Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Communications United States Handhelds Hardware

State Bans Texting While Driving 329

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the safr-4-u dept.
netbuzz writes "The state of Washington yesterday became the first in the nation to ban text-messaging while driving. The law could use sharper teeth, but it's a natural and necessary progression of the movement to clamp down on those who find the need to constantly communicate more important than the safety of their fellow travelers."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

State Bans Texting While Driving

Comments Filter:
  • by Antony-Kyre (807195) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @10:21AM (#19095511)
    Whatever happened to common sense?
    • by MoonFog (586818) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @10:26AM (#19095557)
      The problem with texting while driving is that it usually put OTHERS in danger because your driving will be affected. Common sense is not so common unfortunately, and texting while driving does not only affect you, but also others around you.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Antony-Kyre (807195)
        Washingtonians should know they shouldn't text and drive. Page 20 in the PDF file (page number on the paper, not the PDF viewer's page number). Notice how "hands" is plural.

        http://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/driverguide.p df [wa.gov]

        You should have clear vision in all directions, all controls should be within reach, and at least one-third of the steering wheel should be between your hands.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Skater (41976)
          So no one drives a stick in WA?
        • by glenstar (569572) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @11:15AM (#19095891)
          I used to think most drivers had at least a modicum of common sense until the other day when I was out having a smoke in front of my local bar and watched a lady in her 50s literally brushing her teeth while driving westbound on 45th. She was doing all of about 5 miles an hour and there was a huge line of cars behind her. When she got pretty much in front of where I was standing, she came to a complete stop (a good couple hundred feet before the light) and really started to brush. She was completely and totally oblivious. The guy behind her looked like he was about to explode, compounded by the fact that I yelled out to him: "She's brushing her fucking teeth!". He turned a color of red I haven't seen before and started honking wildly. It took the lady a good 20 seconds to finally realize she had backed up traffic all the way back to I-5. The absolute best part was that she sped up for several yards until she was right behind another car and then HONKED at that car for not going fast enough. I wished for something Darwinian to happen, but alas, god must have been busy that day.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward
            a lady just like that killed two friends of mine on their motorcycle.

            she wasn't brushing her teeth, instead she was wrapping a gift for her grandchild's friend, and talking on a hand's free.

            it was out in the suburbs and she pulled her car out from a side street onto a non-divided highway of 4 lanes, and the speed limit is 65mph.

            my friends goldwing was going about that speed when the lady pulled out suddenly with only 20 feet to spare.

            he pulled a nearly miraculous maneuver to miss the woman, leaning the gold
          • by Sanguis Mortuum (581999) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @01:02PM (#19096763)
            [quote]I wished for something Darwinian to happen, but alas, god must have been busy that day.[/quote]

            Am I the only one that sees the irony in this statement? God carrying out Darwins theories? Im sure those intelligent design nuts wont like that one bit...
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Bo'Bob'O (95398)
            A few years ago, I saw a guy playing a PLAY STATION that was sitting on his dash while driving, going about 10 miles an hour in a 45 zone. Using his wrists to steer while he had the controller in both hands...

            Needless to say, I had to make a U-turn to drive by again just to be sure I was seeing what I was actualy seeing. Sadly, he was still there, stopped about 40 feet back from the stoplight, still playing.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 12, 2007 @10:31AM (#19095607)
      This is just more liberal do-gooding and interference with our everyday lives. This is by the same people who want to ban smoking [shelleytherepublican.com], force our kids to learn junk science [shelleytherepublican.com], and stifle honest [shelleytherepublican.com] American [shelleytherepublican.com] toil [shelleytherepublican.com].

