Texting and Driving
Ever wonder how your life would be if you killed someone while driving and texting? Think of it this way, it could be your friend, your child, someone you love with all of your heart or even you. How would this affect you, your family or the family of someone else you could easily hurt? During this essay I will persuade you why Idaho should enact Legislation which prohibits texting while driving with statistics, facts and my own personal experience.
Texting-while-driving, is it a crime? I think so, but others would disagree. Many technology lovers have embraced the cell phone era. Not only can you talk on it, you can text, send emails, surf the web, play games, and join social networks. Have you ever sat at a stoplight and counted the number of drivers who are on the phone? Now imagine how many of them are taking their eyes off the road to text— and how many are inexperienced teen drivers.
Washington was the first state to enact a texting-while-driving law in January 2008. They reported 847 tickets in 2010, the first year it was a primary offense, up from 507 in 2009 and 242 in 2008 (Rose). Many states were to follow but many restrictions were set only banning teens or bus drivers. Aren’t they the same statistics for everybody? Texting slows down everyone’s reaction time, not just teens and bus drivers. I think if you’re going to make a ban it should affect everybody not just a few.
Nine states made texting-while-driving a primary offense in 2010 and four more have done so this year, including Nevada, which will issue warnings until the law is in full-effect Jan. 1, 2012. “With any highway safety law, primary is the most effective,” there isn’t a national database on texting citations, but many states and counties keep track (Rose).
Idaho made their first legislation attempt in 2009 with Senate bill 1030-1031. This bill would have banned texting-while-driving but it failed. Then in 2010, Senate bill 1352 which called for a ban on text-messaging activities by drivers, which in terms “inattentive driving” with fines up to $300 and/or 90 days in jail. It was approved by Senate on March 10 and sent to the House where it was bypassed March 26 in favor House bill 729. House bill 729 bans text-messaging for all drivers in Idaho. Fines are $40 plus court cost for first offense; after that $100 plus court cost for first offense; after that $100 plus court costs and points against license. The law allows prosecutors to subpoena cell phone records for convictions. The House agreed with the senate’s amendments on the last night of the legislative session. Raul Labrador prevented a final vote by objecting to a routine rules suspension that effectively killed the texting measure as time ran out. Then again in 2011 House bill 141, would prohibit the use of of any hand-held device while driving “tht causes such a person to be distracted or otherwise fail to to exercise due care” (“Idaho”). Hands-free and voice activated use is allowed. Fine $75, amended March 24 to add these new penalties: If property damage or injury occurs, fines could reach $300 with a possible 90 days in jail. Defeated in the house with a vote of 21-48 taken March 29, 2010 (“Idaho”)
Many will argue that it will cost too much or that we don’t have enough law enforcement to cover the growing number of offenders. But is it really going to cost more than saving somebody’s life? I don’t believe so. It is my belief that the more people learn about the dangers of texting-while-driving the more aware our state will become and the safer it will become. I believe that Idaho should follow the lead of other states and work to ban texting-while-driving.
In Idaho there are two cities that have a ban on texting-while-driving, Twin Falls and Meridian. Twin falls ban on texting-while-driving went into effect on Oct. 1 2010. The 4-2 City Council vote of Aug. 9 established a $50 fine for the distracted driving practice. Councilmen Greg Lanting led the push for the ban, which will receive primary enforcement. Lanting said of concerns that police would be confused by drivers entering cell phone numbers on keyboards: “Officers have to make judgment calls and courts have to make decisions based on judgment calls all the time, so that’s the approach we’re taking,”. Meridian banned texting-while-driving with “Kassy’s Law,” in memory of a high school girl who died in late 2009. Took effect Nov. 1, 2010 Fines start at $75 and go up to $300 with the possibility of jail time (“Idaho”).
I do believe that –Idaho Legislative have tried but have failed. I believe that the statistics and evidence are overwhelming and that the great state of Idaho should really take a god look at some alternatives or some way to get the message out about the dangers of texting-while-driving. It really would make the streets safer for our children and all of the people of the state. If a few people got the word out they could cause a domino effect by tellng a friend who in turn would then tell another. I think it would spread like a wild fire. Idaho Legislation is putting this up for another vote sometime in 2012 (“Idaho”). I think with a little more education and a little more hear say that maybe the next Bill will get some more attention.
Admit it. You’ve done it. You’ve been driving down the street (and yes, the highway as well) when your phone, blackberry, or whatever you use to call and text goes off. You immediately grab it, even though you are driving in traffic and really shouldn’t. It’s a dangerous and terrible habit American drivers have developed. The folks at at Car and Driver Magazine have now documented just how dangerous it can be. Rigging a car with a red light to alert drivers when to brake, the magazine tested how long it takes to hit the brakes when sober, when legally drunk at .08, when reading an e-mail and when sending a text. The results are scary. Driving 70 miles per hour on a deserted air strip Car and Driver editor Eddie Alterman reaction and braking time were slower when e-mailing and texting. The results: Unimpaired: 54 seconds to brake, legally drunk: add 4 feet, Reading an e-mail: add 36 feet and Sending a text: add 70 feet (LeBeau).
I really don’t think many people can really argue with these statistics but some may say that those can’t be right or very accurate. But I believe that the folks from Car and driver are a very reliable source of information and that the statistics are accurate and very real. It really opens my eyes and makes me think that we really need to look into this law again and maybe make some compromises. I believe if we start making it mandatory to watch a video on the dangers of texting-while-driving before you can pass your driver license test it will really open people’s eyes and I believe make them think twice about texting-whiledriving.
I have never been in an accident while texting-while-driving. But a really good friend of mine, John, was driving home from work, texting with his wife April when he crossed lanes and got into a head on collision with another vehicle. He was rushed to the hospital where he was in a coma with spinal cord injuries. When he woke up after five surgeries the doctors could not repair the damage and was paralyzed from the neck down, confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He was the family’s main supporter with a wife and two kids. Now, they take care of him, feed, shower, and every other need that he could have done before the accident. His life is forever changed. This is only one instance of what could happen while texting and driving. But I have been with people who were texting-while-driving and almost got into accidents. It really makes you think how unsafe texting-while-driving really is.
I know that many people’s argument would be that it was fault and maybe he should have been paying more attention. But what if it was someone you knew or someone in your family. What would your thoughts be about it then? I can only say from my experience that something needs to be done to prevent further tragedies like this from continuing to happen. Then maybe our roads will be safer for all of our future Americans.
It is my hope after you have read this essay that you are more aware of the danger of texting-while-driving. Whether you are for the ban or against it maybe you’ll think twice before doing it while driving. Maybe one day Idaho will enact Legislation which prohibits texting while driving. But until then we can make a difference by just not doing it and maybe saving a life. I hope I made you think about the danger of texting and driving.
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