A large mobile phone business is taking a stand against texting while driving. The public’s initial reaction will most probably span from; ‘that’s nice’ to ‘who cares.’ Regulators and legislators will take notice however as the corporation ceases their lobbying efforts (against regulation.) As we speak (or text) there are clusters of thinkers and tinkerers coming up with fail safe ways to thwart human stupidity. Apps are being considered that will sense when a person is driving and shut down typing options. (Let us not strain ourselves considering how that works and/or how it would affect passengers’ use of devices.)
Nobody loves big corporations (except the stockholders.) But the notion that somehow the makers of a device are responsible for people using it in a dangerous manner is absurd. Where would this leave gun manufacturers? Okay, that’s a bad example. Where would that leave the manufacturers of kitchen knives? Or apple peelers? People have been known to use cars, not for transportation, but to cause harm (ex., Baby Jane and Blanche, or many an aggrieved spouse victimizing a prized lawn or flower bed.) Should car manufacturers design a device that can detect vengeance? People using products in ways not intended is not new. While it is questionable whether makers of oven spray are responsible for a teenager’s boredom and unquenchable drive for experimentation, there are now warnings on any and everything aerosol. You’d also be hard pressed to find a plastic bag that does not warn that ‘this is not a toy.’ It’s not clear if anyone has ever unwrapped their dry cleaning, taken a second look and sputtered; “Dear G-d in heaven, it’s NOT!?” I’m guessing most people probably know that plastic bags and children might not be the best combination. But the plastic bag manufacturers have done their part and now the rest is up to humanity.
These warning labels (which in essence are a parental scolding) are only meant to reinforce the true intent of a product. We (correctly) feel differently and strongly about creating or augmenting safe products. Automobile manufacturers have made incredible strides in past decades. In the 1950s (or even 1960s) there were no seat belts or car seats. Kids were tossed in the back and told to be quiet. Granted you were driving a mass of steel (versus the plastic of today) but so was everyone else! Then came seat belts, then came seat belt laws. All to protect you from the hazards of automobile travel.
There is no way to protect people from the hazards of themselves. Before texting, there were people reading while driving, doing their nails/make-up while driving, eating while driving, and probably doing other things we need not mention while driving. Driving while doing any of things, including texting, is driving while impaired and we should treat it as such. People should be ticketed and punished as they would had they been driving while intoxicated. The officer on the scene need only look at the device to prove it had been used while the driver was behind the wheel. Repercussions severe as that of a D.W.I. will make people think twice. Many people have drank less, or not driven for fear of being caught. Has drunk driving stopped? Of course not, but it’s no longer the wild wild west out there.
There will always be new and exciting ways to act like an idiot. Trying to idiot-proof the planet is absurd. Making it really uncomfortable to be an idiot is much more prudent.