Wednesday, May 25, 2011

When does a law become more a hindrance than a help?

On February 20, Aaron Deveau, 17 was driving a 2001 Chevy Malibu that crossed over into oncoming traffic and hit a 1992 Toyota Corolla driven by Donald Bowley Jr, 55. Mr. Bowley was flown to Massachusetts General Hospital for treatment. On March 10, Mr. Bowley passed away from injuries sustained from that accident.

     Deveau was charged with the following according to the Essex County District Attorney's Office:
Motor vehicle homicide
Texting while driving
Two counts of texting while operating a motor vehicle negligently and causing injury
Being a minor using a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle
Composing, sending or receiving an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle
Negligent operation of a motor vehicle
Operating left of center
     Deveau was released on personal recognizance but issued a bail warning and advised not to drive until his hearing on July 7.

     I feel sorry for the families of both of these people but let’s take a look at a few things. First, Massachusetts passed a ban on texting back on September of 2010. The law assesses a fine if you are caught texting while driving over the age of 18. The fine ranges from $100 to $500. If you are a driver under the age of 18, you are banned from using your cell phone all together. This was passed to make the roads safer and to help avoid accidents of this nature. Secondly, why Mr. Deveau not place in custody? If this was a drunk driving accident, the person would absolutely be locked away until trial. I guess a texting homicide is less than a drinking homicide? Last time I checked the outcome was the same on both of those accidents.

     When this law first rolled out, I felt it could be a positive thing. Maybe a few publicized fines and how the police are making efforts to crack down on cell usage would help deter people from texting and driving. Instead we have now forced people to be sneaky about using their phones, hiding them while driving, and consequentially causing people to focus less on their driving. Is this what we really wanted from this? This reminds me to some degree of prohibition. No matter how much you try to stop it, people will find a way to do it. How about we make mandatory hands free kits when driving? Most if not all phones have some sort of voice activation or dialing, why not have classes on that? Driver’s education has become mandatory in Massachusetts to get your license before 18. Maybe someone should look into a portion of that training being used to teach proper cell usage when driving.

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