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Texting and Driving Law – are we really safer now?

While I am not currently driving and composing this post, I did think about the topic while driving, just needed to throw that out there to start with. 

Recently, MN implemented a law against text messaging while operating a motor vehicle, listing it as a primary offense and carrying up to a $300 fine.

Since that went into effect on Aug. 1, I have not noticed a decrease in the people I see texting or whatnot on their phone, I simply see more heads looking down at their laps with a BlackBerry or MotoQ buried between their legs.

When I do need to send a quick message, which is often faster than looking up a phone book entry, calling the person and hitting 9 options to get to a desk (seems like that is less time with your eyes on the road than “c u in 5 @ Chipotle”) I now take my eyes off the road more than before when I could keep the phone on the wheel, looking thru the phone to pay attention etc.
I can see how this might be useful for those with cellphones lacking a QWERTY keyboard and are still typing on T9 or one of the other multi-tap formats to spell out your message, but I know where my keys are and can type mostly without looking at the phone.

Also, in my experience, I become a more attentive driver when I text, because I’m aware I’m distracted, vs. talking with a passenger, singing along with the radio or daydreaming about the upcoming weekend.

I’ve gone my entire driving history without so much as even tapping another driver, and haven’t had a moving violation in a decade, and I do all of the above, knowing my limits and abilities. I will refrain from texting at all in inclimate weather as I realize that’s not too smart.

What it comes down to is a drivers ability to multi-task and stay focused. I agree those under 18 or even 21 should refrain from texting while driving.. Just last night, a kid on a bicycle rolled thru a stop sign and almost smacked the car in front of me. The kid was on his cellphone talking… Maybe he was 14? Now, mind you, I was following the GPS in my truck. (Same ideal as txting, it takes your primary focus off the road) Anyways, I digress..

In the end, its not about the authoritative thumb of government tightening that screw for our safety as a primary concern,because they should realize like any other law, people will skirt it. It’s a quick buck for the government if you get fined, and as other bloggers have noted, there is too great of an offset of drivers to enforcement officials to make this very effective. Also as I read elsewhere, I guess this doesn’t apply to the police staring at laptops while driving? – I will link the article when I get back to a computer.

I see the validity of this law for kids, new drivers and those who cannot execute the task of ‘tweening a big gulp, eating a burrito and driving at the same time, however for those of us that have a great deal of windshield time, its a judgement call. One more reason I’m looking forward to Wisconsin.