Driving while talking against the law? I thought so.

I recently heard a program on NPR with a columnist from the Boston Globe who wants to make driving while talking on the cell phone against the law. Hmmm, I had the same idea a little over 5 years ago.

Put down phone and driveCliff Yankovich
PUBLISHED: May 27, 2004 in The Heritage Newspapers

As much as I dislike more government control over our lives, it is time for Lansing to regulate cellphone use in cars.
Over the next few days, take the informal and unscientific Cliff Cell Phone Survey. Should you have an unsatisfactory interaction with another driver, check to see if they are on the phone.
Monitor yourself and see if you “miss things” or have close calls while using the phone and driving. (Legal disclaimer: Do not put yourself or your passengers at risk. Liability is neither expressed nor implied. Participation is voluntary.)
Is a vehicle being driven erratically? Not keeping a proper speed or moving from lane to lane? Does it seem like the driver is somewhere else?
From what I have been observing lately, there exists a strong likelihood that the driver is probably engaged in a phone call.
There have been numerous studies that make a strong case for the real impact of cellphones on distracted driving. One study in the New England Journal of Medicine makes a comparison that driving while talking on the phone is equal in risk to driving while intoxicated.
Another NEJM article put forth the theory that cellphone users are 400 percent to 500 percent more likely to get in accidents than those who do not use cellphones while driving.
In my own informal study, I noticed that I had a couple of close calls when on the phone because my mind was wandering. In the hope of making myself safer I bought a head set so both my hands could remain on the wheel. But I have still noticed myself becoming too engaged in the conversation and having close calls.
Now that I am riding my motorcycle every day, I can’t use my phone. When I am on my bike, I pay close attention to what is going on in the cars around me, and I don’t like what I see.
The other day, in less than one-half mile, eight out of 10 cars that passed me going the other way had drivers on the phone. Every one of them was holding the phone up to his or her ear.
A few months ago, there was a terrible accident near our house in which a person drove into the rear end of a lumber delivery truck that was stopped for a train. The person driving was on the phone and was killed on impact.
Are our lives so busy that we have to multi-task when we are driving? Are we so unconcerned with safety that we are willing to put ourselves, our families and others at risk so we can be on the phone and behind the wheel simultaneously?
I think it is time for us to get our priorities straight and if the government has to step in to accomplish something that is for the greater good, then that is what I believe the government is for.
Whole countries have laws outlawing cellphone use while the vehicle is in motion: Australia, Great Britain, Japan, and others.
I wore my seat belt most of the time before it became a law, and now I wear it all of the time. It is a wise law that saves lives.
A law regulating cellphone use while driving would be equally wise with the same results.
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