The state of Washington has banned "driving while texting," which henceforth will be punishable by a $101 fine. The practice does seem pretty dangerous, since it requires driving with one hand (at most) and taking your eyes off the road at least intermittently, unless you've mastered one-thumb touch typing. But must we have a separate law for each and every form of risky on-the-road multitasking? First we had bans on using handheld cell phones while driving, and bans on smoking in the car are sometimes justified on traffic safety grounds (as opposed to protecting-the-children grounds). Do we also need laws against DWR (driving while reading), DWE (driving while eating), DWAM (driving while applying makeup), DWSM (driving while selecting music), DWWS (driving while Web surfing), and DWRC (driving with rambunctious children)? Perhaps I am naive in matters of traffic law enforcement, but shouldn't it suffice to ban reckless driving, whatever the cause? And if a driver gets into an accident while engaging in one of many ill-advised, distracting activities, it should count against him when it comes to sorting out liability, even if a legislature has never had the foresight to ban that particular activity.
Interestingly, the Washington fine for driving while texting can be imposed only if a driver is stopped for some other reason, whereas the state's seat belt law authorizes primary enforcement. Since DWT endangers others, while driving unbelted endangers only oneself, that disparity seems hard to justify.