HomeMt Laurel NewsIn our opinion: Get off your phone!

In our opinion: Get off your phone!

Controversy surrounds almost every bill that is proposed at the state government level. If the actual effects of the bill don’t come in question, then the partisanship of it, or the motivation behind it, are often scrutinized.

But a bill that was proposed recently by state Sen. Richard Codey doesn’t fit into that category, at least in the world according to us.

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Codey’s bill would expand New Jersey’s distracted driving law to include drivers who are temporarily stopped — whether in a traffic jam, red light or stop sign. Basically, it would ban all use of a cell phone while a person is seated in the driver’s seat of a vehicle. The bill would also require the written driver’s test to include questions on distracted driving.

When explaining his position on the bill, Codey referred to the state’s DUI law: “If you’re at a red light and you’re drunk, you’re DUI,” he said.

Makes perfect sense to us. Drivers can be distracted, and cause major accidents, even if they are temporarily stopped. How many times have you seen other drivers — because you’ve never done this, right? — hurriedly accelerate at a light after they realize, when they look up from their phone, that the light has turned green? Situations like this can cause accidents.

Opponents of the bill, if they can be considered this, are saying that the true motives behind the bill are questionable. Even Codey admitted to this, at least partially, saying that the real aim of the bill is to put New Jersey in line with federal standards for the Distracted Driving Grant Program. Currently, the state’s law isn’t in line with these standards, so it doesn’t qualify for grants.

To that, we say: Who cares?

Who cares if the motive behind enhancing New Jersey’s distracted driving law is to receive federal grant money? That money would be put to use to educate and discourage people from driving distracted.

It’s not Codey’s fault, or the Legislature’s fault, that the federal government requires certain standards to receive grant money. Since that money will go to good use, we should do what is necessary to get it.

The only thing that should matter here is the safety of those on the road, and this bill enhances that safety.

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