There may indeed be an insurmountable barrier to preventing the use of cell phones use while driving, but the need to make any legitimate emergency calls is not it. It is a trivial matter to exempt calls to911 or the state police via *77 (or whatever code is used in each state) from any ban on making calls while in motion. Such calls would be so few and far between that they would not be worth worrying about.
For those that believe that the government has no legitimate role in limiting the personal conduct of it's citizens, even if that conduct is jeapordizing other citizens, then you needn't worry. Most legislators are just as self centered as many of the people they allegedly serve, [so] effective bans on cell phone use in moving vehicles will never be enacted unless the legislators can find some easy way to exempt themselves. The proof of that is in the quick rush to ban the texting that most of them don't do and the passage of "feel good" hands-free requirements that do not address the distraction of the call itself.
How about this for a compromise. Throw out all regulation of cell phone use while driving, but make any death caused by a driver who was using a cell phone at the time of the collision "Statutory Murder by reason of Depraved Indifference to the safety of others". No ducking and dodging available here because the people who believe that they are not part of the problem could not in all decency object to the state punishing those who are. If the way you drive when you are using a cell phone is not part of the problem you would be unaffected because they would never be involved in an accident while operating a cell phone and driving.
For good measure, we add in a statutory presumption, under the "Last Clear Chance" doctrine of tort law, that anyone involved in a collision while using a cell phone is presumptavly at fault and the cell phone use constitutes gross negligence, thus piercing the no fault laws in states that have them, and the remedy is then focused solely on the persons who are causing the colisions. Do not cry foul, though, when insurance carriers walk away from the cell phone user's loss claim, because it is a legal absurdity to expect them to pay for wanton or grossly negligent actions.
I will continue to hope that the carnage that cell phone use is causing, that I have personally seen as just one rescue worker, will be stopped. Perhaps [the solution] will have to come in the form of staggering "Dangerous Product" judgments against cell phone service providers that will make their liability insurers run for cover. Once the cell phone service providers are directly exposed to the possibility of huge judgments they will find a way to stop the use of their service while in high speed motion without any legislative action being required.
-- Tom Horne, speaking only for himself***** Moderator's Note *****
My brother is a first-responder who has dedicated his life to helping those in need. As such, I accord him a certain lattitude in the tone of his posts on this subject.
Bill Horne Moderator