A commercial flickers on the TV screen during the break of the always exciting 24. A close up of a young girl talking on her cell phone fills the screen. Her laughter and giggling is abruptly cut short… The camera pans out to reveal that she had been talking on her cell phone while driving; followed by a message: “Do not talk on your cell phone while driving.”
While that is the message that is intended to be seen, one can easily see something completely different, something that is profoundly different, and something that is quickly become a cancer on American society; the art of passing blame.
It is a joke – a colossal one at that – that all across America, and even parts of Europe, cell phones and driving are being outlawed in favor of hands-free car sets. More recent studies have since been released which suggest that it’s not the act of holding the phone to one’s year that is distracting to the driver; it’s the diversion of concentration from the road to the conversation that is the true culprit.
Well, following the results of such scientific studies lawmakers at the local level in states all across the country have begun to pass new laws banning the use of not only cell phones while driving, but also hands-free sets. “That’ll show those talkers!” one lawmaker most definitely exclaimed. However, where’s the law that bans drivers from talking to their kids in the backseat, or to their passenger(s)? What’s the difference? There is none, according to science.
With ludicrous anti-cell phone laws being signed each day in America, where are the laws that ban smoking and driving? The law banning eating Big Macs while driving? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve nearly been run down by a smoker as they’re struggling to light one up while they’re doing 70 down the freeway. I am sure of one thing, though; it’s been more times than I’ve been put in jeopardy on the road by “talkers,” or even women recklessly putting on their make-up while driving.
Smoking while driving, drinking hot coffee while driving, eating fast food while driving, and changing CDs or radio stations while driving are all dangerous distractions. Yet in what major US metropolitan area are and of these these activities outlawed? Not a one!
Is it the responsibility of the government to regulate facets of society to protect us from our selves? Sometimes it is, sure; hence seatbelt laws. But it is definitely the responsibility of government to protect its citizenry from the reckless and careless behavior of the citizenry. In the entire state of California it is illegal to smoke indoors in public places, such as restaurants or bars. In Mesa, Arizona it is illegal to walk down the street with a lit cigarette.
City and state legislators often go too far with these laws. The best method to protect the people is not to legislate laws that are barely enforceable. (How is an officer going to know if a driver is using a hands-free set or singing along with the radio?) The best method is for city and state governments to use the free public TV airwaves to educate the public on proper traffic law and on how to avoid dangers of the road, in lieu of arbitrarily outlawing the harmless practices and passing the over to a specific action of the driver. Why? Because it may be too much to ask Americans to take responsibility. We would have to admit that there was a lack of overall responsibility in the first place, and we can’t have that, can we?
How can the proposed air time be afforded? Well, by increasing the fines for dangerous traffic violations, such as driving under the influence of illegal drugs, cutting off motorists, speeding in school zones, failing to obey traffic lights and signs, et cetera, et cetera.
The government, in stead of wasting time with phantom legislation, should do what it exists to do; to help to make a safe society. More Americans die on the road each year than of any other unnatural cause. Clearly, the government is not doing enough. It is our responsibility, however, to do more.
The next time that your vehicle is in motion and you want to take that drink of coffee, soda or water, you feel the urge to dip into that bag and take a bite of your hamburger, or you have the urge to light up a smoke, remember that my it’s not your cell phone’s fault if you get into an accident, it’s your fault for being irresponsible and not paying attention to the road. As a society we can be more responsible drivers and make the roads safer for everyone, if only we can first admit and take accountability for our own actions as individuals.