Proposed Legislation: Don't Game & Drive

July 9, 2007 -
If you crash while playing Burnout Legends on your PSP, do you crash in real life?

The question comes to mind as GamePolitics looks at some video game legislation that might actually make sense, for a change.

As reported by the Elimira Star-Gazette:
Proposed bills in 12 states, including New York and Pennsylvania, would forbid drivers from playing video games or using their computers and fax machines.

The legislation is a natural progression from outlawing the use of hand-held cell phones by drivers... The intent of the legislation... is to cut down on the distractions that drivers create for themselves when operating electronic devices...

The New York Senate... unanimously passed a bill outlawing such electronics just before adjourning. The Senate bill, S634-C, has been referred to the Assembly Codes Committee...

GP: While we generally think legislating video games is bad, so is distracted driving.

Comments

Another dumb law... Actually, now that I think of it, this technically means that Palm Treos and iPhones could be banned as they support electronic mailing and what does a fax machine do?

[...] Apparently People Need A Law To Tell Them Sending Faxes While Driving Isn’t A Good Idea We’ve written plenty of times about the ongoing push to ban talking on the phone while driving. Drivers that are distracted by phone conversations are undoubtedly a problem, but the real problem isn’t them talking on the phone, it’s the distraction. Devoting laws to make specific distractions illegal seems rather pointless, when compared to enforcing broader laws that seek to tackle poor and reckless driving in general. But, it would seem, many states would rather try to ban distractions one by one. So, in addition to talking on the phone, driving while drowsy, smoking while driving, and using OnStar or other telematics systems while driving, some New York lawmakers now looking to ban playing video games and sending faxes while driving. This illustrates the folly of these distraction-specific laws. Once legislators go down this path and begin to ban specific activities, they’re in some sense obliged to try and ban every single distraction. After all, while most reasonable people would realize that it probably wouldn’t be a great idea to operate a fax machine while driving — but if it’s not specifically made illegal, like talking on a cell phone while driving, it must be okay, right? [...]

[...] We’ve written plenty of times about the ongoing push to ban talking on the phone while driving. Drivers that are distracted by phone conversations are undoubtedly a problem, but the real problem isn’t them talking on the phone, it’s the distraction. Devoting laws to make specific distractions illegal seems rather pointless, when compared to enforcing broader laws that seek to tackle poor and reckless driving in general. But, it would seem, many states would rather try to ban distractions one by one. So, in addition to talking on the phone, driving while drowsy, smoking while driving, and using OnStar or other telematics systems while driving, some New York lawmakers now looking to ban playing video games and sending faxes while driving. This illustrates the folly of these distraction-specific laws. Once legislators go down this path and begin to ban specific activities, they’re in some sense obliged to try and ban every single distraction. After all, while most reasonable people would realize that it probably wouldn’t be a great idea to operate a fax machine while driving — but if it’s not specifically made illegal, like talking on a cell phone while driving, it must be okay, right? [...]

I agree that games shouldn't be played while driving, but the law is superfluous. All you need is to use the existing law that prohibits impaired driving.

Impaired driving, as you know, is driving a vehicle with a disruptive visual, physical or mental impairment, whether it's alcohol or a buildup of snow on the windshield. While using cellphones is debatable and may require an explicit law, playing a game is an outright infraction since you are placing focus on the game rather than driving.

I think the law is stupid, but if people are actually doing it, maybe we do need it. Not to protect those stupid idiots, but to protect us humans with, you know, a brain. Otherwise I'd say let survival of the fittest play and let them die an entertaining and painful death

I rig my models during road trips....

I think this law is silly, well sure I never had to send a fax on the road, bu… brb the light is about to turn green.

LOL! Well, at least this doesn't include printing documents or pictures in the car...hold on the printer cord fell out of the cigarette lighter when I inexplicably had to slam on brakes while editing my pictures for the email I'm going to send at the next red light.

@DtotheG

I'm afraid I'll have to disagree with you on this one. Natural selectees that drive cars have a bad habit of taking innocent bystanders with them.

