EDITORIAL: Cell phone drivers of America unite!

Last week, The Associated Press reported that the National Transportation Safety Board recommended banning teenagers from using cell phones while driving. The board’s recommendation is just another example to add to the attempts government has made to ban cell use while driving.

If any Ohio official out there considering banning cell phones is reading this, we just wanted to tell you that we will proudly continue driving with our phones.

Also in the news last week, Connecticut implemented a statewide ban Saturday, adding it to the list of places that have banned cell phone driving (New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., are the others). Violators in places such as Connecticut can now face up to a $100 fine.

The rhetoric in the for and against arguments on “jiving and driving” is nothing new. Both arguments are flooded with hypothetical scenarios, shady statistics and a lack of sensible and unbiased data. Then again, that’s what political columns are all about.

First off, the NTSB should not be making federal recommendations to ban cell phone driving for teens nationwide. Traffic conditions vary by state. High schoolers in New York City probably have a harder time driving than high schoolers in Montana.

But more importantly, any government shouldn’t regulate cell phone use at all. We can understand the concern state governments have with automobile safety. But when does regulation go too far? Many accidents have occurred from drivers switching CDs or fiddling with the radio. Should the government ban people from using CD players and radios in the car too?

On top of that, how do government authorities enforce these laws? It seems that crime statistics are always high and the amount of police officers is always low in the United States. Do we really want our cops (at least what’s left of them) to be spending their time seeing if drivers are chatting with their friends, instead of keeping our streets safe?

Second, the NTSB is targeting teens with their recommendations. Jonathan Adkins, spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association, explained the NTSB’s decision is “an issue of experience with driving, not the issue of maturity.” If that’s so, ban senior citizens from using cell phones. They’re just as bad drivers. Or to be male chauvinist pigs, we could say that women are worse drivers than men, too. Ban them from using cell phones, too.

Obviously, we’re being sarcastic and making a huge generalization about groups of people, just like the NTSB. If there are teens out there that are having trouble driving while using a cell phone, then leave it up to the parents to discipline the kids.

And how effective are the bans in the states that already have them? Have accident rates significantly gone down? There’s plenty of research out there trying to prove that cell phone drivers are more prone to accidents, but we found very little research supporting the claim that cell phone bans will prevent accidents.

Banning cell phones is big bad government’s attempt to once again stick their noses in other people’s lives. Granted, they’re doing it for the matter of safety, but we question the effectiveness of banning cell phones while driving.

The above editorial is the consensus of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.