PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Don’t tread on my mobile

By on November 26, 2013

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – On the first of three readings Jackson Town Council has passed an ordinance that will restrict our use of mobile phones while driving. I urge the Council to reconsider.

Cell phones are incredibly important to our quality of life. They have created a burst of productivity that has made our economy much more efficient. Being able to conduct business while driving is precisely the purpose of cell phones. Restricting their use will put a major drag on our economy while only providing a modest increase in safety.

Singling out mobile phones for censure is trendy, but drivers suffer many distractions while driving, and mobile phones are by no means the most troublesome. A study has shown that having children as passengers in the car is 12 times more distracting to the driver than talking on a cell phone. Why doesn’t the Council protect us by banning children from cars?

The Town Council is misunderstanding its mandate. The legislative process demands that they make the finding that each law they pass protects the general welfare, but that doesn’t mean they can or should attempt to pass myriad laws to protect us from every possible danger. It’s vital that all levels of government are judicious in their use of police power. The wish to do good can cause government to overstep its bounds with unfortunate unintended consequences.

While it may be true that the Council has the ability to protect us from some dangers, they also have the dangerous ability to restrict our freedoms. We are much better off living free in a slightly riskier world than coddled from cradle to grave in a protective government cocoon that stifles freedom and innovation.

Government needs to keep its eye on the ball and not get distracted by sending the police out to enforce the newest fashionable nanny state interventions. In other words, keep the water running, the sewer draining, fill the potholes, keep the police and fire departments open, but please, Town Council, don’t micromanage our mobile phones.

About Judd Grossman


  1. maxhypocrasy

    November 27, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    So Stafford votes against a Careless Driving ordinance, which basically says the cops can combine multiple concurrent violations into a, “catch all” offense. He says he is concerned it will give cops more reason to pull people over. But then he votes for the cell phone ban? Seriously?! Which ordinance will give the cops basically unlimited opportunities to pull people over?

  2. The Idiots are running things

    November 27, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    maxhypocrasy: SPOT ON.

    We already have appropriate laws regarding cell phone use in Wyoming:

    1. Ban on texting for all drivers (Primary law)
    2. Ban on cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for novice drivers (Primary law)

    Lets look at some facts and notice that while cell phone use has exploded since 2002 – especially texting – traffic accidents have declined.

    1) From the New York Times, Nov 15, 2013

    “Traffic fatalities in 2011 were at their lowest level since 1949.
    The number of young drivers involved in fatal crashes continued to decline. ”

    2) From the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Oct. 31, 2013 (

    “U.S. traffic deaths fell by 4.2 percent during the first half of 2013”

    3) From the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Nov 2013 (

    “From 2007 to 2012, …the annual number of text messages sent or received increased by more than 500 percent.”

    Decline in deaths
    There were 38,491 US traffic deaths in 2002.
    There were 34,080 US traffic deaths in 2012.

    Increase in Wireless use
    Wireless Customers in 2002: About 155M
    Wireless Customers in 2012: About 326M

    Increase in miles driven
    U.S. Vehicle-Miles 5,613M miles in 2002
    U.S. Vehicle-Miles 6,005M miles in 2012

    Decrease in Fatality rate per 100M miles traveled
    Fatality Rate per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled – 2002: approx 1.5 per 100M
    Fatality Rate per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled – 2012: approx 1.2 per 100M

    Decrease in Injury rate per 100M miles traveled
    Injury Rate per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled – 2002: approx 100 per 100M
    Injury Rate per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled – 2012: approx 80 per 100M

    There’s no evidence that this law will have any affect on safety.

    If cops can safely drive while using a computer, 2-way radio, and a cell phone then other adult drivers can safely navigate the use of a cell phone.

    If the Town, County, State & Feds really want to reduce injuries & deaths then spend the money to keep the roads and sidewalks free of snow and ice instead of passing laws like this one. Additionally, have WYDOT increase the Yellow-Light time during the winter and the time between a light turning red and the opposing light turning green.

    Ever notice how horrible the roads in GTNP are? Hwy 89/etc. Those people care more about wildlife than human life.

    There is nothing more dangerous to your freedom and liberty than politicians and bureaucrats thinking they know better than you.

  3. Let's keep our freedom! Bring your friends!

    November 27, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    I urge the public to be present on December 2nd for the 2nd reading of the three ordinances banning cellphones, defining careless driving and Inattentive Driving. These are just more ways for the Town to make more money and give out tickets. They will not improve our safety.

    We are a small community! Let’s use our common sense. We don’t need laws banning cell phone use while driving or telling us that we are driving “inattentive”. I believe our small town drivers have very good driving skills, given the fact we have over 6 months of wintery icy roads. There is no reason for any of the ordinances the council is trying to pass.


