Some Big Brother regulations make a lot of sense

Guest Column: Joan Retsinas
We have all done something stupid – or imprudent, to use a kinder adjective. Bicycling without a helmet, driving after too much wine, swimming beyond the lifeguard’s vision, hiking off the mountain path. The list goes on. Part of being human is being rash. While computers always act rationally, we humans are innately unpredictable; indeed, sometimes we find joy in those irrational moments of stupidity. More

To continue reading this article, please do one of the following.



OP-ED

Some Big Brother regulations make a lot of sense

Guest Column: Joan Retsinas
Posted 6/25/12

We have all done something stupid – or imprudent, to use a kinder adjective. Bicycling without a helmet, driving after too much wine, swimming beyond the lifeguard’s vision, hiking off the mountain path. The list goes on. Part of being human is being rash. While computers always act rationally, we humans are innately unpredictable; indeed, sometimes we find joy in those irrational moments of stupidity.

Yet the freedom to be stupid is not an inalienable right. We may accept the consequences to ourselves of our inanity, but the calculus shifts when we harm others. And when people get behind the wheel of a car, the cost of stupidity soars.

So most states have tried to restrict drivers’ freedom to be stupid.

The easiest, and least effective, recourse is nagging. Most states, via health departments and highway councils, have urged “safe driving.” But as nagging parents recognize, many drivers ignore all those admonitions with impunity.

Not surprisingly, states that back up their admonitions with penalties have fared best at squelching stupidity – and, in turn, cutting the incidence of highway injuries and deaths.

Here are some legislative actions that work.

• Primary seat belt laws. We know that seat belts save lives. We also know that not everybody buckles up. In 32 states, the police can stop, and charge, a driver for not buckling up; those are “primary laws.” Eighteen states have “secondary” laws: police can charge a driver with “not buckling up” only if the police have stopped the driver for another reason, like speeding, or driving erratically. No surprise: in states that have switched from “secondary” to “primary” laws, fatalities fell.

• Children benefit from seat belts. Indeed, booster seats can anchor a child who, in an accident, becomes a projectile, with terrible consequences. Thirty-three states require them.

• Drunk drivers are generally a repeat menace. Ignition controls, attached to the car, can keep drunk drivers off the roads, because taking away a driver’s license often does not. A driver breathes into a tube. If the driver has been drinking, the car won’t start. Only 16 states make ignition controls mandatory for repeat offenders.

• Motorcycle helmets take some of the thrill out of riding, but they also remove some of the danger. Nineteen states require them.

Next Page
No comments on this story | Add your comment
Please log in or register to add your comment
Calendar
PBN Hosted
Events

Only a few seats remain for PBN's Manufacturing Awards Dinner and Ceremony, Thursday, April 24th, at the Bryant University Bello Center. Don't hesitate. Register today!
  • Business Women
    Accomplished. Confident. Wicked Smart. Nominate women you know who deserve speci ...
  • 40 Under Forty
    It's the 10th Anniversary of 40 Under Forty, and PBN is planning a special event ...
  • Healthiest Employers
    Enrollment now open for the 2014 Healthiest Employers Program. Please take a mom ...
Advertisement
Purchase Data
Book of Lists
Lists
Book of Lists cover
PBN's annual Book of Lists has been an essential resource for the local business community for almost 30 years. The Book of Lists features a wealth of company rankings from a variety of fields and industries, including banking, health care, real estate, law, hospitality, education, not-for-profits, technology and many more.
Data icons
Data can be purchased as single lists, in either Excel or PDF format; the entire database of the published book, in Excel format; or a printed copy of the Book of Lists.
  • Purchase an e-File of a single list
  •  
  • Purchase an e-File of the entire Book of Lists database
  •  
  • Purchase a printed copy of the Book of Lists
  •  
    National
    Local
    Latest News