Opinion

No text message is worth your life | Groshart

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 a 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.

Washington is one of 35 states, along with the District of Columbia, that bans texting while driving. Our state as well as eight other states and D.C. also ban 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 most, if not all of them, are clearly paying more attention to their cellphone calls and text messages than they are to their driving.

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.

Let’s stop kidding ourselves: It is inconceivable to believe that all or even most of those cellphone calls and text messages are in response to an emergency. In reality, people doing them 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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Craig Groshart is editor of the Bellevue Reporter, a sister newspaper of The Mirror: cgroshart@bellevuereporter.com.

 

 

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