Text-Message Ban for Drivers is Pointless

The tragic death of five New York teens in a car accident–believed to have been caused by the driver sending/receiving text messages on her cell phone–has prompted lawmakers to propose a bill banning text messaging while driving.

ALBANY – The horrific deaths of five upstate teens when the SUV they were riding in slammed into a truck has pumped momentum into a measure that would prohibit New Yorkers from sending text messages when they’re behind the wheel.

“The recent tragedy in Canandaigua highlights how deadly the combination of texting and driver inexperience can be,” said Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Oyster Bay), who is co-sponsoring the proposal with Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Brooklyn).

Using cell phone records, police determined the 17-year-old driver who caused the deadly wreck last month was sending and receiving text messages before the SUV she was driving rammed a tractor-trailer, killing her and four girls who had just graduated from high school.

Tests conducted on the driver after the fiery crash showed the primary cause of the accident was driver inattention due to the apparent text messaging. Alcohol was not a factor.

A recent poll of people 18 to 24 years old showed that two out of three admit to sending text messages when they drive.

Ortiz, the author of the trail-blazing New York prohibition against drivers using hand-held cell phones when they’re behind the wheel, said, “It’s a shame that it may take a tragedy like this for this bill to move forward.”

Under the proposal, those nabbed texting while driving could be hit with fines of up to $100 – the same penalty that applies now when police catch drivers gabbing on cell phones.

Does anyone besides me think this is pointless. Nearly impossible to enforce and just as hard to catch someone doing it (especially in New York), I don’t see how it could be very effective. A better approach would be to use this tragedy to educate teens on the dangers of such activity. However, the “old” person in me wonders why anyone would need educating to this fact, but that’s a rant for another day.

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