If there is one thing our General Assembly seems to be good at (well, other than being ethically challenged), it's passing laws that seemingly are done for the benefit of society but are basically unenforceable and/or impossible to prosecute.
Take for example a law passed in 2007 that required people riding ATVs on private property to wear a helmet. Ok, someone please tell me how that one is going to be enforced?
Which brings us to this WRAL story on lawmakers considering a ban on text messaging while driving. What's the problem with that, you may ask. It seems logical — drivers need to look away from the road and at their phone in order to type out the message, so it's something they shouldn't be doing. But do we really need a law on this?
How is a police officer supposed to tell if someone is violating this law? If a driver is looking down away from the road is that enough probable cause to pull the driver over and conduct a traffic stop? Is the officer then going to check my phone's text message log to verify that I really did send a text message and wasn't just looking up a phone number to call (which is legal).
And the fine for my transgression — $20. Whoop de do. What's the point of making something illegal without making it a severe deterrent for doing the action. Heck at $20, the fine is about the same as sending 80-100 text messages, basically a pittance.
What if I was on my Blackberry typing away an email? That's technically not a text message, but involves the exact same activity. Sending an email from your phone — legal. Text messaging — illegal.
This seems more like goverment trying to offer a solution without a problem existing. Has there been a rash breakout of people texting while driving and then causing accidents?
And if we're going to ban text messaging, shouldn't we ban all the other capabilities of these next generation phones. Shouldn't we then also ban Twittering while driving, updating Facebook statuses while driving and watching YouTube videos while driving as well?
Here's an idea, instead of trying to piecemeal laws like this together why not just make it severly punitive for having an accident while doing anything but driving? Make the penalty fit the crime. If you cause an accident while being distracted doing ANYTHING on your mobile phone, make the penalty something more severe than what most people pay for lunch for two.