Should Amateur (Ham) Radio Operators Submit to Distracted Driving Laws?
Should ham radio operators be treated as cell phone users and ticked for using their radios in the car?
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Unlike cell phones, radios are simple devices with big buttons. While looking at the road, you grab this big dangling mic thing (think truck driver saying “breaker breaker one-niner, little buddy”), in the same way you would grab your big travel mug, and start talking into it, much like how you talk to your travel mug when it dribbles down your chin when you misalign the hole where the coffee comes out and pour down your nose and cheekbone while scalding yourself.
So, unless you would like to start ticketing coffee-drinking commuters and fining them like a down town parking meter maid then I suggest you go and find better things to do with your time, oh wonderful law enforcers of the world. The guy texting may be a better target and if I got caught texting and driving I wouldn’t argue the ticket.
The main issue is this: ham radio operators, if you take away their mobile communications, take away most of the value. If/when the entire communications system goes down, mobile ham radio operators will be a big part in emergency communications. What I see happening now is that radio operators are simply not bringing their radios to the car or not using it while in the car. They don’t want to risk the ticket. So they are also losing contact with each other and the entire community is taking a hit as a result.
Although it’s not technically illegal, the police officers don’t seem to know that. Here is a story I wrote a while back about my experience.
These fine chaps from the Delta, BC Radio club have taken the ‘political approach’. You know, like trying to do the right thing. That’s fine if you have time to do so and great for trying. However, the problem now is that neither police officer nor licensed hams know exactly what the law says about it.
Unless there is a concerted effort to properly train police officers in every district to not only stop bothering hams, but actually encourage them, I’m not very optimistic about the future of ham radio as it is. Perhaps that’s a good thing though. Perhaps the ham community needs to find new and interesting ways to build community…