      We can only pray, before these nannying socialists force us to use inferior and dangerous [shelleytherepublican.com] operating systems [shelleytherepublican.com].
      • by holistah (1002858) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @11:08AM (#19095845)
        I was going to mod this up, but I figured it would just get modded back down, so I figure I'll throw in my 2 cents as well. While I do not agree entirely with your post, I do agree with the spirit of it. No good can come from passing a ton of these laws to try and think of every single dangerous thing a person might do. They will not stop people from doing them, they are not enforceable, and they are such a wide net that they will in fact punish innocent people. All the activities they want to outright ban because they are "dangerous" such as driving while talking on a cell phone, or texting, or while the driver has had no sleep, are not always for all people at all times dangerous activities. Furthermore, there is no way they can list them all, or enforce an entire list of them all. If the activities truely are dangerous, they fall under reckless driving. If a person is being reckless, which can be determined by visually seeing the amount of control a driver has over their vehicle, punish that. That covers everything. It covers if they are talking on the phone, texting, eating a sandwich, putting on makeup, EVERYTHING. The goal is to stop people who don't have control over their vehicle from endagering others, so why not directly address the issue??? It makes NO sense to try and ban everything that could lead to reckless driving, when all they have to do is enforce the current reckless driving law! Common sense on the correct way for these lawmakers to achieve their goal aside, by trying to go after the activities that lead to unsafe driving, you are taking away freedoms. You are taking away freedoms in the name of "the greater good". If there is another way to accomplish a goal without taking away freedoms, it must be done. This is another clear example of trying to control people, in order to stop them from doing bad things. It never works. You must go directly after the people doing the bad things or you will never win. Trying to nip it in the bud by controlling people is not right, and if that isn't enough of a reason not to do it, it also won't work.

        Oh and by the way, this is not "liberal" as you say. True liberals are on the side of liberty, which this clearly is not. Just the same, true conservatives would not do this either, because there is nothing conservative about passing more and more laws on the same exact subject. This is the doing of people who do not really fall on either side. They are extremists, totalitarians, or quite possibly just people without common sense. Personally, I like to think there is no devious motivations behind these stupid laws. I think they are just that, stupid.

        • by koxkoxkox (879667) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @11:54AM (#19096195)
          The only problem with your solution is to define reckless. It will be at the appreciation of the policemen, so the punishment will depend on the hour of the day, the fact that he was hungry, that his girlfriend dumped him, that his boss told him he was too merciful ... It already happens with the current laws but would be far worse with only a vague and undefined law about "reckless" behaviour.

          You prefer to have a total faith in the capacity of the policemen to judge if an action is reckless. They are only persons too, so they are not perfect.

          I much prefer to have some railings, limiting their freedom, but also protecting people from abuse. That's why laws have to be precise, to reduce the part of interpretation.

          If only people could think a little bit by themselves and not act only out of fear of the punishment ... Laws like this one would not be necessary.
      • by Tuoqui (1091447) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @11:10AM (#19095857) Journal
        If you want to exercise your first amendment rights pull off to the side of the road and do it.

        It has been proven that talking on the cell phone while driving is almost as bad as driving drunk. I can only imagine how much worse 'texting while driving' is.

        Remember that you have your rights only up until you become a danger or menace to society. And since society as a whole is not apparently capable of something called 'common sense' we have to legislate common sense unfortunately for the people who are 'common sense deficient' to put it in policially correct terms as not to offend people by calling them what they really are *cough*STUPID*cough*
        • by shmlco (594907)
          I'm not sure I'd count "Mythbusters" as proof.
          • by Tuoqui (1091447) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @01:45PM (#19097165) Journal
            Actually theres a study out that equates driving while on the cell phone being 400% more likely to get into an accident.

            Forbes Article [forbes.com]
            400% more likely claim supported by Berkely Lab [lbl.gov] Of course there is the psudeo-science of the Mythbusters as well where they placed a sober driver on the cell phone and a 'drunk' but under the legal limit of 0.8% blood alcohol level and put them both on a closed course and had them navigate it. They did it both sober with no distractions as a control as well I believe. Turns out they both did equally bad. I am not saying it is a perfect experiment (such would require more than 2 test cases) but it does illustrate that distraction or inebriation = bad for driving ability regardless of the exact percentages involved. and another article from The Straight Dope [straightdope.com]
        • by toleraen (831634)
          I'm not trying to defend texting while driving...I never do it myself. However, I have to disagree with this:

          I can only imagine how much worse 'texting while driving' is.

          Talking while driving requires two way communication (obviously). Without a handsfree unit, it requires you to hold your phone in a specific position as well. However, texting is something that doesn't require an immediate response, nor does it require you pay much attention to it. You can easily put your phone down for a minute, and
        • by dykofone (787059) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @11:53AM (#19096183) Homepage
          "It has been proven that talking on the cell phone while driving is almost as bad as driving drunk."

          Do you have a link to support this? I've been trying to defend my morning beer on the drive to work, and having the data to say "hey! it's as safe as talking on the phone!" would be great.

          Thanks!

