July 01, 2010
"But I was just dialing!"
Of life's many annoyances, one of the most irritating to me is bad driving. More often than not, the bad drivers I see are distracted. While there is no curing drivers who are distracted by their own brains, the most frequent visible distraction I see involves an incompetent driver driven to further displays of incompetence by talking on a cell phone.
Yet in my ideal theoretical world (a world I know will never exist), I would not ban talking on the phone while driving. Instead, I would ban distracted driving of any sort, leaving it up to the individual police officer to decide when someone is distracted. It's like, do we need a law making it illegal to eat or drink (or wipe the baby's mouth or change his diapers) while driving? Most people would say no -- because we assume that good drivers will take care to do these things carefully. It's when idiots don't that reasonable people lose their patience and demand new laws. Generations of Americans have been able to sneak bites from hamburgers while driving, but it only takes a few idiots involved in accidents to blame their idiocy on a McDonalds hamburger or something -- and some inane politician wanting to be elected will promote a new law.
Hey, how about cigarette smoking behind the wheel? Not only is it dangerous to the driver himself, but the process of removing a cigarette, lighting it, and flicking the ashes into an ashtray has "caused" much loss of life! Isn't it high time we prohibited that harmful activity as well?
Here in Michigan, texting while driving (text of law here) is about to become illegal. Sounds like simple common sense, right? What kind of lamebrain would be reading and typing while operating a potentially deadly machine that can kill within seconds? (Well, for starters, yours truly -- I wrote a blog post once while sitting in stalled traffic, just because I wanted to be able to say I did. No one was endangered at all, btw, even though I was technically "driving.")
But in general, reading and writing while driving strikes me as the antithesis of common sense, so despite my potential objections based on the possibility of exceptions (as well as the realization that certain legal behaviors such as unfolding and reading a road map while driving are probably more distracting than texting), I have not been inclined to write a post about the anti-texting law. What provoked my ire was to read an entirely legitimate complaint from a sheriff in my area, who points out something the geniuses in the legislature seem to have missed entirely.
In two days, police officers across Michigan will be able to pull over motorists sending text messages while driving, but how will they know drivers aren't simply dialing a phone number?Well, it's too late now. Officers in Michigan are charged with the legal duty of pulling people over and citing them whenever it looks like they're texting.
Which means if I get lost and need to phone wherever I'm going for directions (as has happened many times), I now have an additional worry: how might my conduct might be interpreted by a police officer?
I thought they had only prohibited texting, but I now see that what will be targeted is the appearance of texting!
I guess I was asleep at the wheel.
Oh well. I guess I should be glad they didn't prohibit driving while drowsy, or I'd be afraid of getting arrested for yawning behind the wheel.
posted by Eric on 07.01.10 at 12:53 PM
Search the Site
Classics To Go
See more archives here
Old (Blogspot) archives
A knee sock jihad might be premature at this time
People Are Not Rational
No Biorobots For Japan
The Thorium Solution
Radiation Detector From A Digital Camera
This war of attrition is driving me bananas!
Attacking Christianity is one thing, but must they butcher geometry?
Are there trashy distinctions in freedom of expression?
Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood