Ban all cell phone use while driving

Tue, 12/02/2008 - 3:33pm
By: Letters to the ...

In regard to Fayette state Rep. Matt Ramsey’s proposed texting while driving law: While I laud Ramsey for his efforts in protecting Georgia drivers from the wiles of teenage cell phone use, the question begs, why limit this law to drivers under the age of 18?

I mean, what’s the point? Does Mr. Ramsey think 19-year-olds are any safer? Or how about 21-year-olds, or 50-year-olds, or ... Are you getting the picture?

And how could you possibly enforce such a law? How could your average patrolman accurately identify a driver under the age of 18 [before making a stop]?

And what responsibility do parents have under this law? Parents who simply hand their kids cell phones along with the car keys without any restrictions are — well, I’ll be P.C. here — not using their best judgment as adults and as guardians of their offspring. Not to mention all the rest of the drivers on the road, like me and apparently Mr. Ramsey.

But then mommy and daddy probably set the gold standard for their kids by using their cell phones while driving, making those oh so life and death phone calls that just can’t wait while weaving down the highway in a 2-ton SUV oblivious to the world around them.

Parents, do you know it’s very easy to block text messaging on a cell phone? Most cell phone providers allow the account holder complete control to pick and choose and block the various services on all their sub-account phones.

My children had additional phones on my account with no texting, no ring tones, no downloading, no nothing, but a simple cell phone. And you know what? They came out all right.

But then if you’ve given your kids their own account(s) in their own name(s) and you have no control over them — well, that’s just really unsmart.

Research studies have proven that using a cell phone while driving is akin to the impairment level of at least a legally drunk driver or worse.

We all get on our high horses about ridding our highways of this plague, yet we so easily turn a blind eye to the serious threat to safety using a cell phone, in any manner, creates while driving.

I have to wonder what contributing factors cell phone usage has had on accident statistics and insurance rates.

Mr. Ramsey, here’s an idea, how about the state of Georgia take the lead and make it illegal to use a cell phone, in any manner, as the driver of a moving vehicle? Treat driving and cell phone use like drinking and driving.

A law banning cell phone use by the driver of a moving vehicle would at least have a better chance of actually being enforced as age would play no part in it.

And just like blowing up the balloon or walking the line when the law thinks you’ve been tippin’em back as a causal factor in an accident, it should be mandatory that cell phone records be checked of all drivers involved in serious accidents to determine if they were using the phone at the time of the accident.

Better yet, they should be checked for any moving violation (speeding, running red lights, stop signs, etc). Fines for moving violations would be doubled or tripled if cell phone use was discovered during the commission of the violation.

How much carnage on our highways has to occur before people standup and say, “Enough!”?

Mr. Ramsey, you had quite a trial at the hands of a driver using a cell phone. Does it really matter whether that driver was 18 or 81?

The travesty of the recent commuter rail crash in California (the engineer was texting and missed a stop signal; the ensuing crash killed many innocent people) brings to new heights the epidemic problem with cell phone use during highly critical endeavors like driving.

How about, Mr. Ramsey, you put some real teeth into a real, enforceable law that will protect ALL Georgia drivers instead of this weak-kneed approach you’re proposing that will do nothing except make for good eyewash come election time. A law is only as good as it is enforceable.

Mike Mahoney

Fayetteville, Ga.

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