Thursday, September 25, 2008

"I Am Shocked, Shocked! There are Teens Texting While Driving in Casablanca!!

I love that movie... and that line.
Anyway, no big surprise here, but I am following up with the post I had a few days ago on Suffolk County NY's decision to ban Texting while Driving or as we Criminal Defense Lawyers like to call it TWI. Nassau County is about to go along and I think that we will see a NYS VTL Law to this effect shortly.

I am in agreement with the law. It no surprise (as I said earlier) that teens are the biggest offenders (almost half admit to texting while driving and over 25% of drivers between 24-35 also admit to doing that) or that as you get older, you have less texting as we "old folk" are less tech savvy.

I am a bit worried about cell phones which are so ubiquitous will become a pretext for stopping cars, but the fact that the phone and the cell provider can prove phone usage may help keep pretext stops in check (defense lawyers and civil libertarians are going to have to fight these cases and win to ensure that such abuse is kept in check.)

I think this TWI law is only half of the answer to the problem of distraction behind the wheel. I am afraid that to get the other half, Personal Injury Lawyers are going to have to get involved and sue the big Cell companies to force them to order that cell phones offer hands free texting. Believe me the technology is there (witness one of the best ideas ever. If I can record my voice for Jott to turn into an e-mail, I can record my voice to send a text message or a tweet or the next big thing.) It is just a matter of time before the cell companies demand that it be available on an I-phone or Blackberry.

In the meantime, I suggest that teens either but the cell phone on a blue tooth or in hands free mode, and ignore the text messages. Pulling over to text could be dangerous and I doubt too many young people will pull off a road to text safely.

Remember, You do need two eyes for the road, and both hands on the wheel. Teens don't have much experience to begin with behind the wheel, add distraction and you have a recipe for disaster. It is only slightly less dangerous for more experienced drivers. I have seen drivers put on makeup, read maps and even read books while driving. Distractions can kill. We all do it, but we need to make a concerted effort to do it less and ultimately to not do it at all.

I have been trying all week. I have reduced my bad cell phone habits quite a bit in one week. I am thinking that next week I will tell the important people in my life I am driving, that I will call in every hour while on the road (and I will pull off for that) and everyone else will have to wait until I call in. Then I am going to forward my phones and turn off the Twitter tweets. I'd ask you to wish me luck, but I'd rather you just join me...
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