The North Carolina House gave final approval yesterday to H9, a bill that would "ban" texting while driving. I use the term ban in parenthesis because while the practice may legally be banned, for all intents and purposes, the law is toothless and unenforceable.
But the entire approach to government solving this supposed problem is backwards. Sure texting while driving is distracting, but so is changing the radio station, talking on the phone, snarfing down a Bic Mac or putting on makeup — things we routinely see people do while attempting to drive a car. How is texting any different?
The problem isn't people texting while driving, it's people being distracted while driving.
Instead of trying to regulate individual behavior, government should penalize consequences. If I can safely navigate a car and send a text message and not harm myself or others, why should the government care? It should only care enough to make the penalty for harming others so severe that I would think twice before doing it.
If I know that causing a wreck while texting forfeits my driver's license (and yes, driving is a privelege not a right) or sends me to jail, then I am discouraged from doing so.
But banning it to only have a $100 fine IF the police catch me — that's not going to stop anyone.
But the members of the NC House can go back to their districts and tell their constituents that they are "doing something" about the supposed problem. All the while drivers will continue to be distracted by eating, drinking, smoking, fiddling with their GPS or changing songs on their Ipods while driving. But good thing texting will be banned. That should fix things.