Get ready to fork over 100 bucks if you get caught using your hand-held cell phone while driving in New York state. Gov. George Pataki signed a law banning the use of hand-held cell phones while driving – except in the case of an emergency. New York is the first state to pass such a law.
“It’s about time,” you might be saying. “I’m sick and tired of those *#!?*#? cell phone-gabbing four-wheelers almost running me off the road!”
If that’s how you feel, you’re not alone. Eighty-five percent of New York residents surveyed favor the law. But in reality, cell phones contributed to only 1.5 percent of the 284,000 crashes caused by driver distractions, according to a study by the American Automobile Association.
With improved highway safety as the goal, the New York law should also ban:
- Reading billboards (29.4 percent of drivers were distracted by something outside their vehicle, according to the AAA study).
That’s right. For such a law to improve safety, it would have to make reckless or careless driving caused by all types of distractions illegal. But wait a minute. Aren’t there already laws against reckless driving, whether it’s caused by putting on makeup, petting your dog or talking on a cell phone?
Rather than add more laws, why don’t we enforce those we already have? If you’re responsible enough to drive safely while sipping a cup of coffee or making a cell phone call, should that right be taken away because of a few irresponsible people?
Passing more and more laws that infringe on what citizens can do in their own vehicles is a slippery slope. Once we start sliding, it’s nearly impossible to climb back up.