I hate cell phones. I really do. Actually, the phones themselves aren’t too bad, inanimate objects they are. It’s what people do with them. Remember the olden days of phones when, if there was a ring, it would sound like, well, a phone ringing? Not today! Today, people are using and turning up rings of classical sonatas, TV show themes, nursery rhymes and Christmas advertisement jingles.
People are always on the phone, bantering while getting their hair cut, shopping for groceries or eating dinner in public restaurants. I learn much more about some fool’s personal life while riding a bus than I know about my own neighbor’s.
Even so, despite my hatred for these portable abominations of nature, I’m still paradoxically peeved at the attempt of many states to ban cell phone use while driving. So far, only New York has actually passed and is actively enforcing the legislation, but is this type of law a good thing? My dad would say no. His towing company relies on cell phone use for dispatches to accident sites, calling for backup and even communicating with the cops on the go. Other citizens such as photojournalists, modern taxi drivers, cable guys, etc. all require instant communication on the road. To ban cell phone use while driving to these people would drastically affect they way they run their businesses.
“Why not make them operate like they did before cell phones?” you might ask. Sure, we could do that. But just remember how your life was before the Internet, microwaves and VCRs. Going back to operating without them would be tough, huh?
The purpose of implementing non-cell phone driving is, of course, to reduce the number of cell phone-related accidents, where phone use allegedly proves to be too much distraction for many people to drive safely. But what about other distractions? Up to 25 percent of accidents are related to distractions, but are they limited to cell phones?
Stephanie Faul, a spokeswoman for the Washington-based AAA Foundation, says no. “There is a broad problem of driver distraction that includes cell phone use, but is not restricted to cell phone use. People feed their babies. People write. People read. People eat. They put on makeup. They comb their hair.” True. Quite true.
With such reckless distractions in mind, I recommend our lawmakers begin to ban more things from driving. Such things include: smoking – you could set your eyeball on fire; listening to any music with a beat – you could confuse the road with a dance floor or mosh pit; conversing with passengers – if you can’t talk on a cell phone, you certainly can’t talk to someone in person; advertisement billboards /_” some of those ads are slick and require a lot of processing time that should be dedicated to driving safely; infants – crying filters out important sounds of the road like police sirens; dice in the mirror – they are hypnotic, warping your psyche and making you think you are General Patton and your SUV is a tank; ad infinitum – the list can go on and on.
So there we have it – the start of a comprehensive list of things to ban to remove all distractions off the road, making our streets and highways 25 percent safer. We, could, of course, leave things they way they are, but that would be too simple.
Ken Hamner is a graduate student studying microbology.