Some rules, noted the late comedian George Carlin, shouldn’t be necessary. “No running with the scissors,” for example, was one that he said made eminent sense, even to a little kid.
Texting while driving would seem to fit in this category, yet many still do type away with their thumbs on the keyboard and their foot on the gas.
Most recently, Pennsylvania has made texting behind the wheel illegal, soon to be joined by West Virginia (where it is already illegal for novice drivers).
This means the Tri-State will in the eyes of the law become a texting-free zone, since Maryland already has a texting law on the books. In addition, Maryland has, and West Virginia soon will have, a ban on hand-held cell phones while driving.
We strongly approve of these laws, even if they seem a matter of common sense. But texting behind the wheel was so rampant and so demonstrably deadly that it’s one of those times when the individual really does need the state to protect him from himself.
Those who say they should be free to take the risk forget that it is not only their own lives that they put in danger. This is not a matter, as might be the case with a failure to buckle up, of only putting yourself in harm’s way.
The passage of these laws might also be a good time to reflect that there are many activities conducted behind the wheel of an automobile that are dangerous, even if legal.
Eating, applying makeup, checking your calendar, changing a CD — all these can be just as lethal as texting if they divert the attention of the driver, even if only for a second or two.
Again, we applaud the state legislatures for acting, but we would encourage individuals to remember that there is still a strong element of personable responsibility and common sense involved in operating a vehicle.
Fear of getting a ticket should not be the only reason for driving safely and sensibly.