Time to Hang Up on Nanny State

This past Monday I sent out some information to a few friends about the new hand-held cell phone ban with this note:

Fyi…and Happy New Year from our state legislators who can’t do math or understand the First Amendment regarding religious liberty but they can limit our freedom. Note the hand-held phone ban.

The information is posted below, and it was sent out by state Rep. Jeanne Ives.

I received a several responses — here are three of them:

So the police officer will some how know whether “the driver has the motor vehicle transmission in neutral or park”?

It’s a joke. If the issue is supposed to be about distracted driving, then why are cops allowed to divert their eyes from the road to look at a laptop computer screen on their right? Why is it legal to change the HVAC controls? Turning around to yell at kids in the back seat? Any number of things! Nanny state!

Regarding new laws for so-called “safety purposes,” if “safety” is of so much concern to our legislators, why did they pass a new regulation allowing motorcycle handlebars height to be raised to “head-high” as measured at the grips?

As a motorcyclist of 47 years experience, i can testify that control of a motorcycle is very poor with ‘bars of this height.

This is a REAL “safety issue.” That is why high handlebars were originally outlawed back in 1968.

Scott Reeder from the Illinois Policy Institute sent out an email on the topic yesterday. Here’s an extended excerpt:

These government-knows-best laws not only infringe personal freedom, they divert personal spending and they do little to make our roads safer.

A 2013 Colorado School of Mines study found that when California outlawed handheld cellphones for drivers, auto accidents did not go down.

There are a lot of theories on why this might be.

But the best explanation I’ve heard is that accidents have more to do with where your mind is than where your hands are.

In other words, if someone is distracted by a phone call, it doesn’t matter whether they are holding the device.

And no, I don’t think banning cell phones altogether is a good idea. […]

Like it or not, cell phones are part of our daily lives.

And so are cars.

The new law is costly to drivers, does little to improve public safety and further erodes personal freedom.

It’s time to look toward personal responsibility rather than government mandates.

Here’s the text of the email from state Rep. Jeanne Ives:

Illinois Hand Held Cell Phone Ban – Public Act 98-506

Beginning January 1, 2014, Illinois drivers may not operate a motor vehicle on a roadway while using an electronic communication device. A person who violates the new law will be fined a maximum of $75 for a first offense, $100 for a second offense, $125 for a third offense, and $150 for a fourth or subsequent offense. A first offense for driving while using an electronic communication device will not be considered a moving violation. Subsequent offenses will be considered a moving violation and will recorded on one’s driving record. The new hand held cell phone ban is a primary stop offense which means that a driver can be stopped without any other violation.

The following exemptions to the hand cell phone ban are included in the new law:

1. Law enforcement officer or operator of an emergency vehicle while performing his or her official duties;

2. A driver using an electronic communication device for the sole purpose of reporting an emergency situation and continued communication with emergency personnel during the emergency situation;

3. A driver using an electronic communication device in hands-free or voice-operated mode, which may include the use of a headset;

4. A driver of a commercial motor vehicle reading a message

displayed on a permanently installed communication device designed for a commercial motor vehicle with a screen that does not exceed 10 inches tall by 10 inches wide in size;

5. A driver using an electronic communication device while parked on the shoulder of a roadway; or

6. A driver using an electronic communication device when the vehicle is stopped due to normal traffic being obstructed and the driver has the motor vehicle transmission in neutral or park;

7. A driver using two-way or citizens band (CB) radio services;

8. A driver using two-way mobile radio transmitters or receivers for licensees of the Federal Communications Commission in the amateur radio service;

9. A driver using an electronic communication device by pressing a single button to initiate or terminate a voice communication; or a driver using an electronic communication device capable of performing multiple functions, other than a hand-held wireless telephone or hand-held personal digital assistant (for example, a fleet management system, dispatching device, citizens band radio, or music player) for a purpose that is not otherwise prohibited.