Archive for Friday, February 19, 2010

Senate approves bill banning texting while driving

February 19, 2010


— A bill to ban texting while driving advanced to final action Friday in the Kansas Senate after an often emotional debate.

The bill would make it a traffic infraction on the first offense, subject to a $100 fine.

Supporters say the ban would improve traffic safety, especially among younger drivers who become distracted while communicating behind the wheel.

However, Sen. Chris Steineger, a Kansas City Democrat, calls the bill “dumb” and says it was introduced only because it was a popular topic.

Sen. Jay Emler, a Lindsborg Republican, who sponsored the bill, said he didn’t do it to be popular but because of his experience as an emergency medical specialist.


John Hamm 8 years, 4 months ago

YES! They actually did something right. Now to move on to using the cell phone while driving.

bad_dog 8 years, 4 months ago

I guess they'll have to keep an "eye" on everyone, Wilbur...

lawrenceRezident 8 years, 4 months ago

I guess I should send all of my messages on the Missouri side before I cross back into Kansas on the way home from work... So, does this mean if I actually typed the message in Missouri but pressed the send button that I would be breaking the law?

Steve Bunch 8 years, 4 months ago

Moron legislators. Moron text messagers.

bad_dog 8 years, 4 months ago

lawrencerez, I suspect that anything from the initially typed letter to hitting the "Send" key could be construed as texting. The proposed legislation will have to define exactly what constitutes texting. It's hard to imagine any good reason to justify staying in Mizzery...

cthulhu_4_president 8 years, 4 months ago

A good idea in theory, until you get into the specifics and start to wonder, how will the action of texting be differentiated from:

-Taking the phone out of the pocket and placing elsewhere in the car? -Picking up the phone to silence/stop a ring? -Pushing 'next' on an MP3 player that is hooked up to the car? -Pushing 'next' on a phone that is also an MP3 player that is hooked up to the car? -Handling any small, techy looking, device with the hands while driving? -Entering appointment data on a calender (is only text messaging illegal, or can I still type text on my phone as long as I'm not directly communicating with another device?)

I'm not advocating that any of the above actions be done while driving, but, so far, none of the above actions are illegal. I don't believe that any police officer, or any person alive, could correctly differentiate between these actions and texting in the split-second that they decide to pull someone over. The potential for abuse of police power seems obvious, as anyone with anything in their hands could be pulled over.

madameX 8 years, 4 months ago

I pointed out on another thread that most cell carriers keep records of all texts sent and received. If you were doing something that looks like texting but isn't and get pulled over for it, you could easily get your phone records and prove that no texts were sent at that time. Although i agree that if it's something that looks enough like texting to get you pulled over, it's probably something that you shouldn't be doing while driving anyway.

nobody1793 8 years, 4 months ago

What about texting while stopped at a stoplight or in the drive-thru?

lawrenceRezident 8 years, 4 months ago


Don't live in Mizzery... If you had the paycheck that I have then you might not find the daily commute quite so painful.

Evan Ridenour 8 years, 4 months ago

"However, Sen. Chris Steineger, a Kansas City Democrat, calls the bill “dumb” and says it was introduced only because it was a popular topic."

While not worded well that is a valid point, seriously, it is just "dumb."

lawrenceRezident 8 years, 4 months ago

That teenager last summer ran over an off duty cop on a county rd because he was texting and driving... Sucks, but it is a real problem and needs to be addressed!

conservative 8 years, 4 months ago

How about eating while driving? I've seen more close calls from cars leaving the fast food restraunts than I have from people texting.

cthulhu_4_president 8 years, 4 months ago

"I pointed out on another thread that most cell carriers keep records of all texts sent and received. If you were doing something that looks like texting but isn't and get pulled over for it, you could easily get your phone records and prove that no texts were sent at that time."

Most cell cariers do, but not all. So right off the bat the law is only technically enforcable 'most' of the time. This is also assuming that a person who is texting will finish the text and send it before being pulled over, otherwise no record will exist of a half-completed text message interruputed by the police. As I see it, from the technology side, this law fails. Not to mention that the act of searching your phone records to prove you didn't send a message places the burden of proof upon the defendant, automatically bringing in a 'guilty until proven innocent' mindset.

"Although i agree that if it's something that looks enough like texting to get you pulled over, it's probably something that you shouldn't be doing while driving anyway"

Are you implying that anyone handling any small device while driving deserves to be pulled over and ticketed? Please note that any answer to this question is irrelevant since only texting is illegal (for now). Unless there is a way to enforce it, this law is indeed 'dumb'.

Stuart Evans 8 years, 4 months ago

soon we'll all just have a cop riding shotgun writing us tickets every time we do something incorrectly.

Stuart Evans 8 years, 4 months ago

the funny part is; people think this is going to change anything. the bulk of people are just going to try and be sneakier about it. {no cops-text text text}

what we'll likely see is a bunch of do-gooders taking phone pictures of other drivers texting.

bad_dog 8 years, 4 months ago

Law-rez, I do the commute thing as well, I just earn my dinero grande on the Jo-Co side. I do understand the need to commute wherever it may take you-even Mizzery, but you have my sympathy for that. I used to do the downtown KC thing, but finally got away from that aspect of the commute.

