The XX Factor

The Texting Summit

The federal government has obviously been reading the New York Times series (as has Double X ) about the carnage resulting from the increasing incidence of texting while driving. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is going to have a summit about how to curb this flabbergasting new habit. (What’s next? Do we have to have a summit to convince people not to give themselves pedicures while driving?) Hooray for the power of the press. LaHood makes the point that merely banning this practice is not enough; there has to be a societal shift in attitude. That’s true, although it would be a good start for every jurisdiction to ban it, and also put in place severe penalties. Why do we have to relive the struggles we went through to criminalize drunk driving (which still kills too many people )? It’s been established that texting while driving is more dangerous than getting behind the wheel after a couple of drinks.

To help bring a shift in public awareness, let’s get some powerful public service campaigns going. Let’s see the people with bodies wrecked by another driver’s need to text, “c u there.” Let’s see the young family whose mother or father will never come home. And perhaps most powerful of all, let’s have some drivers look into the camera and say that they now have to live with the knowledge that they killed someone while texting.

Photograph of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood by Win McNamee/Getty Images.