    Thank you,

    Your local common sense guy.

  4. Anonyholic II

    November 28, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    While I generally share your Libertarian views, Judd, I’m not completely on board with you here. Why? I am fed up with the red-light running, stop sign-running, abrupt no-signal lane-changing and general inattention that goes with some idiot whose priority is being on the phone and not safe conduct on public roads. And yes, I’m looking at you, young females. “idiots”, I see and hear your stats, but they reflect nothing about distracted driving in general or pda use in particular. You want us to believe the issue (danger) doesn’t exist? Be specific. And don’t compare cops with advanced driving skills and heightened training to the average pre-occupied driver. Rather than messing with traffic light sequencing, why not station cops at the intersections and nail red-light runners? They’ll just continue to do it. Having said all that….I do agree that the town has other/better things to go after than in-car phone use. The state has outlawed texting while driving and may cover general phone use eventually. Bicyclist scofflaws are a bigger danger in town traffic-wise and still are generally let go. We have a major drug distribution problem in our schools and local law enforcement doesn’t seem to care. This ordinance is just all touch-feely window dressing for a town council that wants to be seen as “doing something…!”

  5. Steve A

    November 28, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    Come on Jackson, this town’s politicians need to remeber where they live and bring back the common sense our Wyoming (Jackson Hole) founders utilized so well. We’re becoming the East Coast town of Wyoming because of a few local politicians that have forgotten their roots. You need to keep the common sense factor at the top of the list when you consider such idiotic laws as banning cell use in city limits. Let the State Legislators deal with this. Pass this and you’d better start painting lines on the highway, putting up warning signs, and flashing lights so all of those poor tourists know when they’re at risk of funding our local government. Wyoming is about common sense, so act like where you live and focus on something that benefits our residents.

  6. Thank God we have guns.

    November 28, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    Gun related deaths in 2011: 32,163. The council will be coming after them next.

    I’ve seen the cell phone users doing stupid things too, but mostly it’s driving too slow.

    It’s a dog and pony show at intersections every winter as people slide through traffic lights, off highways, or into other cars. I see more of that then drivers running lights at intersections while using a phone. I have seen one phone user blow a stop sign in the last 10 years. Bikers – you’re correct and it’s bad form if anyone is nearby.

    If an officer saw a person running a red light or stop sign then that person can be ticketed. We don’t need a NEW law to address that.

    My 50 years of driving experience gives me “advanced driving skills and heightened training”. As was pointed out, novice drivers are not allowed to use a phone while driving. Cops are involved in plenty of accidents – at work and away from work.

    None said the danger doesn’t exist. They implied it’s overblown given that there’s been a 500% increase in texting and a doubling of cell phone customers but a decline in accidents and deaths.

    It’s amazing how accidents have actually declined as has the numbers of devices inside cars — phones, GPS, MP3 gadgets, entertainment systems, cold-beverage storage, fancy seat controls, etc, have sky-rocketed along with talk-time.

    We have more traffic laws than we need and more cops than we need.

    Consider the fact that motorcycle helmets save lives but we don’t have a law requiring adults to use them. And motorcycles don’t have seat belts, airbags, roll cages, and other fancy safety items that cars have; nonetheless, we allow them on the road. You can’t get a seat-belt ticket while on a motorcycle even though you’re less protected.

    Hopefully, more people will put down cell phones when they recognize their own inability to use them safely. But not all people need to be penalized for the idiots among us.

    As for drugs – been around since the Beginning of Time. Good luck with that one.

  7. jacob

    December 1, 2013 at 9:52 am

    Icy roads are probably a bigger hazard. I see so many accidents related to drivers underestimating funky road conditions. One second the tires are gripping the road just fine and the next they’re not.

    This city has so many cops around town. If they can’t do their job without new laws then they need to go back to the academy for a refresher.

  8. Ban nanny laws, not cell phones.

    December 1, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    Today’s Headline:

    “Slick road conditions cause 65-vehicle Worcester crash and numerous other accidents”

    Boston Globe story ( December 1, 2013.

    “Black ice on a highway in Worcester this morning sent about 65 vehicles, including three tractor trailers, crashing into one another, leaving at least two people seriously injured, according to State Police.”

  9. David

    December 3, 2013 at 11:39 am

    Let’s ban white bread, skiing the backcountry, drinking, casual sex, driving during the winter, and politicians from passing dumba$$ laws.

  10. Coppr

    December 9, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    Yeah, those great drivers in the police forces around the globe are better than the rest of us.

    December 9th:

    “..bicyclist who was fatally struck by a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s patrol car on Mulholland Highway”

  11. Coppr

    December 9, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    The real threat:

    “Deaths rise, travel havoc in coast-to-coast freeze

    At least 12 people have died because of the weather, mostly in traffic accidents.”

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