Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Unintended Consequences of GA's New "No Texting While Driving" Law and Others

Georgia's new "No Texting While Driving" law went into effect on Friday, July 2, 2010. I know of no one who questions that texting while driving - indeed doing anything that distracts a driver - is smart behavior. However, mobile phones with multiple functions represent a deeply embedded part of our culture now, supplying quick communication and information in situations where we find ourselves untethered to our computers.

But every policy, law, and action produce unintended consequences. What unintended consequences might you conceive this new law will create? As you think about that question, read the results of these two new studies here and here. I've got your unintended consequence right here:
Drivers may now be texting in ways so as not to get caught doing so, such as lowering their phones and thus drawing their eyes down away from the road.

I don't pose this question to debate the merits of the new law. Rather, I thought it might be a good way to help us think about how, in our businesses, we often initiate policies with good intentions only to find that something unanticipated, desirable or undesirable, emerges as a consequent. So...

  1. What unintended consequences might you conceive this new law will create?
  2. What policies have you initiated that produced unintended consequences?
  3. How did you deal with those consequences?
  4. What efforts do you employ now to limit the effects of undesirable unintended consequences?

Anyway, here's my solution.

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