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New York Turns Rest Stops Into 'Texting Zones'

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the good-luck-with-that dept.

Transportation 165

New York governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a new plan to cut down on texting while driving: 'texting zones' along state highways. Existing parking areas, rest stops, and Park-n-Ride facilities will be designated as places for drivers to pull off the road and send text messages. There will be 91 locations to start, along with a few hundred signs to notify drivers. Cuomo said, "With this new effort, we are sending a clear message to drivers that there is no excuse to take your hands off the wheel and eyes off the road because your text can wait until the next Texting Zone." This follows a 365% increase in tickets issued for distracted driving this summer, compared to last summer. The increase comes in part from New York state police using unmarked SUVs with "platforms higher than an average vehicle, allowing officers greater ability to see into other vehicles and detect individuals in the process of sending text messages."

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165 comments

Unmarked vehicles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44941621)

Can they pull you over in one?

Re:Unmarked vehicles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44941823)

It seems so and I don't think there is a reason why they wouldn't be able to.
When you are breaking the law, it generally counts as breaking the law, even if they didn't notify you that they were nearby and may be able to see you break the law.

If the law is good, thats a whole different thing altogether.

Re:Unmarked vehicles (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44941887)

People may not want to stop for unmarked cars even if they do have flashing lights. There are some very strange & sick people out there and some of them impersonate police.

Re:Unmarked vehicles (4, Insightful)

LinuxIsGarbage (1658307) | about 7 months ago | (#44942129)

Indeed, and especially assuming the officer that pulls you over is a plain clothes officer. Given some attempts at police impersonators, I've seen recommendations FROM POLICE that if there's a question of an unmarked / un-uniformed officer pulling you over, to call dispatch and verify. Maybe that doesn't work in 'merica where you'll be thrown in Guantanamo before your call can be completed.

Re:Unmarked vehicles (1)

mjwx (966435) | about 7 months ago | (#44943275)

Indeed, and especially assuming the officer that pulls you over is a plain clothes officer. Given some attempts at police impersonators, I've seen recommendations FROM POLICE that if there's a question of an unmarked / un-uniformed officer pulling you over, to call dispatch and verify. Maybe that doesn't work in 'merica where you'll be thrown in Guantanamo before your call can be completed.

Not sure about 'Murica, but here in Australia plain clothes cops are instantly recognisable from their haircut and the sheer amount of radio/computer equipment in their car.

However plain clothes cops in Oz will only pull you over if you're doing something stupid... Like texting and driving.

Re:Unmarked vehicles (4, Informative)

fnj (64210) | about 7 months ago | (#44942759)

There are some very strange & sick people out there and some of them impersonate police.

A goodly number of them ARE police officers.

Re:Unmarked vehicles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44941891)

Just checked. Cuomo repealed concealed vehicle ban in 2012, so it's open for business. They are also saying the CITE vehicles are only used during the day.

Re:Unmarked vehicles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44941913)

Can they pull you over in one?

Marked or unmarked, don't you feel safer knowing they're going to be encouraged to continue to text, type, and read all about your driving record on a 14" screen and keyboard mounted to the fucking floorboard of their vehicle, just before they pull you over to give you an expensive ticket for doing the same thing while stopped at a light.

Let me just stop in Jersey so I can fill up my extra-large soda cup before I enter the land of common fucking sense we refer to as New York...

Re:Unmarked vehicles (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#44942165)

Please distinguish between stupid laws in NYC and stupid laws in NYS. The former have been fostered by someone who bought himself a public office, and the latter by someone who inherited it.

P.S. Jersey ain't exactly perfect either. Here's a convenient reference: http://www.stupidlaws.com/laws/united-states/new_jersey/ [stupidlaws.com] It also lists other states and countries.

This makes no sense. (1, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | about 7 months ago | (#44941641)

Why couldn't you pull over and send text messages from a rest area, before it was named a texting area? This sounds stupid.

Re:This makes no sense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44941713)

It may be stupid, but it's slightly less stupid than most solutions that are put into action.

Re:This makes no sense. (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 7 months ago | (#44941715)

They could, they just think signs will help. Just like all those "Keep right except to pass" signs that everyone in NY ignores.

