Driving While Stupid: Text Messaging Teen Kills Cyclist

from the who-actually-thinks-that's-safe? dept

It's likely that we'll be hearing a lot more stories like this one over the next few years, but a teenager who was apparently text-messaging while driving stuck and killed a cyclist last week. This is likely to bring about calls for laws outlawing text messaging while driving, which is sort of missing the point. Doing anything that puts others in the road while driving is already illegal as reckless driving. Outlawing specific activities takes away from the idea that anyone sitting behind the wheel of a car should be responsible for keeping that car in control and safely where it should be. The fact that anyone would need a special law to know they shouldn't be text messaging while driving is a scary thought.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    spamathon, Nov 28th, 2005 @ 3:47am

    so then?

    what else do you propose? it's obvious to those of us with any more than two brain cells that doing anything while driving is distracting. but if there is no law specifically prohibiting it, how are the police supposed to police this activity? you can't just punish people who kill someone - prevention is better than cure.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 28th, 2005 @ 4:14am

    Re: so then?

    What tools are available for a police officer to prove that a driver was text messaging?

    I can see this being the "butt" of many lame jokes going around campus...

    "Quick joey, Mr Rent-a-Cop is coming... he might put you in School-Jail for TXTing"
    or
    "Officer, I may have been speeding... but at least I wasn't text-messaging. I hear that is punishable by law now"
    or
    in USA, "I will sue 'company-name-here' if they ever text message me while I'm driving... they should know that's against the law, and I'm not about to get a ticket for such a sin as to break the said laws of this country" [read sarcasm]

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 28th, 2005 @ 5:22am

    Re: so then?

    There *are* laws in place that specifically prohibit doing anything distracting while driving - you get cited for violating laws against "reckless driving" (varies by locality) and they can be quite steep. The same law that covers driving 55 MPH on a sheet of ice and wiping out a telephone pole can be used for cell phone idiots, text msging idiots, and a variety of other idiots, without specifically enumerating every possible type of idiot in our legal codes.

     

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  4.  
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    Midnight, Nov 28th, 2005 @ 6:25am

    Re: so then?

    Makes sense to me. Yes, there are laws aginst doing anything that impairs driving and in some States and Provinces, they are enforced.

    I really get off on the "idiots" doing e-mails on their Blackberrys, while driving or sitting at an intersection, or women applying their make-up, while driving.
    The same applies to cell phones. There are hands-free devices available, so they should be used.
    There's a time and place for everything and driving a car while doing other things is not acceptable.

    The kid who killed the cyclist should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

     

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  5.  
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    Frank J. Mattia, Nov 28th, 2005 @ 7:09am

    Re: so then?

    The prevention is statue called "wreckless driving". The penalties should be stiffer - if someone commits vehicular homicide while driving wrecklessly - there should be something like a 5 year minimum sentence. nothing short of that.

     

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  6.  
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    sadstrongsad, Nov 28th, 2005 @ 7:55am

    How can you not be mad?

    It says that the wife of the cyclists was not angry at the teen for hitting him. I would definitly be pissed if someone killed my signifigant other, even if it was an accident.

     

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  7.  
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    pewp, Nov 28th, 2005 @ 8:18am

    Re: How can you not be mad?

    perhaps .. she wanted him to die? Teen_txt'r did the job for him.

    And now she ggets a big fat insurance check

     

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  8.  
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    Rikko, Nov 28th, 2005 @ 8:37am

    Typo

    Whoops, being stuck by a car sounds pretty painful.

     

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  9.  
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    Dave, Nov 28th, 2005 @ 9:17am

    Too many crashes are treated as

    We wouldn't need specific laws if we actually made drivers accountable for behavior behind the wheel. An accident is something that happens for no apparent reason.
    A couple years ago in San Diego, a teenager, Stephen Smoot, fell asleep driving home from a party (in the morning), drifted across the road, struck and killed an assistant district attorney, who was jogging on the OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE ROAD. He got off with no jail time. It was an accident!
    The laws are there, but the judges are not enforcing them. When you lose focus and cause harm, it's not an accident, it's your fault. Same is true when you lose control of your car because you were driving too fast, you didn't check the condition of your tires, etc. Jeez, people are stupid.

     

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  10.  
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    Yonatron, Nov 28th, 2005 @ 9:21am

    Re: so then?

    Why the hell can't you just punish people who kill someone? You certainly should, if they kill someone by ignoring the fact that they're supposed to be in control of hundreds of pounds of metal moving 40-70 miles per hour. What I would propose, and I imagine Mike agrees with me, is that people actually get prosecuted for not driving a car carefully, no matter what's behind that.

     

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  11.  
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    Jay, Nov 28th, 2005 @ 9:22am

    Re: so then?

    The prevention is statue called "wreckless driving". The penalties should be stiffer - if someone commits vehicular homicide while driving wrecklessly
    Surely you mean "wreckfully"!

     

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  12.  
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    Phil, Nov 28th, 2005 @ 9:42am

    Text Messaging while driving

    Maybe the coming "intelligent cars" will help solve this problem. They will be able to detect any oncoming drivers and either signal the driver or take control.

