Meet a few people I saw texting and driving while leaving NYC yesterday

I was in New York City for a few days, and took the bus home last night (only $30, who knew?), and damn if I didn’t see a number of people texting while driving.

First there was this woman.

text-feature

We were entering the Lincoln Tunnel to New Jersey, around W. 39th. The woman’s car was actually moving, inching ahead in traffic, while she was texting, hands on the phone, not the wheel, and she kept looking down at the phone while the car was moving. That’s what finally motivated me to snap the photo. Car is moving, and you’re looking down at your phone having a text conversation.

Here’s New York state law:

Under New York State law you cannot use a hand-held mobile telephone or send a text or an email while you drive. If you use a hand-held mobile telephone while you drive (except to call 911 or to contact medical, fire or police personnel about an emergency) or use a device to text or send email, you can receive a traffic ticket and be subject to a fine and a surcharge.

Interestingly, it doesn’t say anything about “reading” texts or emails, or surfing the Web. One would assume those activities should be prohibited as well.

car-text-1

car-text-2

Then, a short while later, we’re on 95 in New Jersey, and I just happen to see a truck driver doing the same thing — phone in the hand, looking down at the phone, while zooming along at 55 to 65mph.

truck-2

New Jersey law is also somewhat vague, at least the state’s description of the law is confusing:

nj-law-textiung

What I find confusing is that the description from the state, above, makes it sound as if you can text hands-free — in other words, using Siri. Also, again, the state of New Jersey’s page says nothing about surfing the Web, though they do mention that the list of “uses” is not limited to what they describe. Still, somewhat confusing.

Here’s truck-surfer:

truck-1

truck-2

truck-hands

Someone on Facebook mentioned that there apparently is technology that can shut off the texting, and even the phone, features once you pass a certain speed. But the phone and car companies don’t exactly love it. And think about it, your GPS won’t let you enter new data when you’re moving. Though, if you’re a passenger, it would be pretty lousy if you couldn’t text or enter data on your Web browser while the car was moving — maybe it has a proximity sensor in the steering wheel, so only the driver is negated.

I don’t mean to go all Grandpa McCain, but I just don’t get it.

Then again, I’m one of those people who actually uses their turn signal when, you know, turning.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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  • Butch1

    There is a loophole in that law in Washington State. If you are hard of hearing and you ARE wearing your hearing aids, you can have your phone in your hand and talk. You probably could get away with texting, but when you are pulled over by the State Trooper he had better know about the law exempting people who are wearing their hearing aids. They may use their phones whilst driving.
    I carry a copy of the law in my glove box in both vehicles.

    My problem is I cannot use a blue-tooth because of the road noise and that I’m also hearing impaired. I have hearing aids that also can act as a stereo blue-tooth. My cell phone is adapted to a small control I wear around my neck that can control the volume of my hearing aids, the telephone and I can even play music through them if I plug the wire into that small control. Very clever. I don’t need to hold a phone in my hand anymore trying to hear a conversation or even that blue-tooth that I could never hear.

  • annAnnMOwenann

    My Uncle Caleb got a new white Toyota Corolla by working off of a computer… go to this web-site ……>> -> START FREELANCING!!! <-

  • judybrowni

    Forget John Mc Cain, as a pedestrian I’m scared stiff!
    Please forward that woman and here license, and that truck driver’s texting to the authorities, please!

  • WildwoodGuy

    I’m here in WA state and was rear-ended while stopped at a signal by a woman who was 9 months pregnant… and as she got out of the car (with great difficulty, I might add) she was still holding her phone and texting her boyfriend that she’d now gotten into an accident… and admitted she was texting while driving. No ticket for her… and she was uninsured… so my insurance picked up the tab for replacing the bed and rear bumper of my small truck. My biggest concern was that she was going to have the baby right there on the street… and I’ve only been through ONE of those… don’t want to do it again EVER!

  • orogeny

    Last month there was a woman in front of my on a city street…light traffic nothing in front of her, and she was doing about 10 mph, texting away. As I went around her, I honked, and she looked at me indignantly and pointed to her phone, as if to say, “Can’t you see I’m texting here?”

