MT Legislature: CB Radios & Polish Sausages

Are you feeling safer on Montana’s highways already? A bill (House Bill 297) to ban texting while driving passed the second reading in the Montana House 52-48. It has to pass a third reading before heading to the Montana Senate.

If this bill passed, you’ll still be able to play with your “navigation devices” or your radios, CD players, cassette decks, 8-track players, etc.

It looks like the bill is silent about EWD (Eating While Driving). That is when you are distracted behind the wheel because you’re eating a cheeseburger, hamburger, French fries, or maybe a polish sausage. By the way when you travel across the state, I highly recommend the polish sausages from Town Pump – get plenty of napkins – nom, nom, nom…

Back in 2009 I wrote the following about the idea to ban texting and driving. I contend that distracted driving, probably started when the first car with an AM radio rolled off the assembly line:

All heck must have broken loose when vehicles started coming off the assembly line with AM radios way back when.

I guess that was before the government started invading our lives.

Then someone invented AM/FM radios. More buttons and more choices to take your mind off your primary duty, which is driving.

The old eight-track tapes had buttons to rewind or fast forward to your favorite song. And don’t forget those cassette tapes – they must have caused a stir. I had a 120 watt power booster with my Pioneer speakers and cassette deck. The power boosters had a jack for a microphone so we could sing along and hear ourselves over the speakers. My mind was not on the road, but on the song playing (and the girls in my car). Cheap Trick –Live at Budokan, sounded great with everyone singing along!

Now we have CD players, hook-ups for iPods, DVD players, satellite radios, etc., in vehicles.

How about the lady in my Garmin? She annoys me and takes my mind off driving when I miss a turn.

In the latest bill, the Associated Press (AP) reported that CB radios are OK to use while driving. This means the bandit (from Smokey and the Bandit) can still put the pedal to the metal when he drives the black Pontiac Trans Am across Montana on Interstate 90:

East bound and down, loaded up and truckin’
We’re gonna do what they say can’t be done
We’ve got a long way to go, and a short time to get there
I’m east bound, just watch ole bandit run

10-4 good buddy!

Although some contend the bill is about safety, it’s also about revenue. As the City of Great Falls has found, ticketing people for using cellphones while driving is a great way to increase revenue and to get the city out of the red. I believe first-time offenders receive $115 fine in Great Falls. If HB 297 is signed into law, fines will range from $50 to $200 according to the AP story.

I would like to see my elected representatives in Montana first get serious about getting drunk drivers off the road. It’s not uncommon to read a newspaper or watch TV in this state and see that some folks are getting caught for the third, fourth, or more times for drunk driving.

Montana has a reputation, not only for a having a bat-crap crazy legislature, but for also being soft on drunk drivers. They should at least attempt to fix the part about being soft on drunk driving.

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  1. Well said Mike, legislators do need to get serious about drunk driving. When people find out I’m from Montana, they typically reply, Oh, you’re from the Big Sky State, and I tell them about our old Wasting of a Natural Resource ticket back in the 70’s for driving over 55 mph and our current lack of drunk driving fines. Then I correct them and say, No, I’m from the Don’t Tell Me What To Do State. Oh and by the way, you forgot one other distraction…driving with your pet in your lap!

    • Thanks Barry. I should have added driving with the pet in your lap. When I was about 8 or 9 my parents and I were involved in a car crash because the lady was driving with a pet in her lap or in the front seat. She pulled out in front of us. After the wreck she was more worried about the dog than the people she had almost killed. -JmB

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