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State Bans Texting While Driving

CowboyNeal posted more than 6 years ago | from the safr-4-u dept.

Communications 329

netbuzz writes "The state of Washington yesterday became the first in the nation to ban text-messaging while driving. The law could use sharper teeth, but it's a natural and necessary progression of the movement to clamp down on those who find the need to constantly communicate more important than the safety of their fellow travelers."

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329 comments

Whatever happened to common sense? (4, Informative)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095511)

Whatever happened to common sense?

Re:Whatever happened to common sense? (4, Insightful)

MoonFog (586818) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095557)

The problem with texting while driving is that it usually put OTHERS in danger because your driving will be affected. Common sense is not so common unfortunately, and texting while driving does not only affect you, but also others around you.

Re:Whatever happened to common sense? (2, Insightful)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095605)

Washingtonians should know they shouldn't text and drive. Page 20 in the PDF file (page number on the paper, not the PDF viewer's page number). Notice how "hands" is plural.

http://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/driverguide.p df [wa.gov]

You should have clear vision in all directions, all controls should be within reach, and at least one-third of the steering wheel should be between your hands.

Re:Whatever happened to common sense? (3, Funny)

Skater (41976) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095695)

So no one drives a stick in WA?

Re:Whatever happened to common sense? (4, Informative)

x_MeRLiN_x (935994) | more than 6 years ago | (#19096111)

A man driving a lorry in the UK who was sending a test message to his girlfriend and killed another driver received 5 years in prison back in 2001. Not paying due care and attention to the road has long been a crime in the UK and more recently this has been extended to no use of mobile phones unless you make use of a hands-free kit.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1166267.stm [bbc.co.uk]

Re:Whatever happened to common sense? (5, Interesting)

glenstar (569572) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095891)

I used to think most drivers had at least a modicum of common sense until the other day when I was out having a smoke in front of my local bar and watched a lady in her 50s literally brushing her teeth while driving westbound on 45th. She was doing all of about 5 miles an hour and there was a huge line of cars behind her. When she got pretty much in front of where I was standing, she came to a complete stop (a good couple hundred feet before the light) and really started to brush. She was completely and totally oblivious. The guy behind her looked like he was about to explode, compounded by the fact that I yelled out to him: "She's brushing her fucking teeth!". He turned a color of red I haven't seen before and started honking wildly. It took the lady a good 20 seconds to finally realize she had backed up traffic all the way back to I-5. The absolute best part was that she sped up for several yards until she was right behind another car and then HONKED at that car for not going fast enough. I wished for something Darwinian to happen, but alas, god must have been busy that day.

This is a First Amendment Issue!!! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19095607)

This is just more liberal do-gooding and interference with our everyday lives. This is by the same people who want to ban smoking [shelleytherepublican.com], force our kids to learn junk science [shelleytherepublican.com], and stifle honest [shelleytherepublican.com] American [shelleytherepublican.com] toil [shelleytherepublican.com].

We can only pray, before these nannying socialists force us to use inferior and dangerous [shelleytherepublican.com] operating systems [shelleytherepublican.com].

Re:This is a First Amendment Issue!!! (4, Insightful)

holistah (1002858) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095845)

I was going to mod this up, but I figured it would just get modded back down, so I figure I'll throw in my 2 cents as well. While I do not agree entirely with your post, I do agree with the spirit of it. No good can come from passing a ton of these laws to try and think of every single dangerous thing a person might do. They will not stop people from doing them, they are not enforceable, and they are such a wide net that they will in fact punish innocent people. All the activities they want to outright ban because they are "dangerous" such as driving while talking on a cell phone, or texting, or while the driver has had no sleep, are not always for all people at all times dangerous activities. Furthermore, there is no way they can list them all, or enforce an entire list of them all. If the activities truely are dangerous, they fall under reckless driving. If a person is being reckless, which can be determined by visually seeing the amount of control a driver has over their vehicle, punish that. That covers everything. It covers if they are talking on the phone, texting, eating a sandwich, putting on makeup, EVERYTHING. The goal is to stop people who don't have control over their vehicle from endagering others, so why not directly address the issue??? It makes NO sense to try and ban everything that could lead to reckless driving, when all they have to do is enforce the current reckless driving law! Common sense on the correct way for these lawmakers to achieve their goal aside, by trying to go after the activities that lead to unsafe driving, you are taking away freedoms. You are taking away freedoms in the name of "the greater good". If there is another way to accomplish a goal without taking away freedoms, it must be done. This is another clear example of trying to control people, in order to stop them from doing bad things. It never works. You must go directly after the people doing the bad things or you will never win. Trying to nip it in the bud by controlling people is not right, and if that isn't enough of a reason not to do it, it also won't work.

Oh and by the way, this is not "liberal" as you say. True liberals are on the side of liberty, which this clearly is not. Just the same, true conservatives would not do this either, because there is nothing conservative about passing more and more laws on the same exact subject. This is the doing of people who do not really fall on either side. They are extremists, totalitarians, or quite possibly just people without common sense. Personally, I like to think there is no devious motivations behind these stupid laws. I think they are just that, stupid.

