Thursday, August 20, 2009

Speaking Of Not Using Turn Signals...

It seems that our astute Texas legislature has passed some laws that take affect on September 1st. My friend Kim alerted me to some of them today and I had to take a closer look for myself. I searched and searched but didn't see anything about not using your turn signal anymore. I did, however, find a few new laws that made me wonder if this was the best use of their time given that our legislature only meets every other year.

In the spirit of keeping you safe and informed, I will share a few of the new laws here. Safety first, that's what I always say.

Seat belt law: All occupants of a vehicle must wear a seat belt no matter where they are sitting in the car. I thought this was the law already so the surprise here, for me, was that it wasn't a law all along. I have no problem with this law but I am sure that there are Texans out west who will NEVER follow this law and will have their concealed weapon with them in their trucks if anyone ever tries to stop them for a passenger violation.

Even more interesting than learning that this wasn't already the law was what one of the commenters on the news page had to say about it. Someone was livid that this law didn't have exceptions for people who are too large to wear a seat belt. He understood that seat belt extensions are available for purchase but his argument was that very overweight people who are riding in the back seats of someone else's car will not be able to comply with this law. I had to read his comment a few times so I don't mind if you have to read what I just wrote again.

Just so we are all clear: This man is fighting mad because our government did not take into account that there are large people who need seat belt extensions in their own car but won't have them available if they are riding with a friend. Maybe it is just me but I think a certain commenter has some misplaced anger.

Child safety seat: Children have to ride in a "Child Passenger Safety Seat" until they are 4 feet, 9 inches tall or 8 years old. Was it just me or did you wonder why they had to specify passenger when they made this law? Are there kids in Texas that are under 8 years old driving around on a regular basis? Is this law meant to stop grade schoolers from driving by requiring them to be in a passenger seat? Or do you think the legislators, in all of their wisdom, figured they better be super clear on this one by adding in that the safety seats are for the passengers just in case there were parents out there that didn't realize that? Oh how I wish I could have been a fly on the wall during the discussions about naming this law.

Thank goodness my kids are ginormous. I'm pretty sure Jack will be 4 feet 9 inches by Christmas so I might have dodged a bullet here. I doubt this law will ever apply to my kids.

Motorcyclists Beware!: It is now illegal to let a child under 5 years old ride with you on the bike. This is the law Kim pointed out to me that made me very interested to go find out more. Because WHY WOULD YOU LET YOUR 4 YEAR OLD RIDE ON YOUR MOTORCYCLE ANYWAY? Why does this have to be a law? Clearly there were an abundance of incidents where children were injured (or worse) because they were riding with someone on a motorcycle and the law-makers figured they better do something about it before more kids got hurt. Which, wow. That amazes me. Because I'm pretty sure these weren't cases where Uncle Bob got a new sweet ride and wanted to take little Billy for a spin around the cul-de-sac. People were actually out on busy roads with small children clinging to the sweaty back of the person driving the bike. Again, wow.

And how did they come up with age 5 being ok? Are 5 year olds that much smarter and safer on a hog than 4 year olds? Pre-schoolers don't have it in them but kindergartners do?

This also means, for those of you following along closely, that you will be ticketed if your 7 year old is not sitting in a "child passenger seat" in your car, truck or SUV, but your 5 year old can go cruising around with someone on a Harley with no problems at all. (the score is now logic 0, Crazy 1)

No Cell Phones in School Zones: Well, sort of. In typical Texas fashion, this law is written to make the least amount of sense possible. First of all, it is only against the law to use your cell phone in a school zone if there is a sign posted. Which means that it might be ok to use it at the Middle School but not at the Elementary School. You know, with budget cuts and all, we can't expect that every single school zone is going to get a new set of signs posted in front of them. Especially in the poor districts. Where are the cries of elitism?!? This is a clear example of class warfare! The rich areas of the state will be the first to post signs, thus enacting the law and saving their kids lives, while the poor areas will not be able to afford signs so people will go on haphazardly using cell phones while running down little kids on their way home from school.

But wait one minute! It turns out that you can actually use your phone, even if you live in a rich area that posts signs, as long as you have it on speaker or are using a headset. So go on, folks! Yell at your realtor for not selling your house while driving through a school zone full of kids who can't wait to get home to play video games and eat Easy Mac! Just make sure you aren't actually holding the phone up to your ear at the time.

All is not lost, though. It is still ok to apply make-up, eat your breakfast, dig around for your kid's sippy cup in the back seat (which is where they will be now that they are relegated to the child "passenger" seats) and mess with the radio while driving through a school zone. This is Texas, after all. And we don't like a lot of government interference into our lives. They had to draw the line somewhere.

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