The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
5 Points

Texting and Driving Should be Illegal

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/23/2015 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 614 times Debate No: 72225
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
Votes (1)




Nothing infuriates me more than seeing a person with their eyes glued to their phone, while also attempting to operate an automobile. Driving is a responsibility, not a privilege. It is something to be handled with great care and respect. Texting while driving is a death sentence. You are deliberately diverting your attention from the road, endangering your life, along with the lives of others. Put down your phone and drive.


Since Con has already decided to give his argument as to why "texting and driving should be illegal", I will move forward with my own arguments as to why it should remain legal and not be something that is punishable by law.

The vast majority of people who text while driving do not get in car accidents. " In fact, at any given time throughout the day, approximately 660,000 drivers are attempting to use their phones while behind the wheel of an automobile".... "The National Safety Council reports that cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year" [1].
Using this data we can extrapolate a percentage of the number of people who get into car crashes in regards to sending each text at any given moment. It is important to note that my source uses the phrase "any given time throughout the day"
This source is talking about literally just a moment, but I will pretend they are really only 660,000 text attempts while driving a day.

If in a given day there are 660,000 text attempts, we can multiply this by 365 to see the number of text attempts each year.
This results in around 241,000,000 attempted text messages while driving. If 1,600,000 accidents are caused by texting, that means only 0.6% of attempted text messages result in a crash. Additionally this source has used the term "cellular phone use" so it doesn't actually give a specific number regarding texting related accidents. This reduces the number of accidents caused by texting even further.

Texting and driving is only irresponsible when it isn't an appropriate time for it. I see no harm in texting on an open road or at a stop light. Con' disgust of people who text and drive is misdirected, he should focus on the people who are simply irresponsible to begin with. I have no doubt seeing someone eating, or changing their pants, or doing make-up in their car would infuriate him no less. On the same token, I would also argue that it would be unreasonable to punish people for also attempting to do this while driving. There are a myriad of reasons for people doing these things that could very well outweigh the 0.6% chance of crashing.

-Privilege vs Responsibility-
Con states that driving is not a privilege, but is actually a responsibility. There are a few reasons why I disagree with this.

1.If the government believed that driving was a citizens responsibility in order to achieve some goal, everyone capable of driving, would be driving. This is not the case.
2.It must be a privilege, only people who are capable of a certain degree of hand-eye coordination, depth perception, and other host of abilities are allowed to drive. Proof of this is the exclusion of elderly and young people.
3. Driving itself is not your responsibility, it is a privilege used to achieve what-ever your responsibility might be .

Con may be trying to say that people who drive should drive responsibly, and that's a given, but that isn't what he's actually arguing based on what he stated.

-Benefits vs Risk-
The sheer number of texts that have saved lived or delivered urgent information to an important individual while driving must be staggering. Considering the numerous amounts of texts being transmitted, it is far more likely than not that at-least a couple thousand of them were indeed important.
Just imagine, your child dies in an accident and your wife sends you a text to inform you what happened. Since your driving when you receive this text you are not allow to respond, in fact, you wont even get to read it, without risking some sort of penalty.

Debate Round No. 1


There may be a small percentage of accidents resulting in cellular use, but there is no denying that there is an amount of accidents caused by cellular use. 0.6% may not seem like much, but it is still a worthy statistic. There is also no denying that texting and driving does distract a driver, and poses a significant threat to themselves, along with others. I'm a man of statistics, and these are very surprising to me. On the contrary, there simply is a percentage of accidents caused by cellular use. This is non-arguable. Why should something that causes accidents be tolerated when it is completely unnecessary? There is no issue with briefly pulling over, out of harm's way, to send a text or make a phone call.

This irritation with texting and driving absolutely does translate to other distractions. Any distraction while driving is dangerous. I have witnessed people reading while driving. How can anyone with an ounce of common sense possibly think this to be okay? But with this general frustration for irresponsible driving comes an equal frustration for texting and driving.

I do believe driving is a responsibility. Why else would a person be required to pass a written, and driving test prior to receiving their license? Yes it is somewhat of a privilege. But in order to achieve and maintain that privilege comes a very large amount of responsibility.


