That’s what one proposed piece of legislation in this year’s General Assembly would accomplish. From the Free Lance-Star:
Usually the legislature sees bills focusing on limits to texting while driving, or talking on the cell phone while driving.
But “texting, putting on makeup, snarfing down a cheeseburger, whatever” while driving can all be dangerous, Orrock said. He said he even saw a man driving down Route 1 using an iPad.
“They’re clearly engaging in a dangerous activity,” Orrock said of such drivers.
But such distracted driving isn’t currently illegal as a primary offense, he said.
OK OK… goofing off with an iPad is bad news. But eating a cheeseburger? Really?
Orrock wants to give police the tools to stop such drivers before they cause accidents.
“My intention is to create a new driving offense … so law enforcement will at least have the authority to pull someone over,” Orrock said. “I think this is a tool that they need to assist in that end. We know distracted driving leads to accidents.”
The language of Orrock’s bill outlaws driving a vehicle “while engaged in an activity that is not necessary to the operation of the vehicle and that actually impairs his ability to operate the vehicle is guilty of a traffic infraction.”
Let’s put this one in plain English, folks. Changing the radio station now becomes a primary offense in Virginia. Heck — setting your cruise control in your vehicle is a primary offense under this legislation. Glancing at a map? That’s a primary offense now too.
Now granted, Orrock isn’t entirely incorrect. In an era of iPhones and portable electronic devices, using Google Maps to get your way around is natural. The temptation to text or type in an address while on the move is sometimes irresistible, and as an EMS responder, Orrock has probably seen his fair share of accidents where someone got into a wreck that never should have happened.
It’s still bad legislation — banning cheeseburgers and all that — yet it’s a great conversation to have as Virginia’s laws are constantly refined to catch up with technology.
(crossposted to Bearing Drift)