In a move that will undoubtedly
create a flood of profitable tickets save uncounted lives, Virginia has made “distracted driving” a primary offense and raised the fines to the proverbial ceiling.
If you’re confused as to what a “primary offense” might be, toss me some click love and check it out. Virginia’s governor is expected to sign legislation that will add so-called distracted driving to the list.
Sen. George Barker (D-Alexandria) says he has been trying to get a bill passed on this topic for a number of years, after students from Centreville High School brought the issue to his attention.
“I’m very pleased, because this is an extraordinarily dangerous activity,” Barker says. “The accident rate is 23 times the rate for people that are texting compared to people that aren’t, which is a phenomenal differential. It clearly will save lives.”
Look for the “23 times” factoid to be repeated again and again everywhere until people unquestioningly accept it. That number comes from a six-month survey of truck drivers and has been ruthlessly expanded to include everyone and everything humanly possible. Never mind the fact that operating a long-haul truck in urban environments is significantly more difficult and physically involved than driving a car. Never mind the fact that in modern traffic, commercial trucks are already unable to brake and maneuver well enough to avoid accidents. Never mind the fact that young people are far more adept at texting than your average career trucker. It’s a fact now and you might as well accept it.
Your humble author is of the opinion that legislation like this leads to surreptitious texting with one’s phone tucked beneath the line of sight in the car. That behavior significantly increases the danger of texting while driving and to encourage people to engage in it just so a few tickets can be written trades public safety for public revenue. Texting while driving is not going to go away. Not now and not for a very long time. It is the preferred communication method of everybody under the age of thirty and everybody’s going to keep doing it. Period. Point blank.
I would suggest that the texting-and-driving hysteria we’re seeing now as a society is as outsized as it is for one simple reason: people just love to be Puritans about something and we live in a world now where it’s no longer acceptable to have any public views about sexual behavior or common decency besides those once held by Ol’ Little Roman Boots. Since the Puritanical impulse is likely genetic in nature and it is one of the reasons your Cro-Magnon ancestor survived while his neighbor died in an ill-fated attempt to reproduce with a tribe of bonobos, it’s hard to completely suppress it. Instead, we swallow those feelings and let them fester until one day we are busy nonjudgmentally watching “Glee” and we see a public-service ad about texting and driving and it erupts from our stomachs in a bile-covered, steel-toothed xenomorphic presence OMG SOMETHING MUST BE DONE BLEEEEARRRRRRGH.
An exceptionally paranoid individual, which I am emphatically not or at least emphatically not really, might also wonder if the Illuminati think this: By removing all sorts of potential distractions from driving and forcing us to stare straight ahead at the stopped bumper of the Escalade in front of us, possibly with the aid of those hold-the-eyelids-open apparatus they used on Malcolm McDowell, the misery of operating a privately-owned vehicle might possibly be ratcheted up to the point where we will cheerfully accept being herded onto filthy cattle cars and shipped to our destinations in the most climate-friendly way possible. Just forget I said anything about it, though, because I’m not paranoid.
What I am, however, is someone who enjoys texting the finest-looking women available at all times. So if you see me rolling my Town Car down the street, chances are I’m texting somebody. But from now on, I’m going to wear sunglasses and hold my phone under the beltline, so you can’t tell for sure. If you have complaints about that, send them to your local legislator.