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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Cell Phone Use – Texting and Snakes

If things go as planned by the Public Safety Commission here in San Jose East (Austin. TX), the great populous will no longer be able to use our “constitutionally enabled” cell phones as we here to fore have beenit’ll be illegal. All that remains is the City Council (those guys that will be out of a job come the elections in November when the “great electoral” change takes place.) to vote for the fast-tracking of an ordinance “banning the use of hand-held communications devices and electronics while driving.”[i] Of course, if you possess a vehicle that allows for a “hands free” device, the proposed law will not affect you.

I wonder how they will enforce the ordnance once it becomes law. Greater than 30% of the citations issued under the current ordinance banning “texting” have been dismissed in Municipal Courtso what will make this ban easier to be upheld. Is the answer better policing? I don’t think so. It’s not the police that are the problem here; they’re out there writing the tickets and the cases fall out of the system for one reason or another.

Several Texas cities have laws prohibiting the use of hand-held devices: San Antonio, El Paso, Amarillo and Corpus Christiall according to the same Statesman article.

If this area of concern is so big a problem, why hasn’t the state done something about it? Oh, that’s right, they did. In 2011, by votes of 28–3 in the Senate and 80-61 in the House, the Texas Legislature passed a bill (HB242) which banned “texting” while driving.

Our “always-watching-out-for-us” Governor Rick Perry vetoed the legislation. The “Gov” cited the overreach of the legislature to “micromanage the behavior of adults” and “an intrusion into Texans’ lives.”[ii] He went further to recommend that we all get better education on the problem. Well, we all know where trying to improve education has gotten us!

This all reminds me of the Waco city statute that was struck down in the courts that required pedestrians on south facing sidewalks to hop their way east and west, but skip their way if heading north or southa real micromanagement if I ever saw one. We are lucky the courts saw the light. Maybe the courts will approach the Austin adventure with the same frame of mind.

As important as all this safety talk is to each and every one of us, we still do not have the problems that other states and communities have. Consider the fact that the legislators of the Great State of New York are expected to meet in special session early next week to draft and pass legislation prohibiting the wearing of snakes around one’s neck while driving.[iii] The proposed legislation is being called “DWS”driving while snaked! Maybe they should not overstepthank you Governor Perryand title it “DWSS”driving while stolen snaked. I bet they wouldn’t want to swing the scales of justice way too far to the overreaching side.

[i] Austin panel calls for ban on hand-held cellphone use while driving, Philp Jankowski, Austin-American Statesman, 04 Aug 14

[ii] Perry Issues Vetoes, Nixes Texting-and-Driving Ban, Brandi Grissom and Thanh Tan, the Texas Tribune, 17 Jun 11

[iii] Stolen python found wrapped around neck of drunk woman in crash, Natasha Velez and Kevin Sheehan, NY Post, 05 Aug 14

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