Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bits & Pieces, Odds & Ends

Distracted Driving, Part 2

In a nice follow-up to the article which prompted me to write this post about texting while driving, the New York Times ran another stunner today. Apparently saving lives on the highways takes a backseat to... not "angering Congress."

I shit you not.
In 2003, researchers at a federal agency proposed a long-term study of 10,000 drivers to assess the safety risk posed by cellphone use behind the wheel.

They sought the study based on evidence that such multitasking was a serious and growing threat on America’s roadways.

But such an ambitious study never happened. And the researchers’ agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, decided not to make public hundreds of pages of research and warnings about the use of phones by drivers — in part, officials say, because of concerns about angering Congress.


The former head of the highway safety agency said he was urged to withhold the research to avoid antagonizing members of Congress who had warned the agency to stick to its mission of gathering safety data but not to lobby states.

Critics say that rationale and the failure of the Transportation Department, which oversees the highway agency, to more vigorously pursue distracted driving has cost lives and allowed to blossom a culture of behind-the-wheel multitasking.

“We’re looking at a problem that could be as bad as drunk driving, and the government has covered it up,” said Clarence Ditlow, director of the Center for Auto Safety.


State Senator Joe Simitian of California, who tried from 2001 to 2005 to pass a hands-free cellphone law over objections of the cellphone industry, said the unpublished research would have helped him convince his colleagues that cellphones cause serious — deadly — distraction.

“Years went by when lives could have been saved,” said Mr. Simitian, who in 2006 finally pushed through a hands-free law that took effect last year.

What a big ol' giant bucket of fetid fail.


The Senate Shoots Down Fighter Jets

At least the Senate rightfully heeded my request to stop the F-22 now! Ahh, the power and influence of konagod!

By a vote of 58 to 40, the Senate voted to put this absurdity down.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), shortly before the vote, noted that national guard members from his state are not asking for more F-22s but for more body armor and boots. Continuing the program "defies common sense," he said, while health care requirements and other economic needs are more imminent.


F-22 supporters included lawmakers from many of the other states where the plane's components are manufactured, such as California, Texas, and Georgia. Senators Patty Murray (Wash.) and Christopher J. Dodd (Conn.) and other Democrats argued that killing the program would undermine the nation's defense by idling highly trained engineers and mechanics.

It might idle some Lockheed Martin lobbyists. But spending billions for fighter jets we don't need, and the Pentagon doesn't want, seems like a pretty warped approach to our national security.

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Blog Sagas Won't Die

Lastly, it was noted this morning at Shakesville that His Royal Petulance has resigned as a contributor to that blog... yes, that femnist blog!

He needed a break from all the hiatusing he's been doing over there. Homo slacker! And gee, the timing of this sure puts me in an awkward position.

I would hate to think that my coincidental slipped Disqus glitch brought down his desire to continue with a pretty decent gig over there. Oh well, his world of followers will probably not be impacted by this.. all one of us.

OK, I'm done poking at things with my stick for the day. :-)

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