Letters to the Editor

Inconvenient law

April 16, 2009


To the editor:

As a 15-year-old getting ready to get my license, I’ve developed some concerns about the new driving laws that state that teens cannot use their phones while driving for the first six months they have their unrestricted license.

I am fully aware that many teens text and use their phones carelessly while driving, but I feel that eliminating phone use while in the car is a huge inconvenience for us. What about the many teens who have jobs and their boss is trying to get a hold of them or the worried parents who need to reach them? Unfortunately, we can’t stop in the middle of the roads to take those calls.

If you think about how involved students can be in our school activities and with each other you can see that those of us who do drive spend a fair amount of time in the car. Therefore, there’s not always a convenient time for us to take some of those vital calls.

Also, I have to wonder if those distressed parents of the new teen drivers were taken into consideration before this law was passed. I’m sure there are many adults out there who can relate to the feeling of having your child out there driving alone.

I do understand the amount of accidents that occur from reckless teen driving. However, I feel there are other ways to go about making teens better drivers, such as driving schools that are affordable to a majority of our community.

Wilkins is from Lawrence


Practicality 8 years, 11 months ago


If the call is important, just pull off the road when you can and call the person back.

It might seem unfair, and that you as a teenager are being singled out (you probably are), but it is a step in the right direction. As a new driver you especially need to be 100% focused on the task of driving.

WHY 8 years, 11 months ago

No teenager has a job that requires the boss to call them and get an immediate consult.

McDonalds Manager: So what do you think our new business model should be.

Dumb Teenager: Hang on like Sara just told me than Carl told Steve that.................

bearded_gnome 8 years, 11 months ago

natalie, compliments on a well written letter to the editor. yours is superior to some written by apparent adults.

I hope you will feel welcome to join us in comment threads, as you are obviously well spoken and a good writer.

now, I disagree with your opinion. in fact, I want the ban to be expanded to all drivers. this is because even hands-free cell phones cut down reaction time, and attention, for driving tasks. and drivers need to focus most particularly as that car is a potentially lethal object, to the driver, passengers, others on the road, pedestrians, even just residents.

please concentrate on acquiring your new driving skills the best you possibly can. when you get to your destination, pick up that cell phone. besides, we don't all have to be connected 24/7.

labmonkey 8 years, 11 months ago


Most of us grew up without cell phones, and I wonder if those who were teenagers within the last 8 years could live without one. I agree with bearded that the ban should be expanded to all drivers. While driving, especially in the gigantic cluster that is Lawrence, you should just concentrate on driving.

geekin_topekan 8 years, 11 months ago

..we can’t stop in the middle of the roads to take those calls. ++++ Nat,I hope that I dont need to indicate how ridiculous this argument sounds.Such black/white thinking is the very reason that some young drivers are a danger to themselves and others Your immaturity shines like a beacon with this one statement.All the more reason to restrict teen driving further.

Lets see what else we can find...

"there’s not always a convenient time for us to take some of those vital calls." ++++ I believe that you over estimate the importance of your role young lady.If you wrap your car around a pole or take a bite out of your steering wheel enroute;the activity will go on, without you.Believe that.

" is a huge inconvenience for us. " ++++ I really hate to be the one to tell you this,but since your parents apparently are not;Life is a parable in "inconvenience". I feel your pain,I really do.I was a teenager too.

"such as driving schools that are affordable to a majority of our community." ++++ Take your argument to any driving school in the country and plea your case.I guarantee that they will have dollar signs in their eyes when they hear this story.Now they can justify adding another day/dollar just to cover the cell use issue. Ooops.

"...feeling of having your child out there driving alone." ++++ As opposed to having her cell phone in her ear or eyes on her text?I'll let her drive alone. I do feel better, knowing that my little girl has her cell handy,that's true.But dont equate alone with not having a cell to your ear at all times.

Nat,you are well spoken and a great writer.I commend your tenacity and know that you will do well in life.However,a cell phone in your ear is hardly a replacement for common sense and I sincerely hope that you don't have to find out the hard way that avoiding an accident commands 100% of your attention,100% of the time.Especially here in toontown.

RoeDapple 8 years, 11 months ago

As a teenager I thought I was bullet proof and could do no wrong when driving. My inexperience proved me wrong and my body is paying the price 40 some years later. A cell phone at that time would have been the end of me. Spend your time behind the wheel improving your driving skills, not your conversational or texting skills. 20 years from now you'll be talking about those who did not

Maddy Griffin 8 years, 11 months ago

Natalie, I agree with bearded gnome in that yours is a very well written letter and you seem to be a person with intelligience. However, you are missing the point. cell phones and driving don't mix. When you are behind the wheel of a car, Safety is the most important issue, not who said what to who or who got their heart broken by whom. Behind the wheel, You hold not only your own life but the lives of everyone on the road in your hands. I believe cell phone usage in a car should be banned for everyone. Pay attention to the road.

