Thursday a state Assembly transportation committee was discussing a bill that would make virtually anything you do while driving illegal if a cop decides it was dangerous.

The wording in A1908,

Engaging in any activity, not related to the operation of the vehicle, in a manner that interferes with the safe operation of the vehicle" would be prohibited. It goes on to say "A law enforcement officer is to record on the summons the specific nature of the distracted driving behavior." In other words, nothing in particular is specified, so everything is on the table. Everything is up for interpretation. That interpretation is left up to any given officer.

So let's break that down.

Is drinking a cup of coffee on your way to work not related to the operation of the vehicle? Yes, it is not related to the operation of the vehicle. Could a police officer ordered to get more money for his/her township deem drinking a cup of coffee as interfering with the safe operation? Yes, they could. Is answering a phone call HANDS-FREE through bluetooth and carrying on a HANDS-FREE eyes-on-the-road conversation not related to the operation of the vehicle? Yes, it is not related to the operation of the vehicle. Could police deem having that HANDS-FREE conversation potentially distracting? Yes, they could.

If you light a cigarette while driving, change the radio while driving, sing along with a song while driving, talk to your kid in the backseat while driving, your are doing things not related to the operation of a vehicle. Therefore virtually anything you do while driving under this legislation can be considered unlawful. This bill turns police officers into mind readers and behavior experts. This bill has nothing to do with driving poorly. Not maintaining your lane is already illegal. Impeding traffic is already illegal. This bill targets things that one officer can claim could simply potentially lead to that.

Ironically, studies have been done that found the number one cause of driver distraction was daydreaming. Simply zoning out. Which is something no cop can see happening. You want to add to the zoning out of a driver by taking their morning caffeine out of their hand? Nice job Assemblyman Wisniewski! This legislation is not about public safety. This legislation is about money. Period.

-Jeff Deminski

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