New York Governor David Paterson just signed into law a bill that bans texting while driving. Really. What’s next, a law that mandates common sense?
This is not untypical of the way they make law in New York. Something bad happens and it gets a lot of publicity… in this case a car load of teenagers were killed just down the road from my house because the driver was texting at 80 miles per hour. So we get a new law on it. New York also bans cell phone use while driving. (And you can bet that New Yorkers never never never talk on the phone while driving. See I said never three times in an attempt to be ironic.) The cell phone law responded to a fatal accident where the driver held by the public to be at fault was found dead with a cell phone in his hand. (The victims, appropriately sympathetic, were a mother and child.)
An accident that killed a family on the Taconic Parkway caused by a woman who was on pills and booze will no doubt lead to more legislation against driving while on pills and booze.
The fact is that we have plenty of laws that deal with this kind of stuff is overlooked by legislators willling to ride the wave of publicity that comes from sponsoring a law that will solve the latest headline crisis. Reckless driving could certainly include cell phone talking when it is clear that the accident was caused by inattention. Texting at 80 MPH is a strong hint that the driver was being irresponsibly reckless. Its much more important to get headlines for solving this complex problem…texting while driving… than it is to worry about whether we are gumming up the statute books with unnecessary crap. Not to mention the time and material wasted passing the bill, getting it put on the books, disseminating the new stuff…on and on and on.
How much time does the most dysfunctional legislature in the universe waste passing laws that we don’t need? Most of the time that they have, would be my guess. In the meantime, the budget is a mess, taxes are the highest in the nation and the state deficit is in the stratosphere.