Drivers on military installations are no longer allowed to talk on their cell phones while operating a moving vehicle unless the driver is using the phone’s hands-free device. No device, no usage, unless parked.

This policy is part of the Department of Defense's Joint Traffic Guidance and also applies to all government owned vehicles at all times, whether on base or off.

Many municipalities across the nation are beginning to recognize this growing problem by passing ordinances to correct it in various ways. And not a moment too soon!

Everybody and their dog has a cell phone these days and not only has telephone etiquette suffered, but lives endangered as well. Everyday across the nation, thousands of thoughtless gabbers drive along streets and highways paying more attention to their conversation than rules of the road… while those of the same mindset walk across public streets and parking lots gabbing away on their cell phone, oblivious to automobile traffic hazards all around them.

It isn’t just teenagers, either, although that group probably leads the parade in filling space with inane conversation. Apparently there are a lot of lonesome or unsure individuals of all ages everywhere who need to talk with someone even if they have nothing to say and would endanger their lives to say it. Perhaps some of them are talking with their psychiatrist - or should be.

The seeming universal lack of consideration by these gabbers is bad enough in traffic, but downright annoying to all those within earshot of their conversations in public places. There is enough noise pollution without this ever-increasing assault on the world’s first listen device - the human ear. What did all these people do before cell phones came along? Stay home?

The Defense Department's joint traffic document states:

“Vehicle operators on a DOD Installation and operators of Government owned vehicles shall not use cell phones unless the vehicle is safely parked or unless they are using a hands-free device.

“The wearing of any other portable headphones, earphones or other listening devices (except for hand-free cellular phones) while operating a motor vehicle is prohibited. Use of those devices impairs driving and masks or prevents recognition of emergency signals, alarms, announcements, the approach of vehicles, and human speech.

DOD component safety guidance should note the potential for driver distractions such as eating and drinking, operating radios, CD players, global positioning equipment, etc. Whenever possible this should only be done when the vehicle is safely parked.”

Using a cell phone while driving without a hands-free device will be considered a “primary offense.” This means violators can be stopped solely for this offense.

Drivers who violate this cell phone driving restriction will be given three assessment points against their driving records or an appropriate fine. Drivers should be aware that if two or more violations are committed, even on a single occasion, a ticket may be given to the driver for each violation.