Thursday, November 22, 2007

No Texts Allowed

In a gratuitous and disturbing move on our civil liberties, Sen. Alan Lasee, R-DePere in the Wisconsin legislature introduced a bill that would make it illegal to text and drive.
It's impossible to know how many accidents in Wisconsin resulted from driver error related to text messaging. The state's uniform crash report form does not include cell phones as an option for police to mark as the reason for an accident. Another pending bill would update the form to include that as a contributing cause.
And its going to be just as impossible to enforce.
The Wisconsin State Telecommunications Association doesn't have a position on Lasee's bill but generally believes that current laws against distracted driving are sufficient, director Bill Esbeck said. However, the group has supported tighter restrictions on cell phone use for younger, less experienced drivers, Esbeck said. The association represents 70 phone companies, 25 Internet service providers and nine wireless carriers in Wisconsin.
So what, not only will they have to catch you texting, they need to identify your age first to see if they can pull you over? At what age should it become "legal" to text message while driving?

This law is useless. There are laws against recklessly operating a motor vehicle, and if the operation of the vehicle is impaired, that is justification to pull someone over and ticket them, or if they get into a crash it is enough to make them responsible. People are still going to drive terribly, and the more we try to regulate it the more confusing it will become, to the point that we cannot enforce the laws. This is just as gratuitous as the seat belt laws.
Lasee's bill, which he is circulating for co-sponsors and intends to introduce in early December, would impose a $400 fine for a first offense and an $800 penalty for additional ones.

If text messaging is found to be responsible for an accident resulting in an injury, the fine would jump to $2,000 and at least 30 days in jail. If the accident results in a death, the penalty would be a felony with up to a $25,000 fine or 10 years in prison.
I'm sorry, but I think this is a bit much. I understand the dangers of operating a cell phone at the same time as a motor vehicle. But what about eating while driving, using the radio/CD player, talking to people in the car, driving while tired, sneezing, etc. There are many things I could come up with that could impair one's ability to drive, and most of them are simple things we all do. There ought to be a penalty for driving like a reckless maniac, and there is. Why then do we need to add more regulation and bureaucracy? Oh thats right, so Uncle Same can take more of your tax dollars to fund the nanny-state, and so weak politicians can look as if they are "tough on crime."

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