Maddy Griffin 8 years, 11 months ago

Nancy Tom must you turn everything into an opportunity to bash liberals?!!!

sinverguenza 8 years, 11 months ago

Nicely written, Natalie. But like many things you will soon learn in life, what seems like a drag now is really there to make sure you've got a later to enjoy.

From http://negligentdriving.com/distracted.cfm

Facts about Distracted Driving: - Distracted driving is the number one killer of American teens. Alcohol-related accidents among teens have dropped. But teenage traffic fatalities have remained unchanged, because distracted driving is on the rise. (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm Insurance Study and NHTSA Study)

  • While over 90% of teen drivers say they don't drink and drive, nine out of 10 say they've seen passengers distracting the driver, or drivers using cell phones. (National Teen Driver Survey)

  • Brain power used while driving decreases by 40% when a driver listens to conversation or music. (Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon University Study)

  • More than 80% of drivers admit to blatantly hazardous behavior: changing clothes, steering with a foot, painting nails and shaving. (Nationwide Mutual Insurance Survey)

  • Drivers on mobile phones are more impaired than drivers at .08 BAC. (University of Utah Study)

  • An estimated million people each day chat on their mobile or send text messages while driving. (The Herald)

Now, with all that noise about teenagers, I'd also like to say that I'm a fan of a total ban on cell phones for all drivers. Just last night on my way to Mass St., a guy pulled out in front of me and then proceeded to swerve and weave all the way down the road. I thought to myself, "Sheesh, 7:15 and drunk as a skunk - I should call him in." But as we approached Connecticut and he turned right - there it was. He wasn't drunk, he just had his cell phone plastered to the side of his face blocking his view (probably why he didn't see me and pulled out in front of me) and distracting him from the road (the probable cause for all the weaving).

Cell phones and driving just don't mix. Your mother/boss/best friend will understand if it takes you a few minutes to pull over to a safe location and call them back. They'll be much happier to get that call than one from the police about your crash.

Lowell Holmes 8 years, 11 months ago

Nancy boy, if you could prove it was only liberals that didn't look out for others I might consider taking you rantings seriously. NOT!!!!!!!!

Shane Garrett 8 years, 11 months ago

Grammaddy, why pick on Nancy and Tom? It is liberty one whom sounds like the Clintons; wanting to sue the makers of dangerous highways. Wait I am hearing banjos again. I think that 16 year old escapee is close by.

Chris Ogle 8 years, 11 months ago

Natalie- When I got my license at 15, it took only about a month for my first fender bender.... trust me, driving wasn't as easy as I thought! By the way, back then... the only person with a cell was Maxwell Smart, and he used his shoe.

Maddy Griffin 8 years, 11 months ago

Wally- You're right. Lib 1 is kind of off the deep end on this . I'm just tired of Nancy Hannity Tom Rush always tying everything evil in the world to the liberals. After all, it's the right that homeland security is worried about now. Me thinks it's for a good reason Oh wait! I think I hear that banjo,too. Andy and Barney just ran through my back yard in pursuit of something or somebody!!

jonas_opines 8 years, 11 months ago

"Regardless, this is really just picking on a disfavored group and ignoring the real problem, which is the terrible mismanagement of our highways by the government."

Would you care to further articulate that spin-off, Liberty? 'Cuz from where I'm sitting, it doesn't really make a whole lot of sense. (for one thing, I was unaware that our accidents all occur on highways)

Jersey_Girl 8 years, 11 months ago

Natalie - I also agree this was a well-written letter. I'm sorry you feel this an incovenient law. However, Lawrence is not so large that a phone call can't be returned when you reach your destination. And as several others have pointed out, if it is so urgent that it can't even wait 20 minutes, then there are plenty of places to pull over or parking lots to pull into to stop and return the call. I agree with gnome that the use of cell phones while driving should be illegal for everyone, not just beginning drivers. Finally, if distressed parents of new drivers are so worried, they are doing their child and insurance premiums a disservice calling and pestering their children while the children are driving. If you are going to be late, call your parents and let them know before you get behind the wheel. That is just the polite thing to do, whether you are using a cell phone or a land line.

Confrontation 8 years, 11 months ago

Like, totally, oh my Gah! What if Becki, Kylee, Rylee, or Britnee call me?! Like, they totally need to talk to me. We're, like totally, going to the mall this weekend, and I, like, so totally need to get my nails done. I totally know I'm such a bad driver, but I totally don't care. Daddy will buy me a totally hot new car.

Connacht 8 years, 11 months ago

Most things have already been covered here quite well. If you need to use your phone, pull of the road.

I would go one step further and advocate raising the driving age to eighteen and requiring a full blown driver's education course be passed before a teenager is allowed behind the wheel of a car.

Sixteen is just too young to be given such a massive responsibility. I've nearly been hit several times by very young looking kids too distracted to be driving. I promise if it ever actually happens, there will be a lawsuit in addition to whatever fines and punishments the state hands out.

