Politics

Lawmakers H8 Txting

|

texting behind the wheel

It was only a matter of time before Congress intervened on the behalf of future victims of text-driving. Via The New York Times:

States that do not ban texting by drivers could forfeit up to hundreds of millions of dollars in federal highway funds under legislation introduced Wednesday in the Senate.

Under the measure, states would have two years to outlaw the sending of text and e-mail messages by motorists or lose 25 percent of their highway funds each year until the monies are depleted.

If this model sounds familiar, that's because we've been here before. By Sen. Charles Schumer's (D-NY) own admission, this new proposal is based on the drinking age law, which bullies states into complying with the federal mandate by threatening to withhold highway funds.

Reason's Katherine Mangu-Ward was recently featured in The New York Times on why lawmakers should resist the urge to "do something" about texting behind the wheel.

NEXT: Caveman Rejects Money, Blogs to Tell About it

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Why have a federal republic if the federated parts are just ignored?

  2. 5% is the drinking-related amount. Based on South Dakota v. Dole, the Supreme Court should find 25% absolutely unconstitutional.

  3. Will this ban include the cops and their laptops?

  4. It’s blackmail, obviously. Not that texting while driving isn’t irresponsible and dangerous.
    Of course, libertarians are opposed to any rules when it comes to driving, right?

  5. Hell brotherben, I couldn’t tell you how many times I have seen cops in LA texting with their cell phones while driving down the street.

  6. > Of course, libertarians are opposed to any rules when it comes to driving, right?

    When it comes to *anything*. 😉

  7. Why have a federal republic if the federated parts are just ignored?

    Shh! You’ll give ’em ideas!

  8. Note: I am opposed to this federal mandate and would rather this is done by the state.

    That said, texting while driving should be considered a moving violation. A VT study showed that texting by truck drivers increases the potential for an accident by 2300%. That’s 6 times worse than a 0.08 BAC

  9. That said, texting while driving should be considered a moving violation. A VT study showed that texting by truck drivers increases the potential for an accident by 2300%. That’s 6 times worse than a 0.08 BAC

    My sentiments exactly. I would say libertarianism is in no danger from a sensible law to prevent crashes caused by dumbasses who feels compelled to Tweet while they’re driving.

    The federal aspect of this, on the other hand, is repulsive.

  10. > … texting while driving should be considered a moving violation.

    Hey, in this economy some of us can’t afford chauffeurs.

    Seriously, I agree. I have little problem with driving-texters self-destructing; but such gene pool cleaning does not take place in a vacuum.

  11. Just how do they calculate an increase in “potential” for an accident? Based on what, exactly? Please provide a link.

    And, precisely how do they intend to enforce the law? Do we want a bunch of citizens rubbernecking ever time they pass a fellow driver to see if they are texting? Provided they can even look in? Pretty sure trying to peek into another person’s car isn’t exactly safe driving.

    Will we have text messaging checkpoints next? Cameras on the highways to peer into the cars driving down the road?

  12. @ Really?

    I share your concerns.

    How egregiously does a drunk driver have to be weaving before you might consider acting on it?

  13. If texting while driving increases the potential for accidents by 2300%, would it not already be illegal as a form of reckless driving? What purpose is served by making something already illegal (i.e., operating one’s motor vehicle in a reckless manner) more illegal?

    And…texting while driving increases the potential for accidents by 2300%, have we seen an increase in automobile accidents in tandem with the increased popularity of texting?

  14. If texting while driving increases the potential for accidents by 2300%, would it not already be illegal as a form of reckless driving? What purpose is served by making something already illegal (i.e., operating one’s motor vehicle in a reckless manner) more illegal?

    That’s a good point. Ideally, traffic violations would be based on visibly dangerous driving (weaving, tailgating, etc.). In other words, reckless driving as the sole form of moving violation. The problem is that such a rule gives our police friends lots of discretion–and we all know how that story ends.

    Some years ago, Montana reinstated “reasonable and proper” as the speed limit on its interstate highways following the demise of federally mandated speed limits. What resulted was a dramatic increase in tickets issued, as “reasonable and proper” turned out to be whatever some asshole cop (and the revenue-seeking officials above him in the food chain) thought it was at any given time.

