who clearly are responsibility-free. Like you, I'd like to see a huge class action suit, but one directed at the cell phone companies. Since we no longer have state or federal government, we're left to the wild hope that civil courts can restore justice and order. It's a pretty wild hope.

Chunk Norris said...

You can't fix stupid. Bikers should have to prove they can handle bigger bikes as they get more experience, starting at 200cc maybe. Gun owners should prove they have the necessary skill sets (physical and mental) before they're allowed to own one. That they're for self-protection is BS on it's face. Cell phones should be disabled when moving. Folks should not vote for the 'freedom loving' groups that are supported by (deployed by) the very same corporate folks that benefit the most by keeping the great unwashed stupid (school choice). Yes, that girl should spend a very long time in a publicly owned and operated jail. Just my opinion.

Paul said...

My comment about personal responsibility refers to the "its not my fault" attitude that is so prevalent. The woman you wrote about had all sorts of excuses, but can't admit to her own incompetence. This is endemic in America; my school didn't teach me - no, you were a horseshit student/ I can't put this thing together - no, you're to lazy to read the directions and think/ it's McDonalds fault I'm fat, etc. etc.
Somewhat related, I saw an ad today from Allstate insurance asking for help in getting national legislation passed for a graduated license system for teens.

T.W. Day said...

I don't think avoiding blame is either American or modern. The institution of incorporation is a device intended to protect people with power from accepting responsibility for misusing that power. Corporations have been around since before the US and, in fact, several US founders (Jefferson and Madison, for example) thought bringing that institution to the US would be the downfall of democracy and liberty.

I love the idea of graduated (graduating?) licensing, for all drivers. Commercial truck drivers would be an example of an occupation that should have extremely rigid licensing. (Crash a truck, go back to riding the bus.) This lady should be an example of the kind of person who would never again be granted a driver's license of any sort.