Re:This makes no sense. (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 7 months ago | (#44941817)

Hell in VA they got rid of the law that even says 'keep right'. Apparently it's peachy keen to pass people on the right too, or so I was told by the nice officer who was objecting to my flashing the slowpoke in the left lane.

Re:This makes no sense. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44941951)

In Texas you can pass any which way you want as long as you don't leave the pavement, and if you pass on a paved shoulder, that it's not marked with "no driving on shoulder" signs or stripes. Found that out when I passed a truck doing 20 under the speed limit up the center lane on its left, and hit the car that had passed both me and the truck on the right when we both pulled back into the middle lane in front of the truck.

Re:This makes no sense. (2)

fnj (64210) | about 7 months ago | (#44942777)

I passed a truck doing 20 under the speed limit up the center lane on its left, and hit the car that had passed both me and the truck on the right when we both pulled back into the middle lane in front of the truck.

I bet the truck driver got a good laugh out of that one, two hotshots colliding with each other.

Re:This makes no sense. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44941753)

In New York you could, because the law is about operating a moving vehicle. As long as you stop, you can text. Other states talk about control, which includes being outside your vehicle with the keys. The point of this is to encourage people to use rest areas for texting. It's a PR campaign, not a legal one.

Re:This makes no sense. (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 7 months ago | (#44941849)

How about the Georgia cop who has issued 800 tickets *this year* to people stopped at red lights and texting? linky [ajc.com]

Don't expect you're quaint notion of what's 'right' to mesh with how it's applied to you.

Re:This makes no sense. (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about 7 months ago | (#44941905)

In urban areas redlight texting is a real problem.

It's not infrequent to lose 10%-20% of a greenlight to some asshole texting in front of you, the spillover costs are quite high.

Re:This makes no sense. (1)

orthancstone (665890) | about 7 months ago | (#44942033)

As I pointed out in the Georgia story, people have been shitty at red lights since before cell phones were prevalent. Targeting texting at the red light is not going to magically solve the problem that eating breakfast, reading the newspaper, doing your makeup, fucking with the radio, talking to someone in the back seat, or any other number of activities has been causing for decades.

(And, NO, it isn't a start to correcting the problem, so please don't waste time typing out that argument.)

Re:This makes no sense. (2)

dgatwood (11270) | about 7 months ago | (#44942123)

Trying to prevent distracted driving is simply an infeasible task. The reality of the world is that drivers are becoming increasingly distracted with every passing year, from GPS navigation devices to touchscreen radios, from Amber alerts on digital traffic signs to digital advertising billboards. All the other pieces of additional visual information that we didn't encounter twenty years ago make driving less safe, but reversing that trend is a bit like draining the Atlantic Ocean with a soup spoon. Not only will you never get there, but you'll also never really make any appreciable progress even though at first glance, you might think you are. Instead, we have to design vehicles, traffic lights, and other systems to be resilient to distraction and to minimize the negative ramifications thereof.

The reason for such an approach is that the problem you describe is not even remotely limited to texting; it also occurs for adjusting the radio, changing the air conditioning, scratching your back, or doing any of a million other possible things while stopped at the light. These things are only a problem because the traffic lights in America are substandard.

The best way to explain is with a quick anecdote. While walking around in Europe last week, by my estimation, about 80% of drivers were either on the phone or texting at lights, yet when the light turned green, they moved. Why? Because European traffic lights indicate not only when the light is about to turn red, but also when it is about to turn green. As a result, they don't have to constantly watch the light, waiting patiently for it to suddenly switch from red to green, but instead can glance up periodically and notice that it has moved to a red + yellow state (or red + orange in Europe), stop what they are doing, and be ready to begin driving again when the light turns green a few seconds later.

Re:This makes no sense. (1)

cockpitcomp (1575439) | about 7 months ago | (#44942895)

Your radio should play the start tones from the old "Pole Position" arcade game when the light is turning green. Boop...Boop...Beeeeeee

Re:This makes no sense. (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about 7 months ago | (#44943179)

You joke, but an audible signal would not be particularly difficult to implement, and would be a really useful addition.

Re:This makes no sense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44943283)

Beats losing 50-75% due to an old codger who can barely see past the dashboard.

