Will drivers ever put their phones down?
A National Safety Council study this year found that 28 percent of traffic accidents occur due to some type of cell phone use, whether talking, sending text messages – or even giving a Facebook or Twitter update.
Tuesday, the state legislature sent a bill to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s desk that would prohibit posting to social media sites while driving. The bill was sponsored by Livingston Sen. Dale Erdey who said law enforcement officers in the City of Walker reported stopping drivers who looked to be texting. After being pulled over, the drivers said they were not texting, rather posting to Facebook or Instagram, according to a report by the Associated Press.
Erdey, quoting a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study, said sending or receiving a text distracts the driver from the road for about 4.6 seconds, the equivalent of driving 55 miles per hour the length of an entire football field. Social networking takes more time than a text, he added.
Kudos to our state leaders for passing this bill, which undoubtedly will keep some from updating their Facebook status while driving down interstate. However, doesn’t the need for such a law show the lack of priorities we all have as drivers? The media and public discuss the dangers inebriated drivers pose on roadways but cell phones are becoming an even bigger problem. Many people fear being pulled over by a law enforcement officer if they are driving while intoxicated; how many fear being stopped by a cop for texting or uploading a picture to Instagram? The truth is, anyone who misuses their cell phone while driving poses just as much danger as the intoxicated driver.
While it’s doubtful the fines for misusing cell phones while operating a vehicle will be extraordinary, hopefully the penalties are enough to make people think twice. Lives have even been lost in Jeff Davis Parish due to drivers paying more attention to a phone than the road. How many more lives should be lost before we realize our phones are not as important as person?
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