Federal Government

Driving, Texting Don’t Mix–For Anyone!

The Feds have just come out with strict rules against texting while driving for truckers. Meanwhile, cities and states across the nation have weighed in as well. Idaho legislators will probably consider a bill against texting and driving this session.

The GUARDIAN previously WEIGHED IN on all the talk against texting while driving (we hereby create TWD). Just about everyone says it is as bad–some say worse–than DUI.

Which brings us back to the same question we had several months ago: If texting is unsafe, how can we allow coppers to go down the road and read a computer enroute to a call?

Boise PD depends on the computers for dispatch and “updates.” Nationwide we need to all realize you can’t train someone to drive safely and read a computer screen at the same time.
If texting is like some say “as bad as driving drunk,” there should be no exceptions.

It simply isn’t safe to drive and read whether you are wearing a copper badge or trucker cowboy boots.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. I’ve been with motorists who drive down the center of the highway so they can text or talk on cell phones, scaring the living daylights out of me and putting my life and the lives of other motorists in danger. There have been ample cases locally and nationwide of tragic deathly accidents caused by texting drivers that should be addressed. The argument against a texting while driving law is that there are already inattentive driver laws on the books. If these laws are not being enforced, then perhaps the laws should be changed to include texting while driving language. We all managed to live and drive without cell phones and texting in the past. These electronic devices are crutches for busy people, but should not be allowed in vehicles if they endanger others. The same for police and ambulance drivers…in those cases, make sure a second officer or paramedic is in the vehicle to handle the reports so the driver can concentrate on the roads. Recently, a commercial jet strayed off course and failed to answer urgent messages from control towers, because the pilots were focused on laptops not airline safety. Fighter jets were almost dispatched to determine if the plane had been hijacked. It seems that common sense has been replaced by textability. Time to reverse the pattern to save lives.

  2. the texting bill in front of the Legislature specifically exempts police.

    EDITOR NOTE–That makes a lot of sense! If it is worse than DUI, will they exempt them from that as well? I can see speeding, running stop signs, etc. with emergency equipment in operation. Even if they would simply put on flashing lights and STOP to read, it would make sense.

  3. Rod in SE Boise
    Jan 28, 2010, 12:29 pm

    The tea baggers in the Idaho legislature will see this as an infringement on freedom. It won’t pass.

  4. It would be interesting to see if there are statistics of accidents as a result of reading their computers during a response . We are all aware of the hundreds of accidents nationwide that are the result of TWD, but I have not heard of any attributed to emergency responders. Could it be something covered by instructors when they go through the driving portion of their training?

  5. leave me alone
    Jan 28, 2010, 1:50 pm

    Is there data published as to the increase in traffic accidents due to texting while driving? Not studies showing it may be more dangerous. But actual hard data showing causation. Has there been an increase in traffic accidents and deaths in the last ten to twenty years that has been caused by texting? If you text or talk on a cell phone and drive just fine, not harming anyone, why would it be against the law?

  6. untamedshrew
    Jan 28, 2010, 5:00 pm

    Wow – I actually agree with you Guardian! Good timing after Obama’s speech last night. πŸ™‚

    I completely agree – RWD (reading while driving) is completely reckless, for anyone reaading anything while behind the wheel – a screen, a book, etc.

  7. untamedshrew
    Jan 28, 2010, 8:41 pm

    To leave me alone: if you can drink and then drive just fine, not harming anyone, for years and years … why would that be against the law?

    Think about it.

  8. Casual Observer
    Jan 28, 2010, 9:13 pm

    I am open minded about this. If anyone can text and drive at the same time, great. However, citizens and police alike, need to first prove their prowess.

    Let them set up a drivers test, like they do for the motorcycle test, or the police high speed tests. Have them drive a course with turns, stops, simulated avoidance maneuvers, etc., while attempting to send a string of text messages. If they can do it in an adequate fashion, certify them and put a special stamp on their license plate. If they fail, cops or not, no certification. Tough.

