The California Governator has just signed a law prohibiting 16 and 17 year olds from using cell phones, PDAs, laptops (they're using LAPTOPS??) and pagers while driving, effective July 1, 2008. They won't be able to text message their friends from behind the wheel any more. Tooooo bad. I only have two questions.
1. Why are we waiting until July 1? (OK, this is probably just the way the legal system works) and,
2. Why only 16 and 17 year olds??
Once these kids turn 18, assuming they don't kill themselves and everyone else in the car before then, they will be able to text message their friends while driving, and it'll be perfectly legal. Also, most of the idiots I pass, driving one-handed at 70 MPH with the other hand gluing a cellphone to their ear, are well over the age of 18. I've seen more than one study indicating that driving while talking on the phone is as dangerous as driving drunk - maybe even more so. Just Google "cell phone driving" and look at the evidence for yourself. This is stupid, people.
OK, I'll back off and do the disclaimers: yes, yes, most teenagers don't drive and text. But in this case "most" amounts to two out of three, according to a recent study done by AAA and Seventeen magazine. That means one out of three teenagers is driving and texting, or at least driving and yakking. That's a very high percentage. If they kill themselves while doing this, that may be just Darwinian selection at work; but the odds are quite high that, through inattention, they will kill someone else too, who has done nothing more dangerous than try to drive to work. (Actually, driving to work is dangerous; much more so than the great Terrorist Threat; but that's another post...)
This article lists all the countries, and the U.S. states, that have passed some kind of ban on using cell phones while driving - in some cases just requiring hands-free equipment, but in some cases (New Delhi, India) banning even that. You can potentially go to jail for driving and chatting in Bahrain. There is a reason all these countries have banned driving and phoning: it's dangerous. It kills people. Let's keep your attention on the road, folks.
Oh, yeah, and what about eating while driving, and putting on makeup while driving?? (For that matter, what about the guy I saw wailing down the Number One lane, doing at least 80, with a 3 ring binder spread out on his steering wheel??) Well, they aren't illegal, and not even I am suggesting that they should be (OK, maybe putting on eye makeup should be); but they're just as dangerous as talking on the cell phone. Let's face it, folks: when you're driving a car, your entire attention should be on the road. This is not the time to demonstrate how well you can multi-task. As the old song goes, "Keep your mind on your drivin' and your hands on the wheel..."