As someone in charge of workplace safety, you know it’s possible to create a new hazard by eliminating an old one — an unintended consequence. It appears that’s the case in Nevada where a new ban on using hand-held cell phones while driving went into effect this month.
Nevada’s new law outlaws touching a cell phone while driving. That makes it against the law to text or talk while using a hand-held phone, but you can use a hands-free one. (Retailers report sales of hands-free devices have increased substantially.)
The state’s Highway Patrol says it appears that most motorists are complying with the new law. But officers report another hazard has been created: Many drivers are now pulling onto the shoulders of busy highways to use their hand-held phones.
Nevada Highway Patrol spokesman Chuck Allen told the Las Vegas Review Journal that shoulders are meant for emergencies only and pulling onto them could be dangerous for drivers, particularly at night.
That fact was included in a newspaper editorial. We’ll let the Review Journal take it from there:
“Well, duh. If the phone rings and it’s a child who could be in trouble, or your employer is letting you know you’re needed back early from lunch, lawmakers thought we were all going to circle around for 15 minutes, looking for a safe residential side street on which to park before answering?
“Or maybe lawmakers might want to consider all the likely ramifications of their hundred-thousandth new law before racing to chisel it into the Nevada Revised Statutes.”
Does this unintended consequence make banning the use of cell phones while driving a bad idea? Or is it less hazardous to have more drivers parked on highway shoulders compared to having them answer their phones while driving? Let us know what you think in the comments below.