Driving while texting is now illegal. So is texting while driving. As of this writing, 29 states enforce this law according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.
I don’t know a sane person who thinks that texting behind the wheel is safe, but there are tons of questions about how the law will be enforced.
For example, how will a police officer know for sure that you were thumbing a message into your phone? After all, you might be re-positioning your belly button ring–which is, by the way, completely legal while driving.
I’m told that a cop can inspect your phone to see if you sent a message just before he pulled you over. This may be true, but the most time consuming part of texting is preparing the message, so you’re most likely to get busted during the composition stage. If this is so, why not just clear the unsent message before the policeman approaches your vehicle?
The new law re-introduces questions about other distractions available to drivers. Not all these distractions are technology-based.
Food, drinks and cigarettes are a constant diversion from the road.
Technical distractions include TV screens and radios and CD players that feature crawling messages.
The automobile dashboard itself can be a distraction. (“I’m sorry for speeding, officer. I looked down to read my speedometer and didn’t see the speed limit sign.”)
Finally, how are you supposed to use a GPS without looking away from the road?
I’m sure we’ll sort all this out as I remember similar confusion when the seat belt law went into effect. New York was the first state to pass such a law in 1984.
Meanwhile, we can consider the next law to be enacted.
What we really need is a law that enforces spelling while texting.