The XX Factor

Cell-Phone-Free Driving Starts at Home

Emily and Will, I completely agree with you that it’s time to get serious about cell phone use while driving -and I think there’s an interesting generational angle to consider as a crusade, I hope, gets under way. Texting is an ideal impetus for real action: It’s so hair-raisingly obvious why you shouldn’t be doing that at the wheel, plus it’s kids who text more than adults. We tend to like liberty-curtailing crusades better when they focus on youth.

But as the experts will all tell you, it really helps if adults walk the talk-or, in this case, forgo the talk while in the car. And because plain old phoning is not so self-evidently dangerous-after all, no one’s proposing that chatting in the car be prohibited, or that radios and CD players be banned-generating a sense of urgency for the broader prohibition is going to be much harder. We should beware of expecting a lot of high dudgeon about delinquent young texters to do the job-and of letting it blind us to the thornier challenge of getting grownup yakkers to set a stringently good example.