Texting bill is bad policy

The Idaho State Legislature is considering several bills around the subject of texting while driving. I urge them to oppose these new laws.

Why? At first blush, it’s an easy cause to support — who doesn’t want to make our roads safer? However, knee-jerk overreaction never helped anyone.

Is it necessary to micro-legislate on this issue? Inattentive driving is already against the law. Perhaps, if texting while driving is a public safety issue, then local police departments should step up enforcement under existing legislation, the way they have special patrols for drunk drivers and aggressive drivers.

We don’t have laws on the books for manslaughter involving a baseball bat — aluminum. Likewise, we shouldn’t pass laws which outlaw the use of specific devices when it’s really a specific behavior we’re trying to curtail.

I fear unintended consequences. The definitions of wireless communications devices in some of these bills is so broad that it includes things like OnStar. As cars become more sophisticated, the bills as written might grow to include banning the use of cars themselves!

Last, I would caution against letting media sensationalism overstate the risk posed by this issue. It’s easy for the media to play to intergenerational fears, terrorizing the older population about the reckless behavior of “kids these days.” I respect public safety concerns, but make sure that any move that infringes upon individual liberty is well supported by fact-based studies of risk, not overblown media hype.

Jason Denizac is a senior at BSU, majoring in political science.

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