Dangerous and unintended consequences

It all started Friday evening, as I was reading the headlines to my husband, Bill. A little article on the front page of the Concord Monitor caught my eye. "New guidlines to prevent distracted driving".

It seems that our U.S. Transporation Secretary, Ray LaHood, has released new federal guidelines for automakers to help prevent distracted driving. He recommends that manufacturers create a device that will block cell phones from working in the car while the wheels are in motion.

Then Mr. LaHood went on to say that the guidelines might be extended to "all portable electronic devices that might find their way into a car."

I told Bill that to me, a "Live Free or Die" New Hampshirite, this seems ridiculous. After all, I don't text or talk on the cell phone while driving, but sometimes I have my children make a call to our destination while I am driving, and they are safely in one of the passenger seats. "Honey, call Grandma and let her know we should be there after lunch" never seemed to threaten our safety as a family on the move.

And while my kids don't have Gameboys or DVD players,I see no problem with letting kids play games on electronic devices while in a car. I thought about how the government tried to force car manufacturers to make seatbelts that belt people in whether they wanted to be or not (remember those cars with the moving seatbelts that hummed into place when you turned the key?).

I supposed out loud that the manufacturing guidelines might be effective, but that going to extreme of blocking all devices seemed silly.

"Don't you think M should be able to text a friend while I am driving?"

Then Bill said, "I wouldn't worry about the texting. I would worry about her insulin pump."


The insulin pump.

That thing that keeps my daughter alive. The portable thing that electronically delivers life-giving insulin to her body. The device that communicates with her glucometer to determine how much insulin she she administer when she eats.

That thing.

She will be driving soon.

If we have a car in which her insulin pump is disabled, she could kill someone, cause a serious accident, or die. If she is in a friend's car with the proposed technology, she could have a medical emergency for which her friend is unprepared. (Talk about distracted driving!)

This is not alarmist "someone could hack into my pump" bologna. After all, hacking into someone's insulin pump would be the least efficient form of terrorism ever.

But this.

This is a genuine hazard.

The thing is, infusion pumps are not only for people on insulin. Some are used for pain medication, or medicine to assist in healing spinal cord injuries. What if these infusion sets are disabled?

Any car that M entered might disable her pump if these guidelines are implemented. And those who have learned to manage their chronic, life-threatening illnesses, might just have to do without.

It is time to act. I am contacting my congressional representatives.

I would appreciate it if you did the same, before the unintended consequences of these guidelines become a reality.



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