This is a question that has to be asked because it happened only yesterday. The day began as it usually does, somewhere between 3 and 6 a.m. or whenever the cat needed feeding. We needed feeding, too, so I ran out to a local doughnut shop and ordered a couple of muffins --- coffee was already at home.
Early morning chores
I began my early morning chores, which usually include looking for work or writing something for somebody whether its about marketing, cars, consumer products, computers -- in other words whatever happens to be selling in the morning. I wrapped up about 10 a.m. and we went out to do some shopping, rather urgently needed, it turned out, but that's not germane to this story. It just put us on the road in time to see a mother setting a "super" example for her daughter and her daughter doing the same for mom.
Let's go back to last year when the State of Massachusetts became the 30th or 31st to outlaw texting while driving and other forms of distracted driving. No doubt a daughter using some app on a smartphone while Mom is texting and look at daughter's smartphone might be considered distracted driving.
$100 fine for first offense, $300 for subsequent, but....
Okay, so it's last year and the Great and General Court (we'll leave you to decide that when we're finished) decided to join the bandwagon and made the first offense non-contestable and subject to immediate ticketing, if seen by a police officer. He has no choice in the matter which is the best way for this to go down.
Distracted driving was also made an offense as it was included in the same category as texting and teens using cellphones in cars were verboten, unless they were passengers while Mom or Dad drove, so the kid was okay (Mom not so good).
Never there when you need them
Here's the big but in the law, you have to be seen by the officer and it is not a rolling offense. In other words, you have a fender-bender because someone backs into you and squawks about it and you get a partial surcharge because your were supposed to see the accident unfolding, unless you were the last car in on a pileup, then you just pay not only increased premiums, but also a six-year surcharge that can add hundreds to your insurance bill.
Now, that might cut down on texting while driving, but, since it isn't surchargeable, then what does the driver care, especially when she's driving a $65,000 SUV that has more options in it than a G-5 jetliner.
This was so blatant that a police officer would have had to have been asleep to miss the texting because Mommy Dearest was holding her smartphone in her hand while she texted what must have been such an important message that she just had to violate state law to send it.
And, then to look at daughter's smartphone while texting and turning, well, it must have just been the most important set of messages the world has yet seen (it was probably something silly like hubby asking when to turn off the roast or some other important message).
Public resources used for this?
And, to think that a public resource -- bandwidth is a spectrum and that is considered part of the nation's resources like water, gas, oil and such -- is being used for this valuable exercise. Texting is really an important use of this resource. So, what if there are so many vehicles running around using up a valuable resource when it might be used for other things, like public safety or other things? And, so what if there are enough people texting in an area that they not only tie up the available bandwidth, but all available public nodes, when an ambulance is trying to get a life or death stream through to a hospital.
Okay, you say it's impossible because ambulance frequencies and the texting are a long distance apart (really not that far, if the ambulance is using an 800 MHz transceiver -- the only good thing is that it will wipe out texters immediately around it, but those two or three lanes away gaily texting their brains out won't notice anything).
The unfortunate thing about radio frequency energy is that is a finite resource and if you are using WiFi (wide fidelity or FM) you can capture a radio that might be several bands away (known as octaves in the radioworld).
More of this silliness, not less
So, where do we go from here? It's likely that police officers will continue to turn blind eyes to texters and that those who do text -- they are legion -- will continue their sneaky little patterns of stopping at a light -- sometimes right beside an officer -- look down quickly flick a few keys and look back up. You have to be blind not to see it.
And, the 2013s are advertising even more use of radio through Bluetooth-compatibility and streaming. And, from what we've seen some video in the middle of the dashboard. Now, there's a totally idiotic use of dash space and anyone who watches and drives, deserves what he or she gets. The only thing one can hope is the only person they take with them is themselves.