Re:This is a First Amendment Issue!!! (5, Insightful)

Tuoqui (1091447) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095857)

If you want to exercise your first amendment rights pull off to the side of the road and do it.

It has been proven that talking on the cell phone while driving is almost as bad as driving drunk. I can only imagine how much worse 'texting while driving' is.

Remember that you have your rights only up until you become a danger or menace to society. And since society as a whole is not apparently capable of something called 'common sense' we have to legislate common sense unfortunately for the people who are 'common sense deficient' to put it in policially correct terms as not to offend people by calling them what they really are *cough*STUPID*cough*

Re:This is a First Amendment Issue!!! (1)

toleraen (831634) | more than 6 years ago | (#19096147)

I'm not trying to defend texting while driving...I never do it myself. However, I have to disagree with this:

I can only imagine how much worse 'texting while driving' is.

Talking while driving requires two way communication (obviously). Without a handsfree unit, it requires you to hold your phone in a specific position as well. However, texting is something that doesn't require an immediate response, nor does it require you pay much attention to it. You can easily put your phone down for a minute, and you can pick it up at the next red light. If you're proficient at texting, you don't even have to look at the screen while doing it.

That said, I'm glad laws are heading this direction. People should be putting 100% of their attention on the road. Heck just last night on the local news there was a jackass kid who dropped his phone and ran into a school bus scrambling for it. What an idiot.

Re:This is a First Amendment Issue!!! (3, Insightful)

iangoldby (552781) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095869)

Tell me this [shelleytherepublican.com] is a parody, someone please! Please, won't someone? It is a parody, isn't it? I mean, surely not even in America... Come on, someone... it's gotta be a parody, right?...

Re:This is a First Amendment Issue!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19096093)

Thanks for the link to this site. They talk a lot more sense than most of the democrats I hear. China is taking our jobs (boo hoo), freedom is being eroded (but you haven't got the right to carry a gun), drugs should be legalised (I guess that's what welfare payments are for), Bush "stole" the election (democracy hurts sometimes, eh boys?), bring our boys home (but Rumsfeld should have committed far more in the first place), oil companies are damaging America (but we need to protect auto-workers jobs). At least this site is a good honest parody. The democrats actually believe the shit they spout.

Killing the Dangerous Drivers (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19095805)

I believe in using Darwinism to eliminate the drivers who use their cell phones while they are driving their vehicles. Such drivers are stupid people, and they deserve to die.

I am a former race-car driver. When I drive on the freeway, I hunt for stupid people. When I see another driver using his cell phone, I observe him for about a minute.

I cut in front of him. Then, I observe him for another minute in my rear-view mirror. When I notice that his eyes have glanced away from the road, I immediately apply the brakes. Just before his car slams into mine, I swing my car to the right.

At this point, what usually happens is that the other driver, being distracted by the cell phone, has lost control of his vehicle. He has applied his brakes hard to avoid hitting me, but now, his car has spun out of control. In most cases, his car slams into the concrete barrier. In some cases, the car flips upside down.

So far, my tally is the following.

Out of 37 encounters of this kind, 25 resulted in fatalities. All 37 resulted in a serious accident.

I videotaped the whole encounter with a camera pointing out of the rear window. The point of the camera is to provide videotaped evidence that I have not broken any traffic laws. In all 37 encounters, I gave the videotape to law enforcement. No charges have ever been filed against me. Sweet. Huh?

Re:Killing the Dangerous Drivers (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095871)

Stupid people are one thing. Malicious lunatics are another. I'd feel safer knowing you weren't on the road.

Re:Killing the Dangerous Drivers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19095991)

You are a lunatic of the highest order. Shopping these people to the police is one thing, but causing death with your antics is another. You may as well pulled a gun on these people and pulled the trigger yourself. You are the one that should be taken off the road, preferably in a horrible accident. I hope you crash while you are busy baiting people to death. YOU need to pay attention to the road instead of looking in your rear view mirror and generally being a dick.

Re:Whatever happened to common sense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19095877)

Whatever happened to common sense?

Common Sense [bartleby.com] still exists, unfortunately its not on the required reading list.

SOME writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.

The common sense you refer to comes from an active critical thinking process with a well developed societal rules and factual database built over a lifetime. We are again showing the failure of society's role and in showing its inability to function properly in today's legislated environment. Broken society therefore evokes the punisher that is government. What too few come to understand is that the stronger government is made, the weaker society becomes as its addiction to government increases its dependence on government.

And In Other News... (2, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095943)

Frankfort, KY - Kentucky deputy director of the Department of Motor Vehicles, Melvin P. Snitzonpants has announced a new program to stop drivers from chewing their toenails, making love and shoving coins up their noses while driving.

"It's a serious problem." Snitzonpants said yesterday. "We have people weaving all over the road while they chew their toenails, make love and shove coins up their nose."

The new program would see a $15 fine be levied, as well as a stern lecture by a state patrol officer. "We feel that we have to make it absolutely clear that you can't chew your toenails, make and shove coins up your nose while operating a motorvehicle." Snitzonpants commented.

When asked why this doesn't come under existing dangerous driving laws, Snitzonpants merely shrugged and said, "This is different. Have you actually seen someone chewing their toenails, making love and shoving coins up their nose when they're coming at you. It's a terrible thing."

