Saturday, July 3, 2004

Badly worded laws

Heads up to DC drivers. As of the day before yesterday, there's a new
law on the books that prohibits you from holding a cell phone up to your head while driving. While it's intended to regulate those distracted idiots doing 40 in a 55 while talking long distance with their mom, I have "issues" with the law:

  • cell phone use is sixth,
    ninth
    or first depending on who you ask. "First" is usually based on surveys
    of common opinion rather than actual studies. The government studies
    usually indicate cell phones having less cause than adjusting the
    radio/internal temperature, eating, and yelling at the kids.

  • the law is too broad as it allows for fines for ANY distraction

  • the law is vaguely worded (can apply to any driver with a two-way
    radio with a button-operated microphone, GPS, or radar device)(i.e., law
    enforcement, cab drivers, delivery personnel, firemen, utility workers,
    etc.) ("electronic device" is generic and, by definition, means just
    about anything in the car)

  • the law adds yet another requirement on law enforcement (must search
    for the presence of cell phones at each accident) and government
    (database tracking, reporting, and training). Unless the legistlators
    intend on providing additional funding for yet another requirement on
    law enforcement and lower government, this just adds another stress on
    an already limited budget.

Unfortunately, it's one more low level law that is too expensive to
fight and will probably be ignored in the long run. In the security
world, your policies have to be realistic and enforceable for them to be
effective. Too many "silly rules" and the entire system is held in
contempt by the average user.

I've been rear ended seven times. Four of them while stopped at a
light, two while slowing for a light, and one in a parking lot. Each
and every time the driver was distracted (by sunlight, a road sign,
another person, etc.). That is, unless one or more of them did it
intentionally (road rage?).

Accidents will continue to happen, regardless of what drivers are
doing, especially inside of, or on, 495 after 3 p.m. on a workday. (too
damned many cars in narrow lanes on not enough pavement)(ignoring the
amount road construction that occurs during rush hour in DC).

We'd save more lives by making cars single person vehicles, with a
top speed of 35 mph, without radios or temperature controls and tearing
down every sign along the highway.