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Doctor recommended for optimal cerebral hygiene 

"This is really big brother"

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Yesterday, the Washington State Senate, in a 28-18 vote, passed a bill that would slap drivers with a $101 dollar fine if they have cell phones to their ears when pulled over for other violations.

Embarrassingly for Democrats, Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlach, was an opponent of the bill, and told the AP:
"This is really big brother. It's taking away something that's yours. It's your car, it's your castle."
US drivers died at a rate of 116 per day in highway accidents, for a total of 42,643 in 2003, according to the Washington Post, the most recent numbers available after a brief Google search. And, in the interest of fair and balanced reporting, Clarence Ditlow of the Center for Auto Safety, and Joan Claybrook, head of Public Citizen and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief during the Carter administration, accused the Bush administration of "sensationalizing the numbers".
Claybrook: "We just think it smacks of election-year politics."

Ditlow: "The revisionary death toll published by NHTSA today is a vain effort to conceal a dismal vehicle safety record for the past four years."
Data is not easy to come by linking cell phone use to auto accidents, but according to a Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, in a report from December of 2002:
...the use of cell phones by drivers may result in approximately 2,600 deaths, 330,000 injuries, and 1.5 million instances of property damage in America per year.
My cell phone has this cool feature. It's called a speakerphone. All I have to do is get the call started and switch to speakerphone. I then place the phone down on the dashboard or the seat beside me, and the microphone is amazingly able to transmit my voice clearly to the person I'm calling, and I can hear them just fine over the tiny speaker. Most phones have this feature, or the ability to plug in a hands-free headset, so there's just no excuse for being stupid.

Too bad that the Washington State Senate felt that $101 was a sufficient fine for stupidity, laziness, and reckless disregard for one's own safety and the safety of others.