Friday, June 25, 2010

Hang Up & Drive!

This week, the Delaware State Legislature send a bill to Governor Jack Markell (D) that would ban the use of cell phones while driving unless you have a headset or wireless device. The bill bans holding a phone to your ear while driving, texting or using the Internet. Smart!

The bill is expected to be signed into law in early July making Delaware the only the eighth such state enforcing the law. I ask, why are the other 42 states taking so long? As cited by a January 2010 study by the National Safety Council, 1.6 million crashes occur annually due to cell phone use. Did you hear that? 1.6 million!

Here is what the law will state in Delaware:

  • Within 180 days of being signed by Gov. Jack Markell, Delaware's new cell-phone law will prohibit driving and talking without a hands-free device, such as a wireless earpiece.

  • First-time violators will face a $50 fine. Subsequent offenses will increase the ticket cost by $50, but not to exceed $200.

  • No points will be assessed on a driver's license for violating the new law, and the citations will not be added to driving records.

  • The bill allows police, firefighters or other emergency first-responders to make phone calls to perform official duties.

  • The ban also does not apply to drivers using their cell phones without a hands-free device to make emergency phone calls or report an unsafe or intoxicated driver.

I have a problem with ONE little item on the list. The fourth bullet point states that police, fire and emergency personnel can make phone calls as normal to perform their duties. I have an idea; why not every ON-DUTY police, fire and emergency person WEAR a bluetooth headset! I am not falling for this. What is good for the goose NEEDS to be good for the gander. Are they so above us and the law that they can use the phone without a headset? Isn't is bad enough that EVERY cop I pass has his phone up to his/her ear while driving? I'm sorry, were they just carrying out OFFICIAL business? I don't think so.

I wonder how many police have caused such crashes only to use some lame excuse to get off from being held liable. No, I am sorry but if I have to buy a headset (which I am MORE than happy to do) then YOU have to buy a headset. Let's all be safe TOGETHER.

1 comment:

  1. It's nice to see that a campaign WE started years ago has now taken hold. However, like you, I have a serious problem with police and emergency responders being exempt from this law for "official" duties. How is that going to be monitored?

    Another problem I have with this (and any other laws instituted) is the time frame for going into effect after it has been signed into law. 180 days?? That's 6 months! Why? Do we need to let people wean themselves off of a dangerous, self-serving habit? If this was a national law, according to the statistic of 1.6 million crashes annually, we would have allowed 800,000 more crashes with injuries or death to occur. Preposterous! Do they want to give people 6 months to get a handsfree device? Go to any store and get a universal earbud and mic. It didn't take long for people to get addicted to using cell phones. Let them get used to using handsfree options immediately and save some lives! If this was matter of national security, they would have slammed the doors closed on this yesterday. They surely didn't give people 6 months to get used to the ban on liquids in carry-on bags at the airports. People got that surprise while standing in line for their flights. So why are we giving numbskulls 6 more months to injure, maim and kill others? If that's not a matter of "security", I don't know what is.

    I also have an issue with the amount of the fines and lack of points assessed on the driver's license. Using a cell phone while driving is dangerous! Hence the law (finally)! I think the fines should reflect the severity of the possibilities, just as fines for DUI's do. This is not akin to tossing litter out of your car window. This is a serious hazard and must be reflected in the fines for it to have any impact. It should also be reflected in assessing points to violators' driving records, just as in DUI's or any other form of reckless driving.

    Why is it that when either local, state or federal laws finally go on the books, they are watered down? My theory is that the people who had their arms twisted by special interest groups to produce these laws will have to live with them, too. So they make the penalties as painless as possible to ensure that they, their families and friends won't have to suffer much punishment living under the same laws. But in the long run, it simply doesn't give it much bite.

    I suppose we should be thankful that something has been done at all. Now I would like to see a law enacted that gives me the right to slap the crap out of anyone yelling into their cell phone while standing next to me in the store! :D