Call it a rule of thumb?

September 27, 2008

green-eggs-cover.gifWith sincere apologies to Dr. Seuss:

 I would not like them here or there.
I would not like them anywhere
I do not like green  eggs and ham.
I do not like them, Sam-I-am.

Do you like to text and drive?
Would you like to stay alive?

Driving while you write with thumb?
Holy crap! You’re really dumb!


In yet another sign of the approaching Apocalypse, California has become the latest state to find that its drivers actually need to be TOLD they aren’t allowed to text message while driving.

Unfortunately, this version of the law seems to have been watered down from the one I’ve proposed, where text messaging within six inches of a steering wheel would automatically trigger a rusty buzz saw which instantly decapitates the driver and rockets his flaming head through the sun roof.

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text-biker-200.jpgA naked cyclist sends a text message in Hyde Park before setting off on the World Naked Bike Ride in London June 9, 2007.  REUTERS/James Boardman

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If I had the body of the pictured cyclist, I wouldn’t parade it around. I’d hide it under a tarp!

Posted by Dr. Doll | Report as abusive

Yeah, but then you wouldn’t have your photo in a wide-read blog…

Posted by Robert Basler | Report as abusive

Living in Southern California, I’ve been hearing quite a bit about this new law, and my response has been much the same as yours (i.e., “people have to be TOLD not to do that?”)

But your Seuss parody much more brilliantly makes that point than anything I’ve thought of yet. I’ll have to share this!

Posted by Mark Baker-Wright | Report as abusive

Has anybody else wondered just where he keeps his phone, while riding? Ouch…

Posted by MIck | Report as abusive

he must keep his phone under his hat.

Posted by Jim Barber | Report as abusive

I guess all the people who’ve written this so far are old fogies who can’t multi-task. Those of us who are younger have an entirely different pattern-language when it comes to information processing that oldsters just can’t grep. We’ve also been training on video games to have faster reactions (yes, studies have shown that video gamers actually have faster reactions and better hand-eye coordination than non-gamers). If you want a law, let’s have one that tests hand-eye coordination and penalizes the handicapped (i.e., non-gamers) that can’t hack it. It’s ridiculous that you’d try to cripple the rest of us with your stupid restrictions. Rusty buzz saw indeed. More like Logan’s Run.

Posted by ejbman | Report as abusive

I’ve proposed, where text messaging within six inches of a steering wheel would automatically trigger a rusty buzz saw which instantly decapitates the driver and rockets his flaming head through the sun roof.

my asker would be to that: Me first me me me oh god me first

Posted by Chief ADFP | Report as abusive

Never underestimate the stupidity of the average human.

Posted by David B. | Report as abusive

hes not naked, he has a hat!

i’m a bit guilty, i text at the long stoplights, and in the drive through line.

Posted by drew | Report as abusive

…or in a pouch on the …handlebars.

Posted by Jacobusmaximus | Report as abusive

or he puts it between his butt cheeks and clenches it good and tight? lol

Posted by sean | Report as abusive

I don’t understand the logic of your complaint? Prohibition of murder is “on the books” as are a myriad of other obvious rules.

People aren’t being told not to text message while driving so much as police, prosecutors, courts, and insurance companies are being told it is appropriate to punish those who do text, and how much to punish them.

Posted by Jonny | Report as abusive

I don’t have to look at my phone while texting, I can do it entirely by knowing which words my phone prefers to make in what order and the tactile sensation.

Posted by Seth Carroll | Report as abusive

They’re trying to pass that law in Indiana with the inclusion of no talking without hands free devices. I don’t think passing the law or not is such a big deal, but I liked the photo of the almost nekkid cyclist. lol and I think he has a backpack/crate on the front of his bicycle.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

Where exactly is that green flag planted?

Posted by Charlene | Report as abusive

This is for ejbman and those who think that texting while driving is not affecting their reaction times or driving skills:

“Researchers, who released the study this month, watched drivers between the ages of 17 and 24 on a driving simulator and discovered that:

The reaction times of texting drivers deteriorated by over one-third (35 per cent).
This was worse than alcohol at the legal limit, which slowed reaction times by 12 per cent.
Even drivers under the influence of cannabis fared better than texting drivers, with reaction times that were 21 per cent slower than sober drivers.
Drivers drifted out of their lane more often if they were texting. Steering control was 91 per cent worse, compared to 35 per cent worse when under the influence of cannabis.”.

source: ory/CTVNews/20080924/tex_messages_080924  /20080924?hub=CTVNewsAt11

Only an arrogant and ignorant person could possibly think that doing ANYTHING else while driving is safe. This has nothing to do with multitasking or age. You might as well just say you have no regard for the safety of yourself or others.

Is this why some species eat their young?

