Paul reacts to NTSB recommendation for ban on cell phone use while driving
December 14th, 2011
03:59 PM ET
3 years ago

Paul reacts to NTSB recommendation for ban on cell phone use while driving

Amherst, New Hampshire (CNN) - On Wednesday, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul weighed in on a controversy catching the attention of many Americans: the federal safety board's call for a nationwide ban on cell phone use and texting while driving.

Citing the dangers of distracted driving, the National Transportation Safety Board urged states Tuesday to outlaw non-emergency phone calls and texting for all drivers. It would apply to hand-held as well as hands-free devices, but devices installed in the vehicle by the manufacturer would be allowed, the NTSB said.

Paul reacted to the non-binding recommendation after being asked about it by a voter at a morning campaign stop at Joey's Diner in Amherst, New Hampshire. Paul visited the diner as part of a two-day swing through the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state.

"I was thinking about that because it was in the news today. So I went to the Constitution and I looked at Article 1, Section 8. There is nothing in there about telephones," Paul said, prompting laughter and applause from the crowd. "Then I thought, 'Well there is nothing in there about what you can do and can't do when you are driving in a horse and buggy either."

Paul noted the proposed exception for manufacturer installed equipment: "And then they're going to do it by regulation. They're going to say the phone is okay if its built with the cars. Well maybe the car industries might like this. That means they can, you know, charge you more for the automobile."

The Texas congressman, a self-proclaimed "constitutional conservative," staunchly promotes libertarian views. Among them: a dramatic scaling back of the role of federal government in the lives of Americans. True to that form, Paul said the NTSB proposal was another example of government overreach.

"The federal government shouldn't be involved," Paul told the crowd.

The congressman acknowledged that talking and texting while driving is potentially dangerous. And he added that eating or "disciplining kids" could also cause driver distractions. Yet Paul asked: who should be responsible for preventing it?

"For the federal government – that means they have to enforce these laws. Does that mean we're going to have more federal policemen checking up on who is going to answer the phone?" Paul asked.

And as he frequently does, the congressman repeated an unyielding line used by those who support Libertarianism: in a push for more individual liberty, Americans should be responsible for themselves – even if it means endangering themselves.

"It's taking away the responsibility from you as the individual, that if you mess up and you do something wrong in a car you should be held responsible," Paul said. "If somebody comes along and it is determined that you have to really have a regulation, under our system of government, it has to be done at the local level."

"The basic principle of being responsible for all your actions would handle all these kinds of circumstances."

Paul has frequently pressed that sentiment.

At one point during the CNN Tea Party debate in September, moderator and CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer asked Paul what should happen to an employed young man who chose not to buy health insurance and then suffered a terrible accident.

"Who's going to pay if he goes into a coma, for example? Who pays for that?" Blitzer asked Paul.

Part of Paul's response: "What he should do is whatever he wants to do, and assume responsibility for himself," adding, "That's what freedom is all about, taking your own risks."

"But Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?" Blitzer pressed.

Paul responded, "No." But some audience members cheered that idea.

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Filed under: 2012 • New Hampshire • Ron Paul
soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    "The laws certainly should be useful as proactive avoidance of immenent danger as in the case of driving while using a cell phone just as there are laws against driving while drunk and driving 100 mph in a school zone at 3:30 in the afternoon."

    Don't you fret your pretty little conservative bobblehead, my friend. Rondroid has the answer to that too: get rid of all the schools.

    December 14, 2011 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    "The laws certainly should be useful as proactive avoidance of immenent danger as in the case of driving while using a cell phone just as there are laws against driving while drunk and driving 100 mph in a school zone at 3:30 in the afternoon."

    Don't you fret your pretty little conservative bobblehead, my friend. Rondroid has the answer to that too: get rid of all the schools. He's not just knit picking...he wants to unravel the WHOLE sweater.

    December 14, 2011 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  3. Brent

    Man, the anti-Ron-Paul ideologues are on here, just spouting off nonsense. It doesn't matter what he ACTUALLY says, the people who have decided he's an anarchist are going to twist his words and reply as if he said, "Government is evil, and we should get rid of all government." The problem is that's NOT what he said. All laws and regulations concerning driving are made at the state and local level, and that even includes interstate speed limits (though the federal government exerts influence with highway funding bills). What he said was that the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT shouldn't be getting involved in a nationwide ban on cell phone use while driving, and that's true. Many states are issuing bans on such behavior now, and there's no reason for a nationwide ban when the states are taking appropriate action. It's also VERY interesting to note that the built-in systems wouldn't be made illegal, even though they are every bit as distracting and dangerous as any other hands-free devices.

    December 14, 2011 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  4. DDanny1

    Paul's nirvana of no government interference would work great. If everyone was honest. But their not. When he was growing up letting free market forces weed out the inept and dishonest was successful. You were in a town or area with 2 butchers. If one was pushing down on the scale too much, or had bad meat, you went to the other butcher. Now you have foreign countries that would not hesitate to use some disinfectant on a container full of tainted meat, ship it out and either deny everything or disappear. In the meantime you have a couple dozen very young and very old people dead.

    December 14, 2011 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  5. Newturd

    Another Ron Paul article another outlash of calling him crazy. WHY? Were the founding fathers crazy? They didn't beleive in premptive war, they had a nonintiventialist approach to foreign policy. Why is that idea crazy now????

    IF China had a military base in Ohio, and their troops were patrolling America's streets, killing our inocent people, telling Americans what to do and how to do it, you don't think there would be a group of citizens that would take up arms and defend America? That outrage those Americans would have is the same outrage that Arab people have now. They don't hate us because we are free and prosperous (that is actually absurd), they hate us because we have troops in their land, we are bombing their land!!! Wake up America, the Iraq "War" and the Afgan "war" is about MONEY, OIL. There were no WMD, they weren't a threat to USA. No wonder the whole region hates us. We need to bring the troops home and protect OUR country and stay out of other countries business.

    December 14, 2011 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
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