the good: pa passed a ban on texting while driving.
the bad: they removed the ban on non-hands-free talking.
still i say its a win, if a belated one.
are CB radios part of the “non-hands-free” talking? that might be the issue?
I’d like to see tiered fines for speeding instead, that is, if traveling 5 or 10 mph over the speed limit of 15 to 40 mph is a greater fine than traveling 5 or 10 mph over 45 or 65 mph.
basing speeding fines on percentage would make so much sense. they’ll never do it.
Speeding fines should be based on Joules over the speed limit.
Speeding fines – They should be tiered but divided by your driving quotient (mythical number that I just made up). I have lived here most of my adult life but we have some of the worst drivers I’ve ever seen. Basic concepts such as merging, lane choice, and car control are foreign here.
I am a huge fan of the ban on texting though b/c that is the one doubt that creeps into my mind as I ride down the road, thinking that each car that I hear approaching could be a distracted driver texting away (I’ve seen people driving in the fast lane at 65 and texting!! WTF!!).
Still seems like it is OK to eat, play with your GPS, and does nothing to keep bad drivers off the road. Looks great on paper though. I can see how the arguments pan out…
“Officer, I wasn’t texting, I was calling my friend.”
And if you really want to get into semantics you could always say you were on Facebook, not texting.
Anyone know how these laws are working in other states? I don’t disagree with them I just see them as a flawed way to fix a problem.
“Anyone know how these laws are working in other states? “
I think it’s still too soon to put together any solid statistics regarding the bans. Personally, I don’t think that the states are doing enough, in Canada they will pull you over for driving with a dome-light on. They passed a ban while I was living in WA state, but it only made texting while driving a secondary offense… they later changed the law to make it a primary offense, so I’m guessing the original law wasn’t working.
I’m glad that PA is finally moving on this. Not long after I moved back, I was rear ended by a teenager who was busy texting behind me at an on ramp. I yielded to traffic, he didn’t.
Driving with internal lights on should be up there too, along with secondary devices that are to bright.
Yeah, more punitive laws solve all of our problems. Like dome lights being on…
Anyway, the thing that interests/bothers me about this texting law is the part about how it is illegal to receive a text message in a car. Does this mean that if one receives a text message (without reading it, like an unanswered phone call) while driving they are potentially going to be seen as at fault in an accident or liable for a ticket?
What if you’re 100% stopped, like stuck in traffic or something?
These things are like stereos for a lot of people these days, can you change the stereo if it is attached to the car but not if it is your phone? What about a device that looks like a phone and acts like a phone but is actually just a music player?…
There is just a lot of gray area in this that seems to not represent how electronic devices actually work. Seems like a distracted driving law would cover it all, along with putting on make-up, reading a book, eating a sandwhich with one hand and smoking with the other etc…
My implications were not that they would solve the problems but that they are equal distractions in one way or another. Phones, navigation devices (entering data), and interior lighting can all decrease the drivers vision one way or another. To ignore things that are just as common as texting is foolish.
ETA: $50 is a very low fine, a better fine would be loss of license for a short period. You need to have the threat for forcing a lifestyle change. Most people spend $50 at the bar and drive home like it’s nothing.
Seems like a distracted driving law would cover it all
Also, how does Siri fit into the no-texting-while-driving law?
Personally, I don’t think it is possible or desirable to enumerate all the potential ways by which a driver may distract themselves.
When you get right down to it, the problem that we wish to prevent is collisions, not distractions. Rather than falling down the “everything not forbidden is ok” rathole, I’d rather significantly stiffen penalties for _any_ collision, plus add default presumption of guilt on the operator of the faster vehicle.
Focus on significant punitive action when problems actually occur, and people have a vested interest in self-regulating all of their activities on the road. Focus solely on a narrow list of potential contributing factors, and we make it ok to walk away unscathed because “I wasn’t doing anything illegal!”
IMO, of course.
For my part, I think driving gets in the way of texting, conversation, playing with the radio settings and reading a book. I want my robot car, so I am free to do more important things.
I’m not so sure that the faster vehicle would always be to blame. More often than not I notice slower vehicles causing more issues.
@orionz: Unless it is proven that both vehicles were operating below the speed limit, it would be safe to assume that the faster vehicle was probably breaking the law before the incident.
and this is why the ban is a good idea.
just spelling it out that it is illegal may have prevented this.
The problem with only prohibiting distracted driving is how do you prove it? It’s easy to prove someone was texting, but was the texting motorist swerving enough to indicate he was distracted? Suppose he almost hits somebody — not actually having an accident is evidence that he wasn’t really distracted.
List some really egregious behaviors that cause distracted driving, and maybe you can charge someone before an accident happens.
