I've written extensively about the idiocy of laws to ban texting while driving (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here) and one of the points I routinely raise is that laws already on the books cover the issue.
It's called 'distracted driving' or 'reckless operation' or any number of other names depending on the state or locality. They all mean the same thing: driving without due attention to the task.
These existing laws are sufficient to cite someone who is texting while driving or talking on the cell phone while driving and not paying attention to their actual driving.
But another point I often make is this: if we need a law to ban texting while driving, don't we need also need a law to ban putting on your makeup while driving? Or one to ban shaving while driving? Or how about driving with a dog in your lap?
Finally, a legislator has heard my plea and introduced a bill to ban driving with a dog in your lap.
A Rhode Island Democrat, Rep. Peter G. Palumbo of Cranston, realizing that he might be able to 'save just one life,' has introduced the lap-dog legislation. Under his proposal, those violating the law would face an $85 fine for their first offense, a $100 fine for their second and a $125 fine for all subsequent offenses.
Rhode Island drivers already have several laws that govern "driving so as to endanger," along with driving under the influence and driving while impaired. They also have a reckless driving law, which states:
§ 31-27-4 Reckless driving and other offenses against public safety. – Any person who operates a motor vehicle recklessly so that the lives or safety of the public might be endangered, or operates a vehicle in an attempt to elude or flee from a traffic officer or police vehicle, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor for the first conviction and a felony for the second and each subsequent conviction.This law certainly will cover any type of distraction a dog in the lap would cause the driver. But Palumbo, apparently infected with TOBAL-itis, was moved by emotion after one (yes, one) constituent complained.
I certainly do not support adding a new law when current laws are sufficient, but at least there is finally a legislator who realizes that there are other types of distractions, besides texting or using a cell phone, that are equally as dangerous and risky while driving.
My hope is that, if they attempt to outlaw all such dangerous actions that could cause us harm, they're realize that a single law, properly enforced, is all that is needed.
But I won't hold my breath - too many legislators and voters judge performance by how many laws are made, rather than by how much government ensures our right to be free.