Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on February 19th, 2007 at 5:22 pm
[via Amanda Fritz’s Blog]
The Oregonian penned an editorial yesterday that says currently proposed cell phone bans are nothing but “trendy” and “frivolous” pieces of legislation.
Currently being debated in Salem is a bill sponsored by Senator Ginny Burdick that would ban a whole list of “distracted driving” behaviors.
The Oregonian argues that existing careless driving laws suffice and that it’s a “waste of time” to pursue a cell phone ban or any new distracted driver legislation.
Here’s a stat they cite that I’ve never heard before:
“People using cell phones account for only one-half of 1 percent of Oregon’s car accidents, according to the state Department of Transportation.”
I’m no expert, but that seems low to me.
And this paragraph is just plain scary:
“The ability to talk on the phone while driving is a relatively new convenience, not a necessity. Still, considering the length of people’s commutes, the complexity of their lives and the miles between loved ones, those drive-time conversations have fast become essential for staying in touch.”
Should convenience have priority over safety? Why should my risk of being killed or injured go up, simply because someone trapped in traffic has no other time to talk with loved ones?
Four states, including New York and California, have already banned handheld cell phones.
Whether you’re for more laws or not, I think cyclists should be concerned with this issue because it has a direct impact on our safety.
This morning I spoke with an AP reporter covering this legislation. Watch for that article in the next few days.
UPDATE: The AP now reports that Burdick’s bill has been softened. It does not call for a ban, but still gives cops the ability to ticket distracted drivers. From what I can tell, here is the most recent version of the bill.