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.
Of 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.
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?“