- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 11, 2001

Some laws are made to be broken, and it looks like that's what is going to happen in New York state, where use of cell phones while driving has been banned. The law takes effect in November. Those who receive a DWT (driving while talking) ticket will truly be unlucky. I am sure the police have far better things to do than pass out tickets for this minor infraction. Better they should ticket the guy tailgating me or cutting me off because he's in the wrong lane.
The New York state legislators, who have yet to come up with a budget with the year almost over, should make better use of their time. The cell phone ban was passed on the pretext that use of the phones was a distraction and caused accidents. Do you suppose there is some insurance money being pushed into the state capital? There are no laws against drinking a cup of boiling coffee while driving. There are no laws against eating a sandwich, reading a book or checking your eye shadow in the sun visor mirror.
Distractions come in many forms. Most of the buttons on my stereo system are so small that reading the function takes my eyes off the road for far too long. Then I have to look in the armrest to find a particular CD or tape. Once found, I have to open the CD holder and extract it. Meanwhile, I am doing 65 mph down a congested highway where other drivers are doing the same thing. I can only hope while I am doing these things that someone doesn't call me on my cell phone.
We see many advertisements now for cell phones that require no handling. These phones are mounted on the dashboard and a speaker is provided. There is no mention of the most dangerous part of cell phone operation: dialing. Once again, we have buttons the size of pinheads to contend with. While we can now dial with one hand, we must look to the dashboard for however long it takes to dial. Even so, one-hand operation has to be better than two.
The No. 1 distraction in any vehicle is usually a passenger. I back off when I see a male-female screaming match in front of me. The same holds true for lovers with locked lips weaving their way to wherever it is that they feel they must get their licks in before getting there. Perhaps New York needs a law to discourage this type of public demonstration of affection. Of all the bad things we observe driving each day, cell phones are on the bottom of the list.
Things are so bad that the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety has embarked on a campaign to remind employees to pay attention while driving. They are concerned that they often have to pay your wages and your health care bills because you have been involved in an accident. And all along, you thought they gave you these things because they loved you. Wrong. Accidents can cost employers $53 billion a year. If you do have an accident on the way to work, use your cell phone to let your employer know you won't be in.

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