I spent two weeks vacationing in South Florida
over the holidays, so I spent a considerable amount of time on the road.
The opportunity to view the driving public close up for that many days
led me to one conclusion: We dont just drive anymore, we drive and
Its not enough these days to simply drive our vehicles at high speeds
down the interstate or maneuver through multiple lanes of traffic in cities
and towns. We must do so while communicating with friends on our cell
Notice I said communicate, not talk. Talking on a cell phone is passe;
today, its all about texting.
The degree to which this texting phenomenon has taken over our lives really
hit me while I was driving through Georgia and passed under a large lighted
sign stretched overhead across all six lanes of interstate traffic that
read: Texting while driving is illegal in Georgia.
Have we really come to this: Lighted interstate signs warning us not to
text and drive?
I would not have seen the sign had I not just hit the send
button on my phone and looked up just as I passed under it.
Seriously, I really dont text and drive, just as Im sure you
Kentuckys new law against texting while driving went into effect
April 25, 2010. Drivers under age 18 are prohibited from even using a
cell phone while driving in the Bluegrass State. First-time offenders
will receive a $25 fine; additional fines will be $50 plus court costs.
There were 791 fatalities on Kentucky roadways in 2009, declining for
the fourth consecutive year. More than 200 of those fatalities were
attributed to distraction, inattention or cell phone use.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly
6,000 people died in 2008 in crashes involving distracted drivers, and
more than a half million were injured. Inexperienced drivers under 20
years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes.
Indiana lawmakers, meanwhile, are pushing through new legislation to outlaw
texting while driving in the Hoosier State. If passed, it would join 30
states that currently ban texting while driving. Indiana law already prohibits
drivers younger than 18 from texting while driving.
Texting while driving now rivals drinking and driving. What next? No eating
and driving? No applying makeup and driving? No arguing with your spouse
or significant other and driving? No disciplining your children in the
back seat and driving? No reading the newspaper and driving?
If this trend continues, pretty soon we will be down to just driving while
driving. How boring is that? Next thing you know, theyll be forcing
us to wear seat belts!
This newly imposed order of no texting while driving sounds like such
a regression for us motorists who over the years have become talented
multitaskers while behind the wheel. Now weve got huge, lighted
signs on the roads telling us what we can and cant do as we hurdle
down the interstate at 80 mph.
Well, driving certainly isnt what it used to be, thats for
sure. I try to explain this to my 15-year-old daughter, who in March will
earn her learners permit. But it has been a challenge to talk to
her about it because I have only seen the top of her head for the past
two years because she is always texting!
Soon, she will be out there joining the driving and texting crowd, trying
to get from one place to another while at the same time answering her
friends all-important text question: Wassup?
Statistics show that distraction-related auto accidents (i.e. cell phones)
are more of a problem for younger drivers than older ones.
Obviously, thats because the older we get, the harder it is for
us to even read those small screens or punch the tiny keys on our Blackberries
and I-Phones. We have a hard enough time reading road signs the size of
a semi truck, much less text messages the size of a gnat.
While I have not yet met anyone who has been cited for texting while driving,
Im sure the time will come when this misdemeanor will eventually
rise to the importance of speeding and rolling through stop signs (which,
of course, I also never do!).
And, similarly, I expect that the cell phone users age-old question,
Can you hear me now? will soon morph into the texted expression:
OMG I just ran my car into the ditch! TTYL!
Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout.
Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email: Don@RoundAbout.bz.