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Cell phones, driving and The Law: A slightly different perspective

police car at nightThe combination of cell phones and driving is a hot button issue these days, and well it should be. My research indicates that cell phone- related crash statistics are sketchy at best but it seems that almost everyone agrees talking on a cell phone while driving can quickly lead to tragedy. I have a cell phone and it remains turned completely off and in its case when I'm driving. Other people have different opinions on the subject and I'm not here to chastise them for their choices.

What got my gander up today, and caused me to call my local police dispatcher was that I witnessed one of Park Falls, Wisconsin's finest, talking on her cell phone while on duty, driving, and one handedly navigating a dangerous curve.

Now, I understand that most police officers are well trained in the arts of specialized driving tactics but does that really make them any more adept at driving one handed? I honestly doubt it. Also, if you saw the curve which I'm referring to, you yourself might take pause to wonder. It's not your average 90 degree flat pavement turn, and she was driving a full sized Ford Expedition, not your average police cruiser.

I can get past the fact that she was talking on the phone while driving. I can assume she has above average driving skills. I can suppose she has practiced for many long hours driving single handed. I can even assume she was on break, But there's just one more little thing that I'm miffed about. I don't know about you, but I had always considered that one of the things I pay my police officers for is their skills of observation. My instructors taught me that well trained eyes and ears are what good police work is mainly based upon. Can talking on a cell phone while driving impair a police officer's ability to observe? I'd bet my life on it.

I find it troubling that the Park Falls PD has no policy regarding its officers and their cell phone use while driving. At least that's what the dispatcher told me. She defended the officer's actions, stating that they might need to get in touch with their officers by calling them on their cell phones. I didn't have the heart to remind her that generally, police cruisers have two way radios in them which work very nicely for paging police officers with important information. I'm willing to bet that's the way Park Falls routinely communicates with its police officers, especially when they're behind the wheel.

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