Letter: Big difference between cell phones, cigarettes

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I am appalled. I thought John Balentine was better educated and would know the difference between smoking and hand-held use of cell phones by drivers (Here’s Something: “Props to LePage for letting freedom ring”).

The latter is not just a question of your freedom and safety, but it also involves my safety, and thus becomes an area that falls under the social contract we all live with.

Do you also object to red lights? It is entirely appropriate for the state to regulate this. Cigarette smoking is quite a bit different (although if you get sick and I have to pay for your care, that involves me, too). My problem with that law was the age thing. If you’re old enough to fight, you should be old enough to make your own stupid decisions.

But driving while using a cell phone is something else indeed. I don’t want your stupid decision killing me.

Sarah L.O. Smith

  • Chew H Bird

    When people have a passenger or a pet in the car, or a baby in the back seat, they often turn their head away from their direct line of travel. A properly utilized cell phone does not require turning a person’s eyes away from the road.

    The bigger risk is texting as unlike typists, most people need to look at their fingers while texting and that creates a high level of risk. That said, who is to say reaching for a handful of fries doesn’t create the same level of risk as someone texting? Cell phone risks can be quantified through digital forensics and they are clearly a distraction that contributes to many accidents. Drivers, in my opinion, should put down the phone while operating a motor vehicle on public roads. However, a GPS can be just as dangerous and in Maine, reading a paper fold out map while driving is perfectly legal. Pick your “poison” as poor drivers will continually make bad choices.

    The best defense, instead of banning specific devices that will become obsolete only to be replaced by newer technology with a new level of risk, is to educate new drivers with a hands on education program as part of driver education. Whatever that might consist of is best decided by “experts”, but I envision a driver education class that has an off road location, some cones, and a course that involves surprise risks like cardboard pedestrians, cardboard animals, and maybe a cardboard bicyclist that pop out while the student is navigating.

    I also envision required continuing education for existing drivers, paid for by people who want to continue the privilege of driving, to educate drivers to new technology and new risks on Maine roads.

    I learned to drive in a 1963 vehicle with a manual transmission and the propertied of that vehicle educated me as to many automobile related risks and limitations. Modern vehicles, with front wheel drive, computerized braking, traction control, and automatic shifting shield a driver from understanding the actual physics involved with safe driving practices.

  • areyoukiddingme

    Once you start where is the end as to the actual mechanism. I follow women doing makeup!! on 295 at 75. Moms checking their kids in the back seat while doing way more than the speed limit. Lots of people doing their breakfast and adding a couple of creamers at 80. Radio tuners that don’t understand how to set up a preset at 75. What is unique about these. If your distracted, your distracted. We have a law about that don’t you know. What EXACTLY is using a cell phone “something else indeed”. I’ve made about a couple of hundred thousand calls safely. Its not about the device.