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.

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Comments on “Driving While Stupid: Text Messaging Teen Kills Cyclist”

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spamathon says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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”
“Officer, I may have been speeding… but at least I wasn’t text-messaging. I hear that is punishable by law now”
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]

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Midnight (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Yonatron says:

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.

Dave says:

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.

Yonatron says:

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.

give it up mike says:

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.

Mike (profile) says:

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.

someone says:


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.

A teen says:

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.

Jersey says:

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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