Cell Phone Laws and Seat Belt Laws

By: Roger Sheppard
By: Roger Sheppard

Do the Ends Justify the Means?

If you drive in West Virginia, you can now get a ticket merely for talking on a cell phone that requires the use of your hands. Hands-free phone use is still OK in the Mountain State. There’s been a lot of discussion about cell phone use for calling and texting over the past few years. There have been many incidents where people have been killed simply because a person was talking on a cell phone, texting, or doing something else other than keeping their eyes – and their minds – on the road. Of course, driver distraction probably started when they first put radios in cars that you could manually change from one channel to another. Then, there are the distractions presented by having small babies in the car with you, or trying to eat while you drive. None of us likes to be told what we can and canNOT do. Our cars are one of the last areas where we have some freedom. We can drive where we want, pretty much anytime we want, and not have to answer phones or communicate with other people unless we want to. But the new cell phone law made me think of seat belt laws that have gone into effect all over the U.S. in the past 30 years. Many people my age and older, grew up riding in cars before there were any seatbelts. Suddenly being forced – by law – to wear a seat belt, was an infringement upon our rights, we argued. And of course, we were right. But now, whole generations have now grown up who have never ridden in a car or a truck without having been fastened in a child carrier, perched on a booster seat, or buckled into the back seat of cars until they were big enough to ride up front. And now, most of those people wouldn’t think of getting into a motor vehicle without bucking up. It’s second nature to them. That would NOT have been the case if older people had not been FORCED to wear seat belts and FORCED to better protect their children, under penalty of law. Is that the way things should work? Do we have to be forced to do the right thing, so as not to endanger the lives of our children, and to set an example for them that could one day save their lives? No, but it seems to work. That’s this week’s editorial.

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