      • by iangoldby (552781) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @11:12AM (#19095869) Homepage
        Tell me this [shelleytherepublican.com] is a parody, someone please! Please, won't someone? It is a parody, isn't it? I mean, surely not even in America... Come on, someone... it's gotta be a parody, right?...
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Xiph1980 (944189)
          it's got to be....

          We should be glad that there is one responsible company who has decided to put an end to this mess: News Corporation, the great company responsible for Fox news has decided to put in a bid of $5Bn for Dow Jones, the company that owns the Wall Street Journal. That may seem an awful lot to pay for a bunch of angry liberals with a grudge against the U.S. Economy, but knowing those guys, its bound to be a smart move. I just hope they bring the same level of morality and respect for the Truth

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by dunkelfalke (91624)
          yep, it is a satirical site, but a quite realistic one.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by mqduck (232646)
          It's definitely satire. This [shelleytherepublican.com] article (among others) proves it. What I find hilarious is how they get flooded by comment from people seriously trying to debate with the site.
    • Frankfort, KY - Kentucky deputy director of the Department of Motor Vehicles, Melvin P. Snitzonpants has announced a new program to stop drivers from chewing their toenails, making love and shoving coins up their noses while driving.

      "It's a serious problem." Snitzonpants said yesterday. "We have people weaving all over the road while they chew their toenails, make love and shove coins up their nose."

      The new program would see a $15 fine be levied, as well as a stern lecture by a state patrol officer. "We f
    • by nurb432 (527695)
      Its hard to enforce common sense, espcially in a 'me society'.

      And while i normally detest 'yet another law', something does need to be done to stop both texting and cell phone use. ( how about like enforce the current lawas that prohbit impared driving )
    • by dattaway (3088)
      Whatever happened to common sense?

      We now have laws covering common sense!

      You asked to outlaw stupid people, so this is what its like when we outlaw stupidity.

      Unfortunately, stupid people aren't stupid when it comes to laws, so we have to make lots of stupid laws to cover stupid people. Just wait, you haven't seen NOTHING yet!
    • Whatever made you think having sense was common?
    • By creating the law they can arrest people they see doing it. Without the law they would need to wait until someone had an accident before they could prosecute.
  • Reckless driving (Score:5, Insightful)

    by b0s0z0ku (752509) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @10:21AM (#19095513)
    Texting while driving is reckless driving IMHO. Charge them with *that* instead of a new, more minor, traffic offense. The fines and demerit points for reckless driving are _steep._

    -b.

    • by Antony-Kyre (807195) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @10:28AM (#19095577)
      I can think of no excuse whatsoever to justify texting while driving. Sure, cell phones are dangerous while driving, but at least there are counter-arguments. In my opinion, people who text while driving should probably have their license suspended. I cannot believe they're doing the $101 fine in my state.

      They fine people $101 for not wearing a seatbelt, which is only risking the lives of those in the car, but when it comes to endangering others, they use the same amount for a fine. If they're going to fine texting while driving, they should at least make it $500.

      (Talking on cell phones while driving is dangerous. Some times "near-misses" occur, meaning it never gets recorded statistically speaking. It is a distraction.)
      • by b0s0z0ku (752509)
        If they're going to fine texting while driving, they should at least make it $500.

        I'd prefer an informal way of dealing with texting. Cop takes cell phone, puts it under back wheel of offender's car. "Pull forward, sir." (The alternative can be charges of reckless driving if the offender wants his day in court.)

        -b.

      • by Score Whore (32328) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @10:56AM (#19095781)
        So what distinguishes a cell phone from having a conversation with a passenger? Or someone trying to find the right station on the radio. Or smoking a cigarette (assuming you are not just hanging the butt from your mouth and letting it ash all down your front.) Or trying to shush their screaming kid in the back seat. Or fishing around in a bag of fast food for a hamburger. Or trying to tip the last bit of coffee out of your spill-proof mug. Or listening attentively to their GPS navigation system. Or attempting to decipher driving directions scribbled on a napkin. Or listening to their books on tape.

        The problem isn't cell phones or texting. It's people not being engaged with the task of driving.

        If your only concern is safety then it makes more sense to lower the speed limit to 25 MPH and eliminate any car larger than a golf cart than it does to fine/ban cell phones.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Antony-Kyre (807195)
          Conversing with a passenger isn't the same as conversing on a phone studies have shown.

