Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Creeping Nanny-Statism In Idaho

The Idaho legislature is mostly made up of people who claim to support less government interference in people's lives, but it sure seems like they're happy to support more government interference in people's lives. The latest example is the passage of a bill in the Idaho Senate on a 29-5 vote to ban "texting while driving". While some Senators seem to be saying that the bill would not criminalize the simple act of reading a text while stopped at a stoplight, a quick review of the actual text proves otherwise. The bill defines "texting" as: "engaging in the review of, or preparation and transmission of typed messages via wireless devices." The section of law that's being amended, dealing with Inattentive Driving as a less included offense of Reckless driving, says it applies to "Any person who drives or is in actual physical control of any vehicle upon a highway, or upon public or private property open to public use..."

Unless the apologists for the new law want to claim that the police can't arrest someone for DWI who's passed out at a stoplight with the car running, then clearly the law applies to people stopped at a stoplight, and it clearly applies to reading texts. This whole issue is just the latest example of Idaho legislators who want to control the lives of those without political power -- in this case, teenagers. They claim they want to save lives, but what they're really interested in is passing a law that criminalizes behavior they lack the technical wherewithal in which to engage that's mostly being practiced by people they don't understand.

There are approximately 250 people a year who die in Idaho traffic crashes every year, and in essentially every case the accidents involve cars going over 20 MPH. However, I note that there's no bill currently introduced to lower the speed limit to 15 MPH (with exceptions for emergency vehicles, of course). I guess Idaho legislators are happy sending these 250 people to fiery deaths each year so they can race along at 50 MPH to get to the coffee shop for their mocha latte. [Rant inspired by Berkeley Breathed] Who knows, maybe next the Idaho Senate will decide that people are at risk of running off the road if they're outraged by the sight of people of different races walking down the street engaged in PDA, so they'll outlaw miscegenation. All in the interest of public safety, of course...

Hopefully the Idaho House will see through this attempt at election year political grandstanding, and keep this flawed bill from passing (or at least amend it so that it's clear that it doesn't apply to the simple act of reading texts, especially when stopped).

Update 0923 11 Mar: It was brought to my attention that the bill that actually passed the Senate was amended to specify that it only applies to a "moving" motor vehicle. (I linked to the bill as originally submitted above.) My point remains that this is an attempt to pass a politically popular new restriction on citizens by the state during an election year where there's a lot of anger at incumbents aimed squarely at a group without a lot of political power.

Update 1438 12 Mar: Here's another potentially dangerous activity the Idaho Legislature should outlaw while they're at it -- driving while shaving your "bikini area".


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Nanny Statism has failed miserably in Europe and England is a prime example of government intrusion into even the simple aspects of life. In England they have a government agency that goes from house to house and instructs the populace how to efficiently use leftover food. Also, in England, people have died in swimming accidents so the kneejerk reaction by their smart politicians was a ban on swimming in even a baby pool without a certified lifeguard present. Maybe the misguided nanny is confused, just because some politicians are too ignorant to walk and chew gum without falling in a ditch, the people generally have more common sense.

Sometimes the Statist nannys just do not know where to stop controlling citizen’s lives.

"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that justifies it." Frederic Bastiat

3/11/2010 7:44 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can an Amish buggy driver use an Amishberry (modeified Blackberry)to send texts without getting a ticket? I doubt if the horses ever get much faster than 8 m.p.h. How about horseback riding, would texting be ticketable? Where does the lunacy stop?

3/11/2010 7:47 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't they have reckless operation statutes in Idaho? Wouldn't you think that a generic "driving while distracted" clause would be enough? Then, allow the police and judges to use there own judgement as to what is "distracting". Isn't judgement at least part of what we pay them for?

Joe Alferio

3/11/2010 8:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't get calling Europe a "Nanny State"; when we were stationed in northern continental Europe we lived across from a playground with a concrete floor. There were no schoolbuses and people sent their <10 year old children out to buy groceries for them. Like you'd see that in the US anymore.

