Wednesday, June 13, 2001

On the Proposed Cellphone Ban

My state representative, Richard Roy (D-Milford), seems on a bent (almost a "jihad"). According to this very Connecticut Post, it's a "three year quest...to pursue a ban on motorists driving with hand-held cell phones."

On the face of this, it seems reasonable. I've certainly come across my share of drivers who's minds were more attuned to cell phone lottery than maintaining their 5000-pound lethal behemoth down the highway at 65 miles per hour (not that doing it in a Yugo is any safer).

But I'm really torn on this legislation.

I believe that using handheld cellphones while driving a car can distract a driver sufficiently to be dangerous, which is why I refuse to use a handheld cell phone while driving (I installed an in-car system in my regular car.) That's my personal choice.

But I could have just as easily been distracted by tuning my radio, switching my audio tapes, or eating my Big Mac. So why the big attention on cellphones? These proposed laws strike me raw on several fronts.

First, don't we already have laws against distracted and erratic driving? If that's the actual symptom we're trying to heal, and the laws already exist to cover it, why aren't we enforcing them? Do the laws state that, "distracting driving is against the law, except when you're using a cellphone" therefore we need a specific cell phone ban? No, of course not. It attacks a specific behaviour which is already illegal yet is not enforced, and is designed to bring attention to the proponents while taking a potential judicial monkey off the backs of the legislative and executive branch.

Why can't we let our police decide who and who is not driving erratically, and allow them to detain and ticket bad drivers appropriately? After all, don't they see this every day as well?

Second, it's just more do-good "nanny legislation," another excuse for persons within society to push their concerns on other people via the government and feel good about "doing something" about the problem. Not happy with other people's behavior? Pass a law.

Finally, this is an excellent example of "everyone but me." How many of these people that are demanding this legislation are themselves doing the dirty deed? You mean to tell me that NONE of the proponents and NONE of the legislators have EVER used a handheld cellphone while driving (yeah, like none of them drive faster than the speed limit)? If there's nothing that really gets my goat worse, it's hypocrisy, especially from those in a position to force it on society.

I don't know that I personally have a beef with the goals behind these proposed laws. I believe in the spirit of them, and if that's what it's gonna take to force these idiots to not drive their lethal cars with a phone jammed in their ear, then maybe society will have to say that additional laws are acceptable. However, it's another "nose under the tent," more laws onto the backs of the people that are redundant and increase the crush around our necks.

If we can't police our own behavior, then the government will obviously do it for us.

Greg Amy