On October 1, a new law went into effect in Oregon: If you hold your phone while driving, you could be subject to a $1,000 fine for the first offense, $2,500 the second, and $2,500 (plus jail time) the third.


I am a grown-ass adult. If I want to risk being one of the 3,477 people who die every year due to distracted driving, that should be my right as an American person who loves America and her car and not having to think about stuff at stop lights.

Here’s the thing: There are a few things that help us avoid existential dread and the fear of dying alone—and thinking about that time Sean Davis asked you to “go” with him in seventh grade and you said yes and he started laughing and told his friends that you “actually bought it”—but none of them are more effective than the smart phone.

Back in early Sumerian times, the first distractions to serve this purpose were stories written on tablets, which were perfect because Sumerians didn’t do a lot of driving. Then in 1895 we discovered radio, which helped a ton because there were actually voices to drown out the voices telling you your cankles were why a certain fellow hadn’t invited you to the cotillion.

And then, in 1930, in a “you-got-peanut-butter-in-my-chocolate” genius move, the first “Motorola,” or “motorized Victrola” was installed in a Studebaker, and we never had to sit at a stop sign and ruminate about that mildly racist thing we said at work again.

Now, in the golden age of smart phones, we have TWO things helping us avoid thinking about how many freckles we have and how easy it must be for a dermatologist to miss cancer, and the stupid fascists at the Oregon Department of Transportation want to take one of them away.

I say, NAY.

What do you want me to do, ODOT? Drink and drive? Because drinking is the quintessential existential dread avoider, but according to you, almost three times more people die that way than when text-ing and driving. So in a way, I’m actually SAVING LIVES by choosing to text and drive. Right?

I feel like my only choice at this point is to install an iPad in my driver’s visor and stream Netflix. Because even with my smart phone, I still have these half-second lulls where lack of visual, audio, or textual input leaves me thinking that if I’d finished college maybe I wouldn’t be driving a 14 year-old Honda Civic that I had to rip the spoiler off of.

My advice to all Oregonians: FIGHT THE POWER. We’re important people and our texts are important and Twitter’s important and it’s REALLY IMPORTANT that we’re able to Google pictures of Dylan McDermott and Dermot Mulroney so we can remember which one was in Steel Magnolias while traveling at 65 mph on I-5.

And yes, ODOT. This is, in fact, the hill I want to die on.