By Katrina Tulloch
Meet Andrea The Groomer. She kept you on the road for those three extra minutes you needed to grab coffee before your 8 a.m. class. After perfecting her ponytail at the stop sign, she applied her blush and bronzer at the bus stop. Even though the light turned green 10 seconds ago, she’s still lining her eyes; she’s clearly a high-class individual whose precise cat-eye is more important than the dude she’s about to hit.
Alongside grooming, the Department of Transportation says using a cell phone, operating a navigation system, eating and drinking, reading maps, watching videos, and changing music all count as bona fide examples of distracted driving. But New York State laws only target the use of handheld devices. The Syracuse Police Department can pull people over for “outlandish” or “reckless” driving, but that doesn’t deter the Andreas and other multi-taskers from becoming a threat on the roads.
Granted, texting does deserve the heat. Onondaga County has the eighth highest amount of phone-related driving violations out of the state’s 57 counties (excluding New York City). In 2011, the SPD issued 1,785 traffic violations for talking on the phone and 237 violations for texting behind the wheel, according to Capt. Shannon Trice.
But cops should take it a step further. In Maine, the law explicitly states ticketable examples of distracted driving, like texting, then says the law is not limited to these instances. How clever. If a Maine cop saw Andrea The Groomer holding up traffic to apply her lip gloss, he could ticket her before she crumpled her mouth into a shiny pout.
Maine introduced this bill after a state trooper caught a driver watching Gilmore Girls on her laptop. If some chick hit me while doing that, I’d have a lawyer on the phone quicker than Luke could tell Lorelai to stop drinking so much coffee. There’s a time and place for post-WB nostalgia, and it’s in bed at 2 a.m. with white cheddar popcorn and months-old Girl Scout cookies.
New York needs a similar catch-all law for distracted driving. Maybe then, automobilists will weigh the pros and cons of driving while doublefisting burgers. You can’t always drive with Jedi focus, but you can put down the mascara wand long enough to park.