Teens Killed Car Surfing; Florida Makes The Practice An Arrestable Offense

Racks or running boards on the roof of a car are *supposed* to be for lugging surfboards, not used as a surfing platform itself. But daredevil teens (read: stupid teens) have taken to doing just that–car surfing across the nation, bringing a new level of danger associated with the term “distracted driving.”

Just last week, two Wellington, Florida teens died in a crash when a driver lost control of an SUV and flipped the car before it caught on fire. One teen was thought to be car surfing, while the other was trying to climb back into the vehicle after being on the roof.

The trend isn’t new–teens first started doing it in the ’80s after seeing Michael J. Fox car surf on top of a van. Outside of Hollywood, YouTube videos of people car surfing started popping up about four years ago. However, this recent accident, as well as recent reports like this one on msnbc have given the practice new attention.

Car surfing in Florida is now classified as an offense–anyone caught doing it will be arrested. Should a fatal accident occur, the driver can be charged with vehicular homicide and sentenced to years in jail.

I’m suspecting that teens that car surf are simply bored out of their minds and looking for something to do.

A little tip: If you’re bored or are just looking to surf,  grab a board and *drive safely* to the nearest wave pool or beach.You’ll most likely live to ride another day.

South Carolina One Step Closer To Texting-While-Driving Ban

South Carolina lawmakers stopped a bill that would have banned talking on the phone while driving. However, this week, a state Senate panel advanced a texting-while-driving ban. The bill next be reviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee for approval. Lawmakers are still sorting out how much to charge those who break the law–the initial $25 fee was deemed too low by the committee.

Study Shows Phoning-and-Driving Bans Don’t Reduce Accidents

California's First Lady Maria Shriver Talking and Driving

The Highway Loss Data Institute released a study last week (available here) which showed that texting bans don’t reduce car crashes.

The study compared insurance claims for crash damage in 3 states (NY, CT and CA) and the District of Columbia before and after driving-and-phoning bans.  When compared with nearby areas that didn’t have phoning-and-driving bans, data showed that there were “no reductions in crashes.”

The report states:

“Month-to-month fluctuations in rates of collision claims in jurisdictions with bans didn’t change from before to after the laws were enacted. Nor did the patterns change in comparison with trends in jurisdictions that didn’t have such laws.”

That said, the study also specified that the database from which they drew information, “doesn’t identify drivers using cellphones when their crashes occur,” making us wonder how sound this study really is.

Already, the US Dept. of Transportation has called the study “irresponsible.”

Stay tuned for similar study and more on the phone-ban-while-driving debate!

Indiana Considers Texting and Driving Ban For All Drivers

Currently, Indiana drivers under 18 are not allowed to text and drive.

However, the Indiana General Assembly is looking at bills that would ban the practice or all drivers.

Do you think texting-and-driving bans should apply to everyone or just teens?

New Mexico Aims To Crack Down on Drinking and Driving

Two bills aimed at reducing drunk driving in New Mexico passed their first stage of legislation Tuesday. If the bills become law, those caught driving while intoxicated for the first time would face three days of jail time or would have to undergo a 30-day community custody program that includes electronic monitoring.

The bills were introduced last year after four Santa Fe teens were killed by a drunk driver.

The bills are aimed at cracking down on first-time DWI offenders, since 70 percent of DWI-caused fatalities in New Mexico are caused this demographic.*

The measures still need to be approved by two more Senate committees before being voted on by the entire state Senate.

While it seems like a no-brainer to get tough on drunk driving, those who oppose say that these measures will just place first-time offenders in already overcrowded jails.

Do you think drunk drivers should have tougher penalties? Should everyone slapped with a DWI face jail time?

Kansas Enforces New Cell Phone Ban For Young Drivers

Jan 1 Kansas began enforcing a ban on using phones for fresh drivers aged 16.5 and younger.

True, studies have shown that drivers under the age of 20 are more distracted, and dangerous, drivers.

But how practical is this law? How is an officer to tell how old a driver is just by eyeballing them?

Should using phones behind the wheel be allowed for some drivers and not others?

What do you think?

Jail Time For Texting While Driving?

The Kansas City Star reports that new state legislation has been proposed that suggests jail time for texting while behind the wheel. The bill is one of the more rigid of many texting while driving bans; It’s modeled after Utah’s anti texting-while-driving legislation, which is one of the toughest in the country.

The Kansas bill allows drivers to talk, but not text while in the car. Police officers would be able to stop motorists of all ages for texting only (not just drivers under the age of 22, like Missouri, for example). Many states require a traffic violation as cause to pull over a driver who is seen texting–they aren’t permitted to stop a driver for texting alone.

Violators of the proposed bill would face fines and even jail time.

While the bill has just been introduced, and will likely see changes before being passed, it seems pretty hardcore.

What do you think? Is jail time too harsh a punishment for a texting-while-driving crime?