The Lake Forest City Council recently approved a new law making it illegal to use a cell phone except on a "hands-free basis".
I would like to share a couple of comments about this.
How much is it going to cost to put a sign on every single road leading into Lake Forest announcing this law, because without that, how is it possible that people outside the City will even know about this?
Imagine if every city or town in the state had different laws on allowable car colors, window tint, permissible political stickers, eating while driving, etc. How would you ever know? And how would you feel if you were pulled over and given a ticket for a law you didn't even know existed?
So, to be fair, we should put up a sign on every single street leading into Lake Forest announcing this law. And how much is that going to cost? It doesn't make sense to pass a law like this unless it is state-wide, and even then, unless surrounding states have similar laws, you should still have signs.
Second, while the law is well intentioned, it completely misses the point. There are many things that distract a driver, much more than the use of a non-hands free cell phone:
- Crying babies in the back seat
- Barking dogs
- Nagging/yelling spouses
- Eating (and spilling in the process)
- Drinking hot coffee or tea (and spilling that)
- Listening and/or singing to loud music
- Putting on make-up
So where does our "nanny state/city" stop? Do we also ban all of the above? If it is really about "safety", that's what we need to do. Most, if not all, of these are far more distracting that talking on a cell phone. Where does this all stop? It is impossible to create cars that are not dangerous. We couldn't do it with horses and buggies, why do we think we can do it with cars?
And it is equally impossible to force drivers to pay as much attention to driving as they should. People are human. They make mistakes. Their attention wanders. It happens. And we can't legislate it away. We already have laws on the books that give the police the ability to stop you if your are driving recklessly. Doesn't that cover it?
Isn't it the act of driving in an erratic and reckless manner what we're trying to prevent, whether its from cell phones, eating, or whatever? We have too many laws on the books now. Enforce the ones we have, let's not micro-manage more.
It is time we let people take responsibility for themselves. Now there's a radical thought!
E. Webb Bassick IV, Lake Forest
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