Using a cell phone while driving

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Scoot: Hand-held cell phone use will continue

May 28, 2020 - 1:19 pm

In Louisiana - the use of hand-held cell phones while driving will continue!  A bill that would have banned the use of hand-held cell phones while behind the wheel of a vehicle failed in the legislature.

Is driving while using a hand-held cell phone safe? I can’t imagine that it is safer than not using a hand-held cell phone while driving - but would the law have really made our streets and highways safer?

The state law banning texting while driving has not stopped a lot of people from texting while driving. In fact, how many times have you texted someone who you know is driving and expect them to read and text back?  It took a seatbelt law to get drivers in the habit of always fastening their seatbelts. We should be smart enough to have taken the information and decided that we were going to buckle up before the law was passed.

The first seatbelt law was a federal law that went into effect January 1, 1968.  The passage of that law forced people into the habit of buckling up.

But this is 2020, and I have doubts that a similar law passed today would have the same impact of society’s behavior. If a seatbelt law were passed today - how quickly would it mirror the debate over wearing masks and turn into a full-blown political debate. Some people would say that this is America and that they have the freedom to drive without a seatbelt. And if President Trump refused to wear a seatbelt - how many would model their behavior after the President’s?

The fact that the law banning cell phone use while driving did not pass the Louisiana Legislature will probably not make our streets and highways any more dangerous. If the bill had passed, there is enough evidence to show that many would still not follow the law.

One lawmakers voted against the bill saying that it would give police a reason to be prejudiced by disproportionately pulling over black drivers for hand-held cell phone use.

There has been a law on the books that covers things like texting and hand-held cell phone use - it’s the distracted driving law. But elected officials take pride in promoting the idea that they are actually solving a problem by passing a law - when in reality - the law fails to change behavior.  We can use this as an example that we - the people - should not wait for laws to be passed to make our lives safer. Often there is an assumption that if something is not against the law then it must be okay. Not true.

If passing laws about each aspect of distracted driving were necessary - then what about passing a law the makes it illegal to eat French Fries while driving? It is nearly impossible to pick up a to-go order containing fries without reaching in the bag and started to eat the fries before you get to your destination. And when you grab several fries and one falls in between the seat and the center console - you look down and search desperately for the fry that went astray. That is a perfect definition of distracted driving and there’s no law banning that activity.

Whether it’s using a hand-held cell phone or texting while driving or eating fries, putting on make-up or simply allowing your brain to transport you to another place and time - we all should be held accountable for our actions.

Just because there is no law against something - doesn’t mean you should do it.

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