What they really want to disallow is being distracted, which is the real danger, but that's hard to do so they define what they can. Sort of like how on airplanes you're not allowed to use electronics during takeoffs and landings. It's not the electronics interfereing, it's that they want you to be ready to evacuate quickly but no one takes that seriously. I live in a place with one of the cell bans already in place and the biggest problem with it is that it makes exceptions for hands free kits, which are no safer - it's not holding a phone that makes you unsafe, it's thinking about talking instead of driving.

If I ran the world and could change the law without eliminating it, it'd be to cap phone calls at 1 minute. Fine to get a quick message through, not fine to sit there yakking. Still dangerous during that minute, but it's the total distracted time that matters.

And FWIW, these bans already exist all over subases.

3/11/2010 8:03 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you are unable to perceive the Nanny State in Europe then maybe you like imbicile politicians micromanaging every aspect of your life. This might blow your mind but America kicked the Nanny out in 1776 but he she appears to have slithered back through post-modernistic thinking.

3/11/2010 8:08 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bans on subases? Are you implying that subases are well oiled and well run places? So you would want everyone subjected to that type of control in the entire country? Hopefully you would not let the control freaks go after the general population.

3/11/2010 8:12 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The driving czar, Capt. "Bligh", lol. Yep, quality.

3/11/2010 8:14 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

Car and Driver recently ran a somewhat unscientific but highly informative test comparing the reaction time of two drivers texting while driving compared to the same guys impaired by drinking. Results: texting while driving is much more dangerous than driving drunk, by a wide margin.

So to be consistent, you knickers-in-a-knot libertarians either need to acknowledge there is a real public-safety aspect to a ban on texting while driving ... or ... start a second push to do away with drunk driving laws.

Nanny state my ass: new technology brings new problems requiring new measures to avoid needlessly killing people. The cost of the alternative, in dollars and lives, is just too high.

This is a stupid topic with a stupid point of view.

3/11/2010 9:27 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joel, in an effort to pull the discussion "underwater"...

Late 90's/turn of the century... CO would pull out his cell phone on the bridge while on the maneuvering watch and call his wife. Maybe not quite the same situation... but irked me nonetheless.


3/11/2010 9:42 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In some ways, life before some technology was a lot simpler and safer.

3/11/2010 9:47 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Drill moniters and their McDonald's headsets, lol. Geeks R us.

3/11/2010 9:49 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are the odds that a person who was texting while driving and has an accident in a no-texting zone will get keel-hauled by the local ambulance chaser?

And who writes the laws? Oh, that's right...(sea) lawyers.

This is all lawyers-in-love B.S.

If someone is driving hazardlously, Mr. Policeman, put down the donut and pull 'em over.

Current laws are plenty adequate. Current politicians are not.

3/11/2010 10:04 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

People who wear blue socks and drink a lot of alcohol are dangerous drivers. The alcohol is not the problem, it is the blue socks. All blue socks should be banned but alcohol is not the root cause. Can you say BS.

If they want to really fix legitimate problems then they should look around themselves, the apple does not fall far from the tree.

3/11/2010 10:37 AM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

The study you cite only looked at sending text messages while driving. I would submit that reading text messages (which this bill would outlaw as well) is no more dangerous, and probably less dangerous, than dialing a number on your cell phone, reading a book, putting on makeup, or even reading the Amber Alert on the big county-maintained and owned electronic billboard over I-84 going through Boise. The difference is that this bill would mostly target teenagers, while outlawing book-reading or phone dialing would target older voters.

3/11/2010 10:42 AM

Blogger John Byron said...


Read it again. One driver's reaction time reading was 7 times slower than driving drunk. The other: 27 times slower. I see a trend there....

3/11/2010 11:02 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is not the driver or the car's fault. It is all because of gas. Close all gas stations and then there would be no crashes. Geeze, it is so complicated, lol. Oh, that would take tax revenue, dont worry, once they generate a formula, people will be taxed for oxygen use and not paying the tax is a smothering experience.

