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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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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.

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher

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