Thursday, February 11, 2010

Who's in charge here?

I've been hearing a lot lately about personal accountability. It's usually been in connection with discussions about whether the government should be interceding in a whole host of things from health care to texting while driving.

Now, believe me, as an absolute control freak who hates anyone telling me what to do, I get why people don't want the government making more rules and regulations about much of anything. I can barely tolerate some of the rules here in my condo, and they're pretty benign.

That said, however, I also figure my right to live life on my terms and by my rules pretty much ends when it infringes on someone else's rights, endangers their life, or takes money out of their pocket.

Here's what set me off about this. The Florida Legislature may at long last allow a bill to ban texting while driving to get out of committee and come up for a vote this year. Various bills in the past have died for a lack of will from legislators with the spine of an overcooked spaghetti noodle. Their excuse has been that people should be held personally accountable for their behavior, and the state shouldn't interfere.

By that logic, there should be no laws against drunk driving, or driving while impaired with drugs or, what the heck, without so much as a valid driver's license. Just like drinking and driving, texting while driving is dangerous. It's stupid. And way too often, it's teens who are barely paying attention to the road in the first place, who are doing it. Ditto with cell phone usage. How many lives are going to be lost before people get it? Cell phones and a couple of thousand pounds of metal, combined with high speeds and other distracted drivers, flat-out don't mix?

Should a law be necessary when something's so obvious? In a perfect world, no. We'd all be smart enough to realize that even if we're willing to die so we can make sure our friends know we're going to be late to lunch, we shouldn't kill anyone else in the process. Sadly, that's not the case.

Just the other day in a mall parking lot, a woman driving an SUV and talking on her cell phone tried to maneuver her car into a space with only one hand on the wheel. She missed and hit the neighboring car, all with me standing right there watching her. Did she look even vaguely chagrined? No. Did she put down the cell phone before her next attempt? No. She was laughing, as she continued talking. What a hoot, huh?

So, in our less than perfect world, somebody has to set at least the most basic of rules to protect the rest of us from those who don't have the sense God gave a duck. You wouldn't think a lawmaker, confronted with the mangled cars from numerous accidents involving cell phones and/or texting, would have to think twice.

If you'd like to rant about this -- or to argue with me -- feel free to hit comment below and chime in.

In the meantime, though, drive safely.

Sherryl Woods

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