November 17, 2009

On January 1, 2010, it will become illegal for people in Illinois to text while driving.

Wait - why do you care about Illinois? Maybe because 18 other states, including New York, have already instated a similar ban.

It's true that texting while driving raises your chances of doing something stupid with your vehicle. But so do applying makeup, eating, fiddling with the radio, talking (even if you're on a headset), sneezing, and just about anything else that doesn't involve your complete concentration on the road. Maybe we can blame it on the multitasking generation, but I doubt it -- most of the distractions cited in this article have been around almost as long as cars have.

A teacher at my high school died a couple of years ago because he was changing the song on his iPod and crashed his car into another. His widow had to explain to his 4-year old daughters that Daddy was dead because he didn't like the song that was playing. It's not texting that is the problem; that's just another piece of the puzzle. The problem, perhaps, is that we can't unplug anymore -- not even to protect our own lives.

Equally irritating (and potentially dangerous) are people who text while walking. Look around you. Chances are, if you walk from Mass Row to Collis, you'll pass at least 5 people scurrying along hunched over their iPhones, madly texting away or checking blitz. This evening I walked from the Alumni Gym to Phi Tau and was physically run into not once, but twice, by people barreling along with their eyes glued to a tiny screen.

And they don't change that behavior in crosswalks, either. Drivers usually get all the heat when a pedestrian is hit in the road. But if the pedestrian is anything like the typical Dartmouth student -- that is, a jaywalker, a blitz addict, and secure in the belief that they are immune to disaster -- you've got to question whether the driver is wholly to blame.

I'm just waiting for the day that a driver collides with a pedestrian because both of them were texting. Maybe to each other. I will probably laugh at the irony.

I'm a terrible human being, aren't I?

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