LaHood’s proposed cell phone ban is asinine

Logan Mcdonald

A couple months ago, I read an article about how the Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, was proposing a national ban on texting and talking on cell phones while driving. I thought it seemed pretty stupid to outright ban all cell phone use while driving, much preferring the sort of policy adopted by the Iowa legislature.

By Iowa law, talking on cell phones is a secondary offense for adults, which means that you can only be ticketed for it if you’re pulled over for a separate offense. This just seems to make the most sense as your breaking of another law is evidence that you’re distracted while driving.

And LaHood not only proposes a ban on handheld devices, but he also seeks to ban hands-free and in-car systems. By LaHood’s logic, a person simply talking while they are driving is distracted so significantly that the Secretary of Transportation feels the government should ban it.

Things seemed about as asinine as they could get until this month, LaHood said that the Department of Transportation is looking into technology that disables cell phones in cars.

Any amount of thinking about this and you come to the conclusion disabling phones in cars is an awfully misguided effort to curtail distracted driving deaths and injuries. Any additional thinking beyond just a few seconds and you can come up with a myriad of situations when cell phones are needed in cars.

Delivery drivers need to be able to use their cell phones while driving if they need help finding a house. I was a delivery driver for years and I know that new development areas filled with winding cul-de-sacs are nearly impossible to navigate without help.

Smart phone apps, such as GPS and other navigation tools, are used all the time and it would be a large waste if such useful tools would be banned.

Even for something as simple as getting caught in traffic and calling to tell someone that you’re running late is extremely useful and courteous; and if you would be calling in to work to say you were going to be late could possibly even save your job.

Then, thinking beyond just the driver, all passengers’ cell phones would be disabled.

That four-hour long trip in the back seat to your aunt’s house would be that much longer if your cell phone was disabled. That trivial question that has everyone arguing wouldn’t be able to be resolved until the trip is over because no one could Google it. The phone call saying you forgot something at your friend’s house would be blocked until you were miles away and it would be a pain in the ass to go back and retrieve whatever you forgot.

Sure, some of these examples are purely matters of convenience — cell phones are used by many people as social networking tools, gaming devices and music players. These sort of uses push more into the distraction zone if used by drivers, but when a driver is simply making phone calls or receiving a text, or if a cell phone is used by any passenger of a vehicle, I see absolutely no harm and definitely no crime being committed.

I say let Ray LaHood worry more about his national high-speed rail system rather than people making phone calls while driving.

If I’m able to obey all traffic laws while driving, shouldn’t I be allowed to send out a sext or two to my homegirls?