    I don’t like lots of nitpicky traffic laws, either. But the alternative is not necessarily a good thing.

  15. Distracted drivers are dangerous, but in 2008 the NHTSA reported its lowest number of traffic fatalities since 1961. Fatalities are down another 9 percent so far this year. Shouldn’t there be some real-world data to back this thing up other than a university study that proves what we already know

  16. Here’s the study. They have driving simulators and the have people in them driving and they monitor them. I did a drunk driving simulator once, it was super fun and interesting.

  17. Just another example of how mod-style Chicago politics have seeped into the already corrupt atmosphere of Washington DC since such men of integrity like Obama and Emanuel have taken their positions.

  18. ChrisO, a Montana Supreme Court case found that law to be too vague and was thus voided. So they went ahead and passed a speed limit. But it’s not like they didn’t try to make it work.

  19. Would there be greater penalties for “sexting” while driving?

  20. That said, texting while driving should be considered a moving violation. A VT study showed that texting by truck drivers increases the potential for an accident by 2300%. That’s 6 times worse than a 0.08 BAC

    Could you provide a list– compete list– of everything that should be a moving violation while driving. And I want it comprehensive.

    Go.

  21. Yes, texting while driving is extremely dangerous, and though my initial thought was, “it should probably be illegal,” I’m thinking it should already be covered by laws against reckless driving. I mean, is it illegal to read while driving? Or apply make-up? What about shaving or eating while driving?

    I think this texting thing is just a politically hot topic because it’s a new trend, and of course pols can get points for, as others have said, “doing something.” If a police officer sees someone swerving, or driving too slowly and causing problems, ticket them, regardless of the cause.

  22. Anyone who texts and drives is a moron who deserves to be darwined out of the gene pool.

    TBS, people have driven while drinking coffee, applying makeup, reading books/newspapers, or doing any one of a number of distracting things. (Although I think the guy who got a BJ while driving was charged with “public indecency” instead of reckless driving.) Do we really need a specific law to cover every concievable option.

  23. (Although I think the guy who got a BJ while driving was charged with “public indecency” instead of reckless driving.)

    You can only be charged if they catch you.

  24. OK, having woken up less cranky, I have modified my position on this. Texting should not be singled out as a moving violation. By golly, that would practically be a form of “hate crime”.

    Control yourself, Cousin ….

  25. Texting while driving is really a stupid idea and should be a violation, AT THE STATE LEVEL. This is not an appropriate concern for the federal government, though that distiction is all but gone.

  26. ‘Hell brotherben, I couldn’t tell you how many times I have seen cops in LA texting with their cell phones while driving down the street.’

    Probably Dunphy making a point about the dumb civilians he has to deal with on his job, and how they should be grateful he hasn’t shot them already.

    ‘I did a drunk driving simulator once, it was super fun and interesting.’

    Grand Theft Auto?

  27. I’m fine with the federal government withholding funding to my state, so long as the residents of my state are allowed to withholding funding to the federal government.

  28. ChrisO, a Montana Supreme Court case found that law to be too vague and was thus voided. So they went ahead and passed a speed limit. But it’s not like they didn’t try to make it work.

    I didn’t know that it was judicially overturned. Of course, that vagueness was a big problem whenever Officer Barbrady hadn’t had enough donuts that particular morning, and those appear to be the facts underlying the case.

    I’m old enough now to have noticed a general deterioration in U.S. driving behavior over the last two decades or so. I’m probably not objective because I’m older and more careful myself now, but I just don’t recall the same level of dangerous and obnoxious behavior on the roads 20 years ago. It was there, but seemingly not as common. It could just be that traffic congestion exacerbates these behaviors. My point being that no legal system can adequately cope with such a large amount of bad behavior.

  29. > … no legal system can adequately cope with such a large amount of bad behavior.

    Well, no system you wouldn’t mind living under.

  30. A cop pulled me over for being on my cell phone. When I said to him…” Funny, I saw you behind me, and you were on yours. Care to pursue this after I request your records?

    He told me to have a nice day and left me alone.

    Rookie.

  31. I agree with Zero a hundred percent.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.