Bad idea: texting and driving. Good idea: making it illegal.

Some new laws go into effect this summer. One of the most overdue is the texting-while-driving law that reads: “Don’t text while driving.”

No one really needs to text while driving, though there are plenty of reasons why people text. After all, most texts start out “OMG!”

Truly, though, we are not meant to divert so much attention away from our driving skills since said driving skills are not too impressive to start with. We suck at common-sense driving so how could texting be anything but bad? As much as we try, we don’t multitask so well.

I’m the worst. Successful multitasking for me is being able to occasionally go number one in the shower. (Don’t act like you’ve never done that, then thought to yourself: “Wow, I just saved up to 25 seconds of my life!”)

As public information officer for Sandy Springs police, I regularly send press releases on breaking news. Some are short, others are not. But I don’t always have time to return to the office so I send them out on the Blackberry.

When the PIO sends a press release, the various media outlets’ assignment desks will often get it online or put it on TV in a short time. I tried sending one while driving but it didn’t work out. Making things worse, I’m farsighted. What I thought I was texting and what they got were to different things. Several media online news sources later reported: “Two men were arrested this afternoon ubah they were found to have petowah and zitbard camous flamasee, according to Lt. Rose.”

We don’t even need to be talking on the phone, much less texting when driving. You might remember how I commented on how horribly bad we are at four-way stops? Add the phone and you wonder how we made it this far up the food chain.

We’re hardly setting a good example for young drivers

In the evenings, millions of Americans leave the office, walk to the car and, before they can leave the parking lot, the cell phone is up to the ear and the brain is NOT focused on the left turn in rush-hour traffic that’s coming up.

Kids obsess in texting critical information like bad fashion and who broke up with whom. To their credit, they just don’t have the life experience to say, “Maybe this isn’t a good idea.” We aren’t exactly setting a good example for them.

We spend so much time in the car that it easily becomes boring. Drive-time radio generally sucks, CD’s and iPods get old after a while. And sooner or later you get tired of playing the same drum solo on the steering wheel. So why not communicate with the world via the Internet, like on Facebook — or check out breaking news about the 10-car pileup blamed on a texting driver — while you’re driving?

I’m lucky. On long drives I take along the radar gun and occasionally pop it up over the dash, squeeze off a nice round of radar and watch all the radar-detector people freak out. (Okay, not really — well, not lately.)

I can also entertain myself by listening to the police radio, but drive-time PD radio gets old, too: “Accident on 285. Accident on 400. Residual backup accident on 285 caused by multiple radar detectors activating.” Same old stuff.

It’s funny how we don’t really relate to something until it happens to us. Wrecks, crime, irritable bowel syndrome and adjusted tax assessments are just some examples of how things don’t matter too much to us until it’s our turn.

Put those phones down, folks, and get back to old-fashioned, in-car entertainment like talking to yourself or belting out the lead to “Bohemian Rhapsody” or just going total retro and picking your nose. (Yep, those windows aren’t that tinted, for your information.)

Remember, we weren’t made to drive, talk and text at the same time. Leave the multitasking in the shower!

- John Watson writes about Popular Eats for the AJC Dining Team. He also publishes his own blog, Live To Feast.

38 comments Add your comment

Sandy Springs

June 21st, 2010
7:22 pm

People can’t talk on the phone in Sandy Springs much less then Text. I cannot tell you how many times I have about been run off the road by someone in their Mercedes or BMW thats jabbering away on their phone and not watching the road. And if you do something to them its a capital sin, why I like the quick jab on the breaks to get their attention and away from their cell phone. Funny seeing a 80K to 100K car stop quick to realize how much their car costs getting repaired, because they can’t watch the road and stay off their phone.

Woodstock

June 21st, 2010
7:48 pm

OK, Steve. I had a problem with the enforceability of the law, but I guess overall it will help matters.

a.m. commuter

June 21st, 2010
7:57 pm

I sit on 141 in the a.m. every morning and can see the breaks in the long lines of traffic ahead, and know that the idiot holding us up is using the cell, either talking or texting, either way, distracted. Ban the use of cell phones altogether while driving.

Mama Says

June 21st, 2010
8:01 pm

Steve,

I understand the goal of the law but you and I both know that the police have a hard time enforcing this one. The policy statement by APD proves it. They are basically saying that if they see you driving in an erratic manner they will investigate the possibility that you were texting.

Fist of all—good luck getting my phone out of my hand in order to conduct your investigation. You will have an added charge of obstruction because police cannot and will not arbitrarily pull me over to look in my phone and read my messages. This sets up so many departments for lawsuits it’s unreal.

You have been policing long enough to know that there are many other valid violations which are meant to control distracted drivers. You have also been in the business long enough to know when a law is passed for political reasons also.

Police are suppose to protect our rights not jump on the legislative band wagon so the department heads can look good.