          I think most of the other things you mentioned are problems, and I wish people would use more common sense. However, texting while driving has to be more dangerous than those others ones I imagine, because it is much more distracting.
          • by Score Whore (32328) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @11:20AM (#19095933)
            I've not seen any references to the studies you are referring to. However, one difference would be when the other party in the car happens to be a driver, is paying attention, and pauses in the conversation when the situation calls for it. It would also depend on the reason for the conversation. A cellphone call has a point (perhaps not an important point, but there is a reason somebody dialed the phone) and you're going to be giving it attention, while idle chit-chat with your passenger is just politeness done with half your mind. Compare cell phone calls with important conversations occurring while driving.

            I think someone fishing around under their seat trying to feel for change they just dropped is as distracted as someone texting. At least a person texting will pretty much always hold the phone up in their line of sight, while someone groping for something is likely to take their eyes off the road in order to get a quick situation report on where the quarter for the tollway is and where their hand is.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by hankwang (413283) *

          So what distinguishes a cell phone from having a conversation with a passenger?

          The fact that the passenger tends to shut up if s/he sees that the traffic requires full attention. I agree that some of your other examples are pretty dangerous, since they require that the driver takes his eyes off the road for a couple of seconds. But

          Or listening attentively to their GPS navigation system

          this doesn't even close. While listening to the navigation system, you have to focus all your attention to the road to rea

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Score Whore (32328)
            I think it comes quite close. Because it's not just the rare pedestrian you might hit. It's all the other cars on the road. It's every action being a distinct response to the computerized voice and eyeballing the map on the tiny LCD screen. Or even if it's trivial to decide which turns to be taking, if you're braking and changing lanes at the last second you're much more of a risk to others than if you are already aware of where you're going and are making lane changes well in advance of when you need to, b
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              Have you used a satellite navigation system? You don't barrel down the freeway at 60mph and the system pipes up at the last second, "in 100 ft, take the exit on the right".

              "In five miles, you will take exit 164 on the right"
              "In two miles..."

              "In one mile..."

              "In five hundred yards..."

              "In two hundred yards...

              "In one hundred yards, take exit 164 on the right and stay in the left lane. Then turn left."

              Does that constitute sufficient lead time?

      • by tthomas48 (180798)
        Wrong seatbelts do not just keep people in the care safe. A 150 pound projectile flying out of a windshield has been known to kill people in the other car.
    • Texting while driving is reckless driving IMHO.
      Technically, I think they would have a strong case if they charged them with impaired driving. It was impaired by their texting. Alcohol doesn't have to be involved to be impaired.
  • by Timesprout (579035) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @10:21AM (#19095515)
    That there was a need for the State ban such moronic behaviour in the first place.
    • It's a natural progression from over regulating the roads.

      A) You write some guidlines to help people drive on the road
      B) You then decide that the guidlines are absolute and turn them into law
      C) You then reinforce the law hard
      D) You then tighten up the laws
      E) You increase reinforcement until you wear everyone down until they are just part of a big metal snake
      F) Driving becomes so passive that people feel they can do other things

      In many parts of Asia it seems to be at the guidline stage although it's

  • by writermike (57327) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @10:22AM (#19095517)
    He said a long time ago we have to get rid of the keyboard. He STILL hasn't done it. Dammit, Bill, or billg, or whatever you want to be called, because you didn't get rid of the keyboard all these nice people are going to jail. Oooooh, I could pinch you!

    I keed. I keed.
  • question.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jimfinity (849860)
    how exactly are they going to know if you are texting? there are just about a hundred million things you can do with modern phones these days. what about taking videos/pictures/checking your voicemail/dialing/etc. etc.

    all of these things require typing stuff in your phone, right?
    • by oyenstikker (536040) <slashdot@@@sbyrne...org> on Saturday May 12, 2007 @10:26AM (#19095567) Homepage Journal
      They can get a court order to subpoena your phone records. Or if your provider is Verizon, they can just ask for them.
    • All these things take your focus OFF driving a high speed large heavy peice of metal. So it doesn't matter what you're using th ephone for you should not be doing any of these.

      The ONLY exception would be dialing 999 (911) for an emergency which is also the reason why you cannot stop driving (for example a guy shooting at you from a car behind or such.
      • by Timesprout (579035) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @10:32AM (#19095621)

        The ONLY exception would be dialing 999 (911) for an emergency which is also the reason why you cannot stop driving (for example a guy shooting at you from a car behind or such.
        Usually you just raise the rear bullet proof shield and activate the oil jets causing your villaneous enemy to skid and crash in this scenario. Dialling 999 would just totally ruin your credibility within the secret agent community
      • So you mean that the financial and possible civil penalties a driver faces for slamming into another object, regardless of the cause, are not sufficient to keep people from slamming into other objects?

