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Letter: Cellphones are essential in cars

This file image shows someone texting while driving.

This file image shows someone texting while driving. (July 26, 2013) Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

A letter writer suggested that we use technology to make cellphones inactive while cars are moving, to reduce accidents caused by drivers who text ["Block cellphone access while driving," Sept. 21]. Someone once said that for every complex problem there is a solution that is simple, obvious . . . and completely wrong. Such is the case here.

Cellphones certainly have their downsides, and texting while driving is one of them, but what this proposal overlooks are the advantages of having a cellphone in the car.

People use cellphones for so much more than texts and phone calls. Smartphones can provide accurate GPS directions and up-to-date traffic information. Many use their devices to stream music on long car rides, avoiding the need to frequently find new stations on the radio -- also a distraction. Neither of these functions would work if cellphones were jammed.

We also need to keep in mind that pulling to the side of the road is not always a safe thing to do. Drunk or sleepy drivers drift onto shoulders of busy highways. And what about emergency calls? What happens when someone is being pursued by an attacker and wants to call for help? Should he or she pull over and stop to call 911?

This is a difficult problem, but jamming cellphones is not the answer.

Michael Melgar, Great Neck