Finding North Without a Compass

A retired Army officer and retired Fortune 500 executive, Warren may be best known for making waves while serving on the Mequon Common Council and Ozaukee County Board. He's no longer an elected official, but he has plenty to say about local, state and national issues.


Banning Cell Phones While Driving

The News Graphic published a story on banning cell phone use (talking and texting) while driving, which puzzles me.  The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended such a ban throughout all 50 states but only 10 states and DC have adopted such a complete ban.  Many others have adopted partial bans such as Wisconsin which is now banning texting while driving.   
Here's what's puzzling.  The statistics show that talking on cell phones while driving does cause accidents, but local officials allege that the data is not sufficient for a complete ban.  How is it that the environmental movement can shut down job creating projects without any proof whatsoever that they may cause any lasting effect, but a total cell phone ban is not in the cards in Wisconsin although there is documented proof that talking on a hand held cell phone distracts drivers and causes accidents.  
Creating several hundred jobs for a mining project in Northern Wisconsin or 20,000 jobs for a petroleum pipeline from Canada to the Gulf, can be canceled out because there might be a possibility of some detriment to the environment. But known damage to property and human life by driver use of cell phones is not sufficient for a ban.  Does that meet any test of logic?  
The Consumer Products Safety Commission issued 25 recall notices in December because some products might cause damage or an accident in the future, one of which was "Build-A-Bear Recalls Colorful Hearts Teddy Bears Due to Choking Hazard."  There were no reported accidents but the teddy bear’s eyes could loosen and fall out, posing a choking hazard to children.  So we can ban teddy bears who haven't caused any accidents but not cell phones which have caused accidents.  What's the logic in that?
Has any driver not seen or experienced a distracted driver talking on a cell phone?  What is it with cell phones that so mesmerizes Americans that they have to talk in literally every setting -- walking on the street; pushing a cart in the supermarket; shopping in the mall; dining in a restaurant; and on and on.  How did the senior generation ever survive with just a land line?  While none of those activities cause accidents or injuries -- except maybe tin ears -- using a cell phone while driving most certainly has. 
Why do we not ban this activity here in Wisconsin and join the other ten states who have done so when we know with absolute certainty that talking on cell phones while driving can and does cause accidents and injuries?  One response is that such a ban would be tough to enforce.  I would suggest that we have hundreds of laws on the books that are a lot harder to enforce than a driver ban on using a cell phone.  Sgt Richard Wenzler of the Cedarburg Police Department put it this way: "You can look in just about any car and see somebody talking or texting."   That's a lot simpler than observing whether a driver is not wearing a seat belt, which is illegal. 
The bottom line is -- why is it necessary for a driver to use a cell phone while driving?  Are any of these cell phone calls essential for life and liberty?  I doubt it!  A cell phone driving ban would require completing calls before setting off -- or waiting until arrival.  An absolutely, positively essential cell phone call where life and liberty is in danger can be exempted or accomplished by pulling over to a stopping lane. 
Will a ban happen in the near future?  Probably not until a serious accident occurs to give cover to our state legislators who lack the intestinal fortitude to pass such legislation before such an deadly event transpires.    

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