If the legislators in this country continue down their current path, by the year 2020 citizens will only be allowed to send or receive text messages in a padded room, under the watchful eye of an employee of the State. Unfortunately, this inevitable trend toward the State gaining complete control of your cell phone operations continued this week in Carson City, NV.
CBS Las Vegas provided coverage of a local do-gooder, Democratic Las Vegas Assemblyman Harvey Munford, who has introduced a bill that would essentially ban touching your phone while crossing the street.
A bill before the Nevada Assembly would make it illegal for pedestrians to read, browse the internet or enter data with hand-held devices while crossing highways in the state.
Democratic Las Vegas Assemblyman Harvey Munford introduced AB123 during the floor session Thursday. He says his intention is for the law to apply to all state roads, even in residential areas.
The bill makes exceptions for uses concerning medical emergencies, safety hazards and reporting criminal activity. Public employees and contractors responding to an emergency are also immune to the restrictions.
Munford says increasing frequency of incidents involving people crossing roadways while using phones motivated his bill.
First offenses would result in a written warning, with second and third offenses incurring $100 and $250 fines.
Here at Lions of Liberty we have written about ridiculous government laws and fines in the past. In fact, it was just over a year ago that we reported on Los Angeles County approving a whopping $1000 fine for the dangerous act of throwing a Frisbee or football on a beach, between Memorial Day and Labor Day. This proposed ban on texting while crossing the street certainly rivals the Frisbee/football fine in stupidity.
In the CBS article, the Assemblyman Harvey Munford cites an increasing frequency in the number of incidents involving people operating their phones while crossing roadways. Mr. Munford failed to mention that there is also an overall increase in the frequency of people owning phones in society. It is normal to expect incidents involving cell phones to rise in all accidents, as literally everyone now owns a cell phone.
The passage of laws to encourage good behavior is nothing new in the United States. In the past, Mr. Munford and his fellow totalitarian, idealists throughout the country were probably in favor of laws to ban the use of headphones while jogging, the operation of car stereos while vehicles are in motion, or eating a hamburger while cruising down the freeway.
Legislators at the local, state, and federal level have been passing laws aimed at altering citizen’s behavior and creating a safer society for hundreds of years. The intentions of these people may be well meaning, but this does not excuse their ignorance to the reality of the situations they try to make safer. If people are not deterred by the possibility of killing themselves when operating a cell phone while crossing the street, then their behavior will not be discouraged by a monetary fine. Lawmakers are making an incorrect assumption that people value money more than their own life. Sure there are reckless people out there that may stumble in front of a car while typing a message on their cell phone, but that same person may drive into a telephone pole while eating a sandwich. You cannot protect everyone and create a utopian society by making bad decisions illegal.
In fact, there is evidence that some state laws, which outlaw texting while driving, have encouraged even more reckless decision making. Statistics show that several states, which have made texting while driving illegal, have seen an increase in the number of accidents caused by driving while operating a cell phone. The law has caused individuals to be more discrete with their cell phone use. This is an example of the unintended consequences associated with intervention by the State. In this case, it has encouraged riskier behavior. Before the law was passed, people that chose to text while driving could hold their phone up in plain sight, keeping their eyes closer to the road. After the laws were passed, these same individuals continue to text while driving, but now they keep the phone out of sight, which takes their eyes further from the road.
Politicians will continue to push laws that they claim make society safer. Individuals need to take responsibility for their own actions and accept that we cannot use the State to dictate how our neighbors act. We have too many laws in this country and we do not need even more meddling by the State in our daily decision making.