Tommy: Enforce the current distracted driving laws before making new ones

Tommy Tucker, WWL First News
May 01, 2019 - 11:14 am

Are all people distracted by the same things? Can you do two things at a time successfully?  Three?  One?  None?  All people are different and we spent some time Wednesday morning talking about a proposed new law in Louisiana that would make holding a cellphone while driving illegal.  Those that are for it say it will save lives and change driving habits.  Sounds great but will it really?

The author of the bill, Representative Mike Huval, a Republican from Breaux Bridge, says "A day does not go by where I do not see somebody driving in the left lane that they're either texting, speaking or just not paying attention because they’re doing something with their phone.”

We’ve ALL seen it, but do we need a NEW law?

There are already distracted laws on the books.  If someone is distracted while driving and is seen by a police officer, they should be stopped.  Is the law enforced enough? Not that I’ve seen. So if a law against distracted driving isn’t being enforced I don’t know why a new law prohibiting potential distracted driving would be.

And that’s what it is. Potential.  Not everyone holding a phone is necessarily distracted. I’m definitely not advocating FOR cell phone use while driving. I detest when people do it, but we must apparently be adapting or we would have thousands upon thousands of accidents here in the area every morning and evening during rush hour.

People are distracted by different things.  Recently in Connecticut a driver fought a ticket he received for holding a phone while driving.  He used phone records and pictures to prove he wasn’t on the phone.  He was actually eating hash browns from McDonald’s.  My first thought was “is that really any better?” 

Between luxurious cabins and increased technology we, the driver nation, are beginning to spend less time paying attention to what we’re actually doing behind the wheel.  The comfort of today’s cars make it feel as though you’re in your living room cruising down the highway.  Lane change alarms and automatic braking help us in traffic.  But until a driverless car is perfected it is ultimately up to us. Which brings us back to distracted driving.

If someone is holding a phone while in the car, does that mean they will eventually be distracted?  If someone’s eating a hash brown in the car, will they eventually be distracted?  If someone’s enjoying a nice, hot bowl of soup will they eventually be distracted? That one’s easy.  Yes they will.  Driving while eating soup can lead only to tragedy.  So do we need a new soup law?  NO! We need to start actively enforcing the laws that already exist for distracted driving.

A law can also have unintended consequences. How many times have you seen people looking up and down as they fiddled around with the cell phone on their lap?  A law is useless if it isn’t enforced. There are thousands of tickets that could be written each day for distracted driving.  If we can see it, why can’t the police?  The problem is getting the worse. The law is already on the books.  ENFORCE IT!

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