On the same day numerous senators undermined a death-penalty-abolition bill by inventing a new tax to fund cold-case investigations, the state Senate made another bold move, taking language banning the use of standard cellphones while driving out of... a bill designed to ban the use of standard cellphones while driving. Now, if the law passes, only drivers under eighteen will be unable to use such gadgets, with texting for all drivers also forbidden.
Yes, the texting part of the measure is a good idea -- but it's also a lot harder for police officers to see, since most of this activity, like mobile genital groping, takes place below the window line. Meanwhile, cellphone users will continue to make driving the streets of our state more dangerous and infinitely more annoying. Yes, there have been times when I've nearly been sideswiped by drivers holding a phone to their ear. More often, I've been stuck behind oblivious conversationalists changing lanes erratically, making sudden turns or putting along way under the speed limit -- all situations that can cause accidents because of the way they make other drivers desperate to get the hell away from them. Hands-free devices don't solve all these problems, but they're an improvement -- and with luck, a future legislature will insist that drivers use them down the road. Until then, get ready for another few years of muttering under your breath and hoping you don't get killed by someone who's got an unquenchable urge to chat.