[...] [Via GamePolitics] [...]

For all the comments of, "I didn't know fax machines were portable." Other than sending a hard copy without a scanner is the only time you will need a fax machine. Plenty of software exists that you can rt click on a document and say Fax it. All you need is an interent connection. I was just in the doctors office and as I was talking to him, he was clicking on the laptop and turned to me and said, "There your prescription was just faxed"

I stuck on the road a lot and on average an hour even though I'm only driving 17 miles, however I routinely see people texting, smoking a cig and driving. Since each one requires and arm I'd like to see their surgery bill for the third arm.

@Mauler

I think so to, imagine a law that only says "thou shall not drive distracted"

Just imagine if you where pulled over
Cop - Sir, I'm afraid I'm gona have to ticket you for driving distracted.
Person - Wha? what do you mean, I don't have a cell phone or even a radio here!
Cop - I'm afraid I saw you watch a girl as you drived, that's a $500 dlls ticket for being distracted.
Person - but the girl is on a poster on YOUR car!
Cop - Yes, it's an undercover op, suits you well, you crazy gamer.
Person - :(

Laws should be as tightly defined as possible. A ban on playing video games while driving is a good thing whereas driving while distracted would be a bad idea. Distraction, much like violence, comes in many flavors and definition. A series of laws that say exactly what you must or must not do while driving is much better than just one generic law that can be stretched to cover things it was never meant to cover.

To me, this law is only common sense. Honestly, playing a video game while you are driving? Isn't it like, important to actually pay attention while you are driving 'n' stuff?

"Common sense" is never a good reason for a law. It is usually just an excuse to set up a new ticket/fine scheme. It's common sense to eat regularly, brush your teeth, and have a bath every now and then, but I bet anyone who feels the need to legislate these activities has another angle, beyond his altruistic desire to protect those of us with "less common" sensibilities.

Worse, "common sense" laws are often just a foothold for more drastic legislation. About ten years ago, my state's seatbelt legislation was introduced with the explicit condition that you would never be pulled over for not wearing your belt, and that you would only be fined for not wearing your belt if you'd already been stopped for an actual moving violation. Earlier this year, my state launched an ad campaign boasting how state cops will pull over and ticket anyone suspected to not have his or her seatbelt properly fastened, regardless of whether or not the car was being driven responsibly and legally.

Some states have paternalistic laws that presume to know my driving behavior better than I do. They make it illegal to use the particular little devices on their particular little lists. If some of these states now want to add some nebulous definition of "games" to their lists, I'm not surprised. The longer the list, the more behaviors can be ticketed and fined.

I'm generally against any law that presumes to dictate my private behavior, in-cab or otherwise. As long as I obey the rules of the road and drive safely, it's nobody else's business whether or not I'm wearing my seatbelt, or cranking up the radio, having a conversation, or daydreaming in silence.

"Driving without due care and attention" is against the law already, right? The law about "operating a mobile device while driving" is almost certainly phrased so that it doesn't specifically refer to phones. So the law already allows you to be penalised for whipping out your DS for some Brain Training while behind the wheel.

Frankly if you need to be told that you shouldn't play games while piloting a ton of metal traveling at one tenth of the speed of sound, you shouldn't be allowed a licence.

Reminds of me of the penny-arcade strip where (i think gabe) is playing FFT:A at every stop light.

FAX while driving? Where can I get me one of these bizarre portable FAX machines? Does it make my cell phone emit crazy 28.8 modem noises?

It's kind of sad that driving under distractions doesn't just fall under common sense. Sure, we've seen all manner of idiotic behavior at 60 mph.

But rather than call out specific devices, maybe there should be a more general law about driving while clearly preoccupied with something else. If a person is drifting all over the road or seems restless in the front seat, police should just be able to pull them over. What does a law like this one accomplish? A cop encounters a distracted driver and says "Well, you're free to go. It was an Egg McMuffin, not a laptop"?

I'm gonna have to call this bill useless.

