The Texting Law Is Too Impractical to Implement

I have to agree with Governor Perdue’s concerns over the proposed texting law. The law, as written, poorly thinks out existing technologies. While the intention is good and there is public support for it, it would put police in a terrible position.

Do you know how fast I can jump from SMS to Google Maps on my iPhone? Or email to the phone?

The phone and maps are perfectly fine. So when the cop pulls you over, all you have to do is say you weren’t texting, you were pressing the numbers on the phone to dial.

The law just cannot be practically enforced without a complete hands-free ban.

51 comments

        • Harry is right if for no other reason than a police officer can choose who to enforce a law against or not to enforce. I can’t tell you how many people have come to me in court complaining that there were people all around them going so much faster then they were. My response was always, but you’re the one who got the ticket.

  1. Skyler Akins says:

    I think the law is ridiculous, and is an unprecedented invasion of our privacy by the government, and law enforcement. Next Saidie Fields will have them in our bedrooms..

    • Lady Thinker says:

      Why is the law ridiculous and how is it an invasion of privacy by the government and law enforcement?

    • Oh no it’s not an invasion of privacy. If you are sitting there doing something where you can be readily observed, it is not private.

      If your actions can be easily observed by other people, that’s called “public” behavior. If your actions cannot be easily observed by other people, then it is “private” behavior and would be an invasion.

      If you drive around in your car all day naked, you can be charged with public indecency. Why? because you were sitting in a box with windows on all sides readily observable as being naked on a public road.

      If a cop can sit on the side of a road and see you drive by at 70 MPH with your nose stuck in your iPhone, you are obviously engaged in a PUBLIC action.

      If you are standing on a street corner discussing a drug deal on your cell phone unaware that a cop walking a beat came up behind you and overheard you, you’re going to get nowhere claiming the cop invaded your privacy. If the call was in your back yard where you have 9 foot privacy fences and the cop pocked his head over, then you probably have a case because that could constitute an invasion of privacy in violation of the Constitution.

  2. Pine Knot says:

    I agree with you Erick. This law is not going to be enforced and could tie up the courts. Happy Birthday btw.

  3. sandysprings says:

    Query – for those of us with “smartphones”. How does the officer know if we are texting or looking at our phone to dial a number/look at the GPS/read our mail? Law only prohibits texting back?

    • trainsplz says:

      isn’t it mostly after the fact, like that train operator who sent a text a few seconds before an accident?

    • Lady Thinker says:

      Why would you be doing any of that while driving at speeds of 35 to 75+ mph? One could kill themselves, kids, or others in the driver’s car as well as people in other vehicles. If you aren’t killed, you could be paralyzed from the neck, chest, or waist down or suffer muliple broken bones, lose your job, and come up with attorney fees to fight the person suing you. Isn’t your life worth more than that?

  4. LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

    God Forbid Georgia pass a “cutting edge” law.

    Oh wait, 23 other states have already passed this with very little problems.

    PP is so funny, I’ve never seen so many whiney little “conservatives” cry about government intrusion, yet you wont cry about having 3 beers over 1 hour and getting a DUI, or, it’s OK for the government to regulate a woman’s uterus.

    • Chris says:

      Oh, I think we do have a problem with “having 3 beers over 1 hour and getting a DUI” and point out Representative Ben Harbin did just that and yet is still chairman of appropriations.

  5. acoalson says:

    Per one of the bills sponsors, Allen Peake, using gps is “safe” unless it’s on your phone…right….

    Of the states that have total bans on cell phones, they have seen NO decrease in accidents or deaths.

    If this bill does become law, I will be texting *GSP every time I see some one who I think is texting while driving…only doing my duty.

    • benevolus says:

      Hmmm.

      “Talking on a cell phone causes nearly 25% of car accidents. ”
      “Texting while driving is about 6 times more likely to result in an accident than driving while intoxicated. ”
      “People who text while driving are 23% more likely to be in a car accident. ”
      ” A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Motorists found that motorists who use cell phones while driving are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. ”
      “In 2002, the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis calculated that 2,600 people die each year as a result of using cellphones while driving. They estimated that another 330,000 are injured. ”

      http://www.edgarsnyder.com/car-accident/cell/statistics.html

  6. Let me back up what Erick has said about enforceability. I have said it before on here, but I spent most of 2009 in the Cobb County Solicitor General’s office prosecuting mostly traffic violations. Looking at this from the standpoint of a prosecutor that has to prove a case to make the charge stick, the work that would be involved to subpoena phone records to prove to a jury that the defendant was reading or sending a text message at the exact time the officer noticed they were driving would likely not be worth the time to prepare the case on, especially when faced with more dangerous violators like those arrested for DUI.

    Also, even if you subpoena the cell phone records, what if the email or text was sent two hours before it was read and therefore would not correspond to the citation time.

    If you are lucky, you will get a “sent” stamp right before the person was pulled over, and there will be the occasional defendant who will still be texting as the officer approaches the car, but this law will not address the key problem in a meaningful and enforcible way.

    It is a horrible tragedy that lead to this law, a teenager who died because he was texting while driving, but I don’t know if we had this law even then it would have made a difference.

    Last summer I assisted with a case against a Cobb woman who bought alcohol for her son and his friends. One of those friends would later that while on his way home night drive into a tree and die.

    We have laws against supplying alcohol to minors, but the alcohol was still provided. We have laws against underaged drinking, but he still drank. We have laws against DUI, but he still drove drunk. Now he’s dead and the woman will serve the next several years in jail. The goal is a noble one, but this is not the only way to achieve that goal.

    I would make it a $500 fine in addition to other possible fines and charges if it can be shown that any use of a cell phone, talking or texting, is what lead to distracted driver being at fault in an accident, regardless of whether it was single or multi-vehicle.

