Monday, November 19, 2007

Legislate this

Members of the state Senate seem to have a lot of time on their hands these days. With the booming upstate economy and the state Legislature running like a fine-oiled machine, what is left for a bored senator to do other than pick up a pen and draft a new piece of worthless legislation onto the already cumbersome annals of New York’s laws?

This at least must have been the thought process going through the unconscionably thick skull of Neil Breslin when he decided to tackle the new frontier of vehicle traffic code. The Democratic state senator from Albany proposed a ban on texting while driving during the last legislative session and now has the bi-partisan support of Republican Sen. James Alesi of Rochester. Any driver busted for DWT could face up to $100 penalty, according to Breslin’s law.

Even though the sum total intelligence quotient of these two legislators might not eclipse the dollar amount of the fine, the legislation is likely to hit the floor for discussion and appears to have some support in the other house. This is despite the fact that there exist sparsely few methods for proving beyond a reasonable doubt that someone is texting while driving.

Now, it should be noted that attempting to send such a digital missive while hauling ass down the Northway is generally regarded as an unsafe practice. Most drivers with half a brain realize the difficulty in forming cohesive text and fumbling with buttons smaller than the standard human digit while trying to control a metric ton of metal, glass and rubber down New York’s asphalt jungles.

Yet still, there are some cases where this difficulty simply doesn’t register. Take for instance the horrific wreck in June, when a gaggle of high school cheerleaders perished after their Chevy Trailblazer crossed into the path of a hurtling tractor-trailer truck in the rural town of East Bloomfield. Police investigators later determined the teenage driver sent and received a spate of text messages as she sped toward a rendezvous in the Finger Lakes region.

Though tragic, this accident was more a result of the laws of social Darwinism and not the product of a lacking vehicle traffic code. Simply put, it’s not too bright to be taking one’s eyes off the road for any reason, much less to send a semi-legible message like “gtg…ttyl” to someone’s cell phone at a whim. As cruel as it may sound, life sometimes has a way of selectively removing such bizarre behavior from the gene pool.

But Breslin and Alesi don’t have time for nature to take its course, nor do they have faith in society itself to curb such practices. These senators wrongly believe a new state law might convince a giddy teenager it’s not a good idea to use the communication medium while swerving wildly through traffic. Mom, dad and Mr. Rinko would probably have more luck teaching junior to keep his eyes on the road than he state’s doltish legislators would through their ill-conceived legislation.

Chances are pretty good such a law would have a similar effect as the farcical cell phone law put in place six years ago. In fact, there are some who prefer texting because it can be done in the hidden confines of their laps and not out in the open, where some bored traffic cop might make a stink about it. These cases get heaped on top of the hundreds of thousands of minor infractions that chock local courts each week. Another law governing DWT would surely serve to further tax an already burdened court system.

Meanwhile, there’s gang warfare on the streets of Albany and Rochester just made this list as one of the most dangerous cities in the United States. The economy in both cities closely mirrors the economy of the upstate region, which many fault as a leading contributor to the failing economy of the state overall. Surely, Breslin and Alesi would love to hear how voters would prefer to solve the driving while texting dilemma instead of addressing the crippled state of upstate’s city centers.

There are some serious problems out there folks, but not the ones legislators of Breslin’s and Alesi’s ilk will try to tackle; these things take way too much time. Instead, they’ll draft their futile quick-hit legislation, put an added weight on the state’s gridlocked court system and then chortle about it over a snifter of expensive brandy. Welcome to the Land of the Legislature, where solving New York’s problems are just one pen stroke away. Please leave your last tattered sense of reason on the doorstep outside. You won’t be needing such things here.

10 Comments:

Blogger shotinthedark said...

I only hope that these fuck'n assholes never fiqure out how pass laws to stop us from passing gas.

10:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That last blog entry left me extra sleepy. Here is a text message for you: B.O.R.I.N.G

5:33 PM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

Hey, they can't all be homeruns. Even the Bambino hit a single now and again.

9:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boring?

Did you say, "Darwinism"? Texting in traffic and Darwinism is not as innocent as blow-drying one's hair in the tub or climbing a snowy tree with a loaded deer rifle, because the result of this indesretion, takes out the other driver and its occupants, who may have planned on a long safe life on this intelligent planet. Did I say Intelligent? Intelligent design on the other hand suggests that God is in all the details like those childhood diseases, the arthritic knee joints and those dangling appendages – and that flawed human gene of self-destructive tendencies that cause the risk taker to text message while driving down the road, listening to music and sharing such fun with friends. Like an accident waiting to happen – God intelligently had fated that moment – if you can believe that.

Although, texting in traffic, cell phone use while driving, a rolling stop at a light, right on red while driving in the parking lane and other illegally unenforced restrictions in our City are a product of legislation that is in the books, it’s universally ignored. The legislation is in the books as is the cost of enforcement, but the results at best is marginal. In a system that points to legislation, or select legislation, or watered down local legislation, the problems often go unabated.

