Friday, October 07, 2011

Texting - Should Behavior Be Legislated?

Well of course behavior is legislated all the time.  That's what laws are all about.  So a ban on texting while driving?

After hearing a report on the news last night where recent tests have found texting while driving is more dangerous than driving drunk, it makes me wonder about the disconnect.

I recalled reading that our state, one of only 16 that does not have a law against texting, missed the opportunity due to trying to make a law difficult to enforce, more difficult and the  legislative session ran out of time.

Thank you to our now U.S. House representative, Raul Labrador, for throwing a monkey wrench in the process.  I find it appalling that one man can hold the fate of legislation in his hands when the majority have ruled against him.

That being said, the problem still exists and studies continue.  The one reported in Car and Driver tested drivers' reactions while both sending and reading a text. Then they got them inebriated to the legal limit and tested their reaction times without texting.  The results found the reaction times worse while texting than being under the influence.  I don't know about you, but it scares the living daylights out of me.

I know texting is the latest fad that people of another generation seem not to be able to do without.  Even the penalties were to be no more than a slap on the wrist compared to a DUI.

Consider a first violation fine for texting of $50 versus a first DUI conviction of up to 6 months in jail, a $1000 fine, license suspended from 90 to 180 days with restrictions possible after 30 days plus the possibility of having to undergo alcohol evaluation and treatment.

There is definitely something out of whack here.  One is why police, fire and emergency workers would have been exempted.  Like they're better at it then we are?  They're enough of a menace on their cell phones.  As are the rest of us.  If a person is killed, they are dead.  Dead.  It doesn't matter if it was alcohol or texting related.  Dead.

When a group of sixth graders and their teachers research the subject and join with the AAA to support the ban, I have to wonder at the wisdom of one legislator in particular along with the others who tried to gut the legislation.  The school project  took place in 2010.

How many texting related accidents have occured since and how many ended as fatalities?  Difficult to enforce?  Only because the legislature wanted to make it such.  Toothless?  Only because the legislature wanted to make it such.

But the kids know, as does this old lady, you can't look down to text, or read one and watch the road at the same time.  As one twelve year old said, "People aren't going to stop unless it becomes a law."  Let me add, one with teeth in it.  Just in case law enforcement figures it out.

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