One of the global ideologies that has evolved with the human race is the concept of the good of the many outweigh the needs of the few. That is practiced in many ways around the world, from no concern for the masses in dictatorial situations, to having the masses make the choices in democracies. It also varies across the numerous social-type governments, even though they are the ones who, supposedly, use it as a testament. But the fact is this philosophy has been the subject of much debate over the ages.
I bring it up here as a lead-in because it is true, and there are circumstances where it should be applied without discussion. Here is why.
It is a sad fact that one in every four automobile accidents is caused by a texting driver. It happened to me back in March of this year, and to my permanent fiancé about a year earlier. We were both rear-ended by a texting millennial.
Now, to be fair, there are many other distractions that cause accidents. I have seen drivers eating, putting on makeup, talking to children in the back (looking over their shoulders while driving), headphone jammers, and more. But the numbers are feverishly skewed towards texting as the number one cause of accidents.
It is apparent that solutions to this problem are not working. No matter how many signs we put up, or how many commercials we run, or whatever “educational” steps we take to try and get driver’s finger off of that 3-inch x 3-inch keyboard – especially among millennials, and the X and Y generation. Therefore, it is time for one of those “good for the masses solution.” There is a solution that is 100 percent effective. It is available, technically feasible, cheap and easily implemented.
Each smartphone has a GPS. All that needs to be done is to have an app linked to the GPS module that can shut down texting capability when speeds hit five miles per hour. It simply disables texting until the movement drops back to less than 5 mph.
This is not the first time this subject has been broached, and not just by me. Apple wanted to do it back in 2014. Before that, the Department of Transportation wanted automakers to install systems to disable phones while driving. There were even discussions as far back to 2010 about it.
The argument I get the most is that such limitations tread on the bounds of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These types say it improves efficiency and eliminate wasted time. Seriously? How much time will one waste by pulling over and having text time? However much it is, it is worth the elimination of the texting distraction. As well, the argument of treading on one’s personal space is nebulous, at best.
I see it differently. The right to do what you want, when you want, and how you want is bounded by the effect it has on those around us. We all live by rules, regulations, and policies, all the time. Take flying for example. We are told to turn off our RF radiators during certain conditions. The reason is (at least that is what they would have us believe) it is a hazard for the airplane and its passengers. So, for the good of the masses, the few that would continue not to be compliant are forced into compliance.
There are all kinds of other examples; speed limits, prolific rules of the road, spectrum management, currencies, the list is endless. We call it civilized behavior. We also have specialized rules to protect the masses. Devices that prevent drunks from driving. They are attached to the vehicle. If it detects alcohol, it will not start. While that is a reactive solution that disables the car, texting prevention simply disables the phone when the movement exceeds a few miles an hour. A much simpler and less invasive, but extremely effective solution.
The distractions of texting while driving are well known and well documented. I am not aware of a single study that exonerates texting while driving.
This is long past regulation. If the automobile manufacturers do not want to move forward, then the mobile network operators or the phone manufacturers should. All of them will tell you that, if they do this, they will lose business. However, the bottom line is that if texting is disabled while driving, across the board and for every phone, it does not matter who implements it. The user has the same level playing field, just without the ability to text and drive…ahhh.