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ROSE NOLEN: Let's be as smart as the tools we use

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 | 7:00 p.m. CST; updated 8:07 p.m. CST, Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Texting while driving is dangerous and stupid, but we all know people who do it.

It’s a trend being practiced by people across the country who strongly believe they have the right to text and drive — whether they have to or not.

A number of government offices have combined forces to try to stop the problem.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, along with some state attorneys general and state consumer protection agencies, have called on the Ad Council to develop a campaign appealing to the public at large to change its attitude toward texting and driving. The primary target of this campaign is drivers age 16 to 24.

Personally, I believe a lot of this kind of thinking about texting and driving can be laid at the feet of politicians and people drowning in political rhetoric.

Probably no other time in our history has been safer for standing on one's political beliefs than it is today. Still, certain politicians seem to dwell on the idea that someone out there is trying to steal people's guns and their constitutional rights.

There may be no mention yet of taking away the right to text and drive, but one might be tempted to believe that such a movement could be underfoot. So much of what passes for politics these days is no more than careless insinuation; one hardly knows what to believe.

Changing the culture of our driving habits is usually a very good idea. It worked in the “Click It or Ticket” campaign, which may have helped boost seat belt use from 15 to 85 percent.  

Maybe if we can get people talking more about the dangers of texting and driving, at least the notion might find a sticking place in people's minds.

Talking up an idea has also done a lot to make streets and highways safer from drunken drivers. It does seem to be true: The more people hear about dangers facing society, the more willing they become to address them.

When parents begin to express their concerns to other parents, they become more diligent in searching for ways to put an end to a problem. Certainly, they might be more willing to respond to a plan already presented to them by government.

This, of course, is just another example of how often we need government to be in our lives. Few — if any — nonprofit groups or organizations can arouse as much interest as government activity can when it zones in on a single initiative.

And it seems to me that it is certainly government's job to assist the people in achieving their own good.

Let's face it, with the kinds of new technology produced in our country, we are going to be called on constantly to be able to manage it.  These days, we find a new toy on the shelf every six months or so.

A lot of this technology, although intended for good purposes, can be harmful if put into the wrong hands. That's why it is important to keep government inside the loop as circumstances develop.

Parents, especially, should be paying attention. As toys become more sophisticated, consumers must be ever more aware of the ways they fit into lives.

At the very least, we should be as smart as the tools we use.


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