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Drivers of large vehicles are the latest to feel the wrath of the anti-texting movement

Driving is a privilege that most Americans take for granted. We drive to work, we drive to see family, and we run errands on the weekend to Home Depot or fend off soccer moms in their minivans at Target. However, technology continues to invade not only our lives, but also our vehicles, which is making the normally mundane act of driving more challenging.

From GPS units to cell phones to SYNC in-car infotainment systems, U.S. drivers have found new ways to distract themselves while driving thanks to technology (not to mention other favorites such as applying makeup, eating, reading the newspaper, etc.). Texting while driving is the latest craze to infect drivers and states around the country are swiftly implementing laws to make such activities illegal. Texting is already banned in 19 states, and 23 states are currently prepping their own laws to tackle the problem.

"Legislators are looking to see if it (texting) is enough of a safety issue that they need to intervene," said Anne Teigen told the USA Today. Teigen is a transportation specialist for the National Conference of State Legislatures. "They often get involved because there's a high-profile accident that had to do with texting. Also, because everybody has a cellphone now."

While states are currently going it alone in drafting "no texting while driving" laws, there are a few nationwide texting bans that drivers should heed. President Obama issued an executive order at the close of 2009 banning all federal workers -- rather, those on the job -- from texting while driving. The ban affects roughly four million federal workers.

Now a new, federal ban is coming down from the U.S. government. The latest nationwide texting ban applies to drivers of big rigs and buses. "We want the drivers of big rigs and buses and those who share the roads with them to be safe," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "This is an important safety step and we will be taking more to eliminate the threat of distracted driving."

Drivers that choose not to abide by the new law face a fine of $2,750.

The bans from both the states and the U.S. government come on the heels of numerous studies which point out the dangerous consequences of texting and driving. A study by the University of Utah showed that drivers that text behind the wheels are six times more likely to be involved in a collision. The National Security Council notes that roughly 200,000 accidents are caused each drivers who text behind the wheel.

However, it's wishful thinking to believe that nationwide texting bans are going to stop people from partaking in America's favorite electronic pastime. Reuters has previously reported that teens aren't persuaded to stop their texting addictions just because there are laws on the books to prohibit the act.

"What I would say is that texting and cell phone devices have become such a component of life for teens and for young people that it's hard for them to differentiate between doing something normal and doing something wrong," remarked Steven Bloch, a senior research associate for the Automobile Club.

Considering that texting while driving isn't a habit that only affect teenagers, it's more than likely that drivers in a more "advanced state of age" are reluctant to stop the practice as well.

While the current nationwide texting bans affect a relatively small portion of the entire U.S. driver pool, Senator Chuck Schumer (Democrat, NY) is looking to change that. Senator Schumer has introduced legislation that would call for a federal ban on texting while driving. States that don't comply with the legislation would be see a 25 percent cut in the federal highway funds they receive.

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Priviledge? BS.
By chromal on 1/26/2010 2:13:52 PM , Rating: -1
Driving is a privilege that most Americans take for granted.

Every time I see someone say "driving is a privilege," I want to slap them and tell them to get real. News flash: there are vast swaths of the country where you are basically f**ked if you cannot drive because the government fails to provide adequate, or more typically, ANY, ground transportation alternatives. Case in point, if I plug my home address and my work address into RTD-Denver's website, it essentially says, "Whoa. Sucks to be you."

Driving is not some hoity-toity privilege, people. For some of us, it's our only economic life support.

RE: Priviledge? BS.
By Phynaz on 1/26/2010 2:27:15 PM , Rating: 5
See those things attached to your legs?

Those were the human transportation system for millienia. Quit bitching that driving is a right. It's not.

RE: Priviledge? BS.
By chromal on 1/27/2010 12:39:09 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, because I can walk down 3500ft of elevation and 44 miles to work, and then up 3500ft of elevation and 44 miles home each day. Again, get real.

RE: Priviledge? BS.
By namechamps on 1/26/2010 2:34:13 PM , Rating: 4
Um then start a movement to amend the Constitution.

You (me, and the mailman) have NO RIGHT to drive.

You could move, or you could use a bike, or walk, or use a taxi.

You have no right to drive in the same context as you have no Constitutional RIGHT to eat a cheeseburger. Nobody is looking to outlaw cheeseburger eating but if they did you would have Constitutional standing to sue.

You do have a RIGHT to do certain things (but drive and eat a cheeseburger are not among them) such as:

* First Amendment – Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

* Second Amendment – A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

* Third Amendment – No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

* Fourth Amendment – The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

* Fifth Amendment – No person shall be held to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

* Sixth Amendment – In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

* Seventh Amendment – In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

* Eighth Amendment – Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

* Ninth Amendment – The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

* Tenth Amendment – The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

RE: Priviledge? BS.
By Reclaimer77 on 1/26/2010 2:37:34 PM , Rating: 1
Um then start a movement to amend the Constitution.

Yeah like anyone does that anymore...

