The more things change
NTSB’s call for nationwide cell phone ban smacks of overreaction
By Jack Roberts
In a recent interview, actor George Clooney made a clever observation: Now that nearly everyone on the planet has a smartphone with a camera, where, he wondered, were all the UFO photos we used to see all the time? You don’t see them nearly as often as you did when having a camera with you was a comparatively rare occurrence.
It seems that smartphones are on everyone’s minds these days – most likely because they clearly are a transformative piece of technology. Years from now, when we look back on our Great March Forward, smartphones probably will represent a true demarcation point.
Television is a good past example of what I’m talking about: There was a time before television – and a time after television. Anyone who lived through that transition knows exactly what I’m talking about.
When new technology changes the way we live, there’s some inevitable handwringing that comes along with that process. To be blunt, people also tend to freak out a bit.
80 years ago, safety advocates targeted car radios.
Take the National Transportation Safety Board’s recent call for a complete nationwide ban on all cellular communication devices while driving – even hands-free devices.
If you don’t think that sounds like an overreaction, would you believe we’ve been here before? Believe it or not, there was a similar outcry back in the 1930s when car radios started to become commonplace.
Upstart Chevy, which was giving Ford serious competitive headaches by the end of the 19-teens, gets credit for the first car radio, according to author Bill DeMain in a recent article on MentalFloss.com. The first units were bulky, required a battery that barely fit under the front seat and cost $200 in a time when a fully-equipped 40-foot fishing yacht cost $7,000.
*Familiar outcry. New technology inevitably leads to handwringing and second-guessing.
*Today’s reality. Real-time communication is vital to successful and profitable fleet operations.
Also of Interest »