Re:This makes no sense. (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 7 months ago | (#44941923)

Georgia would be one of those other states he mentioned. I only read the Slashdot summary of the article, but it did seem to imply rather strongly that the Georgia cop was not in New York.

Re:This makes no sense. (1)

Seumas (6865) | about 7 months ago | (#44942049)

If it is such life threatening behavior (and it certainly seems that it is), why don't they make the penalty significant enough that you will not want a ticket or will never do it again? It's like drunk driving. If people really gave a fuck about the dangers drunk drivers pose to the rest of the public, they would enforce a "caught once, suspended license for five years - caught twice, suspended forever. Caught on suspension, serve a year in prison" law.

When you're only making it a nuisance, you're less interested in limiting the danger and more interested in generating continued revenue from it. You can't gain more revenue for the system from people who learn their lesson the first time.

It sounds like putting up signs (that they know will have no impact) is a way to appear that they're doing something without actually impacting the revenue they generate by handing out tickets.

Re:This makes no sense. (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about 7 months ago | (#44942359)

No, have a real 'drunk driving is bad' law. None of that suspended license stuff.

1) If you are driving drunk, and kill someone, you are executed. No exceptions.
2) Do you even need another rule?

Re:This makes no sense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44942465)

If laws were so simple, lawyers and by extension law makers will become redundant, therefore for their own safety, they will make laws as complicated as possible.

Re:This makes no sense. (2)

electron sponge (1758814) | about 7 months ago | (#44943267)

No, have a real 'drunk driving is bad' law. None of that suspended license stuff.

1) If you are driving drunk, and kill someone, you are executed. No exceptions. 2) Do you even need another rule?

It's been repeatedly established that the death penalty is no deterrent to crime. What we need is a ban on people possessing mobile phones. People don't kill people, people driving and texting with mobile phones kill people. These dangerous weapons are too powerful to be in the hands of the general population. The Founding Fathers never imagined this when they crafted the First Amendment.

:)

Re:This makes no sense. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44943331)

You aren't very familiar with zero-tolerance death penalty style laws in other countries are you? Hint: They don't work.

You'd still have people driving drunk except now if a cop tried to pull them over, they'd do everything they could to get away, which would result in a scary high speed chase that is all but guaranteed to end very badly. You've taken a potentially bad situation and assuredly made it worse. Bravo. You've proven yourself qualified to sit amongst those we classify as "politicians". We'll put a cork on the end of your dinner fork so you don't injure yourself.

Re:This makes no sense. (2)

steelfood (895457) | about 7 months ago | (#44941793)

Maybe service? New York has a lot of rural, hilly areas where you might get a revolving half-bar of service even on Verizon or AT&T. The smaller carriers, like Sprint and T-Mobile, have no chance in these locations.

I don't know if they've confirmed cell service for all networks in these places specifically. If not, it's going to draw the attention of lawyers all over the state.

Re:This makes no sense. (1)

Seumas (6865) | about 7 months ago | (#44942013)

If you don't get cell service in your car on the interstate, then you aren't texting while driving *anyway* . . . because, you know, no cell service.

If you're installing special cell service towers in these rest stops, then that's worth mentioning (along with toilets and picnic areas), but it doesn't seem worth promoting specially by renaming the stops.

If you're just doing this as some sort of safety effort (which seems to be the case), then renaming a rest area to a "texting area" makes about as much sense as renaming it any other number of things you can also do at rest areas, besides rest. Rest stops. Stretch stops. Walking stops. Urination stops. Masturbation stops. Cell phone stops. Reading book stops. And if we're renaming them after social efforts under the premise that changing the name will some how change behavior, let's get up some "Don't Do Meth Areas" and "Don't Beat Your Children Areas"...

It seems they were already properly addressing the problem in the correct way. A thing is illegal and they issue tickets when they catch people doing the illegal thing. if that isn't having enough of an impact, then increase the penalty. If people are seriously dying because fucking idiots are surfing on their iphone while driving, then punish them with more than a $100 fine. Maybe suspend their license on a first offense or issue a large fine to the company behind the truckers doing it while driving company rigs.

Someone else really nailed it, I think, when they suggested this sounds like some brown-noser's little pet feel-good project. :/

Re:This makes no sense. (1)

healyp (1260440) | about 7 months ago | (#44941897)

Yea, but it does sound like a really excellent way to spend millions of dollars on new road signs.

