Cell phones and cheeseburgers


An Oregon law that takes effect Jan. 1 deals with the danger of driving while using a cell phone, but the statute is silent on the matter of eating a cheeseburger behind the wheel.

And turning up a stereo to a decibel level capable of rupturing ear drums.

And applying makeup or brushing your hair or turning your head around to chat with a friend in the back seat.

The new law prohibits drivers who are younger than 18 from using a cell phone including hands-free devices while driving. The law, which sets a $97 fine for violators, applies to teens who have either a provisional driver license, student permit or instructional permit. The law includes exceptions for teens who are working on a farm or ranch, or who use a phone to call for help during an emergency.

It's a good law. We wonder, though, if it is sufficiently stringent.

After all, although cell phones attract most of the attention, there are plenty of other factors that distract drivers.

Eating, for instance.

Nonetheless, we're not suggesting that Oregon legislators revamp the law to include every possible distraction.

We hope, though, that the law and the possibility of having to explain a $97 fine to parents will remind fledgling drivers that controlling a two-ton vehicle is a great responsibility, and that they must devote all their attention to the task.

That message ought to reach all drivers, regardless of their age. Drivers 18 and older don't need to worry about getting a ticket, but a crash can cost a lot more than 97 bucks.

A life, for example.

The Baker City Herald
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