A good idea, but isn’t it a bit nanny state-ish?

Sigh.

State Rep. Allen Peake will push for a complete ban on texting while driving in Georgia, he said Monday.

The legislation will probably be meshed with last year’s attempt to ban the practice for teenage drivers, but would apply to adults as well, Peake said. That teenage ban, in House Bill 23, passed the Georgia House of Representatives last year and is pending in the state Senate.

Now Allen and I are friends. He’s a great legislator. And I do think something needs to be done about this (full disclosure: I’ve been guilt of it).

But it does seem a bit nanny-state-ish to do this. There seem to me to be bigger fish to fry — like passing laws to keep legislators’ pants on during the session.

Well intended, I realize and understand, but it triggers my libertarian spidey senses.

47 comments

  1. Stump Barnes says:

    I totally hear you on the nanny-state nature of banning texting-while-driving. However, I have to say that texting-while-driving is just about the most irresponsible thing you can do while driving. I seriously think I would trust a driver with 0.10 blood alcohol level more than I would a driver that is attempting to text while speeding down Cobb Parkway.

    • LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

      This is going to sound stupid, but sometimes the legislature enacts laws not to be punitive, but to bring wider awareness to an issue. The seatbelt law has brought more awareness to the benefits of wearing a seatbelt than the actual fine, which is only $25 if IIRC.

  2. Epicurean says:

    Yeah I have to agree…texting while driving can endanger my life, even if I am not the one doing it.

    A naked politician is only going to endanger my life with my consent.

  3. tocallaghan says:

    Something I said last year, if texting endangers teens while driving, it endangers adults too. Make it illegal for everyone or no one.

    • HowardRoark says:

      So which do you feel it should be? Just curious. Personally, I feel it falls under “distracted driving” which should make it illegal for adults already. However, from a principle stand point, I’m unsure.

  4. Ludwig Von Beachbum says:

    It is getting pretty bad. Over the weekend a friend of mine was injured and her car messed up that was sitting at a red light. The girl that hit her was texting. There should be a blanket law that address irresponsible behavior while driving. Like eating a whopper, putting on makeup, having sex.

    • aquaman says:

      I agree with Beachbum. Texting, eating, reading a map, looking for a tune on your MP3, etc. are all irresponsible behaviors while driving so if we must have another law make it a blanket not “texting” specific.

  5. Goldwater Conservative says:

    This nanny-state rhetoric is tired and, simply, anti-intellectual.

    There are certain behaviors that will arise over time and prove to be destructive towards “innocent bystanders.”

    Where must the line be drawn? I do not intend to lay that out in a single blog post, but I can take cues from the past.

    We have the self-evident and inalienable rights to life, liberty, (insert fraternity, prosperity, property or pursuit of happiness here). Those rights are only protected to the extent that they do not impede upon others’ rights (ie my freedom of religion ends at human sacrifice)

    I hate the phrase “nanny-state,” but whether this is or not is not what the concern should be. I too would like to believe that people are rational enough to not need civic penalties for wreckless behavior…but I am a realist, not an ideologue.

    Kids these days. They all think life stops when they can not answer their girlfriends text message in 10 seconds. When I was their age (insert old fart comment here).

    • Mad Dog says:

      Gold,

      As usual, well done. However, I love the use of ‘nanny state’ and all the other tired slogans from the dumb and dumber among us.

      Helps me weed out the serious discussions from the puffery.

      MD

  6. If you think “…passing laws to keep legislators’ pants on during the session” is less nanny-statish than a proposed anti texting-while-driving law, that’s NOT a libertarian ‘spidey sense’ you’re feeling.

    Just sayin’.

  7. Provocateur says:

    I guess in Erick Erickson’s mind, outlawing driving under the influence of alcohol is “nanny state-ish” too.

    • LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

      It is to the extent that .08 is the legal limit. Should really be brought back up to .10, and charged as a felony.

    • Joshua Morris says:

      Maybe we should allow them one ‘No Pants Day’ like the Improv Everywhere folks in NY. At least we could laugh at them.

  8. chancelot says:

    Having lost an unborn child and nearly losing my wife to a texting driver, I see no problem with this legislation.

    • Jeremy Jones says:

      Obviously my (and I am sure most everyone’s on here) heart goes out to you. However, we already have laws on the books making what that person did illegal and punishable. I assume some sort of manslaughter was charged and executed. Under the texting law, the same thing would have been charged, plus a $50 fine. Would that make your loss more bearable? Of course not.

      • Mad Dog says:

        Jeremy,

        Might it prevent such losses … perhaps not all of them, agreed?

