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Halting action on cell phone ban is the right choice

January 6, 2010

Everyone knows that texting and chatting behind the wheel can be a dangerous and sometimes fatal habit - undoubtedly, something needs to be done.

Marshalltown City Council made a good decision by halting its local effort in this endeavor to see if Iowa lawmakers will push through a statewide ban.

At the same time, we must applaud our county officials whose bold and forwarding thinking has brought up local discussion on a particularly important issue. Marshall County Supervisors expect to discuss the local ban on an upcoming agenda, but perhaps waiting for statewide action is a better idea.

There are a number of reasons why applying the law locally would be troublesome. How could the ban be applied fairly? Statewide laws, such as the seatbelt law, are clearly marked at major entrances to the state and along main thoroughfares. This would be an impossible feat for those arriving into the county.

Marshall County Sheriff Tom Kamatchus has also dismissed applying the law to only drivers with Marshall County license plates. Kamatchus is accurate in explaining that that is not fair enforcement. While Kamatchus said he agrees with the idea of a ban, he said implementing it would be too time consuming and costly to enforce.

Meanwhile, Sen. Steve Sodders is on track to introduce a Distracted Driving Bill that would not only curb texting and talking on cell phones - it would mandate that lunch behind the wheel and other distractions while driving be punishable offenses.

We are in support of backing a distracted driving bill, such as Sodders'. Marshall County officials have brought up some great conversation for action on a growing problem. Statewide implementation of such a law would take away the question marks that surround the enforcement of the new ban. Now it's up to us to contact our legislators to make sure they take up the issue in the upcoming session.



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