2010-05-03

Cellular Phones Versus Hot Soup

Six months into Ontario's ban on cellular phone use while driving, it is time to ask ourselves a simple follow-up question: Do we feel safer on the road?

Realistically, no, of course not. Knowing that it is illegal to drive while talking on a cellular phone has done nothing to improve my sluggish and frequently hazardous morning commute. At best, when I now see individuals driving while talking on the phone, I can take pointless comfort in howling at the road that said person is breaking the new law. Beyond that, my experience on the road has not changed.

More importantly, did we really expect that this law would make us feel safer? Really?

Comically, it is now more legal to drive while carrying an open container brimming with scalding hot chicken broth than it is to drive while using a cellular telephone. As I mention this, you the reader are most likely having one of two reactions.

"That's because no one drives while carrying hot chicken broth, so it isn't a problem! When people start driving with hot soup, then they'll make a law against that, too!"

This reaction represents that held by the probable majority in Ontario. The general idea is that as soon as something bothers us, we will outlaw it. Similar laws applying to snow tires, trans fat consumption, recycling, and plastic bags are either currently on the books or up for parliamentary debate. I will concede the possibility that any of the above legislative maneuvers are representative of "the right thing to do in life" as an individual making individual choices. But to outlaw them? Why are Ontarians so intent on outlawing whatever it is that they personally do not like? Is this really the solution? Have our lives become better as a result of any of this?

"You know what? You're right. We're taking this too far."

I hope there are a few Ontarians out there who have reacted this way. Banning cell phones from automobiles has not improved our lives. Driving poorly and causing accidents was already against the law, and we have full recourse to punish those people civilly and in some cases criminally. A cell phone ban does not contribute new legal recourse to the existing environment for motorists. It merely further erodes our civil liberties by expanding the existing Nanny State.

Perhaps some day we will learn to be less hasty with our lawmaking activities and focus on solving problems ourselves. Take myself for example: I am writing a blog to attempt win you over to my way of thinking; what I am not doing is arguing that the opposing side become outlaws.

Think about it.