Texting and Driving: Is it a Sin?

Is texting and driving a car sinful? I am certainly guilty of it. In fact, I did it today on the way home from a Saint George campout (the campout was lots of fun by the way. 80 sons and fathers. Holy Mass. Rosaries. Divine Mercy. Photos coming soon).

While I was on the campout, I learned that one of my former students rolled his truck. He survived. He was texting and driving. I know several people who have wrecked while texting. We know its dangerous, but we do it every day. I do it.

texting and driving

Texting and Driving and AT&Ts New Effort

I was reading Seth Godin’s blog (one of my favorites – remember my Lizard Brain post?) and he commented on AT&Ts new commercial to prevent texting while driving.

Godin, a master of human behavior, believes that AT&Ts commercial won’t work. Here are his four reasons why:

  1. The culture of the car as a haven, a roving office, and a place where you do what you like
  2. The culture of the Marlboro man, no speed limiters in cars, ‘optional’ speed limits on roads
  3. The culture of connection and our fear of being left out
  4. The culture of technology, and our bias to permit it first and ask questions later

Godin suggests that phone makers rig mobile devices to notify the person we’re texting that we’re driving. This creates peer-pressure or self-policing. The other option is to require wireless companies to ban texting when the phone is moving more than 20 miles per hour.

But is Texting and Driving Sinful?

So here’s the big question. Does texting and driving constitute a sin? Does it anger God? Drinking and driving is unethical. Gravely sinful. Drugs and driving? Unethical. Driving fast in a school zone. Unethical. Driving fast in a construction area with men at work? Unethical.

Why are these unethical driving practices? They are wrong because you are endangering the lives of other people.

Now texting does not impair the intellect, as do alcohol and drugs. However, texting and driving does impair the sense of sight – a key necessary element of driving. So is it wrong? Should I confess it?

Defining Imprudent Acts: Speed Racer Tattoo Example

I don’t think that I need to go to confession and say, “Father, I texted about 14 times in the last week while driving.” I don’t think it’s a sin per se, but I do think it qualifies as negative behavior or more strictly as an “imprudent act.”

Students often ask me, “Is XYZ a sin.” They are usually asking about tattoos, piercings, smoking cigars, or whatever college kids want to do. I usually suggest that such activities are “imprudent acts,” and not sins properly speaking.

However, if you have a tattoo on your face or a devil on your back, you need to talk to a priest. Not good.

But if you got excited in the 1990s and have a tattoo of Speed Racer on your upper arm, that’s simply an imprudent act. You have a dated Japanese anime character ink-stained into your human flesh. Sorry bro. That was gravely imprudent. Did you incur the wrath of God? I don’t know if I’d go that far, but you lacked prudence. With your Speed Racer anime inkspot, you may never find a wife. Even more, the dudes at the gym are laughing at you behind your back. Nothing says 90s dork than Speed Racer.

[Disclosure: I actually did see a dude with a Speed Racer tattoo at Lollapalooza way back in 1994.]

texting and driving


My opinion, not magisterial pronouncement, is that texting and driving falls under “imprudent acts.”

What I usually try to do is use the iPhone speech to text option. For example:

“Dear Joy, do you want to pick up some Popeyes?”

Unfortunately speech to text turns this into:

“Deer toy do you want me to pick epson drop byes?”

Fortunately, she’s pretty good at deciphering these kind of texts!

Question: Is texting and driving sinful? It’s your turn to weigh in. Please share your thoughts and experiences from “texting and driving”. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Adam

    Isn’t the old familiar “What would Jesus do?” (WWJD) still a wise and useful rule of thumb?

    • I’m not a Dan of WWJD.

      For example if a 24 year old man is discerning marriage to a godly girl, WWJD fails.
      Christ’s vocation as Savior doesn’t always map to our vocations as disciples.

