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. Marie MD

    Hey paul, please STFU!!! Speaking of taliing responsibility where were you when that son of yours allowed his goons to wrestle a woman to the ground Why don't you two build yourselves a time machine. Go practive voodoo medicine in the 1800s where you still live in your minds. What's left of it.
    Please Wolf. He already said in one of the earlier debates of fools, and was cheered for it, that people are better off dead than sick! You think he cares about anyone but himself!?!?!?

    December 14, 2011 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  2. Sniffit

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

    Herby wants to be the president...

    December 14, 2011 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    ""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," "

    And so should the innocent peolpe you smeared all over the pavement!!! They clearly had it coming and need to pay for your negligence!!!

    December 14, 2011 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  4. Libertarianism Rules!

    So many Ron Paul haters here! What you lefties don't get is that our freedom is non-negotiable. I should be allowed to drink and drive, drink and shoot my guns, take as much Oxycontin as I want, and bring my gun collection with me on the place. Yeeehaaaa!!!!!!

    December 14, 2011 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  5. Four and The Door

    This is where Ron Paul separates from the majority of Republicans on the role of government. Limited? Okay. Non-existant? Not true.

    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.

    December 14, 2011 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  6. Oooozylily

    Hello, Ron: please do away with car insurance, property taxes, the military and other nuisances. I only want my tax money to go to national defense if it's a real defense situation that I approve of.
    I'll deal with car insurance issues if I should have an accident, but not any time before that.
    My property taxes shouldn't be used for schools or roads. I'll let everyone know if I want the road fixed in front of my house. Until then, sorry, Ron, don't bother me. Postal service, gone. US representatives like yourself? You can do your work from home online, within six months of the year. No need for the entire country to support your escapades year round.

    December 14, 2011 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  7. Gurgi

    Giving Ron Paul some credit, I think he meant that the "federal" government should not be in it, but that state/local government should be the ones making/enforcing such rules. That being said, I'm still not sure I could vote for him if it came down to it.

    December 14, 2011 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  8. ST

    Ron Paul must understand while driving the whole body is almost in action. From the head (brain – thinking), eyes, nose (smelling), mouth (talking if there are passengers in), hands and legs. Adding texting or talking on phone while driving, is an extra workload to the brain. BUT eating or drinking while driving, we just only use one hand and the mouth.

    December 14, 2011 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  9. nel

    "What do we do with those that don't act responsibly?" - Let them face consequences as per existing laws. If you kill some one while driving distracted by any means, you should face same punishment in each case.

    December 14, 2011 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  10. swlma

    Once again folks, I would like to remind you that their are two levels of government. If the Federal Government chooses not to pursue the ban on cellphones, the states still have the authority to do so. By making this a Federal Law we'll just add more Bureaucracy and more wasteful spending to our Government. Something like this would be more effective at a local level, rather than a Federal level. Just because you make something a Federal law, doesn't mean that people will not engage in the unwarranted behavior. Take marijuana for example: Federal law prohibits the use of marijuana, yet that doesn't physically stop someone from smoking it, if they choose to do so. Regardless of whether it's Federal law or not, people will still use cellphones while driving. (they'll just be checking their line of sight more, in search for police). If we're going to try to regulate something like this, regulate it at a local level.

    December 14, 2011 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  11. Bill in Florida

    What next, Ron. The Feds shouldn't be involved in preventing drunk driving?

    December 14, 2011 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  12. ThsIsNotReal

    MANY PEOPLE ON HERE ARE MISUNDERSTANDING THE OUTCOME OF THIS. If you go by what Ron Paul says, that does no mean that someone who killed someone because of texting would get away with it. If you kill someone due to negligence, you still generally go to jail. This has been true even before cell phones existed. It just means that a cop cant pull you over for talking on the phone. You would only be punished if you actually hurt someone, rather than preemptive punishment.

    December 14, 2011 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  13. Dr. Alan Price

    @Marie MD. I find it difficult to believe that such a tirade could issue from the mouth of a M. D. (medical doctor); thus, I conclude that such highly charged personal attack comes from a rationally-challenged woman who lives in Maryland (MD). Where, pray tell, do you get off in saying that Dr. Paul thinks that "people are better off dead than sick???" This is the most uninformed comment that I have read. It shows that you have not done one whit of serious research to discover who Dr. Paul is and for what he stands. I suspect that he has more compassion in his little finger than you have in your entire being. So, maybe you should take your own advice.

    December 14, 2011 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  14. Ban KKiller

    Ron Paul/Gary Johnson. Now THAT is the ticket. I voted for President Obama but he has caved in to the banks and Wall Street. I will have to vote for him again if Ron Paul is not the nominee. The other Republicans are total stooges for corporate America. I THINK Ron Paul might be the guy who really speaks for the little guy or gal. Isn't that sweet?

    December 14, 2011 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  15. Jim Molmen

    Ron Paul makes perfect sense. There is a law on the books in California and probably across the USA – it's against the law to drive while distracted, period. That means, if you get distracted while on a cell phone, eating a burger, fiddling with the radio, scolding a child in the backseat, or anything else, it's against the law.

    I'm voting for this libertarian minded Republican gentleman, Ron Paul. You should also considerate it. Bring the troops home and keep the government out of my life as much as possible.

    December 14, 2011 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  16. Expatgirl

    Amazing how much people want to control everyone and everything, Start being responsible for yourself and others rather than expecting the government to wipe your butt and then complain about taxes. Obvisously you make heafty penalties for those who are Texting while driving and hurts others not the opposite of having another law to stop everybody. Or dont have texting on yiur teens or teach them to be respnosible!!!!! Why don't we just ban guns, knifes, and every darn thing on this planet. And RP is right as in health care as soon as something is mandated by the govt prices go up, so if u can only have installed car systems then the price will skyrocket and they will lobby t ensure this bill passes and docent ever go away!!!