Re:This makes no sense. (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 7 months ago | (#44941953)

Indeed it does. And with only 91 of them for the entire State, there probably won't be one near when you need one anyway.

Re:This makes no sense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44942411)

New York government is all about expensive symbolic gestures. Like spending $4 Million to rename a bridge: http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/19/triborough-bridge-is-renamed-for-rfk/?_r=0

Re:This makes no sense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44942485)

They got the idea from those "cell phone lots" at airports. Like people couldn't park before they had signs saying "cell phone lot"...

AC Turns Slashdot Into "First Posting" Zone (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44941661)

First post ladies

Shout out to my peeps

Re:AC Turns Slashdot Into "First Posting" Zone (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 7 months ago | (#44941721)

This may be the first relevant "First post". Because it's exactly as useful, effective and accurate as "texting zones"

Re:AC Turns Slashdot Into "First Posting" Zone (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 7 months ago | (#44941819)

I better write my comment here then, I don't want to get a ticket for posting in a non-posting zone.

Saw one on the way home. (1)

HoldmyCauls (239328) | about 7 months ago | (#44941665)

Thought it was silly, but the message was clear: "It can wait -- Text stop 5 miles." Which, of course, means nothing to the impatient texters.

Re:Saw one on the way home. (4, Funny)

Doug Otto (2821601) | about 7 months ago | (#44941751)

"Which, of course, means nothing to the impatient texters who didn't see the sign because they were looking at their phone.

ftfy

Re:Saw one on the way home. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44941845)

5 miles? OK, if I floor it I can make it there in time to RT Justin Bieber's last tweet before any of my followers see it elsewhere. I'm sure I won't get a speeding ticket, all the cops are busy handing out Texting While Driving tickets.

How about... (5, Funny)

mynameiskhan (2689067) | about 7 months ago | (#44941759)

Cuomo, I beg you. For God's sake... please designate a drinking zone. Please.

Re:How about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44941833)

Yea, *underage* drinking zones, and a whole host of currently illegal (but desirable) activities can have their own zones too... Imagine what it will do to tourism for New York... Oh .. Wait....

Re:How about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44941981)

They're called bars.

Re:How about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44942135)

They have. It's called "Bar"

Re:How about... (2)

electron sponge (1758814) | about 7 months ago | (#44943329)

Cuomo, I beg you. For God's sake... please designate a drinking zone. Please.

As a native Upstate New Yorker, I imagine gigantic inflatable curbs, 10-15 feet high, bordering the Thruway from Buffalo all the way to NYC. Just like bumper bowling. Put inflatable bumpers on the cars too, and let's have some fun! Every Thruway rest area would be well stocked with various types of alcohol, taxed well for the benefit of our schools. Cell phone use would not only be legal, but encouraged! I-90 and I-87 have never been so interesting.

Okay, I'll buy this. (1)

raque (457836) | about 7 months ago | (#44941769)

I was just driving in NY State and there are tons of signs up about the anti-texting law. Some of the rest stops had free wi-fi and some didn't. I don't think this will stop stupid young people from texting, that would require them to stop being stupid young people. But for the rest of us it may well help. When texts came in from my college age kid I found it hard to ignore them. Having my wife with me to read them and respond and tell me to stop dithering and drive was a great help.

These days when ever I drive with someone I give them my phone, it's just easier that way. If I'm alone I turn on Do Not Disturb and use a jawbone earpiece. Actually that isn't true, lot of the time I just turn off the sound and listen to the radio. I need to call out, not take calls. I spent twenty years driving without a cell phone. It can wait, really it can. Or, solve it yourself, You're a grown up now, you can do this.

Re:Okay, I'll buy this. (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 7 months ago | (#44942053)

When texts came in from my college age kid I found it hard to ignore them.

Interesting. When my kid was college-age, and she texted me (rarely, since my attitude toward texting was clear), I had no trouble ignoring them - if it was a real problem, she'd call (and I'd answer), if it was trivial enough for texting (to be read anytime (for which read never)), I ignored it.