Don't use legislation to get in the way of Natural Selection.

DARWIN FTW!

I've actually seen a driver, on an interstate, with her laptop open in front of her and resting on the steering wheel and her lap. I really wish I was making that up. While the law might seem silly on the surface, because nobody should be doing something like this, there are some really stupid people out there who SHOULD be taken off the roads and fined a bunch of money or have their licenses revoked.

nightwng2000 > As crazy as the idea was, I had thought of that a long time ago. It was around the time the PSP was getting its momentum (before the DS took over) where me and a friend were talking about crazy stuff about the PSP (and all its neat features). One thing lead to another and I drew some comics about using the PSP while driving (and the person that approved it was giving a thumbs up while heavily wrapped in bandages).

Gameboy > It's honestly agreeable with what your saying. That reminds me of the commercials with All-State Insurance where the friends are all talking about the movie and WHAM!


The things people do to keep themselves entertained. It horribly reminds me of the pedophiles that use their own "Stylus" to stalk kids.

And I don't want to support this legislation because if common sense fails you, then you obviously shouldn't be driving.

This seems like a waste of time. Was people playing their Gameboy while driving really that big a problem? Really? I've heard of people reading while driving and women putting on make-up while driving more than I've heard of people gaming while driving. If you need to play a game so bad that you would do it while you are driving 80 miles an hour on the interstate, you are addicted. Or stupid. Very, very stupid. Maybe both.

They are banning using a fax machine in cars? Wait a minute, there are fax machines that could actually work in cars? When did this happen? I thought they had to be plugged into a phone line in order to work.

I don't really understand banning cellphones in cars. Personally, I drive 80% of the time with just one hand anyway. Beyond that, the only other excuse is that talking on the phone is a distraction. But by that logic, talking to friends/family that are in the car is a distraction. Talking to friends that are in the car with you is probably more of a distraction then talking to one over the phone. Want to ban driving with passengers? How about car-pooling?

@ Eli Mordino

It is better to ask for forgiveness than permission.

Just wish I remember who made that quote. It was near the birth of the US, during a time when people were arguing over how to interpret the Constitution. Long story short, one faction said "If its not in there that you can, you can't", and the other said "If its not in there that you can't, you can".

20 points to anyone that can help me remember who said it.

"I’m surprised this wasn’t somehow banned already. The “common sense” argument just can’t factor into avoiding legislation. “Common sense” certainly dictates that murder is wrong, but the law is still obviously necessary."

That's exactly what I was going to say. Saying it shouldn't be a law because it makes sense is utterly ridiculous.

Sad to say, this is a law that is needed for only one reason. Time and time again, the Darwin Awards proove that humanity can find almost every avenue around common sense. Common Sense my tell you not to jump into the bear pen at the zoo just to get a closer picture, but it does not mean that it has not been done before. Remember, dumb laws are for the dumb people so that they dont kill us smart people with their stupidity. The law is not intended to save them, it is to save us from them.

Last year, a London bus driver was canned after passengers reported that he was playing his PSP at traffic lights. At least this is a video game law with real public safety and common sense in mind, rather than extreme speculation and a tragedy in the headlines.

@l0ne

"Why is it required to specifically ban anything? Isn’t it more sensible to outlaw consciously operating a distracting device, which is how my country and most EU ones do it?"

It's called "stacking". They bust you for driving while distracted, driving without due care, driving while on a cell, etc all at once. There's usually a max for most fines, but they can be stacked one on top of the other to allow them to fine you a larger amount, and make it harder to argue your way out of all of them. You may claim you weren't really distracted, but you were still driving while using a handset, so at least one fine still sticks.
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

Yea, I agree that would be an annoying distraction, but thats something the radio station should take care of, not the government. I know they used to have annoying fire truck siren / horn based car advertisements on the radio. I ended up driving in silence since at that point in time my CD collection was stolen. It was just that advertisement but it was the more time was dedicated to advertising than music.

One thing that I really feel is a distraction is Billboard ads. Visual distractions are the worst IMO.

