Document:California Press Release 9 May 2001 Should Radios and Air Conditioning in Cars Be Outlawed

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14547 Titus Street, Suite 214
Panorama City, CA 91402
For immediate release: May 9, 2001
For additional information:
Juan Ros, Executive Director
Phone: (818) 782-8400

Libertarians ask: should radios and air conditioning in cars be outlawed?

LOS ANGELES -- A new study just released by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center (HSRC) says that drivers are more distracted by adjusting the radio and climate controls in a car than by talking on a cell phone -- leading Libertarians to propose banning those activities as long as politicians support banning cell phone use while driving, the Libertarian Party of California announced today.

"It sounds ridiculous to ban radios and air conditioning in cars -- but banning cell phone use while driving is equally as ridiculous," said Libertarian state executive director Juan Ros, "not to mention the risk to public safety, as individuals will be less likely to carry cell phones in their cars and therefore unable to respond in emergencies."

Assemblyman S. Joseph Simitian (D-Palo Alto) last month introduced AB 911, which would ban talking on cell phones while driving unless the cell phone has hands-free capability.

But according to the HSRC study, only 1.5% of distracted drivers cited cell phone use as the specific cause of their distraction -- supporting the Libertarians' position that Simitian's bill is unnecessary, intrusive, and misguided.

"By Assemblyman Simitian's logic, there are several more hazardous activities that the Legislature should consider banning instead," Ros pointed out. Those include:

  • Outside people, objects, or events, cited as the cause of distraction by 29.4% of the drivers in the study. "Perhaps our lawmakers can mandate dark windows all around the car to prevent drivers from looking anywhere but straight ahead," Ros joked.
  • Other occupants in the vehicle, which distracted 10.9% of drivers. "The time has come for single-person cars so that annoying spouses, friends, and children will no longer distract drivers," Ros declared.
  • Eating or drinking, which 1.7% of drivers claimed was a distraction. "Police will need to set 'eating traps' to catch drivers trying to eat on the go," Ros suggested.

"Laws already exist against reckless driving. Libertarians believe in personal responsibility, and we would leave it up to individual drivers to best judge what may or may not distract them," Ros added.

"So we are urging cell phone users to call Assemblyman Simitian's office at 916-319-2021 from their cars -- while driving responsibly, of course -- to oppose AB 911. Let's send a clear signal to our elected lawmakers: this law would be as useful as static."