Distractions while driving can cause accidents. Few will dispute this premise. However, the effectiveness of laws outlawing specific driving distractions is very much in question.
Many states and cities, including Idaho Falls, have or are considering laws to prohibit speaking on a cell phone while driving. And certainly all drivers have noticed erratic and possibly dangerous behavior by drivers on cell phones. (A rhetorical question must be asked here: if cell phone talking for average citizens is banned, wouldn’t it be reasonable to prohibit law enforcement personnel from speaking on radios or cell phones as well?)
But are cell phones the greatest distraction drivers face? Or are cell phone users targeted only because their specific activity is easily visible to outside observers? Just how many personal freedoms is the city council willing to take away in the name of safety? (“He who is willing to give up liberty for a little security….)
However, if we are to eliminate one driver distraction, is it not incumbent upon us to eliminate all dangerous distractions?
Any driver must admit there are other events or actions that are more potentially hazardous in a moving vehicle, and I dare the Idaho Falls City Council to take them on. They include:
Transporting a child under the age of 12
Transporting two or more children of any age
Children climbing out of child restraints
Listening to a music
Engaging in conversation with a passenger
Scratching an itch
Drinking/spilling coffee, water or soft drinks
Driving through school zones
Driving while angry, emotionally upset or unstable
Driving after a traumatic experience such as a near miss, minor accident, receiving a traffic ticket, etc.
Driving while needing to relieve oneself at a restroom
Spotting an attractive person of the opposite (or same) sex
Attempting to read roadside signs or to locate an address
Driving while tired, hungry, lonely, thirsty, etc.
At a minimum, please outlaw child restraints, because drivers often engage in dangerous actions when children learn to disengage the buckles. On second thought, donâ€™t bother. It would be much safer to ban all children in moving vehicles.
All passengers in the front seat must go, along with all radios, CD players, MP3 players, etc.
School zones must be eliminated, because the constant changing of speed and the presence of small children darting in and out of traffic are dangerous distractions.
All signs, including business, street and traffic signs must be eliminated, along with all food and drink inside vehicles.
Driving to or from the hospital, doctorâ€™s office, funerals, law offices, court hearings, legal proceedings or any other events or locations where the driver may experience emotional distress must be curtailed. A designated driver or public transit must be used in such instances.
Pedestrians must be prohibited along roadways.
Driving within 30 minutes of watching a comedy or tragedy, or engaging in an argument with a significant other, must be prohibited in all cases.
And, of utmost importance, police officers must insist that all drivers visit the restroom within 5 minutes of sliding behind the steering wheel, and at least hourly while on multiple-destination city excursions. (Of course, if an officer is in doubt as to the condition of a driver, he could always administer a roadside porta-potty test. Admissibility of such a test in a court of law has not yet been determined.)
Go ahead, Ida Hardcastle and Karen Cornwall. Try it, Tom Hally and Mayor Fuhriman. Jump on board, Mike Lehto and Joe Groberg, if you must. But once you start down this road, youâ€™d better finish the job.
Because you care, we’re holding you responsible for making our city streets truly safe.
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