No, you did not accidentally stumble onto The Onion‘s website. This is some of what was discussed recently in the California Senate, which took up the issue of text messaging while driving. That’s because California’s new hands-free cell phone law did NOT make texting while driving illegal. According to the L.A. Times, the Senate approved a measure that would close this loophole and outlaw texting behind the wheel.
The Times article indicates that many Senate Republicans were not keen to pass the anti-texting measure. They reportedly felt that existing laws already prohibit driving while “distracted,” which, they said, would cover texting. One Senator, the appropriately named George Runner from Lancaster, was quoted as saying, “We don’t need a law for everything a driver does. The next one is going to be you can’t drive while you are eating a hamburger.”
I can see George’s point. I’m confident that, if studies were done, they would show that non-cell phoning activities while driving, such as eating, fiddling with the radio, applying makeup, reading the newspaper, and babe watching (guilty, Your Honor) are also potentially distracting and dangerous, yet I don’t think they are specifically outlawed, and, depending on the activity, it seems unreasonable or even nanny state absurd to try and outlaw them. On the other hand, how hard must it be to enforce “distracted driving” as compared to specific activities which can be observed? The driver would have to be weaving or drifting like a drunk driver. Plenty of drivers could be significantly “distracted” without demonstrating it that blatantly.
If anyone wonders why this matters, just take a look at Will.I.Am’s post about the alert driver who skillfully avoided hitting a girl on a bicycle. What if that driver was texting at the time? That’s something to think about while hitting the roads this Labor Day Weekend. Have fun, and stay safe!