Texting While Driving is Illegal In Massachusetts, Senator Brown. So What’s With the Signs?

Hasn’t anyone else noticed these signs? They’ve been bothering me for a while so over the past couple of days I took my camera with me as I went about my business to see if I could find Senator Scott Brown signs I could photograph without risking my life. It wasn’t easy. Of the dozens of signs I saw only one was near a pedestrian walkway (and I wasn’t able to photograph that because there was no convenient place to park near it). Which means that Senator Brown’s advice to “text Brown to 68398” explicitly directs you to text to his campaign while you are on the road and thus most likely driving. This is Massachusetts – almost everyone drives alone, and when was the last time you asked a passenger to text your local candidate with a pledge for support as you were driving down the road? Whose brilliant idea was this? The law is pretty clear:

5. Sending/Reading Text Messages
Civil Offense-No insurance surcharge (Operators cannot use any mobile telephone or handheld device capable of accessing the Internet to write, send, or read an electronic message including text messages, emails, and instant messages or to access the Internet while operating a vehicle. Law applies even if the vehicle is stopped in traffic.)

  • 1st offense-$100
  • 2nd offense-$250
  • 3rd or subs offense-$500

So even if you’re stopped at an intersection near a campaign sign and have this incredible urge to communicate your undying loyalty to Senator Brown, you are still breaking the law. And what happens if you do text him? Is it an automatic contribution if you do, like giving to relief efforts in Haiti? Permission to solicit contributions from you using your cell phone number? Maybe he wants to text you back (uh-oh) a pic of him in his barn jacket, or more appropriately in his pickup truck, or to assure he understands women’s issues because he is – gasp – married to one. (I’m married to a lovely man; still, I make no claims about understanding anything about men.)  I doubt he wants to send you his voting record.

Oh, but now I sound partisan. I was raised a Republican, but it meant something different then. Actually, after Brown won against Martha Coakley (which is an entirely different post) I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, but then I watched him for a couple of years and last summer Elizabeth Warren stepped into the race, presenting us with the opportunity to break the glass ceiling in not-as-liberal-as-the-rest-of-America-thinks Massachusetts. A law professor who understands the banking system who also happens to be female – she’s certainly worth considering. I don’t want her to blindly vote the party line any more that I did Brown; I hope she understands that. And if she had put up signs like these I’d have taken her to task, too.

But really, anyone who plasters Massachusetts byways with signs that prompt people to break the law – on his behalf, no less – might not want to be the one making laws in Congress. Just a thought.

Oh, and – hmm –  WBUR is having an irksome pledge drive this week. What do you think would happen if NPR had a pledge drive that you could contribute to via text? I’m pretty sure someone would have Nina Totenberg up on charges in no time.

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