"If common sense was dictating our legal system, we wouldn't have anti-texting laws in only seven states. What's happening to the other 43 states?" asks Dr. Phil rhetorically.
Showing a map of the United States, he notes that California, Connecticut, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Utah, Washington and the District of Columbia are states with "hands free" cell phone laws while driving.
[AD]He continues by sharing that 24 states regulate cell phone use for bus drivers, under-18 drivers and other special circumstances. And adds that seven different states have statewide bans on texting and driving " Alaska, California, Connecticut, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, Washington and the District of Columbia.
"Which brings me to my next question," says Dr. Phil. "Do we need texting and driving laws? Not everybody thinks we do."
Northern California State Senator, Joe Simitian, who wrote the bill recently signed into law which prevents texting and e-mailing while driving in the state of California, and Assemblyman, Chuck Devore, who believes the law is unnecessary government overkill, debate the issue.
"Every proposed law starts out as someone's good idea. But in execution, when you actually get the law on the books, there are difficulties," says Chuck.
In the case of the anti-texting while driving law, Chuck explains that there are several undefined variables. For instance, California law enforcement is exempt from the law. Also, because it's legal for a person to dial a number while driving, police officers will have a difficult time disseminating between the two actions. And, finally he says there are already reckless driving laws on the books for this very purpose.
"In California, we had more people die in and cause accidents who were changing the dials on their radio and their compact disc and eating, than texting and cell phone usage," he concludes.
"We know that cell phones are the number one cause of distracted driving accidents in the state of California. Year after year after year, our highway patrol comes back with that same data," counters Joe.
[AD]"My view is we shouldn't wait for the tragedy to happen, we should try and make sure that people are driving safely and that tragedy is avoided," Joe adds. "I'm not really interested in giving somebody a ticket after a death on the highway; I'm interested in avoiding that death on the highway."
"If I told you there were five to six million drunk drivers out on the highway, we'd all be in a panic," he continues, "but there are five to six million drivers here in California who text message while they drive and yet, people think that's OK somehow."