After We Ban Driving While Drowsy, Can We Just Ban Legislating While Stupid?

from the please dept

Let’s just face it: driving is a dangerous activity. Doing other things that suggest your full attention is not on the road makes it that much more dangerous — but it seems ridiculous to ban each and every potentially dangerous thing you might do while driving. There are already laws on the books for reckless driving, and it seems like making use of those would be a lot more effective than some of the other proposals. Of course, we’ve talked about rules on yakking while driving (which may soon be accompanied with similar laws for pedestrians crossing the street while yakking). Then there are attempts at banning things like using OnStar while driving. Then, of course, you can going through the long list of possible distractions. Some have looked at banning smoking while driving and John writes in to let us know that New York has been looking at a bill to ban drowsy driving. Yes, you absolutely should not be driving while drowsy — but the point is that there’s an almost infinite number of possible things that can be done to make driving even more dangerous than it already is. It’s never going to be possible to ban each one. Instead, why not just enforce existing laws that suggest that if you’re doing something dangerous behind the wheel (and that includes driving while distracted or drowsy) you can get in trouble for it.

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Comments on “After We Ban Driving While Drowsy, Can We Just Ban Legislating While Stupid?”

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Starky says:

Just as effective as Prohibition

But if we just enforced the current laws, how would the government protect our children from our own stupidity!

The politicians just want to be seen as doing something. I have a feeling that this law, along with the “no talking on the cellphone while driving”, and all those other “Protect us from being stupid” laws will be just about as effective in stopping people from doing those things as Prohibition was in stopping people from drinking alcohol, and will probably be enforced just as much.

Suzerain says:

Lazy Journalism

Although, I am staunch advocate of repealing unecessary laws (give sunset committees more power!) there may be a secondary reason for passing these laws.

In Texas, we have a speed limit. Say you hit another drive and kill them. Well, the other driver’s estate could show the statute stating what was considered a safe speed on that road by showing the speed limit. Will this prove you were negligent? No. Will it add credence to a claim you were negligent? Yes.

Same could be said with laws against these activities. Although, in the hands of unscrupulous cops it can give them probable cause in a greatly expanded number of situations, it also shows what society considers normal, responsible driving.

If you are going to rail against such laws, please try to think through the possible reasons for passing such a law. When discussing outdated business models when it comes to the impact of the internet, you seem to be on more solid footing. When it comes to talking about the law, you become just another talking head spouting off kneejerk reactions.

StuCop says:

our traffic laws already create more criminals than anything else…it’s just another excuse to write a ticket…and if you’re poor and can’t afford to pay your ticket…then you’ll get a warrant for your arrest…and when you get picked up for that warrant…you’ll get another fine…which being poor and now being in jail you can’t pay…which in turn will lead to more warrants and more jail time etc etc…so sooner than later you’re a “criminal” because some cop thought you seemed drowsy or had your headphones on while crossing the street or whatever other ridiculous laws they come up with…

Jeremy says:


While driving drowsy can certainly be pointed at as being part of some “poor decision making,” I doubt any legislation would suddenly improve anyones skills in this area. The primary problem with this law is being able to quantify driving as “drowsy”. Driving drunk can be checked in blood alcohol level, but driving drowsy? I humorously envision police officers asking drivers, “how many hours of sleep did you have last night, sir?”

I have an idea that can get rid of any and all of these silly laws. It’s simple: outlaw car accidents. No one would ever have car accidents then.

Paul says:


It is about fines and money.
Under the new law you could fine them for reckless endangerment AND drowsy driving which would mean more money for the state.

The law simply being on the books, even if never enforced, might be enough to make some people think twice about driving while dangerously tired; in that case it would have already done its job.

Charles Boyle (user link) says:

Drosey Driving

Governors on all cars, 45mph. top speed, all
one way streets, Jersey wall’s on all streets – both sides, work torward’s {Legistration} 100% use of mass transportation.

In suburban areas remove car’s from our mind set. There would be no streets in front of houses, lawns touching lawns, with a pathway down the middle. Millions of free golf carts to use from mass-transit to your home.

In urban areas all mass transportation, Mono-Rails, Mag-Level, electric trolleys, moving sidewalks,
subways, buses, golfcarts, bicycles. WE DO NOT NEED CARS

Charles Boyle

BradleyS says:

Re: Drosey Driving

“In suburban areas remove car’s from our mind set. There would be no streets in front of houses, lawns touching lawns, with a pathway down the middle. Millions of free golf carts to use from mass-transit to your home.

In urban areas all mass transportation, Mono-Rails, Mag-Level, electric trolleys, moving sidewalks,
subways, buses, golfcarts, bicycles. WE DO NOT NEED CARS”

And in your non-suburban, non-urban (i.e. RURAL) areas? Those of us who do not live in a city would still appreciate the ability to visit occasionally. Or am I expected to hitchhike a ride on somebody’s golfcart?

That’s gonna make my commute a whole lot longer in the morning, given that 20 miles on a golf cart’s gonna take a lot longer than half an hour, I’m sure.

Tony Bove (profile) says:

Turn your cell phone off in Bronx...

Turn your cell phone off in Bronx, Brooklyn’s iPods out of sight
Crazy taxi cab in Harlem, iPod Zombies are in fright
Peds love iPods they’re so proud, but the volume is too loud!
Car 54 where are you?
(With apologies, based on the theme from the “Car 54 Where Are You?” TV show, 1961-63)

I don’t mean to make light of a bad situation (pedestrians getting killed while crossing the streets of New York City), but the reaction of lawmakers can border on the ridiculous.

Stupidity should not be rewarded with laws that inhibit our personal liberties. Lawmakers and the police have better things to do with their time and our tax dollars.

Tony Bove’s iTimes

|333173|3|_||3 says:

Other offences

apart from DUI, there is Driving without due care and attention, dangerous driving, causing death by dangerous driving, and others. THen you are likely to break: lane dsicipline, the speed limit, fal to stop for police, and a whole load of other offences if you are drowsey. all of these are on the books already, so this is a waste of time.

Enrico Suarve says:

Re: Other offences

I totally agree – there is no need for a specific law on this one as its already covered really

It makes sense to ban obvious distractions such as phones in my opinion as they are definitly extraneous to driving and not part of the normal human condition. More importantly they are an either/or condition – either you are using the phone or not so it is easy to legislate into a law police can issue immediate penalties for

Sleep apnoea although a major problem (UK research actually points to it causing more crashes than alcohol) is however a more subjective issue – at what point is a person *too* tired?

This is the sort of thing that should really be decided in a court rather than by a fixed penalty

We had a major derailment a few years ago caused by a tired driver who drove off the road and onto a train track killing 10 people – he was sucessfully prosecuted using existing dangerous driving laws:

It would make more sense to append this to existing dangerous driving legislation to state that driving whilst drowsy can constitute “driving while impared”

Richard (user link) says:

keeps you safe on road

Drowsy driving s just as deadly as drunken driving, Children playing, people taking a walk have been victims of such accidents. All of us are at a risk of drowsy driving , we live in a twenty four hour society where a lot of people are tired all the time. At 60mph if you close your eyes only for a second you have traveled 88 feet.
Can you prevent this from happening to you? Yes! By using NoNap
No Nap is a inexpensive automobile safety device, that prevents drivers falling asleep at the wheel. This intelligent device is designed to detect when the driver is in danger of DOZING off and immediately alerts him / co passengers. Prevents a potential crash. The light weight gadget fits over drivers left ear and triggers alert buzzer observing the drivers drowsiness. No Nap is a essential safety device a MUST HAVE on all road travels. Online purchase at delivered free by courier to your address

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