Paul reacts to NTSB recommendation for ban on cell phone use while driving
December 14th, 2011
03:59 PM ET
11 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. RJWTimes Bradford England, UK

    Ron paul can't possibly win, because if you look at Facebook his lack of popularity far out weighs the popularity he has on Youtube. But I give him credit for wanting to end facsism in the world and in the American government and corporations.

    December 14, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  2. Jamie from Riverside

    Ron Paul looks like one of Santa's elves....the crazy one.

    December 14, 2011 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  3. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    And to think this young man represents what 10% of the GOP thinks. Scary, just scary.

    December 14, 2011 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  4. Robert

    Freedom is so scary!

    December 14, 2011 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  5. A Texan

    I agree whole-heartedly with the NTSB-period..............

    December 14, 2011 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  6. MWM

    Cell phones have killed more Americans in the last year than war.

    December 14, 2011 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  7. Donkey Party

    Just another reason why Ron Paul lags in most polls, and why he will never be President, regardless of how much his brainwashed supporters dream of it.

    December 14, 2011 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  8. Colin

    This...makes...insanely good sense to me. I don't think there's anything he said I wouldn't agree with. Also, his full response at the debate was, "No, [I had situations like this when I worked in hospitals, and we always took people in regardless of their ability to pay and they paid what they could. But when the government forces Medicare and Medicaid down doctors' throats, they begin to refuse people if they can't pay and ignore their oath.]."

    December 14, 2011 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  9. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Yes, the answer is always to pass a law, more laws, more unenforceable laws that do nothing but turn everyone into criminals. Heck, it worked so well with Prohibition didn't it??? You can't save everybody from themselves, you can't protect every idiot in this society from every other idiot so please stop trying with this nonsense. Heck, if you wanted to save a lot more people we could just outlaw cars and buy horses.

    December 14, 2011 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  10. Save Us Jeebus

    Old Ron looks like he probably doesn't even have a cell phone and I doubt he does his own driving. Let's see what his opinion is after his town car is side-swiped by a 16-year-old posting on facebook while behind the wheel of daddy's SUV. What a moron.

    December 14, 2011 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  11. lynn

    What a weasel, he has no thought process beyond smaller government. Wonder how he'd feel if a car smashed into him and the driver had been texting, etc. Probably wouldn't care if his talking points could still be heard though his dying lips.

    December 14, 2011 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  12. The Real Tom Paine

    Libertarianism: the creed for the morally and intellectually lazy.

    December 14, 2011 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  13. JDinTexas

    I looked in Article I, Section 8 and didn't see anything about the Louisianna Purchase. Do we have to give that back?

    December 14, 2011 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  14. GRofPA

    I really don't see why robbery and murder need to be illegal either.......

    December 14, 2011 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  15. Thomas

    Ron Paul is the GOP equivalent of Ralph Nader .

    I support Nader / Paul 2012 !

    Why not go all the way !

    December 14, 2011 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  16. njp289

    That's a funny way to end this article. I believe the rest of his response to that question answers it better than the heckler in the audience who screamed "Yes." You can't expect a government to protect you every time you run into a problem, no matter how serious it may be. In a society that treasures freedom, you must accept the consequences. This is known as responsibility.

    December 14, 2011 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  17. WillK

    It is all well and good, Mr. Paul, that individuals should be responsible for themselves. But when your neglect damages me, or cause harm to my family, without laws what is my recourse? To do damage to your family?

    December 14, 2011 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  18. Dan J

    So a cell phone, used with a bluetooth... which is essentially just as distracting as having a conversation with the front passenger, should be banned? What about eating or drinking? They seem much more distracting. I think there should be a "distracted driving" regulation, regardless of what that distraction is. People that aren't impaired by something should not get ticketed.

    December 14, 2011 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  19. David

    Ron Paul would probably feel the same way if a texting driver smashed in to him as he would be if someone was reading a map or putting on makeup and smashed into him. Small minds dont understand liberty and freedom. I should be quiet. I can already see the big gov loons writing these down to contact their Congressman. OUTLAW makeup in cars! Maps! Food! Drink! Uh oh its raining DISTRACTION!!! sun is out DISTRACTION. LOL what other laws can the gov create to protect you libs from yourself?

    December 14, 2011 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  20. nel

    "That's what freedom is all about, taking your own risks.", You can treat him and then bill him. Let him sell his car, home or file for bankruptcy. Also if someone files for bankruptcy, you can have him buy a mandatory insurance from government.

    December 14, 2011 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  21. LovesIrony

    What do we do with those that don't act responsibly?

    December 14, 2011 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  22. David

    WILLK would you feel the same if I smashed into you while, I dont know, looking at a female jogger? Where does it stop with you big gov libs? Can I still read my map? Is that ok? Soon people will need to call a gov official just to start their car.

    December 14, 2011 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  23. Gurgi

    Ron Paul reminds me a little of Ross Perot. Sounded good until he chose his running mate, then started sounding a little crazy. I do like a lot of Ron Paul's ideas, however I think his world view needs a little work. His foreign policy is a little to isolationist. Which worked out real well up until Pearl Harbor was attacked. To bad we can't take what we like about each candidate and mix them together for the perfect candidate. But then we would run into the fact that everyone's idea of perfection is different. Oh well, it was a nice thought.

    December 14, 2011 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  24. Zebulon Pi

    I love the idea of personal responsibility, EXCEPT for this: idiot drives while texting, idiot hits ME. Idiot doesn't have insurance (not regulated), idiot doesn't have any way of paying for my medical expenses, etc. Now I have to pay for HIS idiocy.

    Ron Paul will simply take away government regulation, and replace it with mega-corporations in the form of insurance companies, where you'll have to pay through the nose to insure yourself against everyone else's stupidity.

    Not only that, but government regulates BUSINESS as well. I can't complete with businesses if they decide that safety comes second to profit, and it ALWAYS does with them.

    Some regulation is not a bad thing, otherwise, regulation wouldn't exist.

    December 14, 2011 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  25. Thinker

    There is nothing stopping the states from imposing such regulation. This idea that federal officers would police people trying to have a phone call is absurd.

    Why don't we just ban cars altogether. Let's ban junk food too. Let's also ban kitchen knives, since they can do damage. Let's ban refrigerators, because they fall on people every year. Let's make bears illegal, because they maul people every year. How about alcohol too. Let's ban that, we've never tried that before.

    Ron Paul is right. Think about it. He's moral.

    December 14, 2011 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
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