Texting & Driving Legislation Proves Confusing


Texting & Driving Legislation Proves Confusing

From Ohio to Miami, the laws and guidelines for managing the no-texting law has been difficult. This was highlighted by a recent incident in Pennsylvania when a patrolling officer noticed a woman driving with her head down. He pulled the driver over assuming she was looking at some device only to discover she was filing her nails. Now while a distraction like this is a safety hazard, it’s not against the law. 

In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, there were 334 traffic stops since the texting law was launched but none for texting. “There’s no way an officer can determine what a person is doing unless they stop them and the person is honest,” says Harrisburg Police Lt. Robert Fegan. “Therein lies the dilemma.”

Despite the applause for initiating the no-texting law, to date there has been no significant issue of warnings or citations in the matter. In fact, to date, there has been less than 50 noted violations.

For law enforcement, actually enforcing the law is an issue. “Unless you’re above them and can see what they’re doing, it’s hard to tell,” one officer said. “With everything else going on, it’s one of those things that’s hard to detect.”

Another unfortunate aspect is that there are a variety of things one can do with a phone and the new law only applies to texting. In other words, an officer can pull a suspicious driver over and will have to prove they were texting. The driver would have to admit they were or prove, instead of watching the road, they were playing Candy Crush Jelly Saga. Many courts see a challenge in a police officer’s statement as the texting they claim to have witnessed could be a number of things.

Ohio has initiated its own texting laws. For drivers under 18 years, there is no use of cell phones in a vehicle, meaning they cannot surf, text, play or even talk on a phone. They are allowed to operate only a hands free GPS. Anyone violating these laws can be fined anywhere between $150 and $300, and lose their license for 60 days to a year.

Research has shown in any given year, almost 1.6 million accidents on the road are the direct result of a driver using a cell phone. Almost a half million of those accidents leaves someone injured and 6,000 dead. Despite those unsettling numbers, cell phone distraction only makes up a fraction of total incidents. Another study reveals almost 80 percent of all accidents are caused by some form of distraction on a driver’s part. 

In a two second period where a driver looks away, they can drive blindly for over 50 yards, more than enough time for a mishap.