     

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  13.  
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    Yonatron, Nov 28th, 2005 @ 10:47am

    Re: Text Messaging while driving

    Maybe intelligent cars will help. But we have no idea when the first one will show up, and it'll probably be another decade or three before they comprise the majority of cars. So the problem still needs to be addressed now. But like the astute techdirt blogger points out, the "problem" isn't specifically about text messaging while driving, it's about society's inability to take seriously that driving has lots of potential danger and requires actual attention. Unfortunately, you can't tell when giving someone a driver's license whether they'll actually drive attentively later, so the seriousness of cars' potential danger needs to be driven home, as it were, in education and in penalties for recklessness. This man's death, like the deaths and industries of many many bicyclists (and pedestrians and good drivers, for that matter) could and should have been avoided. That kid should get 5 years in jail.

     

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  14.  
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    give it up mike, Nov 28th, 2005 @ 12:51pm

    special laws are needed

    it is illegal to have a tv in the front seat of a car for the OBVIOUS reason that no one can drive safely with a tv on in the front seat. A weak reckless driving law would do nothing to prevent the countless accidents this single law is preventing.

    Likewise a law to prevent text messaging, which no one can do safely while driving is a good idea.

    Mike, just because you want to protect your habit of yacking on a cell phone while driving doesnt excuse this enormously irresponsible defense of text messaging while driving.

    Think a little before you start your broken record.

     

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  15.  
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    Jessica, Nov 28th, 2005 @ 1:40pm

    Re: so then?

    The prevention is statue called "wreckless driving". Actually, that would be reckless driving. "Wreckless" would mean without wrecks, which is what we want, afterall.

     

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  16.  
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    Mike (profile), Nov 28th, 2005 @ 1:56pm

    Re: special laws are needed

    Mike, just because you want to protect your habit of yacking on a cell phone while driving doesnt excuse this enormously irresponsible defense of text messaging while driving

    At what point did I say that I was DEFENDING texting while driving? I don't. In fact I call it stupid, because that's exactly what it is.

    Also, I don't need to protect my "habit" of yacking while driving, because it's not a habit. I agree that it's dangerous.

     

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  17.  
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    TriZz, Jan 18th, 2006 @ 2:39pm

    No Subject Given

    Put all the laws you want in place for "behind the wheel" activities...

    ...but if there was/is a law that prohibits receiving felatio whilst driving - would you stop some girl from puffing on your wood because it's "against the law"?

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2006 @ 3:30pm

    Re: so then?

    Driving "wrecklessly" is good driving recklessly is not...

     

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  19.  
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    Kelsea, Sep 28th, 2006 @ 9:27am

    STUPID

    that is really stupid of that kid.... thats why you tell your friends that u will talk to them late.....

     

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  20.  
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    someone, Jan 4th, 2007 @ 2:12pm

    OMG

    Wow! How stupid can you be?! I mean I like to text my friends and stuff, but I would never attempt that while driving. The thing is it's not only text messaging while driving, it's putting on makeup, smoking, talking on your cell phone, eating, drinking coffee, changing, shaving, etc. People are just soooooo stupid now a days. And the poor guy was only trying to ride his bike.

     

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  21.  
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    A teen, Jan 4th, 2007 @ 2:14pm

    I text 'n drive

    It really doesn't seem to be that big of a problem, i mean i only do it when i'm at a stop sign or at at red light. i mean i get bored and in New Jersey where i live we're not allowed to talk on cells while we drive so i just text my friends instead. i haven't ever come close to hitting someone.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 6:28pm

    Wow! This is amazing!! Dont people pay attention any more. Because of these people, people who desirve to drive will not be able untill an older age f this continues. so my word to the publc is DRIVE AND DRIVE ONLY, IF YOU NEED TO CALL SOMEONE MAKE SURE IT IS URGENT!!!!!

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 6:32pm

    Re:

    GOOD JOB!

     

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  24.  
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    orangemike, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 6:29pm

    The clue phone is not ringing in New Jersey

    "in New Jersey where i live we're not allowed to talk on cells while we drive so i just text my friends instead."

    WHAT!!!! Why is this idiot not in jail already? Texting is even more distracting than talking on a cellphone, you twit! I sincerely hope you don't kill anybody while doing this!

     

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  25.  
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    hi hi, Jun 15th, 2007 @ 7:51pm

    What is so important that it can't wait til your car is stopped and in park? Our society has become one of instant gratification for everything!

     

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  26.  
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    Jersey, Aug 1st, 2007 @ 6:33am

    Re: I text 'n drive

    In reply to the teen who text and drives in NJ, you can get pulled over for simply touching your phone. Just make calls and put them on speaker if it's really that important.

    A red light is a different issue than taking your eyes off the road for any amount of time... even if you are driving straight you don't know what's going to cross your path

     

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  27.  
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    what are you thinking??, Aug 24th, 2007 @ 5:50am

    Re: I text 'n drive,your not to smart,by a teen

    you havent hit someone yet but one day you will find that your actions werent to smart.

     

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  28.  
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    Emily, Oct 24th, 2007 @ 3:48pm

    I feel the same way!!!!!I have a teenager and while that is not the way i want my teen to die

     

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  29.  
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    Daniel, Sep 21st, 2008 @ 3:41pm

    WOW

     

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  30.  
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    kamagra, Dec 28th, 2010 @ 5:31am

    nice..

    Nice post. Please keep continue sharing your great ideas

     

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  31.  
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    sprearson81 (profile), Jun 8th, 2012 @ 6:17pm

    Exactly, just wow

     

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