Well, my suggestion may have been a little over the top, but I'm just saying that it IS a genuine distraction.

I don't think they should prohibit any kind of siren or music on radio even though it doesn't effect me because I pick a cd out before I begin my driving to listen to.

Say no to this legislation. Even though it's not the typical "OMFG GAMES R BAD 4 U N R SOLD 2 MINERS" legislation, this could open up a doorway for those types of laws to actually get PASSED. Besides, isn't there legislation already in place that makes it illegal to talk on the phone/eat something/whatever while driving, or is that just up here in Canada.

I'm surprised this wasn't somehow banned already. The "common sense" argument just can't factor into avoiding legislation. "Common sense" certainly dictates that murder is wrong, but the law is still obviously necessary. Like others have said, I'd like to see a more efficient way of banning distractions. It is complicated though to ban what needs to be banned and yet leave out the little things that aren't particularly distracting.

Unrelated, but someone brought up the radio. I think they should consider a law about banning radio stations from playing siren sounds. There's this damn White Zombie song with a siren playing in the background that gets me looking around frantically every time.

I think playing video games, using a fax machine, or using a computer while driving is absolutely INSANE. Though I do think since cellphones don't require next to zero attention its acceptable( don't have to take my eyes off the road and the road maintains priority). I however do see people that shouldn't drive while using a cell phone and certainly there are situations that I wouldn't talk on a cellphone such as in moderate to heavy traffic, durring rain or other hazardous conditions, going through narrow streets, parking and well any time where you actually require 100% of your attention.

But if there is little traffic, you're familiar with the area and you have the ability to stay focused on driving while kind of staying focused the road, the cars in front, beside you, and behind you and all pedestrians/animals/objects in front of you and beside you then I really don't see the problem. Some people can multi-task and others cannot.
I avoid quite a bit of accidents, especially in a town that doesn't require you to actually require you to drive to get your license. A written test is all that is required which I think is absolutely insane.

But anyway I think there are much worse things than cellphones. Like girls doing make up while driving, people having sex while driving, changing clothes, eating non finger foods or large finger foods, searching for a CD, yelling at your child, yelling at anyone, argueing, anything that requires you to look away from the road, lighting fire works(yea I've seen it before) and now video games/comptuers. Also if your going to do something while driving, do one. Don't smoke and talk on the phone, dont eat and talk on the phone, dont eat and smoke, don't smoke and drink ect.

Music and cellphones don't require visual aid and doesn't prevent you from moving your head to see if anything is in your blind spots. Cellphones can be hands free (either headset or speaker phone setting). So really I think there are many other things that harm your ability to drive much more than a cellphone and music. Obviously there should be limits you set on yourself like don't have an extremely important conversation while on a cellphone, don't argue or fight ect.

I'm with banning distractions, but not naming the individual distractions in the law. That is like banning stealing bread, and then a law to stop the theft of canned peas, and then mustard, and so on. this is the kind of inneficiency that makes me wonder what are the real qualifications for being elected as an official.

Just remembered the Simpsons episode where Homer finds out about in car gadgets and ends up filling his car with everything from fax machines to waffle irons. In short he ended up in the bay and lost his liscence. :)

What about smoking while driving? What about eating or drinking (non-alcoholic beverages) while driving?

Someone playing a game while driving..... WTH? So these idiots are driving with a knee or their feet? There's a hundred possible distractions that can take place while behind the wheel. I'm still waiting on radio legislation.. BAN CAR RADIOS! They're even worse now with people and their "systems" where they play with the settings so they can be as annoyingly loud as possible.. Thankfully that is something that people can be stopped for...

Anyone who's playing a game, using a computer or some ****ing way using a FAX MACHINE while driving (not counting stopped at lights or whatever though it's still stupid) should get their license taken away for being an idiot. Then again, a lot of states give drunk drives multiple chances as it is....

What are the penalties for this??

