As a child did you dream of growing up to be a law breaker but were too scared to conquer your fears of committing more serious crimes like murder and robbery? If this sounds like you, you might be in luck. Rep Garland Pierce (D-Robeson) is sponsoring legislation that will make otherwise respectable citizens run from the law. If it passes, House Bill 31 – Unlawful to Use Mobil Phones While Driving–will ban all use of cell phones while operating a moving vehicle.
The bill takes the ban on cell phone use currently applied to drivers under the age of 18 and applies them to the rest of the population, especially school bus drivers. If it passes, talking and driving will be a class 2 misdemeanor.
Banning cell phones for school bus drivers is not the egregious aspect of this bill. Crashes involving school bus drivers (public employees entrusted with the safety of our children) on the phone have come to light as a problem and HB 31 would address that.
The significant problem with HB 31 is that it criminalizes a peaceful activity conducted by adults. In today’s society cell phones are everywhere, and for most people that includes their vehicle. Realtors, salesmen, soccer moms, even legislators need to talk and drive sometimes—they should have the freedom to do so. In a free society, individuals are free to decide for themselves whether or not to engage in risky behavior.
Moreover, if it passes HB 31 would be near impossible to enforce. For those that are randomly caught talking on the phone while driving, the penalty would only be $100. The infraction would not add points to the rulebreaker’s license or raise his insurance rate. People caught talking will just write off the fine as a cost of doing business and continue to talk and drive.
HB 31 places an unnecessary and unreasonable burden on responsible adult drivers, especially those who need to drive and talk on the phone for work. This bill would make almost everyone a potential criminal and will be impossible to enforce in an even and fair manner, all without providing incentives for anyone to actually change behavior. That is why HB 31 is this week’s bad bill of the week.