In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec. 19, 2011 / 23 Kislev, 5772

Driving to Distraction on Information Superhighway

By Debra J. Saunders

Debra J. Saunders

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "No call, no text, no update, is worth a human life," National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Deborah Hersman said in a statement explaining her panel's recommendation in favor of a complete ban on the use of personal electronic devices in cars. She's right on that score. No phone call or text is worth a life. Still, I think the NTSB went too far in recommending a nationwide ban against using personal electronic devices — including talking on a cellphone — while driving.

The unanimous recommendation followed an investigation into an Aug. 5, 2010, pileup involving a tractor truck, a pickup and two school buses in Gray Summit, Mo., which left two people — the 19-year-old pickup driver and a 15-year-old student — dead. The cause of the accidents, like the cause of other fatal crashes investigated by the NTSB: driver distraction.

Here's what bothers me about this story. It turns out that the 19-year-old pickup driver sent or received 11 text messages in the minutes before he was too slow to hit the brakes when roadwork caused traffic to slow. Thing is, the NTSB found other contributing factors to the pileup. The 19-year-old was sleep-deprived. The driver of the lead bus in the accident was distracted not by a phone, but by a motor coach parked on the shoulder. The second bus was moving too close to the lead bus.

The kicker: Missouri already had a law that prohibited drivers younger than 21 from driving and texting.

Thirty-five states have anti-texting laws. They make sense. You cannot tap out text messages and keep your eye on the road. The two are mutually exclusive activities.

But you can talk and drive.

Since California required drivers to use hands-free cellphone devices in 2008, I've had a friendly back-and-forth with the law's author, state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto.

I understand why Simitian feels that his legislation has saved lives and spared families heartache. In the years that we've disagreed, after all, I've seen a lot of boneheaded drivers come close to causing ugly accidents because, state law notwithstanding, their brains were glued to a phone.

Lately, I even have seen people driving while playing with an iPad.

"I think it's not fair to call it a nanny-state law," Simitian told me last week, "because there is a distinction between laws that protect us from ourselves — seat belt and helmet laws — and laws that protect us from others."

It is not clear, however, that the hands-free law actually protects Californians from other drivers. In 2010, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released a study that found hands-free laws did not reduce the number of car crashes in California, New York, the District of Columbia or Connecticut. The good news: Crashes were down everywhere.

Other studies show no real distinction in terms of distraction between drivers using hands-free devices and drivers using hand-held phones. In fact, that's the NTSB's argument for a complete ban. Distraction is distraction.

"They can't find the difference," Simitian countered. "The fact that they can't find it doesn't mean it isn't there."

Simitian and I agree that the NTSB folks are right to point out that a moment's distraction can spell the difference between a crash and a miss. In that sense, the NTSB recommendation is positive.

Over time, I've found that I am more careful and less likely to use my cellphone when I drive. There are too many bad drivers on the road.

And I understand that driving is not a right, but a privilege.

But I believe that most drivers exercise caution when they are on the phone and behind the wheel. I try to overcompensate for any distraction.

Besides, the state cannot outlaw all distractions. Witness the school bus driver — a professional — who hit the pickup.

Simitian also introduced legislation that banned texting while driving — which I applaud. But he does not support a ban that would include hands-free phones. He called the NTSB proposal "a non-starter."

Twice I've interviewed Simitian on his hands-free law while he drove between Palo Alto and Sacramento. He always uses a hands-free device. He told me, "It's all hands on the wheel, all eyes on the road."

I opposed the hands-free law, but I obey it. In fact, technology has evolved so that complying is not much of an inconvenience. Still, I habitually see people driving while holding a phone to their heads. They don't care about the hands-free law. And chances are that I've noticed them because they are lousy drivers.

So when I read that the NTSB wants more laws that bad drivers will ignore, I don't see the point. I see another instance of the government's imposing a law on people who are careful, when smarter laws don't stop reckless drivers from texting or trolling the Internet.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment JWR contributor Debra J. Saunders' column by clicking here.

Debra J. Saunders Archives

© 2011, Creators Syndicate