Think for a minute, that in LA there are over 85,000 gang members and the that after four decades of money invested to train law enforcement, track and catalog the gangs and predict the direction of their illegal trafficking, the one amazing point of progress came from an independent Jesuit minister who managed to create an opportunity to employ over 15,000 former members into socially acceptable work. It’s a great story of trying to find a solution where others are relegated to do all they are legislated to do. In case your interested, http://wordforword.publicradio.org/

So, while Breslin and Alesi trust that the legislative pen will address and solve this public problem made ever more apparent by the tragic loss of young life, the ball is in the public safety court to enforce just another bothersome infraction and play the heavy. God, another thing to enforce. We’ll need more staff – and a larger new station, like Schenectady.

4:34 AM  
Blogger shotinthedark said...

Anonymous said...

That last blog entry left me extra sleepy. Here is a text message for you: B.O.R.I.N.G

The only thing boring is your childish comment.

You obviously don't care about sleazy politicians who will say and do anything to promote themselves.

You obviously don't care about the priorities the government has made for you.

You obviously don’t care about waste and inefficiencies.

You obviously don't care about meaningless unenforceable laws being passed that have a habit of doing more harm than good.

You obviously don't care that many Americans, both those that vote and those that don’t, are so stupid that they naively agree with these assine laws.

You obviously don't care.

3:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hell yes- no laws! If those texting cheerleaders would have hit you instead of a semi then you'd just get what you want, right? The totally un-enforced headset laws? Hell, just let those people hit other innocent people, the free market will take care of everything- we'll only have crazy assed road warrior drivers. No need for the safety of other. Maybe if we were all armed we could just shoot people that are about to hit our cars and possible cause us harm.

Idiot.

4:41 PM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

"Maybe if we were all armed we could just shoot people that are about to hit our cars and possible cause us harm."

Actually, I’ve always been a proponent of hood-mounted howitzers. That way, when I’m ridding behind a Mensa student like yourself doing 50 mph in the speed lane of the Northway, I would have other more lethal means to give you the proverbial finger.

Look, maybe you’re of the misguided belief that laws save lives. Well, here’s a newsflash: they don’t. Common sense saves lives. And that’s something you might be able to teach, but can never legislate. Yet mental midgets like you seem to think the more pages there are to the state penal code, the better off society will be. One more law, means one more cop to enforce it, one more judge to hear cases from it, and one more lawyer to argue it.

Then you and might even vote for the aforementioned legislators for pitching such hollow legislation, which police have SAID is unenforceable. You might clap your hands at the next Breslin or Alesi rally, as they pat themselves on the back for "making the world a safer place" with their deeply flawed legislation.

My friend, you are large quotient of what is wrong with this country today. Do yourself a favor and start texting a lot while you drive. I’ll keep my eyes open for you.

5:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE shotinthedark:

Simmer down Beavis. Next time, decaf.

6:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon441: Extremists (on either end) are not going to work here. Our system of government (while not perfect), does require once every while, a cleaning, an adjustment and maybe a few new parts. Like a mechanical watch, its ticking is more responsive to an alert and involved public than one that assumes an indifference to the digitally accurate model. And as we’ve learned from cameras in the Park and Die-Hard, technology has its drawbacks.

It’s not the laws Pilgrim; it’s their ability to be effective. Any citizen of Mayberry can make a citizen’s arrest on Broadway at any time of the day, whether or not its jaywalking, illegal U-turns, illegal truck transports, cell-phone use while driving, etc. etc. but more than likely, that individual would find themselves the laughing stock at the Police Station one-half block away. The laws are already in the books. You say new law and someone says, “Freeze … Hold it right there, we’ll need more staff!”

No, we don’t need guns in the hands of each citizen. If people knew how to react to situations, they would have the confidence they would need so as not to blow off their foot or their neighbor’s head off by accident. When this generation’s boogey man comes, it won’t be a standing army. It will be subtle, like no cable TV, to drive everyone into submission.

Although not related, could you stand the picture in the newspaper yesterday, of some of our Firemen unselfishly serving their City by having to eat their turkey and pie at the station? Can we pass a law that prohibits such absurd nonsense reporting? There were millions of other people working their jobs on Thanksgiving. I’d rather have seen our Firemen running in the annual Turkey Trot with their community than portrayed as ‘sitting around by themselves – away from home”.

6:32 AM  
Blogger shotinthedark said...

"Do yourself a favor and start texting a lot while you drive."

Please not even in jest. More than likely if he takes your advice, ( don’t feel bad he's probably already doing it anyways) he won't just hit a bridge abutment and kill only himself; instead he will hit another vehicle and probably take some unlucky innocent bastard with him.

7:00 PM  

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