        So why not a $50 fine for abortion? Just make it illegal and set a fine to be paid by the woman who doesn’t believe her man has a right to reproduce in her body.

        So the question, is an anti-sex law, which is the underlying behavior in the abortion debate, a nanny statism? Or just merely theocratic in our ‘Christian Nation?”

        MD

  9. Holly says:

    Jumping off topic for a second, Erick, congrats on being the 65th most important conservative this year. 🙂

    Secondly, I always feel split on these issues. I understand that it limits personal liberty, and in theory, I’d agree that we shouldn’t do it. People should be able to use their common sense and realize not to text and drive. But reality often differs from pure theory. The problem isn’t just that these texting-while-driving folks are a danger to themselves; they are a danger to drivers around them.

    I disagree with government intervention when it’s unnecessary, but if the general population hasn’t got the good sense to take measures to drive safely, then it becomes the local authority’s responsibility to take prohibitive action.

  10. Jeremy Jones says:

    I do not consider it nanny state to say one must abide by general safety to operate a motor vehicle on state paid roads.

    My point is, we do NOT need a law penalizing texting while driving when we already have laws penalizing ANY distracted driving. Whether it be turning around to hell at the rug rats in the back or changing the radio station or wearing a blindfold.

    There was a story this morning that the fed is going to get involved. There is a group wanting to employ the GPS technology to disable the phone while it moving faster than X mph. Therefore, they want us to not use our phone at all, hands free, as a passenger, on a train, or riding a roller coaster.

    Distracted driving is already illegal. End of discussion.

  11. Joshua Morris says:

    I’m not aware of a “distracted driving” law in Georgia.
    http://www.ghsa.org/html/media/pressreleases/2010/201001_focusdriven.html

    However, I do think a better idea would be that texting should be a subjective consideration for traffic enforcement as reckless driving, which, I believe, is defined by Georgia law as: driving in reckless disregard of property or other people. It’s a misdemeanor, $1000 fine and up to one year in jail.

    We can throw all the data and emotion we want to at this, but principle should prevail. There is no solid reason to make a specific law on texting that is intrusive and difficult to enforce.

    • ByteMe says:

      I’d be good with it if all they did was clear up the definition to include texting. Then it’s clear that there’s a law against it and no additional sections in the law are needed.

    • AthensRepublican says:

      Joshua raises a great point. If texting is going to singled out how about applying makeup and lipstick while driving, eating food from a drive thru and turning around taking your eyes off the road to discipline a child in the backseat?

      • ByteMe says:

        If the law is open-ended then it’s subjective and subject to interpretation or mis-interpretation. Better to write a clearer law.

      • Provocateur says:

        Not everyone has a kid who is likely to be riding with them.
        Not everyone driving is a woman (or a transvestite)
        Men can eat just fine while driving.

        BUT…nearly everyone has a texting device and thus the need for this specific law…if for no other reason that by word of mouth it gets spread “Hey! Did you hear? Those lawmakers passed a law prohibiting texting while driving. Heard the fine was a zillion dollars.”

        • ajames says:

          It’s not impossible at all. In fact, it’s very simple. If you’re found to be at fault for a car accident, your phone service provider could just turn over their record of texts/calls made on your cell phone during the applicable time frame on the day of your accident.

        • B Balz says:

          Agreed, the DeKalb ordinance was pol grandstanding by SNUGGLES, I wonder how many times it has been enforced.

  12. arjay says:

    To me banning texting while driving is no different from banning driving while drunk. Nobody’s got a “right” to do stupid things that put other citizens at risk of death or grievous bodily harm. Nanny-state-ism is about trying to protect people from themselves. This is about protecting the rest of us from arrogant, careless fools.

    • Joshua Morris says:

      The difference is that texting has an instantaneous effect on your attention, while drinking has a lingering effect on your senses, reflexes, etc. You can’t just stop being drunk like you can stop texting when you sense danger. This is why I think texting behind the wheel should be considered reckless driving and should be punishable as such.

      If you’ve ever been distracted while driving for any reason, then you’ve done “stupid things” just like the rest of us “arrogant, careless fools.” This is why lawful punishments for actually harming another or damaging their property should be harsh enough that we are compelled to control our behavior without Nanny state having to make bad laws.

  13. GodHatesTrash says:

    It’s hard to text AND drive AND wave your pistolero at the guy who’s driving too slow for you, but by gawd you know some hillbilly’s gonna try.

  14. AthensRepublican says:

    Amos Amerson also is introducing a bill to make illegal what he calls “texing” rather than “texting.”

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