California bans cell phone use for teens

Yes, the sunshine Golden state has passed a law which goes into effect in July that bans teens from using cell phones while driving.

It’s amusing to look at how various states and municipalities tackle this problem. First, it was that using one hand to manipulate a phone was dangerous. Now, even talking on the phone is distracting to teens. I wonder if they will ban teen talking period. I could dig that.

While I believe cell phones are a distraction while driving, I don’t believe that the distraction cannot be overcome by better training. In fact, auto accidents could be greatly reduced by better driver training. But it probably won’t happen because it’s too expensive. Of course, so are accidents.

It took a minimum 40 hours of flight training to get my private pilot’s license (I think I had 52 hours when I got mine). A portion of that goes to the basics of flight, another portion goes to weather, another to navigation. But a sizable portion goes to what’s called ADM and cabin resource management. ADM, or aeronautical decision making teaches situational awareness. How to be aware of your surroundings. How to focus on multiple tasks at the same time. Cabin resource management is how about how to efficiently manage those tasks in the flight environment.

Granted, there are not as many planes in the air as cars on the ground, but in a busy airspace like Los Angeles (where I flew), things could get dicey. You have to be able to pay attention to half a dozen things or more at the same time–including talking on the radio. At any given moment (kevnyc might recall from his one flight with me) you have to listen for your call sign, look for landmarks, watch for other aircraft, keep an eye on 6 key instruments, chat with your buddy in the seat next to you–oh yeah, and fly the airplane. ADM and cabin resource management teach you how to do this in a way that makes sense. One example: the first rule of flying is aviate, navigate, communicate. That is, fly the airplane first; know where you are and where you are going; and then, when there is time, talk to the control tower.

It seems to me that some sort of equivalent should be taught for driving a car. When I took drivers ed, back in 1986-87, I was never taught any such thing. Instead, I was taught how to merge with traffic. How to come to a smooth “California roll” at a stop sign. How to to parallel park. These days, with GPS’s, cell phone and all of the other gadgets we put in our cars, there are plenty of things to distract us. But instead of teaching us how to properly manage those distractions, we are taught to eliminate them instead. This is bad because from a practical standpoint, no kid is going to stop talking on a cell phone while driving just because there is a law that says they should. Especially for a $20 fine. If that were the case, we would never see teenagers speeding.

So while I think that cell phones are a distraction to driving, I think the proposed solutions have been and will continue to be ineffective because they don’t address to the core issue: better training.