    I would would make it a felony charge if use of a cell phone distracted the driver to the point that they caused an accident that resulted in the death of another party.

    If parents want their children to be safe, they should make it a point of not allowing their kids to talk or text and drive. Parents are encouraged to talk to their children about other dangerous activities, but I have not heard a big push regarding the issue of using a cell phone while driving. It needs to be something that’s discussed.

    I was 23 when I got my first cell phone. I drove for 7 years with probably the most dangerous thing I did regarding distracted driving was stuff myself and 12 other people into my Ford Mustang to drive about a mile back to the dorms after a party (I was the designated driver).

    For those inventors out there, invent something that a parent can put on their kid’s car that will block all cell signals except 911 while the engine is running and you just may become a millionaire.

    • Harry says:

      Good comments. The end objective is to preserve life and property. We can discuss amongst ourselves the means thereto.

    • By the way, in the bill as passed, I cannot find a GPS exception, but that just would mean that reading text based directions would be a violation, but picture based directions, like a map, may not be:

      (b) No person who is 18 years of age or older or who has a Class C license shall operate a motor vehicle on any public road or highway of this state while using a wireless telecommunications device to write, send, or read any text based communication, including but not limited to a text message, instant message, e-mail, or Internet data.

      In other words, if I am reading the directions to some’s house that they email me on my phone, I am guilty of the crime. If I use a GPS map, I may not be guilty. If I print out the email and read it from the printout, I have committed no crime.

      Full bill is here: http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2009_10/versions/sb360_SB360_APP_10.htm

      • acoalson says:

        It does not include citizens band radios, citizens band radio hybrids, commercial two-way radio communication devices, subscription based emergency communications, in-vehicle security, navigation devices, and remote diagnostics systems, or amateur or ham radio devices

      • Doug Deal says:

        Internet communication, as defined by the federal government, is not “telecommunication”, which is why the FCC cannot currently regulate it. So, does this mean if we are using a laptop with wireless access, we are in the clear, since the device has no “telecommunication” (phone) function?

        As long as I can play my PSP version of Grand Theft Auto as I drive, I guess this is a fair compromise.

        The world would be a better place if we stopped trying to punish potential crime and focus on things that actually harm another person. How about just criminalizing an accident caused by inattentive driving of ANY type? Tuning the radio, talking to passengers, anything.

        • ByteMe says:

          The FCC does indeed regulate the wireless bandwidths used with all wireless technologies. It doesn’t regulate the content, but it does reserve and manage the frequencies.

          • And let me add to your comments ByteMe to say that if you read the whole law it includes any device that can transmit or receive a signal.

            If you’re stopped because you were playing your PSP, you might be prosecuted under this law:

            ยง 40-6-241. Driver to exercise due care; proper use of radios and mobile telephones allowed

            A driver shall exercise due care in operating a motor vehicle on the highways of this state and shall not engage in any actions which shall distract such driver from the safe operation of such vehicle, provided that the proper use of a radio, citizens band radio, or mobile telephone shall not be a violation of this Code section.

    • Lady Thinker says:

      One of my students told me that Radio Shack has a device that parents can have installed in a car being driven by a teen that will not allow the phone to work while the car is in motion. Approximately two – three weeks ago, I caught a blurb about it on Channel 2 news, but have not researched it further.

      I recently had lunch with a guy who said he put a device he got from Radio Shack on his son’s car. The dad said the device records when the engine is started and what speeds were driven, with the results sent to a computer or to one of the smart phones if a parent has one or the other.

      When I was a teen, my folks had a device, probably a governor of some type, on my car so that no matter how hard I tried, the car would not go faster than 60 mph.

      So people, it looks like Radio Shack may be the place to go to protect your teen drivers. But protecting adults is something different. Adults are more aware and should have better sense than to text and drive.

    • gopgal says:

      Jason, Good comment.

      The technology already exists. ZoomSafer, iZUP and CellSafety are just three such products that disable phones while a vehicle is in motion, though I am not familiar with the specifics.

      I am wondering if insurance companies will someday provide discounts to drivers who utilize this technology.

  7. Skyler Akins says:

    It is the role of the parents to teach their kids common sense, not the state legislature. The law is unenforceable, and will lead to police officers going through your cell phone, looking at your personal messages, while some kid is getting mugged at Georgia Tech. Its intrusive, and rediculous to think that the legislature wants to ticket someone, or lock them up because they were on their cell phone reading an email or text while at a red light, which I do all the time. My parents taught me not to be distracted when I drive, not the Georgia Legislature. Drunk driving is illegal, but has that cut down on the number of people that drive drunk? Just because it is illegal, doesn’t mean it will stop, and I am not advocating repealing drunk driving laws, because that effects our lives, but I am not one to give MORE power, and more discretion to a law enforcement officer with a political agenda or otherwise.

    • Dave Bearse says:

      “Drunk driving is illegal, but has that cut down on the number of people that drive drunk?”

      With the greater empahsis on enforcement that has occurred over the past three decades, unequivocably yes.

  8. ByteMe says:

    Drunk driving is illegal, but has that cut down on the number of people that drive drunk?

    In a word: yes.

  9. Doug Deal says:

    Byte, this is in reply to you, but Clayton has decided to treat mobile users as second class citizens and won’t let me turn off mobile theming so I can reply directly to you.

    Anyway, you are right, but then all sorts of devices, such as car radios that display the song title seem like they would qualify too.

    • ByteMe says:

      Yep.

      I think the LED billboards are just as distracting as text messages when you’re driving. But we can’t limit those, can we?

      • Actually it seems to me I remember something about the owner of an animated billboard on I-85S just before North Druid Hills being told to make it less animated because it was distracting and causing accidents 10 to 15 years ago… anyone else recall the details of that?

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