        Nearly everyone I know has a cell phone. Half the people I pass in traffic when I am in large cities either have a bluetooth headset on or are holding a phone to their ears. It has been this way for 5 years. Yet there are not smashed vehicles littering the sides of the roads I drive. I don't have to pull over
        • Talking on a phone while driving distracts you from driving. It only takes a couple of seconds of distraction and a little kid can be run over from running into the road.

          The laws are not about insurance companies, it is about being impared while driving an object able to kill a person within a split seconds notice.

          Spin it any way you like, mobile phones are dangerous when they distract you from the road.
          • Maybe I have a sick sense of humor but

            driving an object able to kill a person within a split seconds notice

            makes me picture a child standing in the middle of the street, his cell phone rings and a text message pops up: You are about to be hit by a car. A split second later a car with a cell phone texting driver mows the kid down.

            The above creative work by me is hereby released under whatever CC license will let you turn it into an anti-cell phone texting while driving commercial. Not because I agree but because I think it would be hilarious.

            Anyway, the law is indeed '

          • I'm not a fan of chain cell-phoners, but I'm even less a fan of bad logic.

            Spin it any way you like, mobile phones are dangerous when they distract you from the road.


            You could change "mobile phones" for anything else and that sentence is still 100% true. Which means that the important part of the phrase is "distract you". Thus it's not a valid reason to single out cell phones for restrictions.
  • by jddj (1085169) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @10:25AM (#19095549) Journal
    This reminds me of the time I got a free dashboard sun-shade at Road Atlanta one year. (These are the accordion-fold things you sit on the dash and stretch out across the entire windshield to help keep the sun from getting the interior of your car too hot in the summer).

    It had a safety label: "Do not drive with sun shade in place!"

  • by rueger (210566) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @10:25AM (#19095551) Homepage
    The law could use sharper teeth, but it's a natural and necessary progression of the movement to clamp down on those who find the need to constantly communicate more important than the safety of their fellow travelers."

    Nonsense. There are already laws on the books which deal specifically with driver inattention. They have been there for some sixty or seventy years.

    Why is it that anything involving a cel phone demands a special law prohibiting it? It's all feeling rather moralistic.

    Tell you what, I'll let you ban cel phones in cars if you'll also ban coffee, donuts, makeup, radios, small children, pets, smoking, chewing tobacco, notepads, newspapers, and passengers, all of which can distract a driver.

    Once every car contains only one hermetically sealed individual we should be 100% safe.
    • by AsnFkr (545033) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @10:54AM (#19095767) Homepage Journal
      Once every car contains only one hermetically sealed individual we should be 100% safe.

      Even at that, you'd have to limit the access driver has to his or her genitals.

      ....I used to have a truck that rode pretty high, I've seen things.
    • This is not a "ZOMG BAN THIS" law, rather it is to bring attention to something people are missing. Mobile phones were always illegal for dangerous driving reasons in the UK, but everyone used them. The moment the "heres a £250 fine if you get caught" law came in suddenly everyone switched to head sets and it dropped massively.

      It's bringing attention to criminal activity, not making something else illegal.
    • by metlin (258108)
      Well said.

      Thank you. I some how find it ironic that there are no laws against smoking in a car but there are laws against texting or cellphone use. I mean, something where you use just one hand and a sudden event could cause you to burn yourself isn't considered dangerous, but a cellphone is? Wow.

      PS: I have nothing against smoking (even though I personally consider it to be a most disgusting habit, mostly because I am slightly allergic to cigarette smoke), I just find the relative moral high ground repulsiv
      • by b0s0z0ku (752509)
        I some how find it ironic that there are no laws against smoking in a car but there are laws against texting or cellphone use.

        NJ tried to pass one (also applied to eating or drinking anything). Fortunately, it failed. BTW, there's a huge difference between holding a cigarette, pipe or whatever and typing on a keyboard. You don't have to look at the cigarette to see if you're smoking it correctly, and you can hold it in your mouth a lot of the time. Unlike a cellphone.

        Also, some people need to smoke.

    • by vertinox (846076)
      Once every car contains only one hermetically sealed individual we should be 100% safe.

