Reader comment on: Texting While Driving Bans

Submitted by Lummox JR (United States), Sep 28, 2010 18:06

When I mentioned how the difference between texting and changing radio stations lies in how the brain is engaged and how much multitasking it has to do, you asked if listening to Rush Limbaugh or NPR counts as engaging the language centers as well. Obviously yes, but not in the same way. Listening to a song or talk radio does use our language centers, but it does not require the full array of cognition that goes into carrying on a conversation. We might talk back to the radio from time to time, or sing along, but no one treats the radio experience as a two-way street. This is a big difference from, say, talking on a cell phone or texting, which requires you to not only listen but to respond.

Furthermore, using the cell phone without a hands-free device requires you to give up the use of one hand while your mind is so engaged. Texting involves reading while carrying on one part of the conversation, and typing for the other. So you're not only focusing your brain on engaging a full two-way conversation, but you're also either taking your eyes off the road repeatedly (not just once in a while) or applying a signifcant level of motor skills. This is not remotely analagous to listening to the radio, or even changing the radio station. Changing stations can be done with a quick gesture that doesn't even require you to take your eyes off the road, is much simpler than typing, and most importantly does not use up a very large chunk of the left brain. I'd be plenty willing to concede the point that most eating while driving can be on par distraction-wise with texting, because even though no conversation is involved it still takes a great deal of coordination to manage such a task. It's pointless to ban such a thing though because some people may have a valid need to eat while they drive from time to time. Not so texting; texts can always wait.

But I simply take issue with the notion that all forms of distracted driving are equally distracting or even equally stupid, and that therefore we should ban all of them or none of them. The idea that all distractions are more or less equivalent is total hogwash. Texting is right up at the top of the list in terms of distraction, and in terms of stupidity. I might add that even if the aforementioned study has any validity, it's likely that actual enforcement of the ban (in New York state I have seen little evidence of enforcing the cell phone ban) would put the fear in enough of these idiots to keep them from thinking texting while driving is still okay. Again, I'm not a fan of the nanny state, but this seems like a pretty common-sense rule of the road that's worth enforcing. I agree with FredB that attacking texting bans on the basis of Nannyism weakens the argument against attacking Nannyism in its much dumber, and much more abundant, forms.

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Title By Date
Texting while driving are well intentioned however... [123 words]Safe TextingDec 24, 2010 22:48
As a professional driver [89 words]Mr EvilwrenchSep 29, 2010 17:03
more harmless distraction [117 words]equitusSep 29, 2010 16:02
Gloves make it too hard to text while on my motorcycle... [27 words]styrgwillidarSep 29, 2010 12:28
anecdotal evidence [84 words]Old FogeySep 29, 2010 11:36
Where are the millions of accidents [109 words]Tom WadeSep 29, 2010 11:21
"better to regulate outputs than inputs" [109 words]PieFarmerSep 29, 2010 05:08
Really, if this isn't obvious ... [343 words]Long DriverSep 29, 2010 02:49
Add me to the chorus of disagreement [135 words]ChubfuddlerSep 28, 2010 21:22
too many people cant multitask [167 words]FenSep 28, 2010 19:43
Unserious [108 words]JoelSep 28, 2010 18:54
⇒ Followup [510 words]Lummox JRSep 28, 2010 18:06
Incentive not to Text while driving. [61 words]W. BourneSep 28, 2010 18:01
it does not follow from the data that texting is relatively safe [115 words]W4LTSep 28, 2010 18:01
checking e-mail is not the same as texting [143 words]deebSep 28, 2010 16:57
OBTW - Nanny State [64 words]lhogSep 28, 2010 16:55
More distracting [94 words]LhogSep 28, 2010 16:48
Cognitive Capture [94 words]JeffSep 28, 2010 16:43
Email is different. [89 words]DagwudSep 28, 2010 16:36
"I don't see how . . ." I do. [98 words]FredBSep 28, 2010 15:48
What is being measured? NOT if texting is going down or not. [175 words]DDSep 28, 2010 15:45
What would you do?
[w/response] [213 words]
Paul SimmonsSep 28, 2010 15:44
Are you kidding?
[w/response] [353 words]
Lummox JRSep 28, 2010 15:40
Texting IS dangerous while driving! [96 words]chicopantherSep 28, 2010 15:34
Prizes [53 words]JohnSep 28, 2010 15:32
At what point does Nannity become Insanity? [59 words]Owen McCallSep 28, 2010 15:31
Shifting sight and concentration from the road is bad, mmmkay? [72 words]Mark A. FlacySep 28, 2010 15:27
Partly disagree [111 words]DeanSep 28, 2010 15:25
Incentives? Penalties? [36 words]DonMSep 28, 2010 15:18
Texting not much worse than adjusting a/c? [92 words]GeneSep 28, 2010 15:17
Thanks again, NYT! [135 words]FerdSep 28, 2010 15:14
Disagree [81 words]Joe MelnickSep 28, 2010 15:00

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