Banning cell phones in cars: good idea or bad?

I don’t know if it’s just me trying to compensate for having gone to an undergraduate school where we didn’t have a community around us (UC San Diego), but I’ve always really loved college towns. From my experiences in West Lafayette, Indiana where everything was Purdue-centric to our current home town of Boulder Colorado, built around the University of Colorado, college towns are my favorite sort of places.
That’s one reason that a story about Lawrence, Kansas caught my eye: I’ve been there for a couple of academic meetings in the last decade and really enjoyed the small town community. In fact, I’d be as bold as to say that it might well be the most livable city in the entire state of Kansas! Why they’re in the news is both interesting and very typical for the town: City considers banning cell phone use in cars.

I keep going back and forth on whether I support this idea, though. On the one hand, it’s scary to see how many people are perpetually distracted, chatting away on their cell phones while driving 65mph or faster on the roads, but on the other hand, I use my cell phone while I’m driving too and it would be a drag to be cut off.
Try this experiment for yourself, however: stand on a busy street corner and eyeball the first 20 drivers who pass you. How many are on a cell phone? I bet it’ll be at least five, and possibly quite a few more depending on how “type A” your particular city’s denizens may be. In laid-back Boulder, I can often see about a 30% phone usage pattern with this sort of observation.
Now to be fair, the majority of these people do just fine with their cellphones, and some of them even have handsfree devices, whether headsets or true hands free setups in their cars, but the 30% I see are the people that don’t have those, so we’re talking about that percentage of people who don’t have both hands to devote to driving, not to mention the full use of their brains and senses.
The city council in Lawrence thinks that maybe it’s just time to ban cell phone usage entirely, whether it’s with a headset, hands-free device or regular old little handset.
I’d be adversely affected by it personally, but y’know what? I think I agree with them.
Do you?

19 comments on “Banning cell phones in cars: good idea or bad?

  1. I agree as well. Working in the auto insurance industry and more specifically with the legal side of personal injury, it often amazes me how many time we get cases where the at fault party was speaking on a cell phone during the accidents. This includes dropping the phone and other things that can cause accidents. I can see having a hands free unit as a compromise, but it would cut down on the accidents.
    Now of course I need to ask the question: How is it you have time to sit and watch the traffic go by?

  2. So, what we have here is a conflict between regular convenience of using a cellphone while driving (regular in the sense that people do it several times a day) versus the rare chance that the distraction could cause an automobile accident which could possibly result in one or more deaths.
    Given the value we place on human life compared to the alternative of delaying your call or pulling over to the side of the road, I say outlaw cellphones.

  3. NYC has this ban and I think it’s a good thing. Drivers should be focused on the task at hand. If you need to make a call — pull over.
    I don’t know how good the enforcement is here. The few times I’ve nearly been hit (as a pedestrian) by a car taking a left turn — the driver was on a cell phone.
    Oddly, my sister-in-law from Colorado Springs who was in town for 5 hours got a ticket for calling me to ask for directions.

  4. I don’t see anything wrong with it .. we’ve driven for years without needing a telephone in our cars. I think it’s a distraction and a safety hazard. Cars are becoming entertainment centers … DVD players, mega sound systems, telephone booths. They should be for driving .. period.

  5. Chicago implemented a similar ban last summer, except that hands-free devices are allowed. I know when the ban was first enforced quite a few drivers got some hefty tickets. But I’ve never personally heard of anyone getting tickets since then.

  6. Banning cell phones in cars might be a good idea but an even better one would be banning cell phone use when parents take their tykes for a walk.

  7. The public won’t settle for a cell phone ban. However, we should require the use of a hands free headset or car kit. Wired head sets are under 20 bucks and blue tooth enabled wireless set prices are dropping dramatically. There is absolutely no excuse not to have some type of unit that enables us to drive with both hands and turn our heads without our arms, hands, and shoulders creating blind spots.

  8. hi all Ban all cell phone use in cars is a cognitive distraction …unlike eating smoking makeup etc which we shouldnt be doing either
    Of the near accidents I have had , 8 out of 10 were cell phone distracted

  9. i think cell phone should not be ban. I do it all the time and nothing has happen I’m safe when on the phone i dont think it would be right to take away some ones rights.

  10. I not agree with most i all ways use my cell phone when driving because of work call in late, or if i need help finshing work or calling my kids to tell them i’ll be late for dinner.
    my cell phone is not my life by it helps a lots when i need it. some time i dont have the time to stop to make a three min call.

  11. I’ve been reading the archives and just can’t resist this one.
    My husband and I are both Army civilians. A number of years ago, a regulation was put in effect for all military posts regarding cell phone use: Absolutely no cell phones may be used by the drivers of vehicles while the vehicle is in motion UNLESS they are using a head/hands free set. Offenders are subject to tickets which, while their state licences are not affected, can affect the driver’s privilage to drive on military reservations (get more than 12 points in 12 months and your privilage to drive on military property is suspended for two years).
    My husband, a federal police officer at the post we work for, gives out at least half a dozen of these ticket per week.

  12. I think they should get the speaker phone set so they dont get distracted of the cell phone. just be careful if u continue to use a cell phone in a car okay?

  13. I didn’t finish reading it cause im really tired and i’ve been reading a bunch of these things so yeah, im sorry

  14. i think of of this talkj is stupid cause i like cell phone and im only on this site for a project not like all of you nerd who have nuthing other to do so you have be stuid and read this…

  15. I live in Colorado, and we’re close to passing this ban on cell phones. I don’t believe people should do anything while driving except drive, if you ban one band them all. Personally I can’t wait pass a cop car smashing down on my juicy hamburger with my knee on the stirring wheel. Bottom line if you’re a safe responsible driver and person you don’t need someone to tell you how and when to be cautious. Mistakes happen, but stupid sht is just stupid sht. I think its just another way to collect that $100.00 ticket out of so many people.

  16. Just what we need another law to govern the sheeple. Besides they will just find something else to get destracted by. I txt people at stop lights, and in heavy stop and go traffic all the time. I talk to people on the phone while in motion constantly. Guess what? I’m ADD and can multitask. Stop taking away more of MY freedoms because someone ELSE might not be capable of what i am. We live in the LAND of the FREE. If you don’t want to get hit by terrible drivers or even possibly killed, don’t drive on public roads. That is a fact you face when you pull out of your drive way.

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