What’s next? A ticket for drinking coffee?

I thought that Indiana was a better-than-your-average-nanny state.  I mean, we’re in flyover country (Illinois doesn’t count, because they have Chicago and it’s on a large body of water).  We’re not like New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco.  But now a statewide smoking ban is going into effect on July 1st.  And in the same editorial which mentions that, our local conservative newspaper, the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, gave fair warning of another intrusive overstep which may be in the works.

According to the Greenfield Daily Reporter:

Police across Indiana are calling on lawmakers to beef up a new state law that bars texting-while-driving so that it covers all activities that can distract motorists behind the wheel.

All activities?  Really?  I’ve seen a lot of strange things, especially out in LA-LA land, where folks commute an hour or more each way.

For instance, I’ve seen:

  • newspapers read;
  • breakfasts consumed;
  • makeup applied,
  • electric razors, hairdryers, and curling irons in use.

No-CellPhone-Use-Sign-K-6786Of course, that was usually on a five lane freeway, where traffic was typically either at a standstill or reduced to 25 MPH during peak hours. And nowhere did I ever see someone getting a ticket for their activity. That was, of course, before the advent of cell phones.

But wait–it’s not just cell phones.  Lots of activities are to blame for drivers’ “excessive distractedness”, per the Greenfield Daily Reporter:

Law enforcement officials have complained that the existing law doesn’t go far enough and is too difficult to enforce.

The bill signed into law by Gov. Mitch Daniels prohibits drivers from using a telecommunications device to type, transmit or read a text message or email. But police can’t check motorists’ phones to see if they are in violation, and drivers can still use their phones to check GPS coordinates, make calls or surf the Internet.

The solution?

If an officer sees a driver cross the center line while on the phone or applying makeup, for instance, police should be able to write the motorist a ticket, he said.

Now I ask you:  how many times have you seen some fool run a red light, weave in and out of traffic (which arguably takes more skill & concentration, and isn’t likely to accompany distractedness), exceed the speed limit–and wished there were a police car in sight?  But of course there wasn’t.

But magically, if I’m putting on lip gloss, NOW an officer is going to notice??

If someone is driving recklessly, that in and of itself is a traffic violation:  crossing the center line, speeding, following too close, driving dangerously below the speed limit, etc.  But rewriting a law to include any potentially distracting activity is just asking for abuse:  how much easier and safer is it for an officer to follow some harried mother who is on the phone with the babysitter while she’s driving, waiting for her to do something wrong–rather than be on the lookout for the gross violations that so often go unnoticed?

I just want our police to be diligent in catching the blatant traffic offenders. What if the officer stops the motorist and finds that they ARE on their cell phone? All right, up the fine. And by all means, if cell phone usage is proven to be involved in a serious accident or fatality, extra charges should be filed–better yet, the insurance premium should skyrocket.  That would be the single biggest deterrent to texting, etc. while driving.

Next thing you know, I’ll be in trouble if I yell at my kids in the back seat to stop throwing Legos at each other.  A couple having a heated political conversation on the highway will be subject to a fine for potential hazardous conduct.   Maybe the officer should just wait at the McDonald’s drive-through and stop every motorist who orders a large coffee-to-go.

“Excuse me, ma’am, but…you’re not going to drink that while you’re driving.  ………..Are you?

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27 responses to “What’s next? A ticket for drinking coffee?

  1. Mmmmmmm, coffee. What’s better than sipping a steaming cup o’ joe on your way to work?

    I wonder how much the need to generate revenue is motivating police to push for these kinds of powers. There certainly are a lot of local cops in just about every small town looking to catch speeders on my road trips. And if they can tack on an extra few bucks in fines for something like this, well, what’s the harm?

    Seriously, distracted drivers—regardless of what they’re actually doing—are among the most dangerous on the road. The idea that anyone can text and drive safely at the same time is, IMO, ridiculous. And if you want to read the newspaper, shave or brush your teeth (I’ve seen that one), or apply makeup (sorry, gbl), please, get up early enough to do it at home.

    The question is where to draw the line. Should cops be able to pull over a driver ONLY for doing something like this, or, as gbl suggests, can it be an add-on if they pull someone over for another offense? I don’t know the answer, but I think most on this forum would agree that nanny government is becoming far too intrusive.

    How’s that for a wishy-washy comment?

    • Gotta say, Buckeye: pretty wish-washy.

      I tend to side with GBL on this one. What I do in my vehicle should be up to me, which is my problem with mandatory seatbelts, mandatory helmets, etc.,…
      If I am driving in an unsafe manner, pull me over. If not, leave me the heck alone.

      How many folks have we seen going too slowly on the interstate, nearly causing a pile-up every few seconds? THAT person needs a ticket, just as badly as the moron who’s playing ‘Pole Position’ from the passing lane. But no, now they’re gonna pull ME over for taking a drink of coffee, while the partially blind man drives 28 in a 65 zone?

      When we try micro-legislation like this, it just makes criminals of the law-abiding folks and does little to nothing to help the initial problem.

      • Great, now I have another law to break daily. What day should I break this law, Monday’s are kinda full, I’ve already got 18 on Tuesdays, 15 on Wednesdays, 14 on Thursdays, 122 on Fridays, 218 on Saturdays, only 3 on Sunday, maybe I could fit in there or move one of Wednesdays to Sunday and replace with this one. I wish they would outlaw everything so I don’t have to keep my days straight.

        “while the partially blind man drives 28 in a 65 zone? ”

        Reminds me of flea market day here. People come from every surrounding state to our big flea market and you have to take that into account when you have plans to go anywhere. Back when I was working, no matter what time I left the house I would always end up behind this old fart driving, you guessed it, 28 in a 65, actually it was 55. I know what road rage is! Fortunately it was only 1 day a week.

        • When they start handing out tickets for driving too slowly, I’ll start taking the seatbelt laws seriously.

          And I’m with you on the roadrage thing, Phoebes. But I figure giving into the anger makes me no better than your average Lib, so I just smile and wave now….
          ….and cuss a lot under my breath.

  2. If you get a ticket for drinking coffee it will not be long before the automakers are sued for enabling us with cup holders.

    Also, texting while driving is said to be worse than drunk driving. If that is the case shouldn’t TWI be a felony?.

  3. I don’t know how you guys can keep replying on that one comment thread, I can’t.

    “Wow! I am going doctor shopping for one of those!”

    If I was going doctor shopping it wouldn’t be for a seatbelt note it would be for a painkiller stronger than a freakin’ tylenol.

    Here’s the trick, get yourself a hernia the size of a tennis ball, talk to the Physicians Assistant, not the Doctor and voila, you can have one too. Here’s another tip, don’t smoke in the hospital, they have hall monitors disguised as Doctors. 😀

  4. Wait a minute. Having a sip of my soda while driving is illegal? What about adjusting the wiper speed or searching for a good song on the radio or putting a cd in the player. Having a discussion about finances or politics is pretty distracting whether the person is in the car or on the speaker phone. Enough already!

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