2012-03-22 / Editorial

Scattering Seeds

BY JOHN A. MURPHY

Shouldn’t we…!

Shouldn’t we be able to walk along our state’s beautiful rural roads without being hit by, or being forced to jump out of the path of, an errant vehicle operated by a distracted driver?

Shouldn’t citizens be able to operate their vehicles confi- dent in the knowledge that law enforcement will vigorously prosecute a driver who deliberately puts lives into danger by doing anything that distracts from the critically important task of safely operating his or her vehicle?

Shouldn’t we be able to expect that the deliberate act of distracting oneself while driving will be treated by our society at least as seriously as driving while intoxicated?

Shouldn’t we be able to live without the fear that life can be snatched away at any moment by a reckless individual who cares more about sending text messages than the safety of all with whom he or she shares the road?

Of course, all of these questions can only reasonably answered with a resounding “Yes!”

We must abandon the notion that we can multitask while driving. It is proven: we cannot – not without seriously impairing our ability to safely operate our vehicle. In the few seconds that pass when one’s eyes or mind are not focused on the task of driving, a car will, depending on its speed, cover far more distance than you imagine. Just around that corner ahead may be a person walking alongside the road. A momentary distraction, say to type in a phone number, or read a text, and…boom, the unsuspecting pedestrian takes flight after being hit hard from behind. Knocked into the air by your front right fender, and hit again as she comes down.

It could be a child, riding a bicycle, or trying to cross the street. The reckless text sender will never see that child until it is too late.

Paying complete attention to driving is what we must do when we get behind the wheel. Put anything that is an irresistible distraction into the trunk!

Paying attention as citizens is what we must do as well. Our state is completely lax in the way it deals with distracted driving. The fine for texting while driving is only $85, the same as the fine for not wearing your seat belt. But the latter endangers just you, the operator. Texting while driving is a complete rejection of the communal pact we join in when we get behind the wheel. It puts into danger everyone on or near the texting driver.

Let’s get real! Our legislators must enact laws that reflect the seriousness of distracted driving. In the meantime, our law enforcement officials, must deal with distracted drivers as what they really are: totally reckless!

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