3/11/2010 11:09 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The term "Nanny state" implies the law is intended to safeguard the texting driver. Really the issue is the externalities that distracted driver causes - the danger to others.

It may be debatable whether the improvement to other peoples safety warrant this regulation, but the issue is about externalities, not about trying to tell you what's best for you.

3/11/2010 11:40 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder when they will investigate the reaction time of a policeman punching keys on the laptop mounted on an awkward angle in the front seat. Hey, that is just like texting? Hummm, how did this fall through the cracks?

3/11/2010 11:40 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

1140 Anon- The po-po are exempt, generally, from no-cell-phone laws and such. And although the Cali VC states that, to exceed the speed limit a police car must have lights and siren on, in practice who is going to cite the assholes who violate driving laws, park in front of the steps of the post office to get their mail, etc.?

3/11/2010 11:57 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I have seen a few use their lights to go through red lights because dinner must have been on the table.

What will happen if doughnut and coffee shops get outlawed by teh nanny politicians?

3/11/2010 12:00 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

RD - OK, so they did look at reading. I would have found the test more convincing, though, if they had done the "applying makeup in the rear view mirror" or "reading a book" tests as well.

3/11/2010 12:17 PM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

Laws have function and are just when they protect people from each other. When people, however well intentioned, pass laws to protect people from themselves, then it's no longer law, but tyranny. To quote H.L. Mencken, "Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats." The current group of politicians from local to federal seems not to realize this.

3/11/2010 1:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Laws have function and are just when they protect people from each other. When people, however well intentioned, pass laws to protect people from themselves, then it's no longer law, but tyranny."
In this case, which is it? A law protecting the driver from herself (by codifying a penalty as a deterrent) or a law protecting the rest of the people on the road from that driver.

But, I don't think anyone is writing this law because of any particular outcomes it will produce. (Lawyers included) People pass laws like these, because it makes them feel good to say they passed a law like this.

3/11/2010 1:21 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

creeping nucism has made it's way into idaho

3/11/2010 2:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is just acknowledgement that driving has become of little importance and we need to use the time behind a wheel for better things. After all, we are so pushed for time that we have installed tire pressure montioring systems on cars (can't be bothered to check pressure) and some manufacturers have eliminated the oil dip stick and gone electronic. No one has time for that either. If the owner wants to drive on near-flat tires or without oil he becomes the victim.
The challenge is how do you protect others from the stupid who will knowingly distract themselves via cell-phones when driving?
In the end any law like this will be difficult to enforce but it just may be a deterrant for some. Is that all bad?

3/11/2010 2:46 PM

Anonymous Mike47 said...

This is a perfect example of why we desperately need legislative reform in our state houses. Kalifornia is headed for the same kind of law to outlaw texting while driving. We pay our legislators to pass a balanced budget within 90 days of the end of the fiscal year and they can't do it, but they pass thousands of new laws each year that cannot be enforced, and there's no money to hire more law enforcement officers to handle the increased workload from the new laws. We need a part-time legislature (like Texas has), paid only to pass a 2-year balanced budget. For any other laws they want to pass, they must rescind two laws currently on the books.

3/11/2010 3:00 PM

Blogger John Byron said...

The bizarre attitudes expressed here on a common-sense prohibition of activity dangerous to other drivers and costly in accidents, emergency treatment, and funerals, well, it makes me wonder where you brave souls stand on other bad ideas, like - say - checking rig for dive.

3/11/2010 3:13 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is a link to a webpage that has a video about the dangers of texting and driving.
I suggest that you watch it and then decide if it is a good idea to text and drive.

3/11/2010 4:19 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

OOOPS Forgot the link

3/11/2010 4:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here in California, they enforce the law by checking your cell phone records if there's a question that texting or talking on said device might have caused the accident. If the records show you were using it, then they gotcha for distracted driving. I may be an offender but that criteria works for me...

