Vol. 9, No. 5
Feb. 1-7, 2001
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Cell Phone Frenzy: Time To Cut Back the Yack

I'm writing this as I drive in my car, the double-yellow line on the pavement a few feet beneath my elbow.

I'm back again after a few seconds of paying closer attention to the highway.

I'm foolish, I know. But my behavior is no more dangerous than the woman in the black sedan who was holding her cell phone in her left hand and punching its buttons with her right. I got a good look as she passed me. In the rain.

We don't often write at 60 miles per hour. But we do talk on our cell phones occasionally, like everybody else. Before this cell phone frenzy captivates us further, we think it's time to draw the line.

And not the line that Del. John S. Arnick, a Baltimore County Democrat, wants to draw with his legislation prohibiting use of cell phones in autos unless they are anchored in place.

Cellular and digital phones are a convenience, no doubt about it. They save lives. But too many of us have fallen into the dangerous spiral of needing them all the time, which has become a threat to our sanity as well as to our safety.

We're addicted to conversations with friends and family, conversations that might hold until we see them. Or we're allowing ourselves to be pushed harder and harder in our jobs to the point where we're expected to keep hustling on the phone during what used to be interludes between work.

Do we need to move so fast in so many ways?

Arnick's bill is not the road to take. We shouldn't need government rules in matters of common sense. Too many rules create an oppressive climate, which enables some leaders to declare all rules bad, even the environmental standards we need.

Cell phones are a matter of personal responsibility, not government oversight. (Unless it's found that their electromagnetic waves threaten our health.) All of us should think about the true necessity of yacking so much on our cell phones while careening down the highway in the company of others doing the same thing.

If we're too busy to think about ourselves, we should think about the consequences to our families if we crack up on the road.

The Bay is in sight now; I'm almost home. Oh no, the phone in my pocket is sing-songing like it does. I believe I'll let it jingle.

Copyright 2001
Bay Weekly