Text prohibition while driving a step for safety

Published 6:03 pm Monday, March 1, 2010

Imagine that you’re driving down the road and your cell chirpsor chimes to signal a text message from a friend.

With one hand on the wheel – or perhaps, depending on the kind ofphone, only your knees to guide the moving vehicle – you commence atexting conversation. A few miles down the road, you end your texttime and shift your full attention back to road.

What did you miss while texting? Did you stay in your lane thewhole time?

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If you can’t answer these questions, then you and others like youare the prime reason Senate Bill 2595 is needed.

The bill, authored by state Sen. Gray Tollison, of Oxford, wouldban any driver from sending text messages while driving. It wouldalso specifically prohibit anyone under age 18 from using a cellphone in any manner, unless for an emergency.

The bill has been approved by the Senate and is awaiting action bytwo committees in the House.

Distracted driving is dangerous driving. Period.

Texting while driving is becoming more problematic on the nation’shighways and byways and therefore is why more states – 19 at lastcount – are enacting laws to ban the practice. Numeroustransportation safety organizations and others are also pursuingcampaigns to alert the traveling public to the dangers ofdistracted driving.

In the pending Mississippi bill, violation of the law would be amisdemeanor with a $500 fine and other penalties. There would be a$1,000 fine and harsher penalties in the case of an accidentresulting from texting while driving.

Furthermore, the bill would also require law enforcement officersto document if the driver was texting at the time of anaccident.

Speaking Friday at Brookhaven High School, Mississippi HighwayPatrol Public Affairs Officer Sgt. Rusty Boyd said texting whiledriving is the most dangerous of all distractions formotorists.

“You get so involved in it. You have to think about what you’regoing to say and then you have to type it out and send it,” Boydsaid. “You’re constantly looking – and when you look back up for asecond, did you actually see anything?”

While the most benign consequence of distracted driving may be adriver missing a turn, more serious and harmful consequencesinclude hitting a pedestrian or another vehicle and causing seriousinjuries or even death.

They certainly will not prevent accidents altogether, but laws toban texting while driving are a good answer to the question of howto prevent unnecessary roadway tragedies.