Breaking the law, yes, possibly. The source of the accident, not always. It also does not account for a driver driving the speed limit getting hit by a distracted driver going slower than the posted limit because they are texting or whatever else.
While speed adds to many things I do not believe it is the main issue most of the time.
Can we be honest here for a second. How many tickets do you guys actually think the PPD will issue over this? I’ve lived here for about 15 months and I have honest to god never seen a cop pull anyone over in the entire state. Hell the only cops I see are the ones sitting at intersections changing the lights during busy times, the ones at construction sites, and the ones who wander around aimlessly in Squirrel Hill and Bakery Square.
@boostuv this is a bill manufactured to ensure those who vote for it can prominently show they care for their constituency. Anyone who voted against this ban will be painted as someone who permits unsafe driving and allows harm to young drivers.
Pragmatism and politics are mutually exclusive more often that not.
Oh I know why they voted it, but I was more commenting on how everyone is saying “well lets ban this next”. Making something illegal obviously has little effect on the drivers hence the numerous speeding cars, red light runners, and people driving without their headlights on at night. Does it look good on paper? Absolutely. Will it change anything? Not a chance.
I generally agree with the “do we really need another law?” responses, but there’s something I haven’t been able to quite work out in my little brain:
We have laws against murder, driving while intoxicated, and battery. But those things still happen. So why aren’t we arguing to throw out those laws?
Well, on the surface, the direct result of those actions is generally harm to human life (though not always in the case of DWI). That’s generally looked on as a Bad Thing, so even if some percentage of the population thinks it’s okay to kill someone, the rest of us generally think it’s wrong (special cases aside) and should be punished.
The issue with these “distracted driving” laws is that, generally, the immediate result of texting, or talking on the phone, or doing your make-up isn’t harming another person–that is, some large portion of the time, drivers do this without causing harm to another person. And when something does happen (like the incident Erok linked to above), people think “well, that kid shouldn’t have been texting,” and, maybe “that’ll never happen to me while I’m texting and driving.” I suspect this is the same sort of rationalization people use when they speed or driving under the influence.
I tend to agree with boostuv regarding enforcement. These laws look great on paper, but given I’ve seen people run red lights in front of police and not get pulled over, I have trouble believing that a cop will pull someone over for texting. And without serious consequences for an offense, most people just won’t care (this is likely what makes laws against murder, DWI, etc, more effective–the punishment is generally pretty harsh, so you are taking quite the risk if you choose to break the law).
So, I share the cynicism about laws like this. It is mostly political theater to make it seem that our elected officials are doing something. Some of them may very well be earnest about wanting to prevent these incidents, but at the end of the day, few are willing to really put their necks on the political chopping block to get truly effective laws passed. Instead, we have a weak law that requires a bunch of state money for “marketing” to tell people “texting while driving is bad (but we probably won’t pull you over).” A general distracted law should have serious consequences (that is, more than just a fine). Truthfully, every moving violation should at least chip away at your ability to operate a vehicle (add points for running a stop sign, etc). Until that happens (and police actually enforce the laws), the legislature can pass as many laws as its wants, but behavior won’t change.
 Fun fact: Police cruisers have laptops that the police can use while they are driving! Also, how many times have you seen an officer driving while talking on a cell phone?
Every biking or ped or transit survey I have filled within the past 5 years I always list enforcement as the #1 area for improvement.
Everyone tries to legislate or “design” danger out of our transit systems. But the biggest part and variable, the people using these systems, you have little control over. Enforcement is the catalyst for change in this culture. Without it, these are words on paper. They can only be used in court if someone ends up there.
Enforcement is the issue with all kinds of things. Those who view the possible punishment as “nothing” or think they can get away with it will not change. Speeding is an example. People only care about the points, not the fine. The points can change their lifestyle (insurance rates, loss of license), the fine may not.
$50 is not a harsh penalty at all. There needs to be a harsh penalty like loss of license for a short period and a tiered repeat offender punishment to get it to be really considered.
As I think about my commute on the way home if I drive there are very few, if any spots, I see a cop. Of those spots I cannot think of one where they would willingly pull someone over, nor have I EVER seen anyone pulled over.
Here’s a good q&a from the PG to help people understand some of the misinformation and question marks that came up in this thread.
Q&A: What the texting, emailing ban means
Thursday, November 03, 2011
By John L. Micek, The (Allentown) Morning Call
HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Corbett is set to sign a bill that would put Pennsylvania in the ranks of 30 other states that forbid motorists from texting while driving.
Here’s a consumer’s guide to what you need to know about the law. The answers come from a legislative analysis of the bill and from the office of Sen. Robert Tomlinson, R-Bucks, who sponsored the legislation.
Q: When does the law take effect?
A: It takes effect 120 days after the governor signs it into law. Mr. Corbett’s office said Wednesday that the governor is expected to sign the bill, but it’s not on the schedule yet. So wait for that, then start counting forward.