Posted by buck wild | Report as abusive

Video gamers have been training to improve hand/eye coordination – ah, well that makes all the difference! Tell me this; what happens when you blow it in a video game? Nothing. If you crash your car into someone else’s or an immobile object like a bridge abutment what happens? Ever heard of a little thing called massive internal injury? That isn’t a damn video game, and it won’t be a game if you or someone else ends up dead or in a wheelchair because you just had to ROTFL. You really need to get a grip on reality, GREP?

Posted by buck wild | Report as abusive

The ability to multi-task — to perform more than one task simultaneously and to simultaneously perform each task just as well as the person would have performed that task in isolation — is extremely rare.

American President Garfield, for example, was ambidextrous and could compose in both Latin and Greek at the same time, writing in Greek with one hand and in Latin with the other.

Very few people actually perform both tasks as well as they would have performed them in isolation. While many people think they can multi-task, they cannot. It is not a question of hand-eye coordination, but a question of being able to concentrate on two tasks at the same time. (Thus, hands-free phones should be restricted, too.) And being able to multi-task in some activities does not mean one can multi-task in all activities.

A law restricting drivers from texting while driving is entirely within a state’s police powers. Driving is a potentially very danagerous activity; maintaining a driver’s attention is a legitimate state interest.

If you don’t like the law, move. Unlike texting, moving from state to state is your constitutional right.

Posted by Dr. Doll | Report as abusive

And speaking of danger, it turned out Garfield was unable to deflect speeding bullets with either hand.

Posted by Robert Basler | Report as abusive

Good point. No doubt, if Garfield hasd played video games as a youth, he would have been able to deflect that bullet!

I wonder if ejbman would be okay with his surgeon performing open-heart surgery on him and texting at the same time. But then, his surgeon probably didn’t play a lot of video games as a kid. He was hitting the books.

Posted by Dr. Doll | Report as abusive

It might be fun to set up a remote stretch of mountainous road someplace where gamers ARE required to text and drive at the same time, but only if they’re going over 90 mph and there’s a snowstorm. My blog would get behind that.

Posted by Robert Basler | Report as abusive

I would add one caveat: Any medical personnel who treat the gamers afterwards must have played 21,000 hours of video games prior to reaching age 21.

Posted by Dr. Doll | Report as abusive

ejbman- Logan’s Run?! LOGAN’S RUN?! And you’re calling other people ‘oldsters’?

Posted by Bandage | Report as abusive

The comments above that defend texting-while-driving would only go to show why the law has apparently become necessary. People tell themselves “I can handle it.”

Whether we’re talking about texting, drinking, or driving while half-asleep, *everyone* thinks they can handle it until they actually get in an accident.

That’s why studies had to be done for something that seemed obvious to so many of the rest of us. They go a long way to demonstrating that people *can’t* handle doing such tasks while driving without impairment. Thus, people who think they can handle texting-while-driving need to be told to “stop” by passing a law.

Of course, it *won’t* stop all such behavior, no more than laws against drunken driving stop *that*. But at least now police will have the power to pull such people off the streets if and when they’re caught.

Posted by Mark Baker-Wright | Report as abusive

I’m not sure how effective the recent California law will be in removing texters from the road. In practical terms, how will an officer know that a person is texting? Of course, if the officer has probable cause to pull the driver over (for weaving, etc.), s/he may see the device, and phone records could prove use of the device while driving.

And, does the law allow an officer to stop a vehicle if the only offense is texting while driving? If the law has any teeth, it does.

If California is like most other states, what the law will do is make it easier for victims of accidents at the hands of texters to sue for civil damages. In most states, violation of a law can be negligence per se, which means the victim need not prove all the elements of negligence so as to establish liability.

Telephone records will be vital evidence in such cases.

One wonders what changes automobile insurers will make in their policies based upon these new laws.

Posted by Dr. Doll | Report as abusive

Regarding your comment on changes from insurers, I would hope they will lobby the auto industry for that rusty buzz saw device I mentioned in my blog post.

Posted by Robert Basler | Report as abusive

Now that I think of it, I wonder what warnings the manufacturer gives purchasers of these devices. Can’t you just see some texter’s estate suing the manufacturer because the manufacturer did not warn people not to text while driving?

Before you jump to any conclusion, let me tell you about my favorite manufacturer’s warning. On a shade device designed to be put in a car’s windshield to keep out the sun, one device had the following warning: “WARNING! Do NOT drive vehicle with Autoshade in windshield!”

Posted by Dr. Doll | Report as abusive

Just remember, fifty percent of people are of below-average intelligence.

Posted by Jon_B | Report as abusive

The fact that people need to be TOLD not to text, means that people REALLY shouldn’t be driving.

Posted by Sumomo | Report as abusive

Talking about stupid warnings, there was one that appeared on a certain Japanese manufacturer’s models that warned the driver that ‘objects that appear in the mirror are actually behind you’. Who is that for? How did they pass their driving test? How can they, except by running for public office, afford such cars when their lack of intelligence would surely bar them from most jobs?

Posted by Lloyd J | Report as abusive