Re:Okay, I'll buy this. (1)

raque (457836) | about 7 months ago | (#44942171)

I run into endless cultural problems with texting. All my kids text by preference, even important stuff. I yell - I scream - I jump up and down, they promise to use better judgement. Two weeks later they are back to it. Maybe if I just ignored them they would change, but that just isn't me.

Re:Okay, I'll buy this. (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 7 months ago | (#44942355)

I run into endless cultural problems with texting. All my kids text by preference, even important stuff. I yell - I scream - I jump up and down, they promise to use better judgement. Two weeks later they are back to it. Maybe if I just ignored them they would change, but that just isn't me.

MY kids love to text too.

But they know that daddy is going to ignore their texts until he feels like looking at them (I usually try for once a month or so, usually when I can't sleep).

I get a lot fewer texts from them these days.

Mind you, if I have to go back to working in a secure area, I'll start checking them as soon as I get out of the secure area.

Re:Okay, I'll buy this. (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 7 months ago | (#44942145)

Truth be told, these days I find less and less use for my cell. When I'm bringing the dog out for a walk or going shopping, I leave it at home. When I'm driving and it happens to be in the car, I let it ring out. When I sleep I leave the phone in another room. Every service has an answering machine anyway, I'll get back to you. The majority of my communication is done online through a laptop or desktop where I don't get charged real money per email. Yes some people have data plans, good for them, but even then I'd rather not peck at a miniature keyboardless monitor when I can do the same thing much more easily on an actual keyboard.

If I ever become a doctor or take on some other role where people are paying hard cash for my 24 hour attention, or possibly if I had a very sick relative, sure I'll change my habits. Until such time there really isn't much that has a right to interfere with my life whenever it wants to.

Great... (1)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | about 7 months ago | (#44941771)

Park-n-Ride facilities

Oh great, so people on their way to work are going to miss their train/bus because the lot is full of people texting.

Payphone Scenario (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44941777)

Remember those? Back in the day, they were also used as a crutch by dealers and hookers standing around waiting to make a deal. Although they weren't fooling anyone, pretending to place a call was an excuse to legally (so to speak) hang in an area to avoid harassment from the police.

It might come in handy in the latest version of this old school tactic

Re:Payphone Scenario (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 7 months ago | (#44941843)

Hey sugar, want to receive a sexy call? Only five dollars per minute, long-distance charges may apply.

Re:Payphone Scenario (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44941855)

Seems like a win win.. Get texters off the road and attract more tourists....

where our government went wrong (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44941785)

is when they started making laws prohibiting activities that might potentially cause harm, rather than limiting itself to regulating activities that cause a known and undeniable quantity of harm

someone causes a wreck for any reason and they harm someone else then you nail them, someone doesn't harm anyone you leave them the fuck alone

Re:where our government went wrong (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 7 months ago | (#44942227)

Texting causes accidents, period. You may think you can do it safely, but the rest of us know you're a hazard on the road.

Won't work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44942001)

You can't fix stupid people. They will text when they are driving no matter what because...

A. Just like speed limits those laws are for everyone except them.

B. They can do it better and safer than anyone else

C. It is only every now and then so it isn't really breaking the law.

D. They are stupid.

Re:Won't work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44942329)

A and B describe the cops better than anyone. I've never seen anyone tailgate closer than a cop trying to nudge up a speeding ticket, or who was just impatient and trying to muscle his way through traffic.

As someone who doesn't have a smartphone... (2)

c5402dc53929211e1efb (3084201) | about 7 months ago | (#44942029)

I have one question: what the fuck are all you retards texting about all the time?

Re:As someone who doesn't have a smartphone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44942059)

Losers who don't have smartphones.....

Re:As someone who doesn't have a smartphone... (0)

c5402dc53929211e1efb (3084201) | about 7 months ago | (#44942215)

kill yourself, retard

Re:As someone who doesn't have a smartphone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44942819)

let's see. you say you need a smartphone to text. someone makes fun of you. you call them a retard. I bet you think you're smarter than average skippy, and you explain every incident away to yourself every time it happens. come on bra - do you even lift? I highly doubt it. what a loser. what a fucking loser.

Re:As someone who doesn't have a smartphone... (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 7 months ago | (#44942295)

Beats me, I haven't had a mobile for 5yrs now and I haven't missed it. It does however seem to annoy the shit out of other people who think I should be contactable 24x7 like everyone else.