      • Adam

        Certainly I agree with your example. I was editing my own comment as you were replying! I added “MORAL compass”, ie. may not WWJD be helpful in moral questions? Questions of discernment, such as vocations, are a different issue. When St Paul wrote “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Co 11:1), he was hardly thinking of Jesus’ celibacy (or his beard), else no Christian should ever marry [cf. the 12th century Albigensian heresy (Cathars) St Dominic preached against in southern France].

  • Skeinster

    It’s sinful b/c it’s a dangerous action that is NOT necessary. Pull off the road, for the love of everyone else on it.
    In short, it’s the sin of pride: I’m such a good driver that I’m not impaired by texting. What I have to say is so important that it’s okay if I endanger other people.

    And preemptively, no- I don’t want to hear about the radio, or eating. You can stuff a fry in your mouth, or listen to a song w/o taking your eyes off the road.

    Seriously- your life is worth a text?

    And, be assured: you will regret that tattoo.

    • Skeinster

      Plus, body art ( I use the term loosely) and texting while driving are apples and oranges.
      That tattoo is very unlikely to kill you. Texting- much bigger potential.

    • Marty

      I definitely do believe that anyone who does anything that could cause an accident when they could avoid such behavior is committing a sin against the safety of others. You can talk on a phone with a special device without hands but do not text while driving. I think it is equivalent to a drunk driving situation because you are impaired while paying attention to something else while driving a car. Pull over to text and be safe.

  • DAN

    The answer may lie in what you hinted, better speech recognition and a less aggressive spell Czech.

  • Angela

    I think it is sinful if we look at the context of the situation. It is reckless driving. Texting in and of itself is not sinful; however, while attempting to drive a car safely, it renders a type of impairment of the faculties necessary for executing that action safely, namely vision, a KEY part of driving. You may not be inebriated or under the influence of drugs, but your actions are contrary to performing the task at hand and lack the consideration for the safety of yourself and your fellow drivers. And although the driver under the influence has a consistently reduced reaction time, think of the texter who, if in an accident while actively attending to a text message, virtually has no reaction time; this can be more dangerous than a drunk driver. In addition, since this is especially an issue with our young teens who are newly driving, how can we say that diverting their attention while driving is not sinful? I’m not trying to say it’s only a sin when you are young, but it may pose an even greater risk to our inexperienced drivers and I think it is dangerous to say that it is not a sin for a driver to not fully attend to the road. We cannot neglect the fact that there have been terrible accidents resulting from the use of texts while driving. This should be enough to tell us that it does pull our attention away from driving safely and is therefore a form of reckless driving.

  • Joisy Goil

    I think it is gravely sinful. I have seen entire families wiped out because someone was texting or using their phone for something I am sure was SO IMPORTANT. I know a little girl who was run over while riding her bike on her own suburban residential side street (THAT’S RUN OVER NOT HIT) and she will be not more than a vegetable for the rest of her life. Yes, I think it is a sin, a big one, to drive impaired for whatever reason. If it’s that important pullover, put your car in park and when you’re done get back on the road with both eyes focused on what you’r doing – driving a vehicle. And BTW, I agree with Skeinster 100%.

  • Sharon

    Texting takes your mind and concentration off the road. Period. Thus all the accidents!!! It puts those in your car and those in your car’s path at risk. Stop doing it. If it’s so important that you have to text, pull over and text.
    I like your daily emails, though, as long as you’re on solid ground writing them. =0

  • James Finn

    Dr. Marshall,

    Texting while driving – is dumb. Agreed. No contest. I personally think eating, drinking, smoking, talking on your cell phone, changing the channel, putting on make-up, blasting absurdly loud music, etc. are ALL distracting to the point of making that person a peril to other travelers. A car is for driving. Period.

    But this whole issue brings a related issue to mind:

    I personally derive a visceral excitement from driving. It is rather annoying to me this “culture of the road” in America where driving is only one of many things one can do while in their car. I believe very strongly, actually: Pay attention to the road, or get off.

