Just in case you’ve been living on another planet outside the Wood River Valley universe, or in case you’ve missed the highway signs, driving while talking on a cell phone is prohibited here.
Not only is it prohibited by local ordinances, a state court recently upheld them and declared that the ban doesn’t conflict with state law.
Now that the ban has the District Court’s stamp of approval, local police should make no exceptions in enforcing the restriction. Drivers on cell phones are easy to spot with their erratic speeds, loafing at stop signs or failing to obey them altogether.
State law prohibits texting, but it does not prohibit talking on a cell phone while driving. The valley’s cities and Blaine County recognized the contradiction, went one step further and banned the use of cell phones while driving.
When the ban was challenged in court recently, 5th District Judge Jonathan Brody held that the cell-phone ban is legal because Idaho law allows cities to enact restrictions greater than those set out in state law.
Abundant research has shown that talking on a hand-held cell phone and driving is as dangerous as driving drunk. Given the research and the fact that there is simply no matter more important than protecting the lives of others while behind the wheel, the ban is sensible.
It’s amazing that the Legislature hasn’t seen fit to impose the same limit on cell phone use.
The ban is particularly important this time of year when the Wood River Valley is jammed with visitors who drive, walk and utilize every kind of wheeled conveyance. People darting into unexpected places with unexpected moves are the order of the day. The moves suddenly can become lethal near a phone-blind driver.
So, play it safe and park the cell phone. It will save a ticket, a fine and what could become a very bad vacation indeed.