Recently this article was posted as an editorial in the April 5th, 2010 Toledo Blade. We here at Fey Insurance Services thought it might be of interest as it could be something that affects all of us on the road.
Article published April 05, 2010Time to ban texting
The Michigan Senate took a fairly dramatic step a few days ago. Lawmakers had earlier voted to make the highly dangerous practice of text messaging while driving illegal – but only as a secondary offense, meaning police could only cite you for it if they first pulled you over for something else.
Since anybody who sees flashing red lights is apt to stop texting immediately, this meant the law would be little more than eyewash. But the GOP-controlled Senate reversed itself, voted to make texting a primary offense carrying an immediate fine, and sent the bill back to the House.
Why the change of heart? Senators were shaken by a teenager in Ottawa County who was killed when he took his eyes off the road to text-message his girlfriend. The boy was far from the first victim; three years ago, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock was sending a text message when he crashed into a flatbed truck and was instantly killed.
The danger of this phenomenon may not be sufficiently understood by lawmakers in their 40s and 50s, who usually aren’t part of the text-message generation. But it is increasingly how young people communicate, and being on the road with drivers looking down to punch a tiny keyboard on their cell phones ought to scare anyone who isn’t in a Sherman tank.
The text-messaging bill’s main sponsor, state Rep. Lee Gonzales (D., Flint), knows what that means. He introduced the legislation after his pregnant daughter-in-law was rear-ended by a woman punching away on her cell phone. Fortunately, she and the baby both survived.
The day before the Michigan vote, the Ohio House passed a similar bill that would make texting a primary offense, though it would not allow police to issue fines for six months. The Ohio Senate and the Michigan House should speedily ratify the work of their respective other chambers, and join 20 other states that have banned the practice.
Thanks to seat belts and safer cars, highway deaths in the nation last year were lower than in any year since 1954. It would be tragic if we allowed modern communications technology to send the death toll spiraling skyward once again.