Texts of Mass Destruction
February 24, 2009
Filed under Opinion
More than 60,000 people were cited this past year for violating the California state law prohibiting the use of cellular phones while driving. This year, legislators have chosen to up the ante by adding the use of text messaging features to the list of prohibited driving activities.
The law, which began on January 1, is being met with mixed reactions from people on both sides of the opinion spectrum.
Some feel that restricting the use of text messaging while driving will only lead to safer California roadways. Others, however, feel personally violated by the new legislation. In other words, stripped of the freedoms that each person should feel entitled to while taking a spin in their ’92 Escort.
This vindictive revocation of rights was probably the motive of such states as Connecticut, Louisiana, New Jersey, Minnesota and Washington whose legislators all agreed to pass anti-texting laws in their respective states. In fact, California is one of the states with the highest rate of vehicle related accidents and only one of at least 7 states to pass anti-texing legislation.
Let us not put it past a politician to support unjust laws, but perhaps one must look at the facts that may have helped this law pass rather than the personal grudges some feel against government institutions and those whose authority it is to enforce the law.
According to the National Safety Council, text messaging is among the worst things a person can do while driving. One study found that drivers who are talking on a cell phone or texting while driving are less capable of processing their surrounding environment. Not only does text messaging require a driver to take his/her eyes off the road, it distracts their hands and mind from what’s going on around them. This is an unfortunate truth for all of the “Shakespeares” of 150 characters or less who insist on their capability to multitask while behind the wheel.
Another interesting bit of information to add is that California drivers that fall within the 19-24 age bracket are most prone to driving accidents, and conjointly, the most common people to utilize cell phone text messaging features. So it seems (at least in the case of college age drivers,) this new legislation serves as a safety measure aimed at the welfare of the general population rather than another useless and repressive restriction.
With that said, the blame for the new law can’t solely be placed on the younger generation of reckless drivers. On Sept. 12, a 46 year old man was suspected of text messaging while operating the Metrolink train that crashed in Chatsworth, Calif. More than 130 people were injured, and he, along with 24 other passengers, died.
It seems it is time for the people of California to focus their attention on greater issues than the loss of another trivial personal freedom. The rights of many American citizens in the past and still today are being withheld on a scale much grander than that of any one persons daily texting quota. Perhaps with the added legislation and each person’s participation in abiding to the new law, California roadways can become a safer and more secure place for all.