The rules of search and seizure still apply and you still need a search warrant to open my phone and look in it absent my consent, so I hope all you guys support this law as cops are pulled off the street to get search warrants as call hold. That or you can set aside millions of dollars to pay for the 4th amendment violations you know will be coming.

I can see it now. Rookie cop—mam I believe you were texting while you were driving I need your phone. No sir I was dialing a number. Well mam I am taking your phone or you are going to jail. Cop takes phone, opens it and reads last 2-3 messages——boom violation of the constitutional right to be secure from warrant less searches and a false arrest/imprisonment under the color of law . Have enough money in Sandy Springs to pay all the suits off ?

Tell it like it is man !

James

June 22nd, 2010
12:10 am

Thanks for the input, Steve. Very helpful to hear a cop’s perspective.
Also, nice line about #1 in the shower. I was ridiculed for making that very same argument earlier this week.

Gina

June 22nd, 2010
9:10 am

I have to support this one I drive on 400 every day morning and evening and a few months ago I sort of witnessed this issue. I was trudging along on 400 heading south in that lovely 0-10 mph traffic that everyone loves and a guy in a Ford truck came very close to rear ending the car in front of him a few times and he swerved into my lane one time and the only place I could have gone was into the concrete wall luckily he corrected before it was to late. I glanced over at one point and he had his cell phone in front of him and he was looking very angry. I had an oportunity to get over and when I glanced in the mirror and saw that same truck I decided to stay where I was. A few minutes later traffic stopped (more than it already had been) when I got up to the problem it was that same truck and he had slammed into the back of a silver car that no longer had a trunk thanks to truck guy not paying attention. I thought he was angry looking when I passed him before. I am glad I did’t get in front of him when the opportunity was there even though my truck could of handled it better that that poor car.

Lt. Steve thank you for your insite I love reading your post.

I personally like when a police car goes by and the other cars notice it and start going under the speed limit (and the police car in question is not even in its district) saw that yesterday evening on the way home on 400 in Roswell and a Sandy Springs PD car was heading in the same direction probably going home for the day. So funny.

Sandy Springs Guy

June 22nd, 2010
9:27 am

I like to pull alongside texters, hit the horn and have an “of crap” look on my face – scares the hell out of them! I hate texters most when they make everyone behind them miss a green turn arrow because they are not paying attention.

Mama's Right

June 22nd, 2010
9:37 am

Stacerella

June 22nd, 2010
9:38 am

I trust my husband behind the wheel completely, but I have to say, after riding shotgun for nine years, today’s drive to work produced a first. He was distracted by whether he was going to smoosh a squirrel or not under one of our wheels that he didn’t see the red light until he had half of the space needed to brake. Luckily there weren’t any other cars around us and he was able to stop right before the white line and I’m not the sort to panic, otherwise this could have been a messy situation all around. I do remember thinking right before he looked up, “He doesn’t see the red light, does he?” Heh.

Stacerella

June 22nd, 2010
9:39 am

Oh, and saving yourself 25 second by pee’ing in your tub will cost you more than 5 minutes in scrubbing time before the next person is allowed to use the shower (hopefully – if hygiene means anything to anyone is your house, that is!).

JC

June 22nd, 2010
10:00 am

Stacerella -

Why? urine is sterile. I pee in the shower every morning.

Stacerella

June 22nd, 2010
10:18 am

It’s not sterile. It’s the waste from your kidneys. And it can carry all kinds of icky things – things others don’t want on their feet. Ever wonder where foot fungus comes from?

MUSTANG100

June 22nd, 2010
11:45 am

25 seconds? KUDOS to your plumbing!

MUSTANG100

June 22nd, 2010
11:50 am

Oh, Stacerella, urine will cure athelete’s foot, and I mean kill it dead. It was the most recommended treatment for the WW2 German Army in winter time. It also makes new stiff leather boots soft as butter, but they will smell like an outhouse.

Cop Supporter

June 22nd, 2010
2:35 pm

I love reading to comments almost as much as reading the post. Keep em coming

Hmmmmmmm

June 22nd, 2010
3:09 pm

Another LAME law…. Good Grief people, when are we going to get it……. Tex ting and driving is WRONG, but we DON’T need another law making it illegal. How ABSURD! It’s just as ABSURD as the seat belt law. Just another way for your personal rights to be taken away…. Another way the county or state can add to the revenue… Period..

Hmmmmmmm

June 22nd, 2010
3:12 pm

For that matter, Police are the worst about multitasking while driving. They have cell phones, computers, and a whole host of other things that they are attempting to do while driving… I have seen this first hand, a policeman making erratic and poor judgment on the road while driving! But hey, who’s is going to pull them over…… This is all so ABSURD!

Noneya

June 22nd, 2010
4:20 pm

OMG!!! LOL!!! :)

Noneya

June 22nd, 2010
4:24 pm

I think Lt. Rose just created a new texting acronym – IJPIS – I just pissed in the shower!!

