For all the focus on cracking down on distracted drivers, the country still doesn’t take the issue that seriously.
It’s not at all unusual to see light sentences for drivers who kill people because they were checking their messages on their smartphone when they mowed someone down.
So give the people of Morristown, N.J., some credit for at least acknowledging out loud — sort of — that a person’s car is their castle and they have a god-given right to do whatever they want therein.
NJ.com this week noted that the community is rebelling against proposed legislation that would fine drivers $200 to $400 on the first offense.
“Would [the bill] make changing the radio station or adjusting the volume illegal? What about talking to a passenger?” Steve Carrellas, policy and government affairs director for the National Motorists Association state chapter, asked.
If changing a radio station or talking to a passenger makes your operation of a car unsafe, why not?
“The relationship between people and their cars, it’s almost like a Second Amendment thing — it may not be enshrined in the Constitution, but people think it is,” said State Assemblyman John Wisniewski, the chairman of the Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee, and author of the legislation tells the New York Times. “But there’s not a consistent philosophy. We have a ‘live free or die’ mentality when it comes to things like driving distractions, but we’re O.K. with, ‘You can’t serve yourself at a gas station.’”
But New Jersey already bans cellphone use while driving and it apparently hasn’t reduced the amount of distracted driving, the Times says.
Now they’re reaching into the car and taking the Dunkin’ Donuts out of your hand and taking the lipstick out of your hand,” Jim Sillence, 44, of Morris Plains, said in the parking lot of a Morristown CVS one recent afternoon. “What are they going to do, outlaw drive-throughs?” (Mr. Sillence had chosen not to take advantage of the CVS’s drive-through pharmacy.)
Mr. Sillence, who acknowledged that neither grooming nor eating while driving was “the best idea,” was once rear-ended by someone who claimed to be looking at a GPS app at the time. Another time, he tried to change lanes after realizing that the driver ahead was texting, but all of the drivers around him appeared to be using their cellphones, too.
Still, to him, the ban stank of government overreaching. “I’m not smart enough to come up with the right answer,” he said, shrugging.
“The next thing, they’re going to be outlawing sneezing or coughing,” another opponent said. “Where does the line start?”
It starts at driving a car safely.
Related: Victim’s family seeks tougher texting laws (KARE)