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Texting while driving (TWD) has been in the news a lot lately — most recently because of a new gone-viral video on YouTube that dramatizes its dangers. Although it’s frequently lumped into the category of “distracted driving,” TWD is a far cry from just talking on a cell phone. Talking basically translates to a phone and a crunched-up shoulder, leaving one hand free for steering. For the unskilled among us, TWD frequently requires the use of both hands — one to hold the device and the other to text. It also involves translating abstract thought into written language, no matter how truncated that language may be. Most importantly, TWD requires a driver to take his eyes off the road, making it both mentally and physically distracting. 

While drunk driving is being driven into oblivion by a convergence of tougher policing and DUI laws and social pressure from groups like MADD and the general public, TWD doesn’t seem to have the same stigma. Drunk driving is bad in part because it suggests a lack of a self-control. Texting while driving frequently involves work — and in today’s neo-Puritanical society where people are working longer and harder than ever, what could possibly be wrong with working constantly, even behind the wheel?

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