Don’t t-e-x-t while d-r-i-v-i-n-g

Published 10:55 am Saturday, July 6, 2013

In a perfect world, there’d be no need for laws that prohibit driving under the influence or texting while driving. Most people – we think it’s safe to say – have been made aware through extensive campaigns that booze can impair all motor skills. Cell phones and iPhones clearly have some Pavlovian hold on many of its users. When that ring tone sounds, the call or text must go through no matter the time or place.

Sadly, the recklessness continues. Mothers Against Drunk Drivers has had no reason to disband, for example. It’s just a matter of time before someone feels compelled to organize something like Parents Against Stupid Texters. And no, we’re not trying to be cute about this subject.

For those of you who missed the news, as of this past Monday the rules of the road are more severe for people convicted of DWI’s.

Such convictions will be considered felonies if the accused has previously caused involuntary manslaughter by vehicle or boat, maimed another person with a vehicle or boat, or the offense is the proverbial third strike. The convicted are looking at a minimum $1,000 fine and a year in prison.

No matter your age, if you’re caught texting while driving, the fee is $125 for the first instance, and $250 for the second or more. Would that the penalties were more severe. The mind reels with possibilities.

Did you know that last year there was a reported 28,000 crashes caused by distracted drivers? Of them, 174 were fatalities and 16,709 were injuries. What was a noticeable cause? Uh-huh. Talking on cellphones or texting while operating a vehicle.

And please don’t say, “Oh, I only do it when I’m stopped at the traffic light.”

Last April, Jeff Turner of Franklin wrote a letter to the editor detailing how often he seeks drivers doing that very thing. As he points out, by the time they become aware and move through, the drivers behind either get through driving a red light or stopped again.

We’ve also seen it ourselves.

Such laws shouldn’t be necessary. Ideally, common sense and even courtesy should have been enough from the start.

But we don’t live in a perfect world, so the laws must remain.