I hope State Senator Larry George’s bill to allow cab drivers to use their cell phones is approved by the entire Oregon Legislature. In fact, if this is the first step in the eventual repeal of this bill, it will be a good step for freedom in Oregon.
Oregon Democrat legislators began the hang up and drive laws in 2009 with the-impossible-to -enforce-law against teenage cell phone use. You could see it coming: adults were next. And in 2011 the legislature expanded the law to include hand held cell phone use by adults. Everyone had seen someone talking on a cell phone and driving. Something must be done.
But they had a problem: Proof. Early on statisticians used the fact that cell phones were present in cars as ‘proof’ they were complicit in a crash. As more people like me blew the whistle on these suspect stats, well intended law makers began to trot out anecdotal evidence of horrible accidents caused by crazies texting or talking and driving. These cases are horrible, of course. As a result of these optics, lawmakers began introducing the hands free only cell phone laws as something worth doing because it was easy, the price was so cheap and, after all, “if we can save just one life…” People like me, who saw it as a freedom issue, a slippery slope, were hissed at and catcalled, often times on my own show.
Then came the evidence that hands free cell phone use was no safer than holding a cell phone. Studies showed it was the act of talking that was the distracting aspect. What to do? Like the folks who morphed “man made global warming” into “climate change,” safety poohbahs conflated the parade of horribles from cell phones and driving under an umbrella label called, “Distracted Driving.” A gullible bunch of lawmakers from coast to coast will no doubt heed the cue and attempt to put a stop to this scourge– whatever it is.
The demonization of cell phones persists, of course. I mean, hundreds of lawmakers can’t be proven wrong, can they? A recent study purported to claim that cell phone use is worse than drunk driving. Forty people took to simulators where the pace car driver at a whim threw the brakes on. People who were on cell phones rear ended the pace car more often. I’m sure Mothers Against Drunk Driving would like to have a word with the authors of this study.
Now there’s another study showing that talking to your kids in the back seat is a distraction.
This is the way it starts, of course. They demonize one object, establishing a beachhead in the cockpit of your car, and then find out other things are just as dangerous. Now what will they try to ban in your car–talking to your kids? Fast food? Drinking a Starbucks? What about drive thru Dutch Brothers?
George’s Senate Bill 294 was supported by all the Republicans and a few Democrats, including Chip Shields, Betsy Johnson and Arnie Roblan and allows hard working cab drivers use their cell phones. I hope cab drivers get the ability to talk on cell phones again. It’s good for business and it might just be good for all the rest of us of us.