Do not pass go, do not collect $200 and for everyone else’s sake – don’t play Monopoly while driving.  I kid you not, a few months ago, I pulled up to a red light and saw a man in a red truck playing a handheld game of Monopoly. As traffic started going again, I watched him looking up and down trying to get a hotel on Boardwalk while trying not to kill anyone daring to use a crosswalk.

Several  weeks ago, the State of Indiana passed a law that bars texting and emailing while driving. Oddly enough, they neglected to include Monopoly, so what he was doing still seems legal under the new law, since he wasn’t even using a telecommunications device.  Here’s the new law, very similar to those enacted in other states.

IC 9-21-8-59

Use of telecommunications device while operating a moving motor vehicle

Sec. 59. (a) A person may not use a telecommunications device to:

(1) type a text message or an electronic mail message;

(2) transmit a text message or an electronic mail message; or

(3) read a text message or an electronic mail message;

while operating a moving motor vehicle unless the device is used in conjunction with hands free or voice operated technology, or unless the device is used to call 911 to report a bona fide emergency.

(b) A police officer may not confiscate a telecommunications device for the purpose of determining compliance with this section or confiscate a telecommunications device and retain it as evidence pending trial for a violation of this section.

Should we be legislating around technological lines, or focused on the heart of the issue – distracted driving? With this law, and similar ones I’ve seen across the country all it seems someone must do is say they were posting to a forum or typing in a google search rather than texting or emailing. Without confiscating the device or checking phone records from the side of the road – how are the police going to know?  The issue is not just one single source of distraction — like texting.  It is a much larger issue that impacts anyone driving or riding in a vehicle.

We currently have laws on the books for every infraction a distracted driver would make – swerving into another lane, failure to signal, failure to yield, failure to stop, reckless driving, etc.  If we just enforced these laws and increased awareness of the danger, people would find their own incentive not to be distracted while driving. Look at how much smoking has declined as the dangers behind it became more known. Did it go away completely?  Of course not, but it did get cut in half, without being made illegal.

As Mr. Monopoly coasted slightly into my lane whilst no doubt reaching for the Community Chest button, he could have been pulled over for the lane change.  A police officer wouldn’t have even needed to see the Monopoly game to recognize the dangerous situation that the vehicle was creating.

The best tool I’ve seen to reduce distracted driving and keep folks from playing monopoly while the truck is in gear is this video for the AT&T It Can Wait campaign.  In this case, I believe awareness is more important than legislation.  If people are more mindful of the effects that a text, email or community chest card can bring about, then distracted driving will drastically reduce itself.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DebhWD6ljZs

What do you think?  What can be done to deal with the carnage on our roads due to distracted driving?  Please leave your comments on this important topic.  Your comments here can make a big difference for others.