Below, with apologies for the formatting, is the Twitter conversation I had last week regarding the province's proposed new texting while driving law:
302. FACLC Why is #ableg thinking about banning texting & driving when smoking pot & driving, already illegal, is a regular unenforced #yeg occurance?I really liked #272 (please ignore the numbers, they don't mean anything), where I observed that the number of laws should be kept to a bare minimum.
301. chrislabossiere @FACLC can't have both? I agree that impaired driving is a problem, but texting while driving is equally dangerous.
300. FACLC @ChrisLaBossiere But there's the problem. You just can't keep passing more unenforceable laws, it diminishes value of existing ones.
298. chrislabossiere @FACLC flawed logic my friend. So as new technology is added, we ignore passing laws to respond cause we're too busy with the old ones?
296. FACLC @ChrisLaBossiere Creating an increased number of otherwise ordinary folk comitting a crime and getting away with it is not "responding"
295. hurtinalbertan @FACLC that just helps to even out the crimes committed by GoA and getting away with it, just that the public has to follow their rules
294. dominionpundit @FACLC @FACLC I'm surprized that Ralphie's old party has been infiltrated by safety nazis. #yeg
293. chrislabossiere @FACLC Same as seat-belts? It's ridiculous to suggest that the lack of ability to enforce laws is reason for not having them.
292. FACLC @ChrisLaBossiere Quick answer by the way is no you can't have both. Law w/o enforcement is just legislative manner of jerking off
291. chrislabossiere @FACLC they are separate issues. A law like that can save lives, and place liability in the hands of those responsible for accidents.
290. FACLC @ChrisLaBossiere Thats actually is a good example of a dumb law. Early enforcement, now no one cares. Belt use % been stable since inception
289. FACLC @ChrisLaBossiere How can a law that nobody enforces save lives? See a lot of checks to make sure passenger airbags not disabled?
288. chrislabossiere @FACLC Should we get rid of Sexual Assault laws because we don't see into the homes of offenders, and can't possibly enforce it all?
287. FACLC @ChrisLaBossiere Seeing how "dangerous driving" is already far too-wide a net cops use to charge people for driving offenses, why make more?
286. FACLC @ChrisLaBossiere If at least every day you could observe a blatent sexual assault in the streets, then its time to ditch that one too
285. chrislabossiere @FACLC seat belt usage hasn't saved lives? How about we bet that the fatality rate of accidents have fallen since inception. 24 beer.
284. FACLC @ChrisLaBossiere Sounds like a safe bet, I'm sure there haven't been ANY technological changes to vehicles since 1987... http://tr.im/x1Y6
283. FACLC @ChrisLaBossiere Incidently, here's the Journal on seatbelt rates: http://tr.im/x1XW
280. chrislabossiere @FACLC maybe read the article. Then we'll talk.
278. FACLC @ChrisLaBossiere Read b4 I posted it. Rough gist: seatbelt use poor, enforcement poor. Law only good for keeping Queen's Printer employed
277. chrislabossiere @FACLC just so I'm clear. If the likelyhood of getting caught is reduced, we should not create laws in that case?
276. FACLC @ChrisLaBossiere Yes, if you plan to create a law to curb existing behaviour, don't do it unless you will continually enforce it
275. FACLC @ChrisLaBossiere Otherwise its effect is the reverse of what you intended. People will continue to observe violations w/o penalty
274. hurtinalbertan @FACLC does smoking fit into that also?
273. FACLC @ChrisLaBossiere Once that happens, all your laws on the books are reduced in credibility. # of actual laws should be kept to BARE MINIMUM
272. FACLC Actually my last tweet summarizes a good conservative principle: # of laws should be kept to a bare minimum. #ableg #roft #canpoli #tcot
271. FACLC @hurtinalbertan Walk down Whyte Avenue. Watch how many ppl are smoking within 5m of entrance. Watch how many of them are bouncers.
270. hurtinalbertan @FACLC bouncers need to stay close to the door thats their job, but true smoking laws R not enforced as much as they should be
269. chrislabossiere @FACLC even if $0 was spent in enforcment of that law, it would save Albertans $100's of millions in insured losses.
