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COUNCIL CHRONICLES: 12.18.13
JACKSON HOLE, WYO – They did it. They really did it. To keep town citizens (known to politicians as voters) safe, the sage panel of electeds pushed through a ban on cell phone use in a moving vehicle on Monday night.
Bolstered by an opening floor show act that numbed audience members into submission or drove them off to pour three fingers of Wyoming Whiskey and start Christmas shopping with Amazon Prime, the third and final ordinance reading flew by with ease. No more iPhones in Subarus, like that will instantly make Jackson drivers that much better at operating a motor vehicle.
Chief of Police Todd Smith promised an educational period would be the PD’s initial stance on the new ticketable offense, meaning the department wouldn’t immediately start raking in revenue for town officials to spend on public art and bulb outs.
A cell phone ban would probably be welcomer in theaters where practically every moviegoer’s face basks in the soft glow of their chirping gizmos. But the car was made for phone use. It’s the modern day phone booth – a quiet enclosure that shuts out the outside world and leaves a driver free to the conduct business he or she neglected while stuck in the office where nosy cubicle mates might eavesdrop.
Most people actually WAIT until they are driving somewhere to make an important call.
The council pointed to a trumped-up study conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) that found more than 3,000 people were killed in crashes in 2010 where distraction was a factor. Big deal. Hippopotamuses kill 2,900 people in Africa every year. Do you see national leaders on that continent declaring war on the hippo? No. They’re too busy slaughtering elephants for the ivory, but that’s another issue altogether.
Councilman Don Frank said, “rights are always counter-balanced with responsibilities and this is really about the responsibility to be safe behind the wheel.”
This is the old shouting “fire” in a crowded theater trumps free speech ploy. Now we can’t so much as text “fire” to 911 even if we’re sitting in a burning Tesla.
The ban would also pertain to taking pictures of that moose or elk herd while rolling. How many of us have done that? How many tourists do that? Now you are literally forcing tourists to pull over and obstruct traffic flow instead of weaving a little while they snap a shot of that malamute they’re sure is a wolf. This is inconvenient and potentially harmful to the local economy.