Drawing the Line

Sometimes I just wonder where we draw the line, and I’m wondering that again now.

This time, it has to do with government. (That’s a shock, huh?)

Throughout the country, officials at different governmental levels are working to ban texting while driving.

Some argue that texting while driving is dangerous and outright absurd. Some say that talking on a cell phone while driving is just as hazardous as texting.

I’ve even heard differing viewpoints about whether hands-free use of the cell phone is less distracting than holding a phone while talking. There are studies that show both sides of that.

My concern today, though, is not whether or not it’s safe to do any of these but instead how far the government should go in regulating people’s lives.

Years ago, when I was a member of the SC senate, one of my colleagues introduced legislation to prohibit people from reading (newspapers, books, magazines and such) while driving.

Then another senator offered an amendment to prohibit people from scratching their elbows while driving. After all, he argued, scratching one’s elbow means one hand is not on the steering wheel and the other arm might involuntarily move. This, he said, was a definite distraction.

Of course his point was that a government cannot outlaw every possible distraction.

A parent who turns around to look at a child in the back seat is endangering the lives of everyone in that car as well as others on the road. Should the government outlaw turning around momentarily while driving?

Oprah Winfrey has started a campaign to stop texting while driving but not through the government. She asks all of her celebrity guests on her TV show to sign a pledge not to text while driving. There are others who are doing the same sort of thing.

I know I shouldn’t text while driving but am I less likely to do so because of a governmental restriction?

Where do you think we draw the line?

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Syd said...

Last month, the National Safety Council released a report that showed 28 percent of the roughly 1.6 million crashes yearly are caused by drivers on cell phones or texting. Driving is not a right but a privilege so I think that texting is inherently dangerous. That being said there may be other solutions rather than banning texting by legislation. There are technologies that could eventually be effective in blocking calls and texts while the user is driving; OR
letting drivers “speak” their texts using voice-to-text technology. Just some thoughts on this.

kayerj said...

if I had my way I'd ban children in the car--they are a GIANT distraction :)

But then again, so is an eagle circling above me as I crane my neck to see it.

uhh, maybe I should be banned from driving . . .

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