The Instigator
animpossiblepossibility
Pro (for)
Losing
18 Points
The Contender
MTGandP
Con (against)
Winning
38 Points

It should be illegal for people to use cell phones while driving

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 10 votes the winner is...
MTGandP
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/18/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,794 times Debate No: 8991
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (11)
Votes (10)

 

animpossiblepossibility

Pro

I believe there should be a federal law made so that if a police officer sees a person using a cell phone (texting and/or talking) while driving, they should be pulled over and fined a minimum of $75, and if caught 3 or more times, have their driver's license suspended for a minimum of 3 months.
MTGandP

Con

I thank my opponent for this interesting debate. I do not think that definitions are necessary; we can post some if the need arises.

All else being equal, a given action should be legal. So it is up to my opponent to show why cell phone usage should be illegal while driving; if he fails to prove that it should be illegal, the vote goes to Con. I have no possible method of argumentation until he provides evidence; I can then counter that evidence. However, until Pro makes his case, there is nothing that I can do.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 1
animpossiblepossibility

Pro

Ok here are my arguments:

1. Drivers who use cell phones are four times more likely to be in a crash.
2. Cell phone use contributes to an estimated 6 percent of all crashes, which equates to 636,000 crashes, 330,000 injuries, 12,000 serious injuries and 2,600 deaths each year.
3. 80 percent of crashes are related to driver inattention, and the #1 source of driver inattention is cell phones.
4. The annual cost of crashes caused by cell phone use is estimated to be $43 billion.
5. 5 states have already prohibited drivers from talking on cell phones while driving (California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Washington).
6.Driving while using a cell phone is as dangerous if not more dangerous than driving intoxicated.

Using a cell phone while driving poses an imminent threat not only to the person using it, but also other drivers as well, and that is why a federal law should be made.

1.1997 New England Journal of Medicine examination of hospital records and 2005 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study linking crashes to cell phone records
2.Harvard Center of Risk Analysis
3.Virginia Tech 100-car study for NHTSA
4.Harvard Center for Risk Analysis
5.http://www.statehighwaysafety.org...
6.http://news.cnet.com...
MTGandP

Con

Contention 1:
The original study [1] also says that "Decisions about regulation of such telephones, however, need to take into account the benefits of the technology and the role of individual responsibility." Many drivers with cell phones were able to quickly call emergency services; there are many other unrelated benefits of cell phone usage.

According to a large study done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [2], the risks associated with talking on the phone are no worse than those associated with performing any other similar task in the car, such as eating. If cell phone usage were to be banned, it would be necessary to also ban many other similar tasks.

In addition, the cost of banning cell phone usage is rather high [3]: "the cost of banning cell phone use while driving is about $700,000 for each quality-adjusted life year saved. That is 30 times more expensive than achieving the same public health benefit with driver airbags, and ten times more expensive than achieving that benefit by keeping the speed limit on interstate highways at 55 instead of 65 MPH."

Contention 2:
This is nothing but a statistic; it lacks proof. Many crashes may be caused by cell phone usage, but this is outweighed by several factors. For one, there is the economic cost of preventing potentially crucial calls from being made while in the car. Yes, life is more valuable than simple economic costs, but at what point do we draw the line? Would we be willing to bankrupt a nation just to save one individual? No, and this is exactly why the economic cost is important.

Two, we must take into consideration the entire population. There are billions of people who ride in cars every day; only 600,000 or so per YEAR get in an accident, and barely half of those even involve any injury. The cost of cell phone usage is rather small.

To help balance my opponent's statistics, it is worth noting that someone with a blood alcohol content of 0.1% (only just above the legal limit for operating an automobile [4]) is five times more likely to get in an accident than someone who is talking on the phone.

Contention 3:
The core of this argument is very similar to the core arguments of #1 and #2, so my arguments can be cross-applied. But to add something extra, I ask, why is this a reason to ban cell phone usage? There are surely more economical ways to reduce the risk of an accident. Education and encouragement are powerful tools that we ought to utilize. Simply making cell phone use illegal is invasive, excessive and unnecessary, not to mention an infringement on personal liberty.

Contention 4: No direct source to this fact has been given and I cannot find the original source, so it is difficult to respond to. However, it has been found that banning cell phones would cause a great deal of economic hardship [3].

Contention 5: This is an example of an appeal to authority; it is fallacious [5], and should be disregarded.

Contention 6: False. See rebuttal to contention 2.

In conclusion, the side effects of cell phone conversation while driving are minor and the costs of banning cell phone use are great.

