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Will Banning Cellphone Use While Driving Lead to a Safer Missoula?

Photo courtesy of Jim Legans, Jr/Flickr

If you’re like me, your cellphone is almost like a body part — always with you and vital to your everyday survival. Cellphones and smartphones have revolutionized the way we communicate, and we have come to expect people to be reachable virtually 100 percent of the time.

But a growing number of people believe there is one place where you should never press your talk button: behind the wheel.

Many people believe that talking on a phone while driving is an acceptable alternative to texting while driving — which was banned within Missoula city limits in 2009. But now the Missoula City Council is revisiting the issue and considering a ban on all cellphone or smartphone use while operating a vehicle.

While I can’t deny that phone use in any capacity can be distracting  — I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been cut off by someone jabbering away on their cellphone — I have to wonder just how far this could go.

Will we see a day when eating while driving is illegal? What about talking to other passengers? Listening to music? Singing to the radio?

From the moment you buckle in, there are countless distractions just waiting to pull your attention away from the road — some arguably more dangerous than others. Texting while driving — something that takes your eyes off of the road for seconds at a time — is one thing. Using a hands-free device to talk to someone — something that the city council has considered banning — is a whole other story.

The threat of being ticketed and fined would likely encourage drivers to think twice before dialing, but it could take a lot more than that to change the culture of our increasingly cellphone-dependent society.

What do you think about the potential ban on cellphone use while driving? Share your opinion with us.

Brooke is a 2010 graduate of The University of Montana, where she ran track and cross country for the Grizzlies. She is currently working as a writer and editor in Missoula.

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