Should Cell Phones be Banned

February 23, 2018

by Donna Krecklow

On February 14, 2018, 17 teens and adults were mercilessly gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  Fourteen others were wounded.  This is a senseless and wanton waste of life and is condemned in the strongest possible terms.  This issue needs to be addressed and it needs to be fixed.

In the week since that shooting, according to the National Safety Council, an estimated 88 teenagers have died as a result of using a cell phone  while driving; 11 each and every day.  Additionally, Teen drivers are 4x more likely than adults to get into car crashes or near-crashes when talking or texting on a cell phone.

A teen driver with only one additional passenger doubles the risk of getting into a fatal car accident. With two or more passengers, they are 5x as likely.

According to a AAA poll, 94% of teen drivers acknowledge the dangers of texting and driving, but 35% admitted to doing it anyway.

21% of teen drivers involved in fatal accidents were distracted by their cell phones.

You can read the full research paper here;

On October 17, 2017, Bloomburg News published an article entitled ‘Smartphones Are Killing Americans, But Nobody’s Counting.’  The article points out the correlation between increased cell phone use and traffic deaths.  Pedestrians fared the worst with an increase in car/pedestrian fatalities up 22% from 2014 to 2016.

Likewise, fatalities involving bicycles and motorcycles are up by over 15%.  The full report can be viewed here:

Part of the statistical problem is the under-reporting of cell phone involvement in motor vehicle accidents and deaths.  Not everyone is going to volunteer that they had been using their cell phone when they ran over Grandma in the crosswalk.  Also, many investigators look for quantifiable reasons such as alcohol or drugs.  There are no breathalyzers for cell phone usage.  If investigations were standardized and cell phone usage analyzed, the incident of cell phone usage contributing to traffic fatalities would likely be even higher.  Remember that statistic quoted above;  11 teenagers die each and every day due to the use of a cell phone while driving. That equates to over 4000 teens yearly. And bear in mind, the 11 daily deaths are only counting teenagers – there are more in other demographics.

My question is where is the cry of outrage over these needless deaths?  Why are parents and teenagers not marching in the streets to demand that cell phones be banned – that ‘something’ needs to be done to prevent this tragic loss of life?  Most states have laws against texting and driving, teens know this, but they do it anyway.  Seems the only sure and certain way to stop the carnage is to ban cell phones all together.  Is your phone more important than a teenager’s life?  Is it more important that you post on Instagram or send a Tweet than it is to protect our young people?  Why are we not marching against Apple and blaming them for this slaughter of young people? Perhaps teens should be marching for “Never Again” regarding cell phone usage.

I offer a quote from the previously referenced Bloomberg article:  “I use the cocktail party example,” he explained. “If you’re at a cocktail party and say, ‘I was so hammered the other day, and I got behind the wheel,’ people will be outraged. But if you say the same thing about using a cell phone, it won’t be a big deal. It is still acceptable, and that’s the problem.”

Here’s the thing: People don’t want to get rid of their cell phones so they ignore the data and say that’s just the way it is.  Yes, we pass laws against distracted driving, yet the deaths continue to rise.  Because it is one or two at a time rather than 17 in one fell swoop makes it no less tragic.  Are those 11 lives lost each day less important because they died in a different manner?  One might callously say it was the fault of the one using the cell phone while driving; they knew the risks.  But it is not always the driver who pays the price.  It is the young mother on the way to the grocery store that dies when a teenager veers into her lane and hits her head on.  It is the young child that gets run over while crossing the street in front of his school.  It is the bicyclist on their way to work who is mowed down by a distracted driver.  All of these are just as tragic as the young people who so needlessly died in Florida.

It seems to be that the political agenda loves cell phones but hates guns.  Yes, guns can be used to kill and it is usually by design that they do so.  It is tragic and messy and something reported on by the news media.  It is something one can rage about and march against and scream invectives against all those who own guns.  Guns are not pretty and sexy like cell phones are.

But the public loves their cell phones.  It would not be popular to come out against cell phones and call for their ban.  It would not promote a political agenda to call for the banning of cell phones.  It would not make the politician look noble nor advance their cause. So we just forget about those 11 daily teenage deaths and pretend that it is just the way things are.

I am not saying that we dismiss the talk of gun control – it is a conversation that needs to happen.  What I am saying is there is a great hypocrisy at the heart of the matter, primarily to promote a political agenda.  It is easy and makes one feel good to march in the streets and scream against guns and the NRA, when in fact, no NRA member has ever been involved in a mass shooting.  It makes one feel that something is being accomplished when in truth, the only thing that’s going to change is perhaps a more restrictive law that law abiders will submit to but homicidal shooters will ignore.

Focusing the discussion on gun control takes the focus away from the real causes of the mass shooting tragedy.  Society is broken, and guns didn’t break it.

My husband went to school in Klamath Falls, OR in the early 1960s. The cool guys all drove pick-up trucks and the really cool ones, had gun racks in the rear window.  They would drive those trucks to school, rifles in the racks, park them in the parking lot and no one thought a thing of it.  No one bothered someone else’s gun and no one shot up the school.  I grew up in a family that had guns and my Dad made sure each of the children knew what a gun was for, how to load it, how to shoot it, and how NOT to mishandle it.  We never shot another person!!

So what changed?  We still have people and guns and now it is becoming increasingly popular to say the two don’t mix.  Guns haven’t changed all that much – you still put ammunition in, aim, and shoot, but people have changed.  And that is where the problem lies.

