News Ticker

Texting bill is bad policy

The Idaho State Legislature is considering several bills around the subject of “texting while driving.” I urge them to oppose these new laws.

The Idaho State Legislature is considering several bills around the subject of texting while driving. I urge them to oppose these new laws.

Why? At first blush, it’s an easy cause to support — who doesn’t want to make our roads safer? However, knee-jerk overreaction never helped anyone.

Is it necessary to micro-legislate on this issue? Inattentive driving is already against the law. Perhaps, if texting while driving is a public safety issue, then local police departments should step up enforcement under existing legislation, the way they have special patrols for drunk drivers and aggressive drivers.

We don’t have laws on the books for manslaughter involving a baseball bat — aluminum. Likewise, we shouldn’t pass laws which outlaw the use of specific devices when it’s really a specific behavior we’re trying to curtail.

I fear unintended consequences. The definitions of wireless communications devices in some of these bills is so broad that it includes things like OnStar. As cars become more sophisticated, the bills as written might grow to include banning the use of cars themselves!

Last, I would caution against letting media sensationalism overstate the risk posed by this issue. It’s easy for the media to play to intergenerational fears, terrorizing the older population about the reckless behavior of “kids these days.” I respect public safety concerns, but make sure that any move that infringes upon individual liberty is well supported by fact-based studies of risk, not overblown media hype.

Jason Denizac is a senior at BSU, majoring in political science.

4 Comments on Texting bill is bad policy

  1. Jonn Schoenfelder // Feb 22, 2010 at 6:25 pm //

    Ham radio opporation does not take the eyes off the forward road of the vehicle and is essential to communication between truck-drivers. RTFA.

    Texting is pretty pervasive in America today, but because it poses a greater risk to young drivers, who are already the most likely to cause an accident, claims of ageism are bound to be made. The bottum line: will this legislation reduce risk? Yes.

    And at the loss of what? A minor convenience that endangers the lives of everyone. This legislation does not prohibit the use of cellphones across the board, or even the use of a cell phone in vehicles: just the use of text messaging while you are driving a car.

    This = No Brainer

  2. Does a Ham radio count as a mobile device? I know that's a big hobby on the roads, and I'm not sure if that is part of the conversation, but its pretty similar, but primarily used by older folks. Another example, perhaps, of the role ageism might be playing in this issue (not overbearingly so, but I agree with the 'kids these days' observation).

  3. I could not have said it better then this author. Right on point. Why we need a bill to specifically make texting illegal while driving is beyond me. The enforcement mechanisms exist for this to be enforced already. What I see with this is even in Idaho government micromanaging our lives. What is next, not being allowed to have the radio turned up higher then 30 decibles or only having say 3 passengers in the car.

    • There is already a law forbidding your radio to be turned up over 70 decibels. I was pulled over and assessed a $140 ticket for it, didn't even get a warning. I had no idea that was a law.

Comments are closed.