A common knee jerk reaction to some accident or natural disaster is for people to call on the government to enact new laws to protect us. Some people think that “It’s time for us to hold our lawmakers accountable for keeping us safe,” as one person wrote in a recent letter to the editor in The Dallas Morning News.
Okay, let me get this straight. A law is going to somehow change an accident or a natural disaster. Accidents are called accidents because they occur by chance. They are undesirable or unfortunate happenings that occur unintentionally– according to a dictionary definition – – so how is a law going to help?
I know, I know. There have been laws enacted that were of benefit. The main one that comes to mind is speed limits. Numbers of traffic accidents decline along with a decline in speed limits.
But we have a tendency to overdo what can be helpful from government. Some people try to legislate common sense and/or morality, and that simply cannot be done.
Sure, we can ban cell phone use while driving — the issue that spawned the recent commentary in the Dallas Morning News — and give law enforcement one more thing to look for on the road, but that won’t change the facts. Some people are still going to speed. Some people are still going to drive or ride without seat belts. Some people are still going to drive while talking on a cell phone, or eating, or changing CDs.
Until people take responsibility for their own safety and the safety of others, we can legislate until pigs fly and not a whole lot is going to change.