Thursday, February 10, 2011

Texting and the Limits of Law

"There is a particular temperament that wants to address every problem with a law or regulation. But there are some evils that law as an instrument is poorly designed to fight. For that reason, criminalizing them causes more problems than it solves."

That is my thesis in "Don't Mess With Texting" (, Feb. 9, 2011). Studies have shown that laws against texting while driving actually increase accidents.

The column is about the nature of law, not about texting at all (though I go into details on how bone-headed the people are who do this). But I guess my argument was too subtle. And it seems that what I say about how the Long Island Rail Road handles people who talk loudly on their cell phones just distracts from my point, instead of illustrating it.

Here is an organization that, "attempts to accomplish with public education and social condemnation (shaming) what the law’s fat fingers are by nature too clumsy to do."

Where we have good citizens, we don't need good laws.

But while we're on the topic of texting while driving, here is a shocking video of what happens when people text while driving. (Teen girls and young women are twice as likely to t.w.d. than teen boys and young men, so the video depicts three silly young women.)

Here is a news report on teen reaction to the video.

None of us are safe on the roads while this remains socially acceptable. Perhaps we need to raise the driving age to the age I was when I got my license: 28!

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