I remember it well from when we lived in New Jersey. A trip on any major highway whether traffic was stopped or not would most likely reveal some driver, totally not paying attention to driving. I have seen drivers putting on makeup while driving (seems dangerous to me), talking on cell phones, texting on phones, even reading the newspaper (I kid you not, the paper splayed out over the steering wheel as they do 70 on the Garden State Parkway). Most states have required hands-free use of phones while driving to try to make it somewhat safer to be on the road with these people. The state of Utah has recently passed a law making it the strictest law in the country for texting while driving. Drivers who are texting and cause a fatal collision can be face felony charges and jail time up to 15 years. The state has likened texting or talking while driving to driving while intoxicated -reasoning that drivers who are distracted by texting or talking while driving are just as unfit to operate a vehicle as drivers who have had too much to drink. Texting have been found to be even more dangerous since the driver is more distracted and engaged than with just talking on the cell phone.

From a legal perspective, the difficulty in enforcing the law lies in the ability of the prosecutors to prove their case. Unlike drunk driving where there are objective testing in the form of a breathalyzer, there are no such instruments available in texting while driving cases. The prosecutors or law enforcement officials are forced to subpoena phone records and logs to demonstrate that the driver was texting immediately prior to the collision. The law in Utah presumes that all drivers are aware of the inherent risk of texting while operating a motor vehicle, akin to the presumption in most states regarding the consumption of alcohol and the operation of a vehicle. With this presumption in place, the evidence in the form of phone records provide the proof necessary for enforcement.

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