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Letters: Should the hands-free driving law be repealed?

Johnson City Press • Mar 8, 2020 at 6:00 AM

With Monday’s Question of the Week, we asked whether Tennessee’s hands-free driving law should be repealed, an effort undertaken by Bristol Sen. Jon Lundberg. Here are some of the responses we received.

Talking and driving is not a right

You ask if the hands-free driving law should be repealed. I say nope. Actually, I say, "Oh, come on!”

I am incredulous that someone would advocate repealing the law. More than that, I am astounded and embarrassed that a Tennessee legislator would introduce such a measure for serious consideration. Any measure that denies someone their "fundamental right” to be distracted while driving has my vote.

It's difficult to imagine a lobby that would lean on Senator Lundberg over this issue in order to advance their agenda. Has he been bought out by cellphone providers? Have insurance adjusters and body shops conspired to buy him? I cannot understand the basis of his ideas.

“Fundamental liberties” might include the right to talk to whomever you please. But talking to your honeybear cannot endanger anyone’s safety on public roads. So if you receive a call, pull over and stop. Answer the call, and if you must continue driving, turn on the speaker and place the phone in your cupholder. Voila! Problem solved.

I am reminded of the 1959 song, “Seven Little Girls Sitting in the Backseat.” It was written by Bob Hilliard and Lee Pockriss and introduced by Paul Evans. The chorus had these words:

Keep your mind on your driving

Keep your hands on the wheel

Keep your snoopy eyes on the road ahead

Good advice 61 years later.

REV. JEFF BRIERE
Johnson City

Cellphones impair driving

The hands-free driving law should absolutely not be repealed; if anything, it should be made stricter! It is obvious that people do not understand the severity of the issue.

Driving while operating a cellphone is as bad as driving while intoxicated, if not worse. This has been proven, folks!

Much like an inebriated individual's thought process, you may think that you are driving just fine, but instead you are swerving all over the place, driving extremely slow in the passing lane, and sitting at a green light because you haven't realized it has turned. Those are just a few examples of talking while driving that I see every day.

My child and I were nearly plowed into on a school crosswalk by a woman on her cellphone. When I yelled at her, she had no clue what was going on despite the fact that she was so close to us that I could've grabbed her phone right out of her hands through the car window.

So, to Senator Lundberg, people's lives are not worth the right to make a phone call. If you are able to use the logic of appealing the hands-free law because it infringes upon people's fundamental liberties, then perhaps the same logic can be used to repeal DUI laws, speeding laws, seat belt laws and child booster seat laws. How absurd is that?

SARAH HATTON
Johnson City

Hands-free law is slippery slope

The hands-free driving law is greatly flawed and potentially troublesome. Sen. Lundberg is correct in wanting it repealed.

Drivers occasionally talk on the phone while driving, and it’s usually a very brief correspondence. Many drivers already have hands-free phone capabilities.

Where does the concept of “hands-free” begin and end? How about eating sandwiches, drinking coffee, and watching the video screen?

The hands-free driving law is, in one form or another, in many communities.

This law could be used to justify “government overreach” as Sen. Lundberg suggested. For example, law enforcement personnel could use already available photo enforcement technology and face-recognition technology by placing cameras at overpasses and on traffic signal posts. Listening device technology can be used to overhear conversations and phone messages coming from automobiles.

The stated purpose could be to enforce the hands-free law but the real purpose could be for spying on people and keeping track of people.

EDWARD J. DWYER
Johnson City

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