Friday, July 5, 2013

Fireworks are illegal in Massachusetts; driving while on the phone is not

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), consumer fireworks in 2011 caused 17,800 fires in the United States which "resulted in an estimated eight reported civilian deaths." Two things stand out in this factoid: 1) Like guns, cars and kitchen knives, fireworks generally do not injure or kill people without the intervention of a human being; and 2) what about the gathering of these statistics required the NFPA to qualify their statement with "an estimated eight reported civilian deaths?"

The American Pyrotechnics Association and National Council on Fireworks Safety offer up that an average of four people die from failed use of fireworks each year in the U.S. Many more, as one would suspect, are injured in fireworks accidents, logging 9,600 visits to the emergency room in 2011.

Groups that advocate for illegalizing fireworks, such as the Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks (formed by the NFPA and the American Academy of Pediatrics), argue that the dangers of using consumer fireworks outweigh the fun factor and that it's an optional activity in that no one must operate fireworks.

For purposes of comparison, one might argue that operating a cell phone while driving is also an optional activity and that it is far more dangerous than setting off a bottle rocket. In fact, the National Safety Council cites at least 1.3 million automobile crashes in 2011 that involved cell phone usage. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concluded that 3,092 deaths were attributable to cell phone sourced distracted driving in 2010.

Given the magnitude of accidents, injuries and deaths associated with cell phone use while driving, would we not benefit from banning this activity in Massachusetts?

Could a cell phone ban be enforced? How do you know when someone is talking on a hands-free cell phone, singing along with Jim Croce's "Operator," or talking to himself? What if police were armed with a device that could detect that a cell phone is in use?

By the way, forget about banning cell phones unless the driver is using a hands-free device. The issue is not holding a phone to your ear; it's distracted driving. Several studies have shown that hands-free devices show no benefits over hand held cell phone use while driving.

Are you ready to relinquish more of your liberty in exchange for saving a life? Or hundreds of lives? To put it another way, do we want or need the government to again save ourselves from ourselves?

8 comments:

  1. I was at the Ridge Club for the Fireworks on July 4th. As we walked from where we were having at BBQ with friends to a better viewing location, we noticed a "Large" set of fireworks that looked professional in nature going off behind the Clubhouse on the opposite side from where the Ridge Club permitted display was happening. As we left the Ridge Club a bit later, we so the same thing coming somewhere on the opposite side of the Ridge Club from Race Lane. None of this stuff is enforced, not uncommon for any law in Sandwich, so what difference would it make if we banned cell phones while driving. Personally, I can eat, drink, use my radio, speak and/or text without a problem.

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    1. Great! Big O here can do all these things with no problem! Let us all hope his tremendous multi-tasking powers stay with him into his dotage.

      What a maroon.

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  2. Yes, laws are made, like making fireworks illegal; but just don't fund for the enforcement. Maybe if the fines for breaking the law were used for enforcement crimes would stop.

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    1. the police in this town are told to ticket violations not warnings. would it not be more to the publics' interest to stop people from getting hurt.

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  3. If you are speaking in regards to those illegally setting off fire works in the town of Sandwich, I have yet to see in the daily reports where any has been fined at all? This is a matter upon which the board of Selectmen should be enforcing along with those that still walk over the dunes where not allowed and are never even given a warning. Unfortunitly that is under the watchful eye of our local Natural Resource Department that as of late seems to not have a director any where he is needed. The assistant gets to make all the decisions in that regard and he is also under the same policy of allowing those to set off fire works on the beach, near the plovers, does not warrant any fines.

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  4. You have not seen anything in the daily reports because this is just another law that the town fails to enforce. There are others as we have seen in this blog. It is a crime in my opinion the way this town fails to uphold the law to protect citizens.

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  5. How many laws could be enforced for 30 million?

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