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Archive for Thursday, June 8, 2006

Civic senses

June 8, 2006

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To the editor:

Regarding "Phone ban loses favor" (Journal-World, June 6): Over the millennia, engaged citizens have debated a fundamental characteristic of civilized societies: the civilian's willingness to obey unenforceable laws. When John Ziegelmeyer Jr., Lawrence Traffic Safety Commission, cynically opines on "some real enforcement issues" about the cell phone ban, he insults the majority of intelligent Lawrencians who are willing to obey what he considers unenforceable.

I am quite willing to comply with any ban, partially because I was nearly hit this morning by a young woman who, with two children in the car, gripped her indispensable phone and attempted to turn right onto Sixth Street. Had she hit me, she may very well have injured four people, three of whom were innocent (I had the pedestrian's right of way).

Arguing with specious reasoning against the proposed ban, others have provided laundry lists of driving distractions which are not specifically proscribed by law (eating, fumbling with CDs, disciplining kids). There will always be spontaneous driving distractions about which we can do relatively nothing; banning the use of cell phones while driving is not one of them. A quick CD change is hard for a policeman to catch; a prolonged conversation is not. Phone records can be subpoenaed for prosecution.

Confirmation of a cell talker's dangerous distractibility appears on the front page of the LJW just below the phone ban article. The headline of the second article: "Driver on phone hits 8-year-old."

How many more have to be injured before we come to our civic senses and face our collective responsibility?

Jan Kozma,

Lawrence

Comments

classclown 8 years, 7 months ago

Many states have a "Dial-a-narc" number so if you as a driver witness someone driving erratically (possibly drunk) or perhaps in the carpool lanes, you can dial star whatever on your cell phone to report them. Maybe Lawrence should set up something like that. If you see someone yacking on a phone in a car, then grab your phone and report them.

mom_of_three 8 years, 7 months ago

While her situation is true to her, I have nearly been hit twice in the last week by people who were in a hurry, and didn't want to come to a complete stop at a 4-way stop sign. Phones were not involved.

Goforit 8 years, 7 months ago

The writer of the letter fails to mention that there were five commissioners that voted against the ban for numerous reasons. One was indeed the enforceability of the ordinance, but not necessarily the hand held portion, but the hands free section. And the overwhelming number of Lawrence citizens that are against the ban, that was very clear at the meeting.

Additionally, she references the young girl that was hit by the driver on the cell phone downtown the afternoon of the meeting. And that indeed is tragic. But she fails to mention that the young girl was in the cross walk and walking against a red light. Apparently, cell phone users are now held to a higher standard of accountability when driving. A driver not on a cell phone would not have expected that.

If her story of almost being injured by a driver on a cell phone is indeed accurate that again is unfortunate, but that's not the fault of the cell phone necessarily, it's the fault of the driver and the responsibility that they assume behind the wheel.

Taking cell phones away will not automatically make people better drivers. That's a little like assuming that everyone that has a child is a good parent, we all know that's not the case. It takes education and responsibility.

anonimiss 8 years, 7 months ago

Does anybody else find it insane that we were 1 vote shy of the traffic commission recommending the ban? A 5-4 vote. We all know the Three Amigos will do whatever their commissions tell them to. We were just 1 vote away from quite possibly the most idiotic law ever.

-Side note: cell phone ban is idiotic not because of whether or not people drive bad while talking on a cell phone. It is idiotic because there are plenty of bad drivers who do not talk on cell phones, plenty of drivers who are doing worse things such as eating, putting on makeup, shaving. What would constitute a cell phone? Would a walkie-talkie be a cell phone? Would a CB radio be a cell phone? Would text-messaging be allowed? Would a Blackberry be a cell phone? Do you pull over a driver you suspect of talking on a cell phone? Would older cars with car-phones in them be automatically illegal? Would the DA waste his time trying to prove that someone was talking on a cell phone at a given time? What if I want to pull a prank and just hold the phone up to my ear and not actually call anybody? Do we ban all distractive practices? Do we ban children from cars? Or just the loud ones? Do we ban loud radios in cars? Oh, wait, they were banned some years ago, and the law wasn't enforced. Do we ban eating in cars?

