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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Hands free is not the answer.

I just saw this story on the web. Unfortunately, I do not agree with Senator Tracey Eide saying that hands free devices would make things safer. The problem is not the phone, it is the conversation that distracts the driver.

THURSTON COUNTY - A new effort is being launched to ban driving with hand-held cell phones.

This comes in the wake of Wednesday's fatal crash on I-5 where troopers believe the driver may have been distracted by her cell phone.
State troopers say Judi Dallman, 39, of Chehalis veered across the center divider on I-5 south of Olympia Wednesday afternoon.

Dallman's car went right in the path of 46-year-old Dorothy Lantz of Rochester. Both women were killed.

Investigators believe Dallman may have been using her cell phone.
The news brings back bitter memories for Laura Rhoades. She lost her two daughters, Jennifer and Jessica, in a cell phone related accident.

"When I heard what happened yesterday it brought back flashbacks of what happened to us five years ago. I just can't imagine what either of their families are going through." This is the first time she's ever spoken publicly about what happened.

But others have spoken loudly about the need for restrictions on cell phones for drivers.
State Sen. Tracey Eide (D-Federal Way) has been trying to get legislation passed for several years that would ban the use of handheld cell phones requiring drivers to use hands-free phones or face a $35 ticket.

"It's a safety issue. We all have cell phones. I want to save your lives," the senator said at the hearing in 2002.

Laura hopes this passes so drivers "wouldn't be distracted on the road and that driving would be made safer so that this wouldn't happen like what happened to our family or this recent accident."

Laura says her family's strong faith has moved them passed bitterness. They want to focus on the memory of their two beautiful daughters and pray that no other family has to go through what they've endured.

Investigators are still checking the exact cause of Wednesday's accident, but they say the driver had her phone book on her lap and the cell phone was found next to the car. No matter what they find, Sen. Eide says she'll be reintroducing her bill this next session

I do agree with the need for better driver education and safer drivers. But requiring hands free devices is not going to make things any better. It does not do a driver any good to keep his hands on the wheel if that person's mind is not on the road.


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