Yesterday the Michigan House of Representatives took a little break from grappling with a catastrophic budget crisis to ban texting while driving.
Prohibiting the use of cell phones in cars is not a particularly urgent issue. As I’ve written about before, despite the rapid proliferation of cell phones and texting, our roads today are safer than ever. The dramatic decline in fatalities in recent years is not just due to safer cars either. Americans are getting in far fewer car accidents each year than just a decade ago.
Of course, none of these pesky facts matter much to legislators. After all, the papers are filled with touching anecdotal stories about the dangers of drivers using cell phones. And if there is one thing that the latest cause de jour makes, its good politics—the more bullshit the issue the better!
The texting ban passed by the Michigan House doesn’t exactly have a lot of teeth. If passed by the Senate and signed into law, the ban would make texting while driving a secondary offense. That means you could only be ticketed for it if the police pull you over for something else first and you happen to be dumb enough to continue tapping away at your cell phone when the officer approaches your car.
I guess it’s fitting that the Michigan responded to a fake issue with an empty gesture.