3/11/2010 4:48 PM

Anonymous Tim said...

I agree with RD that it is appropriate for the state to make sensible laws regarding public safety. That's why we have speed limits, seat belt laws, and a host of other regulations. I have no problem with those, or with a no cell phone law. The key is "sensible". Here in Hawaii, they have defined "use" as "having the device in your hand". Additionally, the ban not only applies to moving vehicles, but also applies while you are stationary at a stoplight or, worse yet, stopped on the side of the road. Making it illegal to pull over to the side of the road to make a phone call makes absolutely no sense. Additionally, there a many other behind the wheel behaviors that are equally as bad, but are not prohibited (or rather, not enforced). Last week, I was driving behind an SUV that was moving painfully slowly, and after I passed him I noticed that the driver was shaving! I guess that's okay, though...

3/11/2010 6:23 PM

Blogger bigsoxfan said...

There use to be the rule of common law, now we are reducing to legislating common sense. Southern California is desperately in need of common sense. Shame that it has to come from a law.

3/11/2010 8:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Both California and Washington have some form of law regulating the use of cell phones while driving. And yet, it's still common practice to drive while using a cell phone.

What's the point of having a law in the books if it's not actually being enforced?

3/11/2010 8:19 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! I really don't see how this counts as "Nanny Statism." This is a law to protect safe drivers and pedestrians from unsafe drivers. I agree that reading a book is just as dangerous, and maybe someone should suggest that reading from ANY medium in the car should be banned. But while I've witnessed dozens of retards drifting out of their lanes while texting, I've only seen 1 person trying to read a book. So texting gets a lot more attention.

As far as the law "targeting" younger drivers, would you make the same argument that DUI laws target men, since most DUIs are given to men? Just because one segment is more likely to commit a crime doesn't make them unfairly targeted. And the only "powerless" citizens without recourse are drivers between 16 and 18. They are minors, and as such are already subject to extra restrictions. Once they're 18, their votes count just as much as mine, so they have the same opportunity to elect officials whose views they agree with.

I don't like Nanny Laws; if someone chooses to drive without a seatbelt, it's on their head. But complaining about this one is like being angry that the "Evil Gestapo Liberals" won't let you shoot your rifle in your apartment complex.

3/12/2010 12:22 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about reading the screen on your GPS. Especially when you are in a new part of town, trying to get the name of the street from the GPS & the street sign.

woe is me

3/12/2010 5:39 AM

Anonymous ret.cob said...

I agree, no texting, or text reading, during rig for dive...

3/12/2010 6:29 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You want nanny state -- try NY and their ban on Restaurants using salt to cook.


Text of Bill

To protect people from dangerous salt, the State of NY ensures all expensive food is tasteless.

3/12/2010 8:48 AM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

How is making various things illegal for drivers to do 'nanny statism?'

All states have seat belt laws, why not repeal them? Because injuries in accidents without seatbelts are more severe and WE ALL have to pay to fix your dumb ass.

ALL military bases have outlawed drivers even talking on mobile phones, why? Same reason you cannot drink and drive: because while I don't care if you kill yourself, I do care if your careless and worthless ass kills me or mine.

I agree with the idea of being able to cite a driver for inadequately controlling the vehicle, but there are simply to many idiots who will figure 'that does not apply to me while texting.'

It's not about socialism, it's not about 'being like Europe' and it's not about freedom. It's about keeping the majority safe from the morons.

Go ahead and text while you drive; go ahead and drink and drive: big bad government cannot tell you how to live your life!

I'll send flowers to your family.

