No one needs to be using a cell phone while driving a vehicle. Yes, if you are suppose to be meeting someone someplace and you’re running late…it’s nice to be able to call and let that person know. Yes, if you are headed home and your spouse would like you to stop and pick up something on the way…a cell phone can be very convenient. Yes, if your car breaks down or if you’re in an accident…having a cell phone in your possession may help to rectify the situation sooner. However, I long for the “good old days” when a stranded motorist would have to walk to the nearest house and ask the homeowner if they could use their phone to call somebody for assistance. I’ll say it again. No one needs to be using a cell phone while driving a vehicle. Talking on a cell phone when driving is a distraction like fiddling with the radio, attempting to eat a meal, and trying to put on make-up. Since there aren’t any specific regulations against those other types of reckless behavior then I can somewhat understand the argument, if and when creating distracted driving laws, of not singling out cell phone users.
I would not have made the previous statement, a few short years ago, as a longtime proponent for a national ban on all cell phone use when operating a vehicle, but this is what typically happens in our society. When enough citizens stand firm in their beliefs, regardless of how ill-conceived or irresponsible they may be, the rest of us tend to follow suit. We eventually all become desensitized to the situation including even those who at one time or another had lobbied for cell phone use regulations. A perfect example of the “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” mentality happened in my own family several years ago. A family member who shall remain nameless, but not my wife or my son, was rear-ended by a distracted driver who admittedly was reaching for his phone at the time the accident occurred. My family member was so angry about the ordeal, and insisted there should be a law against such asinine behavior, but then a couple of years later I was a passenger in that family member’s vehicle, so imagine my surprise when he began fumbling around with his cell phone to answer a call. He unintentionally began drifting out of his driving lane and almost caused an accident himself.
You should see my wife trying to answer her cell phone while pushing a shopping cart down the aisle when we’re getting groceries. She inevitably veers to the right before eventually coming to a complete stop and usually before clipping any of the merchandise on the shelves with the front end of the cart. Speaking of my lovely wife (good save), we were recently in California where cell phone use while driving is prohibited, and I must say it was refreshing to see all of the alert drivers with their eyes forward and with their hands on the steering wheel. I know California has its share of problems, but the Golden State absolutely got that one right unlike most of the other states in this country. This sort of situation is precisely why I normally prefer federal regulation over individual state’s rights.
Public safety should not just be a West Coast, East Coast, or somewhere in between concern, but it should be of national concern. Talking on cell phones when driving will never be completely outlawed, but all states should at least ban texting and driving! When some states enact certain rights and/or regulations which differ from the majority of the other states it can be a little confusing to the average citizen, but it’s downright absurd when adjoining cities are allowed to have a separate set of rules from one another. Here in Arizona there are anti-texting laws in Phoenix but nowhere else in the Valley; therefore, drivers heading east and west would be texting legally, illegally, and then legally again all in the matter of a few minutes and during one short drive. On another ridiculous side note, it is currently legal to purchase fireworks in the entire state of Arizona, but it is illegal to use them in almost all of its cities. I don’t even begin to understand the logic behind that one.
What I also have trouble comprehending are the numerous reports showing that almost everyone who texts while driving admits they know it is dangerous, yet they continue participating in the negligent act. Many of these guilty texters have an array of excuses for their behavior, and they claim not being able to do so would infringe on their rights. I say anyone who texts and drives ultimately could someday infringe on my right to life. Many members of a particular party in our state’s legislature consistently and stubbornly express the importance of personal freedoms and individual responsibility, so these elected officials are unwilling to pass or even consider banning texting and driving. Without any common sense regulation in place my responsibility as a defensive driver becomes much greater as I am left trying to navigate my vehicle among the multitude of distracted texters. They commonly are crossing over into my driving lane and interfering with the normal flow of traffic by not being able to concentrate on a consistent speed.
I would rather take a chance with the drunk-drivers on our streets and highways than with those who text while driving. I don’t make that declaration light-heartedly because reports do show drunk-driving to be a safer irresponsible act than texting and driving, and at least the drunks tend to keep their eyes on the road. The great state of Arizona has strict laws against driving drunk, as does every state in the United States, but the Valley of the Sun is one of the only six remaining states which currently doesn’t ban the more treacherous conduct of texting and driving. I have long since given up hope of Arizona ever passing laws against using a cell phone while driving; however, I do continue to hope for a nation-wide ban on texting and driving not just for my sake but for everyone’s safety.