Originally Posted by SDW2001
I realize that, and I still think it's absurd because you went to that length to illustrate the concept. And it's flawed anyway, because the central point here is to what degree we punish people exposing others to risk. In other words, do we put people to death if they pull a gun on someone? Of course not. That's because we do
distinguish between exposing people to risk and actually causing injury.
I wasn't arguing for equal punishment for imposing risk of harm and actually causing that harm -- if you got that out of what I wrote, I don't know how.
Now, if a person repeatedly exposes others to a very high risk of deadly harm, I can definitely see life imprisonment or institutionalization of that person as better than waiting for everyone else's luck to run out, particularly if the risk-imposing behavior doesn't seem treatable. If there's true intent to cause harm, or a callous indifference to causing harm, and it's just a matter of luck that someone doesn't get killed, one offense should be enough to get you in very serious trouble in some cases.
What does matter then? Just public perception?
Speeding is objectively and provably more dangerous than not speeding. Texting is harder to prove, as is adjusting other equipment, eating, etc. That said, we also don't throw speeders in jail for the most part.
"..personal opinion of your personal ability to text more safely than you can adjust your iPod matters not one whit -- and it shouldn't."
If personal opinion doesn't matter, your personal opinion doesn't matter.
You're mixing up two different things here.
The first, separate point is that it's completely unfeasible for the law to take into account the fact that some people might be more dangerous texting while driving than others. We're not going to be giving texting-while-driving tests, and putting stickers on drivers' licenses indicating who has earned texting privileges or not. This is the context where I'm saying your personal opinion of your own safety at this isn't important -- not important towards whether you'd be treated differently than anyone else for texting while driving.
There's also the matter that you seem like the kind of guy who thinks his own shit doesn't stink, a blustering in-your-face attitude kind of guy, making me take your opinions of your own abilities with a very large grain of salt -- but that's another issue.
The more I think about it, the more I've convinced that texting is easier for me. I can conceivably text without looking at the keys on my phone, as I know where they are located and how many times I need to press each one to get the desired character. But what if I'm selecting a song? That requires much more eye contact.
Then we have to punish other "risky" behavior with jail time as well, such as adjusting an iPod, eating, talking to a passenger, even using "vacation arm" on the kid in the back.
The second matter of personal opinion here is how risky texting is -- on average, for all people, your own super duper talents aside.
If you're right in your risk assessment of on-the-road texting, and it's safer than I think, the penalties should be low, the same or less than other distracted driving issues. In the absence of hard data that I can point to, I have to go with my own risk assessment, and based on that I'd want to see texting while driving specifically targeted among various other possible driving-while-distracted behaviors.
Nothing beats hard data, however, and I'll gladly change my mind given hard data to the contrary of what my educated guessing tells me.
Another element in how laws about things like this are formulated is that we're all more willing to allow a risky behavior for others if we want the leeway to take those risks ourselves. Driving itself is risky, but since so many of us want to and need to drive, we make the bargain to accept the collective risk we impose on each other.
There are a lot of people who like want to listen to music in a car, so there's going to be more acceptance of whatever risk that generates. There's not a lot of sympathy, however, for the need to text while driving. If nearly everyone else thinks your bff jill can wait until you stop or pull over, you can't expect much willing acceptance of the increased risk.