Should The Government Shut Your Sound Off?

New legislation is trying to prevent runners and cyclists from using their electronic devices.

Written by: Mario Fraioli

This article appeared in yesterday’s New York Times. The piece calls attention to new legislation popping up in a number of states that aims to ban the use of electronic devices such as cell phones and iPods for walkers, runners, cyclists and drivers who are part of the traffic flow in a highly trafficked public place.

Is this a violation of basic civil rights?

“This is not government interference,” said New York state senator Hal Krueger. “This is more like saying, ‘You’re doing something that could be detrimental to yourself and others around you.’ ”

I couldn’t agree more. These legislation proposals are not an infringement on freedom. They’re simply (and unfortunately) a necessary reminder to use your common sense. And they’ve only become necessary because of of incidents where runners, walkers, cyclists and drivers alike have proven themselves incapable of using such devices without endangering themselves and/or others.

Not to place blame in any one particular direction, but when a runner gets killed by a falling tree because she couldn’t hear it tumbling toward her, that’s a problem. When a cyclist crashes his bike into the back of a car because he was texting his girlfriend, something needs to be done to reinforce the idea that texting while on two wheels isn’t good practice. And if a driver wipes out a group of runners on the side of the road because he was yelling into the phone, he should be punished. Yes, these are a one-in-a-million freak occurrences, but ones that have unfortunately occurred and could have been prevented with common sense.

Until common sense makes a comeback, however, measures need to be taken to dissuade walkers, runners, cyclists and drivers from putting themselves–and others–in harm’s way. Is being faced with a fine the solution? To be honest, I’m not sure how to answer that question. Let me know what you think on our forums.

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