for the most part, i like the wyoming legislature and i think they're a decent group of people who do a pretty good job with the bills that come before them each february.
however, they've passed one this year that really rubs me the wrong way. it's on its way to the governor's desk, and he's already said he'll sign it.
here's an article reviewing the subject:
Governor poised to sign ban on texting while driving into law
by Mary Angell, Cowboy State Free Press Reporter
CHEYENNE–A bill making it illegal to text while driving has passed the Wyoming Legislature and is on its way to the governor’s desk.
SF 20, text-based communications prohibited while driving, passed the House yesterday following spirited debate. The final vote was 32 votes in favor, 26 against and two excused.
The measure makes reading or writing texts while driving a “primary offense,” one for which police can stop a driver, with a possible fine of up to $75.
Gov. Dave Freudenthal indicated Wednesday afternoon that he would sign the bill into law.
“I don’t think we have a Constitutional right to text and drive,” he said, adding he’s fine with passing the law for the sake of insuring the safety of Wyoming drivers.
Before the House passed SF 20, numerous members argued it is a bad bill.
“This bill, I believe, is really fraught with all kinds of loopholes, pitfalls and unintended consequences,” said Rep. Lorraine Quarberg, R- S Big Horn/Hot Springs/S.E. Park Counties.
The legislation specifies that texting is not prohibited if the car is lawfully parked, if a person is trying to contact an emergency response vehicle or is driving an emergency vehicle.
Rep. Quarberg said the measure contains exceptions that are unclear and nonsensical. She also questioned its enforcement.
“I don’t know how law enforcement is going to come close to enforcing this,” she said. “If (a police officer) does stop you, does he have the authority to take your cell phone away from you?”
“This bill is not one of our best pieces of legislation,” said Rep. David Miller, R-Fremont County. “People can already be cited for reckless driving. This begs further questions.”
“This legislation is not going to make one whit of difference in the safety of our roads,” said Rep.Tom Lubnau, R-Campbell County, who also questioned the role of government in regulating citizens‘ personal safety.
“At what point do we as a state assume individual responsibility for people who want to drive a vehicle?” he said. “Is it our responsibility to legislate safety, or the responsibility of the citizen to drive safely?”
Proponents of SF 20 argued fervently that it will save lives.
“Texting causes accidents,” said Rep. Mary Throne, D-Laramie. “People get killed. Do we want people to die for some philosophical reason over a $75 ticket? This is not some gross governmental intrusion in our lives. It’s about safety.”
Several supporters of the bill said they knew people who had been involved in accidents caused by texting while driving.
Rep. Del McOmie, R-Fremont County, said he’s heard law enforcement officers say increasingly more accidents are caused by drivers distracted by cell phones.
“Is it our right to (text while driving)?” he asked fellow legislators. “What is my right to drive down the highway and not have someone coming at me who’s distracted while texting?”
“I’ve worked on things that were interfering with the rights of people but this one . . . if we save lives, it is the right thing to do,” said Rep. Pat Childers, R-Park County.
A second reading amendment to the bill , which House members debated but did not pass, would have made texting a secondary offense — one for which a driver cannot be stopped. Much like the state seat belt law, texting drivers stopped for another offense such as speeding or failing to signal could have also been cited for violating the texting law.
so, first of all, i agree with the guy who said the ban wouldn't make 'one whit of difference' on the safety of wyoming's roads. for one thing, i've seen way more people swerving and coming into other lanes and being distracted by small children in the back seat than by texting on their cell phones. is the legislature next going to ban having children in cars? what about eating and driving? what about opening the screw-top on a pop bottle? i agree that texting while in traffic is a bad idea, and i'd hope people would have enough common sense to know when they need to pay attention, whether they're texting or messing with their kids or eating or picking their nose.
you can't legislate common sense.
also, i know that people have been in accidents because of texting, but as far as i can recall they're mostly teenagers. instead of putting a ban on any text communication, perhaps the state should focus on better education of responsibility for young drivers who can't multitask while they're driving.
so maybe the ban could have been by age, or within city limits. because i tell you what, you can practically read a book before the roads curve here in wyoming, and i think texting while you're driving down the highways cross country is perfectly fine.
and, if a cop pulls a person over to ticket them for texting, what's going to stop a person from shutting down their phone and throwing it in the center console and playing dumb about even having a cell phone in their vehicle when the officer walks up to the window?
and will cops be able to take your phone and go through your messages to see if you've texted in the last few minutes? what's going to stop people from setting their phones to immediately delete message on receipt? and personally, that infringement on privacy is a little much.
and who waves their phone around enough for cops to see when they're texting, anyway? and how does a cop know if you're texting or dialing your phone? they didn't ban dialing, but, to me, it's all the same thing. looking at your phone and punching keys.
anyway. what do you all think?