      Wouldn't it make more sense to invest in technologies that make bad driving a moot point [wikipedia.org].
    • by deblau (68023)

      There are already laws on the books which deal specifically with driver inattention.

      Hooray, some common sense on /. for a change. Here's one law that might work: negligent driving in the second degree [wa.gov]. If they started fining $250 for each time someone talked on their cell phone or texted while driving, people would stop doing it.

      The problem with the new law is enforcement: if you don't enforce existing laws, why should anyone think you'll enforce new ones?

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      There are already laws on the books which deal specifically with driver inattention.

      Not really. The application of the laws is such that most are only applied after an incident. Most of the laws are vague enough that if applied the way you imply, they would be quickly ruled unconstitutional. Montana had a law that the speed limit was "reasonable and prudent" and that was thrown out because it was vague. If there is some debate in whether changing a CD is legal, or changing the radio station, or adjust
  • I mean, you can text AND get somewhere safely(and of course use less fuel in the process). But then again, this is America we are talking about, were most people equate public transportation with being poor and/or defective.....
    • But then again, this is America we are talking about, were most people equate public transportation with being poor and/or defective.....

      Also, the more populated areas need *good* rail networks if people are to use them. Compare passenger trains in the US and Europe: the US seems stuck in the 1940s as far as technology -- US trains are labor intensive (and hence expensive) to run. Part of the fault lies with the Federal government for making crash standards for trains excessively rigid, even though trai

  • Wow...just wow...I expected people to go only as far as calling on the cellphone, putting on make-up at a red light, eating, and watching a movie while driving, but text-messaging? The ones I listed only required only either a hand or the driver's visual attention, but text-messaging covers both...

    And a *coughAmericancough* government was forced to make a specific law on the subject...

    Where in the world is our common sense nowadays? *sigh* I guess it's fortunate that the legislature is not as inattentive as
  • Nope, it's not the smartest thing in the world, in fact it's downright dangerous and stupid. At least I can admit that. Really though it's not much worse than flipping through your favorite CD tof ind that song you really want to hear, or reaching down to pick something up. I still agree with the law, however. Ban it, but yes I also agree with the summary, give it some pretty sharp teeth.

    THese are the kinds of things that happen when you live in a society that demands you be available, and productive at a

  • by erroneus (253617) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @10:45AM (#19095705) Homepage
    I am guilty of the offense and I also believe it's a potentially deadly and definitely stupid thing to do.
  • Sure, texting while driving using today's technology is pretty stupid. It takes forever, and it definitely distracts from the road.

    But... this law probably doesn't specifically ban "text messaging on a hand-held cellular telephone using a numberpad based text input method", instead it probably bans all text messaging while driving. I'm sure some of you will say that "anything that distracts from the road is unacceptably dangerous, I'm willing to trade your freedom to use new technologies in the future for

    • Your 'freedom' to text while driving directly impacts the safety of everyone else on the road.

      I can think of a number of interfaces that would make text messaging way safer than a kid in the back seat

      So build one. You'll make millions.
      • Your 'freedom' to text while driving directly impacts the safety of everyone else on the road.

        This is a tradeoff, and it can be rationally evaluated. I don't think that banning unknown future technology can ever be the rational result of such an evaluation.

        So build one. You'll make millions.

        Not if texting while driving is illegal I won't.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by azrider (918631)

      But... this law probably doesn't specifically ban "text messaging on a hand-held cellular telephone using a numberpad based text input method", instead it probably bans all text messaging while driving.
      My friends (law enforcement/public safety) and I were discussing this. My question is: Does this prohibit the use of mobile data terminals by law enforcement, public safety (fire), taxis and/or delivery personnel?
    • by db32 (862117)
      I will never accept laws that crush my freedom to drink a liter of rum and drive a truck through your front door either! Stick it to the man. Its like the handsfree cellphone nonsense....oooh look I'm handsfree so I'm safe now BZZZZT wrong answer they have shown repeatedly that talking on the cellphone is the dangerous and distracting part, not just holding it. They have also shown that talking to people in the car with you is significantly less distracting and that other passengers are able to take visu
    • by suv4x4 (956391)
      I'm sure some of you will say that "anything that distracts from the road is unacceptably dangerous, I'm willing to trade your freedom to use new technologies in the future for a warm feeling of safety now". Well - I'm never willing to make that trade.

