The political talking heads have Governor Rick Perry of Texas on the verge of throwing his hat into the GOP race for the 2012 Presidential nomination. Last Friday he vetoed Texas House Bill 242, which imposed a $200.00 fine for texting while driving. Here is his veto message:
Texting while driving is reckless and irresponsible. I support measures that make our roads safer for everyone, but House Bill 242 is a government effort to micromanage the behavior of adults. Current law already prohibits drivers under the age of 18 from texting or using a cell phone while driving. I believe there is a distinction between the overreach of House Bill 242 and the government's legitimate role in establishing laws for teenage drivers who are more easily distracted and laws providing further protection to children in school zones.
The keys to dissuading drivers of all ages from texting while driving are information and education. I recommend additional education on this issue in driving safety and driver's education courses, public service ads, and announcements, and I encourage individuals and organizations that testified in favor of the anti-texting language included in this bill to work with state and local leaders to educate the public of these dangers.
His veto message is succinctly thus: Texting while driving is reckless and irresponsible, but Texas should not use motor vehicle laws to reduce the number of people who might drive in a reckless and irresponsible manner.
This is either mindless stupidity on Governor Perry's part, or a calculated effort to increase his props with the right wing fringe as a defender of citizens' rights against Big Brother style government. Does he assume that teenagers won't be "informed and educated" by watching adults (perhaps parents) text while driving? Does he think motor vehicle laws increasing fines in work zones should be restricted to teenage drivers, so as not to micro-manage the behavior of adults? Does he favor government protecting life by outlawing abortion and forcing a woman to carry a baby to term, but disfavor government protecting life by asking adults to pull off the road to stay connected with their offices? Does he favor trying to cure this by methods that will cost the taxpayers money rather than by a method that will lead to state and local revenues?
I am guessing it was calculated to score political points at the expense of significantly greater highway injuries, deaths and increased insurance rates. Perhaps the insurance industry will rate Texas drivers differently because of the veto. I would certainly hope so.