U can stop on your own

Published 11:12 pm Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Toyota and our federal government released a report on Tuesday saying Toyota will recall 3.8 million vehicles in the United States to address a safety problem.

That’s a good idea. A safety problem in a car or truck should be fixed. The recall covers cars going back as far as 2004 and includes very popular models such as Camry, Avalon, Prius and Tundra, as well as Lexus ES350s, IS250s and IS350s.

The recall is over a floor mat, a REMOVABLE floor mat to boot. Toyota and the government advise the floor mat could “interfere with the vehicle’s accelerator and cause a crash.”

Toyota will be starting a safety campaign on the floor mats next week. Owners are advised to remove the removable floor mats on the driver’s side and not replace them.

Thank you Toyota and thank you U.S. government for using your time and energy (and at a few points along the way, the citizens’ money) for this, the largest recall by a factor of more than four, in Toyota’s history.

But the U.S. Department of Transportation is busy with more. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is holding a two-day conference in Washington next week to discuss ways the federal government can ban texting while driving.

Sadly, it probably will take an act of government to achieve this end. According to a recent survey by Ford, 93 percent of drivers support a nationwide ban on texting while driving. Even Ford, other major auto companies and wireless phone companies support government legislation to ban texting on the road.

In a survey run by AAA, 18 percent of drivers said they’d sent a text message while driving within the last month. The real, honest number has to be higher than that.

So while basically everyone knows trying to figure out pqrs and twittering while going 80 mph down the interstate is a horrible idea, it’ll probably take federal law to keep texters safe from themselves. Since we apparently can’t take care of ourselves, it’ll mean a bigger, more expensive (higher taxing) federal and state government.