The General Assembly is considering restricting the use of cell phones while driving. Representative Vanessa Summers and Senator Dennis Kruse have both admitted to using poor judgment in the past and now want the rest of us to use their judgment instead of our own. Their intent to save lives is noble, but the real threat to public safety on the road is driving while stupid, or "DWS" for short.
DWS means not using common sense on the road. It means trying to steer and change a CD, change your clothes, apply makeup, metabolize alcohol, etc. There is no way for elected officials to anticipate what idiots are going to do. Since it is impossible to ban every form of impairment or distraction, the solution is to educate the public on the hazards.
There seems to be a lot of people who think that if it's legal, it must be safe. Consider seatbelt laws for a moment. Shouldn't we find it odd that some folks buckle up not to avoid being killed but to avoid a $25 fine? Riding a motorcycle without a helmet is way more dangerous than riding in a car without a seatbelt. In fact, riding a motorcycle WITH a helmet is still more deadly than riding in a car without seatbelts or airbags. Yet it is perfectly legal in Indiana to ride with your head as bare as it was on the day you were born. This discrepancy makes it look like Indiana cares more for the lives of drivers than it does for the lives of cyclists.
Public health and safety will improve if people are encouraged to use their judgment to make rational decisions. I realize that many people lack this capacity at this point, but to pass laws that will simply be ignored is ineffective and ultimately counterproductive. When people are treated like children, they act like children. When they are treated like adults, some will act like adults and some intially will act like teenagers, but everyone is still in a better position to gain experience and learn from their mistakes of others. Dennis Kruse and Vanessa Summers are to be commended for owning up to past mistakes, but it is also a mistake to simply pass a law, think that the problem is solved, and move on.