Otto Stern writes at The Register about the threat of drivers on their cell phones. It’s a threat drivers deal with every day–drivers focused on conversations, on fumbling for numbers on the keypad, not focused on the road. Stern writes that “California last month approved a law to ban talking on cell phones, starting in July 2008. Drivers rejecting handsfree technology face a minimum fine of $20 and a maximum fine of $50.” Maximum fine–fifty dollars. Stern’s reaction?
Anyone with half a brain knows that cell phone-enabled drivers pose far more of an immediate risk on the roadways than boozers. I’ve only seen four obviously drunk drivers in my entire life, while I face off against the cell phone crowd stopping short or weaving into my lane on a daily basis. And yet mothers want to put cell phone in the hands of children, while taking away our right to drive buzzed. Outrageous.
If Budwesier had a half decent lobbyist, DUIs would carry a $50 maximum penalty too. Perhaps Largent could be tempted to work for the real good guys with a six-pack and a few million?
Let’s face the facts, America. Cell phone-enabled drivers are worse than drunk drivers, and neither group is that bad.
I think Stern might be taking the piss–drunk drivers are a serious problem, and there is absolutely no reason why the penalties should be decreased. But Stern has inadvertantly hit on an idea I’ve thought about from time to time.
If society wants its drivers to stop using their cell phones while driving, then society needs to impose stiff penalties for doing so. A fifty dollar fine is a slap on the wrist. Losing one’s license and earning a jail sentence–that would make someone think twice.
Use a cell phone while driving, go to jail.