Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Celling Out

Admittedly, I'm not in the best of moods as I type this* so I may come off a bit pissier than I should. Despite that, I really do have a problem with California's new cellphone driving laws and I wanted to rant about'em right quick.

From what I understand, the law, which goes into effect today, July 1, 2008, has two main parts:
1) Driving while holding a mobile phone will result in a traffic ticket. Using a hands-free device (like a wired or Bluetooth headset) is a legal alternative.
2) Drivers under the age of eighteen are not allowed to use the phone while driving, at all - with or without a hands-free device.

I've got a big problem with both of these for reasons which I'd think would be obvious, but maybe not. One of the crafters of this law said that the same cellphone companies that tell their customers not to talk and drive also oppose this law. I don't think that's so hard to understand.

It's one thing to make a suggestion or even to warn someone, but it's quite another to make a law to limit their freedom to accept that suggestion. I've got a big problem with police pulling people over, ticketing them, fining them, or worse because they held a cellphone (without driving recklessly) instead of biting a cheeseburger, putting on make-up, or scolding their kids.

The cops say that they can also cite you for doing those things. Then, if you want, they can argue in court about it.

I'm annoyed by idiotic drivers on the regular, but I'd rather they be ticketed for doing something that results in an accident or accidental behavior - not because

It's estimated that this law will decrease the number of Californian traffic deaths or something by 300 - a 7% reduction. Yet I believe Schwarzenegger said it was the number one cause of traffic accidents. I caught most of this on the radio this morning, so feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. The point is that what I heard didn't seem to add up, although I guess I'd still have a problem with the situation even if it did.

I acknowledge, though, that it's hard to know when to make a law that restricts freedoms, but will probably help some people - even save lives. In this case, I'd love for the end-result to occur, but I do not want to be legislated to death.

And I really don't want the day to come when I'm pulled over because my phone alerted me that it was my Mom's birthday or something.

* - Among the reasons for this pissy mood is the fact that my lady's road bike was just stolen.


B. Good said...

You need a cell phone to alert you that its Mom's bday??

West said...


Douglas Dewing said...

i dunno how it is in california, but that same law went into effect in washington today, and using the cell phone is a secondary offense, meaning they can't pull you over for it, but if they pul you over for something else, then they can cite you for it

West said...

The cops said they'd be aggressively enforcing it. It seems like an odd word to use to describe an offense for which one can't be pulled over.


I just checked and found the following:

"Q: Can I be pulled over by a law enforcement officer for using my handheld wireless telephone?
A: Yes. A law enforcement officer can pull you over just for this infraction."


Alan Scott said...

Hey, West. Here in DC, there is a similar cell phone law, but it's desperately needed in Northern Virginia and Maryland as well. The woman putting on make-up or the guy shaving and dressing on the Beltway are nowhere near as distracted or careless as the ones talking on cellphones. We have had so many close calls and near-misses by people yakking on their cell phones, it makes one want to ban them completely. :)