Thanks for the response Pro,

-Benefits vs Risk-

It should be noted that Pro has not refuted the "Benefits" that out weight the extremely conservative risk of 0.6%. Keep in mind that this statistic assumes that there are 660,000 attempted texts each day. This is not the reality. The source even states "at any given time" not the whole day, so we can actually assume that 660,000 attempted texts are actually sent nearly every minute if we wanted. Being conservative, lets pretend these number of texts are at their peek between 8am-6pm. Let us re-evalute for an even more accurate percentage/ratio now.

10 hour x 60 minutes = 600 minutes. If 660,000 texts are attempting to being sent, this comes out to be around 396 million attempted texts sent each day. Multiply this by 365 to get the total number of texts a year comes out to be 144 billion. Considering only 1,600,000 accidents a year due to texting, this means that only 1 in nearly 100,000 (rounding up) texts result in an accident. This is a much more realistic number considering that multiple people are sending multiple texts every minute. Again the source bases these numbers off of "cellular phone use" not just texting, further driving the number of accidents caused by texting down.

I have given a prima facie example (your child dying) as to why a 1 in 100,000 risk of getting into a car crash is a reasonable risk to take. When considering what an incredibly important message may be trying to be communicated to us over text while were driving, it makes sense to take this risk. The number of people who die from simply riding there bicycle are about 1 in 104,000. [1]. However we don't take this right away to ride bikes, I will evaluate further on this in a bit.

Pro needs to show that this tiny risk can justifiably take away our freedom to do texting while driving. He has not done this except for stating that he finds it frustrating and it increases your risk of being in an accident, These two reasons are not sufficient to make texting while driving punishable by law. We do not make it criminal to ride a bicycle just because it increases your chances of dying from 1 in 1,000,000 (running) ,to 1 in 100,000 (bike riding). Yes the risk is there, but the vast, vast majority of people do not get in an accident. John Stuart Mill theorized that "The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good, in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it."[2] Sending texts at the appropriate times will driving is in no way infringing on anyone's right to drive.
Being a neglectful driver may infringe on your rights by putting you in danger, but this is a separate issue. Pro agrees that things like the putting on of pants or make-up also results an increased risk, and I agree, but to make it a criminal offense would be absurd. We would have people being pulled over or arrested just because he missed breakfast and needs to eat on his way to work.

-Privilege Vs Responsibility-
Pro asks us "Why else would a person be required to pass a written, and driving test prior to receiving their license?"
The key problem with this idea which assumes that driving is a responsibility, is that Pro thinks the government requires people to take a mandatory test. This is not true though. No one has to take this supposed responsibility, one can simply, not drive. The idea that people need to pass tests (to show their ability) proves that only people privileged with this ability to do these things may drive. This must be a privilege.

It seems that me and pro both agree that people who drive while texting at an inappropriate time put others at a risk for danger. I never dispute this. However most people don't do this. The vast majority of people who text and drive don't result in accidents in the first place. My sympathies go out to Pro and anyone else who has to deal with a neglectful driver, however, I don't believe I should be given some sort of penalty simply for checking my phone when something as important as an emergency may be occurring on the other side of the line.

The resolution is negated.

Debate Round No. 2


The main concern I have with texting and driving, and why I still stand by the opinion of making it an illegal act, is that it not only (no matter how slim the chance) puts the texter's life in danger, but it puts my life in danger. To me, the act of texting and driving is no different from driving under the influence. Of course DUI is much more dangerous and the statistics show, but what I am saying is it is the same principal. Driving under the influence inhibits a person's ability to drive. There is no debating that texting doesn't do the same. Maybe less, but it is 100% true that it is still an inhibition. As I mentioned before, what is stopping the driver from quickly pulling over to check their phone? Con made mention of doing other things like changing or eating to be the same principal, therefore those would have to be considered illegal as well (based on the argument I am making). I do agree with this. I think there is a grey area here, but you can't argue that eating a bowl of cereal and driving is incredibly dangerous. A banana or an apple may be a much safer alternative (hence, grey area), but the simple fact of the matter is preforming these distracting acts is a danger to all drivers on the road.

