Cellphone while driving - a combustible mix
Cellphone use while driving without a hands-free device is a hot issue these days. We applaud Havre's Ordinance Committee for having the courage to begin drafting an ordinance that will ban driving without a hands-free device and texting while driving.
All one has to do is stand on the corner of any Havre downtown intersection for 15 minutes, and you'll observe car after car passing in which the driver has a phone glued to his or her ear. You'll observe some vehicles coming to a complete stop, some will proceed out of turn, some will do a rolling stop and at least one driver will miss the stop altogether. You'll notice that a majority of these drivers are talking on a cellphone without a hands-free device.
We have become a nation of people who can't be without their phone, even while driving. The safety of other drivers and pedestrians has become a real concern because of cellphone addiction.
Many states and municipalities throughout the country already have ordinances that ban cellphone use while driving without a hands-free device. Why? Because it's dangerous. To those who want to debate the issue, numerous and very credible studies validate the increase in accidents due to cellphone use while driving without a hands-free device.
Over the last 15 years, we have become so addicted to the cellphone that we can't even go five minutes without phone contact before withdrawal symptoms set in. Technology is a wonderful thing, but somehow common sense must come into play — any distraction while driving is not a good thing.
Driving and texting is even more dangerous. Texting is very popular with the Gen-X, Gen-Y and soon-to-be driving Gen-Z. Texting while driving is like playing Russian Roulette — eventually the percentages are going to catch up to you, and the outcomes are all bad. We shouldn't have to legislate common sense, but the thought of people driving and texting is so scary that something needs to be done, and enacting an ordinance prohibiting it seems the best way to handle the problem.
When common sense goes out the window, we look toward government to step in to protect the innocent who could be hurt.
In the near future, the insurance companies may begin issuing policies with texting and phone related exclusions. Until that happens, the ordinance committee is on the right track, and we commend them for tackling this issue head on.