Why is it required to specifically ban anything? Isn't it more sensible to outlaw consciously operating a distracting device, which is how my country and most EU ones do it?

ie: it is ALREADY illegal to play while driving here! >_

I agree with lOne. I think that the law should just be to ban any activity other than driving while you are driving.

There is no reason to ban specific devices or activities, just everything.

I also thought it was a law in most states that said that DVD players had to be behind the driver seat.

I've known someone who played their PSP while driving. Really, everyone who's saying this should be common sense is correct, but unfortunately, "common sense" is probably the world's most common misnomer: there's nothing common about it. I currently live in Maryland, which has the worst drivers I've ever seen, and as near as I can tell, there's not even a law against cell phone use in the car, I see it so frequently.

I think perhaps the legislation is approaching this from the wrong direction, though. Rather than outlawing specific activities while driving, I think perhaps the legislation that's needed is that, while driving, you must not operate ANYTHING else but the car.

Wow... I really want me one of those in car fax machines. Hell yeah.

I don't know how to drive yet, but I have played several racing games in my time.

What I do know, is that when I eventually learn to drive, I'm sure as heck being careful so as not to end up in a crash like the ones seen in Burnout.

Having realistic crashes in a game can be fun, but it also serves as a reminder (at least to me) of how dangerous reckless driving can be.

hey, the longer the new york senate spend wasting their time on this utterly riduculous (not that i disagree with it, but i think it's more common sense) bill, the less time they'll spend on passing other anti-game legislation

It baffles me that we need to have laws like this even debated. Playing games or trying to fax some one while trying is just plain out stupid, but I do have to point that some people used to make a living by driving and talking on a cell phone. I for instance used to deliver pizzas. If I couldn't find the place I looking for, you bet your ass I was on that cell phone.

LOL@Smeg

Thanks, just got back from the Dentist and that comment cheered me up. :)

That wasn't supposed to be an Email address...

I think this law is silly, well sure I never had to send a fax on the road, bu... brb the light is about to turn green

Bravo. Should have done it sooner.

While common sense SHOULD indicate that most people wouldn't be dumb enough to not know that using a computer or game system while driving is completely stupid (not to mention a massive safety hazard/death trap), humanity has disproven any notion of having any common sense so often that this is a very welcome law, to me.

Heh heh.
I did, however, just get this image of a PSP built right into the steering wheel. :)

The screen on the crossbar and the controls on the wheel part somewhere.

Imagine the coordination needed to play Burnout or some other driving game while driving down the freeway! :)

Nightwng2000
NW2K Software

There is the possiblity that people are playing games while at stop lights and are distracted during those lulls. Premature take offs before the light changes or not responding at the appropriate time COULD feasibly lead to accidents.

And, silly as it may be, it is true that more than a couple of people have been caught watching DVDs while driving. Even adult DVDs. So it's not too difficult to image someone playing a game of some sort or using a computer or portable fax at inappropriate times as well.

Nightwng2000
NW2K Software

As Shoehorn quite rightly states, it's not that the law is silly, far from it, it's that this should really be a matter of common bloody sense. But then I suppose most laws really boil down to telling people not to do what they already know they shouldn't be doing.

I can understand the cell phone legislation, as a huge amount of people use phones while driving and it is dangerous. Most people who do it will tell you that it isn't dangerous, or that they've done it enough so it's safe, but that's only true until the day that they actually do lose concentration on the road or the car in front while talking. Like drink driving, many people think that it's acceptable, they are only driving a short distance, the road is quiet, etc. and for this reason legislation should be upheld on cell phones in cars.

However, I find it hard to believe that they imagine legislation is needed to stop people from playing video games or using FAX MACHINES while driving. Picking up a cell phone, hitting ANSWER and starting to talk? Sure, I can see that happening, I've even done it once or twice myself when I shouldn't have. Using a fax machine? Or any kind of computer? That's just pure stupidity. That is like legislating against hitting yourself with a hammer, it's completely clear that using these things while driving is stupid and unsafe, whereas a cell phone seems acceptable.

I fully agree with Papa. Like is the world so bored with life that they have to create stupid laws like that.
 
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