Con also made mention of such a law being a suppression of freedom. I will disagree with this, by saying that texting and driving is a harmful, threatening act to society. It is an act that can very well take lives, and therefore, should not be considered a freedom. We have the freedom of speech, until it becomes a hate crime, or an act of violence, endangering others. I think the same situation applies here. The evidence clearly shows that texting and driving is a danger to drivers.


I will now refute what remains of Pro's case as well as clarify and re-affirm my own position.

-It should be noted that by not responding, Pro has conceded that driving is indeed a privilege and not a responsibility.

-He concedes my statistics argument that the risk of texting and driving is indeed minimal but none-the-less it still posses a risk to his health and well being, and everyone else' of course. Later on, I will explain once more why an insignificant risk is not a sufficient justification for making something criminal.

-Benefits vs Risk-

For a second round Pro has again evaded the gnawing question of whether or not the benefits of texting while driving out-weigh the minimal risk of 1 in 100,000 chance of getting in an accident. This is perhaps one of my strongest arguments but it is left completely untouched. I have presented a prima facie example as to why someone might need to reply to a text (emergencies). Even simple things that happen may require you to text someone, like going a cross-country trip and after hundreds of miles of travel you finally read that text you'v been putting off reading (since your driving) only to realize you left your wallet at home. What if you actively need to discuss something that is important or an emergency and you're on the highway, it seems rather absurd that we should have to pull over for each text just to read it, then maybe reply, just so we can avoid this insanely low probability of an accident occurring (1 in 100,000). I have no doubt that lives have been saved or even disasters (or personal disasters)avoided, because someone was texting and driving.


Pro is adamant about making "doing things while driving" illegal based on the fact that they may increase the possibility of serving as a detriment to his well-being. He expands this rational from not only texting while driving, but beyond that. I find this to be absurd. He really believes that someone who's simply eating a burger on their way to work should charged with a crime.
The main reason why we can't make it illegal simply because it "increases" the probability of getting in an accident is because it needs to increase the risk by a significant enough amount.
Drunk driving is illegal for this very reason, if we compare the frequency of crashes due to drunk driving as opposed to those from texting, we reach a staggering difference. "EACH DAY, PEOPLE DRIVE DRUNK ALMOST 300,000 TIMES, BUT FEWER THAN 4,000 ARE ARRESTED" ...."IN 2013, 10,076 PEOPLE DIED IN DRUNK DRIVING CRASHES - ONE EVERY 52 MINUTES - AND 290,000 WERE INJURED IN DRUNK DRIVING CRASHES"[1]
This source states that 300,000 attempts at drunk driving occur every day. multiple this by 365 for the entire year we get, 105,000,000 attempts at driving drunk. If 290,000 accidents happen each year, this results in a ratio of 1 accident per 377 attempts. I will admit that a 0.2% rate of crashing from alcohol does seem low, but it is a stark difference from 1 in 100,000 chance, which is a 0.001% chance of crashing while texting.

At this point there isn't much left to argue about. I have negated the resolution and refuted Pro's attempts to put forth that texting while driving should be illegal.

I thank Pro for creating this debate. Now I can start voting finally!

Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by Kozu 1 year ago
Someone should vote on this. I'll return the favor.
Posted by Ragnar 1 year ago
Small grammar nitpick: If repeating this one, please replace the word "and" with "while" in the resolution.
Posted by HanSolo 1 year ago
I agree with Con - please vote!

Con, you are a good debater. Thanks for the friendly competition, but I do still stand by my opinion. :)
Posted by Kozu 1 year ago
Please vote so this isn't a tie.

Also, if you consider my re-evaluation of the statistics of a near 0.001% chance of being in an accident, I think you may be inclined to agree that the benefits of texting far out-weigh the risk. The 0.6% figure I gave was exceedingly conservative, too much so.
Posted by kingkd 1 year ago
Good debate. Pro is correct but Con is a better debater. Pro could've said that .6% for EVERY TEXT ATTEMPT is a high amount. Text 10 times and you will have more then a 1 in 20 chance of causing an accident. Accidents harm more than just you.
Posted by Kozu 1 year ago
I may have mistakenly referred to pro as "con" several times throughout the debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by PatrickTheWise 1 year ago
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Sources- only Con used sources Arguments - Con successfully deconstructed the premise and supporting arguments.