Get a life people (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44942037)

And who is paying for the signage and upkeep? Here's a thought! You don't need to be connected to your phone 24/7 put it down and drive the damn car until you reach your destination. No need to stop half way to update your stupid ass twitter, facebook or text your BFF you are 2 hours into a 8 hour trip.

Re:Get a life people (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#44942221)

And who is paying for the signage and upkeep?

Who pays to change all the signs that say "Andrew J. Schnook, Governor" every time a new governor is elected. They're not only in NY, but most states I can think of. It's helpful to have a sign telling you when you're entering a state, but "who is the current governor" is not of great importance to most travelers.

texing zones or gay sex zones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44942067)

Georgia keeps closing rest areas because they can't keep people from screwing in the bathrooms.

besides, texting tickets are a money maker, here in Gwinnett county.

A question (4, Interesting)

sacrilicious (316896) | about 7 months ago | (#44942155)

What if I get a scrap of wood, paint it to look like a cellphone, and get pulled over for texting because a policeman saw me glancing at it and poking at it while driving. Have I broken a law? What precisely or generally would I be charged with?

Taking it further: suppose I get pulled over for bona fide texting, but in the time it takes to be pulled over I launch an app that wipes out record of my having texted, and I switch my phone for the above-mentioned painted wooden block and take the position that I was not using my cellphone... perhaps because I resent the non-coherence of a law that targets cellphone users while leaving numerous other driver distractions untouched... or perhaps because I just like seeming like I'm important... or whatever. Other than going to the trouble of checking my cell records to see if I was sending texts, or just insisting that they don't believe me, what argument does law enforcement have? What if I can point to youtube videos I've posted of me using the wooden block numerous times in traffic, for the hell of it?

I think this would be interesting, as it would force The System to clarify whether doing ANYTHING that looked remotely like texting was illegal. That's a distinction they've been spared so far by the built-in assumption that if it looks like a cellphone then it is one... from a prosecutorial perspective, that's really an important pillar of the law in its current form.

Re:A question (3, Insightful)

c5402dc53929211e1efb (3084201) | about 7 months ago | (#44942273)

inattentive driving

Re:A question (1)

sacrilicious (316896) | about 7 months ago | (#44942905)

So here's the point: if we have a law against "inattentive driving", then having a separate law against "inattentive driving while using a cell phone" is a total sham. It's like having a law against robbing a bank, then having another law against robbing a bank while wearing pants. If the penalties are the same, there's no point in having two laws other than political posturing, which should be called out for what it is. If the penalties are different, then it's not moot whether someone is wearing pants while robbing that bank, nor is it moot whether someone is using a block of wood vs an actual cellphone.

Re:A question (2)

raque (457836) | about 7 months ago | (#44942279)

I think you would get slapped twice. It's the cops word against yours. ASAIK IANAL the cop is automatically believed by the court. You have to disprove them. Also, simulating a crime just to distract a cop is a separate crime.

As for the law's logic. you can't ban being distracted, you can ban specific behaviors in specific places. You can get a ticket for putting on makeup while driving. You are operating a vehicle in an unsafe manner. I knew someone it happened to. It was the cops word against her's.

Re:A question (1)

sacrilicious (316896) | about 7 months ago | (#44942857)

Also, simulating a crime just to distract a cop is a separate crime.

Out of curiosity, can you provide an authoritative citation of that?

Regardless: the proposed activity is not simply "to distract a cop"... it's to highlight the shaky and arbitrary foundations of a poorly thought out law. I'm not saying a policeman is going to welcome that interpretation, but the prescribed defense is a whole lot more than "I was just trying to distract a cop". Was Rosa Parks just trying to make the bus late?

Re:A question (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 7 months ago | (#44942433)

Unless you're filming yourself with that block of wood, it's all the cop's say-so as to whether you were texting.

Re:A question (1)

sacrilicious (316896) | about 7 months ago | (#44942877)

Unless you're filming yourself with that block of wood, it's all the cop's say-so as to whether you were texting.