    December 14, 2011 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  17. Reality Check

    Cell phone related vehicle accidents are now the second leading cause of death and injury next to drunk driving. Driving is a privilege granted by the state not a right. Look it up. As a privilege granted by the state it is the responsibility of the state to make and enforce driving rules to ensure safety for all people granted the privilege to drive. When taken into consideration the extent of distracted driver related accidents and the obvious varying levels of skill for most of the drivers on the road today it is a must that someone (state and or federal government) take steps to keep our roadways safe from drivers who are more concerned with nonsensical texting and talking than safe driving.

    December 14, 2011 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  18. GregD

    I don't get all the negative responses to this. Why can't the power to ban cell phones while driving be left up to the states? CA already does this. There is no need for this on a federal level.
    Obviously if you get hit from a driver on his cell phone, it isn't his cell phone usage that will make him in the wrong; it will be the fact that he hit you. All Ron Paul is saying here is that the states should decide if such a ban makes sense for them.

    As for the negative view point on his health care views, isn't all he is saying that he doesn't support an individual mandate? Isn't every single Republican candidate saying that? Why cast just Ron Paul in such a negative light when this is what every candidate other than Obama is saying?

    December 14, 2011 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  19. Ben Dover

    Go back to your horse and buggy, you can't possibly get hurt right?
    Driving is a PRIVILEGE not a RIGHT! If you want to be on the road don't be STUPID!
    You do have the right to be STUPID!!

    December 14, 2011 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  20. Oooozylily

    @Eddie4: "states can still implement this law. He speaks for the federal government."
    Great, I get my car totalled by a driver from Louisiana (no offense, it could be S. Dakota, Wyoming, Oklahoma) with absolutely cruddy minimum insurance. His insurance won't pay enough because in my state/ city the cost of living is twice as high (say, California, New York, Dallas).
    The states of this country don't exist in a bubble, we are all part of a bigger thing (except Teeexas if it wants to secede). In a country of 300 mill. you can't just pick and choose what suits your libertarian fantasies. We're in this together, 50 quibbling children of various age and maturity, called states. We need Mom to handle a few things for all of us.

    December 14, 2011 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  21. Jack

    Libertarianism is a fatally flawed political philosphy. In a nutshell, all that would be provided for by the government is defense and infrastructure. No safety net, no social programs. In it's extreme: a drug manufacturer would be allowed to market untested pharmecuticals. Only those willing and able to pay for safe(r) tested medications would be able to pay for them. Same would apply to cars, planes. No EPA. No enforcement of the environmental regulations (Clean Water Act, Endangered Species, Clean Air). The list goes on & on. Trust me, it would be a harsh new world.

    December 14, 2011 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  22. Guy

    I know its easy for some to ridicule this guy for the way he looks or believes in, that's your right. For some people its difficult to accept the fact that their may be more than 1 right answer.

    I have to agree with Ron on this. I think its a slippery slope that leads to other 'nanny' laws like he said. We could have a law that makes it illegal to eat, drink or discipline your kids in the car. They all distract you from the road don't they? Why not make it illegal to look at passengers or look at billboards? Sure that won't happen but i'm trying to make a point. (Don't we have cops to see someone recklessly driving?)

    The idea is that some want more laws and some think it touches too much on personal freedoms. So there is no right answer, the states will have the right to accept or reject this suggestion.

    December 14, 2011 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  23. thinking outside the box

    If the use of cell phones are to be band while driving a car due to cells phones causing a distraction to a driver, fine. But I then expect to have a ban on all talking in cars while someone is driving too. If you think talking to someone in the car is less distracting than talking on a cell phone than I suggest you really pay attention to yourself the next time you are driving and talking to someone. I bet that you don't keep you eyes on the road during the entire conversation and, at least occasionally, glance at the person you are talking too. And unless you are a strict "both hands on the wheel" driver you probably take one hand off the wheel from time to time.

    Yes, talking on a cell phone can be a distraction. Yes, texting is certainly more distracting than talking on a phone. But you cannot say that talking on a cell phone is more dangerous than talking to someone in the car because there IS NO DATA BACKING THIS UP. There's no records of conversations within the car, like there is records of cell phone transmissions, that can be found to have occurred right before an accident.

    December 14, 2011 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  24. Just in, Breaking News: FAA approves iPads in Cockpit

    Irony? see front page, the FAA just approved the use of iPads in the cockpit? Do we really want pilots to play around on electronic gadgets while flying us around???

    Message to Ron Paul: the federal government does NOT seem as monolithic as you make it out to be. They just approved something I find dangerously irresponsible.
    Do you hear me yelling: 'dismantle federal government..."?
    "away with federal regulations. states can decide over their own airspace if they allow pilots iPads in the cockpit".

    Each state should deal with air quality and acid rain over their own heads, don't bother me even if I live upwind from you.
    Pretty idiotic this kind of thinking, right?

    December 14, 2011 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    ""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.""

    Right, because the Commerce Clause doesn't give the federal gov't any power to regualte the roads as instrumentalities of interstate commerce and the General Welfare Clause has nothing to do with protecting the safety, health and welfare of people driving or walking on or along the streets/siodewalks in this country. All that precedent has to be thrown out right this second and we need to get rid of every single statute and law upheld under that interpretation of the Constitution such that we LITERALLY return the gov't structure circa 1800 and all the advances and progress we made as a society should just be thrown out the window. But hey, while we're at it, the Constitution literally says that black people are 3/5 of a person, even though it doesn't say the word "cell phone," so that must mean we have to go back to that as well, right?

    December 14, 2011 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
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