The New York Times published a disturbing article on Monday stating the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (a sub-agency to the US Department of Transportation) withheld compelling data on the safety risks associated with driving while talking on cell phones. From the article:
“We nevertheless have concluded that the use of cellphones while
driving has contributed to an increasing number of crashes, injuries
and fatalities,” according to a “talking points” memo the researchers compiled in July 2003.
It added: “We therefore recommend that the drivers not use wireless communication devices, including text messaging systems, when driving, except in an emergency.”
Jeffrey Runge, then the head of the highway safety agency, said he
grudgingly decided not to publish the Mineta letter and policy
recommendation because of larger political considerations.
This is akin to burying data on the safety impacts of drunk driving. I believe it is the duty of professionals to present our data and make professional recommendations. The politicians (the decision makers in many situations) then can choose to act on or ignore the data and recommendations. Apparently the folks at the US Department of Transportation disagree with me.