Starting Wednesday, it’s against state law to watch TV, look at a laptop, or stare at a DVD player while driving.
Don’t worry, it’s still legal to mesmerize yourself with all sorts of other distracting gadgets. And still dangerous.
You can still gaze at GPS and other navigation gizmos, audio system displays, and that cute little screen that tells drivers of some cars what kind of gas mileage they’re getting. It’s OK also to look at one of those video images designed to keep you from backing the car over a tricycle in your driveway.
The new law is an update of an ancient ban that only covered live television broadcasts received via TV antennas. It’s not clear whether the new law restricts our freedom to fiddle with our iPods as we drive.
What about texting while driving? That’s still legal until Dec. 1, when a new ban takes effect. Talking on the phone is still legal, too -- except for school bus drivers, and for all drivers under 18. And still dangerous.
Here’s the new law that takes effect Wednesday:
No person shall drive any motor vehicle upon a public street or highway while viewing any television, computer, or video player which is located in the motor vehicle at any point forward of the back of the driver's seat and which is visible to the driver while operating the motor vehicle.
This section does not apply to the use of global positioning systems; turn-by-turn navigation displays or similar navigation devices; factory-installed or aftermarket global positioning systems or wireless communications devices used to transmit or receive data as part of a digital dispatch system; equipment that displays audio system information, functions, or controls, or weather, traffic, and safety information; vehicle safety or equipment information; or image displays that enhance the driver's view in any direction, inside or outside of the vehicle.
The provisions of this section shall not apply to law enforcement or emergency personnel while in the performance of their official duties, or to the operator of a vehicle that is lawfully parked or stopped.