Friday Dilemma: what to do about texting drivers?
No doubt you’ve heard the rather disturbing news overnight that a Jetstar pilot was texting midflight, which resulted in an aborted landing when he forgot to deploy the landing gear.
It’s pretty funny, only it’s not too, for a whole bunch of super obvious reasons.
Just recently, I was in the hands on a young driver who was navigating with the use of their phone as we drove around the suburbs. They had eyes more for their small electronic device than the road. I didn’t say anything, but I should have.
It’s one thing to have some sort of GPS navigatory device on the dashboard. But holding a smartphone in your hand, whether you’re using it to text or navigate or gaze at hot bods on some love site, is plain dangerous.
People under 35 can’t go the toilet these days without their phone. In the elevators in our building, everyone is too busy playing with their phones to make awkward small talk. That’s actually a blessing, but there are other moments in life that demand full concentration.
Like when you’re driving.
I spent Easter in and around Canberra. They have these signs there, which are kind of embarrassing in the way police initiatives always are when they try to be cool. They read: Drive n text, UB next.
The signs make a fair point. But they clearly don’t get through to Gen Y, who probably thing that “UB next” means they get a new iPad before anyone else.
If all this sounds unbearably crusty, I recognise that people have always thought themselves unbreakable when they are young. I also acknowledge that older people sometimes text and drive too.
But it’s predominantly the young, and I’m struggling to know what to do about them. I don’t think the cops have a clue either. Maybe we need a rule which says the driver’s phone must be switched off if they are 25 or younger.
I don’t know, maybe some people think their smartphone is the remote control which steers the car.
Whatever the case, it was quite the eye-opener recently to be with a young driver who thought nothing of staring at their phone constantly while driving. They didn’t apologise, or stop, because they clearly didn’t recognise the behaviour as inappropriate. That last point is the scariest of the lot.
What to do about this? Say something in those moments? Make tougher laws? Give up and let social Darwinism wreak its ugly mayhem? You tell me.
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