TRENTON, NJ (CBS) — How far should the government go in making sure you’re paying attention while driving your car?
A package of bills being considered in the New Jersey Assembly would grant police a great deal of latitude in determining whether a driver is distracted behind the wheel.
The Assembly Transportation Committee heard from representatives from the National Transportation Safety Board who praised New Jersey for taking the lead on this front.
“You have primary enforcement for hand held cell phone use,” researcher Dr. Robert Molloy told the committee. “You have primary enforcement for texting. You have young, novice drivers not allowed to use a cell phone at all. You have bus drivers not allowed to use a cell phone at all.”
He sees that cell phone as the primary distraction, but concedes other things can get in the way. Opponents are worried this legislation might prohibit people from drinking coffee in the car.
“Right now, the board has not taken a position on that,” Molloy said. “Obviously, if you spill your food all over you in your car, you are very distracted.
He added technology in the car is helping to improve safety, when a driver actually adds it. But sometimes that technology can cut both ways.
“I don’t think it’s enough right now that on my child’s phone as he plays this most popular game right now, Pokemon Go, that they just put up a label “You shouldn’t drive while doing this”. There should be ways of dis-activating that.”
The committee took no action on the bills, which have garnered a good amount of negative reaction in the court of public opinion.