Texting Laws

A man on the street was bent over searching for something on the ground when a passerby approached and asked him what he was doing;
“Looking for my car keys.”
the slumped seeker sighed.
“Where did you lose them?”
the passerby piqued.
The hunched over man replied with a dismissive head gesture,
“Across the Street.”
“Then why are you looking over here?”
the passerby queried.
The car key seeker said,
“The light is better over here.”

That is what a lot of the laws which congress passes are like.  They are useless feel good legislation which don’t really do anything.  They seek solutions to problems and issues but in the wrong place.  It does however make the sponsors of the light-seeking-law look good when it comes time for re-election  but that’s about it.  Governor Cuomo (D) of NY recently came under fire from Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long because Cuomo passed a gun law which does nothing to protect people but does further his political career.  A lot of these laws bring in barrels of money via fines and tickets and police departments may even receive grant money for new toys, computers and staff – which is all good for the town coffers.

The city of Troy in NY purchased a computerized gun shot triangulation system to pinpoint the approximate location of where a gun is fired from anywhere in the city.  They discovered that a 911 call does the same.  This system was paid for through grant money and tax payers.  It hasn’t deterred crime.  It only taught the criminal that they need to leave the scene faster.  That system is now for sale.  I bet you can buy it from them cheap.

Murder is against the law but people still do it.  Smoking marijuana is against the law but people still do it.  Cheating on taxes is against the law but people still do it.  Eighteen year old adult high school senior students who have sex with their sixteen year old infant high school sweethearts is against the law but these hormone enraged pedophiles still do it.  Drinking and driving is against the law but people still do it.  Texting while driving is against the law but people still do it.  The no-texting law is one such law which I beleive has made society and our roads less safe – because people still do it – only now, less safe.  

A friend asked me to ride with her to the mall because she needed help getting supplies for a birthday party she was hosting.  While driving, she rummaged through her purse and pulled out her cell phone, placed it on her knee, then began typing one letter at a time.  I asked her what she was doing and she said that she was posting a status update on Facebook to let everyone know where she was.  I told her that texting while driving was against the law but she said that she would be careful.  We eventually got there and made it safely home in one piece despite two more texts and the attendant reading of the replies which began filtering in almost immediately.  I thought to myself – what are these people doing reading Facebook?  Why aren’t they out living REAL life for themselves?

When I used to text while driving, I would hold my phone up over the steering wheel so that I could see both the road and the phone at the same time.  This was even more safe than using a GPS which was positioned less in my line of vision, or even more safe than looking down to change a radio station.  Texting laws are making our roads less safe because people don’t want to risk getting a ticket so, they are texting in their lap rather than texting more safely in sight of the road.

Of course texting while driving is not safe at all and people should employ common sense and respect for other drivers by NOT DOING IT.  I’m not worried about me getting in an accident, I’m more worried about the other driver getting me into an accident.  Surely, any text that is so important that it must be fired off at that particular moment is worth pulling over to do properly and safely.  You don’t want your last Facebook update to be “Traffic is horrendous tod . . .”  

Programming the GPS, adjusting the raido, putting on makeup, flossing teeth, eating or even talking to someone in the passenger seat can be equally distracting.  It all really depends on each individual and their multi-tasking skills but even so, if the law isn’t doing anything but making the roads more dangerous, what can be done?  Pass more laws?  Increase the prison time for Facebook updaters?  Ban Facebook?  Make it a law that you have to text in front of the steering wheel?

Enter WRGB, channel six;  Each morning during the news they run PSA’s about texting and how dangerous it can be.  They list the statistics of how many deaths there have been during the past year because of texting; How many accidents; How many feet you will not be in control of your vehicle should you look down for a moment; How many children were killed because of texting parents; How much it costs the insurance companies which is then passed down to everyone else.  

The greatest public service WRGB has provided is that they have asked viewers to take a “No Texting Pledge” at the WRGB website.  I haven’t formally taken the pledge but their ads have awakened me into being a more safe driver.  I bet their announcements, ads and pledge campaign have prevented more accidents than the laws have.  I’m also willing to bet that the law has caused more accidents from people trying not to get caught and ticketed because they are texting more surreptitiously and dangerously in their laps.  

When given the choice between educating people so that they change their habits or, passing a law which many people will try to evade for whatever reason, I am sure that more people would say that education is a more powerful tool.  But then, if not passing feel-good-legislation, what would our elected officials do with their free time?
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