It’s the end of an era. Today, Missoula, MT followed the lead of big-city madness and has now made the use your cell phone while driving illegal. Only hands-free from here on out. The punishment…somewhere between a hundred bucks and a judge-defined five thousand bucks! This type of law might make sense in large cities…but here, where there’s barely 65,000 of us? That’s a hard sell to this critical thinker. Allow me to explain.
Some might say, “Good riddance!” But here, in Montana, it’s a fair bit ridiculous. This is not Chicago where you have 8 lanes of traffic with imaginary lines that do little other than suggest where your vehicle should be at all given times. This is not the land of stop and go traffic, other than that created by our poorly timed traffic light systems. Our biggest “traffic jam” might be 50 cars in one direction and that usually only lasts for a 1/2 hour a day. We have no freeways within city limits and the speed limit of much our road system is 35MPH or less. We average less than 1,000 accidents per year and I’d bet half of those are brand new Californians snow-sliding into a parked cars whilst hunting their newest i-thing at a big box store.
I know that some people talking on a cell phone while driving become utterly stupid and lose their entire ability to drive. I’ve seen it…right here, in fact. I can recall one instance that genuinely concerned me, and that was some chick texting at 45MPH. She didn’t look up for almost 10 seconds. That’s downright reckless driving. I think any police officer would see it that way and would give that person a stiff reminder to operate their vehicle safely. For the rest of us, though, that can actually pay attention to more than one thing at once, our freedoms are once again limited.
No, this is hardly about safety. This is entirely about our liberal city council being unable to afford the programs they initiate and fulfilling the gap they can no longer take out on our property taxes. It’s a bad habit tax. I’m certain that someone, somewhere in our city looked at the economic statistics of cities with this type of law and came to the bright conclusion that they can make tens of thousands off our desire to stay connected. For those of us who haven’t adopted the near constant presence of a communication device in our ear, it’s a cash crop.
Don’t worry. You can still mow down a cheese steak sandwich, fries and a milkshake while you plow into the beyond. Your kids can be bouncing between front and back windshields with nary a concern. You can even french kiss your rat hair terrier whilst ripping down Reserve at 45MPH in the rain. You can still do your hair and makeup on the way to work. Hell, short of knocking back a fifth of Jack Daniels and doing lines of coke off your dash, you’re pretty much free to create any other levels of distraction within your vehicle without heavy handed regulation.
It’s not all forgone, though. Chatting up your friends while ripping down the freeway at 75MPH is still legit here in Montana.