Re:Whatever happened to common sense? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#19096073)

Its hard to enforce common sense, espcially in a 'me society'.

And while i normally detest 'yet another law', something does need to be done to stop both texting and cell phone use. ( how about like enforce the current lawas that prohbit impared driving )

Re:Whatever happened to common sense? (1)

dattaway (3088) | more than 6 years ago | (#19096089)

Whatever happened to common sense?

We now have laws covering common sense!

You asked to outlaw stupid people, so this is what its like when we outlaw stupidity.

Unfortunately, stupid people aren't stupid when it comes to laws, so we have to make lots of stupid laws to cover stupid people. Just wait, you haven't seen NOTHING yet!

Reckless driving (5, Insightful)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095513)

Texting while driving is reckless driving IMHO. Charge them with *that* instead of a new, more minor, traffic offense. The fines and demerit points for reckless driving are _steep._

-b.

Re:Reckless driving (4, Insightful)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095577)

I can think of no excuse whatsoever to justify texting while driving. Sure, cell phones are dangerous while driving, but at least there are counter-arguments. In my opinion, people who text while driving should probably have their license suspended. I cannot believe they're doing the $101 fine in my state.

They fine people $101 for not wearing a seatbelt, which is only risking the lives of those in the car, but when it comes to endangering others, they use the same amount for a fine. If they're going to fine texting while driving, they should at least make it $500.

(Talking on cell phones while driving is dangerous. Some times "near-misses" occur, meaning it never gets recorded statistically speaking. It is a distraction.)

Re:Reckless driving (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095633)

If they're going to fine texting while driving, they should at least make it $500.

I'd prefer an informal way of dealing with texting. Cop takes cell phone, puts it under back wheel of offender's car. "Pull forward, sir." (The alternative can be charges of reckless driving if the offender wants his day in court.)

-b.

Re:Reckless driving (3, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095719)

I would add that the offender should be forced to txt someone while the phone is being run over. A few broken digits should help them with their pennance.

Re:Reckless driving (1)

jkiol (1050424) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095663)

While I agree that texting while actually driving is far more dangerous, the only time a cop will be able to fine someone for this is the times when it's OK. Like sitting in bumper to bumper traffic or sitting at a red light.

Don't forget some people are more capable than others, I openly admit I have texted while driving, but I can do it without looking at the cellphone at all.

Re:Reckless driving (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095721)

I think it's like writing a term paper while smoking pot. You just think you're writing great paper. Problem is, a failing grade on the expressway is fatal.

Re:Reckless driving (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 6 years ago | (#19096153)

I think it's like writing a term paper while smoking pot. You just think you're writing great paper. Problem is, a failing grade on the expressway is fatal.

This of course poses the question: what if you instead write your term paper while driving. Which will be worse: your driving, or your term paper?

Something for the future generations to ponder about.

Re:Reckless driving (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095791)

Taking the literal meaning of texting while driving, I guess that isn't considered driving, is it?

Actually, texting while at a red light is a bad idea. It slows down traffic if someone isn't paying attention. Plus, it is best to keeps one's eyes on the road, even if stopped, incase there is an accident heading your way.

Re:Reckless driving (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19095843)

Your eyes might still be on the road, but you're still distracted. Idiot.

Re:Reckless driving (5, Insightful)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095781)

So what distinguishes a cell phone from having a conversation with a passenger? Or someone trying to find the right station on the radio. Or smoking a cigarette (assuming you are not just hanging the butt from your mouth and letting it ash all down your front.) Or trying to shush their screaming kid in the back seat. Or fishing around in a bag of fast food for a hamburger. Or trying to tip the last bit of coffee out of your spill-proof mug. Or listening attentively to their GPS navigation system. Or attempting to decipher driving directions scribbled on a napkin. Or listening to their books on tape.

The problem isn't cell phones or texting. It's people not being engaged with the task of driving.

If your only concern is safety then it makes more sense to lower the speed limit to 25 MPH and eliminate any car larger than a golf cart than it does to fine/ban cell phones.

Re:Reckless driving (2, Insightful)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095801)

Conversing with a passenger isn't the same as conversing on a phone studies have shown.

I think most of the other things you mentioned are problems, and I wish people would use more common sense. However, texting while driving has to be more dangerous than those others ones I imagine, because it is much more distracting.

Re:Reckless driving (4, Insightful)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095933)

I've not seen any references to the studies you are referring to. However, one difference would be when the other party in the car happens to be a driver, is paying attention, and pauses in the conversation when the situation calls for it. It would also depend on the reason for the conversation. A cellphone call has a point (perhaps not an important point, but there is a reason somebody dialed the phone) and you're going to be giving it attention, while idle chit-chat with your passenger is just politeness done with half your mind. Compare cell phone calls with important conversations occurring while driving.

I think someone fishing around under their seat trying to feel for change they just dropped is as distracted as someone texting. At least a person texting will pretty much always hold the phone up in their line of sight, while someone groping for something is likely to take their eyes off the road in order to get a quick situation report on where the quarter for the tollway is and where their hand is.

