The latest traffic violation: Driving while texting

Crackberry addicts may have to deal with Johnny Law if they're caught texting while in the driver's seat if lawmakers in Oregon and Washington get their way.

The Wall Street Journal published a story Wednesday about state legislators writing laws to define a new driving offense, DWT or "Driving While Texting." It appears that lawmakers have been spurred into action by the increasing number of accidents that have occurred where electronic and wireless devices were being used by drivers.

Several states already have laws on the books about the use of cell phones while driving, but I wonder if this latest move to ban texting might be overkill. I mean, I'm sure most people would agree that text messaging or using a Blackberry while driving is not a good idea. But do we really need a law to spell that out? I know for a fact that cell phones and BlackBerries are not the only things that distract people when they're driving.

What about a screaming baby in the backseat? I've seen lots of people on the road hike themselves over the driver's seat of their car, completely turning their entire bodies away from the road, to reach on the floor for a lost binky to pacify a screaming toddler. And I don't see anybody banning babies from cars.

If you think about it, just about anything can be a distraction and potentially cause an accident. When I was 16-years-old, literally a week after I got my driver's license, I crashed into a telephone pole, because I was tuning the car radio. I've never heard of legislators trying to ban radios from cars. In fact, you can't buy a car today without a radio, CD player, and a dashboard as complicated as the control panel of a 747. (Luckily, I live in Manhattan and don't have to get behind the wheel very often.)

And then there are the personal navigator GPS systems from companies like TomTom, which are specifically made for cars. You can't tell me that people looking at one of those navigator maps or typing in a destination address for directions haven't gotten into accidents.

Maybe the answer isn't more legislation, but simply more common sense.

 

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