    I speed. I mean – I drive REALLY fast. My opinion is that it is not a sin. I take pride in the fact that I am a skilled driver. I am 33 years old with a zero accident record. There are no speed limits on the Autobahn, and I believe that policy is more practical. It automatically removes unskilled drivers from the road. The usual reaction of a driver of inferior skill to a driving environment like the Autobahn is fear. In this instance fear is good, it protects us from your inferior skill.

    Might I also state the obvious: The speed limits in this country are obsolete. A practical illustration of this: It is the stated “unoffical” policy of the cops in my area to pull a driver over only if that driver has exceeded the limit by 21 MPH. Consider also that each year automobile engineers improve handling and braking technologies, and yet the speed limits are the same as they were in the days of the Packard. This leads me to conclude that speed limits are arbitrarily set by do-gooder, gov’t bureaucrats; although they’ll tell you limits are set by using an algorithm based on physics. My question is, why doesn’t their so called algorithm account for automobile technology? Their formula is flawed, and as a result Americans are lousy drivers. Thank you government!

    Having said ALL that, I have been discerning the moral gravity of my speeding. I told my priest (who is also my spiritual counselor, confessor and my boss – I work for the man) about this, and he told me, quite unequivocally, that it is a sin to drive as fast as I do. My brother also pointed out that excessive speed is cited briefly as grave moral matter in the CCC.

    This leads to the related question:

    Is it a sin to speed?

    • CDville

      Like Skeinster said, your speeding is the sin of pride. And no, the “inferior” drivers will not stop driving if you get your wish of no speed limits, they will simply be among your roadkill. Like you, they have important destinations. Unlike you, they are willing to share the road along the way. I know some speed limits are set by politicians, but as many in possible (in Texas, at least) are set by engineers according to the slopes and textures of the roads and the observed comfort levels of people driving on the roads. If most drivers (not you) tend to naturally drive 40 on a road, the limit is set close to 40. If most drive 70 or 75, the limit is up there. If there are hazards (homes, schools), the limits are much lower. Sorry, but you are endangering lives with your arrogance and pride–sin.

      • James Finn

        Hello CDville,

        In retrospect, I can see how my post would insight strong emotions such as yours. There are many variables left out of my rationale that I, unwisely, left to the reader’s imagination. My arguments lacked clear definitions, and as a result you were left to project into these “empty spots” at the whims of your creativity. Speeding through “homes/schools”, as you stated in your post, would be ill advised, indeed.

        Nowhere in my post, however, was it stated that I do so. But this is through no fault of your own. I did not define the environment through which I speed.

        Allow me to clarify: I live in rural Pennsylvania. The areas through which I travel on my daily commute range from windy, mountainous and sparsely populated terrain to four lane highways traversing farmlands and countrysides. I travel these beautiful PA motorways 110 miles each day, and I drive like heck!

        I can just see the picture of the guy who you think I am: The jerk cutting everyone off and scaring old ladies. That’s not me.

        Might I add in closing, that when engaging in debate, you will win more flies with honey, than with vinegar.

        God bless, and happy motoring!

    • This picture raises a good question. What about eating and driving?

      • Chloe Austyn

        When I commuted I would just have smoothies for breakfast- eating was too much of a pain! My mom will eat salad while speeding and putting on makeup and texting. I find that mind boggling. I feel adventurous for turning on the radio.

  • SeventhWardKid

    I’ve never texted at all, and turn off my cell phone before getting into my car. I view this as the charity I owe my neighbor (i.e. other drivers) that I give driving my full attention. I’ll allow the possibility that some have become extremely skillful in texting while driving to the point where it’s unlikely they will cause accidents. I have no confidence that I could do the same, and have no desire to try.

    • Chloe Austyn

      Agreed. I’m rarely alone while driving anymore, so I hand my phone over and dictate texts if it’s super important.

  • Patti Day

    Texting takes the driver’s mind off driving. Even if he’s proficient. He will still feel compelled to look at the screen once in a while. What about reading incoming texts, yikes. It ‘s imprudent until one actually rolls the vehicle, then it’s a sin. A prayer for the full recovery of your student.

