Three days after Washington State’s controversial “distracted driving law” took effect, an online petition demanding that the law be changed had gathered more than 26,000 signatures, with a goal of 35,000 signatures.
That goal may easily be surpassed, as Evergreen State drivers have suddenly discovered the extent of this “Nanny State” statute. Not only does it penalize people for using cellphones or texting while driving, it also allows “secondary” penalties for eating or taking a drink of soda or water, for example, if the driver is distracted. This distracted driving law just might have a built-in problem, thanks to McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken and other such eateries.
As one person wrote, as quoted by the Daily Olympian, “It’s my car. I will do as I want in it. Until you pay for my car or insurance, you have no right telling what I can or can’t do in it or with it.”
Step back and look around a typical urban street or freeway interchange and what does one see? Fast food places with drive-thru sales; lots of them.
The petition, submitted by Angela Cruze, appears to be slightly misdirected, however. In addition to the Washington State Senate, it is addressed to Gov. Jay Inslee and President Donald Trump.
It says, “If you agree that our governor needs to rewrite the new Distractor Drivers Law Policy and should remove the secondary offense of ‘eating, drinking, and grooming’ from the policy.”
It is time for a civics lesson. Governors don’t rewrite laws, and this governor especially is not going to rewrite this law. He supports it.
The backlash against this law is not surprising, but it should be instructive to lots of people who have heretofore been indifferent, or supportive of, gun control laws that have become increasingly restrictive. Government has been trying to micromanage the exercise of the fundamental right to keep and bear arms for decades, and especially the past 50 years.
Now, suddenly, the general public is discovering just how intrusive government is becoming, and they don’t like it.
Gun rights activists might shout out a collective “Welcome to the party!”
One interesting manifestation of this problem came the other day when Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was caught on video by CNN participating in a rebranding of the Democratic Party agenda in an effort to regain control of Capitol Hill.
“This is one step that Democrats are offering to take back our government,” she stated.
Sen. Warren should be reminded that government belongs to all the people, not just Democrats, so it is not theirs to “take back.”
Of course, the flip side the outrage is that distracted drivers cause accidents. Drive along any interstate highway in Washington, or anywhere else for that matter, and one will spot people on cell phones, often drifting into adjacent lanes and sometimes into oncoming traffic. It’s annoying, dangerous and sometimes fatal.
Will the distracted driving law petition make a difference? Maybe as much difference as the law, itself.
A hint might be found in the aftermath of the “universal background check” law passed by voters in 2014, or the “gun violence tax” adopted in Seattle two years ago. The background check law hasn’t prevented any shootings, including Cascade Mall in Burlington. And shooting reports are up in Seattle.