The move to ban all in-car cell phone use
How long did it take smoking to become taboo?
Three years? Five? Back in 2003, when it was first outlawed in Canadian restaurants and public spaces, it must’ve seemed like a Herculean effort to turn society against the habit.
Yet here we are, in 2011, and smoking’s slowly and surely become an act of seclusion; a nasty exercise people now, where they might not have even a half-decade ago, crinkle their noses and turn the other way.
The point? Even something as culturally entrenched as smoking can be turned upon. And take a look around, there’s a similar movement happening now: the case against cell phone use by drivers.
Yes, forgive that belaboured intro, but the parallels between how society perceives smoking and in-car cell phone use continue to come into focus after the U.S.’ National Transportation Board just formally recommended phone use by drivers, even those who use hands-free devices, should be discriminately banned.
The agency’s proposal, which was unanimously agreed upon by a five-member board, comes in the wake of several high-profile car wrecks, including one in Missouri that killed two and injured 38 after a texting driver initiated the deadly highway pileup.
Of course, regardless of any driver tragedy caused by texting, outlawing any and all cell phone use is a major step forward, especially considering many law enforcement agencies are still trying to push everyone towards using hands-free devices.
But it’s clear lawmakers aren’t satisfied with even drivers using headsets or Bluetooth, and it’s not a surprise. Rumblings that hands-free cell phone use isn’t all that safe began as far back as 2005, with a further report in 2008 confirming what many suspected.
It seems what we’ve got now, though, is that classic political quandary: how can a law that everyone knows makes sense become reality?
You could imagine the uproar if hands-free devices were ever banned for drivers, but you also get the sense that even the most ardent supporter of using their Bluetooth while behind the wheel couldn’t argue that it’s safer than simply focusing on the road.
So perhaps what we need is a cultural shift to push this one through. It’s already happening – anyone that’s texted or glanced at their phone while driving in 2011 knows the scorn from passengers is much hotter now than it was two, three years ago – and appears to be a matter of legality from here on out.
Soon, maybe, smokers and in-car cell phone talkers will be joined on the social fringe.
By Jason Buckland, MSN Money