Editorial: Put down cellphone while driving | TribLIVE.com
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Editorial: Put down cellphone while driving

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There’s just no reason for it.

People have been driving for more than 100 years. When the Model T first rolled off Henry Ford’s assembly line in 1908, it put Americans on the road and gave them a freedom they never had before.

The cellphone has snatched that away. Ironically, the wireless communication device has tethered us in a way the corded phone never did. Ostensibly, yes, it makes us free to go anywhere and do anything without losing touch. In reality, it chains us to the things we might like to escape.

And that is why a bill to ban certain cellphone use while driving is a good thing. And frankly, it’s surprising that it hasn’t already been done and it would be understandable to think it already exists.

Pennsylvania has a distracted driving law. It addresses cellphones. It says you can’t text and drive. It says you can’t read your emails while you operate a car. It says you absolutely cannot surf the internet while behind the wheel.

But it still lets you hold your phone for calls. You just aren’t supposed to look at it.

A bill awaiting action by the full state House of Representatives would take phones out of your hands while you drive, as bordering states Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and West Virginia have done.

You could have Siri place your iPhone call or ask Google to send a text for you. If you have a newer car, you could use the Bluetooth connection to control and manage your communications by voice instead of looking down and pressing buttons. But the proposal wants your eyes on the road, not looking at a screen.

It can seem both obvious and impossible. Of course it’s safer to not use your phone, but using it has also become reflex.

The solution is to make it reflex to not use it in the car, the same way people now unthinkingly buckle seat belts that were once afterthoughts. The House bill could be a step in that direction.

The alternative may be downright unthinkable. What if, like the drivers of those cars way back in 1908 or even the 1980s, you just didn’t bring a phone on a drive? Scary, right?

Categories: Opinion | Editorials
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