- Grove City, Pennsylvania


January 27, 2012

Support grows banning cell phone while driving

As of Jan. 2, it is illegal for commercial truck drivers to use hand-held cell phones on the nation's highways.

A new federal rule bans the practice. Truckers will be able to use a hands-free device or pull over to make calls. But they face penalties for employing traditional cell phones while behind the wheel.

The purpose of this new rule is simple: safety. Studies of cell phone use while driving confirm what more than a few casual observers have noticed -- driving with one hand, while focusing on a conversation coming out of a tiny device in your other, is distracting.

And distractions while driving cause motor vehicle accidents. In fact, some studies equate the level of distraction from cell phone use to be on par with low levels of intoxication.

This is precisely why the National Transportation Safety Board recently called for states to ban cell phones while driving, including the use of hands-free devices.

Currently, some states do that, but across the nation there is a mish-mash of laws that offer varying levels of concern.

Actually, the practical effectiveness of enforcement is one of the biggest arguments against laws seeking to ban cell phones while driving.

Too many people view this as an acceptable practice, and at this point, a ban might be compared to efforts to outlaw the consumption of alcohol during Prohibition.

Without reasonable public support, a law has little chance of being properly enforced. Still, we back legislative calls to ban cell phone use by motorists.

The dangers of using a cell phone while driving are obvious, even if many people view it as harmless.

We suppose that motorists who drink and drive make similar assessments of their capacities behind the wheel. But society as a whole has taken a stand. The same should apply with cell phone use while driving.

Unfortunately, a law alone will not lead to safer highways. People have to obey that law, and recognize it's on the books for their own long-term good.

Just as drunk driving continues to be a problem, we expect the same with cell phone use while driving whenever the practice is banned. But that's no excuse for refusing to set standards.

The New Castle News

Published Jan. 11, 2012, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.


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