Should Sioux Falls have passed the texting while driving ban?

 

ANGLES

Necessary evil

Cleaning Fido off your windshield is terrible, but have you seen what a rushed text looks like?
I think it’s time we stopped looking at these hippie-leftist statistics about reduced casualty rates and get down to brass tax on why you shouldn’t text and drive.
Somewhere down the line on the interstate you’re going to be distracted and send “wait a sex” instead of “wait a sec,” and then you’ll be drowning in suitors.
In September 2010, the University of North Texas published a study that correlated 16,000 fatalities to texting while driving between 2001 and 2007.
What was not published was how terrible we can assume the context of the texts to be. If my own errors by the time I cross the center-divider are indicative of anything, and if God forbid you slam into oncoming traffic, your last words are going to be pretty sloppy.
Ignore that, in 2009, New York Times had deemed texting while driving more dangerous than drinking while driving. Ignore that last year California saw an 11 percent decrease in casualties with the texting law in place, according to collected traffic archives. Ignore all of that, because it doesn’t matter.
Cars are just things, and so are most people. What is concerning is that if final moments were engraved on tributes, there’s an ‘LOL’ planted across a gravestone somewhere, and that’s nothing to laugh out loud about.
Now my opponent may bring up some good points. What if spell-checking software ever increased to the point where the worst thing texting while driving could possibly result in is a pair of fatalities and a ruined family vacation? Well, I’d be forced to concede.
However, understand that our current versions of the technology rely on a law of averages from large amounts of previously sent texts.
Because of this, a perfect draft is hard to foresee.
For instance, when I type ‘Emi,’ as in the first three letters to the name ‘Emily,’ my phone autocorrects to “lying, backstabber.” Case in point, we need to recognize a ban on texting while driving as a necessary, effective evil.
In Minnesota and California the texting law has saved hundreds, maybe thousands, of people from sending mistyped or hurried texts, and that’s why I advocate its passage here in Sioux Falls.
Dents can be popped out, flesh can be knitted, pets can be replaced. But you can’t un-send a message.

VS.

INCONSEQUENTIAL

On September 4, the Sioux Falls City Council voted unanimously (7-0, with one member absent) to pass an initiative that would make texting while driving a punishable offense.
The law, which will officially take effect on September 28, is the culmination of a recent push to raise awareness about a potentially harmful activity and, as assured by council chair Michele Erpenbach, will not include penalties for talking on the phone or using GPS units.
In principle, such a law is obviously beneficial and will theoretically put a stop to deaths and injuries that are the result of flippancy and irresponsibility.
However, a law of this nature brings to mind two issues. One: the methods and effectiveness of enforcement due to its specificity. Two: the ultimate turnover rate or how many people who regularly practice texting and driving will stop their habit due to its newly illegal status.
To comment on the former, the specificity of this sort of offense is troubling, and the opportunities for misinterpretation of circumstances by law enforcement officials seem quite pertinent. Where one places his or her phone when they enter their automobile may soon become a potential $200 fine and 30 days in prison if he or she is pulled over for speeding or a broken tail light.
As for the latter, a survey done by AT&T in May of this year found that while 97 percent of teens perceived texting and driving to be dangerous, 43 percent of them did it anyway.
Texting is no longer exclusive; it is now the primary method of communication for many teens. The illegality of marijuana does not prevent one out of every 10 adolescents from smoking it at least 20 times a month, according to a survey done by Drugfree.org, and the illegality of texting while driving will likely do little to deter those who already practice it regularly.
In the end, the primary reason I take issue with this law is that the action it attempts to curtail is, for the most part, heartily inconsequential. Why is so much focus going toward texting while driving when it should be turned toward more fundamentally important issues, like the state of our educational system, the death penalty and rights for homosexuals?
I say this knowing full well that texting while driving will soon become a state-wide issue. I consider it imperative that time be spent confronting that which we may consider the most uncomfortable but also the most important, before we discuss that which is trivial.