Apparently People Need A Law To Tell Them Sending Faxes While Driving Isn't A Good Idea

from the brake-is-on-the-left dept

We've written plenty of times about the ongoing push to ban talking on the phone while driving. Drivers that are distracted by phone conversations are undoubtedly a problem, but the real problem isn't them talking on the phone, it's the distraction. Devoting laws to make specific distractions illegal seems rather pointless, when compared to enforcing broader laws that seek to tackle poor and reckless driving in general. But, it would seem, many states would rather try to ban distractions one by one. So, in addition to talking on the phone, driving while drowsy, smoking while driving, and using OnStar or other telematics systems while driving, some New York lawmakers now looking to ban playing video games and sending faxes while driving. This illustrates the folly of these distraction-specific laws. Once legislators go down this path and begin to ban specific activities, they're in some sense obliged to try and ban every single distraction. After all, while most reasonable people would realize that it probably wouldn't be a great idea to operate a fax machine while driving -- but if it's not specifically made illegal, like talking on a cell phone while driving, it must be okay, right?


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  1.  
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    Phil, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 11:34am

    Apparently People Need A Law To Tell Them Sending

    Just goes to show you that common sense isn't very common these days.

     

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  2.  
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    Cyber Akuma, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 11:34am

    Reminds me of a story I read about a person calling tech support to figure out how to connect to the internet on his Laptop while driving...

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 11:38am

    Folly

    but if it's not specifically made illegal, like talking on a cell phone while driving, it must be okay, right?
    And that's the real shame. Because by attempting to itemize each prohibited distraction the ones that aren't listed are then by implication given tacit approval. For instance, in my state there is no law that explicitly makes it illegal to drive with your eyes closed. I still don't it would be a good idea though.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 11:42am

    Re:

    Reminds me of a story I read about a person calling tech support to figure out how to connect to the internet on his Laptop while driving...
    What's wrong with that? The cops where I live cruise the 'net while driving all the time.

     

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  5.  
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    Dpfreak, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 12:08pm

    Stupid is, is Stupid Does....

    Lets put a ban on the following things, while driving;
    Washing clothes,
    Washing your Hair,
    Singing to the Radio,
    Drumming to the Radio,
    Playing the Air Guitar,
    Ironing,
    Mowing your grass,
    Sleeping,
    Drinking a Milkshake,
    Eating Ice Cream,
    Sitting,
    Using the Bathroom,
    Cooking,
    Beating your kids,
    Your kids Beating You,
    Listening to the Game,
    Watching the Game,
    Playing a Game,
    Doing the Nasty,
    Paying Attention, (wouldn't want them to get distracted)

    OK, let's keep adding to this list.

     

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  6.  
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    David, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 12:10pm

    Faxing etc.. while driving

    These are not legal issues. They are societal issues. You cannot legislate common sense.

    The problem is people in todays society have no regard for other people around them. They take no care in operating their two ton vehicle while talking on the phone, faxing, watching DVDs etc... Because after all it's all about them and their need for instant gratification. Never does it enter their mind that they could instantly kill an innocent person due to their careless disregard for others safety.

    Until we make a fundamental change in our societal behavior the madness will continue and people will die.

     

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  7.  
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    Instigator, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 12:23pm

    Re: Faxing etc.. while driving

    Or we could have cars that drive themselves...then you could smoke crack while driving and not worry about it. C'mon people, where are the car equivalents to the Roomba? I don't mind my car driving by braille.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 12:26pm

    There are already laws for broader things like reckless driving and getting into an accident. This law is simply trying to prevent those things from happening.

    Common sense tells you not to drink and drive, but people do. So we made a law against it, not because we really care if they drive while drunk, but because of the potential consequences... like reckless driving and getting into an accident.

    So, tell me what's wrong with outlawing things one at a time, if it ends up saving lives? Or, do you have a better suggestion? Like a "not driving while distracted" law? Because that's not open to subjective interpretation by the police officer at all.

     

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  9.  
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    sherm, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 12:29pm

    Faxing

    People still fax !!!!!!!!

     

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  10.  
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    wha?, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 12:41pm

    you don't need a law...

    ... to tell people it's a bad idea. you need a law to tell them it's illegal. or clarify the ones already on the books.

    the bad thing about making laws for everything is that then, there is a law for everything

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 12:45pm

    They should just put out a list of things you're *allowed* to do while driving. Then when anything else comes up, it can be on a case by case basis and added to the list if deemed necessary.

