Possible New Legislation –The Textalyzer?

Possible New Legislation –The Textalyzer?

Because distracted driving is just as big a problem.
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Even if you, yourself, don't do it, there is a good chance you at least know someone who—whether it happens regularly or just once in a while—texts while driving. And no doubt you've heard the statistics: 25 percent of car accidents in the U.S. involve texting and driving, accidents caused by texting and driving result in over 300,000 injuries per year, the amount of time spent with one's eyes off the road increases by about 400 percent when texting and driving.

In response to sobering statistics such as these ones, new legislation has been proposed in New York that, if passed, would require drivers to give their cell phones to police after being involved in a car accident. CNN reports that the police would then be able to scan the phone in order to determine whether the driver had been making any calls or sending any texts at the time that the crash occurred. And if the driver refuses to hand over his or her cell phone? Well, then his or her license would be suspended.

The proposed bill is named "Evan's Law" in honor of Evan Lieberman, who was killed in 2011, at 19 years of age, by a distracted driver.

Calling it a "textalyzer" is no accident—it is meant to draw comparisons between the dangers of texting and driving and the dangers of drinking and driving. Ben Lieberman, a co-founder of Distracted Operators Risk Casualties and the father of Evan Lieberman, said, "When people were held accountable for drunk driving, that's when a positive change occurred. It's time to recognize that distracted driving is a similar impairment, and should be dealt with in a similar fashion."

Regardless of the similarities, some do not see this bill as a necessity in dealing with distracted driving. Records of phone calls and text messages are already kept by phone carriers and can be accessed if need be; it's not as though the information cannot be obtained if the driver is not required to hand over his or her phone.

Other objections claim that, although the bill would only allow for scans to determine the timing of the cell phone use (as opposed to looking directly at the contents of the text messages sent, for example), it is flat-out unconstitutional--especially given the Supreme Court's 2014 decision that police officers cannot search cell phones without a warrant.

The New York transportation committee approved the bill by a wide margin. However, the legislature in its entirety still needs to vote on it, so we'll see what other pros and cons surface when they do.

Cover Image Credit: Defensive Driver's Discount

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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'Dear Young People: Don't Vote' Ad Hits Too Close To Home

This reflects on a question that lies at the heart of democracy.

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This ad interrupted a youtube video I was watching, and instead of being upset, I immediately tried to figure out how to share it with everyone I know. Although it initially made me chuckle at the genius of it, I came to really ponder the message behind it. My pondering transported me back to a time when I was just starting to understand what the concept of politics encompassed, and what any of it means.

When I was in the eighth grade, I was a part of a club called "Young Democrats". I didn't know much about politics at the time, but my friends were in charge of the club so you best believe I was there before school every month, trying to be invisible and pretending to follow what they were saying. Although I didn't stay in the group for long-- I realized that I valued sleep more than doing the work of googling furiously at 7:30 am-- I stayed long enough to hear something that has stuck with me my entire life.

One morning, our club sponsor was away-- we were all sure she was a US spy-- so the Young Republican club sponsor let us hold the meeting in her classroom. Somehow, it was revealed that she was actually Republican, which my cheeky 12 year old friends figured was the perfect time to debate with her about her morals as a human being. I, of course, was silent. After going back and forth with them for a few minutes, she finally reached the end of her patience, opting out of the discussion with "I'm not going to debate with you children about my personal politics. Just know, that I was a Democrat too when I was young and naive. But I became a Republican when I grew up and realized how the world works."

As you can imagine, our young minds were reeling, stuck in between the shock of knowledge that people change their political affiliation, the question of how exactly the world works, and the fact that she slyly roasted all of us in one swoop. After a few silent moments, our president finally erupted with the question of the hour: "What does that even mean? The world works how you make it work, that's what politics is about. Making the world work how you want." I still don't know whether his response further supported her claims by showing how naive we were nor if it was a valid criticism of a defeatist mindset.

That moment has stuck with me my entire life as I've studied 'how the world works' in college, pondered the question with every election, and tried to figure out what my answer to the President's question would be. I've seen former democrats become rich and suddenly don the republican red. I've watched minorities acknowledge that they disagree with all of Trumps social positions, yet still wear the 'Make America Great Again' hat because "its about my money at the end of the day." I've studied the cycle of liberalism and conservatism in America. I have yet to define myself along party lines, though I wouldn't say I've remained 'apolitical', as my sociology teacher (Shoutout Dr. Shannon) made a great point when he pointed out that, as a lower class black female, my entire existence is political.

As I sit at school and read headlines about Trump, every day I wonder if this is what she meant when she said that this is the way the world works; that in our capitalist driven global economy, the rich hold an increasing amount of power and it is in every adult's best interest to align themselves with them. Or if maybe Trump has destabilized her belief in what she thought she knew about political organization; maybe Trump has actually informed the 'liberal' masses that its time they make the world work how they want. Or maybe, its just an anomaly in the established system and his term will come and go and the rich will continue getting richer.

As the time to vote rapidly approaches, I ask you to ponder whether you want to be compliant with 'the way things work' or if you wish to help define the way things work. Even further, I ask you to question your concept of democracy and what it means if where we are and where we are headed is exactly the way American democracy was designed to work. And if so, what does 'voting' and 'compliance' mean then?

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