According to Deutsche Welle,
Several [German] politicians want to ban listening to music behind the wheel, saying it’s a distraction and increases the risk of having an accident. "The dangers of causing an accident rise drastically when you play music and drive," Peter Danckert of the Social Democrats (SPD) told the best-selling newspaper Bild. "I want a complete ban on music for drivers." Danckert was joined in his push for tunes-free driving by several politicians on the other side of the political spectrum. Katherina Reiche of the opposition Christian Democrats (CDU) also told Bild she wanted to put an end to music behind the wheel. She noted that parliament had already passed a law outlawing the use of cell phones for drivers, and that she and others want to push for similar legislation regarding music. "Music is just as much of a distraction as cell phones," she said. "We urgently need a ban on it along with fines."
Now, I'll come clean and confess that I changed something in the paragraph above. I switched the word smoke for the word music. The politicians quoted aren't advocating an automotive ban on playing music, but on smoking.
If you just felt your immediate, instinctual opposition to a music ban dissipate when you learned that it's really a tobacco ban we're talking about, then tell me how a prohibition on music is fundamentally different.
Every day untold millions of drivers fiddle with the controls of their car stereos — or try to find just the right CD in the pile of stuff on the backseat — while doing sixty, seventy miles an hour. In full-throttle traffic, and with Led Zeppelin's When the Levee Breaks blaring from my speakers, I've been known to bang out the drum part on my steering wheel in an unintentionally comical homage to John Bonham. I've noticed that high-energy tracks — anything from Fountains of Wayne to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan — make me drive faster, and I doubt I'm the only one.
And that's just music. Many other activities are no doubt just as potentially distracting and dangerous when you're driving, from eating a burger (hey, let's ban drive-throughs!) to
getting busy with Divine Brown yelling at your toddler he'd better stop kicking your seat now.
The only reason politicians can declare smoking in cars verboten is that smokers have somehow become everyone's favorite punching bag — to be mocked, vilified, and persecuted with neither reason nor consequence.
It's worth remembering that on Germany's famed Autobahn, there's no speed limit. So you can tweak your turbo, stomp on the gas, and pass non-daredevils at a blistering 180 miles per hour if you wish.
But lighting a cigarette — whaddayanuts? That stuff will kill you.