Driving distractions go beyond texting

Letter to Editor Campbell Fritschner

The Kentucky Legislature is considering a bill that would prohibit text messaging while operating a motor vehicle. The measure, House Bill 43, has already passed the House by a vote of 80-16. The Interim Joint Committee on Transportation amended the bill to also ban the use of personal communication devices by persons under the age of 18.

It is a terrible idea to text while driving. It is irresponsible and dangerous to not only yourself, but to others as well. The Harvard Center for Risk Analysis estimated in 2002 that 2,600 people die each year because of cell phone use.

Drivers should look to limit their distractions as much as possible. About 80 percent of accidents are caused by distracted driving.

However, does this mean we need to ban all “distractions” while operating a motor vehicle?

If we follow this logic, there should be no stereos in cars, no passengers allowed, no eating, no coffee, no makeup, no smoking — nothing but driving while operating a motor vehicle.

Why stop while a vehicle is moving? I can think of many things that are harmful to users and potentially dangerous for non-participants. Why don’t we allow people to make their own choices?

I definitely shouldn’t text while driving, but I know people who can enter a number and send a text without ever looking at their phone.

Some people are perfectly competent driving while texting. But my phone is also my MP3 player and radio. How can we enforce this when technologies are combining all devices into one? Would I be pulled over for using my radio just because it is the same device as my phone?

Perhaps we should let people make their own choices and live with the consequences, including legal action and civil suits, instead of attempting to outlaw activities that are dangerous for some people to do, but not all.

Campbell Fritschner

materials science and engineering senior