Let's cut to the chase here, Boa. Basically, we agree on all the important points except whether governments should restrict cell phone use by drivers. I should add that I'm glad that you're actually addressing issues rather than evading them, like certain other posters are.
:: Why do you think there's any difference between laws against murder, drunk driving and smoking in public places (which stop people from hurting others unnecessarily and impinging on others' freedom) and laws against using cell phones while driving (which stops people from hurting others unnecessarily and from impinging on others' freedom not to be hurt by stupid actions)?
: Because it comes down to degree.
Precisely my point! But deciding degree is a matter of opinion. In the case of society, government's role is to decide on the degree of various actions that might be proposed to be restricted.
: You ARE allowed to defend yourself, usually with at least as much force/threat as you are faced with (in Canada anyway) up to killing someone.
That's good. Apparently in the UK, you're not allowed to defend yourself.
: You ARE allowed to drink and drive in many jurisdictions including BC up to .08 blood/alcohol level. You are allowed to smoke in public places all over the world, though many jurisdictions restrict doing so inside buildings, planes, restaurants.
Right, but I'm talking about impaired to the degree that most everyone would agree is over the top. And who is it that decided on these standards? Government officials. For whatever reason, they've decided that .08 blood alchol should be the dividing line between legally DUI and not. There has to be some definite line; otherwise no one could objectively decide whether a person was impaired or not. By impaired, I certainly don't mean something black and white, but something with shades of gray. This dividing line is not arbitrary, but has been chosen based on the experience of officials who've measured the performance of people who've drunk alcohol. I think that everyone would agree that a blood level of .5 would be way too high. So who would you propose to set the line? You? Me? How about the government officials we pay to make such decisions?
You seem not to like dividing lines, and I agree that they often don't make sense, but they're still necessary. That's why the legal dividing line between adult and child is 18 years of age, and there's another one at age 21 for drinking alcohol and smoking. Without objective dividing lines like this, it would be impossible to decide about many important things.
: Cell phones are not black and white dangerous all the time for everyone.
Nor is a blood alcohol level of .08. The point is that a degree of impairment occurs in both situations. Government has a responsibility to determine where to draw an objective dividing line.
There's an obvious difference between using alcohol and cell phones while driving. You can drink varying degrees of alcohol, but there are no degrees of cell phone use: either you're connected or you're not. That's why the dividing line with respect to cell phone use has to be either you're allowed to use it or you're not. Surely you wouldn't propose testing people for ability to multitask.
It's obvious that many people are severely impaired when they drive while talking on a cell phone. Do you think that they should be allowed to endanger other people? I don't. If you do, then please explain why.
I guarantee that if your ox were gored by some asshole driving while on a cell phone, you'd have no difficulty agreeing that such dangerous action should be prohibited, the same as you'd be outraged if your kid were killed by a drunk driver.
Some people are able to drive fairly well while talking on a cell phone. But governments need to set standards that are objectively applicable to the average person. That's why speed limits are set very low in the U.S. and Canada. U.S. and Canadian drivers are generally atrocious, and not well able to drive at speeds that, say, Germans generally have no trouble with. Setting a limit of 160 kph is no problem in Germany, but would increase the death toll hugely in the U.S. and Canada. BTW, I tend to drive at 20-25 kph over the limit, so I'm not arguing this point from a conservative driving viewpoint. I tend to scare people with speed. :-)
: It comes down to acceptable risk for governments.
Exactly. And I'm proposing that governments should declare that drivers impaired by using cell phones present unnecessary risks to others.
: If I get the feel of what you are saying, then you should also support a complete ban on driving over 50km/h because if we all did that and it was enforced, virtually NO people (out of tens of thousands in NA) would be killed in cars EVER again!
Not at all, because to me (and obviously to most governments) the risks of high speed driving don't outweigh the benefits. If it were up to me, speed limits would be about 25% higher. On the other hand, the risks of talking on a cell phone while driving don't outweigh the benefits. If you disagree, then explain exactly what benefits you get, and weigh them against the demonstrated risk that you'll kill someone. In particular, account for the fact that it's a lot harder to spot a driver at the .08% blood alcohol limit than it is to spot a driver impaired by a cell phone, and explain why the severe impairment imparted by cell phone use is ok and the less severe impairment of the .08% limit isn't. Or do you think that the limit should be raised to be commensurate with the risks of cell phone use?
:: Where does your freedom to swing your arm end?
: How far out are you allowed to stick your nose to get in the way of my swinging arm?
Please answer the question.