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The WACHS Modcast

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Jul 2, 2018



The new GEORGIA hands-free smartphone law went into effect yesterday. This means that you can’t be texting or even holding the phone anymore while driving. Whether it's your plane or your car, or even your boat. YIKR?

I know for a fact that many people do this— Drive while operating a computer in one hand. And I know from experience that this is difficult to do safely. And I also know that it pisses me off insanely when some jack nuts is navigating the internets faster than she is driving in front of me.

You ever wonder why you have to sit through, like, 3 turns of a left green arrow these days? it’s because everybody uses the red light to work on their digital communications. Let’s be honest. You add the extra 2 seconds it takes for each driver to re-engage with the real world, and you multiply THAT by however many people are in your lane….well, 7 minutes later, you’re finally making a left turn. 

But having said that, I also know for a fact that most people are sick of the government telling them what to do, even if it’s a good law, and a lot of people are still in a very “eff you” mood, so we’ll see if the people of Georgia comply. 

It seems to me the seat belt laws worked. They got the desired behavior at little cost…by local government standards, that is. I don’t even think about wearing seat belts now. I've been conditioned.

I can't really see how the hands free law should be any different in achieving a desired behavioral outcome. Evidence: I always use a hands free…although the technology at this point is still too shoddy and from China to not be aggravating. Just give me a damn slot on the dashboard to plug my phone into that’s not the air conditioning vent. C’mon!  It can’t be this hard. The AM/FM/CD lobbyists are broke.

I did some research into the phenomenon of handheld computing while driving back in 2015-16. 

Part of my fitness walk in those years took me to a stretch of road that straddled the Peachtree Corners/Norcross border. I call this part of my hometown, Peachcross. It is a solid middle-class area. Blue collar, white collar, no collar. Emphasis on giant scoreboards showing NFL-bound high school alumni over maybe the education. All-American Town. 

Medlock Bridge Road, from Spalding Drive north to Peachtree Corners Circle, has wide sidewalks next to single lane traffic both ways. Great for pedestrianizing. The traffic is always slow there, so you get a great glimpse of what people are doing in their cars. 

After over several hundred walks down that road, a consistent 75% of drivers were doing something with their phones.  I could have walked down the street nude, and very few people would notice me, at that rate. 

I’m going to do some more research now that the law has been not only passed, but the state government put forth a huge media push to create awareness of the law. Unless you were asleep, you got a cell phone law message on your smart phone every 5 minutes for the past month. I’m curious to see if these area drivers have adapted to a new reality.  My findings shortly.

I hear many people worry that this is a law created solely so cops can pull you over at anytime and hassle you and search your car looking for other crimes and money. A real shakedown opportunity. It might alleviate some of these peoples’ fears if maybe they didn’t do crimes to begin with, and stopped confusing us with Mexico. 

The ones who worry not because they are criminals, but care about rights in principle, worry because there is distrust of police and government in general. That fear can only be alleviated by putting some trust back into the system. Both sides have to take a little leap of faith to head in the right direction again and help repair the relationship between the citizen and the government.

A good system of government depends on trust between the governors and the governed, or else, it’s all war, all the time. So knowing that there are many people in law enforcement and government who really do care about the citizens, and really do want to protect their communities, we need to trust that it’s the primary reason for this new hands free phone law.

And if any of you do get a hassle from the cops, and you are an innocent, well, good news! You can always record the entire incident on the thing you’re forbidden to hold and let a jury of Twitter, Youtube, and Instagram decide your fate. It could work. Look at Rodney King, Southside Steve, and many others. 

And I thank you!