Re:Reckless driving (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19096165)

I've not seen any references to the studies you are referring to.
Ah well, they must not exist in that case. Idiot.

Re:Reckless driving (2, Insightful)

hankwang (413283) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095841)

So what distinguishes a cell phone from having a conversation with a passenger?
The fact that the passenger tends to shut up if s/he sees that the traffic requires full attention. I agree that some of your other examples are pretty dangerous, since they require that the driver takes his eyes off the road for a couple of seconds. But

Or listening attentively to their GPS navigation system
this doesn't even close. While listening to the navigation system, you have to focus all your attention to the road to realize what left turn it is talking about. Theoretically it is possible that you overlook a pedestrian that way, but it's far less likely than when you have to imagine a situation that you are discussing with someone over the phone, let alone watching the screen of your cellphone.

Re:Reckless driving (2, Insightful)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 6 years ago | (#19096085)

I think it comes quite close. Because it's not just the rare pedestrian you might hit. It's all the other cars on the road. It's every action being a distinct response to the computerized voice and eyeballing the map on the tiny LCD screen. Or even if it's trivial to decide which turns to be taking, if you're braking and changing lanes at the last second you're much more of a risk to others than if you are already aware of where you're going and are making lane changes well in advance of when you need to, braking with proper lead time. Or when you miss the turn the navigation system suggested and now you're doing the mental scramble trying to calibrate your driving with the updated directions for your system.

And another distraction to tweak our collective nerd noses: war driving.

Re:Reckless driving (1)

Kuvter (882697) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095977)

That's an lol fine of $101 for texting while driving. Just be glad it's not a Leet fine.

Re:Reckless driving (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095881)

Texting while driving is reckless driving IMHO.
Technically, I think they would have a strong case if they charged them with impaired driving. It was impaired by their texting. Alcohol doesn't have to be involved to be impaired.

Re:Reckless driving (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19096133)

Washington state does not have "demerit" points. However, you will get dinged by your insurance heavier for reckless driving than a minor traffic offense.

Its actually disturbing (3, Interesting)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095515)

That there was a need for the State ban such moronic behaviour in the first place.

Re:Its actually disturbing (1)

Heir Of The Mess (939658) | more than 6 years ago | (#19096141)

It's a natural progression from over regulating the roads.

A) You write some guidlines to help people drive on the road
B) You then decide that the guidlines are absolute and turn them into law
C) You then reinforce the law hard
D) You then tighten up the laws
E) You increase reinforcement until you wear everyone down until they are just part of a big metal snake
F) Driving becomes so passive that people feel they can do other things

In many parts of Asia it seems to be at the guidline stage although it's actually between B and C I think. Driving round here there's no way I could take my eyes off the road for a second - there's just too stuff happening all over the road. I rarely see any accidents though, and they are just a scooter being clipped slightly or something else light, whereas on Western roads I've seen some big crashes happen right in front of me - because someone wasn't looking and drove full pelt into someone else.

This is all Bill Gates' fault! ;-) (2, Funny)

writermike (57327) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095517)

He said a long time ago we have to get rid of the keyboard. He STILL hasn't done it. Dammit, Bill, or billg, or whatever you want to be called, because you didn't get rid of the keyboard all these nice people are going to jail. Oooooh, I could pinch you!

I keed. I keed.

Another law (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19095521)


to ban something that was already illegal
reckless driving, not in control of a vehicle
iam sure there are plenty of laws that say if you are driving a vehicle in a manner that presents a danger to other you can be prosecuted, same reason as watching TV or reading a book while driving is reckless

UBUNTU STUDIO FINALLY RELEASED!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19095529)

First edition of UBUNTU STUDIO - multimedia derivate of Ubuntu Linux has been released! No story on slashdot yet! Why???

The long-awaited Ubuntu Studio 7.04, a variant of Ubuntu aimed at the GNU/Linux audio, video and graphic enthusiast, has arrived: "The Ubuntu Studio team is proud to announce its first release: 7.04 for Intel i386-compatible processors. With this release, which you can download for DVD in little over 860 MB, we offer a feature that is somewhat reminiscent of Ubuntu Server: on installation, you can choose between the Audio, Graphics or Video tasks; and choose also to install a number of plugins, which for this release is mainly aimed at audio production. We have endeavoured to keep as many of our packages in the standard Ubuntu repositories as possible." Read the rest of the release announcement and visit the project's home page to learn more about Ubuntu Studio.

Re:UBUNTU STUDIO FINALLY RELEASED!!! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19095639)

Ubuntu fanboys are almost as annoying as the Gentoo ricers.

question.... (2, Insightful)

jimfinity (849860) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095539)

how exactly are they going to know if you are texting? there are just about a hundred million things you can do with modern phones these days. what about taking videos/pictures/checking your voicemail/dialing/etc. etc.

all of these things require typing stuff in your phone, right?

Re:question.... (4, Funny)

oyenstikker (536040) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095567)

They can get a court order to subpoena your phone records. Or if your provider is Verizon, they can just ask for them.

Re:question.... (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095579)

All these things take your focus OFF driving a high speed large heavy peice of metal. So it doesn't matter what you're using th ephone for you should not be doing any of these.

