I’ve always thought that most people really do not like to drive, or at least drive all that much. Why would they otherwise be so constantly engaged in non-driving activities?
Clive Thompson makes this point in an interesting new column at Wired.
Texting while driving is, in essence, a wake-up call to America. It illustrates our real, and bigger, predicament: The country is currently better suited to cars than to communication. This is completely bonkers.
Thompson has an idea for a technological solution to the problem:
So what can we do? We should change our focus to the other side of the equation and curtail not the texting but the driving. This may sound a bit facetious, but I’m serious. When we worry about driving and texting, we assume that the most important thing the person is doing is piloting the car. But what if the most important thing they’re doing is texting? How do we free them up so they can text without needing to worry about driving?
The answer, of course, is public transit. In many parts of the world where texting has become ingrained in daily life — like Japan and Europe — public transit is so plentiful that there hasn’t been a major texting-while-driving crisis. You don’t endanger anyone’s life while quietly tapping out messages during your train ride to work in Tokyo or Berlin.
I don’t think it’s a stretch at all to say, for the current crop of young drivers, that texting — staying in electronic touch — is far more important than the act of driving. They also protest that they are uniquely well adapted to “handle” such behavior, overlooking the inconvenient fact that all the major studies of texting/cell-phone distraction have been conducted on college students, not at retirement homes.