So if the defense asks the cop in a courtroom to distinguish between a well-painted block of wood and an actual cellphone, at distances equivalent to those on a highway, could a cop do it, even putting aside that on the highway there was the further impediment of the cars moving at high speeds? The cop can certainly claim he THOUGHT it was a cellphone, but he has no way of proving that he didn't mistake one for the other.

This would get especially sticky for him if it turned out to be the case that there was no actual cellphone in the car.

Re:A question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44942475)

If I was a police officer, I would charge you with not being in full control of your vehicle by virtue that your attention is divided between the traffic and your piece of wood. Your piece of wood would be no different to fiddling with the radio or air-conditioning.

Re:A question (1)

sacrilicious (316896) | about 7 months ago | (#44942985)

If I was a police officer, I would charge you with not being in full control of your vehicle by virtue that your attention is divided between the traffic and your piece of wood.

What if I can produce video of the event in which I can demonstrate that although I did poke continuously at the block of wood and sometimes glanced at it, that most of the time my eyes were on the road, and in fact I narrated a continuous and accurate description of all traffic around me? What if I have a certified driving instructor with me at the time who can legally swear that in his professional opinion, I was in full and complete control at all times?

I'm not bringing up the particular scenario above to suggest that's exactly what I'd do, but if your answer is nevertheless "the cops always win", then we shouldn't even be talking about whether there are cellphone laws or what have you, because it's immaterial... the real discussion in that case would be what a complete police state the US has descended into (which it has, I agree). But if that's your point, please forgive me because I'm still working my through the possibilities that exist when there actually is some amount of due process, as meager as it seems to be these days. At a minimum, if we do live in a complete police state, I want to see every person acknowledging that. Until that happens, I'll continue to explore scenarios like this to see what happens when people take it upon themselves to contemplate poking at the system.

Re:A question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44942541)

The real problem here is that we have laws that already addressed things like talking on the phone, texting or making a PB&J sandwich while driving... They just passed more laws to make it look like they were doing something about the problem instead of enforcing the ones on the books already. Government does this a lot.

Re:A question (4, Interesting)

spasm (79260) | about 7 months ago | (#44942563)

The Northern Territory of Australia use to have no maximum speed limit. I remember hearing an interview on the radio with the chief of polcie which went something like "Yeah, we love it, you can get from Darwin to Tennant Creek (nearly 1000km, or 600 miles for the Liberians and Americans reading) in 5 hours .. but if we see you doing 160 (100 mph) in the rain at night in an area with a lot of water buffaloes out on the road we'll pull you over and bust you for dangerous driving for your own safety".

My point is, if you're driving down the highway playing with a painted block of wood instead of paying attention and driving, there's plenty of things the cops can bust you for other than texting. Videoing the entire process and subsequent encounter with the cops and being able to prove to the judge that you "weren't texting" isn't going to save you.

In fact, 30 seconds googling shows in New York state the maximum fine for texting is 'only' $150, whereas the maximum fine for reckless driving is $300.

Re:A question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44942739)

Yeah, its not always a crime to be a jerk. Then again, you don't have to be caught and legally punished to pay the price for being a jerk either.

E.g. All you have proven is that you could waste a lot of your time in order to waste a little of some cop's time. Of couse, the cop is being paid, so you are really only wasting his employer's money. Oh, wait, that is your money.

Contrary to your expectations, you will not be celebrated as a hero for proving that anti-texting laws are not perfect. Everybody already figured that out. Laws are never perfect. All they need to be is good enough to deter reasonable people. Unreasonable people, by definition, will not reliably heed any law, no matter how fair or rational.

Re:A question (1)

sacrilicious (316896) | about 7 months ago | (#44942823)

Unreasonable people, by definition, will not reliably heed any law, no matter how fair or rational.

I wouldn't know about that, but you seem to be implying that a law against texting -- while ignoring fiddling with the radio, talking to other people in the car, glancing at folded maps, handing things to other people, etc -- is unquestionably fair or rational. I question that premise.

eah, its not always a crime to be a jerk.

Right back atcha, sunshine.

Re:A question (1)

mjwx (966435) | about 7 months ago | (#44943305)

What if I get a scrap of wood, paint it to look like a cellphone, and get pulled over for texting because a policeman saw me glancing at it and poking at it while driving. Have I broken a law? What precisely or generally would I be charged with?

