Keep cell phones out of air travel

And the award for the Dumbest Argument About Cell Phones goes to…(the

envelope, please)…Whether bans on their use on airliners should

continue.

That’s right, there are people who feel put upon if they can’t

keep their cell phones glued to their ear during commercial flights, even if

the devices could cause a crash.

During a recent U.S. House committee

hearing on the issue, two congressmen who apparently have too much time to

think said that, contrary to what safety officials say, there is no good reason

to require passengers to turn off cell phones, laptop computers, hand-held

video games and pagers during all or part of a flight.

A Federal Aviation

Administration official testified in the same hearing that while there is no

hard proof that the electronic gadgetry poses a safety risk by interfering with

aircraft signals, “we are preventing the extremely remote event.”

But Rep.

John Duncan (R-Tenn.) said the public believes airlines just want to force

passengers to use the on-board cell phones that are mounted on the backs of

seats. Those phones, added Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), give “really rotten

service” and are “unbelievably expensive. We have to provide a viable

alternative.”

Here’s an alternative: No phones, period. Cell phone use in

public can be a scourge. Except in a case of life or death, people should be

able to make it through a flight without being in immediate contact with the

ground. Surely there can be somewhere that cell phones don’t ring and their

users don’t talk loudly. Airlines should draw that line at the passenger cabin

door.

More importantly, with even a small chance that an aircraft and its

passengers and crew could be in danger because a cell phone is messing with the

plane’s radio transmissions or other operations, everyone involved should

err—if that’s the right word—on the side of caution. That shouldn’t even be

open to debate.

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