RE: Priviledge? BS.
By AEvangel on 1/26/10, Rating: 0
RE: Priviledge? BS.
By ussfletcher on 1/26/2010 2:49:46 PM , Rating: 1
The right to drive has been never directly given, but supreme court decisions make it quite clear that it should be implied.

RE: Priviledge? BS.
By msomeoneelsez on 1/26/2010 5:07:34 PM , Rating: 2
I started writing this comment to disagree with you, but I have actually changed my mind here... Read on for the explanation.

I'm going to quote Judge Andrew Napolitano,

Forget the fact that he's on the Glenn Beck show, and remove the "gift from God" part and you have one of the best explanations of a right vs. a good ever publicized.

What is a right? A right is a gift from God that extends from our humanity. Thinkers from St. Thomas Aquinas, to Thomas Jefferson, to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to Pope John Paul II have all argued that our rights are a natural part of our humanity. We own our bodies, thus we own the gifts that emanate from our bodies. So, our right to life, our right to develop our personalities, our right to think as we wish, to say what we think, to publish what we say, our right to worship or not worship, our right to travel, to defend ourselves, to use our own property as we see fit, our right to due process – fairness – from the government, and our right to be left alone, are all rights that stem from our humanity. These are natural rights that we are born with. The government doesn’t give them to us and the government doesn’t pay for them and the government can’t take them away, unless a jury finds that we have violated someone else’s rights.

What is a good? A good is something we want or need. In a sense, it is the opposite of a right. We have our rights from birth, but we need our parents when we are children and we need ourselves as adults to purchase the goods we require for existence. So, food is a good, shelter is a good, clothing is a good, education is a good, a car is a good, legal representation is a good, working out at a gym is a good, and access to health care is a good. Does the government give us goods? Well, sometimes it takes money from some of us and gives that money to others. You can call that taxation or you can call it theft; but you cannot call it a right.

A right stems from our humanity. A good is something you buy or someone else buys for you.

Tell me, is a car something that stems from your humanity? No. Cars are goods. Cars are property.

That is where I changed my mind, by the way.

But, you have the right to use your property as you see fit. But there is a caveat to this right; the rights of others may be violated by your actions.

On the same note, I absolutely have a right to eat a cheeseburger, so long as I bought or produced it myself (therefor it is my property.)

So yes, you absolutely have the right to drive, but that doesn't mean you have the right to endanger others.

So yes, it is a right to use your property as you see fit, so long as it does not endanger or violates the rights of others, but that does not mean that even chromal is right.

Driving is not some hoity-toity privilege, people. For some of us, it's our only economic life support.

This does not make it a right to drive anymore than it is a right to have healthcare. This just makes it a need.

Need /= Right

I NEED food to be put on the table to survive, but I must WORK to put food on the table.

I may NEED a car to WORK, but I must WORK to get money (PROPERTY) to buy the NEED which is a car. If I violate the rights of others, or endanger the rights of others either by carelessness or direct actions to violate other's rights, then I am essentially giving up my rights in proportion to the violations of rights which I committed.

In which case; Endangerment /= violation. If you drive while drunk, generally speaking the only way to know unless the cops were sitting in the parking lots of bars and watching for people to pull over when they come out is to see reckless driving, which DOES directly affect other drivers, and may very easily lead to a collision, which is a violation of another's property rights, and possibly a violation of another's right to life.

Think about it this way, someone is holding a gun (driving). They could either be safe with it and point it only down range, clear the gun between firings, etc. (stay within the lines, not drive recklessly, etc.) or they could be pointing it at people, either because they are drunk, or are just careless, or are just "having fun" (drunk drivers, texting, street racing). The possibility of the gun going off and hurting someone that it is pointing at is such a bad possibility, that it is common sense to stop the idiot from pointing it at people. This may be by taking the gun away from him or by fining him, or by teaching him proper gun handling techniques. It is not a question of whether or not you're going to intervene so that safety may be kept, it is how you are going to intervene.

Back to driving; my personal belief of how we should handle it is as follows--

Any reckless endangerment (reckless driving, etc.) should be assessed by the officer on scene when the person is pulled over, and should result in a base fine of x dollars (to be determined by the states, I believe just $50 will suffice.) However, if the officer has reason to believe that the person is drunk, or will continue to drive recklessly, then either a higher fine, or an arrest until sober is warranted with a higher fine incurred.

If it is proven that an officer is unjustified in his decision to arrest, then some method should be in place to punish the officer and remove all infractions placed by the event on the driver.

On the 2nd count of reckless endangerment, the fines double, and the chance to be arrested goes up (track record) as to be determined by the officer on scene.

On the 3rd strike and higher, the fines keep doubling, and jail time determined by the officer, and the license is revocable.

Anyways, that is just my 2 (or 3...) cents.

RE: Priviledge? BS.
By MozeeToby on 1/26/2010 3:20:05 PM , Rating: 1
Do you know why the Bill or Rights are amendments instead of being part of the original constitution? The framers didn't want to give the impression that your rights are laid out in the constitution, it was supposed to be a list of things the government could do, as opposed to a list of things the government couldn't do.