In Australia,

Dangerous driving, wasting a police officers time and wasting the courts time.

Courts in Oz take a very, very dim view of dumb smartarses.

As a motorcyclist/cyclist/pedestrian (1)

occasional_dabbler (1735162) | about 7 months ago | (#44942265)

I can say that smartphone use while driving is a disease that warrants draconian measures. I can't tell you the number of times I've been run off the road recently by _teenage girls on bicycles_ staring at their iPhones, oblivious to the other bikes, cars articulated lorries (US: semis) and _trains_ they happily ride past. This is quite apart from young mothers in 4x4s, 'dudes' in WVs and bankers in Porsches driving well over 200 kmh. It needs to earn the social stigma of drunk driving and worse, and quickly.

so how is a texting zone different from rest stop? (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 7 months ago | (#44942271)

Is it just the "texting zone" sign? How much did someone get paid to think of this?

Re:so how is a texting zone different from rest st (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44943023)

It's no different at all, and yet it sends a message. They are trying to change social norms and create positive change.

Problem is, IMO, that people actually want to multi-task. We've got citizens who spend a couple of hours a day in their cars and they want to reclaim a bit of that time. Pulling over to text accomplishes the job of making them safe but it slows the drivers progress towards reaching their destination. It will be an uphill battle changing attitudes and behaviour.

Allow texting while stopped (1)

cockpitcomp (1575439) | about 7 months ago | (#44942293)

Just allow texting at redlights. Sure it's annoying, but not dangerous. People aren't going to stop texting, so encourage doing it in a safer manner rather than the less likely to get caught but more dangerous manner. It's a reasonable compromise.

Politics trumps science (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#44942305)

This follows a 365% increase in tickets issued for distracted driving this summer, compared to last summer.

Was this campaign so politicos could claim to be "doing something", or to generate more ticket revenue? If the latter, what's the net after buying those shiny new SUV's and paying for more police hours? I think texting while driving is the height of idiocy, and should be banned, but is this campaign actually based on the severity of the problem? It'd be nice if which traffic offenses they choose to enforce most vigorously were based on some study of which caused the greatest danger. I know, I'm dreaming, reason, logic, facts and all that other silly stuff is always trumped by politics.

let the arms race begin! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44942423)

so my phone has voice recog for inputting the txt, and a heads up display right in front of me projected on my windshield. The cops "high" platform will not let them see me txting. My hands will be on the wheel in plain sight

tomato, to-mah-to (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 7 months ago | (#44942517)

You call them "texting zones", and I call them, "downloading-hentai-and-wanking-'til-I-get-blisters zones".

Vive la difference!

New York: The new police state (4, Informative)

pongo000 (97357) | about 7 months ago | (#44942615)

Actually, the *old* police state, just catching up with technology. I can't imagine a more awful place to live, where your every move is subject to surveillance and unlawful searches. What's worse is that New Yorkers actually vote these fascists in office.

Guess you get to lie in the bed you make after all. No sympathies here.

There should be ZERO tolerance for this (2)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 7 months ago | (#44942949)

Drivers caught texting while driving should lose their license for a year on the spot on the first offense, no exceptions. Such wanton disregard for public safety is inexcusable. The fact that the tickets are such a minor offense right now does practically nothing to discourage this dangerous behavior.

Texting zones? (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 7 months ago | (#44943073)

I recently bought a used car that came with tinted side and rear windows, and was pulled over last week for it in an eastern Long Island N.Y. town. The summer tourist season has just ended, meaning the local police here have lots of free time for pulling people over for any reason now. I asked the young officer why I was pulled over, he replied, "Vehicle safety check", my windows being tinted being the reason, and I was quickly left to go on my way, this time.

Now with these 'texting zones' where police will be higher in order to more easily see into a vehicle, any window tintinf at all will mean an instant (and expensive) ticket every time.

I'm all for safer driving on our roads, but it sure seems to me that New York State has come up with many new and creative traffic laws over the last several years, most of which carry heavy(er) fines and license points. It's almost as if the elected officials in Albany need more money to cover what they need to embezzle, We have had many corruption stories coming out of our capitol here for the last several years, which leads me to wonder if it's really about safety or just another revenue producer for the state.

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