Thursday, May 12, 2005

Cellphone Ban - Are We Safe at Last?

Get ready for this:

"I don't know what happened, officer. I just looked down for one second to hook up my hands-free device, and - wham! - he came out of nowhere. . ."
Starting July 8, drivers using cellphones without a hands-free device can be fined $50 (if "at the time of an accident", $200). We can dial 911, and the mental giants on the city council have graciously allowed us to talk on the phone while parked, evidently sensing that the peril of driver inattention is minimal when the car is not in motion. Fran Spielman (Sun-Times) reported this morning:
". . . Chicago will become the nation's largest city to prohibit motorists from using cell phones without a hands-free device, which allows the driver to keep both hands on the wheel."
Oh, glorious day! No more road rage. No more stupidity. Lousy drivers are now going to be allowed to keep both hands on the wheel. I'm sure they will, aren't you? Tomorrow's headline (I can see it now. . . I'm channeling Natarus's dreams):
Driving Skills of Habitually Inattentive Drivers Miraculously Improved With Burt's Brilliantly Conceived Legislation
Honestly, I can't get over the feeling that these guys have too much time on their hands. Eric Zorn's comments sum it up pretty well:
I hate to be harsh -- well, actually, that's a lie, I enjoy it --- but this legislation is moronic. As I've noted before, nearly every scientific study shows that there is no safety difference at all between hand-held and hands-free devices for cell phones.

None. Zero. This new law is analogous to a law that forbids the possession of open liquor in a moving car, but says drunk driving is just fine.
Don't get me wrong. I'm with lots of folks who are griped with lousy drivers. Even more, I'm griped with stupid legislation that does nothing to solve the problem it claims to address, to say nothing of unintended consequences.

Lousy drivers will still be lousy. The upside? Well, city hall will still have a plethora of problems to solve. You know, the real threats to life as we know it, like applying mascara in the rear-view mirror, eating bowls of cereal, tuning the radio, talking to the passenger . . .But not to worry. We'll be safe soon. Burt says so.

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