    Cell phones shouldn't be allowed while driving. I know a lot of people can handle it, but a lot of people can handle driving drunk too. Its just that there's no way to tell if you're a person that can or can't handle it. I'd rather ban everybody from doing it then allowing everybody to do it. If people actually followed the law about cell phones (which they don't), there's no doubt it'd save lives.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 12:53pm

    We have seen people driving eratically in traffic and many times they have a cell phone to their ear and are jabbing away without a care in the world. Driving while talking on the cell (DWTC) is very hazardous to your safety. According to research done at Purdue University DWTC or driving while on the cell phone is only second in danger to one other driving distraction – driving while having sex (DWS). Driving while having sex, regardless if it is oral, anal, etc… is extremely hazardous to driving safety.

    Twice as many fatal accidents have occurred from driving while having sex (DWS) than all drunk driving incidents combined. It is said that sex sells and that it causes uncontrollable urges in men and women alike. According to this study, sex can also kill. Driving while having sex (DWS) is similar to driving while on the cell phone (DWTC) in that the driver loses their ability to concentrate on the road and on the matters at hand.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 12:57pm

    Re:

    I love how there are acronyms for everything... especially DWS. That's awesome.

     

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  14.  
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    Bob, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 1:06pm

    The real reason is...

    In order for a Law Enforcement officer/agency to stop said "faxing while driving" it has to be against the law, not against common sense. Unfortunately in our Judicial System, we can't punish someone for being stupid.

    Therefore, we have to write out very details laws that spell out everything, otherwise a good defense attorney will just say, "The law doesn't prohibit this implicitly or explicitly" and the judge will be forced to toss the case.

    Much like the article I read on an anonymous Blog this morning (insomniac I am) about the guy that got an insurance company to insure his cigars against fire. Well the dude smoked them and filed a claim, the insurance company refused to pay, and the guy sued and won, because the insurance company didn't specify what would be an acceptable or non-acceptable fire. Course, once they paid out, they then filed 24 counts of arson for insurance fraud and the man is now in jail, but the real point is, you got to be specific about the law, otherwise Judges have to toss things out.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 1:11pm

    Re: # 11

    "I know a lot of people can handle it, but a lot of people can handle driving drunk too. Its just that there's no way to tell if you're a person that can or can't handle it."

    Which is why there are already umbrella laws against "reckless" driving. Because the issue isn't the phone call, it's YOUR ability to drive while you're taking the phone call. If taking it makes you drives recklessly, you should be ticketed for reckless driving, not talking on the phone.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 1:14pm

    Re: #15

    But chances are you won't get ticketed for a near-miss accident. Police aren't constantly watching. They usually give those tickets post-accident.

    This is a preventative law, just like drunk driving.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 1:17pm

    Re: The real reason is...

    There is a specific law. Reckless driving is a primary offense everywhere. If you're talking on the phone, or having sex, or faxing, but not driving recklessly, the police are now bound to take time out to deal with you instead of the person actually driving recklessly. These boutique laws do not save lives, they distract law enforcement. They are good however for getting politicians' names in the paper.

     

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  18.  
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    Cixelsid, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 1:18pm

    What we need.

    Less laws and more condoms.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 1:20pm

    Re: Re: #15

    That's an issue of law enforcement priorities and funding, not of which laws are available. If you are driving recklessly and cause an accident, you will get a ticket for reckless driving. But if you are driving recklessly and not pulled over because law enforcement had to pull over someone driving normally but while on the 'phone and you then proceed to cause an accident, what exactly has that law accomplished?

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 1:26pm

    missing the point

    everyone is missing the point. the more laws out there forbidding you to do things means that officers get to ticket you for more things (regardless of whether you are reckless or not) and they get more $$$ to fund their big ole gas guzzling SUVs or their fancy new BMW bikes.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 1:30pm

    Re: The real reason is...

    That's hilarious! Can you post a link to that blog?

     

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  22.  
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    Heh heh, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 1:31pm

    Re: Re:

    Playing Need for Speed while driving (DWNS) ;P

     

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  23.  
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    Multi-Tasker, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 1:32pm

    We Call It Multi-Tasking

    It's the perfect way to make more money and keep an honest, hard working, law abiding citizen down. If you can't multi task while driving, take public transportation.

     

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  24.  
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    Apache, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 1:40pm

    Oh yeah

    I love NY ~ Can we also add the following to the list:
    Read a newspaper or map while driving
    Eat while driving
    Not looking at the road while driving
    Put make-up while driving
    Having sexual intercourse while driving

    Just a few of my favorite gripes.

     

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  25.  
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    Overcast, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 2:01pm

    Actually...

    There's needs to be a law to prohibit laws that state the glaringly obvious.

    It's just a matter of the elites taking more and more control - give them an inch and they want 25,000 miles and more.

    Can find lots of issues like that on the web - www.infowars.com is a good place to start. Sad part is - I didn't used to buy half that stuff, but now - I'm not so sure.

     

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  26.  
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    Hah!, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 2:43pm

    Re: Stupid is, is Stupid Does....

    You forgot "Reading the newspaper". Used to see that all the time in NY.

