This entry was posted
on Wednesday, May 7th, 2008 at 9:26 am by Radley Balko
and is filed under There Oughtta Be a Law.
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Exactly. I feel the same way about cell phone bans. No law is needed. If someone causes an accident because of it, hit them with reckless driving, careless and imprudent driving, reckless endangerment etc…whatever applies. Let their insurance company punish them with brutal premiums for being high risk.
But then, that would not allow the government to raise money, which is ever the goal. Safety is not what they are really concerned with.
In a perfect world with perfect cops, “reckless driving” could cover all sorts of traffic offenses, including speeding. But in the world we live in, asking police to enforce “reckless driving” in and of itself, rather than as a charge to be tacked on to other offenses, is asking them to watch drivers and make subjective judgments on their driving. That power would almost certainly be abused.
Probably best to let legislators waste their time on a silly law that even the police will roll their eyes at. I can’t imagine the revenue generated being at all significant.
While giving tons of subjective leeway to police is not a great thing, laws like this just give police more and more articulable reasons to pull you over. This will absolutely lead to more police pulling more people over for stuff that is worthless and harmless. This just promotes police abuse and waste of police resources.
The police have more than enough excuses to pull you over any time they want. Even if you aren’t doing anything, what recourse do you have?
The point of these tack-on regulations for things like driving is to make it less discretionary, and make things more concrete for officers, and even easier for the police. Now you don’t have to be driving recklessly, you just have to have some condition where other people might drive recklessly. You might not be driving badly, but you have a phone. Couldn’t pull you over before, now they can. You might not be driving badly, but have a dog. Couldn’t pull you over before, now they can.
It moves the violation from the actual problem (driving recklessly) to politically unpopular reasons (cell phones, dogs in cars), but leaves many other reasons alone (kids, other passengers, eating, messing with the radio).