Lake Forest's Cell Phone Ban Misses Point

We have too many laws on the books now. Enforce the ones we have, let's not micro-manage more.


The Lake Forest City Council recently approved a new law making it

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
  • Shaving

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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Me June 13, 2012 at 10:46 AM
Wouldn't a "nanny state" protect people from themselves (e.g. legislating use of seatbelts or motorcycle helmets). Enacting laws that stop YOU from endangering ME is responsible government. Using your reasoning, perhaps we should also make liability insurance optional and allow car owners to "take responsibility for themselves".
LMS June 13, 2012 at 12:53 PM
I'd like to add to your list. Reading the paper, eating a bowl of cereal, doing work on the way to work my favorite being late for whatever and not pulling over for an emergency vehicle. You can go ahead with the law change, I agree that it won't stop the other issues from happening.
RMG June 13, 2012 at 01:28 PM
The lawmakers have no common sense. To say that someone should get a ticket for something that MAY distract them is unfair. I agree with the article completely. Add to the list not just a dog in the car, but a dog actually in the lap of the driver!!
Liz Bermingham June 13, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Totally agree with Mr. Bassick. I think he should be running for political office. How refreshing to find someone who has COMMON SENSE!
Erin Pieracci June 13, 2012 at 01:40 PM
I think this law might help to deter teens from texting while driving. I agree that there are many ways a driver can be distracted and that the lawmakers should not micromanage. But at the same time, I can't tell you how many times I've seen a teen almost run someone over or swerve into another lane because they are on their cell phone. I would agree with ANY action that could possibly prevent this!
Abbie fassnacht June 13, 2012 at 01:52 PM
This is a public safety issue. During the day I see more drivers on cells than not on cells. Cars are not mobile Phone booths. I am continually cut off or ignored, unseen by cell phone chatters. Driving is NOT for multitaskers. The brain really can not concentrate; really concentrate on two things at once. Operating a vehicle that weighs tons and has tremendous centrifical force making a turn is not to be paired with cell conversations. Those who object to this ordinance are defining themselves as cell chatters not drivers. THANK YOU CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS & MR. MAYOR.
RSG June 13, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Someone has to stop the madness. Cell phones have to be banned and I applaud Lake Forest for stepping up and creating this law. Not only are the teens and young adults texting, but frankly I see more adults on cell phones. I saw a woman just the other day blow through a stop sign on Sheridan Road, she was on her cell phone. I was hit by a teen on their cell phone in a parking lot. The cost to put up signs is little to pay if it saves a life or an accident. "According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, last year 3,092 people died in what are considered to be "distraction-affected crashes." These types of crashes are those that included people answering a phone while driving, making calls with a hands-free or handheld cellphone and text messaging. This number breaks down to one out of 11 fatal accidents happening when at least one driver involved was in some way using a cell phone." When does it stop? Laws for seat belts were put in place to save lives. The same is the case for banning cell phone usage while driving.
RationalTht June 13, 2012 at 04:01 PM
If the council were TRULY concerned about safety and not revenue, they would have banned ALL distracted driving - everything listed about by the author. They should also ban radios and people talking in the car as well.
UKGuy June 13, 2012 at 08:08 PM
I live in Lake Forest now but am from the UK (where the use of mobile phones in a moving vehicle has been banned). I think that this ordinance is fitting but does not go far enough considering that it is the distraction of the conversation rather than the dialing which is the problem. There have been countless investigations one of which, when comparing the distraction of driving under the influence of alcohol to the distraction of a telephone conversation, found that use of a mobile telephone is measurably worse than drunk driving. The City of Chicago deems it worthwhile then so should other municipalities. The problem comes when you see police officers watching people drive around using their phones in Chicago without stopping them. The law should not be a deterrence, it should be something that actually creates a punishment. In the UK, NYC and Washington DC rates of death attributed to distracted driving have dropped subsequent to the ban.
Life is Good June 14, 2012 at 02:49 AM
Did you bother to read the WHOLE letter? There are many other things other than cell phones that distract drivers, therefore endangering YOU. Guess you better just stay off the road.
Steve June 14, 2012 at 03:40 AM
Hello people, as a Motorcycle rider, I fully support this new law. In fact I feel the law spoken above from the UK takes it a step better. I see a lot of distracted driving while I am on my bike. Because I am looking for it! It is going to be the distracted driver that will do me in. So I watch carefully! I fully respect the opinion that there are many ways that people are distracted while driving, but this form is the most prevalent! I have stood at a street corner during the morning rush and have seen a woman, talking on the phone, applying makeup, smoking,drinking coffee and steering with her knees. Please let me make sure I am in front of her at a stoplight!! That is a frightening thought! Please people, wake up! Hands free is a law that is something that is way overdue! This should be a federal law across the nation! Please support this law and eventually it will be. Distracted driving is a real problem, Allstate insurance and many others are making this a priority to inform the public about! Make this a Federal law and no new signs will be needed and your argument will not hold water!! To bad if someone feels this is a infringement of their rights. We all have the right to travel on safe highways, just like all non smokers have a right to smoke free air! Any difference?
Vicky Kujawa July 05, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Anyone have the stats on accidents due to cell phone usage in Lake Forest? I am guessing that this law is a total waste of legislation.
Vicky Kujawa July 05, 2012 at 02:11 AM
Pretty soon we'll be going the way of 'Minority Report'.


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