Drive now, talk later 

Drive now, talk later

The 2009 legislative session would begin grandly with swift approval of HB 1013, to prohibit drivers from using handheld cellular telephones.

Some states (and countries) already have enacted such laws. Numerous studies show that using the phone while driving greatly increases the risk of accidents and fatalities — far more than other distractions, such as listening to or tuning the radio. At least one independent study found that talking on the phone while driving is as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. And we all have the evidence of our own eyes. Anyone who spends time behind the wheel, any pedestrian who crosses city streets, can tell scary stories of oh-so-near misses caused by drivers using phones.

HB 1013, sponsored by Rep. Ray Kidd of Jonesboro, is called “Paul's law,” after Paul Ray Davidson, a constituent of Kidd's who, Kidd said, died when his vehicle was struck head-on by an SUV driven by a person who was sending a text message. Davidson's daughter asked Kidd to sponsor a bill prohibiting the use of cell phones while driving.

The bill would be even better if it proscribed hands-free phones too, but HB 1013 is a great step forward as is. The cell-phone companies probably will oppose it — no cause is so worthy as to be safe from corporate greed — and the desperately lonely will argue they have a constitutional right to use the phone while driving. There is no such right, though, any more than there's a right to drive while sodden with drink, or at night with the lights off.


The better way

The same advice from a courageous and far-sighted weekly newspaper was ignored, but perhaps the legislature will pay more attention to an out-of-state expert and adopt a tax credit to help low-income Arkansans buy groceries. Last year, at Governor Beebe's request, the legislature cut the state sales tax on groceries in half. The governor wants to cut it even further when the legislature convenes next month, even though crucial state services such as Medicaid are already under-funded. The sales tax is regressive, all right, but it is paid by rich as well as by poor. And the rich spend more money on food than the poor do. An across-the-board cut in the sales tax while Medicaid goes begging means that poor people will be denied health care so that Waltons and Hussmans and Dillards can save on their lobster and their Chateaubriand. A tax credit, based on family income, can be directed specifically and exclusively to those who need assistance. These points were made to legislators at a recent committee meeting by an economist from a nonpartisan tax research group in Washington. Let's hope they listened this time.     


Sign up for the Daily Update email


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Arkansas Times Staff

Latest in Editorials

  • The end of an era

    We're sad to report that Doug Smith has decided to retire. Though he's been listed as an associate editor on our masthead for the last 22 years, he has in fact been the conscience of the Arkansas Times. He has written all but a handful of our unsigned editorials since we introduced an opinion page in 1992.
    • May 8, 2014
  • A stand for equality

    Last week, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel became the first elected statewide official to express support for same-sex marriage. His announcement came days before Circuit Judge Chris Piazza is expected to rule on a challenge to the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Soon after, a federal challenge of the law is expected to move forward. McDaniel has pledged to "zealously" defend the Arkansas Constitution but said he wanted the public to know where he stood.
    • May 8, 2014
  • Same old, same old

    Remarking as we were on the dreariness of this year's election campaigns, we failed to pay sufficient tribute to the NRA, one of the most unsavory and, in its predictability, dullest of the biennial participants in the passing political parade.
    • May 1, 2014
  • More »

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Redefining candidate quality

    • "It's the grassroots fire that ignited in the days and weeks after President Trump's election…

    • on April 20, 2018
  • Re: Week That Was

    • I saw James Comey interviewed by Stephen Colbert. When Stephen asked if trump was mentally…

    • on April 20, 2018
  • Re: Trump and Comey

    • Oh, so now it was the Comey release of the e-mails before the election to…

    • on April 19, 2018

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation