Demonization 101

Up until recently, I didn’t even know that texting while driving was a problem on North American roads. It seemed so obviously, blatantly dangerous to focus on writing upon a small screen while guiding a couple of tons of metal at high speeds that I thought it incomprehensible.

I was wrong, apparently. Very wrong.

According to an op-ed column in my morning paper, texting while driving has become a significant danger on Canadian and U.S. roadways, to the point that studies have been conducted and the seemingly clear dangers quantified. (The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that truckers who were texting had 24 times the likelihood of getting into an accident as compared to non-texting truckers. Duh!) And yet, while we continue to face calls for lower BAC levels for drivers and mandatory interlocks, little to nothing is being done to call attention to the dangers of texting drivers.

That is just plain stupid. And yes, I’m talking to you, MADD, and all others like you. If drunk drivers are a danger who should be removed from the roadways, and I’m the first to say that impaired drivers should be taken off the roads and prevented from returning to them, then texting drivers are at least as real and imminent a threat. Perhaps more so.

So why doesn’t MADD start a MATD (Mothers Against Texting Drivers) division? For the same reason that there’s not a MASD (Mothers Against Sleepy Drivers) and MADiD (Mothers Against Distracted Drivers), namely that blood alcohol level is measurable, whereas sleepiness and texting and distraction are not.

I am not suggesting for a second that drinking to impairment and driving is anything but a deep and still-present danger, and I applaud all that society has accomplished during my lifetime to demonize the practice. But, I question why we persist in demonizing drivers with even trace amounts of alcohol in their bloodstreams when: a) There is little clear evidence that they pose a danger on the roads; and b) There are much more significant threats to our health and welfare out there, like morons who think that peering at a small screen while screaming along at 100 kilometres an hour is anything but a colossally idiotic thing to do.

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