      Well, now I know why stupid laws come into existence. To force guys like you "to make that trade".

      The interface for texting could be reading directly from your brain for what I care. You still have one brain and one single point of concentration. Multitasking
  • Instead of individually banning every single thing you can do on a mobile device, why not simply ban working with mobile devices or performing other distracting activities while driving (such as drinking coffee and eating)...

    Or maybe the right question is, why should obvious things be spelled out in a law for the drivers to read? Maybe we should just ban patently stupid drivers from driving at all.
  • Never mind texting (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pytheron (443963) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @10:53AM (#19095761) Homepage
    I have a few friends that have the affliction of not being able to talk to someone without looking at them. Whilst they are driving, this leads to very scary scenarios. There are a couple that I refuse to be a passenger with now based on these experiences ! It seems that some people just don't understand that you have a responsibility on the road. Not only are you putting your passengers lives at risk, but also you are maybe risking destroying the family of the person you just hit.

    Most people come up with the non-excuse "I've never had an accident, I'm a good driver". Remember whilst this may be true,the person in front of you may be an awful driver, so you will need to apply your full attention at all times.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    In Europe, it has been forbidden for years to use a cellular for text messaging or calling while driving.

    According to wikipedia, Israel, Japan, Portugal and Singapore all prohibit mobile phone use while driving.
    Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the Philippines, Romania, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom requ
  • 1. Using a cellphone and/or texting is far more dangerous than drinking a cup of coffee. People have done research into this - these devices are just about as dangerous as being legally drunk. We don't ban coffee drinking in cars because while a small minority becomes a hazard while drinking it, EVERYONE is a hazard when using their phone. See #3.

    2. We had reckless driving laws already, but we still passed impaired driving laws. Why? Because it's a lot harder to automatically say "hey, he's texting, he's re
    • by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Saturday May 12, 2007 @02:07PM (#19097341)

      People have done research into this - these devices are just about as dangerous as being legally drunk.


      I, for one, am automatically suspicious of arguments that begin with "people have done research." Who are these anonymous people? Where was the research published? Has it been repeated? You're appealing to a nonsense authority.

      With a law like this, there are no ifs, ands, or buts. No defense. You're caught, you pay. No "but really, Sir Judge, I'm not actually a reckless driver when I text".


      Are you saying that someone shouldn't be able to present an argument? The point of a common law system like ours is the ability to adapt the law to the facts of a particular case. By passing laws like this, we simply limit the judge's ability to do his job. As a result, we'll have coarser justice. If a judge is letting people off for texting while driving and the people really disagree with that, then that judge will be replaced. And who knows? Someone might indeed deserve to be cleared of the charge.

      4. It's about damn time we started seeing laws like this. Of course we shouldn't need them, but in my experience 90% of the bad drivers on the road are either yakking on their phone, or texting, or in some cases both. Seriously, how hard is it to just (GASP!) go without talking to your sister for a few minutes? We invented voicemail for a reason!


      And I bet 90% of the bad drivers you see are listening to music. Let's ban that in cars too. The fact is that when you notice that somebody is driving badly, you tend to look for someone to blame that driving on.

      For example,
      • "Oh, he's driving like that because his car has rust spots and doesn't care about it."
      • "Oh, he's driving like that because he's black."
      • "Oh, she's driving like that because she's a woman. Them women can't drive."



        • But you don't notice all the poor, black, or female people who are in fact excellent drivers. The same idea applies to cell phones. Most people can drive well and use cell phones responsibly. You just don't notice these people.

          Furthermore, it won't change the fact that society as a whole accepts the practice, and that the law is the work of a vocal minority. I live in New York, and we've banned cell phone conversations in cars for some time now. Yet people think of it as wrong in the same sense that driving five miles per hour over the speed limit is wrong -- that is, not morally wrong at all.

          Contrast that with how people feel about drunk driving -- if you tell friends you drive drunk, they'll give you the look they'd give you if you told them you killed kittens as a hobby. The difference is that drunk driving is a real danger.

          *sigh* In more general terms, the law should reflect the morality of society as a whole. When someone not wrong is made illegal, the credibility of the law is diminished. People lose respect for all laws, not just the ridiculous one. They become cynical; participation in government drops as people feel that they can't affect their own government. The government abuses that cynical indifference to grab even more power, and the cycle repeats and repeats until we live in an authoritarian police state. It's happened before and it's happening again.