The ONLY exception would be dialing 999 (911) for an emergency which is also the reason why you cannot stop driving (for example a guy shooting at you from a car behind or such.

Re:question.... (3, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095621)

The ONLY exception would be dialing 999 (911) for an emergency which is also the reason why you cannot stop driving (for example a guy shooting at you from a car behind or such.
Usually you just raise the rear bullet proof shield and activate the oil jets causing your villaneous enemy to skid and crash in this scenario. Dialling 999 would just totally ruin your credibility within the secret agent community

Re:question.... (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095697)

So you mean that the financial and possible civil penalties a driver faces for slamming into another object, regardless of the cause, are not sufficient to keep people from slamming into other objects?

Nearly everyone I know has a cell phone. Half the people I pass in traffic when I am in large cities either have a bluetooth headset on or are holding a phone to their ears. It has been this way for 5 years. Yet there are not smashed vehicles littering the sides of the roads I drive. I don't have to pull over for a funeral procession more than two or three times per year.

When the RIAA lobbies for some new law to protect the public at large from the imagined evil of pirates they are villified. When the insurance companies do it, they get a pass.

Re:question.... (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095757)

Talking on a phone while driving distracts you from driving. It only takes a couple of seconds of distraction and a little kid can be run over from running into the road.

The laws are not about insurance companies, it is about being impared while driving an object able to kill a person within a split seconds notice.

Spin it any way you like, mobile phones are dangerous when they distract you from the road.

Re:question.... (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095905)

Maybe I have a sick sense of humor but

driving an object able to kill a person within a split seconds notice

makes me picture a child standing in the middle of the street, his cell phone rings and a text message pops up: You are about to be hit by a car. A split second later a car with a cell phone texting driver mows the kid down.

The above creative work by me is hereby released under whatever CC license will let you turn it into an anti-cell phone texting while driving commercial. Not because I agree but because I think it would be hilarious.

Anyway, the law is indeed 'about' insurance companies if by 'about' you mean 'lobbied for by'. There were already plenty of penalties for running over children whether you were texting or talking or thinking about sailboats. These penalties were plenty sufficient to keep people from running over children for sport.

Re:question.... (1)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095989)

I'm not a fan of chain cell-phoners, but I'm even less a fan of bad logic.

Spin it any way you like, mobile phones are dangerous when they distract you from the road.


You could change "mobile phones" for anything else and that sentence is still 100% true. Which means that the important part of the phrase is "distract you". Thus it's not a valid reason to single out cell phones for restrictions.

This definitely makes sense (0)

Aliencow (653119) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095545)

I mean, why would you text from your car when you can post to slashdot with YRO/"UIR/"U($)%!

Why do they even NEED to ban this? (3, Funny)

jddj (1085169) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095549)

This reminds me of the time I got a free dashboard sun-shade at Road Atlanta one year. (These are the accordion-fold things you sit on the dash and stretch out across the entire windshield to help keep the sun from getting the interior of your car too hot in the summer).

It had a safety label: "Do not drive with sun shade in place!"

Re:Why do they even NEED to ban this? (1)

anonieuweling (536832) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095625)

That was a warning for inhabitants of americanized states/nations.
Others might(!) not need such a warning.

Re:Why do they even NEED to ban this? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095743)

No, it's more an issue of avoiding legal liability if some mindnumbingly-stupid individual leaves it in place and drives his car into a wall.

Re:Why do they even NEED to ban this? (2)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095967)

Joke: ----------->
You:       0
          /|\
           |
          / \

Cel Phone = **EVIL** (4, Insightful)

rueger (210566) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095551)

The law could use sharper teeth, but it's a natural and necessary progression of the movement to clamp down on those who find the need to constantly communicate more important than the safety of their fellow travelers."

Nonsense. There are already laws on the books which deal specifically with driver inattention. They have been there for some sixty or seventy years.

Why is it that anything involving a cel phone demands a special law prohibiting it? It's all feeling rather moralistic.

Tell you what, I'll let you ban cel phones in cars if you'll also ban coffee, donuts, makeup, radios, small children, pets, smoking, chewing tobacco, notepads, newspapers, and passengers, all of which can distract a driver.

Once every car contains only one hermetically sealed individual we should be 100% safe.

Re:Cel Phone = **EVIL** (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19095613)

Well said. In-car radios probably cause far more accidents than cell phones, and I don't see people lining up to support a ban on those. More laws will do absolutely nothing other than crowd out common sense.

ATTN: SWITCHEURS! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19095661)

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If you think Firefox is a decent Mac application, GTFO.
If you're still looking for the "maximize" button, GTFO.
If the name "Clarus" means nothing to you, GTFO.

Bandwagon jumpers are not welcome among real [imageshack.us] Mac [imageshack.us] users [imageshack.us]. Keep your filthy, beige [imageshack.us] PC fingers to yourself.

Re:Cel Phone = **EVIL** (5, Funny)

AsnFkr (545033) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095767)

Once every car contains only one hermetically sealed individual we should be 100% safe.

Even at that, you'd have to limit the access driver has to his or her genitals.

....I used to have a truck that rode pretty high, I've seen things.