Nevertheless, I consider texting a pain-in-the rear anyway. While there are times when texting can be a boon, for the most part it is an unnecessary option IMHO. Just call somebody or send them an e-mail. It cracks me up to see people furiously texting back and forth when they could just cut to the chase and hit a number on the speed dial. While many technological improvements are beneficial and even life-saving, the ability to text doesn't strike me that way. All much of this technology has done is create an expectation of immediate gratification or to fuel a desire to have the latest/greatest iteration of some product/service. And then there's the degradation of the English language that's attributable to the utilization of texting shorthand.

Soapbox back under desk...

Stuart Evans 8 years, 4 months ago

madameX (anonymous) says...

I pointed out on another thread that most cell carriers keep records of all texts sent and received. If you were doing something that looks like texting but isn't and get pulled over for it, you could easily get your phone records and prove that no texts were sent at that time.

while most cell carriers do keep these records; they cannot be "easily" retrieved. I believe that would take a warrant or subpoena, as those are private records. and for a $100 ticket, I just don't see that many of these cases going before a judge to get that warrant.

If you get pulled over and you were texting or using your phone, i suggest you shove it into your pocket. The last thing the police need is a bunch of angry citizens getting searched for a phone or other hand held device.

madameX 8 years, 4 months ago

wow, cthulhu_4_president, way to jump to conclusions. All I meant was that if you have a carrier that does keep those records, you have evidence that you're innocent. You don't have to bring the records into it if you don't want to, but if you're accused of breaking the law and can't be bothered to bring in the available evidence that you didn't I won't feel to sorry for you if you end up having to pay a fine. That's not the only possible evidence, I'm sure if you have a passenger who can testify in your favor, or simply a cop who couldn't get a clear view of what you were doing there's a likelihood that you'll be given the benefit of the doubt. I would think lack of solid evidence of guilt plus a phone record that shows no texts sent during the time in question would equal dismissal of the ticket, even if there was an undocumented half-text floating out there, simply because the couldn't prove its existence.

And I was absolutely not implying that anyone who handles any smal, techy device while driving should be pulled over and ticketed, I was implying that if you're doing something that looks enough like texting that a cop would notice and pull you over, it's probably at least somewhat distracting and in the interest of being a good citizen and a safe driver you probably should rethink it. You know, behave responsibly of your own accord.

madameX 8 years, 4 months ago

AreUNorml, I don't know about your carrier, but i can log on to my account through their website and view my records. Maybe mine is the exception. If someone else wanted to see them they would need a warrant or subpoena and I agree that judges aren't likely to go to that much trouble for a small ticket, but if I needed to prove that I didn't send a text at the time someone says I did I'd be able to get the records easily.

Dan Edwards 8 years, 4 months ago

Even if people keep doing it, point is there will be a law on the books forbidding it. That alone will keep "some" percentage of people from doing it. And can possibly be used in criminal or civil trials in gaining convictions for criminal activity.

I agree it should be broadened though. There should be NO reason for your attention to not be on the road while driving... if not for your own safety than for the safety of other drivers. Driving is a priviledge... if you're not going to give the road your 100% attention then you should not be driving. If you get a call or text that you want to respond to (or want to enter an appointment in your calendar or queue up a playlist, pull over. That's why roads have shoulders.

No law is perfect, but this is a start. It's better than no law at all (which leads to people justifying their actions saying "but but it's not illegal!"

Stuart Evans 8 years, 4 months ago

madameX, the deal is, they won't give me a ticket for texting because they will have no proof that I did. it is not up to me to prove that I am innocent, it is up to them to prove I was guilty.

cthulhu_4_president 8 years, 4 months ago

madamex: I don't see where I jumped to any conclusions at all, except that the law is 'dumb' if it is not able to be enforced. My point is that you should not have to provide evidence that you are innocent, the police need evidence that you are guilty, that is how the system works for any crime, even a speeding (or texting) ticket. If they cannot get that evidence, and they know it, then there is no crime, period. Your statement should read "if you're accused of breaking the law and your accuser can't bring the necessary evidence to convict you, then there's no crime". Placing the burden of proof upon the defendant is not the way it goes, and is a sign of a corrupt law or one that is able to be corrupted. It doesn't matter if the ticket is dismissed eventually, as by this point the defendant will have wasted time and resources mounting a defense while there is no proof a crime even took place.

I am glad you weren't implying that anyone handling a device should be pulled over, which, if you noticed, is why I asked. I'm sorry to disagree, but I do not trust a police officer's, or anyone's, subjective judgement of what is distracting to others. Someone having a bad day may decide that some things are distracting on one day more than others. Any subjective judgement opens a grey area that can be exploited. Have you never done something while driving that someone else may consider distracting to others? If so, would you be perfectly ok with being pulled over for that activity, in public, in front of friends and neighbors and explain to a police officer that you really weren't breaking the law?

Again, to re-iterate, my point is not the actions themselves, or about personal responsibility, it is about the burden of proof shifting to the defendant. That is simply not how it works.

