In this day and age of way too many Republican-controlled state legislatures, it is almost a comfort to know that one governmental power most readily support is the ability to ban motorists from texting while driving. This past Tuesday, in fact, Oklahoma's Republican governor, Mary Fallin, signed a bill into law which made her state the forty-sixth in the nation to outlaw the practice.
Nine people die in the United States each day as a result of distracted driving.
Currently there are four states in the nation where it is still legal to text and drive. Not surprisingly, the four - Arizona, Missouri, Montana, and Texas - are all under the control of Republican state legislatures. Two of of those four somehow managed to elect Democratic governors (Missouri and Montana), but governors don't make laws, legislatures do.
There are no restrictions whatsoever on texting while driving in Arizona and Montana, but in Texas a person desiring to text behind the wheel cannot be below the age of eighteen, a bus driver, or texting while in a school zone. Missouri denies the privilege of texting while driving to individuals under the age of twenty-one.
It doesn't really matter how cautious one is behind the wheel, if the person coming at you in a car or truck doing seventy-miles-an-hour is more focused on a text conversation or sharing pictures of cats doing tricks than he is with driving, your next ride down the highway may well be in a hearse.
Texting while driving is not an issue of personal freedom - it is an extremely serious safety issue, one that has to potential to impact us all. We need to expect more from out legislators than just occasional right-wing soundbites. We elect them to govern, and governing, like parenting, is not always easy - or popular. Sometimes we need rules in order to make us behave the way we know we should, and it is the responsibility of our state legislatures to create those rules.
So come on you guys out there in Phoenix, and Jefferson City, and Helena, and Austin - get busy and make our roads safer. Take some responsibility, show some initiative - and do you jobs!