Jersey_Girl 8 years, 11 months ago

People - can we reign in the bashing on the letters from teenagers? Just because we disagree with the subject doesn't mean we have to be nasty. I applaud the teenagers who have had their letters published. The letters are well-written and articulate, something many adult are not. When I was a teenager, I didn't read the paper or know what a letter to the editor was (well, maybe I did because my mother had a brief interest in jounalism, but if not for that I wouldn't). Kids need to be encouraged not mocked.

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 11 months ago

I never feel welcome on here, but I comment anyway because I have the right to give my opinion. I would support the use of cell phone by teens while driving if they were using the hands free device.

feeble 8 years, 11 months ago

From the LTE: "I am fully aware that many teens text and use their phones carelessly while driving, but I feel that eliminating phone use while in the car is a huge inconvenience for us. What about the many teens who have jobs and their boss is trying to get a hold of them or the worried parents who need to reach them?" ============================== 1. Why is your boss trying to get a hold of you? Show up on time, leave on time. No need to call during the off hours. It is called a work life balance, and as a (presumably) full time student, it is very important to your mental and physical well-being.

If you are "on call", please make sure you are being properly compensated for those hours (although I fail to understand what employment opportunities available to teens might require them to be on call.)

  1. Call you parents before you start driving, and let them know where you will be going. Call them when you get there. Voluntarily establish a curfew doing the school year and abide by it. You'll be amazed at how much less your parental units worry.

Kryptenx 8 years, 11 months ago

While I probably would have felt the same at 15, now that I can look back at my driving at 15-17, you're absolutely wrong. Please, do everyone a favor and practice on your driving skills before worrying about taking a phone call at the same time! There is a place for you to take those calls, on the side of the road. If the call is so vital, you should have no problem pulling off the road and stopping in a safe place to take it. If that's too big of a problem, the call is not important at all.

RoeDapple 8 years, 11 months ago

Yes Irish, lucky for all of us, we have a right to express our opinion, even when we're wrong. Talking on any kind of phone, in my opinion while driving is a distraction. So is talking to passengers, or even oneself. Will it stop? Highly unlikely. Neither will the accidents, injuries and deaths that go along with the behavior that causes them. Their parents, grandparents and great grandparents all had some sort of distraction as teenagers as they learned to drive. So shall the children, grand children, and on and on of the teens today. Hopefully we will never stop being concerned for their welfare, as it would be a sad day when we do

Danimal 8 years, 11 months ago

When I was in the Marine Corps it was law that you couldn't drive and talk on the phone on base and the MPs were very serious about it. It wasn't uncommon to see someone parked on the side of the road talking on their phone. Get used to it kids, it's for your own good. Thank God they didn't really have cellphones when I was learning to drive. Heck, my first car only had lap belts up front, and no seat belts in the rear.

jonas_opines 8 years, 11 months ago

Okay, if all public roads are considered highways, then your basic definition is fine, but I would highly recommend you use public roads and not highways. Highways in common speed denote the high-speed roads, not in-city public roads.

As for the rest, I'm afraid that I don't see how this will be any different from our previous ones regarding public versus private owned and operated systems. I don't see what further methods a privately funded system would take to safeguard the system and those operating within it, and would have to conclude that the overall system would be undoubtedly different from what exists anywhere today, at least that I'm aware of.

notajayhawk 8 years, 11 months ago

Natalie, I feel your pain. I'm sure most all of the adults on these message boards would agree we could never have survived our teen years, that we never could have held a job and all our parents would have died of anxiety, if we couldn't talk on our cell phones while driving.

Oh, wait...

George_Braziller 8 years, 11 months ago

Driving and cell phones are not a good mix no matter how much driving experience you may have. In the last two years I've had three drivers pull out in front of me because they were too busy yacking to notice there was on-coming traffic. Fortunately for them I was paying attention.

One of the biggest morons I've ever seen was a guy riding his bike down Connecticut Street at night with no light and no hands on the handle bars because he HAD to talk on his cell phone right then. Must have been a really important call to risk death by stupidity.

jonas_opines 8 years, 11 months ago

Wow, that was a 3rd grade level cheap shot, Liberty One. Unwarranted and unprevoked, but I suppose slavering zealots do get touchy when you talk about their articles of faith, don't they?

grimpeur 8 years, 11 months ago

Good letter, but It is not necessary to talk on the phone while driving. Let's get that straight. That goes for everyone older than you, too.

Once you demonstrate how your playing with toys while driving benefits me personally, then maybe we can discuss allowing you to endanger me while on the road.

imastinker 8 years, 11 months ago

Natalie -

About half of what makes a teen a bad driver is inexperience - like not being able to see that another driver is not paying attention and getting ready to merge without turn signals or reading other driver's intentions. The other half is the attitude that they are invincible.

As a teen, you don't have either of these going for you and are advocating adding distraction into the mix. When I started driving, the radio in the car mysteriously "broke." I later fixed it by installing a fuse where there was none - but it was a good thing for my folks to do. They also forbid me to ride with other kids or have them in my car until i was older. that was a good idea too.

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