  • Denver Catboy

    That’s what the air horn on my bike is for. I also have a bell. If you’re attentive, the air horn stays quiet on my handlebar. But heaven help you if you’re about to hit me. That tiny little horn is louder than a car horn. Jerk of a guy tried to cut me off. I leaned on the button. Guy almost shot through his roof, then gave me this huge-eyed look as I swerved around him, giving him my best death glare.

    Beware the bike. Some of those little suckers may pack VERY loud surprises.

    And yes, the camera on my helmet probably also gave him a start. ;)

  • I have picture of my boyfriend doing this and I use it against him all the time.

  • The law in Chicago forbids using hand-held devices while driving. Yeah, right.

    I suppose we should be grateful that drivers have actually begun stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks. Still throws me when they do that, though.

  • HeartlandLiberal

    Hmmm. I note you did not include sex in your list of exceptions.

  • Someone should create a blog exclusively devoted to this — take photos, post em.

  • My sister had something similar happen to her, still a problem with her neck, had to get some major surgery.

  • Bonnie MacMahon

    I live in NJ and was rear-ended back in February. I was stopped at a red light with 3 cars ahead of me and BAM! No one will ever convince me the idiot wasn’t looking at her phone. I thought of suing her in small claims court just for the bullshit, but I’ve got two kids, two dogs and 4 cats…I don’t have the time for revenge. But boy oh boy, I wish I did. :D

  • goulo

    Yow!

    This problem of increasingly stupid dangerous drivers is another reason I’m glad that there also exist cities with decent alternative public transportation like trams and subways…

  • just_AC

    You wanna know why they don’t get tickets? It’s because the police are the worst at driving and being on the phone!

  • UncleBucky

    Hyah, I’ll go all Grampa along with you. I get the jitters when I see texting by drivers in traffic!

  • nicho

    I’ll see your drivers texting and raise you one woman driving on the interstate in 65 mph traffic and changing her baby’s diaper at the same time.

  • 2karmanot

    Turn signals? There are turn signals? S**t, I still put my left arm out for left or up for right. What century is this? Yours sincerely, Grandpa McLudite.

  • AnitaMann

    I see it all the time. In LA, people pretty much conduct every bit of life business behind the wheel, except possibly cooking, gardening and showering.

  • djny10003

    I live in NYC, and damn if I don’t see about 1 in 3 using cell phones when they drive by.

  • I see someone on their cellphone every day here in Seaside – and we’ve only got 6000 people. Sure, sometimes it’s the tourists, but sometimes not. And last week I was visiting in Michigan and it was TWICE as bad – talking, texting – and yeah, while the car is moving forward, both hands on phone, eyes down. And 70mph is the speed limit, so no thanks, Michigan. And I AM an old man (and I;m cranky).

  • Thom Allen

    It’s not just texting. I’ve watched people reading newspapers or books while driving, blow drying hair, applying make up, rummaging in purses, playing with pets, etc. And some had kids in the car at the time. Most were in fairly slow moving traffic, bit even so, these people should be pulled over and fined at least.

  • nicho

    Did you check to see what your bus driver was doing?

  • nicho

    Our snowbirds are making their way back too. It’s not enough we have local crazy drivers, but now we have out-of-town idiots too.

  • pricknick

    If you really want to have an interesting day (and fix your dented back bumper), be sure you troll in front of these induhviduals and perform a semi-panic stop.

  • HereinDC

    I’ve always noted at my bus stop each morning. here in Northwest DC, on a busy commuter street from VA and MD….that 9 out of 10 cars have only one occupant. Lately now, I count how many people are texting as they drive by….. It’s 2-3 drivers out of 10 are texting.

  • Demosthenes

    Texting and driving is dangerous, Mr. Aravosis. You are not and old, deranged coot for writing about it! A few months ago, my wife got a ticket for it. When she informed me and the kids, we applauded.

  • Indigo

    It’s crazy everywhere but when you’re ready for insane drivers in heavy traffic, come to Florida. We’ve got tourists and angry part-timers all over the place and none of them seem to have any idea where they’re going.

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