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Don’t We Have Better Things to Worry About?

Looks like the Pennsylvania cell phone ban bill is back:

Democratic state Rep. Josh Shapiro plans to reintroduce his bill to outlaw handheld phones while driving.

For Josh Shapiro, the numbers tell the story.

Last year, according to the state police, there were 1,245 accidents on Pennsylvania’s roadways where a driver was talking on a handheld cell phone, compared to 56 accidents with a driver using a hands-free device.

In 2006, the totals were eerily similar: 1,241 crashes with handheld phones; 60 with hands-free.

Shapiro, a Democratic state representative from the 153rd District, which includes most of Abington and part of Upper Dublin, wants to make it illegal to drive while talking on a handheld cell phone.

Just to give reader some sense of scale here, there were 6,657 crashes involving heavy trucks in Pennsylvania in 2006, 4,763 accidents involving pedestrians and 3,889 motorcycle accidents.  Even bicycle accidents are higher.  On the scale of vehicular dangers Pennsylvanians face, this is a small one.  We have accepted in Pennsylvania that motorcyclist deserve to have the freedom to choose not to wear a helmet, even though this is shown to make our highways more dangerous.  I think people should have to freedom to responsible use a cell phone while driving.  Distracted and careless driving is already a crime in most states.  At the very most, cell phone use while driving should be a secondary offense.

8 Responses to “Don’t We Have Better Things to Worry About?”

  1. kahr40 says:

    Its the save people fro themselves mentality. We gotta pass a law to keep these things from happening. Shapiro and his ilk would rather make using the phone while driving illegal than say hold the person responsible if they are in an accident and they were distracted while yammering on the cell phone. I can see it as an aggravating factor but why give the cops a license to pull over anyone talking and driving? Its like why make it illegal for me to own a gun. Instead treat the gun as an aggravating factor if I commit a crime with it. Our rights are preserved but the problem is addressed. Is that unreasonable?

  2. kahr40 says:

    And yes we have more important things to worry about.

  3. Steve says:

    These numbers are meaningless. If 10% of people are talking on a cell phone at any given time, and 10% of accidents are caused by cell phones … no correlation.

    MADD used similar methods to push states to set alcohol limits so very low. I’m practically a non-drinker and have no problem with impaired people having the book thrown at them … but should 1 beer on the way home from work in an average person get them a DUI? MADD has just about pushed it to that level — and it seems like they would like to.

  4. I always get shooting pains in my head when they cite figures like “here were 1,245 accidents on Pennsylvania’s roadways where a driver was talking on a handheld cell phone, compared to 56 accidents with a driver using a hands-free device” as if they have any weight. Without a baseline comparison to the number of handheld and hands-free drivers on the road who did not have any accidents there is no evidence that the rate at which handheld drivers are involved in accidents is any greater than hands-free. It is almost a given that in a crisis situation the reaction time of a hands-free driver would likely be shorter because they don’t have to drop their phone and move their arm from an awkward position to react.

    As for another claim made in the linked article that “it’s the conversation that’s the distraction, not the physical holding of the phone”, I’ll agree to a point. I know MANY people who use 110% of their total brain capacity while taking on a cell phone…on the other hand you have people like me who have to constantly ask the person on other end to repeat themselves (and vice versa) because I’m distracted from the conversation because I’m driving.

  5. Matt says:

    Ban People, that will decreace death and on the other hand it will also decrease tax revune.

    But really you do not need to talk on the phone while driving.

  6. Ian Argent says:

    It *is* a primary offense in NJ; and I still see people on their handsets every flipping day. Enforce the reckless driving laws and be done with it.

  7. DirtCrashr says:

    We have more people who text while driving…that’s coming to an end Jan. 1st – but the cell-phone ban hasn’t taken either – people still drive and hold the damn thing to their ear.

  8. Steve (CT) says:

    As if they care whether it reduces accidents. It’s another source of revenue!! $100 here in CT.

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