Cutting Off the Thumbs of Drivers Using Cell Phones: Pros & Cons

Americans! They’re quite busy, they’ll tell you, and in constant and desperate need of stimulus, and also a way to block the forever empty inside all of us. They also drive everywhere.

When you combine this type of existential dread/listlessness with our star-spangled auto-dependance, you get a situation where anywhere from 75% to 110% of all drivers are actively using their phones while driving. Test it out! Look up from your phone right now at the other drivers–you are all on your phones. You are calling people to discuss nothing, liking pictures of sandwiches on Facebook, and sending 6:00 PM work emails so you can signal that you are the kind of person who sends work emails at 6:00 PM.

Looking down to text “what.” might not seem like a huge distraction, but using the power of the calculator included with all of our computers, here is some math:

If you are driving 40 miles an hour on, say, Portland Avenue, past a park where children are playing, you will travel 176 feet in the 3 seconds it takes you to send that text.

The unfortunate consequence of this is that a bunch of people are killed and maimed by drivers not paying attention to the road. Killed! Actual lives are destroyed, thousands of them every year all across America. Searching for not more than a few minutes, here are some recent casualties of distracted driving:

1.) Cyclist killed by a North Dakota driver taking a photo of themselves
2.) Cyclist (with kids in a carrier!) killed by a driver about to call his bank
3.) Toddler given traumatic brain injury by a Shakopee teenager reading a text message
4.) 89 year old killed by Facebook enthusiast

Due to various aspects of our legal system, many of these drivers serve negligible jail sentences or no jail sentences at all. The guy who killed the woman while thinking about calling his bank served 120 (!) days in jail.

We sure make it easy. Cars come with wifi now, which is insane, and this is a whole type of photo among trash.

So what are we to do, as a society? One possible solution to this crisis would be to increase penalties on drivers who feel that it is necessary to use their phones while driving. The financial penalty associated with using your phone while driving in Minnesota recently increased. But, looking around, that doesn’t appear to be much of a deterrent. What else can we do to dissuade people?

Cigar Cutter

Well, we could chop off their thumbs.

Which, might seem like a steep penalty for refreshing Instagram while driving down Hennepin Avenue in a several-thousand-pound steel contraption that can kill people. But also, you, the driving public, have shown yourselves to be callously indifferent to the well-being of those around you. You have lost your thumb privileges. If you are not convinced, here is a detailed analysis of the pro et contra arguments in this situation:


  • Fewer dead and maimed innocent people


  • Lotta extra thumbs
Nick Magrino

About Nick Magrino

Nick Magrino grew up all over the place but has lived in the Loring Park neighborhood of Minneapolis longer than anywhere else. He has a new cat, Sweater, and does not use hashtags at @nickmagrino. He is probably on a bus right now.