268. ElniskiMLA @FACLC Well spoken, laws and regulations all are better in small numbers
266. FACLC @hurtinalbertan If the bouncer is caught allowing smoking within 5m, facility could be fined $10 grand, but they don't fear it. Why?
265. FACLC @ChrisLaBossiere Insurance already cares abt factors not strictly related 2 law of the land (ie. drinking 12 hrs b4 crash). Why not texting?
263. hurtinalbertan @FACLC maybe they are protected from prosecution just like some civil servants are
261. FACLC @hurtinalbertan They know that no-one actually cares. Its like calling cops on ur neighbour for smoking weed: ur the jerk for bothering them
255. hurtinalbertan @FACLC so I have to agree with you that a lot of laws are made to comfort the masses, leading them into a false security
254. FACLC @hurtinalbertan Everybody breaks at least 1/2 dozen laws daily, man & company alike. http://bit.ly/yJAHv
252. hurtinalbertan @FACLC but the laws I am referring too are not misdemeanors , but activities like fraud, embezzlement and racketeering
250. FACLC @dominionpundit Ralph's party was already safety Nazis: Getty's the one who brought in the fucking seatbelt law
246. FACLC @hurtinalbertan Broken window theorem (er, the OTHER one): as small crimes are allowed to be broken, larger and larger ones supplement
243. hurtinalbertan @FACLC that include C.C & human rights violations, manipulation of financial information for the purpose of embezzling and extortion ?
240. FACLC @hurtinalbertan Other than the odd need to qualify CC & human rights violations (latter part of the former), yes: http://tr.im/x2ay
Again, to expound my point here, a texting and driving law is already flawed before its even conceived. Smoking pot and driving is highly illegal, and I smell at least one car per day in Edmonton... and I don't even drive that much. If I was a road regular I wouldn't be surprised to notice it 10 or more times per week. Yet its already illegal.. but nobody cares, nobody enforces it. Remember when Alberta brought in mandatory seatbelt legislation? They had cops checking for seatbelts for three, maybe four years... and then they stopped. Seatbelt use hasn't really changed in that time, same as smoking pot and driving... hell, drinking and driving barely changes with hardcore enforcement efforts. Banning texting and driving won't make the roads safer. All they will do is give legislators and people a false sense that they've "done something". And the effect is temporary. Every day you will see people texting in traffic. Half the time it will be at red lights and probably end up legal anyways. Even when you see the law being broken, outside of temporary enforcement pushes if you phone in a texting-while-driving report the cops will either ignore you or bug you for wasting their time.
Meanwhile, at what price society? As the number of laws increases, ultimately you are creating more violators of those laws. As time goes on more and more people become lawbreakers. It starts with some jaywalking (this year cracked down on downtown), then some bike riding on the sidewalk (on Whyte Ave, this was acknowledged as de facto legal until last week) [also a subject a recent Tweet -ed], next thing you can text and drive with impunity, followed by smoking pot and driving, followed by drinking and driving. As people watch it take place, their own confidence in the rule of law continues to diminish. Many of them will take it upon themselves to start breaking some laws as well. After the cops basically admit that they aren't interested in enforcing the massive juggernaut of laws politicians continue to pass in order to score press releases, then its up to people to guess which ones they can get away with. As more people do this calculus, any guesses what the result is?
So here's the nightmare that is continuing. What is the solution? I said it right up there in tweet 276:
if you plan to create a law to curb existing behaviour, don't do it unless you will continually enforce itThat means bad news for politicians, because they don't really have as many things to do. I mean after purging the books of laws that are only there to make people feel better, what really is left for 83 MLAs that, say, 63 MLAs ("63 in '63") couldn't do. Meanwhile, with police officers no longer having to be concerned about investigating violations of the Builders' Lien Act perhaps they can be familiar with parts of the Police Act that Edmonton Police Services seems to have so many difficulties with. They might even find the time to maybe investigate property crimes!
So in the end, Alberta is almost guaranteed to have a stupid texting while driving law. It probably won't distinguish between texting at red lights or while stuck in gridlock and texting while driving 140 km/hr down the QE2. And the only thing that will happen as a result is that a little piece of society will die. Congradu-fucking-lations.