  • windjammer

    Really no excuse for it. Would classify as being both imprudent and sinful. Folks not going to die from an ill advised tat but you could cause death or a disabling injury to an innocent person while driving and texting. Studies have shown that txt and driving is the equivalent of drinking and driving because of being distracted and lessened hand/eye coordination.

  • Dan

    Speed Racer comment aside, I thought this was a good post. In my case, it is illegal in my state, so that is a big discouragement not to do it. Heck, I don’t even talk on the phone much while I’m driving. I guess I’m just a “one thing at a time” kind of guy….

    • I agree, if I talk on the phone in the car I like a headset or ear bud. Both hands on the wheel!

  • BMariaB

    Doesn’t it fall under the Fourth Commandment as we are supposed to obey those in authority in all things reasonable? Obedience to all responsible laws is necessary for a society. It has been shown that our attention spans suffer when doing something other than concentrating on our driving. I can’t think of too many instances where one has to text or use the cell phone while driving. Personally, I keep my cell phone out of reach when I’m driving. If it rings, and I’m expecting a call, I find a place to pull over. Otherwise, any calls/texts can wait. I’ve had several near misses over the last few months and every time the culprit car slides past me, either by mishap or running the red light, they are so busy with their cell phones they actually miss the drama. It might not be a mortal sin (except, perhaps, if you maim or kill someone with your disrespect of the law), but it should be a venial sin.

  • Denis Saint-Maurice

    Taylor, you are taking a risk when you do so. I would certainly tell anyone: per se, it might not be a sin. A serious motive might suggest you do so. Problem is, I can’t figure out a good motive. If it’a about a shopping list, I think it is not relevant. Some urgent thing to settle ? Maybe. But then, why don’t you just pull out and take the time you really need to settle that thing. Our problem nowadays is that we always run, when we need to think. Even though there is theoretically a possibility to do so prudently, in practice, I don’t see why one would text and drive, or even receive a phone call as he drive, if in that case he is not equipped with blue tooth or the equivalent. A life (yours or somebody else’s ) does not compare to a line of texting, unless another life depends on it.

    • I agree. If it’s really important pull over. It’s the prudent thing to do.

  • RobinJeanne

    I think it is sinful. more a venial then mortal. I read a study that concluded
    it is worse to text then DUI because being under the influence one is totally
    focusing on the driving where as in texting the eyes the mind the hands are not
    focused on driving, so texing is worse then DUI. also (i could be wrong) but
    isn’t there a law prohibiting texting while driving(and talking on the phone?)?
    but that the law enforcement don’t really enforce it???? if it is then we are
    breaking the law which Jesus said “give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”… so like
    we pay our taxes and the laws of the land (as long as they are not sinful)… so as a parent Dr Marshall, would you just fine with your teen(when they get that age) to be texting while driving or will that be one of the rules you will place on them if they want to borrow your car? Maybe it won’t “encure the wrath of God” but it’s not pleasing to him either. You have undertaken a big responsibility with the Scouts of St George, please set a good example.

    • In the post I did not say “texting and driving is A OK.”

      I disapprove of it. That’s why I wrote the post – to get people to reconsider the ubiquitous practice.

      • RobinJeanne

        I know you didn’t say it was “ok”… you said you do it often, I was trying to encourage you to stop. Up untill a couple years ago we all lived fine without texing… it can wait. I just don’t want to hear of you dieing in an accident or parralized and we could never get such wonderful post, books and insight for you and you have 7 kids to think about.

  • Patrick Bergin

    Although I don’t disagree with you (Speed Racer excepted), I think I know more than a few priests who’d think texting while driving is much more sinful than many sexual sins/sins against purity. Sins that “Cry out to Heaven” just don’t have the bad reputation among clergy like they used to.

