On a recent road trip with the wife to New England, I decided to let her drive. Neither one of us likes the way the other one drives. I tend to stay in the center or right lanes, doing the speed limit most of the way. The bride prefers the left lane, pedal to the metal.
So she was doing 75 in a 65 mph zone; I know, because I’d just glanced at the speedometer. I was going to say something, but that would have precipitated an argument we’ve had before, which always ends up in hurt feelings, so I kept my yap shut. Not 30 seconds later, she spotted the radar trap and slammed on her brakes, but it was too late. The trooper wrote her for doing 82(!) in a 65. The ticket will cost her $170. We could try to fight it, but we don’t have much of a case. She was guilty.
I was thinking about that as I saw the overhead highway signs on New York’s Thruways, announcing new penalties for Texting and Driving. First offense is $150 and five points on your license; Second offense is $400(!) and MORE points. Doesn’t really seem worth it, does it? Still, to its credit, the state has begun designating “texting zones” on major highways, where drivers are encouraged to pull over if they REALLY need to text.
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But you have to wonder how the cops will know when you’re texting and driving? Oh, you can always “tell” when some idiot ahead of you is doing it; they’re usually going well below the speed limit, they randomly hit their brakes, and you can see them as they keep glancing down at their console. But that might be a tough case to prove in court.
So New York State Troopers have taken a proactive stance. According to the New York Daily News, the state PD now has unmarked SUVs that sit higher than normal, with seats that are higher than normal, and darkened windows. The trooper in the passenger seat can ride right next to you, see you texting, and that’s gonna be all she wrote.
And it’s not just New York that’s cracking down; reports are coming in that a number of states see this as a safety issue and are taking appropriate action. Just Google “texting and driving” and you’ll get back more than 19 million hits.
But the best story I heard recently about this came from California. This Facebook post is from old friend KJ Jones, who is Senior Technical Editor at 5.0 Mustang and Super Fords Magazine.
“Kaje” neatly sums up the idiocy of those who break this particular law, by recounting a conversation overheard in his office: “For those fam and friends who don't live in the State of California. We have a fairly new law on the books out here that completely and totally BANS the use of hand-held mobile devices (cell phones) while operating a motor vehicle. Understand, this ban goes as deep as prohibiting drivers from even HOLDING a phone (to dial a number, talk...TEXT, etc) while a vehicle is moving/being operated. I just overheard office/cubicle chatter between two colleagues. This morning, one of the guys received his SECOND ticket for violating this law. The first hit is $160. For violation #2, he's looking at $400+! The thing about this one guy (in my opinion) is, I doubt he has/will learn any lesson from this. His very audible rant was more about the fact that ‘you can't even hold in your HAND...it doesn't just mean to your ear’ (he was apparently nabbed for the in-hand infraction). Two times. Yeesh. While I very, very, VERY infrequently violate this law myself (phone in my hand for only a quick second...down low/below windshield/out of view only to look up or speed-dial a number/NEVER to text...wrong...I know), I do support it, as the intent is to keep drivers attentive and to stop the texting that truly annoys me when I look over and see people doing it (big deal it's stop-and-go traffic). I wanted to yell, "GOOD FOR YOUR DUMB A**" when I heard the dude lamenting. One time (getting caught) is too many. Twice?! You're an idiot! That is all.”
KJ neatly put it all into perspective. Just because YOU want to be an idiot, doesn’t mean that WE should have to suffer for your idiocy. Just hang up and drive.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi