Opinion

Ban any phone use while driving | Editorial

The National Transportation Safety Board has taken a tough, but necessary, stand on texting, emailing or chatting while driving a vehicle. The board wants it outlawed.

Good.

The unanimous recommendation from the five-member board would apply even to hands-free devices a much stricter rule than any current state law.

Again, good.

Despite the popularity of such devices, there’s no way a person can give full concentration to driving and still pay attention to making a telephone call, emailing or sending a text.

As NTSB chairwoman Deborah Hersman rightly noted, “No email, no text, no update, no call is worth a human life.”

And people have died while trying to do both. One deadly crash in Missouri involved a 19-year-old teen driving a pickup who sent or received 11 text messages within 11 minutes. The pickup was traveling at 55 mph when it plowed into the back of a tractor truck that had slowed for highway construction. The pickup was then rear-ended by a school bus, and a second school bus rammed into the back of the first bus.

The pickup driver and a 15-year-old student on one of the buses were killed. Thirty-eight other people were injured.

Our state is one of 35 (and the District of Columbia) that bans texting while driving, and, along with eight other states and Washington, D.C., bans hand-held cellphone use. That seems like a step in the right direction, but you only have to look around at our streets to see driver after driver flaunting the law.

And, yes, the police do write tickets — lots of them — for these offenses, but it’s clear that it isn’t stopping this dangerous practice.

In reality, people are putting their personal need to chat and text above any concern for public safety.

The National Transportation Safety Board is right. Ban all use of texting, emailing or chatting while driving. We can live without doing those activities. It’s now apparent that we can die while doing them.

 

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