The mandate about using hand-held documents while operating motor vehicles is something we have covered for our readers. But, what about texting at a red light? Is this against the law?
New Bill Proposed Regarding Texting at Lights
Apparently there is some dispute whether the current law allows texting while waiting at a red light. News reports indicate that Assemblywoman Nancy Muñoz has proposed a bill that would outlaw the practice. In addition, the bill also contains language regarding drivers’ licensing tests. It would add a section on the exam pertaining to distracted driving questions. Use of cellphones and other handheld devices are just one type of problem causing distracted driving.
Why is Texting at Lights Different than Drunk Driving?
The legislature considered a similar bill in 2013. At the time, Senator Richard Codey likened the use of cellphones to the dangers associated with driving while under the influence. In his support of the prior legislation, Senator Codey pointed out that you could still be guilty of drunk driving while stopped at a traffic signal. The same might be true if you are stopped in traffic and texting. Both represent prospective harm to the vehicle operator and other motorists.
According to the state, it is a “primary offense to for a motorist to talk or text message with a hand-held wireless telephone or electronic communication device while driving.” We have placed the additional emphasis on “while driving”. The current debate is whether a stopped car is actual engaged in the act of driving.
What’s the Harm Anyway?
Some might argue that there should be no need to outlaw texting while vehicles are stopped at lights. Unfortunately, the statistics involving texting and operation of motor vehicles are alarming. You might think that sitting at the light and texting is harmless. However, it is a form of distraction and has led to the following types of accidents:
- Driver was so involved in text message that he accelerated instead of braking, and caused major accident
- Vehicle was hit from behind when the light changed and other driver relied on car to proceed
- Road rage ensued when vehicle operator became annoyed at driver engrossed in text messaging