Thursday, May 03, 2001

Drive a kid, go to jail

Heard something on the car radio yesterday about a law targeting "distracted drivers," and while I certainly support the supposed aim of getting people to stop gabbing on the phone while they drive, I have to wonder: Wouldn't such a law also effectively make it illegal to drive with children?

I mean, compared with managing unruly youngsters, a phone conversation is a minor distractional blip. Show me a parent who can drive without being distracted by offspring, and I'll show you a parent who left them at home. From adjudicating squabbles to providing appropriate musical accompaniment to monitoring seat belt and window usage to answering the question "Are we there yet?" 4,682 times, driving with young ones is one distraction after another. If we're now bound by law to concentrate on the road and nothing but the road, it looks like families are going to be doing a lot of walking.

And you know, that might not be so bad. We'll have to build more schools, of course, so everybody will be within walking distance (because, well, bus drivers? If they're not distracted, they're comatose). Sports programs will take a hit because there will be no way to get kids from one town to another to play, and in many cases no way to get kids to the field to practice, but I think we can all agree that a slowing down of the relentless pace of activities would be good for a lot of kids. Families will get a lot of good, positive together time. And though incidents of household injury may increase, roadside injury will doubtless plummet.

If parents do dare to drive with dependents, the police now have the power to get them off the road, given the Supreme Court's recent agreement that motorists can be jailed for even minor traffic offenses. The mere sight of children in a vehicle will be cause enough to pull the driver over and take Mom or Dad to the pokey. And if Mom and Dad has been listening to children's tapes for minutes on end, Mom and Dad will probably be grateful.

Of course, that's only if this distracted driver law passes. Like I said, I heard something about it on the car radio, but I didn't catch much actual information about it. I was distracted by trying to find my exit. Terrible when driving distracts you from more important things, like listening to the news.

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