[1] New England Journal of Medicine <http://content.nejm.org...;
[2] National Highway Traffic Safety Administration <http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov...;
[3] Harvard Center for Risk Analysis <http://www.hsph.harvard.edu...;
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[5] http://www.nizkor.org...
Debate Round No. 2
animpossiblepossibility

Pro

When I tried to click on your first 3 sources, they all came up as "page not found" for me, so if you could please post them again it would be appreciated.

"the risks associated with talking on the phone are no worse than those associated with performing any other similar task in the car, such as eating. If cell phone usage were to be banned, it would be necessary to also ban many other similar tasks."

First of all, that is Slippery Slope. "The Slippery Slope is a fallacy in which a person asserts that some event must inevitably follow from another without any argument for the inevitability of the event in question."(1) The risks associated are worse, because the number one source of driver inattention is cell phone use, not eating or any other similar task, according to a Virginia Tech 100-car study for NHTSA. (2)

"the cost of banning cell phone usage is rather high"
This is based on the 2000 study, which was commissioned solely by AT&T Wireless and not an independent source. And besides, too many factors go into play in determining how such numbers are estimated, which can change constantly at any moment in time. The researchers even said it themselves: "the estimate is imprecise." (3)

"This is nothing but a statistic; it lacks proof."
What constitutes as proof in your opinion? Would you accept the dictionary.com definition: "evidence sufficient to establish a thing as true, or to produce belief in its truth?" A 1997 study of Canadian drivers "who agreed to have their cell phone records scrutinized found that the risk of an accident was four times greater while a driver was using the phone." According to an in-depth analysis by the Los Angeles Times, "at least 4,699 reported accidents were blamed on drivers using cell phones, and those crashes killed 31 people and injured 2,786," in California in 2001. (4)

"For one, there is the economic cost of preventing potentially crucial calls from being made while in the car. Yes, life is more valuable than simple economic costs, but at what point do we draw the line? Would we be willing to bankrupt a nation just to save one individual? No, and this is exactly why the economic cost is important."
Again, what is wrong with someone pulling over into an emergency lane on the highway to answer "potentially crucial calls" instead of continuing to drive distracted? Why not put on your emergency lights if you cannot move over and slow down, letting other drivers go around you while you are focused on the call? What constitutes a potentially crucial call anyway?

"Two, we must take into consideration the entire population. There are billions of people who ride in cars every day; only 600,000 or so per YEAR get in an accident, and barely half of those even involve any injury. The cost of cell phone usage is rather small."

I am talking only about the estimated 250,000,000 who live in the United States and drive cars, not the entire world. This is the same 600,000 car accidents that can be easily curbed with a federal law, is it not? The cost of cell phone usage is rather large for those 600,000+ people who get into accidents. Let me give you an example to prove this. You said that barely half of those accidents involve any injury, so I will leave out 300,000 accidents for the sake of this example. Out of 300,000 accidents, let's say half of those require bumper repair due to a rear end collision. According to car expert David Caulfield, the average bumper repair range is $300-700 dollars, which amounts to between $45,000,000 and $105,000,000 total. (5) Keep in mind that this is only a minor rear end collision with no injuries involved. This example does not even take into account how much more the people who caused the accident would have to pay on their car insurance.

"someone with a blood alcohol content of 0.1% (only just above the legal limit for operating an automobile [4]) is five times more likely to get in an accident than someone who is talking on the phone."

Source? Another study by the University of Utah in 2006 found that "maneuvering through traffic while talking on the phone increases the likelihood of an accident five-fold and is actually more dangerous than driving drunk."

Also, how is 5 fallacious? 5 States is a fact, and it is actually 6:
http://www.iihs.org...
Please explain for me.

1. http://www.nizkor.org...
2.http://www.nhtsa.gov...
3. Harvard Center for Risk Analysis
4. http://articles.latimes.com...
5. http://en.allexperts.com...
MTGandP

Con

I had a bit of an editing problem with the sources.
http://content.nejm.org...
http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov...
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu...

Slippery Slope
What I stated was, while similar, not the same as a slippery slope fallacy. My opponent already gave a good description of a slippery slope fallacy, and it is clear enough that my statement does not fit. What I said is that talking on the phone is no more risky than an array of similar activities, so by my opponent's logic, each of the activities should be banned. This does NOT say that one event necessarily follows from another.

"The risks associated are worse, because the number one source of driver inattention is cell phone use, not eating or any other similar task, according to a Virginia Tech 100-car study for NHTSA."
This is a case of bad math. Cell phone use is no more risky than any other similar task; it is simply more common. So if it is no more risky, why should it be outlawed while other activities are not?

