I read the headline the other day that there are some politicians who want to ban both cell phones and texting while driving. Typically, politicians may call for a ban of something after an accident, crime or other tragedy. This may be considered a “knee jerk” reaction — more thought and perspective might be in order.
For local officials and politicians who cry for a ban, what’s their motivation? Do they want safer driving conditions? Or are they merely pandering to their constituents?
To lose all my cynicism, let’s assume their objective is safer roads – more secure driving conditions. Living in the Chicago area, with many aggressive drivers (especially during rush hour), my perspective on safer roads might be a little more dramatic and common sense driven. Without deciding how to move forward with a proposed ban on texting and talking on mobile phones, let’s look at other ways to improve safer roads and highways.
TO THAT END, WHY NOT ENFORCE THE CURRENT LAW WHEN IT COMES TO…
Reckless driving and weaving in and out of lanes on highways and tollways (Interstate roads)
Not using your directional or early enough to be of value
Ignoring traffic signs and signals
Not using your headlights during rainy or low visibility conditions
Distracting Loud Music
Cigarettes littered out the window
Seat Belt Usage
Could not following too close cause accidents, especially when a line of cars on an expressway have to suddenly stop? Do some drivers allow enough room for adequate braking?
Regarding road rage, how many incidents begin with tailgating or several cars weaving in and out of traffic? How much of this could be avoided by public service announcements or proper enforcement?
Are we able to ascertain how many accidents are caused by motorists not signaling correctly or not using their headlights during rainy or low visibility driving conditions?
I don’t text while driving not because it’s unlawful (in our area) but because it takes my focus off of driving and can be distracting. It’s not a good idea to switch your attention (even for a few seconds) from driving to texting.
Hand held phones are unlawful in the city of Chicago although outside the city, in many communities, they are lawful. Regardless, I also limit my talking on a cell phone. I’ve read recently where hands free phones are almost as risky as a hand-held phone. I don’t know if this is true but it’s plausible. In fact, one could make an argument that talking to others in the car while driving could potentially be a hazard – especially if you’re concentrating on what you’re saying or your thinking…it’s taking you away from a serious task at hand.
I suggest we focus most of our attention on enforcing the current laws. Are there not enough current laws to improve safety on our roads? Is this too much to ask of our law enforcement? If law enforcement says they don’t have the resources, how about increasing the fines or penalties of certain violations to compensate for the increased enforcement? In other words, increase the fines of some violations such as aggressive driving, speeding or tailgating to help law enforcement continue to consistently enforce these violations. Win-win?
Regarding texting, there’s currently a law in our county against texting while driving. Enforce that law. It’s common for me to see people texting while driving or at a stoplight. Even after enforcement, if it’s still an issue, evaluate if the violation fits this potentially dangerous habit. Perhaps you have to increase the ante to ascertain at what point behavior will change. In addition to enforcement, I believe public service announcements need to be repeated over and over about the dangers of texting while driving.