3/12/2010 9:30 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Legislation is seldom able to be a one size fits all approach to anything. The legislators might make some laws based on false pretenses and false motivations and most things produce unintended consequences. However, people with no regulation seem to go into chaos. When the Berlin Wall first came down, there were reports of people running stop signs and getting into needless accidents for failure to follow simple rules. Consider navigating the waterways without mariner’s rules of the road, not that all follow them but if the big boys did not there would be even more hazards. We need laws for sure to promote safety for everyone but government seems to be power hungry and seldom stops or can adequately restrain itself. It is a delicate balance, laws and the lack of. It would seem that any unsafe operation of a vehicle is a crime. Law enforcement seems to operate much like the government, knee jerk to whatever the latest fiasco is. I personally do not see many laws being enforced regarding safe driving and maybe that is why some people are so discouraged. More laws will not translate into more enforcement and perhaps the additional laws will just become discarded. Maybe we should try something foreign to America in 2010, personal responsibility and accountability for everyone, regardless of their age and stop blaming society and needing the nanny state to change adult’s diapers. Of course, the attorneys make a lot of money off the whole fiasco so things will likely not change regarding responsibility.

3/12/2010 10:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whiny babies need nannies.

3/12/2010 12:35 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I drove onto 32nd street Naval Station last month and the guard told me I had to remove my blue tooth from my ear. I don’t understand it but I just grinned, removed it and drove on. I have always disliked rules on base that were not in the outside world but I have a choice, obey or don’t drive on the base. I’ll choose to obey.

That Damn Good Looking Aganger From Iowa.

3/12/2010 2:24 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The bikini area shaving is an interesting exam. If a chain saw is required then maybe there should be laws to protect the eyes of those not used to European werewolves. Now the more crewcut look is probbaly safe for most public viewing. But the hairy beast could cause PTHBS Post Traumatic Hairy Beast Syndrome.

3/12/2010 2:52 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

All cell phone talking while driving jackasses should be put away. They don't pay attention and drive slow. Get the hell out of my way you phone talking jackasses so I can get back up to my normal 90 mph.

3/12/2010 3:04 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

If there is a woman who needs to shave her bikini area in the car, I will drive. I cannot, however, promise to keep my eyes on the road.

3/12/2010 4:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

srvd_ssn_co: " _Democrat_ you...!"

3/12/2010 5:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Define "the", where is my Monica sweet cigar at Hilly?

3/12/2010 5:35 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If someone injures/kills someone because they were texting or talking on their cell, charge them with vehicular assault/vehicular homicide. If they kill themselves, well, it's a self correcting problem. I see no reason for more laws which are difficult to enforce at best.

3/12/2010 7:18 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

HA! Not only do I know who Berkeley Breathed is, I can remember the exact strip that reference comes from (although the context has become a bit fuzzy over the years). Well played!

3/13/2010 1:07 PM

Blogger Vetto said...

Srvd_SSN_CO is right on. I am a motorcyclist, an inherently dangerous method of locomotion (My COB used to say that if you ride on the outside of your vehicle you are an idiot :) ). I have been nearly killed at least three times by drivers on the phone, and once by a drunk. If I had my way I would ban the gps and nav displays from the driver's view also.

It is not about infringing on the individual driver's freedom to read a text at a stoplight, it is about that persons infringing on my right to live. Connecticut's law is a "distracted driving" law and applies to phone calls, texts, mucho grande coffee cups, shaving your bikini, etc.

Your recent history of posts confuse me though. You put this libertarian thesis up here, and then poke fun at those who want to limit the Governments reach into private lives... So I guess you would keep the Louisiana Purchase but repeal personal freedom-infringing acts like seat belt laws? I suppose a constructionist of convenience, or whatever makes you feel good at the time is the right answer.

3/19/2010 6:36 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Laws, laws, laws, so confusing. How about all laws be repealed and then each state start from scratch. Well, ok, maybe that is not the best idea, or maybe just enforce the current laws?

3/22/2010 11:58 AM

Anonymous Dana said...

This is all erroneous what you're writing.

9/05/2012 5:30 AM

Anonymous Phoebe said...

There's no doubt, the guy is completely right.

9/12/2012 11:21 AM


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