Cell-phone ban not best way to make roads safer

-- The Bakersfield Californian - June 4

Posted: Thursday, June 07, 2001

When a driver is distracted by his use of a cell phone and fatally plows into another car, it's a tragedy.

When the same thing happens while a driver is chomping on a Big Mac, swatting a kid, arguing with his wife, dialing a radio or messing with a fancy directional device, it's also a tragedy.

So far no one is proposing to ban Big Macs, kids, wives, radio or electronic gizmos from cars. But federal and state lawmakers are trying to ban hand-held cell phones. ...

It comes as no surprise that the industry's trade group, the Cellular Telecommunication and Internet Association, opposes the ban. But even the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging caution.

Wait for actual accident data before jumping on the ''ban-wagon.'' Why is it so much more annoying when a person with a cell phone cuts in front of your car? Would a swerver with fast-food get the same scowl?

Driving behavior is an education and enforcement issue. Draconian equipment bans will have little impact and lots of headaches.

Instead, cell phone manufacturers and opponents should combine efforts to make hands-free equipment cheaper and more attractive.

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