Thursday, January 18, 2018

Are You Going To Murder Someone?

Are you ever going to murder someone? Are you ever going to end up in prison for taking a life?

I'll bet that you are confident that the answer is no. But how can you be so sure?

This morning, near my home, a six-year-old boy lost his life when he was hit by a vehicle.

It's too early to say who was at fault. And it's irrelevant to the rest of us. The fact is that many of us act in such a way that we cannot honestly say that we will never bear the guilt of taking a life.

If you ever look at your phone while you're driving, even just for a moment, to check a text or Waze, then you are losing concentration. Even talking on a phone without holding it is a distraction and significantly decreases your reaction time. And you are driving nothing less than a killing machine.

What can you do? There is a Lo ta'aseh and an Asei.

The Lo ta'aseh: Never, ever interact with your phone while driving. Just resist the temptation. You may think that the risk of an accident is small, but the potential cost is prohibitively high.

The Asei: Install MobilEye in your car. MobilEye alerts you with crucial additional seconds of warning before you are about to go out of lane or hit somebody. I'm not sure how it works in the US, but in Israel you can call them (as I just did) and they will come to your home and install it. Yes, it costs a few thousand shekels. But it is unquestionably worth it (and it is compulsory in all new cars).


16 comments:

  1. Regarding MobilEye: You get a discount from the govenment on your road tax - 1500 shekel over three years - and most insurance companies also give you a discount if you have MobilEye.

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  2. Does it have to be MobileEye? I added a dash-cam recently, but it doesn't upload automatically.

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    1. MobilEye is not a dash-cam! It's an advance warning system.

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    2. They do have competitors. AWACS is one.

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  3. It's really good definitely worth having despite all the pinging

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  4. I note the last words in this essay-(and it is compulsory in all new cars)..We are in the beginning of an Orwellian tyrrany whereby everything you do, say, and even think, is being monitored and controlled. It is a tragedy that a boy lost his life in a a motor vehicle accident. It will be an even greater tragedy when we all lose our freedom, liberty, and autonomy.The irony is we are inviting the techno tyranny under the mistaken notion that it is good for us.Yes please let me have Mobile Eye and please let me pay you for it so I can fulfill the great Mitzvah of saving a life.Big Brother is here now and he is growing bigger and stronger every day.

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    1. You truly are the epitomy of everything that is wrong with certain sectors of Jewish society. The arrogant, sneering and derisive attitude to common sense and social responsibility. The half-serious empathy towards a death that could have been avoided if a person had been less engaged with their own interests and had perhaps invested in technology that helps people rather than distracts them. The swing towards selfishness (anti-vaxxer indeed...) and arrogance as a 'Jewish' virtue is shocking.

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  5. If God Forbid someone hits someone it would not be Murder, as your title implies. Murder requires a mens rea. People should be precise when they speak, more so when they write.

    Concerning MobilEye, its an Israeli company, and I personally know of some very good people there, so that's already a positive. But there's a skeptical side of me that needs more info. The Bluetooth corporation spent many millions of dollars lobbying to make hands-free technology compulsory, when most people drive with one hand, and - as you noted - there's not much difference, if any, whether you're holding the phone or not. The distraction, such as there is, is in using the phone, not in holding it. But the lobbying paid off, and Bluetooth is now the law in many jurisdictions. Will we be saying the same thing of MobileEye? Or is there a bona fide safety benefit? I am asking, not pronouncing. Hopefully the safety benefit is real.

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  6. In the US it's about $1000 installed. Your article is the first I had heard of it, and from the companies website, it seems they are marketing it more to corporate fleets than individual owners. These safety features are becoming common place on new mid-high end vehicles sold in the US. I think they aren't marketing it to the average consumer in the US because Americans replace their cars more often than somewhere like Israel (do to significantly lower costs). They probably figure Americans, on average, will hold off until they replace their cars to have this safety feature rather than invest $1000 into their existing vehicle.

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  7. If we are to talk rationally, there is a clear difference between the two solutions. Looking at your phone during driving is a dangerous thing to do. It is a clear dereliction of duty. The chances of an accident increase exponentially, but that is not the halachic issue here. The Torah concerns itself less with statistics than with the sevoro itself. The reason more accidents don't happen with texting and driving is because other people are also watching out. It is not safe, just that the bridge has a hospital built right there.

    However, when a person drives safely and carefully, he has done the normal shemiros a person has to do. Afterwards he has a shemira of שומר פתאים ה׳ meaning that he does not have to worry about small chances. He is not obligated to install new machines and apps to lower the chances.

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    Replies
    1. Exactly. It's more important to spend money on supporting Torah learning. And mehudar Arba Minim.

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    2. Huh? Was writing nothing not an option?

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  8. In the 1990's Arutz Sheva did a story on this general theme and interviewed - if I remember correctly - Rav Zalman Melamed; and he related it to halachot dealing with cases where conditions would either send a a person to an Eirei Miklat or be tried by the Bet Din as a murderer. I think Rav Melamed said that with auto accidents most people would claim - "Oh, that is a case of Eirei Miklat" ; but Rav Melamed said no, if people don't take real care it is murder.

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  9. I tell my kids that the most likely way that they can ruin both someone else's life and their own is through their use of a car. I don't know if it actually works.

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  10. This book about fire-prevention was written by an Orthodox Jew, for Orthodox Jewish children. It can save lives:

    Yoni Ploni: The Little Yeshiva Boy Never Plays with Fire by Yehoshua Danese, year 1994.

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  11. Saying installing Moble Eye is an Asei, is like saying preventing any avayra is a Asei. It's like saying: "I prevented a rape today" when all did was not rape the woman who happened to be alone in the elevator with me today for a few seconds. I didn't really prevent rape, I just didn't commit it (by imposing a modicum of prevention; in this case rationale self-control). Was it a real keeping an asei?
    BTW whether its a asei or not, one can definitely prevent killing people with your car by getting help with a hi-tech system. In Israel a good alternative to MobileEye is MovOn that includes a built-in dash-cam too. MovOn works (speaks to you) only in Hebrew and even reminds you not to forget children in the car (another terrible kind of tragedy) when you turn off the car. BTW the government rebate is 1500 shekels (you get it back in car registration discounts over 3 years) and is offered now for any system that automatically provides 2 things: collision and lane change warnings. Installing these kinds of systems may not prevent "murder" but they do protect lives. And that's the most important goal.

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