     

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  27.  
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    BTR1701, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 3:16pm

    Navigation Systems

    Seems like this law would pretty much make any kind of navigation system illegal to use, since they have displays. Not only will that essentially kill a multi-million dollar industry, it makes the $300-900 investment people have made in these things worthless.

    I personally love mine, especially when I travel the country on vacation and set it up in my rental car to get me around areas I know nothing about. I'm sure not going to stop using it, law or no law, just because some silly politician wants to look like he's doing something to Protect the Children (TM).

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 3:32pm

    Uh Oh!!!!

    Someone used the word "ELITES".

    I call bullshit on anyone who uses that word>

     

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  29.  
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    Tony, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 3:37pm

    Re: Faxing

    Apparently they do still fax... and they do it while driving! Who has a fax machine in their car?

     

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  30.  
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    thelostfrayman, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 3:39pm

    I bet driving while eating doesn't get banned

    Think of this big jucy hamburger with ketchup mustard and mayo.. or maybe you're rather think of a bean burito with hot sauce, or maybe chicken nuggets with the dipping sauce...

    In any case driving while eating and drinking (even non alcoholic beverages) has to be one of the most distracting thing you can do in a car. We'll call this "DWE" to satisfy
    Anonymous Coward...

    Often eating requires at least one of your hands to be off the wheele for extended time, sometime food drops and natural reaction is to reach for it. In terms of drinks, sometime the lid pops off and contents spill.

    Now this is only a guess, but I would bet that DWE wouldn't be far behind DWS and DWI in being a major contributor of accidents.

    Somehow with all the drive thrus in the US I doubt that a law to ban eating in the car would go very far.

     

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  31.  
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    jb, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 3:56pm

    driving while..

    having sex is still legal, screw on!

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 7:54pm

    Re:

    I know a lot of people can handle it, but a lot of people can handle driving drunk too. Its just that there's no way to tell if you're a person that can or can't handle it.
    Sure there is, just make it part of the driving test to get a license. If someone can pass the test while yakking on a phone then put an endorsement on their license allowing it. Test their blood-alcohol level too and put an endorsement on their license allowing them to drive at that level also.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 8:14pm

    Re: The real reason is...

    Therefore, we have to write out very details laws that spell out everything, otherwise a good defense attorney will just say, "The law doesn't prohibit this implicitly or explicitly" and the judge will be forced to toss the case.
    Not true. In the case of reckless driving laws it is left up to the discretion of the court to decide if the action of the accused amounted to such. Judges are certainly not "forced" to drop such cases. In fact, they'll almost always go along with the "expert" opinion of the arresting officer.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 8:19pm

    Re: Navigation Systems

    Seems like this law would pretty much make any kind of navigation system illegal to use, since they have displays. Not only will that essentially kill a multi-million dollar industry, it makes the $300-900 investment people have made in these things worthless.
    You don't really think politicians would step on that industry's toes like that do you? Every one of these type of laws I've ever seen specifically exempts safety and navigation devices.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 8:21pm

    Re: I bet driving while eating doesn't get banned

    You do realize that there are also drive-through liquor stores don't you?

     

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  36.  
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    darkbhudda, Jul 10th, 2007 @ 12:15am

    If you legally want to kill someone run them over

    What about painting your toenails while driving? I've seen that before.

    However the problem I've got with these laws are that the people who speed and drive through red lights aren't usually distracted. They are just selfish people who don't care that they can easily kill people.

    And why should they?

    The penalty for killing people while driving your car is next to nothing. Kill a pedestrian even though you drove reckless, through a red light, while they were crossing legally and you don't even go to jail.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 10th, 2007 @ 4:45am

    The reason the law for reckless driving doesn't actually cover the whole cell phone thing is that you can talk on the cell phone for years without a problem. its that one time you screw up cause you're fighting with your wife about how you don't pay attention, and you end up hitting a little kid running across the street to get his ball.

    reckless driving WAITS for the bad driving to occur. Banning cell phones (unless hands-free, but even thats pushing it) is a preventative measure.

    People have to learn to care more. Swerving in and out of traffic to get ahead saves you next to nothing in terms of time, but it runs the risk of an accident up a whole lot. Do people care? No. Usually these are the people on the cell phone anyway. And they think they're good drivers cause they can speed, swerve in & out of traffic, and talk on the cell phone and they've never been in an accident. Problem is, when it comes to these drivers, they're usually never in more then one accident if you catch my drift.

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 10th, 2007 @ 4:50am

    Priviledge not a right

    Driving is a privilege, not a right.

    They can put whatever kind of precautions they want on it.

    People seem to forget they're driving around tons of metal at high speeds (the more it weighs, the less speed required to actually cause damage).

