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Thursday, June 7, 2007

What About a 2007 Carole Midgen No Driving Under Cell Phone Influence Act?

Posted By on Thu, Jun 7, 2007 at 10:22 AM

State Senator Carole Migden -- who’s facing Assemblyman Mark Leno in a contest to retain her seat this fall -- has had a lousy month. May 18 she bumped against a traffic barrier on I-80 and rear-ended a car on Highway 12, reportedly while under the influence of a cellular telephone. The flap won't die; the incident compelled Migden to reveal she’s taking Leukemia medication, giving up driving, and facing possible misdemeanor charges of recklessness.

Why doesn’t she turn this onus into a bonus, and sponsor legislation prohibiting drivers from driving while talking on the phone?

A 2006 law that will take force in 2008 will require the use of headsets, instead of hand-held devices. But that’s bogus; its’ the distracting mental gymnastics of conversation, not one-handed driving, that make cell-phones deadly. And I’ll let you in on a dirty secret: Migden was no worse than her peers when it comes to yapping on n a cell phone while driving.

As a journalist, I interview state legislators all the time, and often, they’re driving. I’ve even had assistants tell me, “Why don’t you call him in an hour. He does all his interviews while driving.” From what I can tell, that’s normal practice among state legislators in California, particularly the ones who make the trip from LA to Sacramento every week.

Now that Migden’s not a motorist, why doesn’t she lead the charge to turn state legislators from deadly death missiles driving unguided down the freeway because they’re thinking about how to respond to a journalist’s question -- to responsible drivers?

I put that question to Migden. She let it just whiz on by.

“You know, Joe Simitian passed a bill last year, Senator Joe Simitian, that will require as New York City does, hands free devices. I voted for it, I support it. And I will absolutely abide by it. And in addition, uh, you know, I have chosen not to drive,” she demurred. “I think there ought to be hands free devices, and we ought to insist upon it. And I stand affirmatively behind that quest.” -- Matt Smith

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Matt Stroud


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