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Somebody stop that idiot texting and driving before he hurts someone

March 6, 2013

When I was an undergraduate in the 80’s, I hopped into a friends Honda Civic to get something to eat. He buckled his seatbelt, and before he even started the car he turned to me and said “seatbelt dude.” I responded “it’s cool – I’ll be alright.” He said “if you want to ride with me, you have to wear your seatbelt.” “Dang dude” I huffed as I dragged the belt across my torso and clicked it into place (we said dude a lot). I thought the guy was weired; he was the first person ever to make me put on my seatbelt.

That story might not sound odd now, but up to the 80’s seatbelts were optional. Most folks weren’t into them. Heck, my dad never used a seatbelt; why should I use one? My dad used to take me and my four siblings to school in the back of his work van. When it was empty, he’d put flattened cardboard boxes back there so we could slide from side-to-side on our way to school. Now that was fun.

People who grew up in the 80’s and before often have stories about riding unbuckled as a child and mom or dad throwing their arms across their body when they had to stop suddenly. Most of us begrudged any restrictions put on our freedom, but eventually laws were passed and technology was developed requiring seatbelts for everyone. Now our old ways seem almost barbaric.

I believe we’ll look back one day and say the same thing about texting in automobiles. I drive thirty minutes to work every day, and almost every day I’m shocked by the people I see texting and driving while flying 80 mph in heavy traffic. In 2011, 1.3 million car accidents involved cell phones (I’m sure that number is low, because how many people admit they were texting when they wrecked?). According to the Ins. Institute for Hwy Safety Fatality Facts, texting results in 11 teen deaths per day!

This is insane. I’ll admit that I send a short text from time-to-time when I’m stopped at a light or on a lonely stretch of highway. But I’m not justifying it; it’s dumb for anyone to ever do it. And even though I lean libertarian politically (not in every way), I’m 100% in favor of governments doing what they can to prevent texting in automobiles. It is 100X more barbaric than the old days of driving without seatbelts.

I feel certain that technology will be developed, probably in a partnership between auto manufacturers and phone companies, that will prevent drivers from texting. In my opinion, that day can’t come too fast. Some might argue that people should have the freedom to do what they want, but this is an issue of the common good. People who text and drive are a threat that needs to be eliminated.

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