Editorial for January 11: Time to hang up phone and drive

If you’re
behind the steering wheel of a moving vehicle we hope you have tucked your cell
phone away and can’t use it to make a call or text.

The
Seventh-day Adventist Church group in the Cayman Islands is hoping so too, so
much so that the group has done a survey in an effort to convince lawmakers to
pass a law that would ban cell phone use while driving. The police are behind
the group.

The results
of the survey will be made public soon, but we can bet we know what the
findings will be – that texting, conversing on hand-held phones or even
chatting hands-free make us dangerous drivers.

People who
are driving should not be attempting to multi task. Their one and only task
when behind the wheel of a vehicle is to get from Point A to Point B as safely
as possible.

Some
studies liken chatting and texting on a cell phone while driving to drink
driving. There is no question that when we indulge in some other activity while
driving that our concentration is diverted, making us a danger to other road
users and ourselves.

If the
lawmakers in the Cayman Islands do OK a partial ban on cell phones – and we
hope they do – the driving public will have to undergo a bit of education.

It wasn’t
until the group Mother’s Against Drunk Drivers successfully marketed their
campaign and educated drivers in the United States that drinking alcohol and
driving actually became taboo.

Legislators
have had the new Traffic Law legislation that would ban hand-held cell phones
and allow instead the use of hands-free speaker phones or Bluetooth devices in
vehicles since 2008.

That same
year California passed a law banning all use of cell phones in vehicles. A
study by the Automobile Club of Southern California, in which researchers
observed motorists for 10 months, found that use of hand-held phones has
dropped by nearly 60 per cent. Figures from the state Office of Traffic Safety
show a dramatic decrease in traffic accidents coinciding with the law.

The
evidence is clear. Cell phone usage should be banned by those operating motor
vehicles.

Government
needs to get this legislation into law as soon as possible.

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