Put the phone down and drive

By Graham Henderson
Staff Writer

California’s new cell phone law, which went in effect July 1, 2008, serves no purpose. The law bans anyone from talking on a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle.

Drivers over 18 years of age are required to use their cell phones with a hands-free device (drivers under 18 may not use their cell phones at all while driving, with or without a hands-free device). However, the law does not explicitly ban text messaging.

Talking while driving is inherently distracting. Any driver who is not one hundred percent focused on operating the vehicle is at higher accident risk. I don’t see a difference between talking on a phone and talking with a passenger. If anything, talking with a passenger is more distracting because I tend to turn to my right and make eye contact with the person sitting next to me.

Obviously, banning talking while driving at all is not practical, but why is talking on a cell phone singled out?

An informal survey taken during my 45 minute drive home concluded that the majority of drivers do not drive with both hands on the controls. Why does it make a difference if a driver’s hand is changing the radio station or holding a phone?

If an emergency were to occur and both hands were needed, it doesn’t take any longer to drop your cell phone and grab the wheel than it does to take your hand off the radio controls.

In a perfect world, drivers would be required to remain completely focused on driving. Eating and drinking would be banned, cars would be sold without radios, and passengers would be kept in separate compartments from the driver.

As drivers, it is our job to remain focused on driving. We are faced with all sorts of distractions, from passengers to billboards to our cell phones. It is up to us to make the best decision about what is appropriate and what is possibly dangerous.

We don’t need a big brother state telling us what is and isn’t distracting; we should be able to do it ourselves. If you can’t make that choice, then cut up your license.