-my suggestion: If you can talk on a cell phone and drive safely, do it. If you can't, don't do it. If you're stupid, you need to get a ticket. Enforce the laws we already have, and then work from there.

gphawk89 8 years, 7 months ago

News today from St. Charles:

ST. CHARLES COUNTY: Police: Driver reached for phone, struck boy 06/08/2006 A motorist who struck and seriously injured a 3-year-old boy Tuesday night had been reaching for her cell phone when she veered off the road, police said Wednesday. The 30-year-old woman, whose name was being withheld while police completed an investigation, was ticketed at the scene for careless and imprudent driving, but she could face other charges, St. Charles County Sheriff Tom Neer said.

BDitty 8 years, 7 months ago

observer- who are you to say someone's conversation is or isn't important. I'm sorry we may not all engage in such intellectually stimulating conversations as yourself.

Linda Endicott 8 years, 7 months ago

I can't think of a single conversation that is so important that it can't wait until I'm stopped in a parking lot or, better yet, at home.

I don't have a cell phone, and I do quite nicely without it.

As for business purposes, what the hell did businesses do before there was such a thing as a cell phone? They seemed to do just fine. But I suspect that most cell phone calls are not even business related.

If you have a long drive to work every morning, I also suspect you could do without talking on the phone at all during that drive. If you have a short drive to work, you definitely could.

The thing about people and cell phones that annoys me the most is when they insist on bringing them with them into theaters and restaurants. Please, people, if you're dining out with someone else, show them enough respect to pay attention to them while you're there, and turn the phone off. And if you have one in a theater and insist on talking on it, then you have no room to complain about children there making noise.

I for one don't see what all the fuss is about. If you can't go for even one day without using your cell, then you have a serious addiction problem. I've read so many people saying stuff like, "I'm a better driver while using my phone", or "I could give it up if I wanted to, I just don't want to."

Sounds exactly like the excuses that alcoholics and drug addicts make.

BDitty 8 years, 7 months ago

Who are you to control when or where I choose to communicate with others. Get off your high horse already. Some of us do have busy schedules be it with work, school, etc. Maybe I don't get home till 10:00 at night. I am not comfortable calling someone's house that late and maybe waking someone up. Somedays (most days) the time in my car running errands is the only time I can make for casual conversations. I have that choice. IT"S MY CAR! You have no right and no authority to restict that. I am sorry you feel so incabable of taking on the phone and driving at the same time. I thank you for pulling over to talk. It makes me feel better knowing that you are off the road. But I (like so many others) can talk and drive at the same time... safely. 10 years of driving and not one single accident. More accidents are caused daily by people without cell phones than people with. Getting rid of them isn't going to solve anything.

Linda Endicott 8 years, 7 months ago

I don't even have a cell phone. I said that in my post. I can wait until I get home, or pull over to use a pay phone somewhere if it's that important.

If your schedule is so busy that you can't take the time to pull over to make a call or receive one, then I suggest you find things you can take out of that schedule to give you more time. If you're constantly on the go that much, yakking on a cell phone to your loved ones may be your only contact with them, and it's pretty cold comfort to them.

Ten years of driving and not one accident? How many of those ten years did you have a phone permanently attached to your ear? How many times did someone else paying close attention keep you from being in an accident?

I still say if you can't go for one day without using a cell phone, you're addicted to it.

Your car? Certainly it is. That isn't going to stop LMH and the city making it against the law to sit in their precious parking lot and smoke, even if it's in your own car. The city dictates and controls every day what business owners can allow or not on their own property. Why should your car be any different than a restaurant, when it comes to property owner's rights?

And I suspect you aren't nearly as safe a driver while talking on your cell as you think you are.

I think you'd better get used to the idea. Because even though Lawrence has decided not to instate a ban right now, the trend is moving across the country. Some states have already banned cell phones while driving. Many others have the legislation pending, or are discussing it.

If the state of Kansas decides to ban them, it doesn't matter what the Lawrence city commission thinks.

Wow. What a rant you gave. You really must be addicted to that little piece of plastic and metal.

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