I have a confession to make.
I text while driving.
Yes, I am that guy who might slam on the brakes at the last minute because I was typing an oh-so-important note about meeting someone somewhere in five minutes.
To my credit, this is not a regular habit, nor one I condone. In fact, I seem to have mastered the art of texting while watching the road. I think it’s because I have an actual cell phone and not a device that requires two hands and a little bit of brain power.
But if Congress has its way, I may soon be a scofflaw.
A bill introduced by New York Senator Charles Schumer and others would ban texting while driving, because of the increased risk of accidents it poses. It seems like a no-brainer, though some lawmakers are saying it will be impossible to enforce.
Nevertheless, I asked lawyer Jeff Kroll, whose personal injury practice represents a lot of car-crash victims, about the implications of the law. Here are some of his thoughts.
On the wisdom of the bill: I’ve seen firsthand, unfortunately, the results of driver inattentiveness. This texting is just adding to the driver inattentiveness
Why texting in the car is a bad idea: The problem is when someone’s texting, they are gambling for those four or five seconds. And when they gamble, we the motorists, are the losers.
On the argument it would be difficult to enforce: I don’t think that is a strong argument. Any time you invoke a new law, there is somebody saying it’s going to be hard to enforce. The fact of the matter is once that is implemented and you know about the new law, you are hopeful that people are going to self govern themselves and not do it.
Where has this law been? Texting has just become so crazy popular in the last couple of years, and I think the legislature is a little slow in catching up with this trend.
Another argument for not implementing the law is that some feel it might increase racial profiling, giving police another excuse to pull over minorities. That concern was raised in the spring when the Illinois senate passed a no-texting bill.
OK, clearly this has some pretty important implications nationally.
And here in Chicago, the city council banned texting while driving – in addition to yapping on the phone without a hands-free device – last year.
I would say that proposal could be taken further. And I’ll point to the kid on the bicycle that I passed this morning.
Young man, you are on a bike. Please do not text while riding your bike. You are not wearing a helmet. You are not looking at the road. You are controlling your bike with one hand. Do you see where this is going?
I attempted to call several members of the city council’s transportation safety committee this morning – the guys that passed the cell phone ban – but was unsuccessful in getting anyone on the phone to discuss this.
If I hear back from them, I’ll be sure to update this story.