Q: What’s off-limits?
A: The bill prohibits “text-based communication on interactive communication devices, such as cell phones, for all drivers while driving a vehicle. A violation occurs if the driver sends, reads, or writes a text-based communication while the vehicle is in motion.”
Q: What’s a “Text-Based Communication?”
A: Pretty much what it sounds like: the bill defines it as a “text message, instant message, electronic mail or other written communication composed or received on an interactive wireless device …”
Q: So in addition to cell phones, are smartphones, such as a BlackBerry or an iPhone, also covered?
A: Yes, BlackBerrys and iPhones fall under the definition of an “interactive wireless communications device.”
Q: What’s the penalty?
A: The bill makes texting-while-driving a primary offense, which means police can pull motorists over for that violation alone. The penalty is $50, but officers may not seize the cell phone or other device.
Q: Do I get points on my license? Will my insurance be affected?
A: No. No points. But the insurance impact depends on the safe-driving policies for your carrier. Best to check the fine print on that one.
Q: So does that mean I can’t send email or read or respond to a text message if I’m stopped at a light?
A: Your vehicle must be in motion to be in violation of the act.
Q: How about if I’m in a parking lot and the engine is running?
A: Your vehicle must be in motion to be in violation of the act.
Q: Can I still make phone calls from my car and talk on the phone while I’m driving?
A: Talking on a cell phone without a hands-free device remains legal for motorists in Pennsylvania.
First published on November 3, 2011 at 12:00 am
also, i may be wrong, as i haven’t gotten a ticket since i was 17, but the $50 is the base, then they add on a bunch of other “costs” so it will most likely be much more than that. is that still the case, those who have gotten tickets recently?
while i don’t think that this will stop people from texting while driving, but as with laws like this, i think to myself sometimes, are we better off without this rule? it puts one more tool into the toolbox, and since it’s in place already, it means that it can be improved upon much easier than getting it there in the first place.
Your car must be in motion? I hate laws like that. You are going to get jagoffs blindly pulling off into the bike lane to send that “OMG LOL!!” text their friends. Hey, their car isn’t in motion so it is all good, yea?
A rare chance for getting a $50 fine (or a little more with fines?) and no points on my license? Serious? That probably wouldn’t deter me from doing something I likely wouldn’t be caught doing anyway. Not to start a digital rights debate, but the texting-while-driving demographic likely has a large overlap with the copying-CDs-and-sharing-MP3s demographic. For comparison, according to the RIAA “Criminal charges may leave you with a felony record, accompanied by up to five years of jail time and fines up to $250,000.” and that sure doesn’t stop anyone (moral issues aside).
Totally off topic, I didn’t start it… It wasn’t the “copying-cds-and-sharing-mp3s” demographic that gutted the record industry with their 8-tracks and cassette tapes and killed the movie industry with their Betamax and VCR. Xerox? Printing press? Kids these days and their information sharing.
Not sure if I agree with the “while in motion” part. The most annoying people (as they are most likely to hit me) are those who JUST set their phone down to drive and don’t look.
Thanks be to God, we have here neither free schools nor printing presses, and I hope we will not have any for a hundred years, for education has sent into the world doubt, heresy and sectarianism, and the printing press has propagated, in addition to all these evils, attacks against governments! -Sir William Berkeley (1605-1677), Governor of Virginia
“while in motion”
For sure, there is a danger point when people start up after talking.
On the other hand, it is illegal to be drunk at the wheel when your car is idling next to the road. In some places it is illegal to be drunk and behind the wheel when your car is parked and the key is not in the ignition.
Those places are where I want cell phone users to be.
@ orion I just see them as a flawed way to fix a problem.
I have never ran into a real-life problem that had a perfect solution.
The dishes are done!
in the article Mr. Tomlinson said the Legislature next year may discuss whether to prohibit drivers from talking on hand-held cell phones, which nine other states already have done.
On the news they said the new law covers facebook, twitter, internet, texting and managing your phone. The only thing you are permitted to do is dial.
So, yesterday I found myself driving around town, recharging the GPS device of a visiting friend. The thing kept screaming and beeping at me, til I poked its little screen and figured out how to turn it off. Now that I’ve “used” one of these devices, I am really wondering why the focus is just on phones.
I’m also wondering if some cars were told to drive into buildings by the automated voice.
My father has a GPS unit that came factory built into his car. It will not allow you to make any changes to it unless the emergency break is engaged. When the car is in drive it will give you directions but the touch screen does not allow you to make any changes to it. The GPS I owne has a disclaimer that pops up when you turn it on that it is unlawful to program it when operating a vehicle
Your Dad’s setup sounds pretty safe.
I have very little experience with the units.
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