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Texting and driving is driving me nuts!

I am so completely done with people using their cell phones while they drive.   I get the attraction,  really; you want to see that emergency message that just popped up from your boss and such, but so many people take it so far beyond common sense that their swaying car might as well have a giant “Idiot on Board” sign in the back window.   I have lost count of how many times I’ve had to overtake a car weaving down State St. to find that the only prominent thing visible in the front window of that car going 40 in the 55 zone straddling the outer white line is the backside of a smart phone and two dancing thumbs propped on top of the steering wheel.

Are we truly that self-absorbed that we cannot regulate our use of technology to the point that we do not endanger the lives of those around us? 

For every moron I run across after today I have only one thing to say:  “Get your head out of your ass and put the damn phone down!”  That’s usually about the time I dream of intersection mounted cell phone jammers…  *sigh*

OK, so now that the venting is out of the way; what should be done about this?  Can we possibly get through life without new legislation please?  I have a thought, and you can take it for what it’s worth as just one frustrated commuter with no more at stake in this than anyone else to another:    Why do we need anything more than the existing distracted driving law?  Could it possibly be as simple as enforcing this existing distracted driving law with a little more backbone in our law enforcement please?  If I can easily spot at least 3 text-drivers each day on my way to work, it can’t be all that difficult to spot from a patrol car, can it?  And why is our existing law forbidding distracted driving not enough? 

Why is it that with every new nuance in society we have to invent a new law to pin it down precisely in a nice little package before anyone does anything about it?  We have an existing law on the books that very easily and logically covers these self-distracted drivers who have become a very real danger to everyone sharing the road with them, but where’s the “distracted driving task force” grants similar to the bogus aggressive driving campaigns that completely ignored the horrendous drivers that cause road rage in the first place. (that’s another topic for later)

Have you ever wondered why our law enforcement officers become suddenly very tuned to one specific type of enforcement or another?   Ever get the inkling to know what is often behind it?  You may be surprised to learn that  it is something you might not be aware of:

Money.

Yes, it’s that simple and as cynical as that sounds, it’s also very true.  Now, I must note here that this I very much respect law enforcement, having served in several forms of it during my life.  Law enforcement agencies continually vie for funding from all kinds of sources that provide “Grants” of money to incentivize different types of enforcement activities.  These grants pay for overtime and equipment to carry out the various kinds of enforcement activities promoted by these grants, but here’s the catch:  Most (if not all) grants very strictly control how the grant money is spent often to the degree that it can actually direct how the enforcement can be carried out.  

All very interesting and informative, but how does this tie-in to driving while texting you ask? 

These grants allow citizens to get together to create grants that give law enforcement agencies the added ability to focus more energy and resources on a particular type of offense or infraction that they value in their community, but on the flip-side, it also allows large special interests to guide or maneuver the level of enforcement focus of law enforcement agencies by virtue of holding the purse strings and some would characterize this as holding the puppet strings as well.

And here we come to the point:  Aggressive driving enforcement grants being offered to law enforcement agencies today simply guide officers to focus strictly upon the angry drivers themselves, instead of on the whole picture.  Left to themselves, all sides of the equation are enforced; the angry drivers who cause accidents by aggressively weaving in and out of traffic and also the slow and distracted  and sometimes simply inept drivers who fail to drive with the flow of traffic and cause other drivers to slow down, avoid or overtake them in order to stay safe, which also tends to cause accidents.  None of the grants however, address the root causes or target anything other than the most aggressive drivers, leaving dangerously inept drivers completely alone.  It’s kind of like busting the prostitutes  on the street while letting their Johns go free.

This brings up another question on its own too:  Is this an example of good policy?  Is it simply using money to help law enforcement cover more ground?  Or is it using the police forces as a tool to make political points by holding the monetary puppet strings over their heads?

 

Back to Driving while texting!!

Sorry,  that particular side road was fraught with potholes and ditches all its own, but how does this affect texting while driving?  It means that police departments are being pulled in every direction at once by all sorts of outside influences that have nothing at all to do with the effective enforcement of the law, but rather have everything to do with changing how our laws are enforced in a way that pleases those who have the most money to throw around.

So why is it that so many states who already have distracted driving laws on the books are not ticketing texters and phone users who do so while driving?  It is public knowledge now that scientific evidence exists that empirically proves that the use of a cell phone by the driver (held in the hand or not) adversely affects the level of attention paid to actual driving and thus poses a safety risk for everyone else on the road, so why are they having trouble dealing with this? 

Because it’s currently a political football and nobody (generally speaking, because some do)wants to stick their neck out and start ticketing drivers for texting or allowing cell phone use to detrimentally affect their driving.  Somehow though, they begin to magically fall in line and begin to ticket texting and phoning drivers after a special law is passed that specifically makes driving while texting or even while using a phone illegal?   I believe this is solely because without a very specific directive, agencies are very reluctant to expose themselves to costly litigation unless the offense is so egregious as to make it an immediate threat to the public.

 

As always:  Just my view from the cheap seats,

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