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Cell phone laws are not tough enough

By James Turnage
In the last legislative session, when Nevada finally passed a law restricting cell phone usage while driving, I was elated. Several times I had almost been run over in my 1999 Mustang by women driving large SUVs with bumper stickers touting, “my child is an honor student at John Doe Elementary School,” and talking on their cell phones. On my way to work one morning, I witnessed a young woman in front of me eating, putting on make-up, and talking on her phone all at the same time. Ninety nine percent of the time I saw a car ahead of me on U.S. 395 swerving in its lane and varying speeds by as much as 20 miles per hour; it was someone on a phone.

I have trained hundreds of people in safe driving practices. When someone drives, they should drive and do nothing else. And if someone is caught texting, they should be arrested. Drunk drivers are immediately incarcerated, and Highway Patrols across the nation have reported that people who text put other drivers and pedestrians in even more danger.

The complaint I have is that the law is not working. I drive quite a bit when I work, and I see dozens of drivers daily using their handheld cell phones. At first, I thought that the fines should be higher. Understanding the arrogance of those who break the law, I’m not sure that would solve the problem. I came up with a solution that has a chance of being highly successful.

I believe that the service providers, the cellular industry, should get involved. It’s their duty to protect their consumers and those who could be injured or killed by them. If someone is ticketed for handheld cell phone usage while driving, their monthly rate charged by AT&T, Verizon or Sprint should double. A second offense should double again, and so forth until the company or customer cancels the service entirely.

Driving is a privilege, not a right, (yes, those of you under 30, that’s a fact). There are far too many people on the road here in northern Nevada who do not operate their vehicles safely without having the distraction of talking on the phone. I, and millions of others, would favor the banning of all cell phone use while driving, but that will never happen. So please, for the sake of your loved ones and mine, at least use a blue tooth earpiece. They’re inexpensive, and they’re a little bit safer.

James Turnage
Sun Valley, NV