  9. Not too long ago in Caldwell a school bus full of kids had a head on collision with a kid who was texting while driving on his way to CHS. The kid doing the texting is dead and his family is mourning their loss. That’s enough study for me. You can’t drive a ton or more of steel and plastic down the road and be fumbling around with a stupid cell phone and not put other people’s lives in jeopardy. I don’t care if the person texting gets taken out or ends up a quad..it’s the other people who deserve a break from the politicians who can at least give the cops some tools to slow this dangerous activity down. Yes, slow it down.

    I don’t expect a law will stop it but I will settle for a slowing down of this stupid activity while driving.

    Parents can also have some much needed influence here as well. Texting while driving = loss of phone.

    The penalties for texting and driving ought to be right up there with DUI’s for the self-important people who can’t control their bad behavior while driving.

  10. Rod in SE Boise. You never answered my question from another column.

    What do you mean when you say teabagger as you throw it around so cavalierly? And once you describe what you mean, perhaps you can tell us why in the heck you are using it here.

  11. Idaho N8ive
    Jan 29, 2010, 4:36 am

    All you people complaining about the police need to get a grip. Don’t you think the information cops get on their computers might be a LITTLE more important than your “OMG, I can’t believe she said tha about you at the club” text message?

    Not to mention the fact that police are trained to multi-task and if they can’t do this safely they are weeded out. I sure hope all you that want to further delay police responses don’t complain when they don’t get there fast enough to solve your petty little problems.

    EDITOR NOTE–Content of the message is not the issue. I know of no “training” that allows even coppers to look in two places at the same time. No call is so important as to not get there or cause “collateral damage.”

  12. BoiseCitizen
    Jan 29, 2010, 7:25 am

    How about instead of one cop in a car they have two, one to drive and one to work the mdt. (mobile data terminal).

  13. Just a thought
    Jan 29, 2010, 8:04 am

    Back in the “old days”(before there were MDT’s in cars) coppers would get dispatched to a call with all kinds of information. Address of the call, subjects name, weapons, etc. While driving quickly to help these people, coppers had to write down all this info on paper so they could keep track of what they were doing. This caused the copper to take his eyes off the road to write this down. At least with the MDT you can keep your head up, looking at the road to glance at the screen. I am not saying anyone is right or wrong here, just pointing out the alternative for not having the MDT.

  14. Idaho N8ive.
    Guess you haven’t been at a stop light and watch the cop next to you let 2 & 3 cars run the red light while he’s looking at his computer screen or talking on his cell phone. Well I have, not just once but a couple times. I even honked my horn to get his attention and he never even looked up.

  15. If the message is soooooo important. Pull over to the side of the road. I can’t think of many roads and streets where the shoulders are not there to park if necessary.

    Cops pull people over all the time on the interstate construction zones. Flat tires happen at any time for anyone.

    No need to drive and do the thumb dance on your phone. You could even turn the phone off while in the car and call people back once parked. Every call is not an emergency, in fact very few amount to more than a pinch of manure in the scheme of things.

  16. Sara, just as a point of information, the term “teabagger” comes from prison jargon that involves an act that cannot be described here ( as in “got teabagged”). I believe it was the comedian Garafolo that first used the term as a slam against tea party activities. I doubt the majority of those that use the term even realize what they are saying. Although when you are just parroting someone else’s talking points, definitions don’t really matter, I guess. And if they do understand it’s meaning, they should be ashamed!

  17. leave me alone
    Jan 29, 2010, 11:03 am

    hey untamedshrew,
    you need to answer the question you just asked. DUI should be punished severely if it causes harm or damage to person or property. There should no laws enacted or enforced that make criminals out of people who do not harm others. It’s really not difficult to understand that concept. BTW how’s the DUI laws doing in cutting down on DUIs?

  18. untamedshrew
    Jan 29, 2010, 1:34 pm

    hey leave me alone

    The concept might not be difficult to understand, but your writing is, especially since you’re wrong. A DUI is punished severely simply for the act itself, not only if the act causes harm or damage. If you are driving down the road with over a .08 BAC, minding your own business and harming no one … that violates the law. As well it should, because the potential for harm is great.

    In my experience, that law deters a LOT of people from drinking and driving. In fact, a lot of my friends and family. πŸ™‚

  19. Rod in SE Boise
    Jan 29, 2010, 3:26 pm

    Sara, tea baggers or tea partiers, as seen on TV are anti-government, anti-tax fanatics, and by that definition, fit many members of the Idaho legislature who were elected by anti-government, anti-tax fanatic Idahoans, who think that the very existence of government is an attack on their personal freedom.