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  • Victor

    Honk if YA love Jesus, text while driving if YA want to meet him.
    Lightened UP guys and gals cause even if Doctor Marshall might seem to believe at this time that texting while driving his ok, he certainly wouldn’t recommend “IT” to the young people who do drive and if I’m wrong well then 99 out of a 100 is not bad cause remember none of us are perfect now! 🙂
    God Bless

    • I do NOT believe texting and driving is okay. Many commenters have made the conclusion.

      The gist of this post is that it’s NOT okay.

      I’ll teach my children not to get tattoos, not to get odd piercings, and not to text and drive.

      • Victor

        Long story short, I now give YA a A+ 🙂
        Keep UP the good words and works.

  • Cathy

    Never text while driving again. Please !

  • labreuer

    Another way to look at this issue is whether you are being selfish or selfless in how you’re acting. I know some people text only at stoplights, which I consider OK—as long as they don’t delay the flow of traffic by not noticing a green light. Once you delay traffic, you are being selfish. You’re saying that YOU are the center of the world. God isn’t such a big fan of such thinking.

  • Maccabeus

    I think that texting and driving is a sin, precisely because it endangers the driver, his companions in the vehicle and other drivers. If you take your eyes off the road to compose a text, even for a few seconds, you risk causing an accident. The accident could be serious, even fatal. Since it was caused by taking your eyes off the road to compose a text, the driver is responsible for the injury or death to others that he has caused. I would call that a sinful disregard for human life.

  • retiredladyann

    In California I believe you can get a ticket if you are on your phone! Period. Though millions seem to ignore this law. I believe texting while driving can be sinful because you are putting yourself before others’ safety. When behind the wheel of a car it is imperative that we keep our eyes on the road and be watching carefully for people who are not driving responsibly. Where I live it is dangerous just to drive to our downtown area where you encounter bicyclists who don’t stop at stop signs, skateboarders, drivers who make u-turns anywhere. Besides car repairs being so very costly, people can be seriously injured or killed in a moment of carelessness. If I get a call on my cell phone while driving I always pull over to the side of the road or into a parking lot and turn off the car before answering. Even hands-free cell phone talking is dangerous, as are eating or drinking in a car while driving. You can tell I’m overly cautious but I’m also in my 70’s and losing my license because of a careless moment is not an option. If we think of Jesus as always a passenger in our car, we will do the right thing!

  • John

    Personally, I think it’s a sin. You are needlessly jeopardizing the life that God gave you and the life of all those on the road around you, so that you can conveniently take care of something that is trivial. In my opinion, that’s more than imprudent.

  • Teresa

    Are we so fearful of being left out that we have to be attached to our phones even while driving? It certainly puts a priority on the text/email/facebook/twitter world over the responsibility involved in appropriately controlling your vehicle for the safety of those around us and of those in our own vehicle. Whenever I am a passenger in a car and the driver takes out their phone to text, I cannot help but feel that my well being has been disregarded. I always offer to text for them or dial the call for them. Debris can hit the road or another car can come over in an instant, which is difficult enough to respond to with full attention.

    Even using your voice to make the text, which means you most likely have to review it and potentially make corrections, is very distracting. It also means that you are expecting a response, which you will then have to check. If something is that important, usually a phone call will be made over a text. At least, one hopes. If I know a friend is making a long drive, I will call them rather than keep a text message conversation going, or have them call me when they’ve reached a stopping point. I know it isn’t something we can control, but I hope to see people take caution before a horrible accident reminds them of the possibilities.

  • Karen

    Yes, I believe it is a sin, because you incur a blatant disregard for other people’s lives. Certainly, we are not meant to be driving and texting at the same time, otherwise auto makers would have hands-free steering. That you, Dr. Marshall would call it an imprudent act gives people an excuse to continue doing it.

  • jesuslover

    I disagree. I firmly believe it is sinful. It is endangering the lives of others or self, as has been proven in countless cases.

  • Chuck S.

    Texting while driving is like playing with a loaded gun. Sorry, TM, imprudent & sinful.

  • Norman Guilbert Jr.

