I’m sure you guys have seen the reports …

I’m sure you guys have seen the reports about the recent study suggesting that texting-while-driving bans do not decrease accident rates, and might actually increase them. I’ve heard a good bit of analysis and speculation about this study, but none that (to my thinking) has addressed the real issue here.

Seems to me this is a perfect example of how legislation is often not the right way to deal with a societal problem; the fact that something is bad does not mean that banning it is the right approach. Didn’t Prohibition teach us anything about unintended consequences?

I think we can all agree that, as a rule, texting while driving is stupid and dangerous. But it seems to me that any attempt to deal with the problem should start with the realistic observation that, human nature being what it is, people will choose to do it. That isn’t going to change.

That means there are basically four choices:

  • We accept the increased risk caused by this practice.
  • We work to discourage people from doing it.
  • We look for technological ways to make it safer.
  • We find a technological way to make it impossible.

I’m not particularly enthusiastic about any of these options, but it seems to me that a realistic approach should start by accepting that they are the only ones.

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