Today’s New York Times has an interesting article about a 22 year old girl in Britain who was texting while driving and ended up killing a 24 year old girl. The driver got 21 months for this horrible accident, which is far less than the recommended 4-7 years under British law.
Laws like this are something the U.S. should be imposing. Just last week we had a couple of kids in town seriously injured in an accident and the cause was texting while driving. Accidents like this are on the rise also. We read about them more and more and some end not so badly, while others turn out to be very tragic.
So why hasn’t the U.S. taken an aggressive stance against people texting while driving? There have been tons of meetings and hearings, and they all have come to the same conclusion – it’s every bit as dangerous, if not more, than drinking and driving.
I came into the cell phone age rather early, back in the early 90s. My first phone was one of those big bag phones. It didn’t have things like texting or web browsing, since the web wasn’t really accessible back then. Instead it was just that – a phone. When I signed my $50 a month contract for 50 minutes I also had to sign a statement of acknowledgment regarding a state law; “anyone operating a motor vehicle must have both hands on the steering wheel”. Such a law makes it impossible to text while driving today, yet no one has to sign an acknowledgement of this law.
It’s time for a nation wide task force where all the states get together and come up with laws against this deadly trend. Think of it as an extension of health care, since so many end up in the hospital from it. These new laws should also be tough and not limited to “after the fact”, but also focus on prevention. If you are caught with your hands operating a cell phone instead of a steering wheel, then you face serious fines. On top of that you get an increased number of points on your license.
Now I understand people are going to say “but I need to communicate while in transit”, and that is understandable. I’m not saying to ban communication while driving. Instead if you must communicate while driving, you must use hands free technology like a blue tooth or headset. If that isn’t the thing for you then tough – either pull over or wait until your reach your destination.
As we start to approach the 2010 election season, I would really like to hear candidates address this issue. It is a pandemic sweeping our society and it’s time we address it before the next accident involves a full school bus and a lot of dead and mangled children.