Stacerella

June 22nd, 2010
5:00 pm

Mustang: EWWW. Seriously, I’m obsessed with cleaning my bathroom the second company leaves if they are the kind that leave the toilet seat up, so you can imagine who freaked out I am at the thought of someone’s urine circling around my clean tub/shower stall. Blech.

Wazzup

June 22nd, 2010
5:35 pm

LT Steve- YOU’RE the reason my radar dectector keeps going off!

Eric

June 23rd, 2010
7:34 am

Thanks for this article! I think technology has expanded to far into our lives with texting. Not every technology is a good thing, and if it causes car accidents, then this is not progress.

BeeGee

June 23rd, 2010
1:07 pm

Mama’s Right – you’re an idiot; it’s so obvious when a person is driving and texting. You are just like everyone else who does it, you think you are different. Unfortunately, you will probably hurt or kill someone before you learn the lesson.

Stacerella, you’re just nuerotic.

Love child

June 23rd, 2010
1:51 pm

I’d probably let you get away with IJPITS, as long as you put the toilet seat down, and closed the lid when flushing.

saewwqrrg

June 23rd, 2010
6:49 pm

Enter your comments here

Why do we need another law?

June 24th, 2010
9:41 am

Don’t we have laws that cover this already? Isn’t reckless driving a crime? How about failure to maintain control?
I’m so tired of all the “new” laws being made that are completely unnecessary and only benefit politicians who want to look tough on crime and police who just want another revenue producing statute. Can ANYONE give me an instance where the statutes I mentioned above would be inappropriate in regards to someone driving and/or causing a wreck while being inattentive? The only case I can see this law being used instead of the others is as an excuse to pull someone over if an officer sees them checking their phone at a stoplight – and then, they wouldn’t be DRIVING inattentively, would they? This is a bad law that can only result in abuse of citizens rights! Stick with the ones on the books already.

1911A1

June 24th, 2010
12:05 pm

I don’t understand the doubts about enforceability. Cellphone providers maintain timestamped records of each and every text message sent and received. (How do you think they bill for them?) Not too much of a leap to prove culpability. If a texting driver were to kill a loved one of mine, you’d better believe they would be living in a cardboard box by the time I got finished with them in court.

Retired Alive

June 24th, 2010
2:18 pm

The Truth . . . What’s your problem? I believe that you have probably contributed heavily to the economy by paying several fines for diving infractions? Keep those dollars coming: these counties and municipalities will cheerfully accept your generous donations!

Way Prettier Than You are

June 24th, 2010
3:30 pm

I have known many Cops through the years and ONE THING IS FOR SURE they are VERY GOOD AT MULTI-TASKING……. hmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Tony

June 24th, 2010
7:36 pm

A cash register in my car? What a great idea. If I ever needed change for anything it’s right there.

You Asked

June 25th, 2010
2:34 pm

I’ve seen more swerving cars in the last three years than I did in the 30 perevious years. The only difference is that in the previous 30 you could usually spot someone falling asleep or tipsy in the drivers seat. Now its any Tom, Dick, or Harriet with a cell phone.

Someone help me here- aren’t there laws on the books about driving distracted that can be used in cases of phones or other electronic toys being abused?

Lt. Steve

June 25th, 2010
10:22 pm

I don’t pee in the shower all the time……..just occasionally…..and unless I’m doing the Flomax, only a couple of seconds at a time…twenty-five times over. Well, we’ve covered this pretty well. Moving on…

Lt. Steve

June 25th, 2010
10:29 pm

I’m in Waynesville, Missouri. (More on that later.) Det. Sandy and I just saw “Grown Ups.” Funny, funny, funny. Go see it.

Vexorg

June 27th, 2010
7:20 am

Funny, those guys and gals in “Traffic Enforcement” units (aka Revenue Enhancement) seem do to quite well multitasking when on the job. Running a laser/radar gun, running tags on the KDT/MDT, listening to and speaking on the radio, making calls on their own cellphones and still managing to DRIVE a patrol car.

Believe it or not…some people CAN multitask; watch your dispatchers in the radio room….

Zack

June 28th, 2010
12:20 pm

Lt, kinda disappointed to hear you take a radar gun with you on long trips. “Well-not lately” as you said? So does that mean that you do or you don’t? If you do wouldn’t that be misappropriation of government property? Is there anything other government owned equipment you like to use for fun. Perhaps you want to take a marked patrol unit to the grocery store and park in the fire lane. And your a LT. ouch..

Booyah

June 28th, 2010
12:40 pm

How do you have time for the radar gun game when you’re deleting comments like a coward?

hannah

June 28th, 2010
2:28 pm

All I learned from these comments was from Mustang100. German soldiers peed on their feet to prevent fungus, and ended up losing WWII.

Point taken; I’ll never pee in the shower again.

Editor

June 28th, 2010
2:50 pm

@Booyah:
Lt. Rose didn’t delete your name-calling comment. I did.
Speaking of transparency, try sticking with one user name.