State making right call on cell phones

By all indications, it will soon be illegal to talk on your hand-held cell phone while driving in Delaware, as well as texting or accessing e-mail or the Internet while behind the wheel.

The State House of Representatives voted 33-5 to approve the ban, and seven state senators have sponsored the bill (the bill only needs 11 votes to pass the Senate). It would appear the governor will ultimately sign the bill if it indeed passes the Senate and comes across his desk.

Drivers would still be able to talk on their cell phones via hands-free methods, including wired headphones, Bluetooth devices or other techniques.

We completely agree with the bill.

According to a Harvard Center of Risk Analysis study, cell phones are thought to be contributing causes in 6 percent of crashes. If that number is indeed accurate, cell phones play a role in about 2,600 U.S. traffic deaths annually, according to officials. Janet Froetscher, of the National Safety Council, said that some studies show talking on cell phones put drivers at a four times greater risk of a crash.

Those are significant numbers, and just should not be ignored.

There are those out there who feels the government is being too obtrusive on this one, interfering with how we live our day-to-day lives and telling us what we can and can not do individually. That just doesn’t hold water on this issue.

This is about public safety. Keep in mind that a person who gets in a car accident because he or she was talking on the cell phone does not only put themselves at risk. They endanger everybody. It’s like drunk driving — the innocent often pay.

Also, the government’s first responsibility should be to protect its citizens, above any other duties. We could also point out that, as we all know, driving is not a right, it’s a privilege.
Cell phones have had a hugely significant impact on people’s lives. We use them for e-mail, the Internet, music, games and, oh yeah, talking to people. They keep us in close contact with family, friends and work. They have become vital instruments in navigating through our busy lives.

But they are dangerous to use while driving. You are always a moment away from tragedy when driving a vehicle, and any distraction puts you, and those sharing the roads with you, in danger.

We applaud the state House for their vote on this issue, and hope the Senate follows suit. There are many issues out there that can spur real debate. This should not be one of them.