Putting Common Sense Back in the Driver’s Seat

Earlier this week we learned that West Virginia legislators are considering a modification to the state’s texting ban that would prohibit driver use of a “wearable computer with a head mounted display.” With growing hype surrounding Google Glass and this emerging technology, lawmakers say this is an attempt to get ahead of the curve and cover their bases with regards to distracted driving. As currently written, WV law would permit the use of virtual goggles as hands-free devices.

Legislation plays a vital role in the traffic safety equation. With the explosion in cell phones and other mobile systems, however, we know that the development of new technologies almost always outpaces legislative considerations of whether these devices belong in the vehicle. Moreover, even if West Virginia’s efforts to preemptively address emerging technologies became the new norm nationwide, our police departments and patrol officers would need substantially enhanced resources to be able to enforce such laws.

So where does this leave us? With a reminder that common sense is what truly belongs in the driver’s seat. We know distracted driving is a problem. Nearly 90 percent of us even say it’s a bigger problem today than it was three years ago. And we know that when other drivers talk on cell phones or send text messages, it feels threatening to our own personal safety. Yet many of us keep doing it ourselves.
While it is gratifying to see safety-conscious attitudes at all levels, we must remember that it is each and every one of us who is ultimately responsible for safeguarding our nation’s highways. Moreover, recognizing that legislation won’t be able to restrict every distracting technology as soon as it hits the market, it is incumbent upon us to “self-regulate” and avoid using these devices while driving. Not because it’s the law, but because it’s the right thing to do.