Tuesday, November 29, 2011

GUEST SUBMISSION: Another “Award Winning” Editorial from Our Friends at the HDN

In this evening’s edition of the Havre Daily News, the unsigned editorial column “Our View” sought to opine on the recently passed cell phone ban by poking at the City’s plan on easing the public into this new ordinance.  “There’s no need for more lollygagging,” says the HDN, “the ban on cellphone use while driving is the law.”  Certainly this is true, but having some time to promote the idea of a ban on cell phone use while driving and educating the folks on the penalties associated with this action is completely warranted.  I’m not sure I would call Chief Matosich’s new plan for a “definite” warning period “lollygagging.”  To me it should be up to the police to determine when and if to charge someone with breaking the law and if they feel three more months is necessary, so be it.

I should point out that I like many in Havre opposed this ordinance from the very beginning as I felt not only was this an incredible overreach by the City Council into the lives of those who live here and travel through Havre, but also because it was unnecessary.  We have ordinances on the books for careless driving which cover distractions as well as State laws which cover these incidents too.   The HDN though takes another path in their editorial, by categorically and emphatically stating that “study after study shows that cell phones cause accidents far more than any other distraction,” really?  What studies?  Many studies purport to do just that, but a measurement of the amount of the distraction is quite a leap.  For instance the University of Utah study that many cite as proof actually could not discern the use of the phone itself as any more distracting than talking without a phone because it measured “talking” as having the same level of impairment as a .08 blood alcohol level.  If you read any of the other studies as well such as Carnegie Mellon’s, Virginia Tech’s, etc. all came to the same conclusion a distraction while driving is a distraction, period and all contribute to accidents.  Cell phones don’t cause accidents, just as guns don’t kill people.  Don’t get me wrong, use of a cell phone while driving is unsafe, it is a risk, but what in life isn’t?  Is this reason enough to ban the use of one of the most widely used technological advancements in human history?  I think not. 

The HDN also sought to praise Councilman Woody Woodwick’s “sponsorship” of this ordinance as heroic.  Really?  Councilman Woodwick worked very hard to pass this ordinance and lobbied his fellow Councilpersons very successfully since it passed, but he didn’t sponsor this ordinance.  There is no sponsorship of ordinances before the Council, nor is there is an introduction of ordinance’s by members either, those are legislative tools reserved to Congress and the State Legislature.  Actually this ordinance was brought before the Council by the Ordinance Committee themselves if my memory serves me correctly.  Val Murri was quite instrumental as well if I recall.  Councilman Woodwick was quite passionate about this particular ordinance because of an accident he was involved in where a driver who was texting while driving struck him while he was riding his motorcycle.  This accident was very tragic and could have been much, much worse and thankfully Councilman Woodwick recovered, but would a ban have actually stopped this from happening?  Probably not since the person who did it was already violating work policy prohibiting such activity and probably also knew how dangerous it was, but did it anyway!  And that folks is the problem, you cannot legislate a change in human behavior, it is simply not possible, just as a ban on smoking in public has not lessened the use of cigarettes in any way it just moved the behavior outdoors and away from those who dislike the activity, but the habit continues.  This ordinance is just the latest fad in behavioral policy legislation and is exactly as the HDN described it, a “progressive movement.”

Call your Councilpeople and ask them to repeal this overreach, this Council has gone way too far.


  1. Wasn't Val Murri one of the Havre Daily News good ole boys? So why does it suprise you that the HDN would now come out wanting the police to start ticketing everything that moves with a cell phone?

    The false information in the article is to be expected. Consider the source

    I hope the new council will start the process to repeal this law

  2. Either they care so much about us that they feel they need to keep us safe from ourselves, or, its a new revenue source for the city.