by Mike Masnick

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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  1. identicon
    Enrico Suarve, 14 Feb 2007 @ 1:44am

    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: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/1754336.stm

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

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