Our View: Ban cell phone use while driving in school zones

Don't phone in the zone

Driving and cells make dangerous mix around schools

Alaskans lawmakers have tried and failed to ban most cell phone use while driving. The evidence is overwhelming that cell phones and other electronic devices are a serious distraction behind the wheel. But the specter of Big Brother and the fact that cell phone use on the road is more common than traffic lights have conspired to thwart common sense.

When it comes to safe driving in school zones, however, even the most diehard libertarian should have no trouble with laws against cell phone use.

Sen. Kevin Meyer has introduced a short, simple bill that would allow municipalities and other local jurisdictions to make and enforce such laws. Senate Bill 123 allows cities to ban cell phone use while driving in school zones and on school property, with those zones and properties defined by state law.

Meyer's bill is not a blanket ban. The bill just spells out the authority of cities to pass a ban.

The need for the bill and the bans it allows should be clear to anyone familiar with the beginning or end of the day at any of our schools. Even an alert driver can be caught off guard in tight traffic and the scattershot circus of kids. Never mind the driver distracted by his or her phone. And the kind of driving done by those immersed in their phones is unsafe anywhere, but particularly around children.

This bill deserves swift passage and the governor's signature, with an effective date of immediately.

We invite you to read the Alaska Notebook by David Wight below, whose account should clinch the case for this bill.

BOTTOM LINE: Lawmakers should allow bans on cell phone use while driving in school zones.