Texting, driving shouldn’t mix

Published 11:59 pm Friday, July 31, 2009

It seems like every day, more and more people use their cell phones to communicate with the world around them. With the emergence of “smart phones,” we can now have the power of the Internet right in the palms of our hands.

But, as that great philosopher Uncle Ben once told Peter Parker: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

That responsibility comes in knowing when it’s the right time to shut the phone off and focus on the task at hand. In case it’s not patently obvious, that time is when a phone owner gets behind the wheel of a car.

Just this week, two major wrecks were reported as a direct result of a driver who was distracted while on the phone. In New York, a 25-year-old tow-truck driver hit another car and then crashed into a pool because he was busy text messaging (texting) on one cell phone while talking on the other. And a little closer to home, a Scottsboro cyclist was killed Wednesday afternoon when a 26-year-old driver hit him because she was busy looking for her cell phone.

Also this week, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute released a study that shows dialing a cell phone or merely reaching for the phone boosted the risk of an accident about six times.

I would like to think that people would rely on common sense and try not use their cell phones while driving a car, but it’s beyond that point now. It’s time for Alabama to ban texting while driving.

A bill was introduced in the state legislature this year that would have done just that, but it failed to make it to the floor for a vote. Now, I am normally not in favor of any legislation that would limit personal freedom, but this is something far different.

We already have laws in place that make it illegal to not wear a seat belt. In my opinion, that is a less logical law than one that would ban texting while driving. At least if you don’t wear a seat belt, you’re only going to cause harm to yourself. But texting-while-driving is a situation where other people’s lives are placed needlessly at risk.

Choosing to drive and use a cell phone puts not only the driver at risk, but also puts the other people on the road at risk. And as far as I’m concerned, when a behavior begins to put other people’s lives in danger, that’s the point when a behavior needs to be addressed.

It’s just common sense, people — don’t use the cell phone while you’re driving. And, unfortunately, it’s about time this state enacts a law to cover those who don’t have that common sense.