Driving while talking: Privilege or nuisance?

Editor’s Note: Evening Sun reporters love to argue for the sake of arguing. In this weekly feature, two staff members arbitrarily pick one side of a debate and battle it out; the opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent the author’s true viewpoint. This week, staff writer Mike McGuire takes on New Visions intern Francesca Baio on the issue of cell phones and driving.

Prohibiting cell phone use while driving is a good law. We can talk on cell phones anywhere. And I mean anywhere (if there is service, of course). If people on the other end of the line knew about half the places you were talking to them from, they might not believe it. “What am I doing right now?” replied a friend when I asked him what all the commotion was in the background. “I’m lifting up a Toyota Tundra that slipped off its jack onto my Uncle Bobby, he’s sliding out now. Why, what’s up?” That’s a prime example of why just because we can do something, doesn’t necessarily mean we should. Driving is already dangerous enough without gab gadgets. Wait until your feet are on the ground and off of a gas pedal. – MHM

I do agree the cell phone craze has gotten a bit out of hand. I guess when I think about it, I do not understand how people used to survive without them. However, I do not feel that it should be a New York State law to ban cell phone use while driving. Sometimes people need to communicate with others for work or just to say hello. In this day and age everyone is in such a rush, who has time to pull over? I feel that it takes away a person’s Constitutional right to make a decision. The same way I feel that a person should not have to wear a seat belt if they do not want to – if they want to put their life at risk, why not? – FB

Everybody is in too much of a hurry. Thus, we give away too much of our private time, in my opinion. I understand that business is business, but shouldn’t we schedule our days so we can carry out all our necessary personal functions (like showering, dressing, sleeping, driving etc.) without work, friends, and even family infringing on them? I don’t conduct phone business in the bathroom, or chat with friends while I get ready in the morning – some people do, I don’t see how. Maybe the worst that could happen for them is some smeared make-up, or they put on un-matched socks, or maybe whoever they’re talking to might hear a toilet flush, and think “nice.” Those decisions and outcomes don’t affect me personally. Other people’s driving, however, does. If you give half of your concentration to something other than driving, and you mess up, or don’t see someone else mess up, the outcome is no longer just your problem. And I don’t think pulling over for the phone is the answer either, with or without time to do so. The answer is to turn it off. – MHM

I think it was Oprah who said “multitasking is a specialty,” and I agree. I personally love to chat on the phone at all times. I thank God for speaker phone so that I can talk on the phone while I get dressed, do my make-up, and eat, I enjoying talking to my friends, even if just to pass the time. I think that the time someone chooses to be on the phone should be their prerogative, not someone else’s to make that decision for them. People should be able to talk whenever they want and talking while driving shouldn’t be any different. Who is to say what affects someone while they’re driving? For some people, the simple radio or rolling down a window could cause a lane-swerving “oops, I almost just crashed” type of incident. I am a victim of being pulled over for being on my cell phone. I can tell you that while I was on my cell phone, I wasn’t in the other lane, I wasn’t running a red light, and I wasn’t driving on the sidewalk either. I was simply driving down the road not disturbing anyone; now what is wrong with that? And I must say that I simply chuckle when I drive past a police officer chatting it up on his cell phone while on the job. If their business can’t wait, how can mine? – FB

Last time I listened to Oprah, she and James Frey broke my heart into A Million Little Pieces. But that’s beside the point. This is not an attack on being social, or even excessively social in your case. The cell phone law is about being civil. Just because someone drives drunk and makes it home safely each time doesn’t mean they should get a drunk driving license. Driving on the cell phone carries the same principle. Without question, we’ll silence our phones as soon as we enter a movie theater. Not because we can’t talk on the phone and watch a movie, but because it’s infuriating when the Kanye West ring tone goes off in the middle of the film. Plus we hate to hear other people talk on the phone, even though we love to do it ourselves. But I’d rather have people inconvenience me by talking at a movie, a church service, a meeting or in public place, than inconvenience me on the road. We can talk on cell phones anywhere, why do it when we are the most vulnerable? – MHM

I don’t think you can compare driving drunk and talking on a cell phone. When you get behind the wheel after a few too many, it puts you in a state of mind where you are unable to make safe decisions. Is that the same when using a cell phone? I think not. And wait, is it a law that you must turn off your cell phone while at the movies, church, or a meeting? No, and the answer is no because that would be infringing on someone’s personal rights. When I go to the movie theater, I turn my cell phone off so that it doesn’t bother me. It is one of those situations you referred to earlier where sometimes people just need to be left alone. It isn’t so that I’m not bothering the 6 year old behind me who has been kicking my seat or his mom next to him that keeps laughing about it. When I am at the movies, I am on my time, the same way that I am on my time when I am driving. Driving while being on the cell phone is the same as doing anything else. I bet the narcissist in all of us would be much more “vulnerable” to get in an accident from checking themselves out in the mirror just for just a second too long. For all the technologically simple-minded, the point is that cell phones are everywhere. It is the 21st century, it has now become a fact of life. – FB

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