Thursday, February 12, 2009

Can God Save Us From Our Cell Phones?

Sports Illustrated each week includes a feature called "Sign of the Apocalypse." It's a brief, sports-related item that is so bizarre or outlandish that one can only react by saying, "Geez, the world must be coming to an end."

Here's a recent sample: "The Yankees asked the city of New York for $370 in bonds for their new stadium the same week they signed CC Sabathia to a $161 million contract."

Alabama government provides us with another sign that the apocalypse might be just around the corner.

The Alabama Legislature, which opened its session last week, is considering a bill that would outlaw text messaging while operating a motor vehicle.

Our public-safety team here at Legal Schnauzer has no problem with the bill, which was introduced by Rep. Jim McClendon (R-Springville). But the fact that it's necessary to even discuss such a bill makes us wonder if our society has gone over the edge.

Are some people so stupid that they need to be told that it's a bad idea to type a text message on a cell phone while driving? Why don't we pass a law that says it's illegal to jam a railroad spike into your eye? Perhaps we have some people who think it's a good idea to have railroad spikes protruding from their eyeballs.

And that's not the only nuttiness out there involving cell phones. A recent study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), your humble blogger's former employer, informs us that children who talk on cell phones while crossing the street are about one-third more likely to be hit or nearly hit by cars.

Gee, no kidding. I could have never figured that one out if the journal Pediatrics hadn't published it. I'm sure UAB received a sizable federal grant to conduct that piece of scientific wizardry. Those are your tax dollars at work, folks.

So, let's see if we have this straight: Parents all over the country are giving cell phones to their Justins and Jessicas in order to protect them from all manner of boogeymen. Meanwhile, Justins and Jessicas are so dazed as they chatter on their cell phones that they walk right into traffic.

So much for the safety features of cell phones.

Last time I checked, most of us got through childhood relatively unscathed without the assistance of cell phones. ("That's the way it was, and we liked it!) And I'm quite sure that many people used to conduct business successfully without having to talk or text on cell phones while driving.

How dense have we become about our gadgets? Scientific studies have shown that a driver who is talking on a cell phone is just as dangerous as a driver who is drunk. And hands-free phones don't make it any safer to drive while having a phone conversation.

The concept is simple: Driving is a complex task that requires your full attention. And carrying on a phone conversation at the same time takes your mind off that potentially dangerous task.

Use of cell phones while operating a motor vehicle should have been outlawed long ago. But cell-phone companies don't want anyone tinkering with their money-making machine, and they have a powerful lobby.

If thousands of Americans have to die in order to feed the cell-phone beast, so be it.

In Alabama, Rep. McClendon proposed a bill that would have outlawed the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. That did not even make it out of committee.

You might want to remember this issue the next time you hear a politician, probably a "conservative" Christian, talk about our "culture of life." Chances are that same politician votes against bills that would outlaw use of cell phones while driving.

The Unites States does not have a culture of life; it has a culture of money. It also has a culture of distraction. That we have to discuss laws to outlaw texting while driving proves it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Drivers could at least use bluetooth headsets with their phone. It may not be the perfect answer to this cell phone-related accidents, it is much better than nothing at all.