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The Texas Blue
Advancing Progressive Ideas

Phone Ban Rings Smart In World of Bad Driving Habits

Anyone doubting the wisdom of West University Place’s cell phone ban should administer my stupid driver test.

Next time you’re waiting for a left turn signal, it comes on and the car in front of you doesn’t move, look closely at the driver. He or she is most likely talking on a cell phone or sending a text message.

Next time you’re trying to change lanes so you won’t be forced to exit the highway and you have turned your signal on and slowed to a snail’s pace to allow the car next to you to pass but it just seems to keep drifting right by your side, look closely at the driver. He or she is most likely talking on a cell phone.

Next time a car pulls into your lane without notice and almost forces you off the road, look closely at the driver. He or she is most likely talking on a cell phone.

Basically, any time another driver does something really stupid, take a close look. Or, for that matter, when you do something really stupid, check to see if you’re talking on your cell phone.

I’m rather expert on this subject because I have been on both sides. Just today, I sat through an entire left turn signal as I finished sending an e-mail.

As for other drivers, the stupid test was spawned by the man heading right toward me on a narrow two-lane street who, despite my horn honking, kept on coming. He realized what was happening just in time to veer right and miss me. Guess what else he was doing while driving?

I know there are going to be those who attack the West U ban as yet another encroachment on our liberties. It does seem that we make every effort to suck the life out of living with one law after another. But let’s face it, sometimes we need these types of measures to protect us from our own stupidity.

The cell phone ban seems comparable in many ways to the required use of seatbelts years ago. I never used to wear a seatbelt and had all the good reasons in the world: It took time to put on, it was mildly uncomfortable, it was just a pain in the rear. But then it became the law, and today I wouldn’t think about riding without a seatbelt. In fact, I don’t even have to think about it because it has become instinctive.

As for cell phones, I enjoy our modern technology as much as the next guy. However, just because it’s a great convenience to be able to place a call or send an e-mail from anywhere, that doesn’t mean I should be allowed to endanger myself or others by doing so while driving.

I hope West U will be the leader of a Texas trend and that we’ll have a statewide ban after the next legislative session.

If you don’t think it will work and that it will be impossible for people to modify their behavior, think again. Washington, D.C., has a ban on handheld cell phones. In my frequent trips there the past few months, I have seen only one driver with a phone in hand. That was the driver who almost hit my colleague and me as we crossed the street and she ran a red light. Yes, she failed the stupid test

(Originally published by Examiner Newspaper Group)

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