Daily Archives: February 5, 2008

Cell Phone Idiots Fire Up Nanny State

From the Gazette:

DES MOINES – People, young and old, who send and receive text messages while operating a moving motor vehicle are driving state lawmakers to distraction.However, no consensus has emerged whether a new law specifically banning the practice is needed or if the practice should be attacked through the state’s existing distracted driving statute.A House subcommittee wrestled Monday with a bill that seeks to ban young drivers from using cell phones or sending text messages while driving. No action was taken, but Democratic Reps. Swati Dandekar of Marion and Geri Huser of Altoona said they are leaning toward changing the wording to ban text messaging by all drivers and possibly allowing young drivers to only have hands-free cell phones.

The DM Register’s take focuses on cell phone use:

All Iowa drivers – including adults – would be prohibited from using cell phones while behind the wheel, under a proposal being considered at the Statehouse.Rep. Swati Dandekar, a Marion Democrat, said she at least would like to bar adults from using hand-held cell phones behind the wheel.The idea would expand upon legislation, introduced last month, aimed at newer drivers. House File 2059 would make it illegal for a driver with a learner’s permit or intermediate license to use a cell phone or send text messages while driving.

But a few lawmakers say that all drivers, regardless of their experience, are distracted by cell phones.

The Quad-City Times also weighs in and focuses on the teen angle:

DES MOINES — Teens would be forbidden from talking on cell phones while driving and all drivers could be banned from sending text messages from behind the wheel under a proposal lawmakers discussed Monday.In the bill’s current form, drivers who hold intermediate licenses or special minor’s licenses would be barred from text messaging or talking on their phones while operating a vehicle.Violators could be hit with a simple misdemeanor and a $30 fine. The infraction would count against intermediate license-holders, who need to have 12 months of violation-free driving to qualify for a full license.

I understand the safety hazard posed by idiots who try to drive and talk, and texting while driving is insane. So legislative action might make sense. I’ve heard lots and lots of grumbling from fellow motorists who have had close calls with clowns distracted by their phones.

I also admit that while I lived in Ames and worked in Des Moines I spent a lot of interstate miles on my phone. It was dumb, but hey, I was calling my mom, I swear. I also admit answering e-mails while driving, even dumber.

Still, I have a strong aversion to nanny government, and a healthy disbelief that a ban will accomplish much, other than giving the cops another reason to stop people. Maybe we can mount cameras along the roads to catch people talking on phones and fine the car’s owner.  Hey, cities need the revenue.

Maybe the police can enforce this law after they’ve busted companies that buy foreign-made U.S. or Iowa flags, another bill on the legislature’s agenda. Perhaps the 14 state troopers the GOP wants to hire to chase immigrants can take time out to patrol stores for Chinese-made flags.



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Today’s column — no consensus on Trashmore names

Thoughtful and clever readers have spoken on the issue of what to name Mount Trashmore, once local leaders transform the old landfill into a recreation destination.
Trouble is, those readers did not speak in one voice.

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