Tattling on Bad Drivers

I think the current law regarding the reporting of bad drivers in Utah is just fine. Attempts to change that law in the Utah Legislature are a waste of time, and take responsibility away from families who don't want to hurt other family members' feelings.

Currently Utah law requires that your name be released if you report a bad driver. A bill that passed out of a Senate committee yesterday wants to change all that. A Deseret News article published this morning paraphrases the bill's sponsor:

The intent of the bill is to allow people to quietly tattle on a loved one without any fear of hurting a friendship or family ties.

My first reaction to the story was that perhaps there had been instances of violent reprisals by bad drivers against those who had turned them in. This does not appear to be the case.

Such a law, designed to protect family members from hurting each other's feelings would be worse than a waste of time. It is the responsibility of family members to take care of each other, even to the extent that they keep other family members off the road if they are not capable of driving safely.

Just as in a court of law, where a defendant is allowed to know who his accusers are, bad drivers should be allowed to know who reported their bad driving.

Even though those who report bad drivers will have to sign an affidavit, the fact that they can remain anonymous raises the likelihood that erroneous and harrassing reports of bad driving will significantly increase.

Families should not pass the buck to the government on such a simple issue.


  1. I'm not sure that erroneous and harrassing reports will increase under this bill. Part of the bill means to severely punish those that do that. My senator, a man I personally know and admire, is sponsoring this bill. However, I fully agree with you that a bill that simply aims to let family members save face is not good legislation.

    My parents have made it clear to me that if their judgment gets so clouded that they don't realize that they are unsafe drivers, I am to take their keys and take their car. I have already given my own kids the same instruction. Within our families we should accept this kind of responsibility for each other.

    We already have too many statutes that reduce family responsibilities. These are always passed to mitigate some wrong, but they always carry the unintended side effect of weakening the institution of the family.

  2. Scott,

    I'm glad you bring the point up that different legislation has "the unintended side effect of weakening the institution of the family".

    If legislators thought more about how important the family is to society, a lot of legislation would be different or not proposed at all.

    BTW, I hope not to have cast any aspersions at your Senator. I apologize if I have.

  3. I couldn't agree with you more on this.

    One other point. We need to to be careful about drawing a legal line that would categorize certain activities as impaired driving. Much of what this bill is attributing to impairement is actually the result something other than impairment--attention.

    I recently got hit from behind by an inattentive driver--distracted by an officer pulled to the side of the road. She was not impaired.

    Doing your makeup, or shaving, or having a sponge bath while driving is not impairment. It is inattention, and you can't police these kind of activities.

    It verges on policing thought.

  4. Correction. The bill says "careless" driving, not "impaired", but the principle is the same.

    Hard to police "careless" driving. How do you know someone wasn't paying attention if, when you pull them over, they're looking forward-wide awake.

    That is unless the 'fess up.


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