Editorial for January 31: Ban overdue for those who use phones while driving

The results of a recent caycompass.com
online poll that asked what kind of cell phone ban respondents supported were
quite surprising.

What made them surprising was that more
then 85 per cent of the poll’s respondents supported at least a ban on texting
and hand-held talking on cell phones while driving, despite those practices
being very prevalent here.

Even with the margin of error in the
nonscientific poll, 85 per cent is a landslide in the realm of online polls.
It’s true that online poll participants have to have access to a computer and
the Internet, which narrows the demographic of respondents in terms of
education and financial standing, but the percentage of those supporting the
ban cannot be ignored.

What the poll results tell us is that
there are a lot of people out on Cayman’s roads who text and talk on hand-held
cell phones even though they know it’s not safe to do so. However, since there
is no law against the practice, and perhaps because everyone else is doing it,
people continue to do it.

This is one of those times when the
public wants their government to lead and force the issue.  However, this and previous governments have
stayed away from legislating any sort of cell phone ban while driving, even
though that is exactly what most developed countries in the world are
doing.  Given the high number of
automobile accidents in light of the small population, you would think the government
would want to rein in the distracting practice of using cell phones while
driving.

There are those who would argue that
there are already too many laws in Cayman that aren’t being enforced. But even
if there were enforcement gaps, a law prohibiting texting or talking on a
hand-held cell would still reduce the number of people doing it; many people
just believe in obeying the law.

We can only assume that our governments
have kept the status quo when it comes to taking a stand against cell use while
driving because they are afraid of upsetting some of their supporters.  What they don’t seem to understand is that
progressive legislation enacted for the good of the majority will win them more
votes than the status quo will keep.

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