By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – This is it, the start of the summer driving season, when everybody hits the road, cell phone firmly in hand. And inevitably, the coming months will bring multiple stories of accidents and – tragically – fatalities caused by drivers distracted by their phones.

Sixteen states already ban cell phone use by drivers. A similar ban here would improve safety and enhance enforcement of the existing ban on texting while driving. But a cell phone ban has failed to pass the Legislature in each of the past two years.

Keep in mind, the state Senate has voted for a ban, Governor Baker backs it, and so do up to 80-percent of local residents, support that cuts across party lines.

So what exactly is the hold up?

According to the Boston Globe, House Speaker Robert DeLeo has said many of his members are worried that a cell phone ban would lead to racial profiling of Hispanic and black drivers, and there’s no doubt that’s a problem. But the ban that passed the Senate required data collection to deal with those concerns.

So again, we ask, what is the problem?

Here’s one suggestion – look at the failure of the Legislature to pass tougher restrictions on senior drivers, despite ample evidence that some of them can and do pose a safety risk. Seniors are a powerful special interest, and their lobbyists have made their disapproval clear.

My guess is too many lawmakers see how popular cell phone use behind the wheel is, and don’t want to risk a backlash from banning it. Profiles in courage, they are not.

Talk back to me via email at keller@wbztv.com, or use Twitter, @kelleratlarge.

Comments (2)
  1. As long as using a cell phone behind the wheel is a secondary offence, little will change.

    Just look at the rate of compliance in states that do have cell-phone bans.

    A far more efficient way would be to require auto manufacturers to block all transmissions to and from a cell phone except to emergency numbers from the driver’s position. The technology to do this is available

    That keeps them from being functional from the seat that needs its attention elsewhere.

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