Image by Mike "Dakinewavamon" Kline via FlickrIn October, the state of Maryland became one of nine states along with Washington DC to have a complete ban on hand held cell phone use while buying. Currently, the offense is considered a secondary offense in Maryland meaning that you can only be charged if you are charged with another moving violation. I have made known my opposition to these types of laws here and here.
Since the new law went into effect, I purchased hands free devices for both my wife and I. I am not crazy about the devices. One reason is that I have not found one that I felt fit comfortably for me. The other is that frequently, I feel like I have to hold the device in my ear when talking so that I can hear the what the other person is saying. It kind of defeats the purpose of having the device. The device I have now is more of an earbud type device that is wired and plugs into my phone. This way I can leave it in my car and not worry about forgetting to take it with me.
I had a bluetooth device, but the problem I had with it is that it was losing its charge fairly quickly. It would work for my morning commute, but not the evening commute. Frequently, I would forget to take it with me. I also find those that wear bluetooth devices outside of their cars obnoxious, especially when I was working retail. I can't tell you how many times I thought a customer was talking to me only to discover they were carrying on a phone conversation.
The reason I bring this subject up again is because of an incident this morning that underscores perfectly my opposition to these laws. I was on the DC Beltway on the way to work this morning. A car in the lane next to me was passing me. When I looked over, the lady in the car was applying makeup to her face. I suppose I could say something snide like it wasn't doing her any good, but I digress.
My point is this, the woman applying makeup has to look in the rearview mirror to apply makeup to her face, thus taking her eyes off of the road. Her activity is just as dangerous, if not more so, than the person who is conversing on their cell phone. However, under Maryland law, if she has an accident and is at fault, she would be charged with reckless driving. The person talking on the cell phone having an accident would be charged with both reckless driving and a cell phone violation. Therein lies my opposition to the law. Both activities are stupid, but only one draws an additional fine.
The other thing that I started to think about in regards to these cell phone bans is it got me curious as to the political makeup of the jurisdictions that have banned cell phone use. In addition Washington DC and Maryland, the other states that have banned cell phone use are California, Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. It should be noted that with the exception of Utah, all of these are heavily blue or Democrat jurisdictions. I guess that should not surprise us since these are the same type of people who want to ban toys in McDonald's Happy Meals.