When we focus just on guns and ignore people, we are skirting the biggest part of the issue.  It is people who need help: It is society that is broken.  We need to focus on what brings these shooters to the point where they feel the need to open fire and kill as many individuals as possible.  There are so many causes that they cannot be all addressed in this small essay, but here’s the Reader’s Digest version as I see it.

We have failed our children.  We start when they are barely out of diapers, enrolling them in pre-school, and pre-pre school and push them to learn academics when they should be learning social interaction.  In a study of the Head Start program released December 18, 2012, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that while there were positive effects on students immediately after completing the Head Start program, those benefits largely disappeared by 3rd grade.  You can read about that study here:

Some parents in New York pay up to $36K dollars to send their kids to fancy pre-schools, when the child would ultimately be better off at home with his/her parents.  Parents increasingly abdicate their responsibilities to schools, babysitters, and extended family members rather than taking the time and effort to raise their own children and provide a consistent environment for that child.  Of course I realize many parents must work to put food on the table and a roof over their heads – I could go off on that as well – but many parents work just to have that vacation home, RV, big TV, etc.  We no longer differentiate between needs and wants.

Then we enroll small children in competitive sports programs where everyone gets a trophy regardless of effort.  It’s a shock to their little minds when they find out the real world doesn’t work that way.  That escalates into real competition where coaches and parents yell at the children, and each other, and sometimes come to fisticuffs over a children’s game.  We worship professional sports icons who are paid a fortune for playing a GAME, and ignore their anti-social behavior in favor of winning the game. What does this teach our children and what kind of pressure does this put on them? The children would be better served playing a pick-up game in a vacant lot where they could interact with their peers without adult interference and learn needed lessons about give and take and social interaction. (I am not saying all organized sports are bad but it can be a major factor in childhood stress and in teaching the wrong values by some.)

Follow these children now into the class room where God has been removed and children are taught that the Earth is the new god.  Those who come from a household of faith are forbidden to speak of it, yet many schools teach the Five Pillars of Islam as part of social studies.  They no longer salute the flag or sing the National Anthem.  They are taught that America is bad, and if you think otherwise you are a bigot.  The children are not taught that we are all one nation but rather a nation of (fill in the blank) dash Americans.  It is okay to be proud of your heritage unless you are white and then you need to be ashamed of your race – as if any of us can help how we are born.  They are sliced and diced and divided at every turn and then expected not to bully those who do not share their particular set of beliefs or ethnicity.  In the name of equality, they are taught to disrespect (dare I say, hate) those who do not follow the liberal agenda.  Do these children believe their parents, their church, or their school? Since they spend most of their day at school and they want to fit in with their peers, guess who wins?  Confused children – you bet.

Here’s another simple example that has far reaching implications.  I was in grade school in the 1950s.  We went to school about 6 hours a day, had two 30 minute recesses daily, plus 30-45 minutes for lunch.  We also had a snack in the morning and in the afternoon and the lower grades actually pulled out mats and rolled them out on the floor for a 15 minute rest period every day.  We had a few class clowns and some disruptive behavior but nothing like you see today.  If a child acted up, they stood in the corner or went to the principal’s office.  Then when they got home, they were disciplined again by their parents.  Now the disrupters are put on psychotropic drugs, and the teachers are afraid to discipline them.  Standing in the corner is degrading and children openly defy the school’s authority.  So at risk children, in this case ADHD, are glued to their chairs being force fed facts they cannot assimilate, taking tests that have little meaning, bullied by other children, and, since teachers no longer have the time to deal with them, these children are put on drugs at an early age – yeah, something is going to blow up sooner or later.  This is just one aspect of the failure of society towards our children.  We could go into video games, gangsta rap, lewd books and movies, Hollywood’s insane body image portrayal, absentee dads, lack of respect for life, loss of parental involvement, lack of discipline, and on it goes.

Our children are taught that truth is relative and that you can create your own reality.  Under proposed Regulation 225 in Delaware, schools would let children as young as 5 years old chose their own race and gender – and that without parental consent or knowledge.  Here’s the reference:

Can we get any more insane?  When children are taught that reality is what you decide it is, when facts are irrelevant, and truth is non-existent, how can we expect them to grow into young people that make sound decisions?  If there is no God, if only my wants matter, if I cannot deal with reality but can live in a fantasy and be told it is reality, then why not shoot up a school if someone makes me mad?  Is it real or is it all just a game that needs to be played out in the fantasy that each person can choose for themselves?  Is it any wonder our children are depressed, suicidal, homicidal, and have lost their grasp on reality?

But right now we need to focus on making our kids safe in school.  The rest can, and no doubt will be, debated ad nauseum like it always is, with very few positive results.  Any changes will take an inordinate amount of time to pass and implement.  Why would anyone object to giving our school children the same protections we offer to airline passengers or Hollywood stars on the red carpet?  It would not take much effort to hire retired military and police officers to become armed guards at schools.  Putting out a “Gun Free Zone” poster is like saying “sic ‘em” to a dog!  Why would a gunman be hesitant to invade a space where he knows there is no one to shoot back?  If congressmen can have armed guards, if movie stars and sports figures can have armed guards, why do we advertise our children as being unguarded and easy targets?  Makes no sense.  If all the congress members who are crying about gun control, and all the Hollywood people and sports figures repositioned their bodyguards to local schools, then I might believe they cared.

Gun control is a political agenda first and foremost and using a tragedy like Florida to advance that agenda is unconscionable.  Don’t ever forget the 11 children that die every day due to cell phone use!  One at a time or 17 at a time – the tragedy is equal even if one is never reported.

Guns and cell phones are both tools.  In the wrong hand, either one can cause death and destruction.  Quit blaming the inanimate object.