Friday, May 23, 2008

How 'bout I just put a cop in my back seat? 

Another item on the list of Legislative acts that just fry my bacon:

A measure awaiting Gov. Tim Pawlenty's signature or veto would ban drivers from texting, reading or sending electronic messages while their cars are on the road.

Pawlenty must act on the transportation measure, which also creates new restrictions on teen drivers, by June 2. He has not said whether he will sign the bill or veto it.

Under the legislation, texting while driving would become a petty misdemeanor, much like other traffic violations.

"What we really want to do is send a message that it's unacceptable," said Rep. Frank Hornstein, a Minneapolis Democratic-Farmer-Laborite who sponsored the measure.

"I want to really get this issue much more on the radar because people may have the reaction that I had, which is, 'People do this while they drive?' "

There are any number of things that distract my driving; my hands are not always ten and two on the wheel. About one third of the distracted driving accidents that happen are due to stuff that is outside the car, like the billboard telling me to hang up my cell phone. There is already a law in the state on careless driving. When this issue was looked at in 2002, a MN House research report found that
�Driver talking on cell phone/CB� in the department�s annual compilation of crash statistics was cited in 2000 as a contributing factor in 110 damage-only crashes, 68 personal injury crashes, and two fatal crashes. These crashes represent only a tiny fraction of all such crashes in Minnesota that year�less than 0.4 percent of all crashes in each category. These percentages, while still quite low, have been slowly rising since the department began reporting this category of crash factors.
It is hard to believe, however, that they've risen to the point where the state has another right to pull drivers over.

I heard from someone in the last hour that Gov. Pawlenty said on his radio program this morning that he was signing this bill. That would be another disappointing loss of personal freedom signed by our "goalie". I'll update this post with a link to the story when it comes over the wire if so. (UPDATE: MPR confirms.)

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