In an era of rules and regulations, what’s one or two more when they seem to be non-offensive? This may have been in the back of Delaware legislatures minds when they voted to approve House Bill 229 (an act to amend the Delaware code relating to the rules of the road which has literally been years in the passing). This bill is essentially a cell phone ban while driving unless using a hands free device and will, according to sources, be signed by Governor Markell with little or no problem.
Most people seem to acknowledge that there are situations where one should not text, download, or even have a simple distracting conversation. These same people are often seen drinking coffee while they drive, talking to passengers while they drive, or even changing the radio station while changing lanes. A little known bit of information the average driver may find interesting is that the National Highway and Safety Administration considered talking with other passengers to be the number one distraction while driving, changing the radio station or looking through CD’s to be the second most common distraction, eating or drinking to be third, and talking on a cell phone to be fourth. One wonders when the ban on passengers while driving a vehicle will come into effect.
There have, unfortunately, been many deaths attributed to talking/texting while driving. Many web sites have been devoted to the victims of these horrific accidents in the hope that this will cause others to be more wary. Naturally, hearts go out to these families and their loved ones, yet this alone is not cause for more restrictive legislation. A survey in 2005 discusses the slowed reaction time of a 20 year old on a cell phone. The results are stated by Professor David Strayer as “If you put a 20-year-old driver behind the wheel with a cell phone, their reaction times are the same as a 70-year-old driver who is not using a cell phone. It’s like instantly aging a large number of drivers.” This statement implies that the next ban on driving should be senior citizens due to the average reaction time being slower than that of a 20 year old.
If one does not normally talk on the cell phone while driving, why does this legislation matter? It is simply an assessment of what the state should be allowed to regulate and what should be left to common sense. Upon the signing of HB 229 by Markell, Delaware’s drivers and ham radio operatorswill have 90 days to be informed of the new law before it takes affect. One wonders how much the state will make in revenue due to this small infringement of our rights…
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