News - Should hand-held cell phones be banned on our highways?

Yes. Don't put me at risk for your frivolous phone call.

Back in the day when I was tooling around in my red Corvette, I loathed men who shaved while purportedly driving and women who did their makeup during the morning commute. Countless others shared my chagrin.

But that pales to the danger of multitudes of us negotiating Atlanta's all-day traffic gridlock coolly jeopardizing lives while engaging in cell phone conversations. What are they talking about that is more important then our safety?

Give me a break — and the right lane, please.

Just a decade or so ago mobile phones were a novelty, a status symbol. Now the plethora of cell phones suggests their usage is a neurotic necessity. And that's OK, too. But when you're phoning, you are not thinking about road rage, gridlock or fellow human beings — who might also be phoning.

Now, I live by my cell phone. It works for me and many other professionals, housewives, single women and personalities. But the fact is, neither you nor I can drive and talk on our phones without irresponsible risk. The issue earned brief attention in 1999, when 2-year-old Ryan Duffner of Lawrenceville was killed by a phoner-driver who slammed into his parents' car.

And just last May, supermodel Nikki Taylor was critically injured here when the driver of the car she was riding in reached for a cell phone, and slammed into a telephone pole.

But cell phone legislation has yet to make it out of committee in either the Georgia House or Senate. And despite tearful pleas from Duffner's mother, Athens-Clarke County officials rejected an ordinance in February that would have made the college town the first in the Southeast to ban the use of handheld cell phones while driving.

Studies have shown that hand-eye-braking coordination is impaired, but we already knew that. Like many drivers, I have tried to dial a number, negotiate traffic and conduct a conversation. That's simply too much for any driver — even Bill Elliott — to handle.

If your conversation is that valuable, buy one of the hands-free cell phone earpieces. Don't put me at risk for your frivolous phone call.

I applaud New York's recent decision to ban hand-held phones while driving, and urge Georgia's elected leaders and Atlanta's mayoral candidates to get on this live-saving bandwagon. I've stopped. My friends have seen the error of their ways. Now our elected officials must act; too many lives have been lost because we've not dialed into the sad statistics.??

The Blotter
COVID Updates
Latest News
Current Issue