Don't kill the messaging technology, when the alleged messager is already dead.
But the possibility that text messaging was at the root of Friday's fatal train wreck in California should be enough to give us all pause. Isn't it about time we called a timeout on our compulsive need to communicate at all times, from any where, almost without regard to whatever else we're doing?
The National Transportation Safety Board rightly says it is continuing to investigate, before it confirms or denies whether the engineer who failed to see one or more warning lights to stop the commuter train in his charge was exchanging text messages at the time he blew through.
But a 15-year-old has claimed to be conducting a series of exchanges with the engineer, up until a minute before the wreck.
If this bears out to be true, 25 people or more are dead because of this addiction to communications that seems now so ingrained in us all. Somehow, the proof that we are somebody important and that our lives reflect our status seems to have gotten acculturate d as: I am always on call. I am always making a call. Or I am always getting a call. On phone, or some other mobile device.
Even if it proves not to be the case -- the 15-year-old could just be seeking attention -- let's take these 25 people's lives and give them practical worth, now and into the future. Use these tragic deaths to head off any future train wreck, because of instant messaging. Or unnecessary phone calls. Or any form of unnecessary out-of-cockpit communication.
Whether it's a plane, train or automobile, let's stop right now. No pilot, driver or engineer should be allowed to communicate on any channel other than an officially approved one, for the express purpose of guiding the plane, train or automobile.
Professional calls only. No personal calls. Nothing in the driver's seat except eyes in the air, on the track or on the road. No attention allowed anywhere else.
Seems so self-evident. Not draconian at all.
If the call or the message is so important, we should each stop what we're doing and just deal with the message.
Otherwise, just steer.
Not just our own lives are at stake.