Texting while driving? There ought to be a Florida law

In today's America, we could not be more addicted to using our drive time to make our Very Important Phone Calls from behind the wheel.

And now they're saying this is a bad thing?

That cell-phoning while driving is dangerous?

That, according to a warning this week from the National Transportation Safety Board, it should be all-out banned across the land — even hands-free, unless it's an emergency?

Yeah, that'll happen.

And, by the way, really? You're telling us it's not safe for someone propelling a multi-ton vehicle at high speeds around other cars and pedestrians to take his attention off the road to concentrate on what his blathering boss is Bluetoothing in his ear?

Because we had no idea.

Even if a lot of us are guilty of this ourselves. Me included.

By now we are so far gone in our Jones to dial-and-drive that we can't imagine waiting to chat up a friend, track down the kids, check messages or order a pizza until we get to a land line — you know, those things inside houses and offices without those pesky steering wheels and brake pedals to slow the conversational flow.

And it's not just social stuff. Our cells are now life lines for work, considered critical to staying on top of things, and pity the foolish employee who falls behind these days.

All of which makes you wish some elected official, some actual leader, would step up and take the hit for making lives less convenient and more safe. Someone ought to be saying, yep, people wreck, get hurt and even die because we're too electronically entangled to shut up and drive. I wish it were illegal so none of us (that's me too again) could do it without risking the ticket.

But you can hear the politicians now:

Government overreaching! Nanny state!

And more people will wreck and more people will die.

Here in Florida, we have a shot at not letting lawmakers off so easy.

Amazingly, we remain one of 15 states without a ban on texting while driving. Here it's still perfectly okay to use your hands (which are supposed to be on the wheel) and your eyes (which are supposed to be on the road) to peck out text messages even as you're doing 65 down the highway. Maybe you can make a case for hands-free cell phoning (though some research has said it's as distracting as regular cell phoning), but sending texts? Seriously?

So yet again, there is a push for a statewide ban on texting while driving, to be taken up in the next legislative session. It's a watered-down version that makes allowances for texting at stop lights and says it has to be a "secondary offense," as in, you can't be pulled over just for texting. Still, it's something approaching sensible.

Expect much of the same chest-thumping about government intrusion that has killed no-texting attempts in the past. But if government needs to intrude on the guy in the next lane busily sending that all-important text about how he'll be five minutes late, obliviously risking the rest of us in the process, I say intrude away.

If you agree this might be the beginning of a small but wise intervention in our cell phone addiction, you might consider calling your local lawmakers to say so.

But do it from a land line.

Texting while driving? There ought to be a Florida law 12/15/11 [Last modified: Thursday, December 15, 2011 9:19pm]

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