Rabbi Avi Weinstein

ושמרתם את נפשותיכם

In Uncategorized on October 2, 2009 at 12:53 pm

Every innovation has an unforeseen consequence. Cell phone use and texting is no exception, as the U.S. Department of Transportation begins a summit on distracted driving due to the increased use of cell phones and texting.

Here is where notions of individualism and freedom become a nihilistic obscenity. No texter feels that he is significantly less competent at the wheel than a legally drunk driver.  The notion that this is the problem of an individual is a peculiarly American one that is a consequence of a rights centered society.

For an obligation centered value system where the common good eclipses individual freedoms,  it’s a no-brainer to prohibit cell phone use while driving. Just a few facts tell the story:

Driver distraction was reported to have been involved ■■in 16 percent of all fatal crashes in 2008 according to data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).
The age group with the greatest proportion of dis■■tracted drivers was the under-20 age group—16 percent of all under-20 drivers in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving.
An estimated 22 percent of ■■injury crashes were reported to have involved distracted driving, according to data from the General Estimates System (GES).

Driver distraction was reported to have been involved in 16 percent of all fatal crashes in 2008 according to data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

The age group with the greatest proportion of distracted drivers was the under-20 age group—16 percent of all under-20 drivers in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving.

An estimated 22 percent of injury crashes were reported to have involved distracted driving, according to data from the General Estimates System (GES).

When individual prerogatives take precedence over public safety, it is time to “Not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor” The verse is preceded by the commandment not to go tale bearing among your people (Leviticus 19:16) What is the connection between these two clauses?

The first clause states clearly that we should not engage in gossip that has no practical purpose, but the second clause cautions that does not mean that we can disengage from threats that endanger our neighbors.  By all means, give people their space, but remember, that we are obliged to care about them.  How many people will need to die before, people understand that they don’t have the right to determine whether they are capable of multi-tasking behind the wheel of a potentially lethal machine?

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