Opposed to location of more cell towers in San Juan County

A few of our County Council members are determined to help out the enormous U.S. wireless industry by drafting a new ordinance that makes it easier to locate cell towers in tiny San Juan County.

Bad idea, County Council!

Improving cell phone service is essentially a form of manslaughter. New data and studies show that texting and talking on cell phones are turning our roads into a bloodbath. The National Safety Council calculated that at least 1.6 million crashes are caused each year by texting and talking on cell phones — that’s 28 percent of all traffic accidents, more than 10,400 killed.

From 2001-07, cell phones caused 16,000 deaths on U.S. roads alone. This may be only the tip of the iceberg – until cell phone records are routinely subpoenaed in accident investigations, we will not know the full extent of the carnage. Worse yet, the new laws prohibiting phone use while driving are having no effect. They may even be causing drivers to deny and hide their phone use, again obscuring the full extent of the problem.

The saddest part of this story is that most of the people killed and permanently disabled by cell phone caused accidents are young – mostly younger than 30 and predominately teens. That’s not to say that older law-abiding drivers can relax; you or someone you love could be the target of one of these speeding bolides with a texting teen at the wheel.

The wireless industry spends billions on advertising and so it’s not surprising that people now don’t feel “safe” without cell phone service. The human mind is no match for a well-crafted propaganda campaign. But as long as we are compelled to drive motor vehicles, cell phone service will shorten far more lives than it prolongs. To put it another way, cell phones do save lives, but not nearly as many as they ruin.

The best thing any community can do for its young people is to strictly regulate cell tower and antenna placement. Federal law gives us this right, and we should use it!

Steve Ludwig
Lopez Island