"["the cost of banning cell phone usage is rather high"] This is based on the 2000 study, which was commissioned solely by AT&T Wireless and not an independent source."
The source of commission does not matter, as the study was peer reviewed by independent experts. This peer review would have eliminated any bias of that sort [1, 2].

"And besides, too many factors go into play in determining how such numbers are estimated, which can change constantly at any moment in time. The researchers even said it themselves: 'the estimate is imprecise.' (3)"
There is a difference between accuracy and precision. Even if the estimate is imprecise, it can still be a strong approximation.

"What constitutes as proof in your opinion?"
My opponent has now provided adequate proof to support his second contention. However, even if it is supported by evidence, it still does not hold up on logical grounds, as I showed in the previous round.

"Again, what is wrong with someone pulling over into an emergency lane on the highway to answer 'potentially crucial calls' instead of continuing to drive distracted?"
There are many factors involved. But off the top of my head, I can see that this would not work in many cases as it would be a delay; normally when people are in cars, they are trying to get somewhere. Sometimes getting somewhere is not so important, such as when getting groceries, but many times it is very important, such as getting to work on time.

"I am talking only about the estimated 250,000,000 who live in the United States and drive cars, not the entire world."
Still, 250 million is a lot more than 600,000.

"According to car expert David Caulfield, the average bumper repair range is $300-700 dollars, which amounts to between $45,000,000 and $105,000,000 total. (5) Keep in mind that this is only a minor rear end collision with no injuries involved."
The study took such costs into account. But on top of that, the costs are no reason to ban cell phone use outright: people can make choices, and if they have to pay for them, well, it was their choice. Other cars who may get hit by reckless cell phone drivers are not in monetary danger either, thanks to the miracle of liability insurance [3].

"Source?"
[4]

"maneuvering through traffic while talking on the phone increases the likelihood of an accident five-fold and is actually more dangerous than driving drunk."
My opponent has not cited a direct source for this. At worst, we have conflicting studies, and so neither should be accepted. At best, my opponent's study is not peer reviewed or is in some way not credible, in which case mine is to be accepted.

Contention 5 is fallacious because it says that just because 5 states have made cell phone use illegal, that everyone should do it. I could just as easily say that since cell phone use is legal in 45 states, that it should be legal everywhere. See [5].

***

Cell phone usage is a relatively harmless activity, and it should remain legal. The monetary costs associated with restricting free choice are excessive. Citizens should be allowed to choose to talk on their cell phones or not. Resolution negated. Vote Pro.

[1] http://www.senseaboutscience.org.uk...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[4] http://www.hsph.harvard.edu...
[5] http://skepticwiki.org...
[6] http://usgovinfo.about.com...
Debate Round No. 3
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by heyitsjay 5 years ago
heyitsjay
Yes, pro did do very well for his first debate, I am impressed. I applause to you both. Although I do agree with iamadragon that this debate could've gone a little more into depth, but great job hands down.
Posted by iamadragon 5 years ago
iamadragon
Conduct: TIE
Spelling and Grammar: TIE
Arguments: PRO. I feel like this was a pretty relaxed/short debate. I think there was a lot more to be said on both sides, but for what was said, PRO did a better job.
Sources: PRO. Pretty impressive job here, I thought. PRO clearly looked for hard, very reliable sources to back up many of his claims.
Posted by MTGandP 5 years ago
MTGandP
For your first debate, you did a great job. I really had to work at this one.
Posted by animpossiblepossibility 5 years ago
animpossiblepossibility
Eh, first debate for me. I'll learn from the mistakes.
Posted by mongeese 5 years ago
mongeese
"if caught 3 or more times, have their driver's license suspended for a minimum of 3 months."
Posted by MTGandP 5 years ago
MTGandP
What do you mean, poor use of numbers?
Posted by mongeese 5 years ago
mongeese
Arguments to CON for better arguments.
S/G to CON for PRO's poor usage of numbers.
Posted by MTGandP 5 years ago
MTGandP
"Vote Pro."
Sorry, vote Con. Typo.
Posted by KeithKroeger91 5 years ago
KeithKroeger91
I live in California where you cannot talk on the cell phone while driving.

I am currently neutral on that idea but I do believe that the Government should not make it a federal law.
Posted by feverish 5 years ago
feverish
It's illegal in the UK already. Not saying I support it one way or another though.
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Volkov
animpossiblepossibilityMTGandPTied
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animpossiblepossibilityMTGandPTied
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animpossiblepossibilityMTGandPTied
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