Re:Cel Phone = **EVIL** (1)

BlindRobin (768267) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095799)

Actually, given the degree of distruction and carnage it's amazing that people are allowed to drive at all.

Re:Cel Phone = **EVIL** (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095803)

This is not a "ZOMG BAN THIS" law, rather it is to bring attention to something people are missing. Mobile phones were always illegal for dangerous driving reasons in the UK, but everyone used them. The moment the "heres a £250 fine if you get caught" law came in suddenly everyone switched to head sets and it dropped massively.

It's bringing attention to criminal activity, not making something else illegal.

Re:Cel Phone = **EVIL** (1)

dpninerSLASH (969464) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095853)

Why is it that anything involving a cel phone demands a special law prohibiting it? It's all feeling rather moralistic.

Such an ordinance would serve (at least) two rightful purposes:

1. It sends a clear message to the public that such behavior is NOT safe (don't assume the general public understands this, because there's a huge disconnect there), and
2. In the period immediately following it's enactment, it makes it more difficult for violators to defend themselves in court (especially if the law is followed with a fair amount of publicity), and
3. It helps to get the word out (remember the addage about "word of mouth" advertising?).

This is a very good thing.

Re:Cel Phone = **EVIL** (1)

metlin (258108) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095865)

Well said.

Thank you. I some how find it ironic that there are no laws against smoking in a car but there are laws against texting or cellphone use. I mean, something where you use just one hand and a sudden event could cause you to burn yourself isn't considered dangerous, but a cellphone is? Wow.

PS: I have nothing against smoking (even though I personally consider it to be a most disgusting habit, mostly because I am slightly allergic to cigarette smoke), I just find the relative moral high ground repulsive.

Re:Cel Phone = **EVIL** (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095913)

I some how find it ironic that there are no laws against smoking in a car but there are laws against texting or cellphone use.

NJ tried to pass one (also applied to eating or drinking anything). Fortunately, it failed. BTW, there's a huge difference between holding a cigarette, pipe or whatever and typing on a keyboard. You don't have to look at the cigarette to see if you're smoking it correctly, and you can hold it in your mouth a lot of the time. Unlike a cellphone.

Also, some people need to smoke. Do we really want a bunch of annoyed, nic-fitting drivers sharing the roads with us? I ride motorcycles and bicycles. Therefore, I am fragile. I say, no thanks...

-b.

Re:Cel Phone = **EVIL** (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 6 years ago | (#19096005)

Once every car contains only one hermetically sealed individual we should be 100% safe.

Wouldn't it make more sense to invest in technologies that make bad driving a moot point [wikipedia.org].

Re:Cel Phone = **EVIL** (1)

deblau (68023) | more than 6 years ago | (#19096081)

There are already laws on the books which deal specifically with driver inattention.
Hooray, some common sense on /. for a change. Here's one law that might work: negligent driving in the second degree [wa.gov]. If they started fining $250 for each time someone talked on their cell phone or texted while driving, people would stop doing it.

The problem with the new law is enforcement: if you don't enforce existing laws, why should anyone think you'll enforce new ones?

Watching TV while driving... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19095597)

This reminds me of a guy I knew back in college who was convinced that having a TV on the passenger seat of his car was a good idea. Somehow he tought he could drive on the highway while watching TV without any problem whatsoever.

Some people are just stupid, and unfortunately, politicians have to spend time and energy to write laws to stop them from acting on their stupidity.

sort of a stupid law. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19095627)

I looked through the abridged version of the traffic infraction book, no car is street legal, and if a street legal car did somehow find it's way on to the road (I'm guessing magic), there's a pretty good chance that you couldn't drive it a non-trivial distance without doing something that would merit being pulled over, and then there's the things you can be fined for and not pulled over for. Combine that with the way fault is determined in Washington, and the law is completely pointless. It's feel-good legislation for do-nothings. One of which lives about 100 yards from me (she gave birth to Moses, they didn't need last names back then, there weren't that many people.)

Any chance this will help promot public transport (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095637)

I mean, you can text AND get somewhere safely(and of course use less fuel in the process). But then again, this is America we are talking about, were most people equate public transportation with being poor and/or defective.....

Re:Any chance this will help promot public transpo (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095677)

But then again, this is America we are talking about, were most people equate public transportation with being poor and/or defective.....

Also, the more populated areas need *good* rail networks if people are to use them. Compare passenger trains in the US and Europe: the US seems stuck in the 1940s as far as technology -- US trains are labor intensive (and hence expensive) to run. Part of the fault lies with the Federal government for making crash standards for trains excessively rigid, even though train wrecks are pretty rare (and, since trains are safer than driving, if more people ride slightly less safe trains, it might still be a net gain in lives saved). Far better would be to prevent crashes by requiring better signaling and track sensors.

-b.

Oh my... (1)

CriminalNerd (882826) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095659)

Wow...just wow...I expected people to go only as far as calling on the cellphone, putting on make-up at a red light, eating, and watching a movie while driving, but text-messaging? The ones I listed only required only either a hand or the driver's visual attention, but text-messaging covers both...

And a *coughAmericancough* government was forced to make a specific law on the subject...

