Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Minnesota Driving While Texting (Explained)

One of the most disturbing things about being a Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney is seeing people charged with crimes when all they've really done is fail to use a turn signal, or speed - when there are other idiots out there driving like maniacs, distracted by other things that are equally or even more dangerous than Drunk Driving.

After Sunday's expose in the StarTribune (link to article) about the perils of driving while Texting, I got to thinking about what other "distracted driving" issue were out there.

What is Distracted Driving?

Would you believe that eating food while at the wheel of a vehicle could be more dangerous than drinking or texting while driving? According to a study by the University of Leeds called “Two Hands Better than One,” this is exactly what researchers found based on observation of test subjects operating driving simulators.

The UK researchers measured reaction time while drivers negotiated virtual vehicles, and as it turns out, eating increased response times by 44 percent. In contrast, texting increased reaction time by 37 percent, and drinking a non-alcoholic beverage from a can or bottle increased reaction time by 22 percent.

And what about the one driving no-no that that nearly everyone agrees is undesirable – drinking alcohol and operating a vehicle? Drivers asked to operate the simulator who were at the U.S. “legal limit” of .08 percent blood alcohol content increased reaction time by 12.5 percent…

Common sense dictates that drivers can compound their chances for an accident if they do not self-govern and recognize their limits. And as the study indicates, a distraction can come in several forms – even ones that have been considered benign…

Much more could be said about this subject which the U.S. Department of Transportation has been up in arms about in recent years, labeling distracted driving an “epidemic.”

Now, I get it that Drunk Driving is dangerous. I'm not advocating that people do that. But what are our options when it comes to these other areas of distracted driving?

At the end of the day, nothing will come of it. The reason? There are no special interest groups formed by empathetic groups to lobby Congress to change all the rules. Not until someone is killed by someone texting or someone eating will someone stand up for harsher penalties - and even that won't change things (that's my guess - too many "upstanding" people would become criminals, much like the criminalization of Drunk Driving has done).

In the State of Washington texting while driving is a $124 ticket, and it doesn't even count as a moving violation. Talking on a cell phone is the same way. Eating while driving isn't illegal at all. Yet all of these activities are more dangerous than driving with a blood alcohol level above .08.

If you have questions about ANY legal dilemma - call the Rolloff Law Office today at (612) 234-1165.


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  3. I think there should be a rule also for other distracting thing while a person driving as they are also very dangerous or may be a cause of an accident.