Cell or no cell?

 Perhaps because we move kind of slow down here in Texas is the reason why trends which have taken place elsewhere don’t always get to the Lone Star State posthaste. Take, for instance, bans on using cell phones while driving.

 A new law will take effect on Sept. 1 in Texas — on a local-option basis — which bans the use of cell phones in school zones. By local-option, I mean that the governing jurisdiction of where the school is located has to first approve it. If it is in a city, the city must approve it and county commissioners must give their approval if it is in an unincorporated area.

 I suppose the Texas Legislature and Gov. Good Hair Perry, in their infinite wisdom, decided they didn’t want to get get stuck as being the ones who outlawed using a cell altogether while driving. That is, no matter how many people get killed because of people yakking on their phones and not watching what they are doing.

 One thought has piqued my curiosity. Since Mothers Against Drunk Driving is largely responsible for one no longer even feeling they can drink one beer and drive without worrying about a DUI charge, I wonder their thoughts on cell use and driving?

 Admittedly, I have not had a chance to do extensive research but in a quick search of the MADD Web page all I could find was a resolution supporting the use of cell phones in vehicles for reporting drunk drivers. I wonder where they really stand?

 Although the federal highway safety agency tried to sit on studies showing even hands-free use of cell phones is deadly, other studies show those talking on the phone are four times as likely to crash and are as likely to wreck as drivers with a blood-alcohol content of .08.

 I admit that I sometimes use my phone while driving. It is a habit that I am trying to break just as seeing — when I was as a firefighter — numerous folks dead who didn’t wear seatbelts got me in the habit of wearing one. Sad to admit, I once used to drink and drive. Hell, just about every Texan who both drank and who drived cherished the long stretch when the state had no open container law or at least one that had no teeth. Times have changed now. You can get ticketed for an open container and can be arrested for DUI for almost having alcohol on your breath. Don’t get me started on those who can serve and die for their country unable to get a drink because they aren’t 21!

 And so it goes. My libertarian friends don’t like the idea of government playing nanny, and I don’t like it a whole lot either. But safety aside, a lot of practical utility comes from laws like mandating seat belts, DUI and banning cell phones. This includes money spent on insurance premiums, taxes we pay to support hospitals, worker productivity (having your worker show up instead of he or she being in jail, the hospital or the morgue), to list a few.

 So, I imagine one day completely giving up talking on a cell and driving. Unlike many people I see every day, I don’t stay on the phone from the time I get in my auto until I disembark, and then some.

 I can live without driving and cell chatting; perhaps even live because I am not driving and talking on the phone.