A bad idea, seen previously in proposals in New York and elsewhere, won’t go away: “The measure recently introduced by General Assembly member Pamela Lampitt (D) would ban walking while texting and bar pedestrians on public roads from using electronic communication devices that are not hands-free. Violators would face fines of up to $50, 15 days imprisonment or both, which is the same penalty as jaywalking.” While no states appear to have passed such enactments yet, New Jersey isn’t the only state where they’re being floated: “For instance, a bill pending in Hawaii would fine someone $250 for crossing the street with an electronic device.” [Bruce Shipkowski, AP/Washington Post]
“In the lawsuit, the Coalition Against Distracted Driving and Stephen L. Joseph, as an individual, seek an injunction against Apple, Samsung, Google, and Microsoft, requiring those companies to pay $1 billion annually to fund an ‘effective and ongoing national public education campaign’ to educate drivers on the dangers of using smart phones and smart watches while driving.” The suit seeks to define the behavior at issue as a nuisance under California law. [Jared McClain, Washington Legal Foundation]
The Minnesota state police don’t deny that they see coffee-drinking behind the wheel as something that might constitute prohibited distracted driving, but deny Lindsay Krieger’s claim that that was why she was pulled over on Interstate 94 in St. Paul. A spokeswoman says an officer stopped and ticketed Krieger (not her first time) for driving without a seat belt, and the coffee lecture was in the nature of an added warning. Krieger was once “busted in Eagan…for eating Cheerios out of a cup while waiting in line to make a turn.” [Minneapolis Star-Tribune, FindLaw]
…and miss the more significant role of former Bloomberg health czar Thomas Frieden at the Centers for Disease Control. The Blaze covers my remarks yesterday at a Heritage panel discussion on food freedom.
More: At Independent Women’s Forum, Julie Gunlock thinks I’m letting the First Lady off the hook a bit too much.
“All you really need to know about New York Senate Bill S6325A is that it would create a law named after a person (this one would be ‘Evan’s Law’), since any law named after a person is almost always a terrible idea. (See, e.g., ‘Caylee’s Law,’ a terrible idea in 2011.) If the law were a good idea, they wouldn’t need to try to generate support by manipulating people’s emotions.” But the law — which would empower police to demand inspection of your cellphone after any auto collision, for the stated purpose of seeing whether the recent use of it had distracted you, and would provide for automatic license suspension if you refused — is in fact a very bad idea. [Lowering the Bar]
The federal seat-belt-law mandate was the result of a 1980s deal between Reagan-era Transportation secretary Elizabeth Dole (proof, long before Mayor Bloomberg, that nanny-state tendencies transcend partisan labels) and Detroit automakers, who calculated that regulating their customers would help stave off regulating their own design decisions. And now? Less individual liberty, more scope for police discretion, and in some states a taste for revenue: “In California, a single seat-belt violation can be as much as $490.” [Radley Balko] Earlier on mandatory seat belt usage laws here, here (“saturation detail” police stops), here, etc. (“doggie seat belt” laws), here (Germany: Pope in Popemobile), here, and here (England: Santa’s sleigh), among others.
- Driver’s license suspensions, which many states use to punish unpaid court debt and other offenses unrelated to driving skill, can accelerate spiral into indigency [New York Times]
- Your war on distracted driving: woman says she received $200 ticket “for putting on lip balm at a red light.” [KLAS Las Vegas, Nev.]
- “Of Course We Have No Ticket Quotas, But ….” [Lowering the Bar; Edmundson, Mo., in St. Louis County; Mariah Stewart, Huffington Post on revenue generation in Berkeley, Mo., and other neighboring towns; Scott Greenfield (“Ferguson: Where Everyone’s a Criminal”)]
- Yet more on St. Louis County: it started with a “defective muffler” stop in Florissant [Riverfront Times]
- NYC: “Speed cameras lead to surge in tickets and $16.9M in revenue for city” [NY Daily News]
- New Los Angeles parking signs explain it all for you, also recall design of craps table [Mark Frauenfelder, BoingBoing]
- Virginia: “How Police Drones and License-Plate Readers Threaten Liberty” [A. Barton Hinkle; related, Jim Harper/D.C. Examiner]
- As we warned at the time: Food Safety Modernization Act shaping up as severe burden for many small, local and artisanal producers [Tom Philpott, Mother Jones via Tim Carney, Dave Runsten and Brian Snyder, CivilEats]
- Bloomberg’s City Hall wants to keep secret the inputs to its food-scold policies. Open up, says Keep Food Legal [Reason]
- More coverage of Heritage food freedom panel I was on [Sihan Zhang, Scripps Howard Foundation Wire, Joe Daly/Accuracy in Academia, earlier]
- How shipping unions sunk food aid reform [Center for Public Integrity]
- California enacts a strong cottage food law, but needs to work on farmers’ markets [Baylen Linnekin; related on Texas]
- Law and public health profs inveigh against “Mountain Dew Mouth,” but is it a real thing? [Reason, Bill of Health, Andrew Sullivan]
- Canada’s OPEC-like maple syrup cartel fights thieves and legitimate competition alike [Lowering the Bar]
“In a case of first impression, a New Jersey appeals court has held that a remote texter can be held liable to third parties for injuries caused when the distracted driver has an accident,” if the third party has reason to know that the text will be read while driving. The court upheld a lower court ruling finding that not enough proof of such knowledge had been offered to defeat a motion for summary judgment. [ABA Journal, earlier here and here; related, Stoll] A different view: Eugene Volokh.