The St. Louis Post-Dispatch today reported on the recommendations of the National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday that states prohibit nonemergency use of cellphones and similar portable electronic devices while driving. The article also quoted Republican Bill Stouffer to substantiate a claim that Missouri lawmakers would be reluctant to legislate road safety in this case:
State Sen. Bill Stouffer, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, stressed that it is ultimately up to drivers to avoid distractions – electronic or otherwise – when they are behind the wheel of a car.
“When you get in a vehicle, you owe it to everyone on the road to pay attention,” said Stouffer, R-Saline County. “It doesn’t matter when you hit someone whether you were eating french fries, changing the disc on the disc player or changing radio stations.”
Bear in mind that the event that precipitated the recommendations was a Missouri pile-up that killed two people and injured thirty-eight. Forty people paid the price when one driver decided that he was capable of receiving and sending a string of text messages while driving.
We know that individuals are fallible and do not always make the right decisions. If you doubt me, just look around next time you’re on the road – I’m willing to bet that you’ll see every third driver on the phone. I’m also pretty sure that you’ve been cut off or otherwise endangered by drivers who prove to be occupied by phones. I know that I have – frequently. When innocent people are endangered by the failure of an individual to exercise good judgment about an activity, shouldn’t we do all that we can do to discourage poor decision making?