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Thomas: There are worse things to do while driving than blabbing

POSTED: January 23, 2009 1:00 a.m.

So the National Safety Council wants state governments to ban cell phone use, even hands-free cell phones, while driving. I think the NSC should have gone after a far more dangerous practice before taking on cell phones: farding while driving.

Yes, you read that correctly. That's "farding" with a "d." It means "to paint one's face." What I'm talking about, of course, is the practice of putting on make up while driving.

Think about it. At least while using a cell phone, one's eyes can be trained toward the road. To apply makeup, most folks must look in the mirror, unless of course they have perfected the art with much practice. Don't worry, ladies; I'm not limiting my criticism to you. I feel just the same way about men who would dare to fard while driving. But I digress.

Seriously, along with things like farding, eating, changing clothes, reading and shaving, would not our current reckless driving laws already cover dangerous cell phone use? I mean, Mr. Bean was able to change his clothes and brush his teeth while driving to the dentist (search for it on YouTube). However, I doubt most of the rest of us could pull that off, at least without getting a well-deserved ticket.

I do believe that I have neglected to mention the most dangerous act (other than the very serious DUI, of course) that can take place while driving: parenting. Any parent of small children knows exactly what I'm talking about. How many of us in such a situation have spent many rides with much of our attention devoted to the rear-view mirror and the delinquent juvenile behavior taking place in the back seats?

The president and chief executive of the NSC, Janet Froetscher, likened talking on cell phones to drunken driving, while adding that hands-free phones are just as dangerous as hand-held ones. "It's not just what you're doing with your hands -- it's that your head is in the conversation and so your eyes are not on the road," Froetscher said.

Really? So a cell phone conversation by a driver is more dangerous than having a conversation with someone who is actually in the automobile? What about listening to the radio? Is that more dangerous than a phone conversation? I like to listen to talk radio, ballgames and sometimes music while driving.

I mean, if the ballgame is a UGA football game, I'm probably doing some serious coaching while driving. Would that be more dangerous than talking on a cell phone? I sometimes like to listen to music and sing while driving. In those cases, the radio is loud so that I don't have to hear myself. Is that more dangerous than talking on a cell phone?

Georgia's reckless driving statute says, "Any person who drives any vehicle in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property commits the offense of reckless driving." To me, that reads as if any act that would prevent one from driving safely is covered under this statute. Why would we need another law?

If we have a law covering cell phones, what about all the other, even more dangerous acts that can take place while driving? Will we then get laws banning those specific acts as well? What about Amber Alerts, Levi's Calls and other emergencies? How are officers to judge when appropriate use of a cell phone is taking place?

The point here, of course, is that we don't need special legislation covering cell phone use and driving. This would be another example of unnecessary government, which inevitably will cost taxpayers more money.

So please, let us all obey the current driving laws and use good common sense when behind the wheel. And ladies, please spare us all and do your farding at home.

Trevor Thomas is a Gainesville resident and frequent columnist; Web site.



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