Cell phone bills don’t add up

Published 1:42 am Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Even as the government’s transportation safety experts recommended Tuesday that American drivers be banned from using portable electronic devices — including cell phones – while driving, Congress is considering a bill that would allow “robo calls” to go to cell phones.

Supporters of the “Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011,” H.R. 3035, include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Air Transport Association, as well as groups that represent bankers, mortgage lenders, college loan programs and debt collectors.

In letters to Congress, they claim H.R. 3035 is needed to “modernize” existing law by enacting “limited common-sense revisions to facilitate the delivery of time-sensitive consumer information to mobile devices, while continuing to protect wireless consumers from unwanted telemarketing calls.”

Supporters say the ability to make contact via a mobile phone is “critical” because so many people now use a wireless device as their primary or only means of phone communication.

Consumer groups oppose the bill and want Congress to kill it. They call it a dangerous proposal that could lead to more nuisance calls.

It seems ludicrous that Congress would approve this bill at the same time that the National Transportation Safety Board is advising them to prohibit the use of cell phones and other devices – except GPS – while driving, except in emergencies. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says distracted driving killed 3,092 people in 2010.

Certainly, mobile phone users need no more distractions. Congress should first prevent more nuisance calls before outlawing phone use while driving.