Technology Misuse or a Lack of Common Sense

By Bob Larrivee posted 12-14-2011 16:03


While having lunch today, I was reading an article by Eric Zeman of Information Week Titled “Cell Phone Driving Ban: Good Idea?” and the thought crossed my mind that this is perhaps not a misuse but lack of common sense in relation to use of great technology which caused the government to react and take the actions it is now taking. The article points out that this week, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) voted to ban cell phone use for any purpose, while behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. It further cites that the Governors Highway Safety Association indicates distractions caused by smartphones can be tied to 25% of automobile accidents in the United States. So once again, the government has to step in and protect us from ourselves when it comes to technology. The next step is that each State will now have to address this issue individually using the NTSB ruling as a guideline. In essence, we will likely have 50 different though similar variations.

I recall something similar happening in the 1970’s to early 1980’s with Citizens Band (CB) radios where there was a proposed ban on these as well for the same reason in that it was deemed a distraction that would cause accidents. This was overturned. Of course the technology of today is far more advanced and the levels of distraction are much greater than ever before. I admit, I am one who has taken calls while driving, though I will add to this that I use a hands-free Bluetooth option built into my car. While I have never found a situation so compelling that I absolutely must text someone while driving, rather than text, I will likely call the person, after all it is still a phone is it not?

In my view this is a prime example of how common sense is set aside and technology pushed to the forefront. It is also an example of how technology has made an impact on societal expectations that we should be connected 24/7 and available to respond at a moment’s notice. There was a time when instant response was not the norm and it was acceptable for an 8–24 hour delay in response based on the severity of the situation. Do we really need legislation to tell us what common sense should have? Do we need the threat of fines and prison hanging over our heads for using one of the greatest enhancements to communications since the telephone was invented? Or do we just need to agree that driving and texting is not such a great idea and not do it? (Apparently we have not been able to do the latter.)

As an organization, you will now be faced with addressing mobile use by the workforce in ways you may not have considered. Your governance policy may now have to include appropriate use in relation to travel, driving and other aspects of business related activity. You may have to include references to responsible use and payment of damages in cases where policy is not followed. Imagine that a sales person, eager to close the deal, is on the phone while heading to the airport and causes an accident. This person is cited as the cause due to cell phone use. Who pays the fine if the call was business related? These are but a few things that in my view are common sense issues and areas where individuals must be held responsible and accountable. Be prepared for change as additional legislation is on the horizon and you may have to address it 50 different ways.

If you are ready to move forward and are finding yourself stuck or unfocused and are not sure where to begin or what to do next, seek professional assistance and/or training to get you started.

What say you? Do you have a story to tell? What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you have a topic of interest you would like discussed in this forum? Let me know.


Bob Larrivee, Director and Industry Advisor – AIIM

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