    Dear Dr. Taylor,
    I am a priest and a fan of yours, I look forward to your emails each day. But on the texting-while-driving thing, I’m sorry, but I have to disagree. I believe texting while driving, or for that matter anything-while-driving, because it is an INTENTIONAL action of the will, is in fact sinful, against the 5th commandment, because while the intent may not be to harm, one is placing oneself willingly in a situation dangerous to others. There is a moral principle called “secondary effect.” The classic example is the woman diagnosed with uterine cancer who is pregnant and will die in two weeks if the uterus is not removed. Is it sinful to do so? NO, because the intention is to save the life of the mother by removing the cancer and the action is NECESSARY. The foreseen but unintended effect is the death of the baby in utero. BUT, say someone has an accident while texting-while-driving. Sinful? YES, because the action was not mandatory and the consequences are, for any normally rational person, foreseeable. And because this consequence is foreseeable, always, everywhere, texting-while-driving is SINFUL.
    Our problem, as you noted, is the culture of ENTITLEMENT which manifests itself so boldly when people drive. Stop signs? Suggestions. Speeding? An entitlement. I see many windows into the human spirit manifest behind the wheel, and to be honest, I rarely like what I see. Almost everyone acts like the cardinal virtue of charity is suspended when behind the wheel, too bad.

    • Fr Guilbert,

      You give an excellent analysis.

      I certainly don’t condone the practice. My point here is to have people reconsider the practice and cease texting and driving. I’m hesitant to say, “you’re all sinning.”

      If a father gets a message, “Can you pick up Timmy from baseball on the way from work?” and he texts back “Yes” did he just incur the judgment of God, even venially?

      Of course texting, “Man I can’t wait for tonight’s Monday night football. Who wants to meet up tonight for hot wings?” while driving takes a lot of effort and attention off the road.

      That man who does so is risking your life and the life of others. Sinful.

      Conclusion: We shouldn’t be texting while driving. I would be in favor of more widespread laws forbidding this practice.

      • Norman Guilbert Jr.

        I love the idea someone has presented of the cell phone refusing to allow texting if the car is moving. The GPS feature can handle this easily, and I know, I know, the passengers will be equally effected and inconvenienced, which I think is a small price to pay. I have one of those fancy DVD players in my car, with the backup camera and the GPS, but stick a DVD in the slot, put the car in drive, and the DVD stops, to avoid driver distraction. I think cell phones should do the same. I am not usually a big-brother type, but I think that since some people need laws to enforce basic common sense, maybe we need to do some safety lawmaking here, too.
        By the way, you are doing a great job and a great service, Dr. Marshall! I mentioned you in my homily this morning.

  • me

    To whoever reads this: I dont care if you think it’s a sin or not. How horrible if YOU die because YOU were stupid enough, immature enough to T & D. But if you kill someone else from your stupidity, you deserve the wrath of God and the wrath of their beloveds left behind.

  • Doug

    If I’m stuck in traffic traveling at 12 mph… no problem. If I’m traveling 85 on a West Texas Freeway… problem. It’s a prudential decision. I can be just as distracted by using a GPS as I can by a text message. I have pulled off the road many times to figure out where I was going or to have a conversation.

    Many on this thread act as if no one was ever in a car accident until cell phones popped onto the scene… if you actually look at the data it does not correspond to passion of some of the posts on the thread.


    P.S. The Camp out was VERY cool, I am still in awe of the chapel in the forest!

  • John

    I live in the UK where speaking on a cell phone, or texting (whilst driving) is illegal. Does that mean that in the UK it IS a sin, but in USA it is an imprudent act?

  • Timothy Black

    During RCIA last season our pastor mentioned speeding as being a sin in an offhand way along with other less obvious sins. We were discussing how the 10 commandments go much much deeper than one thinks on first reading them. One of the inquirers almost scoffed at the thought of speeding asbeing a sin. Our pastor said “Sure it is. It’s the sin of recklessness. You’re putting others in danger because of your selfishness or thoughtlessness. It’s rooted in pride.” It falls under the commandment of loving thy neighbor which you are breaking. I would put texting and driving in the same category.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    “Now texting does not impair the intellect, as do alcohol and drugs.”

