As of Jan. 3, anyone whose cell phone is ringing in their car while driving in the city of Amarillo will just have to let it ring, unless you want to break the law.
The hand-held cell phone ban in Amarillo may have been in effect for a month and a half, but how much has it really helped prevent car accidents within city limits and will it make a difference in the long run?
The idea of taking away distractions in the car while driving is a noble one, indeed. Such is the texting ban in Texas, for example. To text while driving is not only against the law in 39 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, it’s also idiotic to do so. In the time it takes to look down at your phone and type a message, those are precious minutes that take both your eyes and concentration off the road and could potentially increase your mortality rate to 100 percent. It is the equivalent of reading a book, deciding where the story is going next and then typing out the next line of the story, while driving.
The equivalents of talking on a hand-held cell phone, however, are much more.
Yes, talking on a cell phone while driving is distracting, but so is changing the radio while driving. They say that in the precious seconds it takes to answer the phone while driving a life could be lost. Just as much could be said for looking down to change the radio, put on make-up, eat and simply talking to someone in the backseat while driving. And how about talking to someone in the car while changing the radio? Not to mention rambunctious four year olds and crying babies.
Even more distracting can be elements outside the car. The very purpose of billboards is to get the driver’s attention, or distract their focus from the road and onto to the uniquely crafted, creatively thought, well-written message of the advertisement. If the city wants to take away distractions in the car, take away those things created to distract.
Or better yet, if the city wishes to decrease the number of wrecks within the city limits start with the bar scene. Drunk driving is major problem and against the law, rightly so. To prevent this from happening, why don’t we make it illegal to have any car drive away from a bar? Whether drunk or not, making it illegal to have any car leave a bar could solve the problem.
Let’s be practical for a second. Cars are dangerous metal death traps that travel up to 60 to 75 miles per hour down a highway surrounded by other metal death traps going at the same speeds. They are extremely dangerous and, perhaps, should be entrusted only to those citizens who pass a more thorough background check that proves them to be responsible enough to handle such a machine. The city is trying to save lives by preventing distractions, but if they really want to make an effort, treat a car like you would any tool that can kill. Just because someone is old enough to drive doesn’t mean they should.
A ridiculous notion? Maybe, but if they want to save lives on the road, don’t start with the tiny distractions. Those are far too many to count. The texting and driving ban was a good start, but there are many more distractions within and outside of the car that are far more dangerous than talking on a hand-held cell phone. The city needs to learn to be more consistent in their laws and start exploring all distractions to save even more lives. If you’re going to ban one miniscule distraction, ban them all. Otherwise, leave it alone.