Cells Phones In Cars? There Ought To Be A Law!

by | Jun 24, 2001

New polls are showing increased support for banning the use of cell phones while driving. Here we go again. I have a better idea: why don’t we simply hold people accountable for bad driving? If you drive poorly, then you should be held accountable whether you are using a cell phone or not. If you […]

New polls are showing increased support for banning the use of cell phones while driving. Here we go again.

I have a better idea: why don’t we simply hold people accountable for bad driving? If you drive poorly, then you should be held accountable whether you are using a cell phone or not. If you manage to drive safely and effectively while occasionally using a cell phone, then why should this be anybody’s concern? “Driving poorly,” by the way, should include ticketing people who drive significantly under the speed limit, particularly in the left lane–an annoying and dangerous behavior of some (not all) cell-phone drivers.

This approach, of course, will never be accepted by the “there ought to be a law” mindset which dominates most of today’s government, media, and academic culture. Why? Because something other than concern with individual, physical safety is what motivates the people who initially push for laws like this (as opposed to the majority who later humbly cave into them). Instead, the “let’s make a law” mentalities are motivated by a couple of factors: (1) hatred of technological and capitalistic success — that is, human progress — which cell phones exemplify; and (2) an obsessive, childlike concern with what they see as “fairness.” They also are control freaks — you know, the kind of people who love to be in charge but, in truth, are not good at it.

Fairness-obsessed people simply cannot stand the idea that some citizens (under the approach I suggest) would still be allowed to use cell phones while driving if they manage to find a way to do so safely and responsibly. “It’s not fair!” is the never ending scream within their souls, never to be extinguished. Of course, if they were really concerned about fairness and equality (rationally speaking), they would ask, “What about the people who drive perfectly fine while occasionally using a cell phone? How fair is it to make it illegal for them to use cell phones in the car? Why should competent people be punished for the ineptitude of others?” Once again, however, the motive is not physical safety, no matter what they tell you. The real motives are control and devotion to a child’s primitive, emotional definition of “fairness.” The proof for what I’m saying? The very fact they refuse to raise or address the questions I am now raising.

I expect that in most of the country, sooner or later, a majority will come around to supporting laws against cell phone use while driving. Of course, I also predict that the same majority will likewise find ways to use their phones on the sly, putting them away only when the cops are around. In practice, we’ll end up with the policy I advocate, because the police will probably find it very difficult to enforce the laws given everything else they currently have to worry about. They’ll pull over the dangerous cell phone drivers, but not just anyone using a cell phone. Despite all of this, the “there ought to be a law” crowd will allow themselves to feel virtuous and benevolent all the same. Feeling empowered, they’ll get to work on the next law.

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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