Sorry Mommy Minnesota, I’m still going to text and drive
Our government officially decided we can’t handle patting our heads and rubbing our stomachs yesterday. I got the news last night at about 8:30 p.m. last night via Twitter, a mobile social network I frequently use when driving.
According to the KARE 11 story about the bill passing:
If you’re caught composing or sending a text message while you’re behind the wheel of a moving car you can be pulled over and ticketed. Even reading incoming messages could lead to a citation.
Judging from the Pioneer Press article about the bill, it was passed using anecdotal evidence that 1) people can’t handle texting while driving AND 2) it’s a problem worth legislating against, despite the lack of solid research across a wide range of demographics and psychographics.
In fact, the article only lists stats about only teens. Of course teens are distracted drivers…they are also minors, so they are pretty much fair game for passing both disapproval and legislation against. That’s fine with me. But all the news articles and broadcast segments I’ve seen interview adults on the street or in their cars and ask them if they are good drivers when they text and drive. Pretty scientific stuff to base a broad, sweeping bill on, huh?
But what about the general population, some of whom may actually be able to handle reading and replying to e-mails, surfing the web, tweeting and sending text messages? Mommy Minnesota has decided to set some new rules for us, and I’m sorry, but I’m not going to obey them.
In February 2007 I wrote a post here at MB called “I can drive and talk on my cell without crashing” in response to an eerily similar, albeit more stringent, 2007 nanny state bill that would double the fines of any moving violation if the driver was on a cell phone at the time.
Here are some highlights from that post that perfectly reflect the sentiment I’m feeling today:
Remember in grade school when the teacher had to teach the class at the pace of the dumbest student? It slowed down the rest of your class and impaired those who were fast learners and could easily handle the challenges of the day. I know many of my liberal friends don’t see the issue with this. They believe it’s the government’s responsibility to keep us safe from ourselves. But I wish to stress the importance and inevitability of the slippery slope of government mandates on our private lives.
Unfortunately, in the post-9/11 era, our society is relying more and more on the big brother government to “keep us safe.” California, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and the District of Columbia each have enacted a jurisdiction-wide ban on driving while talking on cell phones. Six states (Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, and Pennsylvania) allow localities to ban cell phone use. Only eight smarter states than Minnesota (Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Utah) prohibit localities from banning cell phone use. (then I gave a breakdown of state laws and legislation)…
At what point are we legislating to the lowest IQ of our population? At what point does society either evolve or operate outside the boundaries of the idiots in our society? …
My biggest point is that sure, use of cell phones are distracting. But look at Vermont, which is considering a measure to ban eating, drinking, smoking, reading, writing, personal grooming, playing an instrument, interacting with pets or cargo and possibly even scratching an itch while driving.
Sometimes the freedom to be an idiot is preferred to the handcuffs of what our government thinks we handle.
While I don’t doubt there are people who cannot handle texting while driving, I do not believe it’s the government’s responsibility to GIVE or TAKE AWAY that right.
Minnesota has now become only the third state (after Washington and New Jersey) to pass this ban on texting and driving, and since it was only based on anecdotal accounts and the gut reaction of a dying generation intimidated by 1) technology and 2) a rising culture of electronically connected multitaskers, there’s no way to measure if it was effective. Driving legislation in Minnesota can only get more restrictive from here, and that just isn’t okay with me.
As early as this afternoon, I’m going to be back on the roads, skimming my e-mail, tweeting and reading idrudgereport.com while I drive. I’ll pay the ticket. It’s worth the price of freedom.
And what are your thoughts, my fellow Minnesota drivers?