Nowhere in the constitution does it say that the federal government can control what I eat, therefore I actually do have a constitutional right to eat a cheeseburger. Now, you may be able to argue about 'providing for public welfare' or one of the other clauses, but it would be a damn hard sell.

RE: Priviledge? BS.
By msomeoneelsez on 1/26/2010 5:12:32 PM , Rating: 2
Nowhere in the constitution does it say that the federal government can control what I eat, therefore I actually do have a constitutional right to eat a cheeseburger. Now, you may be able to argue about 'providing for public welfare' or one of the other clauses, but it would be a damn hard sell.

You bought that cheeseburger, right?

Unless you stole it, that cheeseburger is your property, therefor you have the right to do what you wish with it, so long as it does not violate the rights of others.

Also, the constitution does not allow for conflicts within itself; if there is a place where a conflict arises, then it is already marked out to say which part is to be followed above the other.

RE: Priviledge? BS.
By Proxes on 1/26/2010 5:51:50 PM , Rating: 2
If people have full right to do whatever they want with their own property then why is it illegal to burn down your own, paid off, home?

RE: Priviledge? BS.
By Camikazi on 1/26/2010 6:17:56 PM , Rating: 2
Endangering the life and property of others I'm guessing, since I doubt most people know how to control a fire that gets out of control.

RE: Priviledge? BS.
By msomeoneelsez on 1/27/2010 1:54:43 AM , Rating: 2
That, and you could argue damaging property values of those around you (just ask a real estate agent about that) and also, if you wish to be rather extreme about it, the pollutants put out by it damage others' rights to life, however, I would refrain from using the latter argument as it is rather absurd. Not like it will stop the EPA though.......

RE: Priviledge? BS.
By porkpie on 1/26/2010 3:46:30 PM , Rating: 2
"Um then start a movement to amend the Constitution."

He doesn't need to. Constitutionally, the Federal Government has no right to enact laws banning texting on state roads. The individual states--yes. But this new federal law is clearly unconstitional, and would be struck down if we had Supreme Court judges that understood the 10th Amendment.

RE: Priviledge? BS.
By msomeoneelsez on 1/26/2010 5:15:58 PM , Rating: 2
He does need to, as you just clearly stated...

Anyways, I believe it can be argued that the Federal government does have a right to enact this law, so long as it is restricted to when the texting interferes with the driving. When the driver becomes impaired as a result of the texting, and therefor becomes a reckless driver.

If you want my explanation of that, please look above to the comments I already posted.

RE: Priviledge? BS.
By porkpie on 1/26/2010 8:21:17 PM , Rating: 2
I think you misread both my post and the Constitution. The Federal government has a right only to regulate commerce between states. The individual states themselves are responsible for what happens within their own borders.

But over the past 100 years, the Federal government has been using increasingly ludicrious arguments to expand their role. For example, if a crook robs a local store, it's a state offense...UNLESS that store has a branch in another state, in which then the Feds say it involves "interstate commerce".

RE: Priviledge? BS.
By msomeoneelsez on 1/27/2010 1:52:35 AM , Rating: 2
The Federal government has a right only to regulate commerce between states. The individual states themselves are responsible for what happens within their own borders.

How does driving fall under commerce??

It is a use of personal property, i.e. a car.

My point is that it can be argued by general welfare ("The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;") that it is in the general welfare to remove reckless drivers from the road, not that it is either right or Constitutional. Above I do state what I believe the best way is to deal with it as my limited knowledge of the issue has determined, but I leave that to others to determine, and that is not considering Constitutionality (not that the government even cares about the Constitution anymore, as you so kindly pointed out.)

RE: Priviledge? BS.
By chromal on 1/27/2010 12:39:45 PM , Rating: 2
I can move? Are you offering to buy my house in this down economy? Great!

RE: Priviledge? BS.
By porkpie on 1/27/2010 1:08:01 PM , Rating: 2
You're free to move. The government does not (and should not) guarantee that you won't suffer an economic impact from doing so.

Your statement is the corollary to the flawed belief that the government owes people food, shelter, and medical care, under the "right the life" clause.

RE: Priviledge? BS.
By Murloc on 1/26/2010 2:35:41 PM , Rating: 2
I agree that it's a necessary expense, but this situation is a consequence of the new transportation systems and growth of everything.

BUT if someone really couldn't afford it, even if it's 20 km he still can ride a bike.

RE: Priviledge? BS.
By porkpie on 1/26/2010 3:54:39 PM , Rating: 1
What if its 200km? Or only 5 km --- but there's an Interstate or divided highway, in the way, where its illegal to ride a bike?

RE: Priviledge? BS.
By chromal on 1/27/2010 12:41:10 PM , Rating: 1
It's kind of fascinating that my comment has generated a lot of great discussion, but the internet jackasses still rated it down. Oh well, passive-aggressive trolls unite, I guess. <3

RE: Priviledge? BS.
By Phynaz on 1/27/2010 12:50:30 PM , Rating: 2
Probably because your comment is stupid.

"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer

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