Should cell phone use be banned while driving?
Previously published on February 20, 2008
The privilege of driving is a right that many Americans enjoy; however, it can be a costly freedoms as it not only places steep financial burdens on drivers, but it annually costs many lives while inflicting serious injuries and impairments on many others. Because driving can be so dangerous, government imposes strong limitations on an individual's behavior while driving. At times, people may feel these are undue burdens as they cannot perceive how such limitations make the roads safer. In such cases, citizens should protest and, if need be, sue the State imposing the regulations to confirm the regulations do violate guaranteed personal freedoms.
On the other hand, there are times when drivers are upset at legitimate regulations because the Government is limiting a freedom that directly impacts them. In regards to cell phone use while driving, there is likely a legitimate interest in restricting such behaviors as a clear danger exists. Moreover, laws, which aim to restrict the use of cell phones while driving, are perfectly lawful as the distraction of a phone conversation can severely limit a person's ability to react to a situation as their attention is pulled away from driving.
Some individuals claim they have the capacity to fully coordinate a phone conversation with a sudden need to swerve around a vehicle or object that appears in their path. This may be true for some people; but for the gross majority of individuals, this is not the case. Moreover, driving laws must be applied to everyone regardless of whether or not they believe they are a superior driver as the police cannot readily differentiate between individuals of superior driving skills. Therefore, a ban on cell phone use while driving is necessary to protect everyone on the road.
Moreover, cell phone use is not the only distraction that adds to a potentially hazardous situation. Add to the distraction of a phone conversion the need to hold the cell phone, suddenly, a driver has seriously impaired his ability to properly steer while dialing adds further distraction as it forces an individual to remove his or her eyes and hand from the road. Furthermore, activities, such as eating or drinking while driving, probably present a similar danger to using a cell phone, so there is likely justification in restricting these activities as well.
On the other hand, listening to the radio and talking to a passenger also qualify as distractions. In these scenarios, however, the person's control over the vehicle remains unimpeded for the most part. As for teens and other beginner drivers, limiting the number of passengers allowed in a vehicle makes sense because the driver is still perfecting his or her driving skills; whereas, a more experienced driver has the ability to focus on other tasks, such as listening to another person, without a significant lose of attention to driving. As such, restrictions for experienced drivers are unjustified.
Moreover, restricting the ability to speak with another person or listen to the radio would be impractical and unenforceable restrictions that would do little to improve road safety. As such, banning the absolute use of cell phones probably goes one step beyond the State's interest in protecting drivers. On the other hand, States do have a right and duty to protect drivers by ensuring they use hands-free devices when talking on a cell phone and driving.