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Analytics used to ban texting while driving, or drunk driving, are flawed

It is certainly true that texting while driving (by young driver) is dangerous, and increases the risk of accidents. However how do we assess car crash risks?

  • Are young drivers better at multitasking, and causes mild crish when texting because they drive more slowly?
  • What about training them on minimizing risks while texting and driving, since making it illegal does not work?
  • Likewise, you can train alcoholics to drive better (since they will never stop driving and drinking)? Part of the training would be to allow them to recognize when they've drunk more than usual so that they can adjust their driving accordingly.
  • If we ban texting, shouldn't we ban driving on snow?
  • What about driving on mountain roads with hairpins? Should this be made illegal?
  • What about night driving, driving when raining or in the fog?
  • What about having sex when driving?
  • What about eating, drinking hot coffee, checking your GPS, or attaching your seat belt when driving?
  • What about driving when being tired or with a 102 fever? Or with poor vision? Or with slow reflexes?
  • What about driving when handicapped or 90 years old? Is it worst than drunk driving or texting and driving?

My point here is that real risk assessment has never been seriously done when creating new laws. Risk assessment should take into account the following factors:

  • How easy it is to enforce a new law? DUI is rather easy to enforce (thus its popularity) but "driving when tired" is not.
  • How big is the problem? DUI is big problem, while having sex when driving is potentially more dangerous but much less widespread and more difficult to enforce.
  • How risky is the behavior? Driving at night and in the fog and on icy roads simultaneously, is much more dangerous than texting and driving, or mild drunk driving, and thus should be made illegal. Right? Or why not?

In a nutshell, I think a score should be attached to each behavior, based on numbers of life that could be saved (DUI tops the list), level of risk (driving in fog at night on icy roads tops the risk) and how easy to enforce (texting is at the bottom). Behaviors that resist new laws should be addressed by training drivers, e.g. on how to better drive when having these behaviors.

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