Where in the world is our common sense nowadays? *sigh* I guess it's fortunate that the legislature is not as inattentive as it is made out to be...now if it would start caring about global warming more than it already is....

I text and drive sometimes (1)

PixieDust (971386) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095673)

Nope, it's not the smartest thing in the world, in fact it's downright dangerous and stupid. At least I can admit that. Really though it's not much worse than flipping through your favorite CD tof ind that song you really want to hear, or reaching down to pick something up. I still agree with the law, however. Ban it, but yes I also agree with the summary, give it some pretty sharp teeth.

THese are the kinds of things that happen when you live in a society that demands you be available, and productive at all times. It starts with business oriented type stuff, then it moves to being personal, then you have every sally joe and john q public running around texting on their cellphones, yakking away on their phone while they smoke, eat, drink, put on make-up, reach for that thing they just dropped, check their schedule, AND change the radio station while shifting gears, all at the same time. It's too much. Many people will stop doing something, just knowing that they can get into trouble for it. Many people won't give a damn. If Colorado had a law like this, I'd not do it again. I do it now because I've yet to have an accident(or come even close to one), I do it very rarely, and I can get away with it. If it were illegal, I would just as soon say "To hell with it" and not do it.

This is where society has moved us. Not only into the fast lane, but at high speeds even for the fast lane. Things like this are the inevitable fallout of the need to be available at all times.

And to be fair, I came closer to accidents after I bought new radio for my car, that had a spiffy little animated screen on it that I was drawn to watch for a few seconds while driving. Darwin seriously needs to get off his ass and get to work.

Re:I text and drive sometimes (1)

dpninerSLASH (969464) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095875)

Really though it's not much worse than flipping through your favorite CD tof ind that song you really want to hear, or reaching down to pick something up.

That just doesn't ring true. It requires quite a bit more attention to detail to send a text message, and even moreso to participate in a conversation.

Re:I text and drive sometimes (1)

cyberwench (10225) | more than 6 years ago | (#19096109)

Well, from personal experience, I don't look at the phone when I'm texting. You can type without looking at a keyboard, right? I keep it short, "running late, there in 5." Where my driving suffers in order of distraction is:
  • Dropping something that spills.
  • Having an in-depth and emotional conversation with the person next to me.
  • Switching CDs and finding someone's rearranged the CD book.
  • Trying to locate a specific spot in the book on the CD.
  • Eating.
  • Talking on the cell phone (same as the texting, I keep it short).
  • Texting.
Now, that's just my own observations - and I measure it by things like whether I swerve or lose eye contact with the road for long enough for something to get by me. I'm sure this is different for everyone. I also don't do things in the car that require me to, say, stare at the mirror instead of the road, like putting on makeup or doing my hair.


I really do think that dangerous/reckless driving should be used to cover any situation where the driver isn't paying attention to the road. There just isn't a need for a special cell law. Seems like a public information campaign would do the same thing for less money. "Texting=Dangerous Driving" and a list of fines, or something. It's not like police lacked the ability to pull you over for driving poorly. It's just that they couldn't pull you over if they saw a cell phone in your hand and you were driving fine.

I am on BOTH sides of the issue (2, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095705)

I am guilty of the offense and I also believe it's a potentially deadly and definitely stupid thing to do.

Great, Another Backwards-looking law (2, Insightful)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095733)

Sure, texting while driving using today's technology is pretty stupid. It takes forever, and it definitely distracts from the road.

But... this law probably doesn't specifically ban "text messaging on a hand-held cellular telephone using a numberpad based text input method", instead it probably bans all text messaging while driving. I'm sure some of you will say that "anything that distracts from the road is unacceptably dangerous, I'm willing to trade your freedom to use new technologies in the future for a warm feeling of safety now". Well - I'm never willing to make that trade. I can think of a number of interfaces that would make text messaging way safer than a kid in the back seat, and I don't need to have my ability to use that technology nanny-stated away today.

Re:Great, Another Backwards-looking law (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 6 years ago | (#19096019)

Your 'freedom' to text while driving directly impacts the safety of everyone else on the road.

I can think of a number of interfaces that would make text messaging way safer than a kid in the back seat

So build one. You'll make millions.

Re:Great, Another Backwards-looking law (1)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 6 years ago | (#19096117)

Your 'freedom' to text while driving directly impacts the safety of everyone else on the road.

This is a tradeoff, and it can be rationally evaluated. I don't think that banning unknown future technology can ever be the rational result of such an evaluation.

So build one. You'll make millions.

Not if texting while driving is illegal I won't.

Re:Great, Another Backwards-looking law (2, Interesting)

azrider (918631) | more than 6 years ago | (#19096129)

But... this law probably doesn't specifically ban "text messaging on a hand-held cellular telephone using a numberpad based text input method", instead it probably bans all text messaging while driving.
My friends (law enforcement/public safety) and I were discussing this. My question is: Does this prohibit the use of mobile data terminals by law enforcement, public safety (fire), taxis and/or delivery personnel?

Ban texting, ban photo taking, ban calling, gaming (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095751)

Instead of individually banning every single thing you can do on a mobile device, why not simply ban working with mobile devices or performing other distracting activities while driving (such as drinking coffee and eating)...

