Civil Liberties and Cell Phones   Leave a comment

How do cell phone restrictions and bans affect our civil liberties?

Nobody wants bad drivers on the road. This survey shows that most of the country agrees with that statement. I personally think there are very few drivers who can even talk on the phone hands-free safely, let alone holding the phone. I see evidence for this on the road every day. And texting while driving is pretty high on the stupidity meter.

That said, I wouldn’t ban those activities anymore than I would ban other driving distractions like talking to your kid in the passenger seat, changing the radio station, monitoring your GPS, or – if you’re wealthy and cutting edge – getting updates from your smart-car computer. None of these activities are particularly conducive to safe driving, yet we do them every day while behind the wheel of our cars. Some of us also apply makeup, eat food, drink sodas and coffee, pet the dog, and ….

These activities are all contributors to distracted driving and are bad ideas. Note that we don’t have laws against most of them. Also know that if you have an accident while doing one of those activities you may face negligent or reckless driving charges. Cops, seeing you weaving through traffic, make a judgment call if your distractions crossed that line. Distracted driving has always been negligent/reckless driving. So why do we need a law specific to cell phones?

It’s a Bandaid to make people similar to me who loath cell phone use while driving feel better, but it’s also a huge moneymaker for cops wanting to write tickets. Stuck in traffic? Decide to check that text? Now you’re a law-breaker and subject to the tyrannical arm of government. You weren’t moving! You were behind the wheel of a car, which is driving, so it doesn’t matter. It’s no longer about endangering other drivers. The focus of control has moved from protecting the public to controlling the public.

The more laws we have, the more opportunity we give the government to oppress us. We have become like Gulliver, bound to the earth by a million tiny, individually-insignificant threads. Today, I restrict the liberty of my neighbor. Tomorrow he restricts mine. Next week we’re both going to restrict yours and the week after that, the three of us will restrict someone else’s liberty. We’ll say it’s for the greater good – we’re protecting someone – but really, isn’t it more about controlling one another?

“They who would give up essential liberty for a little security deserve neither liberty or security,” Benjamin Franklin

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