I read news from the UK and shake my head at how far off the rails that country has gone. Take this example of the latest nanny state initiative, equating using a cell phone while driving with driving while intoxicated. Actually, it’s considered worse than DUI because drinking and driving is not illegal, as in the U.S. it becomes illegal when your blood alcohol level exceeds a threshold, but under these new rules, any use of a cell phone while driving would be illegal.
[UPDATE to clarify, when I read this post I realized I made a mistake in presenting my logic. I said “is considered worse than DUI” but what I should have said is that is “worse than drinking and driving” because DUI is always a criminal offense. Drinking and driving is not criminal, the subset of people who drive after drinking enough to be legally intoxicated are breaking the law.]
I would challenge anyone to consider the facts first, while mobile phone usage has skyrocketed over the last decade, highway fatality statistics have been flat since 1986, well actually they rose slightly in 2006 but that was due to pedestrian and motorcycle fatalities increasing. While proponents of these laws will say any number above zero is unacceptable, it is unreasonable to believe that zero is actually achievable and elevating inherently non-dangerous behavior to criminal, as is the situation in the UK where cell phone use while driving is more prosecutable than drinking and driving, devalues the efforts to curtail behaviors that are dangerous and criminal.
It is a good suggestion, and in many cases the law, to use a handsfree device while driving and this is a reasonable public safety measure. I have a bluetooth setup in my car and couldn’t imagine not using it, not only does it free my hands to focus on driving, but it’s more convenient to use than a handset. To criminalize any cell phone use while driving is just insane.
Motorists caught using a hand-held mobile phone while driving could be jailed for two years under tough new guidelines issued today by prosecutors. [From Drivers who use mobile phones face jail – Telegraph]