11.13.2008

Legislating Common Sense For the FAIL

California, in an attempt to legislate common sense, instituted a law banning the use of a cell phone while driving unless a hands free device was used. The fine for a first offense is $20, additional offenses are $50 each. From what I've seen around town, the law has done absolutely nothing to change people's idiotic and totally self-absorbed behavior. They continue to blather away on their phones while drifting from lane to lane on the highway in their mega-SUV (they are invariably alone too).

The thing is, the law is already pretty clearly covered by laws against reckless driving. Reckless driving is when you are driving your vehicle in a negligent and dangerous manner. Studies have clearly shown that people on cellphones drive as bad OR WORSE than drunk drivers. Their attention is limited, their ability to react is severely impacted and they make themselves a far more dangerous road hazard than not gabbing away on their phone.

My recommendation is to either remove the law altogether and just start enforcing the existing laws against reckless driving or give the cell phone ban law some real teeth. Nobody cares about a piddly $20 fine. Make the first fine $50, the second $100 and add $100 to each subsequent fine. If someone's facing a $400 fine just for talking on their phone while driving, they might think twice about it. Probably not but maybe.

Side note, reckless as a word to describe dangerous driving is nearly the same as wreckless, meaning not having a wreck. Odd.
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