    Stop caring only about yourselves. You have no *need* to be on a cell phone. You have no *need* to fax. You have no *need* for any of those things. If they decide to ban a few of them to save lives, then fine. Who cares if it makes them look good. Instead of people complaining that cops will pull over people who can drive perfectly fine, but they're on their cell phone, well, MAYBE THEY SHOULDN'T BE ON THE CELL PHONE. You could make the same argument for speeding. You want to get rid of that restriction? Plenty of people can drive while speeding, but its impossible to gauge who safely each and every person can drive, so they set a limit and just don't let anybody drive over it.

    Laws wouldn't be required if people actually acted responsibly.

     

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  39.  
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    kezia, Jul 10th, 2007 @ 6:43am

    in reply to the comments by anonymous coward: while i agree that driving is a privilige not a right and people do stupid things, more laws are not the answer. the current laws are fine the problem is they are not being upheld by our courts. people need to be held accountable for their actions. if you break a law the punishment must be absolute and not subject to the whims of the judge.
    I DON'T NEED OR WANT A NANNY STATE! the more they let you talk you into ridiculus laws because "its for your protection" the more freedoms we loose and before long we end up living in a nazi/communist country. Why doesn't anyone remember and LEARN from their history??? Every bad thing that ANY government has ever done through out history has ALWAYS started with "It's for your own good."

    " any man who would give up even the smallest measure of freedom for safety deserves NETHER freedom nor safety." (Benjamin Franklin)

     

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  40.  
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    name, Jul 10th, 2007 @ 7:25am

    Re: If you legally want to kill someone run them o

    "The penalty for killing people while driving your car is next to nothing. Kill a pedestrian even though you drove reckless, through a red light, while they were crossing legally and you don't even go to jail."


    wrong. vehicular manslaughter. at least a few years in jail.

     

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  41.  
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    Nasty Old Geezer, Jul 10th, 2007 @ 8:51am

    Re: Re: Faxing etc.. while driving

    Sadly, this is the only likely solution. A substantial number of people never get the concept that just because something is physically possbile, it still is not a good idea.

    I would rather trust an in-car computer that 'nets with a central traffic computer than a soccer mom in a three ton SUV who is talking on her cell phone, running a DVD for the 7 kids, eating lunch, and doing make up while running 75 mph down the Interstate -- even if the car's OS came from Redmond.

     

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  42.  
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    Charles, Jul 10th, 2007 @ 10:56am

    Faxing etc.. while driving

    What law will they pass once congress becomes the distraction?

     

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  43.  
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    BTR1701, Jul 11th, 2007 @ 5:27am

    Re: Navigation Systems

    Well, the quotes from this proposed bill I've heard bandied about say nothing about exemptions. All they've said is it bans the use of any device which has a display screen that requires the driver to look at it in order to use it.

    That would seem to cover in-car navigation systems. The irony is that these navigation systems actually lead people to drive more safely than they would otherwise. By telling them exactly when their turn or address is coming up, drivers aren't distracted by trying to find and read street signs or building numbers or caught needing to cross over three lanes of traffic at the last minute to make turn.

     

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  44.  
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    BTR1701, Jul 11th, 2007 @ 5:33am

    Re: Reckless Driving

    > The reason the law for reckless driving
    > doesn't actually cover the whole cell
    > phone thing is that you can talk on the
    > cell phone for years without a problem.
    > its that one time you screw up cause
    > you're fighting with your wife about
    > how you don't pay attention, and you end
    > up hitting a little kid running across
    > the street to get his ball.

    Replace "cell phone" with "conversation with passenger" and the same thing applies. You can carry on a conversation with the person sitting in the car next to you every day for years on your way to work, but the one day you get into an argument and don't pay attention, you hit the kid in the street.

    Should we ban talking to passengers, too? Or how about let's just ban passengers altogether?

    Oh, but wait... the global warming crowd says we need to carpool more.

    Hmmm... sounds like a perfect storm of nanny-state busybodies are coming into conflict.

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    BTR1701, Jul 11th, 2007 @ 5:39am

    Re: Priviledge not a right

    > Driving is a privilege, not a right.

    Yep, that's what the government has beaten into our heads all our lives. But it's only a privilege because the government *says* it's a privilege. And that's a pretty self-serving declaration for them to make, too.

    Why is my ability to legally drive any more of a privilege than, say, owning a home? Or running a business? Or any of the other myriad things we do in our daily lives that we would never stand for the government unilaterally declaring to be "privileges" that can be revoked at its whim?

     

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  46.  
    identicon
    Overcast, Jul 11th, 2007 @ 9:05am

    > Driving is a privilege, not a right.

    Yep, that's what the government has beaten into our heads all our lives. But it's only a privilege because the government *says* it's a priviledge. And that's a pretty self-serving declaration for them to make, too.


    Yeah - take away everyone's "privilege" and see how fast the economy tanks.

    Of course, not that we live in a Free country anyway. Anything we do now is a 'priviledge' right?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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