          If these kinds of driving things really are wrong enough to warrant laws of their own, then the public needs to be educated FIRST. If they don't clamor all over their legislators to pass the law on their own, then perhaps the law isn't needed in the first place.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by freeweed (309734)
        I, for one, am automatically suspicious of arguments that begin with "people have done research." Who are these anonymous people? Where was the research published? Has it been repeated? You're appealing to a nonsense authority.

        Traffic safety institues. Automobile associations. Insurance companies. There's an entire field of research dedicated to this sort of study called "Risk Management". Pretty much weekly another study is released showing similar results. You want citations of peer-reviewed studies? Sorr
  • Let me start off by saying that I agree that it's a bad idea to text message while driving. However, I have seen people reading while driving, applying makeup while driving, and looking through a bag/purse/glove box while driving. And I'm sure that I could come up with many other things that people shouldn't do while they're driving. But none of those other things have had a specific law created to stop them, even though some of them are equally dangerous, much more common, and have been happening for a lot
  • I say that if you're caught texting while driving, you have to report to a closed off race track where you can't lower your car below 80 while negotiating hairpin turns and being forced to take an online test via texting. (or, if your your max speed is lower, go with that, I'm looking at you Chevette drivers!)

    Instead of punishing, its a punishment/hands on learning experience!
  • Here in NY there has been a ban on using cell phones while driving for several years. It's never enforced, and odds are if you see someone weaving or going too slow or being generally careless they're just as likely to be yakking on their phone as they are to be drunk behind the wheel. The last 4 times I almost got hit in local parking lots, there was some idiot talking on their phone and not paying attention to their driving.

    It's unbelievable how, when faced with laws already on the books that don't work
  • by Money for Nothin' (754763) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @12:20PM (#19096377)
    I have done it, many times. I read blogs, email, etc. on my phone, studied for tests, read magazines, and so forth while driving too. I even change clothes -- everything except my boxers -- while driving. I've done so regularly for years. And how many accidents have I had?

    Zero.

    It comes down to prioritization and common sense. I didn't say I read *efficiently* while driving -- I certainly don't operate anywhere nearly as quickly on my reading/writing/etc. while driving as I do when I'm not engaged in driving. I check the road ahead of me and to the sides once every second or two, then glance down at my text to be read, get a line or sentence, then look up again at traffic while I process that line/sentence. I don't do these things at all in severely-inclement weather: snow, ice, heavy rain, high winds. Nor do I do them in situations where traffic conditions are changing rapidly: at high speed with lots of merging traffic, in crowded downtown streets with lots of pedestrians, along twisty mountain roads, etc.. I do it primarily in bumper-to-bumper, stop-and-go, sub-10 mi/hour traffic where, if an accident were to occur, it almost certainly would not be serious.

    The simple fact is that we are not all created equal and we do not all evolve equally-fast or in the same directions. Some people are competent to perform actions which are dangerous if managed poorly, while others are not. I'm not competent to do something as dangerous as landing an airplane -- but plenty of trained pilots are; the mentally insane (as the VA Tech shootings exemplified) are not competent to use firearms safely, and nor are (IMO) people convicted of any violent crimes - but most other people are, or would be with sufficient training & education.

    A better approach, rather than banning an activity outright, would be to test an individual's competence to perform the activity. An outright ban is too broad and inspecific [econlib.org]; it has all the surgical precision of the Bush administration's "it's for national security" argument used to justify its actions...
  • This law sucks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LamerX (164968) on Saturday May 12, 2007 @03:31PM (#19097913) Journal
    Here's why it sucks. Washington also just passed a law banning talking on cell phones while driving. This law, you can get pulled over if an officer sees you talking with the phone up to your ear, in other words it's a primary offense. This means if you're looking ahead, and actually can drive while talking, you'll get a big fat ticket.

    The texting while driving bill makes texting while driving a SECONDARY offense. This means if you are looking down at your phone, typing out a message, NOT LOOKING AHEAD, you CANNOT get pulled over! You can only get ticketed if you've been pulled over for another offense.

    So what message is Washington state trying to send here? It's NOT okay to look ahead at the road while on the phone, but it IS okay to send a text message and look at the screen instead of the road, so long as you're not swirving. Never mind the HUGE increased risk of accident.

    I expect texting while driving to increase here pretty soon.

"It is easier to fight for principles than to live up to them." -- Alfred Adler

Working...