Do you text while driving despite the MD ban that went into effect in October?

My suspicion is that people have hardly slowed their texting habits even though it’s illegal to text message while operating a vehicle in many states now, including Maryland. I asked the question on Facebook to see what responses I’d get from my peers.

What did people say?

Pet Peeve: If you’re a driver who can’t figure out what the fast lanes and the slow lanes are for, get to the right. Now.

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Drunk drivers cause less accidents than texting drivers

(A portion of the whole graphic)

Neal Rodriguez of the Huffington Post posted this graphic in his article on texting while driving Monday.

I think it speaks for itself.

Click here to see the whole graphic

I’m sorry. Which spot were you aiming for?

I have a goal: to seek out some of the worst parking/driving decisions and post the photos of such events on this blog to clarify improper driving/parking/vehicle use etiquette.

A sloppy and lazy parking job.

I’m sorry. Which spot were you aiming for? And when you got out of the car and noticed the white line was four (or more) feet from the side of your car, did you think, “Gee. Perfect parking job. I’ll bet that someone can definitely park in the spot on the other side of my car.”

To top it off, the spot on the left that this car is rudely taking 30% of is a handicap parking spot.

Do you think you can drive safely while text messaging?

The New York Times released this driving and texting simulation to demonstrate how difficult it is to drive properly while text messaging. Below is a screenshot, but you can do the activity for yourself on their website.

A screenshot of The New York Times' test to gauge your text messaging distraction.

A screenshot of The New York Times' test to gauge your text messaging distraction.

Honestly, this activity is highly challenging, but probably not realistic.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t drive through toll booths every four seconds or change lanes haphazardly. I also don’t have to use a cursor to select each letter of text.

For most of us, texting is second nature and can be done without looking at our phones. However, looking down for even 2 seconds puts a driver and other cars in danger.

Should it be illegal? I’m not sure. But if we all can’t learn to behave accountably and responsibly and stop driving with multiple distractions, then I imagine plenty of distracting driving activities will be outlawed as the death tolls pile up.

How did you do on the New York Times’ test?

How do we enforce the MD texting while driving ban?

So there’s a new ban on texting while driving in Maryland as of October 1st of this year. And it opens a lot of questions. How is the law to be enforced? What about GPS or iPods or talking on the phone? Aren’t these similar distractions? What if I’m using my smart phone to update my calendar while I’m driving. Is that excused? (I don’t do that, people.)

When the Maryland General Assembly passed Senate Bill 98/House Bill 72, I’m not sure that they considered the enforcement of this new law. In her article, Talea Miller says, “[Lt. Matt] Langer said for the texting ban, the ‘ultimate goal is voluntary compliance,’ as the laws help educate the public on the risks of distracted driving.”

I hope that this law does teach the public about the risks of distracted driving. If they don’t, there’s still the horrific video about the dangers of texting while driving that was done with the help of police in Gwent, England. And as far as “voluntary compliance,” I can only say that we’ll see (and wishful thinking).

This law traces back to the roles of individual responsibility. If every person already cared about their individual behavior and reflected on it, no one would send text messages while driving. And they wouldn’t play with their radios for 20 seconds, drive drunk, drive wrecklessly, drive while talking on the phone, drive exhausted, etc. The list is endless. And I’m not sure that this law is taking any step toward correcting the problem. Especially when enforcement is based on “voluntary compliance.”

After the article New Texting Law Effective Oct. 1, one user, Dako, posted this: “Why has it become so important to communicate via a cell phone (usually about nothing important!) while performing one of the most dangerous activities (driving) known to man? Use your head for something other than a ‘hat rack’ people! Your use of a modern CONVENIENCE has a direct impact on: traffic delays (people do drive slower while using a phone); frequency and severity of accidents; and the cost of insurance to ALL of us. If you insist on being so STUPID as to use your phone, please pull over or at least wait until you are on an open road (not in traffic)…and above all keep it brief! Phone Responsibly…”

And I don’t think I could say it better myself. What do you think about this new law?

Photo from Kellie Roring’s¬†blog.

Careful driving is a civic duty

Stopped behind this truck at an intersection in Towson one afternoon, I saw the message on the back and it got me thinking.

Stopped behind this truck at an intersection in Towson one afternoon, I saw the message on the back and it got me thinking.

The above photograph was the spark of this blog. One afternoon in February I saw sitting at the intersection of York Road and Burke Avenue in Towson, MD and I saw the message across the back of a Giant truck. I took a picture because I thought that it was such an interesting idea.

“Careful driving is a civic duty,” was the message pasted across the back of an 18-wheeler. Hmm. Who pays attention to this message? What does it mean? I don’t usually get my behavioral information from reflective stickers on trucks. Aren’t parents supposed to tell you this? Driver’s Ed schools, even?

Now that I’ve brainstormed this message and its implications, I’ve developed plenty of thoughts about civil/social behavior and responsibility. I hope this blog will be a great display of those thoughts and more as it develops. For now, thanks for reading as I get started on what should be an interesting project.

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