Dale Erdey’s Uncommonly Stupid Facebook-While-Driving Bill

Apparently Louisiana has perfected its body of legislation, and no further laws of consequence need to be passed or repealed.

This must be the case – otherwise, one wonders what the motivation might be for SB 147.

(2) No person shall operate any motor vehicle upon any public road or highway of this state while using a wireless telecommunications device to access, read, or post to a social networking site.

And a description…

(c) “Access, read, or post to a social networking site” means using a wireless telecommunications device to view any web-based service that allows individuals to construct a profile within a bounded system, articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and communicate with other members of the site.

No tweeting, Facebooking, Instagramming, Pinteresting or Linking In.

The author of this flamboyant piece of nanny-state micromanagement is Sen. Dale Erdey, a Republican from Livingston…

The proposal by Sen. Dale Erdey, R-Livingston, was approved by the committee without objection. It moves to the full Senate for debate.

“Distracted driving can cause a lot of accidents,” Erdey told committee members.

Erdey said the impetus for the bill came from law enforcement officials in the city of Walker who reported stopping drivers who looked like they were texting. After being pulled over, the drivers said they were not texting — they were posting to Facebook or Instagram.

“Under current law, nothing states or talks about social networking,” Erdey said. “Texting, social networking, it’s all about taking your eyes off the road.”

Erdey’s coup de grace justification for the bill…

“Sending or receiving a text takes the driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds,” he said. “That’s equivalent at 55 mph of driving the length of an entire football field basically blind. Social networking is taking more time.”

How does Erdey propose to know whether somebody is on Facebook while driving, which would be illegal, and not reading an article at Buzzfeed or Gawker, which is not (but probably ought to be, for other reasons)?

Does he expect to file another bill which would enable police officers to commandeer the smart phones of suspected violators and review their browsing history to determine which sins have been committed against the road?

Surely the cops have enough to do now. Surely there are laws preventing reckless driving.

If you can manage to tweet or send or read Facebook messages while staying in your lane and avoiding running into anyone – which is difficult, to be sure, but possible given enough talent at multitasking – then why is it Erdey’s business what goes on in your driver’s seat?

If you can’t, then you’re driving recklessly. Driving recklessly is something you get a ticket for.

This is a stupid, stupid bill. It’s a waste of the legislature’s time and it’s an infringement on individual liberty.

It’s the harm the state has an interest in preventing. What you do that causes no harm is your business.

Erdey said he filed the bill because some cops in Walker told him that when they pulled people over for texting they were told by drivers, “Nope – I was on Facebook.”

Now, if this becomes law they’ll say “Nope – I was reading TMZ. Did you hear Paris Hilton has a new sex tape out?” And Erdey will be back next year trying to ban celebrity goofball sites. The year after that he’ll be going after Angry Birds. Or the Weather Channel App.

Instead of just getting off this crazy merry-go-round and letting the cops write tickets for reckless driving where it exists, and leaving people alone where it doesn’t.

The bill flew out of committee with no objection, largely because nobody paid a lick of attention to it. It was the last bill out of Senate Transportation before the committee adjourned. They were ready to get the hell out of there.

Hopefully when this thing gets to the Senate floor some of the members will consider how ridiculous this legislation is.



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