Posted: September 18, 2008 in Cars & Driving
Yes, I know... it's a ridiculous title for a blog entry, and the women are probably already rolling their eyes, but hold up for a sec. It's not what you think.
With the presidential primaries in full swing, and the headlines full of Sarah Palin, I've been thinking a lot about the conservative right's "abstinence only" position when it comes to sex. The point (I suppose) is that if you never have sex, you'll never have an unwanted pregnancy, and you'll never be at risk of contracting an STD. While this all makes perfect, logical sense, it seems to work better in theory than in practice, because of course you need to get people to comply, which is the problem.
Since voluntary compliance to a plan like the one above is so unlikely, it would make sense to have a Plan B, like maybe birth control (condoms? the pill?). But unfortunately, the conservative right isn't interested in a Plan B, because of course it would mean that people might still be having sex (which is what they actually want to prevent, rather than the consequence).
By now you're asking what this has to do with driving, so here we go.
People like sex. People also like to drive. Just as people have sex to make babies, they also have sex because they like sex. Likewise, just as people drive for basic transportation, they also drive for pleasure (and for the sake of this argument, we'll pretend that gas is not $4.50 a gallon). People with sports cars go off and find twisty roads to have fun on, and it has nothing to do with getting them to work, or to the store, or to their doctor's office.
But driving can be dangerous, as cars can be crashed into things like trees or other cars, or even people not in a car. There are countless things to be wary of when driving, such as deer darting out in front of you, or drunk people careening down the road. When people drive for pleasure, they're spending more time on the road, and they're exposing themselves to more chances to crash. So what's to be done?
The government has of course thought of this, and have responded by posting ridiculously low speed limits on all the roads. The next time you are putting along that road at 40mph, please consider the 25mph limit signs you're driving past. The idea is that if everyone crawled around at a snail's pace, fewer people would crash, because with cars going so slowly, you'd have hours to avoid the careening drunk, or the darting deer. Also, if you did still manage to crash, you'd be going so slowly that injury would be a lot less likely (and for this argument we will also ignore the fact that reducing speeds on roads has never been proven to decrease the accident rate, but that's another blog).
But, like the abstinence only thing, this works better in theory than in practice. People don't like to crawl around at a snail's pace, regardless of why they're driving. They gravitate to a speed they feel comfortable with, and just try to keep an eye out for that deer. The government knows that voluntary compliance is unlikely, so they have a Plan B, which is to equip cars with bumpers, seat belts, and air bags. They also require crash tests to make sure that if people do crash, they will have some sort of chance to survive.
Hopefully the point is starting to surface, and I haven't been typing for nothing.
Promoting abstinence only, with no consideration for a Plan B, is no different than putting up speed limit signs, then leaving all the safety features out of cars. It's just as irresponsible. If we care enough to put air bags in our cars, why can't we care enough to give condoms to our kids? I don't see why it has to be any more complicated than that. Sometimes you really do need a Plan B.
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