Let ’em do their job!

That truck driver cell phone law still sticks in my craw. It also applies to click-to-talk radios, too. They can’t really think that picking up your radio is dangerous, but now they require you to pull off the road to call your dispatcher. To me, that’s a hell of a lot more dangerous than reaching down to pick up my radio. I didn’t think they’d apply the law to C.B.’s since they can be used to warn other drivers of impending road hazards, but I guess I was wrong.

It’s another regulation in an occupation drowning in regulations—another attempt to collect revenue from people who are being targeted so often and by so many that they approach every day as though preparing  to run a gauntlet.

In my Novel, Death’s Door, the hero, Jesse Yates and Phil Bolden, who turns out to be a hijacker, are in a honky-tonk commiserating about truck driving, when Bolden tells Yates about a driver who was caught without his seat belt on by a cop on an overpass with binoculars, who then radioed ahead. I hate to say it, but that really happened.

What really gets me is that these kinds of things represent the Washington elite treating the rest of us like children, fining us (severely) for doing things that they do with impunity. Of course it’s all just a money grab, since it’s now impossible to collect enough taxes to pay for all their vote-grabbing social programs.

Traffic fatalities are down 24% from 2005, but what’s also down? Revenue. You gotta get it somewhere.The law is full of verbiage about drivers taking their eyes off the road, as though doing so, if only briefly, will almost surely cause a crash. This concept relies on two of Washington’s favorite control mechanisms—demagoguery and political correctness. Texting while driving has become a big issue, and rightly so, because it is truly dangerous. That’s why I don’t do it.

But, see, this is how the enemies of liberty work: Most people agree texting is dangerous, the topic gets a lot of media exposure, and now, hell, let’s outlaw all communications equipment  that a driver would have to pick up and hold in his hand—because that would be distracted driving. And we are on the topic of distracted driving, aren’t we? Texting put us there, so let’s make the most of it. Let’s outlaw as much as we can and make the fine, say, $2,750 for a driver and $11,000 for the driver’s company.  Yeah, that sounds reasonable. It’s for their own good.

That fact is, we all know you don’t have to have your eyes continuously focused on the road ahead. Good drivers, experienced drivers, can turn their heads to talk to a passenger, reach down and tune the radio, pick up a phone, look in a rear view mirror…  Don’t tell me you can’t do those things safely. Hell, drivers used to be graded (in driver tests) on how often they looked into their mirrors—something you need to do to check traffic, check your tires, and check your load.

Good drivers, responsible drivers, can do those things when there is ample room between vehicles, but they keep their eyes focused ahead when they’re in close, fast-moving traffic, fog, snow, rain, etc. That’s the way it has always been. Careless drivers aren’t as cautious, so they and others often pay the price. Government regulations can’t eliminate careless driving. About all this kind of law can do is treat responsible drivers like serfs, complicate their lives and if possible fine the hell out of them.

And now we hear that somebody’s working on a device that will allow the police to detect cell phone use in a car that goes by.  So, soon, instead of using radar to stop speeders (remember when they were considered the main cause of accidents?), ol’ smokey will be focusing his precious time on telephone and seatbelt violators.

Bureaucrats don’t understand reality or don’t care about it. Here’s a clue: Instead of driving people out of the business, make trucking an attractive career for safe, responsible drivers. Let them do their job the way they’re capable of doing it. The economy and highway safety will benefit.

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