Opinion

No sense in city regulating common sense

Let's set all civil liberties aside. Democracy? Bah, humbug. Common sense? Who needs it when there are those who are so willing to regulate it?

The next time you are driving through North Bend, leave your common sense at the city-limit sign. In fact, I would support building storage lockers at the city-limit signs. There could be neon signs that blink, "Check your common sense here."

Why am I so concerned about common sense? Well it seems that the North Bend City Council has decided the rest of us have none. What is even more impressive is council members have decided to think for us and pass an ordinance that makes inattentive driving unlawful.

So here is the deal: If you are caught reading; writing; consuming food, beverages or tobacco; changing garments; using a mobile phone, AM, FM or CB radios, audio or video cassette players, compact disc players, televisions or any other audio or video devices, pagers, portable computers, two-way radios, radar detectors, personal digital assistants, geographic positioning system (GPS) receivers or similar devices; applying make-up, shaving, combing hair, or attending to other forms of personal grooming; or interacting with passengers or pets when committing a traffic infraction, you could face up to a $300 fine.

Wow, it is impressive that such a list of inattentive driving items exists, let alone in a North Bend ordinance. Since the ordinance seems to go to extremes, let's think of some extreme examples of things we shouldn't do in North Bend.

First and foremost, tuck your gum behind your ear. It can be distracting and is likely considered eating. I'm sure it will be easy for some council members to point out that I have a hard time chewing gum and doing anything else at the same time.

Remember to turn off that CD player in town. Heaven forbid if you have Angus Young bellowing out "Highway to Hell" as you pass a sheriff (or council member).

Let's assume, for a second, that you are lost in North Bend. Never fear, you just purchased a $2,000 GPS system, and it can tell you where to go with the flick of a switch.

Stooooooppppppppp! Don't flick that switch while in motion. It could cost you $300. Better wait until you hit the city limits because it's still possible to get in an accident, even while sitting in the QFC parking lot. And if the other person involved in your accident happened to see you looking at a GPS system for directions, you can bet they will want you to take the fall.

But there are a few confusing points to the ordinance. With two-way radios falling under the guise of inattentive-driving trinkets, would it be safe to assume that all emergency service vehicles will turn off their radios as they pass through town? Will the fire truck have to wait until it hits a city limit sign to get directions to its call? What about that state trooper with the laptop, trying to bring up warrants on someone he pulled over in town?

I guess the whole thing seems a bit ridiculous. When will government learn that it cannot regulate and police trivial, common-sense tasks? Maybe the whole thing was a publicity ploy, since its been all over the Associated Press and several radio stations.

Let's put this thing back on the agenda and get it thrown out. There are more important issues at hand than worrying about me chewing gum as I drive through town.

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