COUNCIL CHRONICLES: 12.18.13

By on December 17, 2013

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.


About Jake Nichols

Jake is a work in progress.

12 Comments

  1. Idiots

    December 17, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    “The council pointed to a trumped-up study conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)”

    They ignored the facts from the NTSB & DOT that injuries, deaths, and accidents have decreased over the last decade as talking & texting exploded. And as GPS, internet access, and entertainment systems became commonplace in cars.

    It a Willie Nealie deal.

    The funny thing is that they want to plaster the Town with MORE signs (about the new law) which are a distraction in and of themselves.

    Can we give them a ticket for distracting us?

  2. 22

    December 17, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    LOL loving the ridiculous sociopathic arguments you make…Wahhhh only 1.3 million accidents were caused by cellphone use, that means people are safer when they text donchya know….But But But officer I was taking a wonderful picture of an elk at 45 mph why you gotta bust me up, how’s I gunnna win first prize at the fair now….Don’t worry Jake, motorists won’t stop behaving homicidally, just because there is some law against it….as long as they are safely tucked away in their multi-ton tanks, to hell with the outside world….Scrape my windshield so I can see people,,,Nope….Drive at a safe and cautious speed,,,nope…There’s moose and humans to be killed let’s fire up the auto and git her dun…

    • Wallsy

      December 17, 2013 at 10:02 pm

      22

      Your silly reply is just the kind used to ban all guns. Perhaps you do need a nanny. Not all do.

      Where’s the evidence that Jackson drivers – using cell phones in cars by the thousands each day – are killing people? Driving is dangerous and being distracted is a natural part of driving. One look at that cell-phone sign for an extra second and you just rear-ended the car in front of you or ran that light.

      Around here, distracted tourists – unrelated to cell phone usage – driving around Jackson are a greater threat to your health and welfare.

      Our council, like the NSA, thinks it needs to protect you from every possible threat, every second of the day, and leave the common sense and decision making up to them.

      Bull $hit.

  3. Bot

    December 17, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    Cell phones are a distraction. So are pretty girls on the sidewalk.

    Everyone should just pretend to use a cell phone in protest. No where in the law does it say you can’t chat with yourself or sing along with the radio – although that may be next.

    The cops don’t want you using your camera because you might catch them tazing a cell phone user.

    Of course, the cops’ cameras, computers, cell phones, and radios are not worthy of inclusion in this law because only a police office can possibly have the skills and experience needed to use them in a safe manner.

    At least they tabled the distracted driving regs till later. The PC wants to nail you for eating while driving – he said it.

  4. Bot

    December 17, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    Cops on the side of the road are a distraction. Flashing lights even more so.

    When WYDOT changed the stop lights at 22 & Broadway, they thought safety would be improved. It was an accident fest for months.

    Some drivers may try to hide their cell phone use and that may be a bigger hazard.

    Certainly some drivers should not be driving while using a cell phone – like the highway patrol officer that did the rolling stop through the red light at Millward and Broadway while chatting away.

    You know who you are.

  5. Jean

    December 18, 2013 at 3:21 am

    Get a Bluetooth and vote these guys out of office.

    • HOPE

      December 18, 2013 at 11:39 am

      Hands free will be illegal.

      Reading a map is OK unless it’s a map a cell phone.

      I feel sorry for those that make their living while driving and really use a cell phone to communicate with the office or customers, but outside of emergencies, I don’t think it’s a big deal.

      • Jean

        December 18, 2013 at 2:27 pm

        “Smith says under the ordinance, it is acceptable for persons to use a cell phone or wireless communication device if the device is actually being used in a manner that allows the driver to talk into and listen to the telephone or wireless communication device “hands free” – such as a Bluetooth system.”

        • Is hanging legal?

          December 18, 2013 at 4:26 pm

          Yes. All true.

          What is also true is that hands-free is said to be no safer (according to studies from the dark corners of science) than hand-held use.

          NPR Story: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/06/12/190949902/hands-free-gadgets-in-car-dont-mean-driving-is-risk-free

          Hands-fee WILL be illegal. It’s just not now.

          Our liberal hand-holding Town leaders will but a ban on that too.

          Many people don’t have a smartphone, Bluetooth phone, or any way to be completely hands-free when using their phone. This law favors the rich who can afford fancy cars and phones at the expense of the working poor who can not.

          Just another law that will not stop accidents, injuries, or deaths.

  6. Is hanging legal?

    December 18, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    “The proliferation of hands-free technology “is a looming public safety crisis,” AAA CEO Robert Darbelnet says. “It’s time to consider limiting new and potentially dangerous mental distractions built into cars.”

    AAA commissioned a study by a University of Utah research team that has focused on distracted driving. The report can be found here.

    “These new, speech-based technologies in the car can overload the driver’s attention and impair their ability to drive safely,” says psychology professor David Strayer. “Don’t assume that if your eyes are on the road and your hands are on the wheel that you are unimpaired.”

  7. ET

    December 18, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    Bikes and phones. There’s an interesting law.

    Video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S10GMfG2NMY#t=16

    Story on NPR:

    http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2013/12/18/copenhagen-wheel-bicycles

  8. Jobs

    December 19, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    Many good points from both sides.

    My two cents is that this law is criminalizing individuals who use a cell phone in a responsible manner. Instead of focusing on the poor driving, they cops are now focusing on what’s in your hand.

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