Stuart Evans 8 years, 4 months ago

bookemdano, I still contend that texting or anything else that distracts you from driving is already against the law. it is called inattentive or reckless driving. But the police haven't been busting people for it because it's too hard to prosecute. There are plenty of times during city driving where texting is not dangerous. stop lights, train tracks, going 90 through a school zone at 3:30 (ok, i just threw the last one in to see if you were paying attention).

but anyway, this law will make it so that you can't even text at a stop light. in fact, that's probably where the majority of people do their quick texts, and where the police are going to see the most people doing so.

madameX 8 years, 4 months ago

Both of you:

I agree that the burden of proof is still on the prosecution, but if I was accused of breaking the law and had evidence that I didn't I would still consider it prudent to show up with that evidence handy to give to the judge. So I guess my statement should actually read "If you're accused of breaking the law and can't be bothered to rebut the evidence the prosecution presents against you with your own evidence, blah blah blah..." because I'm willing to be that they'd at least have the cop who pulled you over there to testify. That's me, maybe you would feel differenly, in which case you are totally free to not bring it. The fact that a defendant might wish to be proactive in his or her defense does not mean that the burden has shifted. And if they don't have any real evidence condemning you, if the cop who pulled you over's testimony sucks, you'll probably be let off the hook. My point was that there's a likelihood that the evidence exists, not that it's up to you to provide it. You can if you want, and if they somehow do have solid evidence that can be impeached by your phone records it's proabaly a good idea, but you don't have to.

As for more general distracted driving, cthulhu_4_president , in a sense you're right. No one but the driver knows what's actually distracting. However, I strongly suspect that there are plenty of people who tell themselved that they can drive just fine while texting, fiddling with the I-pod, watching the in-dash DVD player, etc. and belive it up until the crash the car, possible hurting themselves and/or someone else. If more people would be more honest and objective about their limitations as drivers, there wouldn't be this stupid argrument about what we should and shouldn't be allowed to do while driving.

jumpin_catfish 8 years, 4 months ago

Whatever, the people who text'd while driving before will continue to do it. I pray they don't kill someone.

♣Free The Blob♣

Matt Torres 8 years, 1 month ago

I feel weird saying this, but for once I think I might agree with Republicans on this one. I think the idea behind banning texting while driving is an awesome idea. Probably one of (if not the single) most distracting thing someone can do while driving. Might as well read the paper while you're driving. But yeah...I really can't imagine how the enforcement of this will go. Maybe they're thinking the law's very existence will deter people from texting while driving...but it won't, because most people think like this (or something similar): "Ohhhh, that's for OTHER people, who aren't good at it like I am...besides, I won't get caught". Besides, isn't this kind of thing already going to get you in trouble? If you're in an accident, you're at fault, and it turns out you were texting, isn't there already some way that this can get you into legal trouble?

bocktar 7 years, 11 months ago

As written, the law prohibits "using a wireless communication device to write, send, or read a written communication" ... except "when the motor vehicle is stopped off the regular traveled portion of the roadway.

Texting while driving is dumb, but this law is not a good idea. Existing laws for distracted driving should just be enforced. The unintended consequence of this law is that authorities now have cause to examine your communications history, including e-mail, instant messaging, browsing, etc.

It is not much of a stretch to believe that the enforcement of this law will ultimately require mobile communication devices to log and report position ("My phone is at home"), to somehow attempt to authenticate the user ("My spouse was using my phone,"), and to timestamp all activity ("I actually sent this from home, but the network wasn't available"), to ensure that authorities have sufficient information to determine if a law was broken.

Not wearing a seatbelt is dumb too, but the new seatbelt law is also a bad idea. It gives authorities probable cause to pull someone over at almost any time (it's easy not to see a seatbelt), and another reason to access the vehicle's black box.

None of the aforementioned information or expanded powers would ever be used for any other purpose, would they? Laws like these can have big-time impacts on privacy and freedom when used other than as intended.

I don't believe that our lawmakers are passing these laws with a hidden agenda, but I do believe they're failing miserably at considering the unintended consequences of their actions.

Now we're passing "dumb" laws because they're "popular"? Come on, this is just lazy, and we can do better than that. It's our fault, though. We need to stop asking the government to fix our problems, and we need to start electing intelligent people that need to be convinced to be in office for a short time rather than installing bottom-feeders that want to be there forever.

Even then, even the best and most intelligent lawmakers are fallible just like the rest of us. More doubting eyes and critical thinkers can help. All new legislation should have a mandatory period for the public to comment on unintended consequences of the proposed legislation, and these unintended consequences should have to be mitigated as part of the lawmaking process. We have the technology to accomplish this, and a slow, deliberate lawmaking process is a GOOD thing.

DWT could be meaningfully addressed if we would simply confront our friends and family every time we caught them doing it, and if we actually conditioned our children to be empathetic and to care about peer review. Instead, we're so afraid of upsetting someone and so enthralled in our own individualism, that we have completely abandoned some very basic characteristics of human interaction that naturally keep most of our ills in check.

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