    Incorrect. Recent tests prove that texting and even voice cell phone use occupy a significant portion of our brainpower- enough that a driver is impaired as much as ten minutes *after* they hang up the phone.

    • Chloe Austyn

      The human brain is actually quite horrible at multitasking. One of my professors cited that texting while driving was statistically more dangerous than drunk driving. I don’t remember the source but it was legitimate… maybe someone knows of it?


    In many states, including the one I happen to live in, driving/texting IS CLASSIFIED AS A CRIMINAL ACTION AND TREATED ACCORDINGLY…..

  • SarahSallie

    As a non-driving, city dweller, I have to do my daily errands in real fear of texting and talking on the phone drivers! I cannot tell you how many times I have almost been hit by a distracted driver while crossing an intersection properly. Even though it is now illegal to text or talk on the phone while driving in Toronto, we have already had a couple of deaths of young people walking to school since Labour Day — these were caused by drivers on cell phones! It is definitely a sin here in Ontario since it is now a criminal offence. Personally, I think anything that puts your life or the life of another in real danger is a sin and I would confess it. Phone talking while driving and texting kills and injures people almost every day in a city like this. Thanks

  • mhardin

    I read a study recently, that said texting drivers are twice as likely to have an accident as a legally drunk driver…I have no idea how that would be proven, but if it bears any semblance to the truth, it makes texting and driving look like a REAL sin to me. not sayin’…just sayin’…

  • TomD

    Taylor, I also think that you need to cut down on your texting while driving, (DWT).

    Having written that, I must comment that I do not consider DWT as inherently sinful. If the text is for an urgent and selfless purpose, such as looking for a missing child, and some precautions are taken, such as reducing speed to 20mph on a sparsely travelled road. then the sinfulness of the act would seem small to non-existent.

    I suppose that it comes down to risk versus benefit. DWI carries a high risk, and it is objectively of no benefit to even the drinker. DWT may carry a high risk, depending of factors such as the speed of the car, the twists of the road, the amount of traffic, the density of population, the length of the text, and the texter’s ability to press keys without looking at them thanks to memorization (I’ve texted rough drafts without taking my eyes off of the road and then pulled over for the final edit). The bottom line is that the risks of DWT are variable and manageable. DWT may carry a high benefit depending on the real (not imagined) urgency of the message.

    Is it a sin to drive on a sidewalk? Once I had to take my daughter to the hospital emergency room. On the way I found the highway flooded out due to a downpour. It was too risky to ford the flooded road. I could have either taken a 3-4 mile detour of 15-20 minutes, or driven on the sidewalk. I drove on the sidewalk. Which is the greater sin: to violate a civil traffic law or to increase the risk to a person’s health?
    So, the conclusion I draw is that there are exceptional times that DWT is not sinful. But most of the time it probably is.

  • James Finn

    Thank you, sir. Your information leads to the logical question: Why should a speed limit be set that universally pertains to ALL driving conditions? Perhaps limits could be posted on signs with two numbers: one on top, one on bottom. The former for clear, daytime conditions, the latter for nighttime or other conditions where visibility is diminished (i.e. rain, etc.). To me, this presents itself to be a logical solution.

  • Expressing Motherhood

    It is sinful! Car crashes are the #1 cause of death to kids. Stop doing it.

  • Natural Lawyer

    I find this argument to be very strange coming from someone who is trained in St. Thomas Aquinas’ theology. St. Thomas himself says that sin is contrary to virtue (ST I-II, q.71, a.5) and Dr. Marshall says this falls under an “imprudent act” According to St. Thomas then (and the definition of sin which is that which is contrary to reason) this would be seen as objectively sinful because it is an act directly opposed to the virtue of prudence. It seems he is trying to make up a new classification of acts rather than good or evil. Am I missing something in the argument presented?