The legal issues concerning texting while driving and other applications of mobile devices are discussed. The existing opinions towards texting while driving are analyzed. Pros and cons of new way of regulating mobile activity for drivers are regarded.
Keywords: texting, mobile devices, GPS, TWD (texting while driving).
Recently the laws regulating the use of mobile phones during driving have been amended in many states: new restrictions related to typing text messages on the phone when driving have been added. The new limitations are rather controversial and the public opinion to this issue is not simple. The essay is dedicated to the analysis of the new law decision, discussion of its roots and consequences as well as all pros and cons of such law regulations.
Regulation of texting while driving
New rules concerning texting on mobile phones and other applications of mobile devices have been suggested by Chicago government (Rueff 2009). As for other states, the situation of the following: for 4 states, District of Columbia and Virgin Islands regard using a handheld cell phone as primary enforcement (Cell Phone Driving Laws 2009); hands-free phones are not so restricted, but a lot of states prohibit use of any cells phones to certain categories of population (such as novice drivers and school bus drivers primarily). Crash data is collected in many of the states if the driver was noticed while sending messages.
The question comes then: “Which actions concerning mobile phones are still allowed while driving”¯. The answer is simple ”“ almost nothing is allowed to be done; and the allowed actions like reading the directions in the map or GPS are still not recommended (Semuels 2008).
This is most probably stated because of the fact that using mobile phone for choice of direction can be easily confused by police officers with texting, and this is technically different to distinguish between these two actions, especially from a certain distance. This part of the law causes the highest protest level: people are confused because the only way to check what exactly the driver is doing it is to look at the screen of mobile phone (which is, in fact, privacy violation).
However, the increased number of accidents, the rising percent of people injured and even killed simply because of texting in the process of driving is quite a sufficient reason which justifies such strict attitude to texting. For those who feel the immediate need to use their mobile various wireless technologies, hands-free devices and the systems of text recognition and voice control have been designed. And generally, it is not fair to risk someone’s life just because of the “urgent”¯ need to answer some sms or search something ”“ the price is too high.
The discussed topic is double-faced: on one hand, the people using mobile phones for navigation purposes and map search can be easily confused with those who type the text messages; moreover, if the message has not been sent, the process of typing cannot be officially considered as sending text messages: evidently, there appear problems of registering trespassers and proving that they have violated the law.
Also, there is strong possibility of suggesting law violation to those who simply perform the legitimate actions. One the other hand, the risk of accusing someone who uses a mobile phone for legitimate purposes while driving is much more acceptable than the risk of car accident and the possibility of killing people just because of the necessity to answer text message or to visit a website during driving (Rueff 2009).
From the humanistic point of view, the laws are absolutely reasonable. However, there are a lot of procedures that need to be defined and elaborated more accurately, and it is true that the new laws will cause a lot of misunderstanding and false accuses as well as opposite claims.
But there is one key thing about all the idea of prohibiting text messaging while driving: at least it is officially stated that all mobile activity except the most necessary should be eliminated, and this is going to cultivate a new understanding of mobile phone usage and better attitude to security among drivers after a certain period of adaptation.