Huron, South Dakota has banned texting while driving. In this new city ordinance, they’ve also banned “distracted driving,” which includes anything from eating to reading while driving. In addition, the rule prohibits those with learner’s permits from talking on a phone while driving.
Obviously, such habits are dangerous, risky and irresponsible. They’ve been the cause of many deaths, injuries and embarrassing YouTube videos. But such a law will surely be abused by over zealous police officers who try to keep up with their arrest and citation quotas. With so many people texting these days, it’ll be easy to cite someone for texting while driving. If someone isn’t staying perfectly in the lines, they could cite you for “distracted driving” even if you really weren’t doing anything else.
Here’s one man’s account of what happened to him in Las Vegas, which also has a no-texting-while-driving ban. The man did have an iPhone in his right cup holder, but he didn’t use it. He got pulled over anyway:
The officer began to explain to me that texting, talking, touching, and even looking at your cell phone are all violations in the state of Nevada. I told him that I was from Indiana and had no idea that looking at your cell phone was a criminal offense. The officer responded with ‘it’s your job to learn the laws of the state you reside in.’ So I followed up with, ‘I don’t understand, how could you even know if I was looking at my cell phone or not.’ He proceeded with, ‘I saw you looking down.’ I said, ‘So if I look down, it’s due to a cell phone? Look at all of the stuff in my car; you can’t conclude that.’ The officer insisted that he saw me look at my cell phone and that he was citing me and that I needed to sign his mobile digital signature device so that he could print me the ticket.”
As the man goes on to recount the story, he says that while he was parked after the cop left, the same cop pulled over three other people, presumably for the same thing. His ticket cost him $123, and he wasn’t even guilty. He didn’t have to be. The law makes it easy for police to ticket people.
There is an Old Testament law found in Deuteronomy that required that parapets be built on top of houses. A parapet is a wall-like barrier that is built around the edges of a roof that prevents people from falling off. However, there was no penalty for not having a parapet. There were no regulators or “parapet police.” But, if a homeowner was irresponsible enough not to build one, then he could be liable for murder if someone fell off the roof and died because there was no parapet.
Speed limit laws, DUI laws, texting-while-driving laws and others should operate like parapet laws. If there is no crime committed even though someone is texting while driving, then there is no case. If someone drinks alcohol and drives safely, then no crime has been committed, and nothing has been done even deserving of an investigation. However, if that person kills someone, then there’s a crime, and that person could be liable for murder. These texting laws are little more than money-making measures, and the police are little more than revenue collectors.