Lives Should Trump Politics

Since I announced that I was filing a bill this coming legislative session to ban cell phone use on the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway (hands-free allowed), my conservative credentials have been challenged by more than a few irate citizens who have called to denounce my support of the government interference in private lives.

I am no fan of big government and still consider myself conservative, but there is a place that government regulation does actually belong, and that is in protecting lives and public safety.

Overboards, or cars tumbling into the water of the 24 mile bridge has increased 1500% in the last five years, a staggering figure that most would agree is quite statistically significant. The primary causes for the increase cited by officials of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway were distracted drivers using cell phones and larger vehicles.

The problem of distracted drivers came as no surprise to me. I think we all have personal anecdotal evidence of witnessing erratic driving, be it in a parking lot or on the highway, in which the driver was, of course, talking on a cell phone.

Actually, I believe that cell phone use should be banned statewide (hands-free allowed), but in my years in the legislature I probably voted for such a bill nearly a dozen times in the House of Representatives and it always seems to get beaten back by the telecommunication industry and misguided libertarians. This is hard to believe as studies have shown that distracted drivers are more dangerous than drunk drivers.

I believe that the vast majority of citizens realize that cell phone use is making our roadways more hazardous and support a cell phone ban. But they are the silent majority who are often drowned out by special interests and vocal citizens who believe that distracted driving is a fundamental constitutional right.

Hands free systems are becoming more user friendly and now included in most vehicles. The systems take some time to set up, but many prefer not to bother with the small set up hassle and continue to drive distracted. Drivers need to realize that their primary duty behind the wheel is not to multi-task, but to operate the vehicle safely, for the benefit of themselves, their passengers and fellow motorists and don’t forget pedestrians.

Several years ago, I supported mandatory helmet use for motorcycles, which passed the legislature and heard many of the same arguments about government interfering in private lives. As with cell phone use, both the statistics and logic converged to conclude that wearing helmets is much safer.

With cell phone use, there is even a more compelling case for regulation, because distracted drivers are endangering other lives and not just their own.

When it comes to public safety, I think that lives should always trump politics and hopefully this summer, Louisiana legislature can make travel on the world’s longest bridge a bit safer.

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3 comments on “Lives Should Trump Politics
  1. Tammy Jernigan says:

    On many topics, I agree with you; however, I don’t on this one. I don’t talk on the phone much while driving, but find that whether I’m hands free or not, I’m still distracted. Hands free does not equate to focused driving. In fact, the argument could be made that talking hands free while holding a coke or cigarette would be an equivalent event. Maybe a solution will come from the technology sector. In the meantime, I feel that education and awareness would be the proper course.

  2. Jolene Dawsey says:

    I cannot believe that people are so ignorant when it comes to their blessed phones and safety of other peoples lives. So many times I have had to close of calls and always it is someone on their cell phones. I have a cell phone and eveyone knows if you call me and I am on the road driving then you are not goint to get me. I will call you back. If I do have an important call to make, I find the nearess area to pull into and talk. I hope this measure gets passed. I am sure it will save many lives. Thanks

  3. Tom Stirewalt says:

    . Absolutely NOT!
    . First, the beginning of your title is REPRESENTATIVE. To some extent, I do not care what you believe. You are, however ONE of the people you represent, so your opinion counts a bit too. Keep the dag-gone government out of our lives.
    . Liberals, progressives, do-gooders, what ever you want to call them, have been using “Public Safety” to force things down our throats for decades. Now YOU are hoisting that bogus flag. EVERYTHING can be subsumed by “public safety” concerns. That is how that New York Idiot banned the sale of big soft drinks.
    . STOP telling us what to do and how to live our lives.
    . Why don’t you take a poll and see what the people you REPRESENT want you to do. It is THEM whose opinion you are supposed to represent. Why don’t you find out what it is, and vote THAT way, Mr. REPRESENTATIVE ?
    . In case you have not figured it out yet, I am not very happy. Do your job the right way (no pun intended).

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