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You Can’t Go On Pretending Nothing’s Wrong.

November 16, 2009

According to DailyKos

Twenty-seven states banned texting while driving. Yet twenty-five states offer traffic updates via twitter.

The Arkansas ban on texting while driving goes into effect Oct. 1; this week, the state became the latest to provide road conditions via Twitter, the microblogging service that lets people read and send messages of 140 characters or fewer.

Other places offering traffic information via Twitter include: California, Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

The apparent conflict results from two arms of government with seemingly good intentions: transportation departments that want to help motorists cope with traffic, and legislatures that are worried about the deadly consequences of distracted driving.

The mixed message this sends gives defense attorneys a wonderful legal argument. Last week my bestie was in a car accident; the driver was texting his girlfriend while driving through a red light. While I have not texted while driving, I have dialed numbers and felt okay because I used a headset. I realize the issue with cell usage and driving is not merely about where eyes or hands are, but rather where attention is directed. There have been times when I’ve used my handset on a long drive and been surprised when I’ve ended up home having not recalled any specifics of the drive. Yikes.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. redlami permalink*
    November 16, 2009 10:59 am

    I think it’s not just having a conversation but what kind of conversation that matters. I find that I have a harder time driving if I’m being engaged in something that I have to think about visually, whether it’s by a passenger or a phone call or a radio program. You can talk to me about football scores but don’t make me focus on how a play unfolds.

  2. Marle permalink
    November 16, 2009 1:05 pm

    I never talk on my cell phone while I drive. I routinely find myself zoning out and not remembering my drive afterwards without it. I don’t think I’m that much worse than others at paying attention on the road, I think most other people just deal, and as long as they don’t get in an accident they keeps doing it. Still, I don’t find traffic twitter services a bad thing. You can check them before you leave, and if I had a passenger in my car with a phone that could get twitter I would definitely have them check that. Maybe they could, say, remind the people who are obviously posting while driving that they’re being idiots, and probably driving slower/sporadically and making traffic worse even if they don’t hit anyone, but I think the service sounds neat and I don’t think we shouldn’t do stuff like that because some people are stupid.

  3. November 16, 2009 1:53 pm

    I think twitter updates are amazing. I definitely wish they were available when they decided to close a bridge between VT and NY! Found out through rumor mill and it was difficult to get confirmation.

    That said, what I think is happening here is a mixed message. While emphasizing how folks shouldn’t be texting while driving, they are also giving them more reasons to be engaging with their phones instead of driving.

    I think it would be cool if people would opt to check these updates when their attention is not needed on the road. hopefully, people will be thoughtful enough to do so.

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