Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Trying To Legislate Common Sense

I regularly dump on the Philadelphia Inquirer for well-deserved reasons, and I have a feeling I’ll be doing it again shortly. However, I’m taking issue with them reluctantly over an editorial today, because they’re trying to do the right thing.

I posted about a month ago on a story in the Inquirer where these teenaged girls from the western PA suburbs were just oh so happy with themselves because they sent text messages while they were driving, and I was actually shocked by the dangerous stupidity behind doing that sort of thing. Well, as noted here, the Inquirer is calling for a law to ban texting while driving (trying and failing in typical fashion to be “cute” by using texting terminology in the editorial).

I’m sorry to point this out, but that is absolutely an effort in futility.

As I’ve mentioned, I drive in New Jersey a lot, and that’s state’s ban on hand-held cell phones is the most ignored law that I’ve ever seen. And that is concerning a practice which can be visible to a police officer who happens to drive by an offending individual (i.e., driving while a cell phone looks like it’s stuck on someone’s face).

If someone is texting while driving, it’s going to be harder for a police officer to make a visual identification of an offending driver than it would be if that driver were speaking on a hand-held phone (unless one of the passengers in the vehicle dimes out the driver). More often than not, a police officer would identify a texting device in the company of a driver after an accident had already occurred (though someone would probably hide it in a car console, purse, or glove box in that event to avoid notice and thus incur an additional penalty).

I can’t think of any other way to fight this than to demonstrate in driver’s education how stoo-pid it is to “text” while driving for both those awaiting their licenses and anyone who has to reenroll in driver’s training pursuant to vehicle offenses.

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