Florida House Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff (R-Fort Lauderdale) isn't in favor of passing a law against texting while driving despite overwhelming support for the bill in the Florida Senate. The Senate voted 34-4 today to ban the practice.
Bogdanoff told the Sun-Sentinel that "There are a lot of things that people do in their cars that are very distracting and all of them need to be addressed." Texting, Bogdonoff seemed to imply, is the least of our worries.
Bogdanoff thinks singling out texting for punishment is "intellectually dishonest." The Juice seconds that. Some of us grew up watching our parents steer the station wagon with their knees while juggling a chilled pitcher of martinis, changing a diaper, and keeping fierce guard over the radio dial. Long before texting was an issue, we'd learned that there are many ways to divert the attention of a driver. Throwing up in the picnic basket, for instance. Or killing a sibling.
We've come up with a list of common Florida driving distractions, and we have to agree that surfing the net at 85 mph kind of pales in comparison:
1. Billboards. Between the $250-million Powerball jackpots, the new LCD billboards advertising genital laser surgery, and the bathroom-humored Paul & Young Ron ads, Floridians have plenty of roadside entertainment to compete with their handheld devices. Take the 2008 Orlando sign pictured at right, depicting burning twin towers and imploring Floridians not to vote Democratic. Guaranteed to induce apoplexy while driving.
2. Babies. 4,317,119 American babies were born in 2007, an all-time record that makes the 1950s boom look like chopped liver. You have to figure at least 1/50th of those tykes popped out in Florida. Add the number of vacationers traveling with infants and toddlers, and that means a whole lot of little distractions on our scenic highways. As one New Times staffer and first-time mother describes the phenomenon: "Put one foot on brake, lean and contort whole body into backseat to see how cute your baby is (REALLY cute!!)"
3. Blow Jobs.
4. Watching a DVD. Playing in the car in front of you. Never has a trailer for Last of the Mohicans looked so enticing as when partially glimpsed through an afternoon downpour a mere one car-length away.
5. Food. Those peel 'n' eats leftover from yesterday's happy hour at Flanigan's were problematic when you had a table, napkins, and a waitress to clean up your mess. We're with Bogdanoff: If you're going to pull someone over, arrest the character in the Civic driving 30 mph in the left-hand lane so he can polish off his breakfast burrito before he gets to the office.
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We personally know at least two people who got into fender benders while craning around for a better view of babes way too young for them anyway. You'd think legislators in a state famed for its naked hitchhikers would be able to get their priorities straight. We say: Permanently revoke driving privileges of any old fart who rear-ends the car in front of him while ogling.