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Columnist, Sheila Moss, is humor writer from  Tennessee. She writes  a weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny things that happen to everyone.

   She has written for  the Daily News of Kingsport,   Griffin Journal, Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton Advocate,  and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. She has been published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks at Guidepost Books.  Her articles have appeared in numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.

    She is a former board member and past  Editor of  the, website of  the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the oldest and largest professional organization for columnists. She is the Web Editor of Southern  and  a founder of the Southern Humorists writers' organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of

    To carry her weekly column in your newspaper, or to republish an article, please contact her. It's that easy. 

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Call Me Later

I was shocked the other day when the Tennessee Senate passed a bill to ban teenagers from talking on cell phones while driving. No talking on cell phones? Why you might as well try to stop them from wanting a driverís license or watching music videos! Who in the world can stop a teenager from talking on the phone, or doing anything theyíve got their mind set on doing? 

Such an unenforceable bill borders on the ridiculous. Not only that, but it discriminates against a segment of the population because they are young! Oh, excuse me, it isnít discrimination because they are under legal age and it is "for their own good."

It makes you wonder if politicians were ever teenagers or if it has just been so long ago that they no longer remember? Back when I was young, cell phones and even cordless phones did not exist. (Iím telling my age here, so just forget this part after you read it.) 

We had only the good old, standard telephone fastened to the wall with a 15 foot cord so that it could be stretched to the closest closet or bathroom where the door could be closed, and we could engage in our private conversation away from the prying ears of parents or (ug!) siblings. We spent marathon hours talking on the phone to friends and it was all part of becoming socialized, feeling accepted, growing up.

Maybe our lawmakers never had the thrill of talking on the phone for hours unending, while lying on the floor with feet on the furniture. Maybe they never spent infinite hours just waiting for the phone to ring. Maybe they never called a friend and then held on to the phone for ages talking about nothing, just because they wanted to feel a connection. The love affair between teenagers and telephone is a long-standing, time-honored tradition.

Cell phones are the modern day replacement for the 15-foot cord. Take away the kids cell phones? Why they might as well pass a law to take away the senior prom, rock music, or the Friday night football game. 

We donít take away the senior prom because kids can abuse it and get in trouble, do we? We try to teach kids to use responsibility while engaging in activities. What sort of mixed message do we send when we hand them the car keys with one hand, and take away the cell phone with the other?

If you want to be fair, admit that adults on cell phones are not safe drivers either. But if a law was passed against adults using cell phones, they might retaliate and vote politicians out of office. Or they might circle the State Capitol calling the legislators on their cell phones and honking horns, in true Tennessee protest fashion - and then vote 'em out of office. So let's just pick on kids that are too young to vote and blame them for the ills of the highway.

If the kids are considered old enough to drive a motor vehicle in the first place, then they should be considered old enough to have the responsibility that comes with it. Iím not opposed to safety on the roads, but this is not the way to obtain it. 

If they want to help us be safer, why not lower the 70-mph breakneck speed limit? Why not crack down on the Tennessee driverís license test that, as every one knows, is scarcely a driving test at all. Why not post some public service messages to educate the general public on how to drive without tailgating and how to using signal lights. Why not encourage courtesy to other drivers on the roads instead of promoting "watch out for the other guy" mentality.

Like everyone else, teenagers may not always be able to pull to the side of the road or re enter traffic safely when the phone rings. How many people have never used their cell phone while driving? Thatís what they are for, isnít it? They are a convenience, a way to keep in touch when we are away from a regular phone, a way to get directions, a way to say we will be late for an appointment, a way to let people know where we are, a way to be available if someone needs us. Teenagers need to stay in touch too.

The absurdity of saying someone is responsible enough to have a license to drive a high powered, fast speed machine but not responsible enough to use a cell phone is simply ludicrous. Does anyone besides me see the paradox? Iíll bet the passage of this preposterous bill will not lower teenage accident rates one whit. 

Why donít we quit wasting time on pseudo solutions for multi-faceted problems, concentrate on traffic laws that make sense, and stop picking on kids!

Copyright 2001 Sheila Moss

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