The cell-phone ban has been in effect for about three months, but police have been issuing warnings until now. Starting tomorrow (Feb.1, 2010) the grace period is over and each offence will cost $125 to anyone caught using a handheld cell-phone or texting in Ontario. My own very unscientific observation has been that people are still using these devices while driving but are being very discrete about it; which may be aggravating the problem. Of course the ban was put in place because our political leaders want to protect us, and based on “scientific data” that shows distractions like cell-phones impair driving ability, and banning them was politically opportune. Do the outcomes support this action?
A report last week from the American Insurance Institute for Highway Safety suggests that such laws are ineffective. The report titled: Laws banning cell-phone use while driving fail to reduce crashes, new insurance data indicate compares insurance claims in four US states before and after a cell-phone ban and compares these states to nearby jurisdictions where there is no ban. One would expect more insurance claims prior to a ban than after, that did not happen. One would expect more insurance claims where there are no bans compared to where the bans are enforced, that did not happen. All of this data was analyzed and controlled for a multitude of variables that insurance company bean-counters are famous for. The up-shot is that such bans have little or no effect in making driving safer. So will the laws be repealed? Democracy
As for H1N1, talk about a tempest in a teapot, even I was caught up in the hype about this thing. The last time Swine Flu caused such a caused such angst was 1976 and it looks like we were fooled again. Someday these recurrent “cry wolf” refrains will come back and bite us in the ass.
Last time virtually the entire Swine Flu kerfuffle took place in the US after a young soldier at Fort Dix New Jersey died and four of his comrades were hospitalized of what was reported as an H1N1 strain similar to the one that caused the 1918 Flu Pandemic. The resulting mass-vaccination program caused a paralyzing neuromuscular syndrome in at least 500 individuals with possibly 25 fatalities.
This time the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a Pandemic Alert and predicted 2 billion cases of H1N1 and hundreds of thousands of deaths. So far around 15 000 have died world wide, far less than any normal flu season.
The Council of Europe is investigating whether WHO officials faked the pandemic to boost drug revenues for CSL Limited, GlaxoSmithKline, and Roche. Conspiracy anyone?