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"Murphy was an optimist!"

TN Continues to Make Dumb Laws March 10, 2009 7:45 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Politics, Regional Politics (SE), Touchy Subjects, Transportation, Travel
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Michael Silence notes that Sen. Jim Tracy is trying to pass legislation that would make it illegal to read or send text messages while driving. These nanny state laws treat symptoms and not problems. My comment on No Silence Here:

We don’t need a nanny state! We need better education. IF we would teach people how to use T-9 then they could text without looking at the phone! er, I mean if we taught people the importance of not texting behind the wheel. You know..give a man a fish..well if he were eating fish while driving that would probably be bad too. Maybe we need a law to ban eating fish behind the wheel. Yes! Definitely. And fishing licenses. When the police pull cars over they should check for fishing licenses because he might be planning on catching a fish to eat while driving and we need to make sure that doesn’t happen. That’s important. Important enough that we need to set up road blocks and check everyone’s fishing licenses!! But then people might send text messages warning about the road blocks. No, we outlawed text messaging behind the wheel so that would never happen of course neither would the eating fish behind the wheel because we outlawed that too so why do we need the road blocks? You know, the radio stations will pick up on these quickly. We should outlaw radios in the cars. Wait a minute, wasn’t there a time when legislatures feared car radios would cause too many accidents and deaths. What happened to outlawing radios? Wait another minute. At least 2 people died in his district while text messaging behind the wheel. I wonder how many died tuning their radio?

Things we need to outlaw to keep people alive:
spiders, aids, diving, earthquakes, buildings, sports, suicide (wait, that’s already illegal), alcohol, lightning, steps, cold, heat, cancer, tall places, bees, surgery, and sharks.

The problem with these types of laws is that it does nothing to prevent the happening but only punishes if and when it is caught. To educate people to pull over, have a passenger do the texting, or just plain ignore the phone is a better use to time and tax dollars than more laws:

Republican Sen. Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet opposed the bill because of provisions in the current law.
"I really don’t see the need for the bill," she said. "I’ve said time after time, I don’t think we can legislate against stupidity."

Furthermore, driving is a skill and not everyone has the same abilities. That is not a statement to justify one person texting behind the wheel while another doesn’t but to point out the people who are crossing the center line while texting may just as well be doing the same thing while reading a billboard, talking to a passenger, tuning the radio, or daydreaming. We have all done stupid things while driving. I bet everyone at one point has turned the wrong way down a one way street. I did in Memphis as a teenager. It scared me silly to see 3 lanes of lunch hour traffic barreling down on me. A law preventing me from going the wrong way on a one way street would have done nothing to prevent me from making that silly mistake..wait a minute..it is against the law to drive the wrong way on a one way street….oh.

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1. Morgan - March 11, 2009

Well accidently driving down a one way street is a little different than choosing to break a law on purpose like say drinking and driving, speeding etc. I think if they are going to outlaw texting they should outlaw talking on a phone while driving which I see far more people doing. I saw a girl on campus just breeze through a very red light once while talking on the phone.

I talk on my cell phone, I read texts and occasionally send texts at stop lights and occasionally while driving. I eat cereal behind the wheel while driving with my leg. I’ve managed to do all sorts of crazy things behind the wheel that probably weren’t a good idea. I daily avoid wrecks not because of my errors, but avoiding other people who can’t drive. I have never been in a wreck that was my fault and I rarely make driving errors ( that damn blind spot gets me sometimes).

I think people who will be most upset with the law are the ones who do text behind the wheel and they probably do it pretty well. It might save some lives but really I do hate laws that punish the smart and capable along with the stupid or treat everyone like criminals.

However, the thought of my teenager texting while driving makes me nearly ill.

2. Doug McCaughan - March 11, 2009

The thought on my teenager driving at all makes me ill 🙂

I think you are correct though in that we are punishing the capable for other people’s stupidity.

3. brian brinley - March 11, 2009

t9 isnt the saviour to texting while driving, the problem is that we have too many distractions while driving. Billboards, bumper stickers, custom rims, the list goes on and on.

I personalyl have seen way too many people texting and almost hit someone. while texting is different than phone conversations its still in teh same ballpark and im all for banning cell phone use at all while vehicle is moving.

4. Barry - March 11, 2009

I text while I drive on occasion, and read texts and email on my phone sometimes as well. But when I do, I always make sure I’m in a “safe” situation (I know, no situation on the road is fully “safe”). This means a few car lengths behind and in front of other cars, in straightaway areas on the road, etc. I’m cautions and try not to allow myself to be in a situation where even a little distraction could be dangerous. I also make sure to keep the phone where I can still see the road in my peripheral straight-ahead vision while I’m doing it.

But, as the red light running teenager proves, not everyone is as diligent as I 🙂

5. Doug McCaughan - March 11, 2009

Brian, I was joking about T-9. You still have to divide your attention with T-9. I text behind the wheel but, like Barry, try to limit it to red lights and stop signs or long open stretches when other cars are not around me. The quantity of texting I do behind the wheel has dramatically decreased recently.

I have a 1995 Jeep Wrangler. The design of the radio was such that it was impossible to tune the radio without totally removing your eyes from the road. A Jeep immediately in front of me on the Interstate long before the popularity of text messaging collided with a stopped car without so much as tapping his brakes. It was everything I could do to not become part of the wreckage. To this day, I am certain that person’s radio killed him, his passengers if he had any, and maybe the people in the other car.

Once the cell phone is made illegal, something else, like that radio, will float up as the next most dangerous thing that must be legislated…or we teach people how to drive. You know, airplane pilots communicate via radio for navigation. The cell phone for someone lost on the road makes getting navigation assistance very easy and can be safer than stopping in an unfamiliar neighborhood. Just saying, we can find positives where there are negatives. Ying/yang…

Oh, and on running red lights, an older friend of mine was parked at a red light, sneezed, and woke up in the hospital. Had she been holding her cell phone, would the phone or the sneeze been blamed on the police report?