The state law concerning texting while driving went into effect today. My reaction when I first heard that this was being bandied about by our august solons in Boston was, well, do we really need this? If you get into an accident while texting you will most likely be found to be at fault, so I imagine the only purpose of the law is to deter people from doing it. But will it be a deterrent? This study says that texting-caused accidents increase when there is an anti-texting law. The article doesn’t get into reasons, but I imagine that when people know there is a law against TWD they switch to surreptitiously texting under the dash rather than steering wheel level, where they can at least keep an eye on the road.
Obviously, texting while driving is a bad idea. It really shows how far we have come as an impatient society that many of us cannot avoid sending or returning a text – something that we barely had ten years ago – as soon as possible. The new law also addresses talking on the phone while driving among those under 18. While I am of course vehemently against texting while driving, I see no problem with talking on the phone as long as one drives prudently. There are, of course, no laws against talking with a passenger while driving. The counter-argument is that you don’t need to take a hand off of the wheel to do that. Again, I think prudent and cautious driving should take care of this.
I mentioned above how we are obsessed with cell phones. I think I am more than most because as a priest I need to be accessible and responsive at all times. I have, though, also learned that is is quite ok to let the voice mail pick up sometimes and then deal with the call.