Or maybe the right question is, why should obvious things be spelled out in a law for the drivers to read? Maybe we should just ban patently stupid drivers from driving at all.

Never mind texting (2, Insightful)

pytheron (443963) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095761)

I have a few friends that have the affliction of not being able to talk to someone without looking at them. Whilst they are driving, this leads to very scary scenarios. There are a couple that I refuse to be a passenger with now based on these experiences ! It seems that some people just don't understand that you have a responsibility on the road. Not only are you putting your passengers lives at risk, but also you are maybe risking destroying the family of the person you just hit.

Most people come up with the non-excuse "I've never had an accident, I'm a good driver". Remember whilst this may be true,the person in front of you may be an awful driver, so you will need to apply your full attention at all times.

already a law in europe (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19095769)

In Europe, it has been forbidden for years to use a cellular for text messaging or calling while driving.

According to wikipedia, Israel, Japan, Portugal and Singapore all prohibit mobile phone use while driving.
Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the Philippines, Romania, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom require the use of a hands-free kit.

I admit guilt (1)

ChrisXS (816616) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095815)

I've received an SMS while doing 70 on the freeway and have actually responded. Quick text pre-canned responses are helpful, but I actually slowly typed out a response on my Treo with one hand. Yes I'm a fool. It'd probably be safer to use a cell phone with normal keys as you can feel blindly for what you want to type. This is harder to do one handed on a qwerty smartphone.

Amazing how defensive some people get (2, Insightful)

freeweed (309734) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095839)

1. Using a cellphone and/or texting is far more dangerous than drinking a cup of coffee. People have done research into this - these devices are just about as dangerous as being legally drunk. We don't ban coffee drinking in cars because while a small minority becomes a hazard while drinking it, EVERYONE is a hazard when using their phone. See #3.

2. We had reckless driving laws already, but we still passed impaired driving laws. Why? Because it's a lot harder to automatically say "hey, he's texting, he's reckless". With a law like this, there are no ifs, ands, or buts. No defense. You're caught, you pay. No "but really, Sir Judge, I'm not actually a reckless driver when I text" (which, incidentally, is how people used to get out of impaired driving charges - until we made a law specifically for the behaviour).

3. To those that honestly and truly believe THEY are safe drivers when using a cellphone and/or texting, please, just stay off the damn road. I've been nearly hit by you far too often.

4. It's about damn time we started seeing laws like this. Of course we shouldn't need them, but in my experience 90% of the bad drivers on the road are either yakking on their phone, or texting, or in some cases both. Seriously, how hard is it to just (GASP!) go without talking to your sister for a few minutes? We invented voicemail for a reason!

Re:Amazing how defensive some people get (1)

Robinator (1101247) | more than 6 years ago | (#19096039)

People have done research into this - these devices are just about as dangerous as being legally drunk
I didn't know that cellphones had an innate danger.

We need a law for that? (1)

AxemRed (755470) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095893)

Let me start off by saying that I agree that it's a bad idea to text message while driving. However, I have seen people reading while driving, applying makeup while driving, and looking through a bag/purse/glove box while driving. And I'm sure that I could come up with many other things that people shouldn't do while they're driving. But none of those other things have had a specific law created to stop them, even though some of them are equally dangerous, much more common, and have been happening for a lot longer. Plus, it will be pretty hard to enforce this law since most people will have their cell phone below the window level when texting. The police officer will only see them looking down, but he won't see what they're looking down at. The point of my rant is, this is a silly law.

Secondary offense. (1)

eosp (885380) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095921)

This is a secondary offense. You have to be pulled over for something else first.

Texting while driving is more dangerous then talks (1)

zukinux (1094199) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095953)

Texting while driving is more dangerous then talking while driving in the cellular. I really believe that since while texting you have to check your input while you can see and talk at the same time while talking in the cellular and that's why texting is much more harmful in my honest opinion.

Madness (1)

harry666t (1062422) | more than 6 years ago | (#19095993)

Once I was driving a car while sitting on the passenger's seat. My friend (the driver) took his cell phone and started typing a message. When I told him that it's dangerous, he replied: "drive".

It was the first time in my life I've been driving a real car.

And so far the last.

Instead of banning it... (1)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 6 years ago | (#19096047)

I say that if you're caught texting while driving, you have to report to a closed off race track where you can't lower your car below 80 while negotiating hairpin turns and being forced to take an online test via texting. (or, if your your max speed is lower, go with that, I'm looking at you Chevette drivers!)

Instead of punishing, its a punishment/hands on learning experience!

NRA petitioning against this law (1)

Ageing Metalhead (586837) | more than 6 years ago | (#19096137)

Stop Press: An NRA spokesperson stated that outlawing Driving-whilst-texting is just the first step before they outlaw firing a weapon whilst driving a motor vehicle. NRA nationwide is trying to rally round support from Inner City Youth Gangs, to petition the government to stop this crazy law that will outlaw their Second Amendment Rights to perform drive by shootings. LOL

Interesting (1)

CrimsonScythe (876496) | more than 6 years ago | (#19096159)

I was expecting at least a few comments on how this is somehow restricting freedom of speech, but I was pleasantly surprised.
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