    I’ve never heard the other definition provided above by cyclops, since I’ve never been in prison. You see, quite often, on TV, a photo of a woman at a rally wearing a wide-brimmed straw hat with more than a dozen tea bags hanging from her hat – tea bagger seems to fit.

  20. Cyclops. I know what it means and it’s disgusting to be sure. I’m thinking Rod in SE Boise knows what it means also and is using it this way to be snarky and amusing, or so he thinks.

    However, this is the second time I’ve asked him to define it, so that we can all be sure what he means, and this is the second time he’s ducked the question.

    We’ll keep trying to get an answer if he keeps using the term as a pejorative.

    And Garafalo is a comedian? She’s supposed to be funny??

    EDITOR NOTE–No more ref to the topic need to appear here.

  21. Tea baggers, DUI’s ? Getting way off point folks. Getting personal too. C’mon guys, take it easy and stick to the topic at hand.

  22. I was driving down the road the other day and found myself mesmerized by a television monitor showing a movie in a car next to me and just ahead.

  23. Re: Texting

    Most cops I’ve seen do park on side streets to write their reports, although I’ve seen exceptions of turning on flashing lights in the middle of traffic for no known reason, confusing other motorists. In the case of paramedics, there are always two, one drives and the other writes the report. I don’t think anyone, including public safety officers or politicians, should be exempted from inattentive driving laws any more than they should be exempted from drunk driving, murder,false arrest, harassment, fraud, or any other crime. NO ONE should be immune from the laws. NO ONE is any more important than anyone else. A uniform or title isn’t a license to harm others. Again, as I’ve written before, we need to stop engaging in “hero worship” and hold everyone who breaks laws accountable.

  24. Ok, back on topic.

    I for one am in support of the ban. There has been limited research that has foused on components of driving (braking, steering, etc) and attention span times while texting and experiancing other distractions, and they are all pretty clear. Texting, carrying on a conversation, all are bad while driving.

    HOWEVER, I did run accross this interesting article….


    I still believe that distracted driving is bad…unfortunately some of it is unavoidable in todays world.

  25. leave me alone
    Jan 30, 2010, 12:20 pm

    watch out james bond, untamedshrew might want a law against being “mesmerized” while driving and for you to be “punished severely…because the potential for harm is great”

  26. This will do what for Police, Fire, EMS? They all use computers for info and communications while driving. I think police are the only solo drivers though. Too bad that people have such a hard time with their priorities.

  27. So, if there is no difference between police driving and the general public, where are all the police wrecks while texting? They drive something like 70-80 thousand miles a year. One would think they would have a wreck a week if they are all texting and reading computers all the time.

    EDITOR NOTE–They DO have mishaps. Dept. policy is to report any damage to cars in excess of $25. We don’t need to saddle them with a records request, but suffice it to say, #$$%& happens. Most often it is bumping a curb-type thing or other minor incident. Sometimes they cross the center line… There isn’t often a conflict with other vehicles because as mentioned in comments here, others see the big white stallion and avoid it (marked patrol car).

  28. My own unscientific impression is that texting is far more prevalent with females than males. If my observations are true, then perhaps we should just ban it for them.

    EDITOR NOTE–Ladies, please ignore the comment.

  29. People who text while driving should not be cited or arrested. They should be taken into protective custody and held for mental evaluation. Anyone who texts while driving must be mentally deficient in some way.

    And cops can listen to a dispatcher on the radio without taking their eyes off the road. They cannot read without taking their eyes off the road.

  30. Again a departure from reality….for you to compare a 7 1/2″ x 9″ touchscreen MDT to a cell phone requiring a 3″ keyboard is ridiculous.

    The simple reason for MDT’s is to preserve radio “airtime” for emergency traffic. Simple question, “How many more radio channels would be required if each officer was required to get all of their information over the radio?” Or, “How much more money is the public willing to spend on communications?”

    Are MDT’s a distraction to driving?…absolutely. Is it the same as someone texting?…of course not. The discussion is just another feeble attempt at questioning one; “Boise City” and two; public servants. πŸ™

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