Texting and driving ban will make roads safer

Published 10:09 am Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Starting Wednesday, Mississippi will join most other states in banning texting while driving.

The new law prohibits drivers from writing, sending or reading text messages, emails or social media messages, setting a $25 fine until July 1, 2016, and $100 from then on. It’s a common-sense law that was long overdue.

Though some claimed the law will infringe on their rights, that argument was weak. State law already requires seat belts, and you could argue that the seat belt law is more apt to infringe on rights than a texting ban.

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After all, if you don’t wear your seat belt you’re only endangering yourself. Texting while driving endangers anyone on the road near you.

“It’s not about my right to text and drive, it’s about those people I share the road with,” said Sen. Sally Doty, R-Brookhaven. “Believe it or not this was a very controversial bill. A lot of folks believe somehow that it infringes on your rights, that if we pass this what’s next? What about people eating hamburgers, what about people putting on lipstick?

“We wanted people to understand that texting and driving is a lot different than those other things because it is the combination of having your fingers on the keyboard and looking down with your eyes and your mind thinking about it. It’s the combination of those three factors that really makes it so dangerous.”

Brookhaven Police Chief Bobby Bell said that texting while driving has been a problem for years.

“Although I can’t give an accurate number of how many traffic accidents are caused by texting and driving, I can assure you we’ve had some,” Bell said.

He said people have a tendency to run stop signs and red lights when their phones distract them.

If you’ve ever texted while driving, you understand just how dangerous it can be. A law that seeks to prevent those distractions — and the wrecks they cause — is a good law that will save lives.

Rep. Becky Currie, R-Brookhaven, voted against the law, while Rep. Bobby Moak, D-Bogue Chitto, voted in favor. Currie was one of just 12 House members who voted against the measure.