There's No Way to Enforce a Texting While Driving Ban

Both the E-mailers and the ban proponents should use more common sense, says Radley Balko.


But let's say you're OK with a ban on reading cellphone messages, too. How would you write that law? Would you prohibit so much as a glance in the general direction of a cellphone while driving? Should we mandate that cellphones be stored out of the driver's sight while the car isn't in park? What about other things that might distract him from the road, like navigation systems? Shiny objects? Pretty girls in the passenger seat? How would you prove a driver was looking at a cellphone and not something near it?

If you want to increase the penalties for reckless driving, go ahead. If cellphone records show a driver was browsing baseball scores at the time he caused an accident, increase his fines and punishment. That at least makes some sense. But don't pass useless laws that will be arbitrarily enforced simply because "we have to do something."

We've seen similar nonsense on display with the general use of cellphones while driving. Though several states have passed bans, all make exceptions for hands-free devices. But we know the level of impairment of drivers using hands-free devices is essentially the same as that of drivers holding a phone. These laws aren't about safety; they're about symbolism.

Here are two things these bans will do: They'll give police officers another reason to pull people over, and they'll bring in revenue for the municipalities that aggressively enforce them. I think both are arguments against a ban. You may disagree, but the one thing these bans aren't likely to do is make the roads much safer. And if they won't accomplish that, there's no reason to enact them.

Read why a law is absolutely necessary, by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy of New York.

What do you think? Should Texting While Driving Be Against the Law?

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