Loading...
BYH, in case you haven't noticed, civil rights, human rights, worker's rights and voting rights are frowned on by...

Don't ticket drivers, educate them about distractions

012419Distracted-1.jpg

Milan Dale, a junior at East Carolina University, participates in a driving simulation during a distracted driving event in the university in January.

Loading…

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

North Carolina already bans texting and driving. Now state lawmakers want to prohibit all handheld use of smartphones and tablet computers behind the wheel.

House Bill 144, the Hands-Free N.C. Act, seeks to reduce distracted driving dangers by creating the new traffic infraction of unlawful use of a wireless communication device. The bipartisan legislation passed in the House and seems like one of those feel-good public safety bills destined to find its way to the governor’s desk.

While cellphone use does cause and contribute to crashes, HB 144 would continue a piecemeal approach to regulating distracted driving that focuses on symptoms rather than causes. It may or may not make roads safer, but with graduated penalties of $100, $150 and $200 for repeat offenders, it’s guaranteed to shake down motorists and raise revenue by arbitrarily deeming some driver distractions worse than others.

HB 144 would make it unlawful to operate a motor vehicle with a wireless communication device in drivers’ hands or on their bodies — no resting that phone in your lap. Making and receiving phone calls would be OK as long as drivers can use voice-activated technology. All modern smartphones have hands-free calling features, and most new cars have Bluetooth software that allows drivers to place phone calls and listen through the car’s speakers. Siri, the digital assistant on Apple’s popular iPhone, will compose and send text messages entirely by voice.

This technology is great, but it’s far from universal. Not everyone can afford a late-model car with Bluetooth wireless integration, and not all cellphones are voice-activated smartphones. Is allowing hands-free technology and forbidding handheld phone use a form of discrimination against poorer and less tech-savvy drivers?

Cellphone use is a common driver distraction, but it’s far from the only one. How about eating and drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, reading and adjusting radio, CD and digital music players? Those aren’t our examples, by the way. They’re all listed in an N.C. Department of Administration safety newsletter published in April 2016.

A Cabinet-level agency warns government employees against eating behind the wheel, but neither the governor nor legislators have felt the need to call for a statewide ban on the behavior. Food for thought.

The list of potential driver distractions is endless. In February 2017, state Rep. Garland Pierce filed a short-lived bill to outlaw driving with a live animal in your lap. Pierce, a Scotland County Democrat, is also a co-sponsor of the Hands-Free N.C. Act. It’s laudable that he wants to make drivers safer, but how many laws will it take to criminalize every conceivable risk?

The 2019 North Carolina Driver’s Manual — the Division of Motor Vehicles handbook new drivers use to study for their road tests — includes nearly a full page of warnings against drowsy driving, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates may cause up to 6,000 crashes a year. Yet no lawmakers have filed bills seeking to crack down on the chronically tired.

Instead of declaring some driver distractions crimes based on little more than emotion, the General Assembly should work to attack the problem at its root by improving driver education curriculum, beefing up the DMV handbook and including distracted driving questions on written driver tests. Could education and voluntary compliance work as well as prosecution?

In truth, most motorists multitask behind the wheel — just ask a parent shuttling kids off to school and sports practices while running errands. Government should encourage drivers to consider their precious cargo and reduce distractions to the greatest extent possible. But crimes and traffic infractions must be reserved for behavior that causes genuine harm to people and property.

Instead of writing tickets for every risk that could contribute to theoretical future crashes, authorities should weigh distractions as aggravating factors that result in steep consequences when they actually cause wrecks.

If the goal is really deterrence rather than soaking motorists for cash fines and court costs, wouldn’t charge enhancements for distracted driving crashes serve the same prevention purpose as a ban on handheld cellphone use?

The Wilson Times

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Op Ed

July 12, 2019

Over the past three years, I have had the good fortune to work on a project that has the potential to transform the farming landscape in eastern North Carolina, one that involves harnessing gas produced from hog waste.

As CEO and founder of OptimaBio, our work with Smithfield Foods to capture…

Maloney

July 01, 2019

The American system of checks and balances government does not work the way most people think it does or the way the Founding Fathers said it would.

The president serves at the pleasure of Congress, just as the prime minister of the UK serves at the pleasure of Parliament, which means that the…

eleanorclift.jpg.jpg

June 26, 2019

Several Democratic presidential hopefuls are calling for Americans to make reparations for slavery. On June 19, the House judiciary subcommittee on the constitution, civil rights and civil liberties held a hearing. Its stated purpose was "to examine, through open and constructive discourse, the…

Walter Williams

June 10, 2019

The New York Times 

“Because it’s there.” For those who grew up on George Mallory’s famous explanation for his yearning to scale Mount Everest, with all the romance, danger and spirit of exploration it implied, that viral photograph of an endless line of climbers in…

June 10, 2019

Although it may not appear so, the leaders of both major political parties in North Carolina favor lowering the tax burden of large businesses. Their real dispute is about the scope and magnitude of the tax relief.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has consistently opposed recent state budgets, crafted by…

john hood.jpg

June 10, 2019

We are just weeks away from the first of 20 Democratic debates scheduled this primary season. It gets underway over two nights in Miami on June 26 and 27, and never before has there been a debate this early in the election and potentially this important.

The reason there are so many candidates, 23…

eleanorclift.jpg.jpg

June 09, 2019

Gerrymandering has always been part of American politics. After all, the term was coined in 1812 after Massachusetts governor and Founding Father Elbridge Gerry endorsed a state senate district that resembled a salamander.

Until recently, federal courts have been highly reluctant to enter the…

Steve and Cokie Roberts

June 09, 2019

It is not unfair to point out that President Trump, on many important subjects, is just an ignoramus.

A vivid illustration of this unfortunate fact came this week in London, when it was revealed that Prince Charles, a knowledgeable environmentalist, had tried to educate the president on climate…

Eugene Robinson

June 09, 2019

"When you are told all your life you're dumb, unworthy, you start believing it. God changed that for me."

Jerry, from Youngstown, Tennessee, hesitated to be interviewed by Chris Arnade, because "I don't know my ABCs, so I can't really talk right." He told Arnade, the author of the new book…

kathrynlopez

June 09, 2019

Senate Republicans are pushing back on President Trump's plan to impose tariffs on Mexico. But if Mexican officials think these Republicans are going to save them from Trump's tariffs, it's time for them to think again.

So far, congressional Republicans have managed to remain bystanders in Trump's…

MarcThiessen
180 stories in Op Ed. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 18
        Next Page»   Last Page»