On the road earlier, I was reminded of the tedious, irritating, and downright dangerous nature of some of the people who are Out There In The Real World (where they clearly don’t belong) talking on their cell phones while driving.
When this happens, I always remind myself that stupid people almost always provide the justification for stupid laws. Like the stupid people who seemingly justify their creation, there are more and more annoying laws, because there are always more and more stupid people. It’s as if there’s a direct relationship.
But some people can’t walk and chew gun at the same time. Should that be illegal?
Probably not in the minds of even the most fiendishly statist lawmakers, because walking is not normally dangerous to anyone except the walker. But if some damned insurance industry think tank did a study showing that chewing gum while driving caused hundreds of accidents, a law might be proposed to prevent the nation’s adult kindergarteners (which statists imagine us all to be) from putting substances in mouths while driving.
Come to think of it, I’d be willing to bet studies have been done which show an association between eating while driving and accidents, but I don’t dare Google for it, as I might find some loony anti-eating-while-driving activist group and start gnashing my teeth. But sure. It’s common sense that you shouldn’t do anything that interferes with your driving, unless you can handle it. Doctors should not eat while performing surgery, but if a diabetic doctor needed a candy bar while operating on me, I’d rather have him eat it than go into glassy-eyed shock and sever my aorta. Some things are not proper subjects for legislation.
A phone is a communications device. There are many reasons why people might want to communicate while doing all sorts of things, including things which are dangerous (like performing surgery or driving).
I don’t know how many readers are old enough to remember the CB craze in the 1970s, but I do. It started as a truck driver thing, but eventually millions of ordinary people were buying CB radios and puttting them in their cars. There was a whole CB culture with its own lingo. What fueled it was that good old all American rebellious spirit. People were saying “fuck you” to the 55 MPH speed limit. Sorry for the long quote here, folks, but this is a walk down memory lane:

driving 55 saved gasoline. It also wasted our lifetimes, turning eight hour trips into ten hours. Many say it saved lives. That is a dubious argument at best, as the evidence points as much to improved safety features in cars as much as the reduced speed limits.
Truckers were livid. Their livelihoods depended on getting their loads to various destinations in a timely matter, and the nationwide speed limit put a serious damper on that. By and large, non-professional drivers grew to resent the law as well. The interstate highways were designed to be safely traveled at speeds of 70 MPH and faster, and tooling along at 55 just didn’t seem right in many ways.
So, the nation rebelled. And their main weapon in the non-violent coup was the CB radio.
Citizen’s band radios were originally intended for public and small business communication. It took an FCC license to legally operate them. The 1960’s saw them used by contractors, taxi drivers, and especially truck drivers. They developed their own slang, as well as a protocol that was to be followed at all costs.
The aforementioned speed limit in 1974 brought them to the forefront in the trucking industry. Fellow drivers warned each other of speed traps over the airwaves.
That’s where Burt Reynolds, “C.W. McCall,” and the Duke boys stepped in. As tales of the trucker’s circumvention of the cops and their radar guns began to circulate, a pop culture formed around their communication medium, the CB radio.
Burt, of course, was the star of 1977’s Smokey and the Bandit, a movie which was a huge hit, and which featured use of CB’s throughout its length. The Dukes of Hazzard also used the device to foil Boss Hogg. And Jim Fries noticed the character of C.W. McCall, created to sell baked goods in the Omaha, Nebraska area, and took his persona in performing one of the biggest hits of the 70’s, Convoy.
When I was a junior in school in late 1975, the CB radio craze hit my little town of Pea Ridge, Arkansas. Lunch hours were spent ratchet jawing with truckers. Nights were spent doing the same. And we all adapted handles. I was Trapper John, BTW.
Longtime CB users were outraged. They had paid good money to get their licenases, and here were a bunch of people using their bandwidth illegally, and completely ignoring their protocol! So many CB’s were sold that the government ended up lifting the license requirement, infuriating the old-timers even more.
Other abusers bought devices known as linear amplifiers to magnify their signals from the legal five watts to a thousand or more. These would interfere with neighbor’s TV reception, and would also bleed over onto other channels within the bandwidth.
However, many amplified home base users were foiled by a simple stright pin thrust through the coaxial cable leading to the antenna. When the mike was keyed, the amp was instantly smoked. Frontier justice at its finest!
In many ways, the original users of the internet were like the early licensed CB users. Posting on USENET required that you know the rules of behavior beforehand.

One thing leads to another. I had a CB radio, and eventually I got a ham radio license. After years of resisting temptation, I finally got a cell phone and a couple of years later I started a blog.
The advent of the cell phone, of course, was the death knell of CB culture. Of course, the first cell phones were big clunky things, permanently installed into cars. Come to think of it, they were actually called “car phones”!
Now, my memory may be faulty, but at no time during the CB craze do I remember anyone ever so much as suggesting that it be made illegal to talk on a CB radio while driving. If they had, it would have provoked such an outcry that the bill would have been quickly withdrawn. Yet talking on a CB is a lot more difficult than talking on a cell phone, and therefore, in logic it is more dangerous.
Can it be that people were more coordinated in those days? Had the people unable to walk and chew gum at the same time not yet been born?
What am I missing? Was there something about having a CB unit installed in a car that tended to sort out total idiots from those who were (for lack of a better word) handier?
If that’s what it is, if the laws are passed in response to the number of idiots who use or have access to technology, then maybe I’m not just being paranoid. Perhaps I should be even more worried. Not about people who need to be protected from themselves, but about those who think that protecting idiots requires treating free and independent American citizens like idiots.
As far as I’m concerned, they’re running a racket. An idiotic racket, run by idiots acting on behalf of other idiots.
It’s not the idiots on the road I should be worried about.
LINGERING QUESTION: If talking on cell phones while driving is banned completely, might that spark another rebellious CB radio craze?